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NBA Rumors for Thursday, May 23
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Lakers player development coach Phil Handy is expected to join Mike Brown’s coaching staff with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according league sources. Handy hasn’t signed a contract yet, but he reached what a league sourced called a “verbal agreement” to become one of his assistants. Brown hired Handy as his player development coach last year his first season as the Lakers’ head coach. LA Daily News Blog
It’s not entirely definitive whether Brown will hire Bickerstaff to fill out his coaching staff, according to a league source. Bickerstaff has been considered one of Brown’s most influential mentors. As the Nuggets’ GM, Bickerstaff hired Brown as an intern in 1992 for $1,500. Brown parlayed that into a video coordinating job and scouting position for five seasons. He then joined Bickerstaff as one of his assistant coaches with the Washington Wizards. LA Daily News Blog
Evidently, Mo Cheeks impressed someone during a recent phone interview with the Detroit Pistons. The Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach and former head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers will have second interview with the Pistons today, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. ESPN’s Marc Stein was first to report Cheeks’ interview. Detroit Free Press
Cheeks is the seventh known candidate to interview or plan to interview for the Pistons’ coaching position. The others are San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, Houston Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, Phoenix Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter, former Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics coach Nate McMillan, New York Knicks assistant and former Pistons assistant Darrell Walker and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw. Detroit Free Press
LeBron James caught the inbounds pass, changed direction and immediately attacked the rim. There was no one in his way. There was no stopping him, either. James made a layup as time expired in overtime, capping a 30-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist effort as the Miami Heat found a way to outlast the Indiana Pacers 103-102 in a wildly back-and-forth Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night. There were 18 ties and 17 lead changes, the last two of those coming in the final 2.2 seconds. ''Two teams fought hard,'' James said. ''We were able to make one more play.'' If this is how this series is going to go, then get ready for a classic between teams that absolutely wanted to face the other with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. AP
Paul George saved the Pacers at the end of regulation with a 32-footer with 0.7 seconds left, and then made three free throws with 2.2 ticks left in overtime to give Indiana a one-point lead. George pumped his fist gently after the third free throw, then extended his index finger skyward as the teams retreated to their benches to get ready for the final play. He just left James too much time, and the Pacers left their best shot-blocking option on the bench. Roy Hibbert wasn't on the floor for the final play, and without a 7-foot-2 barrier to contest him, James made the winner look easy. AP
The Heat led by 101-99 with less than 10 seconds to play when Dwyane Wade fouled George, the Pacers’ young star, in the act of shooting a three-pointer. George made all three free throws to give Indiana a 102-101 lead. After a timeout, James took the inbounds pass from Battier at midcourt and sidestepped George, who overcommitted on the play. James sprinted to the basket for the points as the buzzer sounded and the arena blew its top. Battier jumped out of his shoes in celebration, pumping his fists as the Heat’s bench poured onto the court. “No way we should win this game to no way we should lose this game to what the hell just happened,” Battier said. Miami Herald
Wade, who had just fouled out, leaped onto the court and ran to James. “I nearly jumped into his arms,” Wade said. James pulled out his mouthpiece calmly, always the regal king. “I made a layup,” James said coolly in his post-game news conference. “It’s not like I made something from half court.” Miami Herald
James Jones talked about retiring after last season. But there are no such thoughts now. The Miami shooting guard plans to pick up his $1.5 million player option for next season and return to the Heat. “Unless something crazy happens, I’ll be back,’’ Jones said Wednesday in an interview with FOX Sports Florida. Fox Sports Florida
Jones, 32, is making $1.76 million this season, although he has a total take of $3.35 million when one considers buyout money he got from the Heat in the summer of 2010. After making $1.5 million next season, Jones then plans to evaluate his situation. “I got one more year, and we’ll see where it goes from there,’’ Jones said of what he might do after next season. Fox Sports Florida
San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker plans to have an MRI on Thursday on his troublesome left calf, although he doesn’t expect to miss any playing time in the Western Conference finals. Parker says the MRI is ”just to make sure” he’s improving on schedule from the injury, which limited his effectiveness in the final two games of the Spurs’ second-round series against Golden State. AP
The prospective owners of the Sacramento Kings are buying not only the team but also Downtown Plaza, where they and the city plan to build a new arena. Local developer Mark Friedman, a member of the group buying the Kings, said the consortium headed by Silicon Valley tech executive Vivek Ranadive is now under contract to buy the mall site from JMA Ventures. Friedman declined to disclose the purchase price. Sacramento Bee
The world’s biggest stage may have to move in 15 years.
The city opted to renew Madison Square Garden’s lease for a mere 15 years Wednesday, signaling that the iconic arena is not a permanent fixture in midtown Manhattan.
“The best possible outcome would be a relocated Madison Square Garden,” said city Planning Commission chairwoman Amanda Burden.
The commissioners then voted unanimously to approve the 15-year permit. NY Daily News
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