Marc Stein: Cleveland Cavaliers
Fredette's buyout could be finalized as soon as Thursday, sources told ESPN.com.
And Fredette's representatives have already commenced talks with interested teams, with one source saying that the third-year shooting guard is giving strong consideration to signing with a playoff team in the East.
ESPN.com reported earlier this week that the Memphis Grizzlies were pursuing Fredette, but the Grizzlies bowed out Wednesday, claiming former New York Knicks guard Beno Udrih off waivers when they sensed Fredette preferred other options.
The Bulls have been handcuffed all season by luxury-tax concerns but, according to sources, quickly threw themselves into the Fredette mix after it became apparent this week that the sharpshooter would be parting company with Sacramento.
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ESPN has learned deal will send Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal to Charlotte for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
Quite a dance playing out on Jordan Hill front. Lakers want pick for Hill. But I'm told Nets want pick from Lakers for saving them $7+ mil— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
Taking Jordan Hill into Brook Lopez DPE would cost BKN $17-ish mil & save Lakers $7-ish mil. Less than three hours to go for deal to be made— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
As of last night, I'm told, Rockets were strongly leaning toward keeping Omer Asik rest of season before trying to trade him again. But ...— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
But I must note that Rockets' GM Daryl Morey always makes a deadline trade and we still have three hours left until trade season is over— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
Sources say Nuggets now proceeding w/acquisition of Beno Udrih from Knicks for Jordan Hamilton. Why DEN needed third team for Eric Maynor— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
RT @WindhorstESPN: Clippers and Cavs have had discussions on trade involving Reggie Bullock for Tyler Zeller, sources told ESPN— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
Heat is expected to receive a highly protected SAC second-round pick to complete the swap for Mason that will most likely never be conveyed— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
Sacramento will receive cash only -- no picks -- in trade for Roger Mason with Miami. Mason will be waived. @KBergCBS first reported deal— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2014
But these are the new Kings.
So they want to make more.
Sources close to the talks told ESPN.com that the Kings are in discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers about a trade that would bring veteran point guard Jarrett Jack to Sacramento in exchange for Jason Thompson.
But sources stressed Wednesday night that the Cavs would likely go ahead with the trade only if they could find a third team willing to absorb Thompson's contract, which runs for two more guaranteed seasons after this one at nearly $12.5 million.
And that's why this deal had to be classified as a maybe entering the final 15 hours of trade season before the league's 3 p.m. ET buzzer.
ESPN.com reported Monday that the Kings were right there with the Brooklyn Nets at the front of the line for Jack, who has two guaranteed seasons left on his contract after this one valued at $12.6 million.
The Nets, though, ultimately decided to abandon their Jack pursuit when the Cavs told them they would only make the trade if they could find a third team willing to absorb the contract of Jason Terry. When Cleveland couldn't, Brooklyn would end up combining on the week's first transaction Wednesday with those same Sacramento Kings, sending Terry and Reggie Evans to the California capital in exchange for scoring guard Marcus Thornton.
The Nets (24-27) emerged from the All-Star break sitting 3½ games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors and want to upgrade their bench and backcourt.
Jack, 30, is averaging just 8.5 points on 39.7 percent shooting in 25 minutes a game in his first season with the Cavs after a strong 2012-13 season in Golden State.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets, eager to add a proven ball handler and backcourt scorer to their bench rotation, are willing to take on the two remaining guaranteed seasons worth in excess of $12 million left on Jack's contract despite the luxury-tax implications.
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Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Cavs have interest in trying to recruit Bartelstein into their management structure as other teams have done in recent years, most notably the Phoenix Suns' hiring of Lon Babby and the Golden State Warriors' hiring of Bob Myers.
The Cavs, though, are not expected to pursue significant changes to their basketball department until after the season. And it's believed within the industry that they would have little hope convincing Bartelstein to leave Chicago-based Priority Sports, which he founded and which represents numerous NFL players in addition to his basketball clientele.
In the wake of last week's dismissal of Chris Grant, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert elevated the widely respected David Griffin to acting general manager and have entrusted him with heading up their rest-of-the-season dealings.
Griffin was a key member of the Phoenix front office that kept the Suns among the Western Conference elite for several seasons after the signing of Steve Nash in 2004. He wound up rejecting GM offers from both the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets before finally leaving the Suns in 2010 to join the Cavs to work for Chris Grant, whose three-year tenure in charge ended last Thursday.
It's believed Griffin is hoping to carve out his own shot at keeping the job full-time, with next Thursday's trade deadline presenting an immediate opportunity to make an impression on Gilbert, who entered this season essentially guaranteeing that Cavs were playoff-bound.
Cleveland, though, has managed to win its first four games in the wake of Grant's dismissal after a dreadful 16-33 start to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. And the Cavs are expected to be active in advance of the deadline to potentially strengthen their roster for the stretch run.
He didn't have a summer league, or even a fall, to properly prepare for his first NBA season because of a serious shoulder injury.
And he never asked to be taken No. 1 overall in a draft that, weak as it looked beforehand and is proving to be now, had none of the experts projecting him to be the top pick.
Maybe we all should be cutting Anthony Bennett just a bit more slack.
Bennett's unsightly rookie season took another hit Thursday when the Cleveland Cavaliers abruptly fired general manager Chris Grant, who was responsible for drafting the UNLV freshman ahead of, say, Nerlens Noel or Victor Oladipo. And one of the reflex reactions, in the aftermath of the news, was that Bennett's Year 1 struggles sealed Grant's fate.
Grant lost his job midseason because Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, after guaranteeing his team would not be back on the lottery dais in 2014, felt he had to make some sort of statement/big change in the wake of Cleveland's humiliating home loss to the most depleted team that the Los Angeles Lakers have ever fielded.
So Gilbert naturally fired the executive with the expiring contract and the poor draft record as opposed to the coach who's in Year 1 of a whopping five-year deal.
Yet what happened against the Lakers was merely the low point after months and months of disarray and dysfunction. Kyrie Irving's star has lost a hard-to-believe amount of gleam given how much praise he was generating as recently as last July at a Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas. Dion Waiters' reputation for coachability, and as a teammate, is worse yet. And the general toxicity in the air around this team -- where rumblings of player discontent with Mike Brown are getting louder by the day -- makes you wonder if they have any hope of re-signing newly acquired (and shell-shocked) Luol Deng in free agency.
That's right: What was supposed to be a season exciting enough to make LeBron James think seriously about leaving Miami to come back to the Cavs has descended into such farce that sources close to the situation are already saying that there's little-to-no chance Deng will agree to stay once he hits free agency.
So let's just say that the work environment for Bennett's leap into a spotlight typically reserved for the more NBA-ready Kyries and Anthony Davises hasn't exactly been nurturing.
The kid certainly shouldn't get a completely free pass. Not after you miss your first 16 shots as a pro and still have a stat line in February that doesn't come close to Kwame Brown's rookie numbers. He has plenty of work to do that only he can tackle, as our own David Thorpe neatly explains in his Bennett take Friday, starting with shedding even more weight than he's managed to lose.
But the Cavs, until recently, haven't committed to making sure Bennett gets the no-matter-what minutes he needs -- at power forward -- to transition to the NBA game and rebuild his confidence. With Gilbert's postseason pipe dreams slipping away even in the easy East and Brown making no impact on this team defensively when that's his supposed specialty, they would be wise to realize that salvaging something from Bennett's rookie season should be one of the priorities from here.
Cleveland has amazingly landed the No. 1 overall pick twice since LeBron's departure. Focusing on getting to something resembling a good place with both Irving and Bennett, over the season's final 33 games, thus strikes me as a far more reasonable (and advisable) goal than worrying about the owner's ill-advised playoff guarantee.
By more than just a bit.
Western Conference scout on the Cavs’ acquisition of Luol Deng:
“People want to say that the Cavs are one of the biggest disappointments [of the season], but this is a talented group. And Deng brings a consistency and a level of professionalism that they haven’t had for a while. Let’s see if it rubs off.
“I’m a huge [Anderson] Varejao fan, too. You put him with Deng and you finally have a couple guys that want to defend. They’re all still learning how to play together -- I don’t think we know yet how all these personalities will mesh -- but they need to put a lot more into defending collectively than they have up 'til now. Which is unusual to say about a Mike Brown team.
“I thought they laid down [as a team] several times pre-Deng. And it really surprised me that they didn’t rally around [Andrew] Bynum quitting on them, because I think most teams would have tried to use that as a rallying point. But Deng ... I don’t care how much [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau] played him these last few years. It’s just in his nature to play hard all the time.
“Kyrie Irving is an unbelievable talent -- and I think [Dion] Waiters wants to be Kyrie Irving -- but those young guys need to see [Deng in action] and learn how to approach the game like he does."
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Sources said Utah Jazz veteran swingman Richard Jefferson has emerged as a new trade target for the Cavaliers after ongoing talks with the Los Angeles Lakers on a deal centered around the swap of former teammates Pau Gasol and Bynum remained at an impasse Friday.
A deal with Utah that would send Jefferson to Cleveland and likewise allow the Jazz to acquire and waive Bynum before the other half of his $12.3 million salary this season becomes guaranteed is one of three primary options for the Cavaliers. The other two, sources said Friday, are continuing talks with the Lakers this weekend in hopes of hashing out trade terms both teams can stomach, or electing to keep Bynum beyond Tuesday's deadline and then reshopping him as a trade asset before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, or, if necessary, again in late June and early July.
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Which is a handy cue to remind us that the Orlando Magic possess the same sort of trade chip with Hedo Turkoglu and his similarly structured deal.
In both cases, only half of Bynum and Turkoglu's respective $12 million expiring contracts are guaranteed this season. Any team employing either player on Jan. 7 can thus save $6 million in salary -- and potentially more depending on where they are luxury-tax wise -- by releasing Bynum or Turkoglu in time to ensure they clear waivers before Jan. 10.
Yet there is one big difference between the Bynum and Turkoglu situations.
The Cavaliers, despite their disastrous 10-21 start, still have playoff aspirations in the Leastern Conference. So they appear to be willing to add some salary in a Bynum trade if they can land a difference-making asset, as evidenced by Cleveland's recent trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire $19.3 million man Pau Gasol.
Orlando is not in the same place. Although the Magic decided to keep Turkoglu on their roster through Jan. 7 just in case a trade of some sort materialized in which his contract was needed, they're not chasing the likes of Gasol in support of a playoff push, which makes a trade even trickier for Orlando than it is for the Cavs to find a workable Bynum deal.
I'm told Turkoglu, incidentally, remains determined to relaunch his NBA career later this month when he is finally waived by the Magic or any other team that happens to trade for him in the next five days. The 34-year-old will become a free agent Jan. 10 after clearing waivers and has been working out on his own away from the team all season after Turkoglu and the Magic mutually agreed that he would not join the rest of the squad while they tried to find him a new home.
One source close to Turkoglu told ESPN.com this week that he remains confident he can still make an NBA contribution and badly wants the chance to show it after the rebuilding Magic decided that the 13-year veteran didn't fit in with a rebuilding program.
We're actually entering a period of high anxiety for 50 players around the league whose seasons are about to reach a make-or-break point.
All non-guaranteed deals in the NBA become fully guaranteed for the rest of the 2013-14 season if the player in question is still on his current team's roster as of Jan. 10. It's a date that always leads to a handful of roster cuts once the calendar flips to 2014, as teams either look to save a few luxury-tax bucks or perhaps open up a roster spot to take advantage of the 10-day contracts they're allowed to start handing out Jan. 5.
When it comes to this season specifically, teams looking to waive players to prevent their contracts from becoming fully guaranteed must do so by 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, thus allowing sufficient time for the player to clear waivers before the magical Jan. 10 date.
The list of players technically at risk includes some who face zero chance of getting snipped; Andrew Bynum, Patrick Beverley and Michael Beasley jump off the page in terms of vets who have noting to fret about. Yet it's a generally nervy time for anyone possessing a non-guaranteed contract until Jan. 7 passes to assure safety.
One interesting certainty here, for the record, is Orlando's forthcoming divorce from veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu. The sides have spent the past several months discussing a buyout with no success, but the Magic have to either cut or trade Turkoglu by Jan. 7 or face the prospect of paying him a full $12 million for the entire season. Only $6 million of that salary is guaranteed, but it behooves Orlando to keep Turkoglu all the way to guarantee-date buzzer just in case a trade materializes where his expiring deal becomes handy.
Atlanta: Shelvin Mack, Cartier Martin, Mike Scott
Charlotte: Jeff Adrien, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Chicago: D.J. Augustin, Eric Murphy
Cleveland: Andrew Bynum, Matt Dellavedova, C.J. Miles, Henry Sims
Denver: Quincy Miller
Detroit: Josh Harrellson, Peyton Siva
Golden State: Hilton Armstrong, Kent Bazemore
Houston: Patrick Beverley, Greg Smith
Indiana: Rasual Butler
L.A. Clippers: Stephen Jackson, Maalik Wayns
L.A. Lakers: Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall, Shawne Williams
Memphis: Seth Curry, James Johnson
Miami: Michael Beasley, Roger Mason Jr.
Minnesota: Robbie Hummel
New Orleans: Lou Amundson
New York: Cole Aldrich, Toure' Murry
Oklahoma City: Ryan Gomes, Hasheem Thabeet
Orlando: Solomon Jones, Hedo Turkoglu
Philadelphia: James Anderson, Lorenzo Brown, Brandon Davies, Daniel Orton, Hollis Thompson, Elliot Williams
Phoenix: Dionte Christmas
Sacramento: Hamady N'diaye
San Antonio: Malcolm Thomas
Toronto: Julyan Stone
Utah: Ian Clark, Diante Garrett, Mike Harris
P.S.: Even before the January rush, nine players on non-guaranteed contracts have already been waived since the regular season began. They are:
Charlotte: James Southerland
Chicago: Mike James
Golden State: Dewayne Dedmon
L.A. Lakers: Elias Harris
New Orleans: Josh Childress, Arinze Onuaku, Lance Thomas
Philadelphia: Darius Morris
Utah: Jamaal Tinsley
Marc Stein joins ESPN's George Karl, ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell and the New York Daily News' Frank Isola for an Outside The Lines panel discussion on the woeful state of the Eastern Conference.
Numerous teams consulted by ESPN.com in recent days have said they are convinced the Rockets will indeed go ahead with a trade headlined by Asik before their self-imposed deadline of Dec. 19, with sources saying Tuesday that the Boston Celtics are increasingly active in the Asik talks.
As a result, the Celtics now are widely regarded as the strongest rivals to the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of the likely destination for Asik, with many rival executives expecting the final form of a trade built around the 7-footer from Turkey to feature at least three teams.
Sources have described the Atlanta Hawks as Houston's preferred trade partner because the Rockets came to the conclusion last month that, despite their attempts to placate Asik, they eventually would have to give in to the unhappy center's long-running desire to be moved in the wake of Dwight Howard's arrival in July. Yet it remains unclear, sources say, how interested Atlanta really is in parting with coveted forward Paul Millsap -- who's considered an ideal frontcourt complement to Howard -- in exchange for Asik.
Although sources say there has been dialogue between the Rockets and Hawks this week, it's believed that Atlanta officials are lukewarm on Asik. Asik is owed nearly $15 million next season thanks to a balloon payment in his contract that the Rockets inserted during the summer of 2012 to dissuade the Bulls from matching Houston's offer. Sources say, though, that such a high figure for a defensive specialist does not trouble the 76ers or Celtics, who have emerged as the two teams most frequently mentioned as landing spots for Asik.
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You'd like to believe that the introduction of a record 13 new coaches coming into the season would be followed by a period of calm at a time that the bench business has seemingly never been more volatile.
You'd like to pretend that it's not surprising in the least that, with Christmas just a week away, we haven't seen a single coaching dismissal yet.
This, though, is the NBA.
So you are surprised.
You have to go back to 2006-07 for the last season that every coach in the league safely made it to Christmas Day, when the Memphis Grizzlies ousted Mike Fratello on Dec. 29 after a 6-24 start. You have to rewind all the way to 1994-95 for the last time it happened before Fratello's firing.
It's still too soon, then, for folks to really be breathing easy, since it’s only Dec. 17.
Yet you could mount a strong argument, based on the latest available evidence, that the only coach in the league who legitimately faces immediate peril is New York's Mike Woodson.
For added guidance, let's consult the latest First Coach Fired odds from our friends at Bovada.lv, since bookmakers who lose money when their projections are faulty have more incentive than most to get their forecasts right.
Here is Bovada's list of coaches purportedly in trouble as of Monday morning, hours before Washington's Randy Wittman and Woodson squared off in the proverbial game that "both coaches needed to win":
Yet when you really give those names a good scan, it's difficult to see how any of them -- Woodson aside -- feel any immediate discomfort heading into the heart of the holiday season.
NBA coaching sources maintain that Woodson, in private, understands his job security is tenuous despite the recent vote of confidence he got from Madison Square Garden chairman Jim Dolan in Dolan's recent interview with The New York Post. But he's also hanging in there pretty gamely. If Woody can survive the nightmare ending witnessed Monday night at MSG, where a remedial defensive breakdown and a timeout snafu sealed a 102-101 loss to Wittman's Wizards, Woodson might get through what a lot of peers see as an unfair vigil given how much Tyson Chandler means to this team. Chandler, after all, is inching closer to a return from a fractured right fibula, which suggests that Woody and the Knicks have potentially seen the worst of their struggles. Potentially.
Two things team insiders say continue to work in Woodson's favor even after the disastrous finish against the Wiz: (1) He's only had the influential Chandler in the lineup for four games; (2) New York's limited options in terms of interim coaches (Herb Williams, Darrell Walker or the total coaching novice Allan Houston) add to Woodson's shelf life.
As for the rest of aforementioned coaches ...
Plugged-in sources have said for weeks that Kidd has maintained the support of his Russian bosses throughout Brooklyn's early nightmare, given that Kidd is making the virtually unprecedented jump straight from player to head coach and with too many injuries during the season's opening quarter to judge him fairly anyway.
The Wizards, while not quite living up to preseason expectations, have sufficiently rebounded from yet another slow start to the point that they're starting to look like what passes for a playoff team in the ugliest Leastern Conference in memory, which should get Wittman through the final year of his contract. Sources say, furthermore, that it's always been the preference of Wizards owner Ted Leonsis to complete the season without changing anything and then assess everything in the offseason with the deals of both Wittman and general manager Ernie Grunfeld expiring.
Casey and Corbin, like Wittman, are also in their final year of their contracts, but the fire sale clearly underway in Toronto and the youth movement undertaken in Utah mean those two really aren't being judged on wins and losses at the moment. It's likewise too early for Brown and Drew, both just months into their jobs with new teams, to be feeling any legit heat.
Since I started covering the NBA halfway through the 1993-94 season, there have amazingly been only three seasons without at least one coaching change by Christmas: 2006-07 and 1994-95 as mentioned and 1993-94.
We're looking at No. 4 in that two-decade span if Chandler’s looming return means Woody has weathered the Knicks' latest crisis.
With the research help of ESPN.com’s Adam Reisinger and the Elias Sports Bureau, here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the in-season coaching changes seen in the NBA since 1993-94:
* In 1993-94, we made it all the way until March before the first and only coaching change. That was when the Los Angeles Lakers fired Randy Pfund after 64 games, installed the venerable Bill Bertka as the interim coach for two games and then had Magic Johnson finish out the season with a 5-11 stint before hiring eventual NBA Coach of the Year Del Harris to take over in 1994-95.
OK, OK. Let's just say busier.
A league that has already witnessed three trades headlined by Marcin Gortat, Derrick Williams and Rudy Gay since training camps opened -- with Toronto trying hard as we speak to find a workable Kyle Lowry deal that makes it four -- will see more than 100 new trade chips put into play in less than 48 hours.
At 12:01 a.m. Sunday, no fewer than 114 players who signed new contracts since July will become trade-eligible, thanks to the league rule stipulating that recipients of new deals (in most cases) cannot be dealt until Dec. 15 or three months from the day their new contract is completed ... whichever of those dates falls later. So ...
Just as we would have in the Weekend Dime era, Stein Line Live serves up a list of all 114 of them -- along with a flurry of bonus lists -- to assist in your ESPN Trade Machine endeavors:
Players eligible to be traded as of Sunday
* -- Players with an asterisk next to their name possess additional trade restrictions in their respective contracts that earned them spots on Stein Line Live's All-No-Trade Team. Click here to get reacquainted with that group.
Bonus List No. 1
The following 20 players with new contracts aren't eligible to be traded Sunday because the three-month window since their respective signing dates extends beyond Dec. 15. Next to each player's name is the date he becomes trade-eligible:
Bonus List No. 2
The NBA, as part of its new labor agreement in 2011, restricts players possessing new contracts from being eligible to be traded before Jan. 15 when (1) the player's team is over the salary cap and (2) the first-year salary in the new deal exceeds the prior season's salary by more than 120 percent. There are seven players who fall under those restrictions this season:
Bonus List No. 3
Any player who signs a contract extension cannot be traded for six months if the total length of the contract (prior deal plus extension) is longer than three years or if the extension has annual increases in excess of 4.5 percent. Two big names, as a result, are thus ineligible to be traded until after their teams' respective 2013-14 seasons:
* -- Don't forget that Kobe, as covered in the Nov. 8 SLL post, is also one of four players in the league who possesses an outright no-trade clause in his contract along with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki.
Bonus List No. 4
There are only eight teams in the league, in case all of this trade-eligibility talk has made you curious, that aren't currently carrying a full 15-man roster. They are:
As for where ...
Sources close to the process Friday stopped well short of describing the Cavs as Houston's preferred trading partner, but Cleveland certainly has to be added to the list of potential Asik destinations.
The Rockets, meanwhile, continue to give off the vibe that they will find a deal they like by the Dec. 19 buzzer, which they established last week and is the final day they can package anyone they acquire in an Asik trade with other players in a subsequent deal before the league's Feb. 20 trade deadline.
The rest of the latest scuttle from the Asik front:
• The Rockets have shown interest in Varejao in previous years, but one source close to the process indicates to ESPN.com that Houston would not be willing to deal Asik for Varejao straight up. It's believed that Houston would seek at least one more asset in the exchange if talks with the Cavs ever progress to a serious stage, presumably a future first-round pick. Which raises the question: Is Cleveland really willing to surrender that much for Asik -- and absorb Asik's $15 million salary for next season?
• Word is that the Cavs' preference remains upgrading at small forward -- with Chicago's Luol Deng at the top of Cleveland's list -- rather than bringing in a center.
• Many league insiders maintain that the Rockets' No. 1 target in an Asik deal is Hawks forward Paul Millsap, who will join more than 100 players who signed contracts in July in becoming trade-eligible Dec. 15, which happens to be Sunday. We caution, though, that gauging the Hawks' true willingness to part with Millsap -- after signing him to a two-year, $19 million deal that increasingly ranks as one of the league's best bargains -- remains a mystery thanks to ever-coy Hawks general manager Danny Ferry.
• ESPN.com reported last week that the Rockets are determined to trade Asik to an Eastern Conference destination in part to keep his highly rated defense away from current teammate Dwight Howard. Two more teams, then, that continue to be mentioned as potential trade partners for Asik in addition to Atlanta and Cleveland are Philadelphia (Thaddeus Young) and Milwaukee (Ersan Ilyasova).
• What do Millsap, Young and Ilyasova have in common? All three can theoretically operate next to Howard as a power forward with the clear ability to play outside and stretch the floor. Let's see how the fact that Varejao lacks the same range affects Houston's appetite to pursue such a deal. If the Rockets are intent on completing the best trade they can make by Thursday, they might not wait around for a floor-spacer.