NBA notebook: Cavaliers clear cap space with 3-way trade _lowres

Nets guard Marcus Thornton drives to the basket around Heat forward LeBron James. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have cleared a path for LeBron James to return to Cleveland.

The Cavs created enough salary-cap space to offer the superstar free agent a maximum contract Wednesday agreeing to trade guard Jarrett Jack, swingman Sergey Karasev and center Tyler Zeller in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and Boston, a person familiar with the deals told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because teams are not permitted to discuss trades until the league’s moratorium ends Thursday.

The deal also includes former LSU star Marcus Thornton, who moves from the Nets to the Celtics.

The maneuvering is designed to open room under the salary cap so they can re-sign the Akron-born James, the four-time league MVP and most sought-after player on the market.

In the three-team trade Cleveland will receive Thornton from the Nets and send him, Zeller and a future first-round pick to the Celtics. Also, the Cavs are trading Jack and Karasev to the Nets.

Jack, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent last season, was scheduled to make $6.3 million, Zeller will make $1.6 million and Karasev $1.4 million

In trading those salaries, the Cavs have enough to give James a maximum, $20.7 million contract — if he decides to sign with Cleveland.

Sterling trial

STERLING GOES WILD: In Los Angeles, Donald Sterling denounced his wife, her lawyers and the NBA from the witness stand, saying he would never sell the Los Angeles Clippers and vowing a lifetime of lawsuits against the league.

“Make no mistake today,” Sterling shouted toward the end of his second day of testimony in the trial to determine his wife’s right to make a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers, “I will never, ever sell this team and until I die I will be suing the NBA for this terrible violation under antitrust.”

He was followed to the stand by wife Shelly, who tried to approach him in the front row of the courtroom after she was done for the day.

“Get away from me, you pig!” Sterling shouted.

Donald Sterling’s lawyers are challenging the authority of Shelly Sterling under the family trust to unilaterally cut a deal for the team with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.


POPOVICH BACK IN THE FOLD: San Antonio keeps quietly making sure the band is getting back together for a run at a second straight title.

In the middle of the LeBron James hysteria Wednesday, the Spurs issued a two-sentence news release announcing that coach Gregg Popovich agreed to a multi-year contract extension. Terms were not disclosed.

Popovich led the Spurs to a league-best 62 wins, earned his third Coach of the Year award and then helped the team recover from the heartbreak of last year’s loss to the Heat in the finals with a five-game triumph.

Around the league

The Hornets agreed on a maximum offer sheet with Gordon Hayward that would pay the small forward $63 million over the next four years. The Jazz get the chance to match. ... The Mavericks made a move at small forward, agreeing with restricted free agent Chandler Parsons on a three-year offer sheet worth more than $45 million. The Rockets will have to decide whether to match.