Around the NBA: GM Griffin leaves Cavs, Knicks ‘not ruling out’ Porzingis trade

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers made the biggest deal of the young NBA offseason on Monday, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick from Boston for the No. 3 pick and a future first rounder. As Philly fans rejoice in waiting for Markelle Fultz's name to officially be called at Thursday night's drafts, there's a lot more happening in the NBA with big name players and teams joseling to improve for the upcoming season. 

Over the last few days, we've learned that Paul George is leaving Indiana, Cleveland parted ways with their general manager and now the New York Knicks are fielding interest for one of their young talents. Here's a quick look at what's going on around the NBA.

Cleveland parts ways with GM Griffin: On Monday, the Cavs announced that they were moving on from general manager David Griffin. ESPN reports that Griffin didn't want to stay, but that didn't keep Cleveland franchise star LeBron James from tweeting about the move.

Griffin ran things as the GM for three seasons and helped lead the organization to their first ever championship during the 2015-16 season. In April, LeBron James supported Griffin in an interview with ESPN, signaling that the Cavs GM should get a new deal. Trent Redden, the team's senior vice president of basketball operations, also will leave the Cavs.

Right now, former NBA point guard Chauncey Billups is the leading candidate to replace Griffin as general manager, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Paul George intends to leave Pacers in 2018: On Sunday, Adrian Wojnarowski and The Vertical reported that All-Star forward Paul George had told the Pacers he planned to leave the team in the summer of 2018 to become a free agent with a preferred destination of the Lakers. 

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has begun to actively search for suitors, but it remains to be seen what kind of offers teams give for a guy who will likely just leave after one season. Indiana reportedly reached out to Cleveland over the weekend after George's announcement to gauge interest from the Cavs, who wouldn't necessarily need assurances of a long-term deal to have interest in George either. At this point though, Cleveland may have to part ways with either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love, which would be difficult for a guy who might just stay for one year.

Early reports have Indiana looking for a pair of first round picks and a starting caliber player for George, who averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals this season with the Pacers. With PG hoping to land with the Lakers, a trade to Los Angeles would make sense, but they'd have to make some room for his contract. Woj reports that LA is not willing to trade Brandon Ingram and their No. 2 pick in order to acquire the veteran from Indiana.

Knicks, Phil Jackson open to trading Porzingis: Yes, the guy everyone wanted the Sixers to pick in the 2015 draft is apparently on the trading block. Well, it's the guy everyone wanted the Sixers to pick after they got to see Porzingis' skill set over Jahlil Okafor's. On Tuesday, this Woj bomb dropped:

Woj later tweets that Phil Jackson had a meeting with Lauri Markkanen in New York on Monday and could potentially be the Knicks' selection at No. 8 if Porzingis is dealt. Markkanen, a 7-footer out of Arizona averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, shooting just under 50 percent from the floor. In two seasons with the Knicks, Porzingis is averaging 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, shooting 43.6 percent overall and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Porzingis skipped out on exit meetings after the season and no one from the Knicks has had contact with him since then, per ESPN. Porzingis' brother told ESPN on Wednesday morning that Kristaps wants to stay in New York and win with them, despite how they are treating their players.

Jimmy Butler eyeing Cavs for trade destination: Both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have recently reached out to Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, and now he seems to be pushing for a trade to Cleveland, sources tell Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times. If the Cavs plan on finding a way to deal for Butler, it'll almost definitely have to involve a third team and Kevin Love would likely be on the way out. Phoenix has been mentioned as a potential third team in the deal.

Such a deal would hinge on a third team being brought in to make the deal happen because the Cavaliers don’t have the right assets to trade directly with the Bulls.

The Phoenix Suns were mentioned in one report, but the Los Angeles Lakers could also come into play. The Lakers have high draft picks, young players and motivation to add a Kevin Love so that it makes the possible courting of free agent-to-be Paul George an even easier sell.

On Monday, Stephen A. Smith reported that the Bulls had reached out to Philadelphia about acquiring Butler for the No. 3 pick, which has since been traded to Boston. The Celtics have had interest in Butler for quite some time and could use their first round pick assets in the coming years to lure the Bulls into a deal.

Lakers trying to trade Russell for another pick: The Los Angeles Lakers will select in the No. 2 spot for the second straight draft and will likely select UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. Even with that addition to the roster and the No. 28 pick, Magic Johnson and the Lakers are reportedly trying to trade De'Angelo Russell in hopes of acquiring another first round pick for Thursday night's draft. Here's the details from ESPN:

The Lakers have engaged at least two teams in the lottery, sources said, as they search for players to improve their outside shooting and perimeter defense.

ESPN's Chad Ford reports that the Lakers have had internal discussions about trading back to No. 4 if the Suns are willing to offer them a 2018 first-round pick. The Suns are currently in line to have two first-rounders next year, with Miami’s top-seven protected pick coming their way, but that’d still be a steep price to move up two spots. If Los Angeles gets another first rounder, signs are pointing to them targeting Duke point guard Luke Kennard, who is projected to land between the 12-14 spots in the draft.

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