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2016-17 NBA Regular Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Apr 13th, 2017 10:32 pm
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The Orlando Magic moved quickly to overhaul their front office after another disappointing year, removing general manager Rob Hennigan and assistant GM Scott Perry on Thursday, a day after the conclusion of the regular season.

Their focus will now turn to building a new power structure, which could start with hiring a president of basketball operations. The Magic did not fill that role during the Hennigan regime, with CEO Alex Martins serving as de facto basketball ops president, but they may opt to start there before hiring a new GM. Former seven-time All-Star Grant Hill is among the candidates they're interested in for that position, sources told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

Hill spent seven years as a player with the Magic in the 2000s, but never played a full season due to recurring injuries. He currently works for NBA TV, and owns a small ownership stake in the Atlanta Hawks, which he would need to divest in order to take a front-office position with another team. It's unclear if he has any interest in the Magic job, according to Robbins.

If Hill doesn't work out, the Magic are expected to pursue Detroit Pistons associate GM Pat Garrity, another former Magic player they've been linked with in the past. There were reports in March that the organization had an eye to bringing former Magic coach and current Los Angeles Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers back to Orlando at some point, though Rivers quickly poured cold water on that rumor.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 13th, 2017 10:33 pm
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The New York Knicks agreed Thursday to stick it out with president Phil Jackson at the helm for another two years, at least. This, despite the fact that Jackson has apparently lost the trust of the team's highest-paid, highest-profile player.

Over the course of this season, Jackson eroded his relationship with Carmelo Anthony by taking scantly veiled potshots at him through the media, repeatedly trying to deal him away despite Anthony's no-trade clause, and incensing Anthony's good friend LeBron James with insensitive comments that he never really apologized for.

Related: Phil Jackson's treatment of Carmelo sends loud warning to free agents

More than anything, Anthony was vexed by Jackson's passive-aggressive managerial approach, and told reporters after Wednesday's season finale that he finds it "hard to trust" the Knicks president, according to ESPN's Ian Begley.

"If somebody was talking bad about you indirectly at your job, what would you do? You would feel a certain way," Anthony said. "You would want that person to come straightforward with you. And I feel the same way. I'm always open. I'm a very honest person. I know the business and I know the game and I know how it works. So if it's something that you want to get across, a message that you want to get across, I've always been open."

Anthony acknowledged that "there was a point in time when I didn't think I would be back (in New York)," and that being traded this summer remains a possibility. Ultimately, because of the no-trade clause, the decision will be Anthony's to make, but given how the past few seasons have gone, and how his faith in the front office has frayed, that decision may be easier than it would've been in the past.

"I'll know more in the upcoming weeks or so," Anthony said. "I'm pretty sure the organization has an idea, a thought of what they want to do, how they want to do it. But at this point, it's all on me."

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 Posted: Thu Apr 13th, 2017 10:34 pm
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The Memphis Grizzlies have been rocked again by injuries on the eve of the playoffs.

Defensive specialist Tony Allen is out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a strained calf in his right leg, the team announced Thursday.

Adrian Wojanrowski of The Vertical reports that Allen would require a month to recover from his injury, thus knocking him out of the Grizzlies' first-round series with the San Antonio Spurs.

Allen would have likely drawn the unenviable defensive assignment of checking Kawhi Leonard, not only because Allen is a perennial All-Defensive Team staple, but because the Grizzlies have no one else who is capable.

One of Vince Carter, James Ennis, or Andrew Harrison will need to step up in Allen's absence. None of the three is nearly up to the task of keeping an MVP candidate in check.

The 35-year-old Allen averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game this season.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 14th, 2017 10:23 pm
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Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers were named Friday as NBA Players of the Month for the abbreviated schedule of regular-season games in April.

George averaged a league-high 32.8 points in six games, all but one being Pacer wins. George and the Pacers now face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.

Paul averaged 21.2 points, 9.8 assists, and five rebounds in five games. He also shot 54.4 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from three-point range and went 22-for-22 from the free-throw line.

The Clippers open the playoffs Saturday against the Utah Jazz.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 14th, 2017 10:24 pm
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New York Knicks president Phil Jackson confirmed Friday that the team will try to move Carmelo Anthony this summer.

"We've not been able to win with him on the court," Jackson told reporters at his end-of-season press conference, according to Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. "... I think the direction with our team, he'll be better off somewhere else."

Jackson appears to be indicating that the Knicks are prepared to undertake a full-scale rebuild, meaning Anthony won't be able to compete for a championship so long as he's in New York.

The franchise president said he told Anthony in his exit meeting: "You don't want to end up your career not winning," according to ESPN's Ian Begley.

While Jackson's candidness may be surprising, its implication isn't. The Knicks explored trade options for Anthony last season (losing his trust in the process) after Jackson had undercut him in the media.

Jackson also said the triangle offense hasn't worked due to "resistance," implying Anthony wasn't cooperative, according to Newsday's Al Iannazzone.

"There was a disconnect and there was a rebelliousness," Jackson said of the team, stating that will change. He added that the Knicks would want a "significant player" in return for Anthony.


The issue is that Anthony ultimately remains in control of the situation, thanks to a no-trade clause in his contract. Perhaps Jackson's aim is to make the situation so toxic and uncomfortable that Anthony has no choice but to waive the no-trade. Jackson, after all, isn't going anywhere, having reached an agreement with Knicks owner James Dolan to exercise the mutual option on his own contract for the next two years.

Anthony may have dug in his heels this year, but it's looking increasingly likely that he'll be wearing a different uniform come opening night 2017.

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 Posted: Sun Apr 16th, 2017 02:05 am
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With his 13th and 14th points of Saturday's game, Tony Parker passed Celtics legend Larry Bird on the NBA's all-time postseason scoring list.

The Spurs point guard now sits ninth all time in playoff points, sitting ahead of a number of NBA greats, including Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and Hakeem Olajuwon.

With his signature teardrop, Tony Parker passes Larry Bird for 9th on the all-time #NBAPlayoffs scoring list (3,897)! pic.twitter.com/3jsKrX97DG

— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 16, 2017
Parker will go down as one of the greatest postseason performers of his generation, collecting four rings and a Finals MVP during his 16-year career.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 17th, 2017 10:52 pm
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Isaiah Thomas put up a gutsy 33-point performance on Sunday night to open the top-seeded Celtics' playoff run in a loss to the Chicago Bulls, just one day after the death of his 22-year-old sister, Chyna, in a Seattle-area single vehicle crash.

Game 2 is on Tuesday night, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens is unsure whether Thomas will leave the team to return to Washington state for the funeral.

"Whatever he needs to do, he needs to do," Stevens said in his postgame conference. "We'll help him in any way. If he needs to and wants to stay here, we'll be here surrounding him. If he wants to go to Seattle, then he should go to Seattle. It's his call and it should be."

Stevens said the point guard is free to make those decisions at any time, and whenever and whatever Thomas decides, the team will "adjust accordingly."

Thomas did not speak with media after the game.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 17th, 2017 10:55 pm
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Isaiah Thomas doesn't intend to miss any playoff action this week.

The Boston Celtics point guard plans to suit up in Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night and attend his sister's funeral the next day, head coach Brad Stevens told reporters Monday.

The 28-year-old All-Star played in the first-round opener on Sunday - just a day after his younger sister Chyna was killed in a car accident. He poured in 33 points, six dimes, and five boards in the 106-102 loss.


Stevens expressed hope the schedule will permit the rest of the team to join Thomas at the funeral in his hometown of Tacoma, Wash.

The team's scoring and assists leader is expected to be in uniform for Game 3 on Friday, when the series shifts to Chicago.


He was at Monday's practice but did not speak to the media.

Isaiah Thomas talking with Brad Stevens at Celtics practice. pic.twitter.com/FDy7NGuUsi

— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) April 17, 2017

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:46 pm
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There was nothing positive for the Toronto Raptors to take away from their 104-77 blowout loss at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday night. The Milwaukee Bucks got whatever they wanted on both ends of the floor from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Kyle Lowry finished with a team-high 13 points on just 4-of-10 shooting in 34 minutes of action - numbers which ultimately had zero impact on the final result.

"We got our ass bust," Lowry told reporters afterward.

Now trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 going down Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee, the All-Star point guard believes his Raptors aren't dead in the water just yet.

"I still think we can win the series. It ain't over," he said. "It sucks right now. It's a terrible night right now. It's a terrible feeling the way we just got our ass beat. It's a terrible feeling. So we better pick it up. If not, it's going to be a terrible feeling again.

"Our confidence has not changed. We'll be fine. We've gotta come out there and do what we gotta do Saturday."

Lowry, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, isn't doing his reputation for consistently coming up short in the playoffs any favors through three outings against Milwaukee. He's connecting on just 36.4 percent of his shots and 25 percent from 3-point range for 13 points in just under 36 minutes per game.

The rowdy Bucks fans in attendance Thursday, paired with the length and athleticism of the Bucks' key players, shook the Raptors early. With their shots not dropping (33.8 percent), Toronto's body language and effort level became noticeably worse as the game progressed.

"They kicked our ass. They kicked our ass. Period," said Raptors forward P.J. Tucker, according to The Athletic's Eric Koreen. "They came out and played harder, more aggressive, did everything they wanted to do."

This is the fourth year in a row the Raptors have had home-court advantage in the opening round, and should they lose Saturday, they'll put themselves in prime position for an early elimination for a third time during that span.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:48 pm
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The market is heating up for Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who does not have a contract beyond this season.

The Orlando Magic are interested in Griffin as a potential candidate to fill their vacancy, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. They will look to approach Griffin once the Cavaliers' playoff run draws to a close.

Griffin is among multiple candidates that could fill the role vacated by former general manager Rob Hennigan. Magic president Alex Martins is conducting the search with the help of Jed Hughes of the Korn Ferry search firm.

Assistant general manager Matt Lloyd is currently managing the Magic on an interim basis ahead of the NBA draft. He is another candidate for the job, Wojnarowski wrote.

Cleveland's title run is largely attributable to the return of LeBron James, but it was Griffin who built a championship-caliber supporting cast with limited resources. He negotiated long-term extensions with Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and Kyrie Irving while adding cheap veteran talent in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, and Richard Jefferson to fill out the rotation.

Griffin also has the full support of James, who went to bat over Griffin's contract before the playoffs began.

"It makes no sense why he shouldn't get an extension," James said. "He's pulled every move - he's tried to make every move happen - to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So, we wouldn't be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here - from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He's been a big piece of it."

Griffin has served as general manager of the Cavaliers since 2014 when he took over in the interim following the dismissal of Chris Grant.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:49 pm
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Don't count the Boston Celtics out just yet.

The Chicago Bulls announced Friday that point guard Rajon Rondo will be sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with a fractured thumb following X-rays on his right hand.

Rondo is wearing a cast and will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The point guard suffered the injury in the third quarter of Game 2 against Boston, but managed to play through it.

Rondo struggled through a down year in his first season with the Bulls, but his resurgence during the opening two playoff games was a huge factor in Chicago taking a commanding 2-0 lead on the road.

The former All-Star is averaging 11.5 points, 10 assists, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.5 steals per game against the Celtics. Rondo has provided a steadying presence for Chicago on both ends of the floor, meticulously dictating tempo while playing strong defense on the perimeter.

His play drew praise from fellow team leaders Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, who once opposed Rondo in an ugly public spat that threatened to tear apart the Bulls in January. The "Three Alphas" even came together to devise strategy ahead of their Game 2 victory.

Chicago will turn to Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams in the absence of Rondo, although expect Wade and Butler to shoulder the bulk of playmaking responsibilities.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:55 pm
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It only gets worse for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook was fined $15,000 by the NBA for using inappropriate language during his postgame media address Wednesday, the league announced Friday.

In Game 2, he'd posted the first triple-double with at least 50 points in NBA postseason history. Asked about it afterward, Westbrook responded, "I don't give a fuck."

OKC had blown a 15-point lead to the Houston Rockets and lost 115-111 despite Westbrook's 51 points. OKC outscored Houston by 11 points in the 41 minutes Westbrook was on the floor, but coughed up 15 in the nine minutes when he sat.

Adding to his frustration was a historically poor shooting performance. Westbrook, clearly exhausted, shot 4-of-18 in the fourth quarter as Houston roared back to seize a commanding 2-0 series lead.

He'd also struggled in a lopsided Game 1 loss, followed by digs from the Rockets organization about his performance.

While Westbrook clearly had a lot to get off his chest, catharsis came at a steep price.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:56 pm
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After failing to record a field goal in Thursday's Game 3 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, DeMar DeRozan is well aware he'll need to play better for the Raptors to have any shot at winning their first-round matchup.

"There's another side of me that's going to come out for having a game like that, feeling like I let my team down," DeRozan told TSN's Josh Lewenberg.

While a number of Raptors struggled against Milwaukee, DeRozan was arguably the worst of the bunch, scoring just eight points and recording three turnovers in the 104-77 loss.

Other than a strong performance in a Game 2 victory, the 27-year-old has struggled with efficiency throughout the playoffs, shooting just 34 percent from the field, while failing to hit a single 3-pointer.

DeMar DeRozan's postseason shot chart is not very pretty. pic.twitter.com/X5IDZBTtZT

— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) April 21, 2017
DeRozan isn't the only one to take the blame for the Raptors' struggles, as head coach Dwane Casey also accepted responsibility for Thursday's loss.

"It's all of us," Casey said, per Lewenberg. "We didn't coach a good game, we didn't play a good game. So it's all of us together. We're all in it."

DeRozan and Co. will look to bounce back on Saturday at the Bradley Center.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
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Whoever believes significant value can't be found in the second round of the NBA draft needs to take a good, hard look at the playing career of San Antonio Spurs sixth man Manu Ginobili.

The 39-year-old Argentinian made his 200th postseason appearance Thursday when the Spurs traveled to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies, becoming the only second-round pick to appear in at least 200 playoff games.

He also became just the 10th player in NBA history to reach the 200-game mark. The other nine: Derek Fisher (259), Tim Duncan (251), Robert Horry (244), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (237), Kobe Bryant (220), Shaquille O'Neal (216), Tony Parker (215), Scottie Pippen (208), and LeBron James (202).

Right behind Ginobili on that list is current Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge (193), who was selected 31st overall in the second round back in 1981 by the franchise he now runs.

Ginobili, who was drafted second from the bottom by San Antonio in 1999, has won four championships, made two All-Star teams, and took home Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2008 - all in a Spurs uniform.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
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The last time a LeBron James-led team lost a game in the opening round of the playoffs was in 2012, when the Miami Heat fell by two points to the New York Knicks.

With James' Cleveland Cavaliers trailing by as many as 26 points Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers, it appeared The King's remarkable streak of 19 straight victories in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals was on life support.

What felt like an inevitable victory for Indiana turned into one of the largest comebacks in NBA playoff history, as Cleveland rallied by dissecting the Pacers over the final two quarters to take Game 3 119-114.

James, who moved past Kobe Bryant for third place on the all-time postseason scoring list Thursday, finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists for his 17th playoff triple-double.

It marked the 14th time the four-time league MVP notched at least 30 points and 10 dimes in a playoff game - one fewer than Michael Jordan.

Cleveland trailed 74-49 (25-point deficit) heading into the locker room at halftime, making its win the biggest halftime playoff comeback of all time. The previous record of 21 points dated back to 1948, when Baltimore battled Philadelphia.

The Pacers haven't been swept in four games in their existence, and will look to avoid that fate against the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.

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