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DeRozan, Lowry propel Raptors over Sixers

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PHILADELPHIA — As impressive as the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were in Friday night’s 104-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, they weren’t all that impressed with themselves.

“Melo has 62,” DeRozan said with a laugh, referring to New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 62 points in a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. “I really didn’t do too much.”

DeRozan, a guard-forward, scored 34 points and Lowry, a guard, generated 18 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors (22-20), who won their second straight and ended a four-game road losing streak.

Like DeRozan, Lowry was tracking Anthony’s effort on his cell phone after the game — and after Lowry, a Philadelphia native and Villanova graduate, fashioned his first triple-double of the season and the fourth of his career. It came before “50-something” friends and family members.

“It’s always special to play here,” he said. “Even if I play terrible and we win the game, and I give my family something to cheer for, I’m happy.”

The triple-double made it more so.

“As long as it’s with a win, it’s a great feat,” he said. “As long as it’s with a win, I’m happy to have it.”

Former Sixers guard-forward John Salmons added 12 points off the bench for Toronto, which improved to 16-8 since trading guard-forward Rudy Gay to Sacramento on Dec. 9.

Guard Michael Carter-Williams had 20 points to lead Philadelphia (14-29), which lost for the fourth time in five games. Forward Thaddeus Young added 16 points and guard-forward Hollis Thompson had 15. Center Spencer Hawes contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds.

DeRozan, who scored a career-high 40 points in Wednesday night’s victory over Dallas, notched 16 in the fourth quarter when the Raptors outscored the Sixers 24-17. Four of his points came in a 9-0 run that allowed Toronto to extend an 87-83 lead to 96-83 with 4:47 remaining.

The Sixers, who made 6 of 20 shots from the field in the fourth quarter, drew no closer than six thereafter.

“At the end of the day, they’re a good team,” Young said. “I don’t look past them or anything like that. There used to be a point where the Toronto Raptors walk in and you’re like, ‘OK, this can be an easy one.’ But we know they have a lot of key guys on that team who can do a lot of different things.”

And their chemistry appears to have improved since the Gay trade.

“They make the trade and it ends up a little bit addition by subtraction in many ways,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “They get a little bit more of an identity and a defensive purpose.”

DeRozan, who missed nine straight shots from the floor at one point, finished 10 of 22. He was also 13 of 16 from the foul line and claimed nine rebounds.

“You miss all the shots you don’t take — that’s how I look at it,” he said. “My team needs me to shoot, especially when the game gets close, whenever we need a bucket, so I can’t have that mindset, ‘I missed nine in a row,’ whatever it may be. I’ve just got to keep being aggressive.”

NOTES: The Sixers have lost eight of their last 10 at home. … Earlier in the day, the Sixers signed C Dewayne Dedmon to a second 10-day contract. The 7-foot rookie is, at age 23, “incredibly raw,” coach Brett Brown said before tipoff, having only begun playing basketball five years ago. But like fellow G-F Hollis Thompson, Dedmon is “not polluted,” Brown said, and doesn’t have a lot of bad habits that need to be corrected. “I’ve seen a lot of excellent things from Dewayne,” Brown said. “I think that he’s got a future in the NBA.” … Raptors F Tyler Hansbrough (left ankle sprain) missed his 12th straight game. … Sixers G Tony Wroten (right ankle sprain) sat out his third straight.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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Mavericks are expected to pick up Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option

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Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are planning to pick up center Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option for the 2021-22 NBA season. The deadline is tomorrow. Last season, in 53 games played, the seven-foot big man averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The sixth-year player also shot 63.2 percent from the field last season.

On July 8, 2019, Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Then, on January 25, 2020, Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks for a 2020 second-round pick. If everything goes smoothly, the 27-year-old center is set to earn $4.1 million next season. The 2015 sixth overall pick’s contract consumes less than three percent of the team’s total salary cap.

This news comes right after Dallas received center Moses Brown from the Boston Celtics. Brown is a seven-foot-two, 2019 undrafted player out of UCLA. In 2021, Brown was named to the All-NBA G League First Team and All-Defensive Team. On March 28, 2021, the 21-year-old center signed a four-year, $6.8 million contract with the Thunder.

However, on June 18, 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round pick. With Boston, Brown was set to earn $1,701,593 next season. Of course, the Mavs’ organization is finalizing a trade to send Josh Richardson to the Celtics as well. In other news, today is Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban’s 63rd birthday.

Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 luxury tax totals, the Mavs’ current luxury tax space is $52,326,531. The 2021 NBA salary cap maximum is $112,414,000. Their current cap space is $27,595,632. Cauley-Stein’s contract is recognized as a club option, not a player option or guaranteed money. Richardson’s deadline is also tomorrow, so because he is getting traded to Boston, the team will not collect his $11,615,328 player option.

Plus, Jalen Brunson’s deadline is also August 1st. His guaranteed value is $1,802,057. Leading into the 2021-22 season, Kristaps Porzingis has the highest cap figure on the team, which is an amount worth $31,650,600, consuming 22.73 percent of the team’s total salary cap. At the moment, Porzingis is a popular name in trade rumor articles. Bettors and NBA analysts are predicting a possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, or Philadelphia 76ers.

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Jazz offering Mike Conley $75 million over next three years

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According to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Utah Jazz are preparing to offer point guard Mike Conley a three-year, $75 million contract to remain with the team. Of course, the exact amount is a ballpark figure. Stein stated, “Utah has made retaining Mike Conley its top priority, league sources say, and is preparing a three-year offer said to be in the $75 million range.” The 14-year NBA veteran is a significant piece to the Jazz’s championship window, playing alongside superstar teammates, such as center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell. He helped the Jazz finish their regular season with the league’s best record of 52-20 (.722).

Utah went on to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in five games in the first round of the playoffs. Though, the team lost four games to two in the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Conley averaged 16.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and six assists per game in 51 games started. Then, in the postseason, he averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. The 33-year-old also shot 44.4 percent from the field in the regular season. Last season, the 2007 fourth overall pick earned his first NBA All-Star selection.

On July 6, 2019, the Grizzlies traded Conley to the Jazz for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick. Furthermore, the Jazz can still trade Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles this offseason, if they wanted to improve their current salary cap situation. Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 cap holds, Mike Conley’s cap figure is $39,344,900. Cap holds are for pending free agents. Conley earned $34,504,132 last season.

The team’s current luxury tax space is $11,173,027. In addition to the aforementioned cap figures, Mitchell and Gobert have a combined cap figure worth 51.34 percent of the team’s total salary cap. These two players’ contracts alone are consuming a huge chunk of the team’s cap. Plus, on November 23, 2020, Mitchell signed a contract extension with Utah. He is set to earn $28,103,550 next season. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. He will earn $35,344,828 next season and $38,172,414 in the 2022-23 season.

However, if the team were to still trade Bogdanovic and possibly Ingles as well, this would clear up an additional 25.68 percent of the team’s salary cap. Bogdanovic’s future guaranteed cash amount total is $19,343,000. They are contributing role players who play together well with the team’s big three, but re-signing the most valuable players is the team’s main objective this offseason. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik might contemplate trading role players who are not worth their asking price. Competitive teams in both conferences have to trim the fat at some point.

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Jazz agree to trade Derrick Favors, first-round pick to Thunder

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First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Utah Jazz are trading power forward/center Derrick Favors and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. The goal here was to help reduce their tax bill. While the six-foot-eight Georgia native does not possess any notable NBA awards or honors on his basketball résumé, in the 2020-21 NBA season, Favors averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 63.8 percent. The 11-year NBA veteran also recorded a free throw shooting percentage of 73.8 percent last season.

The 2020-21 Thunder finished 27-50 (.306), ranking 14th overall in the Western Conference. They could use another first-round pick. Plus, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this trade will put Utah $13 million below the luxury tax. On November 24, 2020, Favors signed a three-year, $29.2 million contract with the Jazz. Favors is set to earn $9,720,900 next season. This is the second time in his career he has left the Jazz.

He played with them from the 2010-11 season to the 2018-19 season, before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 7, 2019 for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. For the 2022-23 season, he has a player option of $10,183,800. The Jazz plan to also re-sign Mike Conley, so this was somewhat of a drastic move to help clear up cap space. On July 6, 2019, Conley was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Jazz, in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick.

Moreover, scoring-wise, the 33-year-old point guard has not lived up to his performances from his last few seasons on the Grizzlies, but the Jazz need all the help they can get. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik will make it a top priority to re-sign Conley here soon. Conley earned $34,504,132 in the 2020-21 season.

According to Spotrac, Conley has a cap figure of $39,344,900. Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell have a combined percentage of 47.61 percent of Utah’s total salary cap. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the team. He will earn $35,344,828 next season.

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