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Nets trade Yi to Wizards, shed $3M off payroll

The Nets shed another $3 million off their payroll when they traded underachieving power forward Yi Jianlian and cash considerations to the Washington Wizards for small forward Quinton Ross.

The deal puts the Nets $30 million under the NBA salary cap as they prepare to fly to Cleveland tomorrow morning and make their pitch to LeBron James. Ideally, the Nets would like to make one more move before they go and get their salary so they could reach their goal of being $33 million under the cap. This would allow them to sign two maximum-contract players.

The trade marked the second time in less than a week that the Wizards have made a trade that gave cap room to a team in the hunt for James. On draft night, Chicago cut more than $10 million from its payroll when they traded Kirk Hinrich to Washington.

Nowitzki opts out

Dirk Nowitzki has notified the Dallas Mavericks he is opting out of the final year and $21.5 million on his existing contract, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team wasn't planning to announce Nowitzki's decision. Mavericks president Donnie Nelson already has booked a flight that will have him overseas at 12:01 a.m. (EST) Thursday - or, 6:01 a.m. in Germany. He wants to be there when the free-agency signing window opens to show how sincere the team is about keeping its all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

Yao returning to Rockets

Yao Ming is returning to the Houston Rockets. The 7-6 All-Star center said that he has picked up his player option for next season, the last year of his five-year contract. Yao sat out last season following reconstructive foot surgery and said he wanted to see how the injury healed before making his decision.

Shaw on Cavs' short list

Lakers assistant Brian Shaw completed two days of meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have not yet offered him - or anyone else - a contract to replace Mike Brown as their coach, a person familiar with Cleveland's search told The Associated Press.

The team is "not negotiating" but has narrowed its field of candidates to "two or three," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the club is not publicly discussing its coaching situation. The person said the team is "excited" to be nearing a decision on a coach but wasn't making any announcements Tuesday.

- AP

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