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NBA Rumors for Saturday, May 25, 2019

Updated 6:41 p.m. ET

The Nets’ summer has been framed as having to pick between keeping D’Angelo Russell or chasing Kyrie Irving. But maybe they don’t have to choose. Sources told The Post that some within Barclays Center feel Russell and Irving could actually coexist. And Kevin Boyle — the only man who has coached both — guarantees that together they not only would survive, but would thrive. NY Post

Irving was a solid plus-180 in 1,370 minutes this season alongside Marcus Smart, and plus-55 in 441 minutes with Terry Rozier. It should be noted Russell — with the NBA’s sixth-highest usage rate — was a minus-19 in 682 minutes alongside Caris LeVert and minus-32 in 1,697 minutes with Dinwiddie. But after LeVert hit his stride, he and Russell were team-best plus-51 in 102 minutes after March 24. NY Post

Hawks assistant general manager Jeff Peterson has left the organization to take the same position with Brooklyn, it was announced by the Nets on Saturday. Peterson spent the past seven years in the Hawks organization, including the past three as the assistant general manager. Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset. We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly. NBC Sports Washington

Cooperstein: "I don't think there's any question that Dwight Powell is going to stay here with the Mavericks. I don't think he would've gone to Slovenia with Rick Carlisle to workout with Luka without some real intention on staying here. The only question is what does the extension look like? Dallas Morning News

After struggling with his health in the past year, Warriors luminary Al Attles attended the end of Warriors’ practice on Saturday. Attles did not watch practice, but he arrived in time to shake hands with coaches and players when practice concluded. Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston as well as coach Steve Kerr were among the people that greeted Attles with a firm handshake and a warm smile. Mercury News

The rookie pay scale, which began in 1995, has generally been great for the NBA as far as developing young players on affordable salaries. The pay scale resulted from some mouth-dropping contracts for top picks, particularly the 10-year, $69 million deal Glenn Robinson got from the Milwaukee Bucks for being chosen No. 1 in 1994. The tradeoff works this way: Each of the 30 picks in the first round has a salary slot (it increases annually). All first-round contracts include guaranteed salaries the first two seasons. Then, teams have two one-season options beyond that, after which those players qualify for restricted free agency. Charlotte Observer

No NBA team just says “pass,” rather than accept the two-year salary obligation tied to a first-round pick. But over the history of the rookie scale, teams have been creative with salary-cap management. I expect teams picking at the end of the first round — typically contenders — will look at this draft class and consider alternatives. They could trade picks. Or sell picks. Or draft someone already under contract to play outside the NBA, to defer signing that player now. Charlotte Observer

NBA Rumors for Friday

The Bucks returned to the starting five they used most of the season in Game 5, the lineup that helped them to the NBA's best record. But they were left with the same result as the third and fourth games and now face elimination when the series resumes Saturday. Guard Malcolm Brogdon finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists Thursday in his first start since returning from a foot injury in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics. But his first career postseason double-double wasn't enough as Milwaukee lost 105-99 to the Raptors. Star Tribune/AP

Grizzlies: Jonas Valanciunas must decide by June 13 whether he will opt in to the final year of his contract and make $17.6 million playing for the Grizzlies next season. Memphis Commercial Appeal

With fellow centers Nikola Vucevic, DeMarcus Cousins, Brook Lopez, DeAndre Jordan and Enes Kanter set to be unrestricted free agents, Valanciunas might struggle to command a salary of $17.6 million on the open market. But perhaps that’s a risk he is willing take if he does not feel confident about his spot in the Grizzlies organization and wants to play for a contender. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Erik Spoelstra has a decision to make this offseason, and it has to do with his coaching staff. The departure of Juwan Howard has left a void on Spoelstra’s staff, with Howard moving on to become the head coach at the University of Michigan after spending the past six seasons as a Heat assistant coach. Miami Herald

The Post has reported the Grizzlies are leaning toward Murray State point guard Ja Morant over Barrett. Morant told The Post this week Memphis gave him no indication of their selection thinking in his meeting. Bilas said the Morant and Barrett debate is a really close call. NY Post

Boston basketball greats past and present gathered at Trinity Church Thursday for John Havlicek’s memorial service. Those in attendance to pay their respects included two legendary Havlicek teammates, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, coach Brad Stevens, co-owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn also were present.

Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Satch Sanders, and Tommy Heinsohn were among the players who were in attendance, along with Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr. The Boston Celtics ownership group included Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca. Team President Rich Gotham, President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, and head coach Brad Stevens were also among those in attendance. “After playing with him and coach him, he’s such a great athlete, you never though he’d wear down,” Heinsohn said. “He was such a focused person. All of the great things they said about him today were true.”

Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders bought 500 tickets to Saturday’s Lynx’s opener against Chicago for donation. The tickets will be donated to various local youth organizations through the Lynx Tickets for Kids program. Pioneer Press


In the end, it was Kawhi Leonard, no surprise, and Fred VanVleet, very much a surprise, who provided the key baskets down the stretch as the Raptors won the biggest game in the history of the franchise, 105-99, to send them back to Toronto with a 3-2 series lead and needing one more win to go to their first NBA Finals. Despite the presence in the series of the consensus two best players in the East, these conference finals have not unfolded with either Kawhi Leonard or Giannis Antetokounmpo taking control. Both teams have a lot of capable defenders, and each has made sure to throw extra help at the opposing superstar. National Post

Leonard’s 35 points, including 15 in that decisive fourth quarter, are tough to argue with, but it’s awfully hard to overlook the 7-of-9 shooting from three from VanVleet, including the three that put the Raptors ahead to stay with just over two minutes to go at least makes it an argument. Toronto Sun

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer juggled his starting lineup before tip-off, inserting Malcolm Brogdon in for Nikola Mirotic, reprising a group that started a lot for Milwaukee, before Brogdon went out with an injury. It worked out about as well as it could, with Brogdon supplying 18 points and 11 rebounds and just generally being more active at both ends of the floor than was Mirotic. Toronto Sun

That he played well wasn’t unexpected, but that could not be said about the explosion of his backcourt mate, Eric Bledsoe. The Milwaukee guard had been utterly lost in this series, shooting 11-of-45, including 2-of-19 from beyond the arc, entering Tuesday’s game. And so, of course he went 3-of-4 to start for nine points in the first quarter, on his way to 20 for the game. Toronto Sun

Even-keeled Klay Thompson got uncharacteristically annoyed after learning at the Warriors' Thursday media availability he hadn't made the 2018-19 All-NBA list. "Oh, I didn't?" he said after a reporter asked how the omission made him feel. "They already came out?" The reporter explained that, yes, the list was out and no, Thompson wasn't on it. He listed some of the players who beat out Klay, eliciting a giant eye-roll from Thompson at the mention of Charlotte's Kemba Walker. SF Chronicle

Klay Thompson seemed to be struggling to put his thoughts together in a media-friendly way, his face taut with irritation. "Whatever," he added. "I'd rather win a championship than be third-team All-NBA." SF Chronicle

First, Thompson rolled his eyes when informed that Charlotte guard Kemba Walker made the All-NBA third team over him. Then, Thompson questioned his exclusion, which will cost him an extra $30 million he could have earned as a free agent this summer. “I can’t control it. But do I think there’s that many guards in the league better than me? No,” Thompson said. “But that’s a reason why we’re still playing. So I don’t really want to get into it honestly.” Mercury News

Thompson could’ve landed a so-called “supermax” deal that would be for five years and expected to be worth around $220 million if he re-signs with the Warriors this summer. Because of the exclusion on the All-NBA teams, Thompson can sign up to a five-year deal expected to be worth around $190 million. The Warriors are expected to give the max contract he expects, but salary cap rules prohibit the Warriors from offering anything more. Mercury News

Karl-Anthony Towns came up one spot shy of an extra $32 million. Towns finished fourth in voting among centers in All-NBA voting — only the top three vote-getters receive All-NBA honors. That’s what Towns needed this season to qualify for a supermax extension, which would have allowed him to receive up to 30 percent of the team’s salary cap space, as opposed to the standard 25 percent. St Paul Pioneer Press

So the five-year extension Towns signed last offseason, which comes into effect this season, is now worth a total of roughly $158 million, instead of $190 million. Towns was beat out by Denver’s Nikola Jokic (first team), Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (second) and Utah’s Rudy Gobert (third). St Paul Pioneer Press

If the Knicks want to sign Kemba Walker, they might need the New York native to take quite the hometown discount. The 29-year-old Hornets guard was named to the All-NBA Third Team Thursday, making Walker immediately eligible to receive a supermax extension from the only NBA team he’s ever known. The former UConn star is one of the top targets in this summer’s loaded free-agent class — also featuring Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler — and could now receive a five-year, $221.3 million deal from Charlotte, while other teams can offer no more than a four-year, $140.6 million deal. If Walker fell short of his first All-NBA honor, the largest contract he could have signed would have been for $189.7 million. NY Post

Only four players have signed a supermax deal since its inception two years ago — Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, John Wall — to help teams retain elite players with at least seven years of NBA experience, whose deals can be worth up to 35 percent of a team’s salary cap. Portland’s Damian Lillard is expected to receive a supermax contract this summer, too. NY Post

A day after Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named to the league’s All-Defensive first team, Gobert got a more all-encompassing accolade on Thursday: he was named to the All-NBA third team. Gobert earned 75 out of a potential 100 votes in order to secure a place on one of the three teams ahead of Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (who earned just 20 votes) and Nikola Vucevic (with four votes). Denver’s Nikola Jokic won first-team honors with a terrific season in Denver, while Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was selected for the second-team. Salt Lake Tribune

Kevin Durant won’t be ready to play in time for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on May 30. The two-time reigning finals MVP has yet to return to on-court work while recovering from a strained right calf. Washington Post/AP

NBA Rumors for Thursday

Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders and President Gersson Rosas had been discussing how they might build an assistant coaching staff should Saunders get the job full time. Now that Saunders has been hired, the Wolves are taking the first steps in building that staff. A source confirmed that multiple assistants and staff members who were on expiring contracts won't be coming back to the Wolves. They include assistant coaches Larry Greer, Ed Pinckney and Jerry Sichting, player development coach John Lucas III and special assistant to the president/player development coach Daisuke Yoshimoto. Star Tribune

Draymond Green, who's been on a diet since March, lost 23 pounds prior to the Dubs' postseason run after giving up Cheetos, Snickers, wine and tequila, Rachel Nichols revealed Tuesday on ESPN's "The Jump." Green told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson back in April his weight loss was spurred by a comment from Warriors general manager Bob Myers. "If we're going to win a championship, you've got to get in shape," Myers told Green. SF Chronicle

For the third straight year, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named the best defender at his position. That was the result of the NBA’s All-Defense teams announced on Wednesday, putting Gobert alongside Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, OKC’s Paul George, Boston’s Marcus Smart, and Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe for top defensive honors. Among second-team selections, Jrue Holiday led voting, getting 90 points at the guard position next to Klay Thompson. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid earned second-team center honors over Myles Turner, while Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard were selected ahead of Houston’s P.J. Tucker. Salt Lake Tribune

Most projections are that the Mavericks will have $29.4 million to $37.9 million to spend on free agency. The lower figure factors in the potential of Dwight Powell enacting his $10.2 million player option for next season, though a Yahoo report stated that he will not, and the Mavericks by June 29 extending qualifying offers and thereby placing cap holds on restricted free agents Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith. Dallas Morning News

The $37.9 million figure could be reached if the Mavericks use the stretch provision, on July 1 or later, to waive guard Courtney Lee and stretch his $12.76 million 2019-20 salary's cap hit over three seasons, to $4.25 million per year, clearing $8.5 million for next season. That's not an ideal scenario, however, because Lee's "dead money" in years two and three would inhibit spending during those summers. Dallas Morning News

The NBA hasn’t projected a salary cap for 2021 so we factored in an increase of $4 million, putting the estimated cap at $120 million. The Bulls will draft seventh in 2019, and for this hypothetical scenario included draft picks in 2020 (15th) and 2021 (20th) to their cap. Don’t get bogged down in the numbers or the slots the Bulls are picking. They’re just fillers. Including cap hits, the Bulls could have $63 million heading into free agency in 2021. NBC Sports Chicago

The Knicks won the third pick in the NBA draft at last week’s lottery and have not ruled out packaging the pick in an Anthony Davis blockbuster to New Orleans, where Zion Williamson will soon call home. That would mean the 6-7 swingman from Canada would never don a Knicks uniform. “I think he brings something to the table they really don’t have right now,” Devoe told The Post in a phone interview from the Atlanta campus. ‘He’s a fearless scorer who wants to come in and be one of the top guys right away. He wants the ball in his hands. He didn’t drop down from high school to college. He’ll be one of the top guys in the NBA. He has that dog in him and competitiveness in him that separates him from a lot of people.” NY Post

Miami Heat assistant and former Michigan star Juwan Howard has reached agreement on a five-year contract to be the next head coach of the Wolverines, a source told ESPN. Howard will replace John Beilein, who left Michigan last week to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Beilein was with the Wolverines for 12 seasons, leading them to two national championship games.

NBA Rumors for Wednesday

Kawhi limped his way through 34 minutes of play Tuesday night, wasn’t at his best, winced when he landed on his right leg at times, winced when he landed on his left at times, didn’t have his usual feel for the ball throughout the game, and then left with 3:39 to go to a standing ovation, some 37 seconds after hitting only three-point shot of the night and demonstrating a rare piece of emotion with a fist pump. Toronto Sun

Where to begin to celebrate after this victory? With one of Kyle Lowry’s greatest games as a Raptor. With a giant performance from Marc Gasol, offensively and defensively, at centre. With fabulous play from the normally up and down Serge Ibaka, who was part of a Raptors bench that completely dominated the Bucks, outscoring them 48-23 — and that was more than the difference in the final score. Toronto Sun

Six Raptors scored in double-digits, with Kyle Lowry (25) and Norm Powell (18) leading the way on offence, while the entire team put in a tremendous defensive effort, surviving a hot start from the Milwaukee Bucks to hand the 60-win visitors only their second two-game losing streak of the entire season. Entering Tuesday night, the Bucks were 22-1 coming off losses. Toronto Sun

Khris Middleton rebounded from a tough Game 3 for a personal series-high 30 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo got back that aggressive gear that has served him so well all season. Giannis wasn’t the one-man wrecking crew he has shown to be at times this year and credit Leonard with that. Leonard, again with primary defensive duties on the Greek Freak, wasn’t his normally explosive offensive self, but he was stout on the defensive end, gimpy or not. Toronto Sun

In some ways, Tuesday’s blowout was an unlikely win for the home team. This season, after all, no team has handled the bounce-back game as deftly as the Bucks, who reeled off a 22-1 record in games coming off a loss. Toronto, by comparison, was 17-7 in those situations — a number complicated by the Raptors’ season-long commitment to prioritizing Leonard’s load management over any given win. The Raptors had lost two in a row on two separate occasions in the playoffs: to the Sixers and the Bucks. Toronto Star

NBA Rumors for Tuesday

Anthony Davis’ status is the elephant in the NBA’s room. New Pelicans boss David Griffin said Davis’ status should be clearer after Griffin meets with his disgruntled star next month in California for a frank face-to-face. “Yeah, we’ll visit together. We’ll probably sit together in Los Angeles at some point around the draft workouts that take place there,” said Griffin, the Pelicans’ recently hired executive vice president of basketball operations. “We’ll definitely visit; that’s the next step." NY Post

Davis demanded out of New Orleans last season, long before Griffin got hired. Even after the Pelicans won the lottery — despite having just a 6 percent chance — the thought of playing alongside another generational talent in presumptive No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson hasn’t appeared to soften Davis’ stance. NY Post

Davis has been linked with the Knicks, Lakers, Celtics and recently even the Nets as potential trade destinations. And that was before the Pelicans hired away Brooklyn assistant general manager Trajan Langdon as a GM to work under Griffin. NY Post

Of course, with Davis still under contract, Griffin can hold onto him and spend the first half of the season trying to convince him to re-sign in the summer of 2020. And Griffin — speaking during Tuesday’s conference call to introduce Langdon — was confident he can do so during a sit-down in the days leading up to the June 20 draft. NY Post

If Tim Connelly has his druthers, Paul Millsap is coming back for another tour with the Denver Nuggets. “Our goal and Paul’s goal is to have him back with us,” Connelly, the Nuggets’ president of basketball operations, told reporters during a joint news conference with coach Michael Malone at the Pepsi Center late Tuesday morning. Denver Post

The Nuggets hold a $30.1-million team option on Millsap for next season; after 2019-20, the 34-year-old power forward could become an unrestricted free agent. Denver Post

Saying he won’t use the word “rebuild,” Beilein was introduced Tuesday by the Cavs, whose surprising choice of the 66-year-old was met with skepticism only by those who haven’t crossed paths with him over more than four decades as a coach. Cleveland’s expansive search ended last week with someone who has won at every level in college — most recently during a 12-year run at Michigan — and will now see if his team-first, family-oriented style can work in the pros. Washington Post

Ryan Saunders, with family and several Timberwolves in the crowd, was introduced as the head coach of the Timberwolves on Tuesday. Saunders, 33, took over Jan. 6 as interim coach after Tom Thibodeau was fired. New President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas interviewed at least four outside candidates before deciding to retain Saunders — the youngest coach in the NBA — as the permanent coach. Star Tribune

Atlanta Hawks guard and former OU All-American Trae Young was one of two unanimous selections to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team, announced Tuesday by the league. Young, who was No. 1 among rookies and fourth in the NBA in assists per game (8.1), and Dallas’s Luka Doncic were the only first-year players to receive all 100 first-team votes. Joining them on the All-Rookie First Team are Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton, Memphis’s Jaren Jackson Jr., and Sacramento’s Marvin Bagley III. Oklahoman

Jackson received the fourth-most votes. He is the first Memphis player since 2009 to be named to an All-Rookie team. That year, O.J. Mayo earned first-team honors while Marc Gasol was on the second team. Jackson missed the season's final 23 games with a quad bruise as the Grizzlies opted to take a cautious approach with a player viewed as a potential franchise centerpiece. Commercial Appeal

Wendell Carter Jr., who turned 20 last month, flashed defensive instincts that belied his age and shot 48.5 percent. He is scheduled to be play in the summer league for the Bulls. “I already can't wait for this summer and next season,” Carter said late in the season. “Right before I got hurt, I really felt I was starting to understand the game a bit more.” Chicago Tribune

NBA Rumors for Monday, May 20, 2019

Updated 2:00 a.m. ET

The Raptors' 118-112 Game 3 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night at the Scotiabank Arena did not come easy, and not just because it took two overtimes. The Raptors played the final six minutes of the game without their leader and quarterback Kyle Lowry, who fouled out. Then they lost Norm Powell, who was re-creating his stellar playoff performance of three years ago against Indiana, before his sixth and disqualifying foul with 1:09 to go in the fourth quarter. They also had Marc Gasol sitting on five fouls heading into the first overtime and other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, no one on the Milwaukee side had any foul concerns. Toronto Sun

As an indication of how much the Raptors wanted this one, you don’t have to look much past the 52 minutes of floor time from Kawhi Leonard, who appeared to come up limping in the opening few minutes of the game following an awkward landing. Leonard shook off the leg problem, although he could be seen favouring it at times throughout the rest of the game to set a new career-high in a playoff game for minutes played. Toronto Sun

As good as he was offensively, dwarfing everyone in the game with 36 points, it was his defence on Antetokounmpo that stood out. The Greek Freak was limited to just 12 points in 45 minutes as Nurse switched Leonard on to Antetokounmpo, allowing Pascal Siakam to expend more of his energy on the offensive end. Toronto Sun

Giannis played 44:41 before fouling out for Milwaukee. He crushed the boards, bringing down 23 rebounds. His offence was hardly MVP-like: He shot 31% from the field. The Bucks starting lineup shot 29%. Game 4 is Tuesday night and again the Raptors will need to be huge to deal with the Bucks, who were 10-1 heading into Game 3. Now 10-2. The Raptors are 9-6 in the post-season. But the two most recent wins at home, they were all about Kawhi at the end. These are the stories we’ll tell our kids and our kid’s kids, so different from what we’re used to in this city of so much sporting frustration. Toronto Sun

Marc Gasol’s huge performance from the perimeter wasn’t the top story of Toronto’s epic 118-112 double-overtime victory. That’d be another heroic performance from a hobbled, dogged Kawhi Leonard, who scored 36 points in a career-high 52 minutes while taking on the job of primary defender to Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo, load management be damned. But Gasol’s 16 points contained some of the biggest buckets of a season-saving win. His 4-for-8 shooting from three-point range helped open up the interior for a Raptors team that, for the first time in the series, weren’t wholly dominated in the painted area. His team-high 12 rebounds helped shore up an area in which Toronto, too, had proved woefully inadequate in Games 1 and 2. Toronto Star

David Griffin has now made his first front office hire as the Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations, inserting former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Trajan Langdon as the team's new general manager, a source confirmed Sunday morning. The Advocate

Previously, Langdon was one of the six candidates who interviewed for New Orleans' previously vacant executive vice president of basketball operations position that Griffin was hired for in April. Now, the duo will work together, with Langdon taking on more of the day-to-day duties to allow Griffin to better sculpt and carry out his much-talked-about vision for the future of the Pelicans franchise. The Advocate

The 43-year-old Langdon has extensive contacts throughout Europe, speaks five languages and — as a former Spurs scout — was responsible for scouting the top 35 to 40 prospects on the Nets’ board. He also served as Long Island’s GM, winning G League Executive of the Year. Langdon will be getting in as the GM on the ground floor of a rebuild, but one that should be far easier than Brooklyn’s was. While the Nets had no assets, the Pelicans will enjoy hugely valuable ones. NY Post

New Orleans has been without a general manager since firing Dell Demps back in February shortly after the trade deadline passed. The team had been negotiating potential trades for six-time All-Star Anthony Davis, but there had been a stalemate with the Lakers, who were the most active potential partner.

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has struggled during the Western Conference finals series against the Golden State Warriors, and it might partly be attributed to injury. Lillard has been playing with separated ribs, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The former Finals MVP (Andre Iguodala) will receive an MRI on Sunday. Golden State leads Portland 3-0 in the Western Conference finals.

Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard reportedly will meet with the University of Michigan, his alma mater, this week regarding the team’s head coaching job. According to and “The Michigan Insider,” Howard will meet with Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel on Tuesday. At least two prominent former Michigan players –ex-basketball star Jalen Rose and former football All American and Miami Dolphins No. 1 overall pick Jake Long – have publicly advocated for Michigan to hire Howard to replace John Beilein, who left to become coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami Herald

The Liberty will begin their season against the Indiana Fever at Westchester County Center on Friday, but the new owner, Joe Tsai, does not plan to have the team’s sojourn north of New York City continue much longer. “I would say that the Liberty playing in Westchester County, in an arena that has a capacity of less than 3,000, is not ideal,” he said in an interview at an upscale hotel recently, shortly after arriving in Manhattan on a long flight from China. Bloomberg estimates that Tsai, one of the founders of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is worth almost $11 billion. NY Times

NBA Rumors for Sunday

On Paul Millsap: The Nuggets hold a $30 million team option on the veteran forward, which isn’t commensurate to his production anymore. Denver does value Millsap immensely and wants to bring him back. It just needs to decide how much his intangibles are worth and what a potential restructured contract would look like. Millsap has said he could see himself finishing his career in Denver. The feeling could be mutual as they pursue a championship together, but at a reduced salary. Denver Post

Will Barton re-signed with the Nuggets last summer under the expectation that he’d be a starter. And he was until a core injury that required surgery derailed the first few months of his season. Barton came back from his first major injury and tried to reintegrate into an offense that had been humming. He had his moments, on both ends of the court, but ultimately lost his starting spot when coach Michael Malone went with defensive-minded Torrey Craig over Barton midway through the first round playoff series against San Antonio. Malone stuck with Craig as a starter as the playoffs progressed, and Barton hit a low point when he was booed at home against the Spurs. Denver Post

Malik Beasley, who could be up for a contract extension this summer, made massive strides this season in terms of his outside shooting and mental focus. That didn’t entirely translate to the postseason, where he shot just 38 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. Beasley has a ton of promise and though he has a lot of room to grow on both ends, there were enough glimpses to make you feel comfortable about him going forward. Expect an expanded role for him heading into next season. Denver Post

But in the first two games of this series, the Warriors have reduced Lillard to a medium-usage, low-efficiency perimeter scorer. They've prevented him from doing any damage inside the 3-point line. Lillard's shot distribution in the first two games should worry the Blazers. He has only one made shot in the paint and three total buckets in the 2-point area. He has taken nine shots from beyond 30 feet, and has taken a total of four inside 10 feet.

But the Warriors might be forcing Dame to a breaking point. His shot quality is down to a 42.5 expected eFG on 17 3s in this series, per Second Spectrum. The average shot distance on his 3s is 29.1 feet away from the rim. Somehow he's still shooting 41.2 percent overall on those looks, but that's not sustainable and it's affecting the rest of his game.

The Warriors have looked just fine without two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant. While he recovers from a right calf strain, the reigning champions have won three straight playoff games with Steph Curry leading the way. Which begs the questions to many, are the Warriors better off without Durant? “That’s idiotic,” Draymond Green said to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami Thursday after the Warriors' 114-111 win in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals over the Blazers. “It’s very idiotic. I don’t think there’s one person in this locker room, one person in this organization that thinks that. And I know for damn sure that any idiot that does possibly (say) it don’t believe it.” NBC Sports Bay Area

The Los Angeles Clippers, who overachieved in the eyes of many by not only making the playoffs, but taking two games in their first-round series against two-time defending champion Golden State, had coach Doc Rivers and star reserves Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams nominated for NBA awards. Rivers, Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer and Denver’s Michael Malone are the finalists for coach of the year. Rivers guided a rebuilding team that added a handful of players at the trade deadline into the playoffs with a record of 48-34, about a dozen more wins than many experts predicted. Milwaukee (60-22) had the NBA’s best record while Denver (54-28) was another surprise team by finishing second in the Western Conference. LA Times

The NBA announced the three finalists for the Rookie of the Year award on Friday and it came as no surprise that Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was one of them. He is joined by Hawks guard Trae Young and Suns center DeAndre Ayton. Throughout much of the season, Doncic was the unopposed frontrunner for the rookie of the year award, even causing the online gambling site MyBookie decided to close the book on Doncic bets in February. Dallas Morning News

After Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell boldly stated he would win the NBA Most Improved Player Award, he was named one of the three finalists on Friday. The 23-year-old will have to contend with Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, the NBA said in announcing finalists for six awards. “I’m gonna win that s–t. Watch. Put it on record. I’m gonna win it,” Russell had told SNY earlier this season. “I’m telling you, I’m winning it!” NY Post

The voters have spoken: Rudy Gobert is again in the top three for the NBA’s annual Defensive Player of the Year award. Gobert’s place as a finalist for the award was announced on Friday evening, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George. Gobert is the reigning winner of the award, having earned a majority of the vote for an effective if injury-shortened campaign in 2017-18. SLC Tribune

Rockets guard James Harden on Friday was named a finalist to repeat as NBA Most Valuable Player, joining Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder as finalists. Harden is expected to finish in the top two for the fourth time in five seasons when the awards are announced June 24 in Los Angeles. Antetokounmpo or George would be first-time winners. Both are Defensive Player of the Year finalists along with last season's winner, Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Houston Chronicle

The Clippers have three representatives among the finalists for the NBA awards this season. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are both in contention for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, along with the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis. Doc Rivers is one of three in the running for Coach of the Year, in addition to the Milwaukee Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer and the Denver Nuggets’ Michael Malone. OC Register

Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-7 center who nearly slayed Duke after giving Zion Williamson fits in the NCAA Tournament, has popped onto the Knicks radar with their 55th pick following his head-turning draft combine in Chicago, according to a source. The Knicks met with 30 kids but did not interview Fall. Knicks brass entered the week in Chicago unsure he was an NBA player. NY Post

Master P says if Zion Willamson decides to play for the New Orleans Pelicans he could be BIGGER THAN MICHAEL JORDAN because of the sheer love he'd get from the community. The Pelicans got the first pick of the draft (hi, New York!) and almost immediately people started to speculate that Zion wouldn't want to hoop there, preferring a bigger market to shine his star. TMZ Sports

NBA Rumors for Saturday

Magic Johnson has always been a hard act to follow. After the 59-year-old Hall of Famer resigned last month as Lakers team president, the franchise has decided not to appoint a successor. An ESPN report outlines that the Lakers will keep their power structure as it’s been operating since April 9, with General Manager Rob Pelinka as the chief basketball decision-maker. He’ll report directly to team owner Jeanie Buss. OC Register

The Phoenix Suns will introduce new head coach Monty Williams on Tuesday morning, the team announced Friday. Williams was hired by the team on May 3, replacing the fired Igor Kokoskov. Kokoskov posted a record of 19-63 in his lone season as the Suns’ head coach. Arizona Sports

North Carolina point guard Coby White left the NBA Draft Combine on Friday after interviewing with teams and being measured, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. That means the top two lottery-bound point guards after expected No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant have left the combine with the event still ongoing, a sign they feel confident they will be drafted in the top-10. Arizona Sports

The NBA today announced that we won't be seeing Tyreke Evans for a while. Not in an NBA game, at least. Per the league, Evans, who played for the Pacers last season and was headed to free agency this summer, has been "dismissed and disqualified" from the league due to a violation of the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program. Inside Hoops

Evans, who reportedly was on a year-year, $12.4 million contract with the Pacers this past season, will be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the NBA in two years. Inside Hoops

Gotta touch the ball. Makes everything flow. “Oh, for sure it’s a real thing,” said Danny Green, the 31-year-old Toronto Raptors shooting guard who hadn’t been shooting much of late. “The more you touch the ball, the more you’re comfortable with it, the more you’re acclimated to shoot and dribble … There’s a reason why you warm up, because you want to feel the ball. You don’t just start, you know what I’m saying. No matter how many years you play. If you’re 50 years old, you’ve still got to warm up. Just like stretching.” Toronto Star

No team in basketball defends the restricted area better than the Bucks, and they send waves of bodies at anybody approaching the lane. So you have to beat the bodies, or find open shooters. Kawhi had five shots blocked in Game 1 while going 10-for-26; Siakam went 6-for-20, though part of that was missing all seven of his corner threes. Toronto Star

Steve Kerr said Thursday night after the Warriors’ Game 2 win over the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals that Kevin Durant’s right calf strain “is a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning.” On Friday before the Warriors departed for Portland, Kerr rephrased that statement. Mercury News

“What did I say last night, that it was a little more serious than we thought?” Kerr said. “The right way to put it would be, with a calf injury, there’s kind of a wide range of how long a guy’s gonna be out. He’s had them in the past where he was out a week or 10 days but right from the beginning (head trainer) Rick (Celebrini) was telling me that you really can’t put a number of days or weeks on this." Mercury News

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his left quad early in Game 2 of the first round against the Clippers, is closer to returning to action than Durant. Mercury News

The top pick and the opportunity to draft Zion Williamson may have been the hope for the team after finishing with a league-worst 17-65 record, but the Knicks landed the third pick in what most executives around the league believe is a three-player tier at the top of the draft. The odds in the new lottery system actually had the team with a 47.9-percent chance of finishing at No. 5 overall, so the chance to get either RJ Barrett or Ja Morant was enough to call it a win for a team in need of one. “We’re excited about where we are,” Mills said as prospects worked out on the court behind him at Quest Multisport on day two of the NBA Draft Combine. “We know we’ll get a good player at three. So it’s something we’re excited about and look forward to.” NY Newsday

But the Knicks' rebuilding plans center around far more than just where they select in the first round. The team has cleared out as much as $74 million in salary-cap space, enough to secure two max-salary free agents. And the No. 3 pick might just be trade bait for another veteran with rumors growing louder that the Knicks will be in the mix for Anthony Davis if the New Orleans Pelicans can not convince him to remain with the team long-term after he asked out last year at the trade deadline, informing the team he would not sign another contract after the coming season. NY Newsday

NBA Rumors for Friday

His trade to the Sixers and relationship with his new coach showed that perhaps it was the latter. With Jimmy Butler about to hit free agency, having a head coach in place that understands him can't be underestimated. "I believe we arrived at a place where, if we’re able to coach together again," Brett Brown said, "he’s able to play for me, I’m able to coach him — I think you jump into this thing in a far advanced way given the history, albeit brief, that we both have had with each other and use him more correctly. Him understand me and the team more correctly right from the get-go.” NBC Sports Philly

In the Warriors’ 114-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Curry and Thompson made plenty of shots. Curry finished with 37 points while going 11-of-22 from the field, 4-of-14 from 3 and 11-of-11 from the free-throw line, a performance that cemented his third consecutive 30-point game. Thompson had 24 points while going 8-of-22 from the field and 4-of-8 from deep, marking the fourth consecutive game he scored without 25 points. Mercury News

Curry gave the Warriors a 110-108 lead after making three foul shots with 2:01 remaining. Then Curry set up Draymond Green for an open layup that gave the Warriors a 114-111 cushion with 12.3 seconds remaining. And well before that, Curry kept the Warriors afloat even when they trailed by as many as 17 points. Mercury News

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard decided to wear a nauseatingly bright pair of florescent green shoes to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, and a number of Twitter users were blinded by the light. "Damian Lillard's shoes made me switch channels," one user wrote. SF Chronicle

Warriors star Kevin Durant will miss the upcoming Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals in Portland as he continues to recover from a strained right calf, and the timing of his next examination by doctors likely means he would not return until the NBA Finals if Golden State advances. Denver Post/AP

If the Grizzlies go with the obvious choice in next month’s NBA draft and use their fortuitous lottery bounce to draft Ja Morant, it will raise a key question. What to do with point guard Mike Conley? Conley, 31, has made it clear he would welcome a trade to pair him with a contender for the final two years of his contract. Memphis Commercial Appeal

When the Jazz and Grizzlies discussed a Conley trade before this season’s trade deadline, Utah reportedly offered a first-round pick, second-round pick and two expiring contracts (Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio) for Conley. If the teams revisit a Conley trade this offseason, perhaps the Grizzlies could manage to extract two first-round picks from the Jazz and get some cap relief to spend in free agency with Conley’s salary off the books. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Be disappointed about not getting Zion Williamson if you want, Knicks fans. But you should also be excited about RJ Barrett. There seems to be a dejected feeling among some fans about Barrett, that not only is he far inferior to Williamson but that he’s not much of a prospect, period, and that the fan base is only reluctantly accepting him. I’m just not sure what people aren’t seeing here. NY Post

When I look at Barrett, I see shades of Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade in his game — and I see shades of Baker Mayfield in his swagger and competitiveness (everything you read and see with Barrett is that he’s a ferocious competitor). NY Post

The stepfather of Zion Williamson, the presumed No. 1 pick in the NBA draft next month, shot down speculation that the Duke star is unhappy with the possibility of playing for the New Orleans Pelicans, who won the top pick in the draft lottery Tuesday, and is toying with the idea of returning to school for another season. Granted, it was a stunner when the Pelicans cashed in a 6% chance and leaped past six teams with better odds to claim the top pick. So stunning was it that speculation immediately turned to the possibility that Williamson might balk at beginning his NBA career in New Orleans. Although Williamson and his family have time to consider all the options, his stepfather seemed to certain he'd start his NBA career soon. Chicago Tribune

Williamson has yet to sign with an agent or a shoe company, which helped fuel the speculation. But his stepfather said that arises more from the desire to make the right choices, given that Williamson is only 18. Chicago Tribune

That conversation may have been fueled by a tweet Tuesday from ESPN's Marc J. Spears just after New Orleans won the lottery. Citing a source who claimed that Williamson "was rooting to go to New York," Spears tweeted that the AP Player of the Year in college basketball "was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery." Chicago Tribune

Ja Morant is not taking part in the games portion of the draft combine that opens Thursday. That's not uncommon for players who are expected to be among the top picks in the NBA draft, and it's widely projected already that the former Murray State guard could go No. 2 overall in the June 20 selections to Memphis. Star Tribune/AP

Hey Zion Williamson, we hear you may be moving to New Orleans and we have the perfect starter home for you. Sixers center Greg Monroe has put his house on the market. Monroe, who played just three regular season games for the Sixers, but had a slightly bigger role in the playoffs, playing in 10 games and starting one. He has played for six NBA teams during his nine-year career, and I guess he thinks it’s time to move out of his beautiful home, on the banks of a golf course, in his hometown of New Orleans. NBC Sports Philly

Sixers fans don’t need another reason to love Boban Marjanovic, but he’s given you one anyway. The charismatic big man stars in the movie “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” which is set to come out this weekend. Marjanovic plays an enormous assassin in the opening scene alongside the film’s star, Keanu Reeves. Director Chad Stahelski had an idea that he wanted to create a scene a la Bruce Lee fighting Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in “Game of Death.” NBC Sports Philly

When asked if he has a chip on his shoulder, Cam Reddish said Thursday at the NBA combine, “Sure. Yeah. Absolutely.” He added, “I’m definitely looking forward to what’s to come.” Reddish put up solid — not eye-popping — numbers, averaging 13.5 points while shooting 35.6%. He made 33.3% of his 3-pointers. Washington Post/AP

NBA Rumors for Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The New Orleans Pelicans were fortunate to turn up the franchise-changing ping pong ball to win the No. 1 pick at Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery, despite entering the day with just a 6% chance of winning. They beat out 13 other hopeful teams looking to draft Williamson, the Duke sensation who’s the presumptive top pick in June after a highlight-reel freshman season in which he was college basketball’s national player of the year. USA Today

Previously, the team with the worst record (New York went a league-worst 17-65 this past season) had a 25% chance of getting the top pick. This year the team with the three worst records — the Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers (fifth) and Phoenix Suns (sixth) — all had an equal 14% chance at the top pick. But the new system benefited teams near the middle more — allowing the Pelicans, Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers to move up. USA Today

There were 193 games of misery between the Knicks, Suns and Cavaliers in 2018-19 — and only the No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6 picks, respectively, to show for it on Tuesday night. Instead, the New Orleans Pelicans and their mediocre six percent odds (thanks to a 33-49 mark) jumped from seventh on the board to steal the Zion Prize. A noticeable drop in talent follows consensus top pick Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, which only adds to the Suns and Cavaliers’ pain. NY Post

If the Lakers play it right, they can package this fourth pick with some of their kids for a veteran star who could play alongside LeBron James and help attract a free-agent superstar who could instantly turn them back into championship contenders. If the Lakers play it wrong, they will be stuck with the fourth-best player in a three-player draft. They will have a nice prospect, but they’re not in the market for nice prospect. They can throw a draft party, but the hugs will be forced and the champagne will remained iced. LA Times

Now that they will have no chance at the top prospects like Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, the Wizards' best bet is to trade back and acquire more picks. They only have one pick in this year's draft and do not own one in the second round until 2023. They need more draft assets for a variety of reasons. For one, they are in a difficult salary cap situation where they lack cheap, high-upside players. The best way to find those is in the draft. NBC Sports Washington

The Sun-Times reported last month that one scenario the Bulls would explore, and had dialogue about during the season, involves Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball. The Lakers were one of the big winners in the lottery, moving up to No. 4, but Murray State point guard Ja Morant, expected to be picked second, will no longer be around to make Ball expendable. Giving the Lakers No. 4 and 7, however, does give them options, whether it’s packaging for a trade or building with youth around LeBron James. Chicago Sun-Times

Portland hasn’t been in this situation before and it showed in game one. They shot just 36.1 percent from the floor. They turned the ball over 21 times. They allowed the Warriors to shoot 50 percent from the field and 51.5 percent from long range. You can’t beat the champs with these types of stats. NBC Sports Northwest

In a game that badly needed a driving force, Curry provided that jolt of energy by hitting on 9 of his 15 attempts from 3-point range. He led the Warriors with 36 points in their otherwise sleepy 116-94 win over Portland. In the last 1:04 of the first half, Curry scored eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers to stretch the Warriors’ lead from 3 points to 9. It was a burst we’ve seen countless times from him. Mercury News

The Blazers captured 16 offensive rebounds but got only 14 second-chance points, going 4-17 with their second-chance shots. The Warriors had 17 fast-break points and the Blazers had just two. Lillard and McCollum combined for 36 points, the exact number Steph Curry scored and Klay Thompson added 26 to the Warriors’ backcourt total. NBC Sports Northwest

Free agency has yet to begin, but the Clippers are proving to be a desirable destination for the members of their own front office. After General Manager Michael Winger declined to interview for a promotion in Minnesota and Assistant GM Trent Redden pulled out of the running for a promotion in New Orleans last month, Hall of Famer Jerry West has agreed to return to the Clippers next season in his role as a consultant to the team’s front office, according to a league source who Tuesday confirmed multiple media reports. OC Register

NBA Rumors for Tuesday

Gersson Rosas is expanding the Timberwolves’ head coaching search, according to multiple reports. ESPN reported Tuesday that Minnesota will interview Portland assistant David Vanterpool and Miami assistant Juwan Howard, while the New York Times reported the team will interview New Orleans assistant Chris Finch. St Paul Pioneer Press

The Athletic is reporting the Wolves also are interested in Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham. The fact that Rosas is interviewing candidates other than interim head coach Ryan Saunders is noteworthy. St Paul Pioneer Press

Another head coaching search, another interview for Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard. The Heat confirmed it has granted permission to Howard to interview for the Timberwolves’ head coaching job. Miami Herald

ESPN reported interim coach Ryan Saunders is still a prominent candidate in Minnesota’s coaching search, but new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas also plans to interview Howard and Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool for the position. Miami Herald

John Beilein's decision to leave Michigan basketball and accept the Cleveland Cavaliers' head coaching job on Monday stunned many people in the basketball world. Detroit Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem isn't among that group. When the Pistons parted ways with Stan Van Gundy after last season, Beilein nearly became their coach. He interviewed for the position and made a powerful impression but the Pistons ultimately couldn't pass up on former Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Detroit Free Press

Retired Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has been honored by Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas lawmakers for his outstanding 21-year career with the same NBA team. Nowitzki was in Austin on Tuesday to visit Abbott, who introduced the German-born star as the greatest player in Mavericks history and one of the greatest in the league. Washington Post/AP


The Golden State Warriors could be without star forward Kevin Durant for at least the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Durant, who suffered a mild strain in his right calf on May 9, is expected to miss at least Game 1 of the Blazers-Warriors series. Shelburne adds that Durant, 30, will not be re-evaluated again until Thursday, so there's a possibility the two-time NBA Finals MVP could miss Game 2 as well. NBC Sports Northwest

Boylen, Paxson and Forman aren’t particularly popular figures among Bulls fans currently. That’s also something Reinsdorf said he is aware of from talking to fans in the past year. While Reinsdorf did admit that rebuilds are painful, and even quipped that it’s “a lot of losses” between the Bulls and White Sox, he thinks they have a solid plan in place. “I feel like we have a great opportunity with this year’s draft to add another player and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think we can jump from where we were this year to a much better record,” Reinsdorf said. NBC Sports Chicago

In their 39-season existence, the Mavericks' only semblance of draft luck occurred in 1981, in a coin flip against Detroit to determine which team would get the No. 1 overall pick and which would draft second. Dallas won and selected Mark Aguirre, who became the third-leading scorer in franchise history during his checkered eight seasons here. Detroit selected Naismith Hall of Famer-to-be Isiah Thomas. You decide how that coin flip actually worked out. Regardless, it didn't make up for what occurred a year earlier, when the expansion Mavericks began NBA life with the No. 11 overall pick, rather than the No. 1 pick they originally had been promised during expansion negotiations. Dallas Morning News

Every outlet in Chicago happily keeps reminding us the Bulls have a 12.5 percent of getting the No. 1 pick. What typically goes without saying is the Bulls have an 87.5 percent of not getting Zion Williamson. Realism isn’t the opposite of optimism — only its enemy. What fun it would be to be stunned the way everyone was 11 years ago when the Bulls only had a 1.8 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick that allowed them to draft Derrick Rose and, incredibly, the ping-pong balls bounced their way. How monumental an ordinary weekday in May would become if the Bulls woke up Wednesday in position to draft Williamson, who will change the NBA overnight. But, as Bulls executive vice president John Paxson advised in April, “luck and hope are not a strategy or a plan,’’ so adjust your expectations accordingly. Chicago Tribune

The Bucks finished the regular season with a 60-22 record and they were 33-8 at home. They swept the overmatched and limited Detroit Pistons in the first round and then caused the Boston Celtics to implode in the second. They will be bolstered by the return of guard Malcolm Brogdon, and they have been resting since dispatching the Celtics last Wednesday. Their legs will be fresh. And Toronto is under no illusion about what the test will be like. Toronto Star

“They’ve got a lot of weapons, they’re pretty deep and they shoot the ball as well as anybody, and they’ve got the one-man fast break in Giannis and then they’ve got a point guard (Eric Bledsoe) who’s really, really good and physical,” Kyle Lowry said. “They’ve got George Hill coming off the bench and playing well, they’ve got a lot of weapons. We’ve got to prepare and look at every situation that we have to take advantage of and prepare for every game and go out and do our job.” Toronto Star

NBA Rumors for Monday

Kyle Lowry shot just 1-for-7 on three-pointers and 4-for-13 overall from the floor on Sunday, yet was one of the two or three best players on that very same floor. Kawhi Leonard will justifiably get the bulk of the accolades for his all-time shot to close out the Philadelphia 76ers, Serge Ibaka came up huge while Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid had their moments, but Lowry was everywhere. He stepped in to take a couple of big charges, no surprise since he regularly tops the NBA in that category. Toronto Sun

Remarkably, Lowry’s sore thumb popped out again, as it had versus Orlando, but he toughed it out. “I fell, it popped out, I popped it back in,” Lowry said. “It kind of was loose. I was just trying to figure out how to pass the ball. I couldn’t really pass and grip the ball, but that doesn’t matter. I’m fine, I played. We won the game. We’ll get some rest and try heal it up as fast as possible." Toronto Sun

Leonard was not particularly efficient on this night, needing 39 shots to get to his 41 points but no one is going to quibble given the outcome. “I knew it was Game 7,” Leonard said. “I didn’t want to leave no shots in my mind. I just wanted to go out and leave it all on the floor. This could have been my last game for the season and I would have had to wait four or five months to put up another shot in a game. So I was gonna leave it all out on the floor tonight and not worry about makes or misses and still just try to will us to a win or just get to my spots.” Toronto Sun

Wherever Lillard turned Sunday afternoon, Craig was there to bully his every move. He plowed through picks, was never beat on penetration and constantly breathed down Lillard’s neck – quite literally – on each in-bounds play. In Portland’s 100-96 Game 7 victory at Pepsi Center, the biggest star of these Western Conference semifinals was having a horrible shooting day and he – and everyone back in Portland – should be happy he doesn’t have to see Craig until the fall. With 3:34 remaining in the third quarter, Lillard had seven points, was 1 of 10 from the field and had missed all five 3-pointers he’d attempted as the Nuggets clung to a 63-59 edge. Denver Post

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Murray did all they could in the waning moments to try and overcome a rough shooting fourth quarter. Jokic hit a short shot ahead of Murray’s bucket, but the Nuggets never regained the lead. Jokic finished his transcendent season with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Murray was just 4 of 18 from the field and had 17 points. “Jamal is going to be a better player because of this experience,” Malone said. He lamented 11 missed free throws and Portland’s 21 second-chance points. Denver Post

Game 6 hero Rodney Hood left midway through the third quarter after he was injured on a back screen from Craig. Hood walked off the court gingerly and headed to the locker room with a hyperextended knee. He did not return. Denver Post

The Blazers were down 48-39 at halftime and trailed by just a point heading into the fourth quarter. That's when the Nuggets' hopes of reaching their first Western Conference Finals in a decade died with a 7-of-24 shooting performance, including 3 of 10 from Jokic, who tearfully blamed himself in the locker room for the loss. Star Tribune/AP

The Cleveland Cavaliers moved closer Saturday to completing a first round of candidate interviews for the franchise's head-coaching job, league sources told ESPN. Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and members of his front office met separately with several assistant coaches in Denver on the eve of Game 7 between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, including Denver assistants Jordi Fernandez and Wes Unseld Jr. and Portland assistant David Vanterpool, league sources said.

The Cavaliers also interviewed Orlando Magic assistant Steve Hetzel in Denver on Saturday, sources said.

NBA Rumors for Sunday, May 12, 2019

Updated 1:00 a.m. ET

Former Magic and Pacers coach Frank Vogel has agreed to become the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Vogel interviewed for the position on Thursday and reportedly left a good impression on general manager Rob Pelinka. Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reports that Jason Kidd will join Vogel's staff as an assistant coach.

Vogel interviewed for the position on Thursday and reportedly left a good impression on general manager Rob Pelinka. Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reports that Jason Kidd will join Vogel's staff as an assistant coach.

Vogel, 45, did not coach this season, but he had spent two years with the Orlando Magic and six seasons with the Indiana Pacers as head coach. Kidd, 46, coached the Nets for one season immediately after retiring from the N.B.A. in 2013. He then moved on to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he was head coach in four seasons, through January 2018 when he was fired after 45 games that season. NY Times

The team’s desire to add Jason Kidd to the coaching staff was one of several factors that pushed Lue away from the job, according to reports. That did not deter Vogel from taking the job and adding Kidd on as an assistant coach. OC Register

The Cavaliers met Friday night with Denver assistant Jordi Fernandez and interviewed Orlando’s Steve Hetzel on Saturday, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. The person says the team also has meetings scheduled with Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. and Portland’s David Vanterpool. Washington Post/AP

On the Blazers: Enes Kanter has had to step into a starting role since usual big man Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg for Denver late in the season, but he performed well as a key part of the Blazers moving past the Oklahoma City Thunder. While Kanter excelled during the early stretches of the Denver series, he’s made only two baskets in each of the final three games of his series, though he has some logical explanations for his decline. He further separated his shoulder in the overtime of his Game 3, and has been fasting from sunup to sundown in observance of Ramadan. Salt Lake Tribune

When Stephen Curry got back to the huddle, coach Steve Kerr was blunt with his star point guard. "He keeps it real with us," Curry said of Kerr after the game. "There was a moment tonight where I had my second foul when I fouled James on the three, and I saw on the board that he had put Quinn in. Obviously, I had a reaction to that. I walk into the huddle and he keeps it real. He's like, 'How can I trust you to not get your third when you know how big this game is right now and you put yourself in a situation -- a predicament to get your second foul? So, I got to make a decision.' Put Quinn in. Quinn was ready. Obviously, I didn't like it, but we have a strong relationship where he knows I'm not going to lose confidence in that moment, and whenever I get back on the floor, hopefully good things will happen." NBC Sports Bay Area

A California yoga studio is claiming that former NBA star and Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman and a few acquaintances stole more than $3,500 in merchandise, including a 400-pound crystal, while entering the business on two separate occasions this week. Ali Shah, who owns Vibes Hot Yoga, told the Los Angeles Times that surveillance video shows Rodman walking into the Newport Beach location on Tuesday with three other people. According to the studio, the four then worked together to distract an employee so they could steal clothes. Detroit Free Press/USA Today

TMZ Sports spoke with the owner of VIBES Hot Yoga who tells us Rodman and his pals came back to his yoga studio on May 8 ... with Rodman's female pal WEARING one of the outfits she stole the day before. The owner tells us ... the staffer working the register on May 8 thought Rodman's behavior was bizarre -- he was gyrating and hip-thrusting at the counter. TMZ Sports


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