UPDATE – Buyout Bonanzas: Granger, Butler, Fredette Could Help Playoff Teams; Udrih claimed by Grizz

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danny grangerDoes anyone want Danny Granger?

How about Jimmer Fredette?

Perhaps Caron Butler?

And how about this: Someone — the Memphis Grizzlies — wanted Beno Udrih so badly they claimed him off waivers.

This is the last week for contenders to shore up their playoff  rosters with NBA players for a run they hope will last into June. It is becoming known as February Free Agency.

The official NBA rule is that teams have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 1 to waive a player so he can be used on a postseason roster this season. So over the next few days, there will be a barrage of rumors, buyouts and transactions and we will keep you abreast of all the latest information here at SheridanHoops.

The Los Angeles Clippers already made a big splash this week by signing Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who had the final two years of his contract bought out by Orlando.

It’s a good fit. The Clippers desperately needed a backup big who warrants defensive attention, and Davis helped current Clippers coach Doc Rivers win one championship and almost a second in Boston.

But the big name that will be on the free agent market over the next few days is Granger.

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Bernucca: Feeling the Heat, Pacers Had To Make a Move

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Lance StephensonAll season, the Indiana Pacers have maintained that homecourt advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, and their chemistry will give them a great chance to dethrone the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat.

Are both slipping away?

In the last two weeks, Indiana’s grip on the East’s best record has loosened considerably. And the Pacers’  big move at Thursday’s trading deadline, acquiring Evan Turner, illustrated that their belief in chemistry may have been overstated.

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May: Celtics-Lakers was a Battle For Ping-Pong Balls

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notvCatch that riveting Celtics-Lakers game Friday night? Yeah, neither did I.

Talk about a scheduling nightmare. The game featuring the two marquee franchises – as opposed to teams – was the second of ESPN’s Friday Night doubleheader. It featured two teams who have a combined 13 wins over the last two-plus months.

With Kobe Bryant and the calcifying-before-our-eyes Steve Nash out, the Lakers’ only discernible attraction was Pau Gasol. The Celtics had Rajon Rondo, whose much-trumpeted comeback from knee surgery has helped the team to a pair of victories in 12 games.

The game was decided by a pair of Lakers’ playing in their first game for the team. One, Marshon Brooks, had been with the Celtics earlier in the season. The other, Kent Bazemore, is someone only NBA freaks and geeks knew about until he was traded on Thursday.

It has come to this. The Celtics stink. The Lakers stink. They will both miss the playoffs for the first time since 1994. They are battling for Ping Pong balls now, an unimaginable scenario for two proud franchises who have 32 NBA titles between them and who have met in the NBA Finals 12 times.

celtics small logolakers60Now, here’s the rub. Neither one is going to win a title in the next few years. But one team is a lot closer to getting the next championship than the other. One team has a roster of up and coming young players. One team has a promising young coach. One team has a future. The other one has, well, hope and weather.

Guess which is which.

If you ask any NBA executive which roster he’d rather have, the overwhelming, probably unanimous sentiment would be that of the Celtics. They have Rondo, who turned 28 on Saturday. They have two impressive youngsters in Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, both of whom played in the Rising Stars Game during All-Star Weekend. They have Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, although the former can’t seem to stay healthy and the latter is maddeningly inconsistent. They have a respected young coach.

Kevin LoveThe Lakers have . . . who, exactly? I had to fight off a laugh attack when ESPN ran a story saying how the Lakers were trying to trade for Kevin Love. Really? When exactly did Minnesota basketball czar Flip Saunders start taking Stupid Pills? Who on earth could the Lakers offer to even get Saunders to answer the phone?

This is the starting five that the Lakers trotted out on Friday: Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall, Wesley Johnson and Ryan Kelly. The bench consisted of the two newbies, Brooks and Bazemore, along with two Jordans (Hill and Farmar) and Chris Kaman. That’s it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The Lakers won the game. They also beat the Celtics in Boston and swept the season series from their arch nemesis-rival. They have as many wins in a much tougher conference. All of that is true.

kobe1But that is in the here and now – and neither team cares a whit about this season. The Lakers have no plan, other than to try and lure Love or some other high priced free agent. They should have money to spend, although the rapacious Bryant is consuming a large chunk of their payroll when he could have settled for much less to give the team some flexibility. But he didn’t.

But if you’re Kevin Love, or any other marquee free agent, why would you go to a team that is demonstrably worse than the one you’re on? (Or, as Kevin Garnett memorably said after rejected his first deal to Boston – from one garbage can to another.)

In the summer of 2015, the only draw the Lakers will have is the getting-ready-to-retire Bryant, and, if they choose wisely, some stud they’ve procured from the lottery in 2014. Gasol will be gone. Nash will be gone. The remaining Lakers, put together, couldn’t get Kevin Love.

If you’re looking ahead to this summer, good luck. The same scenario unfolds with the exception that the creaky Nash is still on the books for $9.7 million next season. Eleven of their players are impending free agents, nine of them, including Gasol, unrestricted.

So LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are going to leave Miami for that? Why do you think Dwight Howard said ‘no thanks?’ (Hint: it wasn’t because he couldn’t stand the glare of the big lights, as Shaq postulated. He went to a better team.)

aingeThe Celtics don’t have the cap room available this summer, but, in addition to a much more appealing roster, they also have a slew of first-round draft picks over the next five years. In short, they have a plan. They have a fearless general manager in Danny Ainge who doesn’t just think outside the box. He lives outside the box. He has accumulated assets.

Whoever is calling the shots in Lakerland – Jim Buss, presumably – has allowed the team to become a patchwork quilt of minimum wagers, one-and-dones and castoffs.

Come to LA! We’re not any good, but the weather is great! That will be the recruiting pitch going forward.

Anything else would violate the Truth in Advertising Act.

Peter May is the only writer who covered the final NBA games played by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. He has covered the league for three decades for The Hartford Courant and The Boston Globe and has written three books on the Boston Celtics. His work also appears in The New York Times. You can follow him on Twitter.

MORE FROM PETER MAY:

IS THIS THE YEAR A TRADE WILL IMPACT A CHAMPIONSHIP?
WHY TIM DUNCAN REMINDS ME OF JAY LENO
HEAT LOOKING LIKE A TEAM READY TO THREE-PEAT
REUNION TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR PIERCE AND KG
HOW DAVID $HOW ME THE MONEY $TERN RUINED THE NBA
PROPS TO CHRIS GRANT: SOMEBODY WHO FINALLY STOOD UP TO THE LAKERS
A CLEVELAND CAUTIONARY TALE ON WINNING THE DRAFT LOTTERY
WHAT WILL BECOME OF RAJON RONDO?

SH Blog: Lakers/Mavs Positioning for Kevin Love; Knicks One of Many Interested in Rondo; LeBron Happy in Miami, For Now

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KevinLoveSH1With the NBA Trade Deadline less than 48 hours away, we have a lot of noteworthy news and rumors around the league to get to.

Before we just recklessly cannonball right in, let’s take a look and see how deep the water is.    

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PODCAST: Could Pacers get Rondo in a trade?

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RondoIndianaIf Rajon Rondo is truly available, there is one team where he’d be such a good fit that it might make the Miami Heat the second choice among oddsmakers to win the NBA title.

And if Larry Bird can get his hands on Rondo, the Indiana Pacers would be that team.

Word was spreading on Twitter yesterday that Celtics GM Danny Ainge was seeking two unprotected first-round draft picks in any deal involving Rondo, and I tweeted my immediate reaction.

I discussed this possibility even further in this interview with Chris Moore and Brian Jones of CBS Sports Radio, also offering my thoughts on the possibility of Carmelo Anthony and/or Kevin Love getting moved (no and no).

But let’s delve into the Rondo to the Pacers possibility, and see if it could make sense for both teams. Scroll down below the media player for more.

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_ First, the Celtics would want to move Gerald Wallace’s contract in that deal, and the salaries for Rondo and Wallace add up to  $22.06 million.

_ Second, two unprotected first-round picks from the Pacers are not the equivalent of, say, two first-round picks from the Bucks. So my guess would be that Indiana would have to throw in a third first-rounder (and they could not include their 2014 pick, since that is already going to the Phoenix Suns)

_The Celtics would not want any onerous long-term salary commitments in this deal, but they would want a serviceable player if they had to take back a second player aside from Danny Granger ($14.02 million expiring deal). That player could be George Hill, who earns $8 million in each of the next three seasons.

Here’s how it would look, courtesy of the ESPN Trade Machine:

RondoSnip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(RELATED: SHERIDAN’S LIST OF THE TOP 10 PLAYERS MOST LIKELY TO BE TRADED)

Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.