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    A person with knowledge of the details says the New York Knicks are trading Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks to the Detroit Pistons. The move frees up nearly $20 million more for free agency. Having already agreed to send Kemba Walker to the Pistons on draft night, the Knicks have shed nearly $30 million in salary for next season in advance of free agency opening Thursday night. The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade wasn't official. It was first reported by ESPN, which said the Knicks would also send the Pistons two second-round picks and cash.

      The Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a contract extension with center Ivica Zubac. The team had declined its $7.5 million option on the 25-year-old from Croatia, setting up the new deal that keeps the 7-footer as the club’s longest-tenured player. Zubac averaged career highs of 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds while starting 76 games last season. His 25 double-doubles were a career-best. Zubac spent his first two seasons in the NBA with the Lakers. The Clippers earlier signed forward Robert Covington to an extension.

        The Los Angeles Clippers have completed the renovations of 350 public basketball courts and unveiled the last of them Tuesday at the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center. The project was funded by a gift from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. It took four years to complete and was managed by the Los Angeles Parks Foundation. Ballmer appeared at the unveiling of the 350th court. He says impacting kids’ lives “is really what it’s about.”

          Walker Kessler will bring a 7-foot-1 presence and prolific shot-blocking ability to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The T-wolves introduced Kessler and fellow draft picks Wendell Moore Jr. and Josh Minott on Tuesday. Kessler flourished as a rim protector last season at Auburn. But Minnesota didn't just draft Kessler to patrol the paint and guard the pick-and-roll. He also has upside as a scorer. Kessler has bloodlines on his side. His father and his uncle were standouts at Georgia in the 1980s and NBA draft picks. His grandfather was a Minnesota native.

            Steve Clifford is back in familiar surroundings as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets after being formally introduced. Clifford said Tuesday the Hornets  are going to play offensively with a very similar emphasis that they have played with the last couple of years. Clifford wasn’t Charlotte’s first choice. Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson had accepted the job, but later backed out after the Warriors won the NBA title citing personal reasons.

              There was a stretch of homelessness while growing up. A constant shifting from one high school to another. The cancellation of an NBA draft training program due to the pandemic. A year proving himself with a G League developmental team. MarJon Beauchamp’s journey to the NBA has been fraught with so much adversity, he questioned whether he’d even have the opportunity to get here. That changed when he became a first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks.

              A person with knowledge of the negotiations says Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy has accepted an offer to become the coach of the Utah Jazz. Hardy and the Jazz were in the process of finalizing contract language, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side announced the deal publicly. Hardy will become an NBA head coach for the first time. He’ll replace Quin Snyder, who decided to leave the Jazz earlier this month after eight seasons. Hardy spent one season in Boston, helping the Celtics reach the NBA Finals. His previous 11 seasons were spent with the San Antonio Spurs.

              The Cleveland Cavaliers made the expected move and extended a qualifying offer to guard Collin Sexton, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. Sexton is now a restricted free agent and the high-energy scorer could draw interest from other teams. If Sexton receives an offer sheet, the Cavs can match it. Teams can begin negotiating with free agents on Thursday. A first-round pick in 2018, Sexton played in just 11 games last season before tearing meniscus in his right knee and undergoing surgery. The 23-year-old had been playing well and seemed to accept a lesser scoring role alongside All-Star Darius Garland.

              A person with direct knowledge of the decision says Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is exercising his option to play for $47.1 million next season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Westbrook nor the Lakers revealed the decision publicly. ESPN first reported Westbrook’s decision. The past NBA MVP and one of the league’s top 75 all-time players turn 34 next season, his 15th in the NBA.

              John Wall and the Houston Rockets have agreed that his contract will be bought out, a move that will free him to sign with any team of his choosing, two people with knowledge of the situation said Monday night. Wall’s preference will be to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to one of the people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the five-time All-Star guard had not announced his intentions publicly. Wall will receive roughly $41 million from Houston, according to the other person who spoke with AP. Wall was scheduled to make $47.4 million this coming season, his last in what was a four-year contract.

              Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets. That's according to two people with knowledge of his decision. They spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly. The Athletic first reported Irving's decision. Irving's future had been one of the biggest storylines as the NBA prepares for the start of free agency later this week. Irving could still have his contract extended. Also, the Nets could still trade him.

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              The Chicago Bulls remain hopeful All-Star guard Zach LaVine will choose to re-sign with them rather than join another team as an unrestricted free agent. Bulls top basketball executive Arturas Karnisovas says they “hope Zach is here for a long time, and nothing changed.” Karnisovas has said several times he would like to retain LaVine and a keep a core that helped Chicago reach the playoffs for the first time in five years intact. The free agency negotiating period starts Thursday evening. The Bulls introduced recent first-round draft pick Dalen Terry on Monday.

              Someone has paid $2.4 million for a one-of-a-kind LeBron James trading card, a purchase price that fell well short of what some expected. The auction of the “Triple Logoman” card ended Saturday. Officials at the collectibles marketplace Goldin, which ran the auction, suggested earlier this month that the card could fetch the largest price ever for a card. It didn’t come close. The record remains $6.6 million spent for a Honus Wagner trading card last year.

              Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a stunningly successful history with high draft picks. Back when the Thunder were still the Seattle SuperSonics, Presti made Kevin Durant the No. 2 overall pick in 2007 and Russell Westbrook No. 4 overall in 2008. The team moved to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season before Presti selected James Harden third overall in 2009. They took the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012. Presti picked Chet Holmgren No. 2 overall on Thursday, making him a key building block to a possible resurgence.

              Steve Clifford is heading back to Charlotte. Clifford has agreed to a multiyear contract to return as head coach of the NBA’s Hornets four years after being fired by team owner Michael Jordan, the team announced Friday night. Charlotte previously agreed to terms on a four-year contract with Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson to become head coach, but he later informed the team he was not taking the job citing family reasons. The 60-year-old Clifford spent five seasons coaching the Hornets, compiling a 196-214 record with a team that included Kemba Walker, before being fired in 2018. He coached the Magic from 2018-21. Charlotte fired James Borrego in April.

              The Memphis Grizzlies announced Friday the final pieces of their draft night trade sending guard De’Anthony Melton to the Philadelphia 76ers for the draft rights to forward David Roddy and wing Danny Green. Roddy was selected with the No. 23 overall pick Thursday night. The Mountain West Player of the Year led Colorado State to the NCAA Tournament this season for the first time since 2013. Green is a three-time NBA champ with the Spurs (2014), the Raptors (2019) and the Lakers (2020). Melton has spent the past three seasons with the Grizzlies.

              The secret about how Orlando was going to take Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft was incredibly well-kept. Even Banchero didn't know until the final seconds. The secret is out now. Banchero arrived in Orlando on Friday, one day after his name got permanently etched on the list of No. 1 draft picks. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Duke will officially start workouts next week for Orlando’s July 7 opener at NBA Summer League.

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