When I asked earlier this month whether the Lakers would make the postseason, the votes were nearly split, with just over 51% of you predicting that the club would end up on the outside looking in. In the two weeks since I published that poll, the Lakers have gone just 2-6, and I'd guess if I asked the same question about the team's playoff chances today, the results would lean even more heavily to the Lakers as a lottery team. As the club looks to find a way out of its most recent spiral, let's check in on a few notes out of L.A....
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reported yesterday that the Timberwolves are "heavily" shopping Derrick Williams, 2011's second overall pick. In his latest Scoops column, Wolfson shares a few more details on the T-Wolves' trade talks, plus a handful more Wolves-related notes. Let's dive in and round up the highlights....
Here are some rumblings out of the Western Conference tonight:
Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW engaged in a chat with fans about the Mavericks' offseason. Among his more notable thoughts were that the team's interest in Steve Nash was never that serious, Mark Cuban deserves to be applauded for their attempt to land Deron Williams despite falling short, and that he gives the team a grade of "B" for their work this summer. Here are some more of the highlights:
The Grizzlies and Timberwolves have agreed to swap Dante Cunningham and Wayne Ellington, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). There had been rumblings over the last couple weeks that the trade would be consummated soon, but the T-Wolves needed to work through cap issues before making the deal official.
Financially, the deal works out almost perfectly, as the Grizzlies take on Ellington's $2,083,042 salary, while Cunningham and his $2,090,000 salary head to Minnesota. Ellington is in the final year of his rookie deal, while Cunningham has one more team option for 2013/14. From an on-court perspective, Ellington joins a Grizzlies' backcourt that has also added Jerryd Bayless and was in need of a shooter. Cunningham will add size to a T-Wolves' frontcourt that includes Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Derrick Williams, and Greg Stiemsma.
Having moved Cunningham, the Grizzlies will look to re-sign Hamed Haddadi for something close to the minimum, tweets Tillery. The Wolves, meanwhile, still need to officially finalize deals for Stiemsma, Alexey Shved, and Brandon Roy.
Earlier today, we rounded up a number of pieces reacting to the Knicks' decision to let Jeremy Lin sign with the Rockets, but the Lin updates continue to pour in. ESPN's J.A. Adande argues that Houston is the ideal spot for Lin to thrive, while the day's most interesting Lin piece came from Pablo S. Torre of SI.com, who chronicles the point guard's free agency process.
"Honestly, I preferred New York," Lin told Torre. "But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. ... Now I'm definitely relieved."
As the newest Rocket arrives in Houston, here are a few more items out of the Southwest Division:
TUESDAY, 12:11pm: The Grizzlies believe they have a verbal agreement to swap Dante Cunningham for Wayne Ellington, but the Timberwolves seem to be looking to include Cunningham in another deal before finalizing anything, reports Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Tillery speculates that the T-Wolves are waiting for resolution on Nicolas Batum's offer sheet before making any other moves official.
"The shoe will drop this week or it won't get done," one source told Tillery, on the Grizzlies/Timberwolves trade talks.FRIDAY, 12:01pm: The Grizzlies have engaged in trade talks with the Timberwolves in hopes of acquiring a guard, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Tillery says the Grizzlies are eyeing Wayne Ellington, Martell Webster, and Wesley Johnson, and are likely to prefer Ellington, the most affordable of the three.
Ellington, 24, is on the Timberwolves' books for about $2.08MM for the coming season, as opposed to $5.71MM for Webster and $4.29MM for Johnson. None of the three players were particularly productive in Minnesota last season, which is why the T-Wolves have been aggressive in pursuing wing help this summer. Trading a player or two could give the Wolves the cap space to sign the players they've been linked to this month.
Of course, the Grizzlies are over the cap and approaching the tax line as well, so I can't imagine they'd want to take on much salary themselves. As Tillery points out (on Twitter), Dante Cunningham would seem to be a logical trade chip for Memphis to use in a deal with the Wolves, particularly for Ellington, since the two players are on nearly identical salaries. If Minnesota would rather not absorb any salary, perhaps a third team would need to be involved to acquire Cunningham.
Let's check in on a few Wednesday updates out of the Southwest Division....