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Tuesday, April 24, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

A post shared by Houston Rockets (@houstonrockets) on

Thinking about the big picture might be too daunting. So the Timberwolves, after Monday’s loss to Houston, decided to narrow the focus. Houston’s 50-point, third-quarter bomb was the difference in a 119-100 loss at Target Center, which put the Wolves down 3-1 entering Game 5 in Houston Wednesday. The key to getting past this loss and getting ready for the next one? Star Tribune

The Wolves signed free agent Derrick Rose in early March because Thibodeau knows him, trusts him and because of his playoff experience. He has become something of an “X Factor” as the series progresses. Frankly, he was one of the few bright spots in the Wolves’ loss Monday. Rose played 32 ½ minutes, made seven of 11 shots, scored 17 points and had six rebounds with four assists. He was one of only three players to finish with a plus rating. Star Tribune

Taylor, in that radio interview, said attendance, TV ratings, ticket and suite sales, corporate partnerships, merchandise sales all are significantly up. But player payroll is rising, too. He said the team will lose money this season, “unless we get deep in the playoffs.” The franchise’s value, though, has increased more than tenfold since he bought it for $88.5 million in 1994. Star Tribune

The highly anticipated Russell Westbrook vs. Ricky Rubio smackdown came off Monday at Vivint Arena with relatively few fireworks. A bit of bumping, a little Westbarking, but that was about it. The Jazz won it with room to spare, 113-96. Westbrook’s promise of shutting down Rubio, following the Jazz guard’s triple-double last Saturday, didn’t totally happen, but it actually didn’t much matter. A triple-double from their point guard isn’t something the Jazz plan on. Deseret News

But the biggest drama of the night was in garbage time when Rudy Gobert and Raymond Felton got a double-technical, and later when Westbrook and Jae Crowder began shoving, causing others to jump in. Westbrook was charged with a foul and Crowder ejected. Moments later, Westbrook tossed Rubio to the floor for a rebound and Derrik Favors put a hard foul on Westbrook. Westbrook wasn’t off base to put himself out there after Rubio’s Saturday game. He fuels himself on emotion. He stuck closer in Game 4, not allowing many open Rubio shots the way he previously did. Rubio deserves credit for not overreacting or overreaching. Deseret News

Utah took a commanding 3-1 series lead with Monday’s 113-96 victory using that team-first approach. Rubio ended with 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds after logging the franchise’s first playoff triple-double since 2001, but it was rookie guard Donovan Mitchell who dominated the Thunder in Game 4. Deseret News

Mitchell went off for a new career playoff high 33 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. He passed Karl Malone’s Jazz rookie postseason single-game scoring record of 31 points in 1986. The rising star is averaging 27.5 points in his first four postseason games. Deseret News

Emotions ran high. Paul George and Steven Adams received first-half technical fouls for OKC; coach Quin Snyder and Joe Ingles did the same for Utah. A couple of skirmishes broke out in the second half, some out of Jazz dominance/Thunder frustration and some out of increasingly dislike for each other. Utah's Jae Crowder was ejected from the game. Westbrook physically handled his vow to shut down Ricky Rubio. Westbrook emotionally did not. Westbrook got his second foul 85 feet from the basket, while Utah was inbounding after a Westbrook basket with 4:09 left in the first quarter. Oklahoman


Monday, April 23, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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The Boston Celtics upgraded guard Marcus Smart to questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 of a first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. Smart said Sunday that he was scheduled to have his surgically repaired thumb re-evaluated on Tuesday in New York with the hope that he would be cleared for contact. By upgrading Smart to questionable, the Celtics appear to be leaving open the possibility that Smart could play Tuesday if he's cleared.

As if being down 3-1 in their first-round playoff series against the Sixers wasn’t difficult enough to overcome, the Heat could also be without a starter in Game 5. Starting small forward Josh Richardson is questionable after suffering a sprained left shoulder — his non-shooting shoulder — in Saturday’s Game 4 loss. He did not practice Monday, but the Heat are hopeful he’ll be able to play through the injury Tuesday in Philadelphia. “It feels good right now,” Richardson said Monday. “I’ve been getting a lot of treatment today. We’ll see what happens.” Palm Beach Post

Philadelphia has averaged almost 117 points per game in this series, posted an offensive efficiency of 111.7 and made more 3-pointers (50) than any other team in the playoffs. They’ve shown some of the league’s best flow and ball circulation on offense, which has helped them have four players averaging at least 18 points per game against Miami. The outlier was the Heat’s 113-103 victory in Game 2, which featured a memorable performance by Dwyane Wade with 28 points. While Wade’s heroics are the lasting image of that night for most who saw it, the more important point might be what Miami did defensively. Palm Beach Post

Spurs acting coach Ettore Messina made one key defensive adjustment in Game 4, assigning Danny Green to defend Klay Thompson from the start. Thompson had been abusing matchups against the smaller Patty Mills throughout the first three games, averaging 25.6 points. With a bigger, longer defender on him in Game 4, Thompson went 4 of 16 from the floor and finished with 12 points. The Spurs also took the novel approach of putting point guard Dejounte Murray on Draymond Green, limiting the Warriors forrward’s upside as a playmaker. San Antonio Express News

KGO sports anchor Mike Shumann has reportedly been sent home from the NBA playoffs after video surfaced of him taking a jacket that belonged to the Warriors' director of team security. The video, which was seen by The Athletic and ESPN, appears to show Shumann taking Ralph Walker's jacket after Warriors practice in San Antonio last week. He reportedly walks out of the building with the jacket in hand. SF Chronicle

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Against a Rockets team that has been creative in the way it switches on defense and brings extra defensive help, the Wolves struggled a bit while losing the first two games. In a Game 2 blowout loss in Houston on Wednesday night, the Wolves had only 15 assists and 16 turnovers while being held to 82 points. What a difference a game makes. St Paul Pioneer Press

In Saturday night’s 121-105 victory over the Rockets at Target Center, the Wolves had 29 assists and seven turnovers. Those 29 assists are tied for the second-most in the playoffs by a Wolves team. Four starters had three or more assists seven players had multiple assists. It is no coincidence the Wolves set all kinds of franchise playoff scoring records; their 35 points in the third and 34 in the fourth are their top two quarters. Their 121 points was a franchise record, too. St Paul Pioneer Press

Maybe Casey’s team will respond more favourably in the friendly environs of the Air Canada Centre. As it was, the Raptors capped a forgettable trip to the U.S. capital with a second straight loss, 106-98, to leave their best-of-seven series deadlocked at 2-2. For the second straight game the Raptors saw an early lead undone by careless turnovers and unforced mistakes. For the second straight game, the Wizards got a big performance from Bradley Beal to vault themselves back into the series. Even after Beal fouled out with 4:58 to play — after he scored 31 points on 19 field-goal attempts — the Wizards got it over the finish line. John Wall inserted a dagger, making one of his floating mid-range jump shots to put the Wizards up 102-96 with 58 seconds to play. Wall, for whom the Raptors have yet to find an antidote, finished with 25 points and 14 assists. Toronto Star

Yet again, Toronto’s vaunted depth failed to show itself, leaving all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to carry far more of the load than they did en route to 59 regular-season wins. DeRozan responded to a steady diet of single coverage with a big game, scoring 35 points and getting to the free-throw line 18 times. Lowry, meanwhile, scored 19 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range. But Toronto’s other starters were less effective. And Toronto’s bench, which averaged 42 points a game during the regular season, contributed just 22 points. C.J. Miles was 0-for-3 from three-point range. Delon Wright had just seven points on seven shots. Toronto Star


Sunday, April 22, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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Two days after the Warriors announced that Stephen Curry would miss another week with a sprained left MCL, head coach Steve Kerr wasn’t ready to put a timetable on Curry’s return to the court. "Steph’s not going to play anytime soon," Kerr said before Game 4 on Sunday against the Spurs. SF Chronicle

But with the Cavaliers struggling this postseason and James' Northeast Ohio future anything but certain, the Miami Heat are getting a sense that what they are facing in this opening-round NBA playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers could, indeed, be the next big thing. "They're good. They're special," guard Dwyane Wade said in the wake of the Heat falling to a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series heading into Tuesday's Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center. "They're a good group and they put the right team together. Sun Sentinel

If the Boston Celtics’ first-round NBA playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks goes to six games, they could be getting some reinforcements just in time. Injured guard Marcus Smart gave a promising update on his thumb before Sunday’s Game 4 at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Celtics guard Marcus Smart said his thumb will be reevaluated Tuesday in New York and he’s hoping to be cleared for contact at that point. NESN

Marcus Smart wants to play in a potential Game 6 Thursday in Milwaukee, if the series lasts that long. That possibility should be determined on Tuesday when the Celtics guard meets with his doctor in New York with the goal of being cleared for action. Smart, recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, believes he is ready to play again. The rest is up to his surgeon. Boston Herald

The NBA has fined Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris and twin brother Marcus Morris of the Boston Celtics for their roles in separate incidents during playoff games. Markieff Morris has been fined $25,000 by the NBA on Saturday for attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing an official during a game against Toronto on Friday night. Boston Herald/AP

Gregg Popovich won't coach the San Antonio Spurs in their possible series finale against the Golden State Warriors as he grieves the death of his wife. Spurs assistant Ettore Messina coached San Antonio in Game 3 and will again Sunday afternoon. Boston Herald/AP


Saturday, April 21, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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Warriors guard Stephen Curry has officially been ruled out another week, the team announced Friday afternoon. Curry, who had his Grade 2 left MCL sprain re-evaluated Friday, is set to be re-evaluated again on April 27. That would conceivably put his earliest possible return at a potential Game 7 of the first round. SF Chronicle

Carmelo Anthony has been tasked with less since being traded to the Thunder after seven seasons. Although Anthony's stats have dropped off — averaging a career-low 16.2 points per game with a .404 field goal percentage — the team reached the playoffs. It doesn't hurt that Anthony plays alongside MVP Russell Westbrook and five-time All-Star Paul George. NY Daily News

The Heat ranked fourth in scoring defense during the regular season, allowing 102.9 points a game. They have given up an average of 120.3 against the Sixers. It is the second-highest total of any team in the postseason, trailing only the Washington Wizards. “We don’t want to be in shootouts with this team, so we got to find ways to be more physical and control their shooters and their scoring,” Heat guard Justise Winslow said. The simplest solution is making more baskets to allow the defense more time to set up against the quicker and younger Sixers. Sun Sentinel

The Charlotte Hornets will act quickly to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their head-coaching opening, as soon as the Spurs season is complete. A source familiar the situation said Messina will interview as early as the middle of next week, if the Spurs are eliminated by the Golden State Warriors by then. Ettore coached the Spurs in Thursday’s loss to the Warriors, as head coach Gregg Popovich mourned the death of his wife, Erin. Charlotte Observer

Among other possibilities Kupchak could consider: Former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale and Toronto Raptors G-League coach Jerry Stackhouse, both of whom have been interviewing around the league. There are several NBA teams with openings for head coaches, including the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic. The Milwaukee Bucks will also be considering long-term replacements for fired Jason Kidd after the Bucks’ run in the playoffs. Charlotte Observer

LeBron James scored or assisted on 62 percent of the Cavs’ points in the first two games, including a 46-point performance in Wednesday’s victory. Love was next with 15 points and Kyle Korver contributed 12. Akron Beacon Journal

That prompted Lue to say after Game 2, “I need to see more out of a lot of guys.” James is averaging 35 points, 11 rebounds and 8.5 assists in 42 minutes going into Friday’s game. Asked if he was confident he would get some help, James said, “Just go out and play the game. I’m confident in all my guys gonna go out and play the game the right way and we’ll see what happens.” Akron Beacon Journal

When the Bulls traded Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans on Feb. 1, the consensus belief was that the deal was a win-win for both sides. That still may be true, but the way Mirotic has played the last two weeks has been invaluable to the Pelicans, who hold a commanding 3-0 lead on the Blazers following Thursday night's blowout win. Mirotic was back at it again, scoring a playoff career-high 30 points on 12 of 15 shooting, making 4 of 6 3-poiners, and added eight rebounds, three steals and a block. Oh, and he did all this in 30 minutes NBC Sports Chicago


Thursday, April 19, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

Former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson will interview for the New York Knicks job next Wednesday, according to the New York Post. His three-season stint with Golden State could hold him back. This much is certain — compiling a background check has become easier for the Knicks with the recent release of “Betaball,” which details the building of the Warriors dynasty. Jackson was the Warriors coach from the 2011-12 season through the 2013-14 campaign. Bay Area News Group

Not surprisingly, Kawhi Leonard was listed on the Spurs injury report heading into Thursday night's game. But he was joined by Joffrey Lauvergne for the second game in a row. Houston Chronicle

What should the Pistons do? They have four options: 1. Maintain status quo by retaining Van Gundy as coach and head of personnel. Given Gores' repeated comments that something needs to change, this doesn't seem likely. 2. Keep Van Gundy as coach and put someone else in change of personnel. Gores, the past two times he has spoken with media, called Van Gundy a "team player," someone who will do what's right for the organization. That might be interpreted as the owner believing Van Gundy would relinquish personnel control and focus solely on coaching. Michigan Live

Guard Goran Dragic said that it is up to the Heat's perimeter player to meet the 76ers' outside challenges straight on, freeing the Heat's big men to protect the paint. "Especially the catch-and-shoot players, when they come out off the screen, sometimes we got two guys challenging the shot," he said. "When the big guys challenge the shot, that gives their big guys a straight line to offensive rebounds. "For our guards, we need to contest those shots better so the big guy doesn’t need to contest them.” South Florida Sun Sentinel

The Philadelphia 76ers are still uncertain when they will have center Joel Embiid back in the lineup. On Wednesday, the Sixers officially listed Embiid as doubtful for Thursday’s Game 3 against the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. Embiid has missed the past 10 games because of broken orbital bone and concussion. Sun Sentinel

Sixers coach Brett Brown did not offer many new details but said he has no idea when Embiid will return. “I’m not really anything,” Brown said. “I am completely neutral. We’ll coach and plan and think like that until somebody tells me otherwise.” Sun Sentinel

Wesley Matthews has one more test awaiting him on Thursday, but after that he said he expects to be cleared to do any basketball-related activity. The Mavericks' shooting guard said Wednesday that an MRI scheduled for Thursday will determine if the stress fracture in his right fibula is healed. "By the end of the week, I should be good to go," Matthews said. Dallas Morning News

And while Matthews has said he doesn't want to talk about his contract status - he's got a player option for 2018-19 at $18.6 million - he may have given a little hint at his intentions when he was asked if he planned to do more community events this summer. "Yeah, I mean, I'm going to be here, so I'd love to," he said. Dallas Morning News


Wednesday, April 18, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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One quarter was all the Raptors needed to prove that they weren’t letting their first Game 1 victory in 17 years go to their heads. They scored 44 points in the opening 12 minutes, breaking the previous franchise record for a playoff game by five points. They shot 59% from the field and an absurd 54% from three-point range, with six different Raptors knocking down shots from distance. They also had 10 assists on 16 baskets, making the opening frame, which they finished with a 17-point lead, basically the platonic ideal of the kind of basketball that team management envisioned when they remade the Toronto offence in the off-season: a whole lot of ball movement and all kinds of long-range bombing. DeMar DeRozan, who has been a bellwether for Toronto’s offensive evolution, shovelled a bunch of dirt on the old way of doing things, scoring 20 points in the first half alone that included three three-balls on five attempts. National Post

The musician/actor/brand embassador/surprisingly good SNL host was courtside in Toronto for Game 2 of the Wizards vs. Raptors first-round NBA Playoff series because he is Drake and he's basically allowed to do whatever he wants at Raptors games. And as was the case in Game 1, Drake found John Wall for some friendly trash talk. You know, because John Wall went to Kentucky and Drake fancies himself an unofficial Kentucky Wildcasts basketball alumnus. NBC Sports Washington

Far from happy to be here, Jaylen Brown is playing like a stone-faced assassin. The 21-year-old was a monster in Tuesday's 120-106 Game 2 blowout of the Bucks, scoring a game-high 30 points and becoming the youngest player in team history to reach that total, besting Tommy Heinsohn, who was 22. "I think Jaylen loves the moment," said head coach Brad Stevens. "He really appreciates the opportunity to compete on this stage at this level. We've seen him against the better teams in the league all year really be able to raise level in some of the biggest games. Obviously he's gaining more experience by the minute. He learned quite a lot last year and now he's one of our more experienced guys in this setting. He did a great job picking the right spots to attack." WEEI

Mark Jackson, who hasn’t coached in the NBA since being fired in May 2014, will interview for the Knicks’ head-coaching job Wednesday in Los Angeles. He’s a popular coaching choice of many Knicks fans, who are rooting for the Queens kid. According to a source, Knicks president Steve Mills has already spoken to Warriors general manager Bob Myers about Jackson’s stint. NY Post

Former Knicks president Donnie Walsh stated in an email to The Post that Jackson was his guy until D’Antoni was fired by Phoenix. “Writing the book, I appreciate even more how much he contributed to how successful the Warriors are today,’’ Malinowski said. “He really helped a young team of superstars figure out who they are and find their identity and give them confidence and cockiness to hold themselves in that superstar way. It would’ve been interesting to see if his tenure ran another couple of years. But there were very good reasons why his tenure as coach had to come to an end.” NY Post

Celtics guard Marcus Smart said his 63-year-old mother has been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer but that she implored him to rejoin the team for the start of the playoffs in hopes that she can watch Smart play again this season. Smart said his mother, Camellia, revealed her diagnosis when Smart visited her in Dallas last week. Smart is currently rehabbing from thumb surgery but has said he's targeting his return for a potential Game 7 in the team's first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. That game, if necessary, would be played on April 28.


Tuesday, April 17, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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If it’s up to Joel Embiid, he will make his return from injury in Thursday’s Game 3. The Sixers’ All-Star center has already missed the final eight games of the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs as he continues to recover from surgery to repair an orbital bone fracture. But after the Heat tied the first-round series 1-1 and stole home-court advantage with a 113-103 win in Monday’s Game 2, the 24-year-old Embiid turned to social media to express his frustration with the situation. Palm Beach Post

“[Expletive] sick and tired of being babied,” Embiid wrote on his Instagram account. The Sixers have not made a decision yet regarding Embiid’s playing status for Thursday’s Game 3 in Miami. But the team announced Sunday that Embiid did clear the NBA’s concussion protocol, which is a sign that he’s close to making a return. Palm Beach Post

“He just wants to play basketball,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said when asked about Embiid’s social media post following Monday’s game. “He wants to be with his team. He wants to play in front of the fans. He wants to see this through. When he’s not able to do that, he gets frustrated. I respect his frustration. It’s born out of competitiveness and it’s born out of him wanting to be with his team.” Palm Beach Post

As expected, the Spurs made a starting lineup adjustment Monday. They simplified their defensive switches, in order to better facilitate communication on that end. The coaches watched film, tweaked some Xs and Os and altered some rotations. None of those changes, heading into what became a 116-101 loss in Game 2 against Golden State, mattered as much to coach Gregg Popovich than what went on between his players' ears. Express News

LaMarcus Aldridge bounced back from a quiet Game 1 with 34 points and 12 rebounds, while Patty Mills chipped in 21 for the Spurs. Rudy Gay – drawing his first playoff start since 2012 – added 12 points. The Spurs did most everything right Monday but make shots, hitting at a 41.2-percent clip overall and missing 24 of 28 from 3-point range. Faced with falling in a two-game hole to start the series, the Spurs hung tight through three quarters before cracking to start the fourth. Express News

Wade delivered a throwback 28-point performance in 26 minutes off the bench to propel the Heat to a 113-103 win and snap the Sixers 17-game win streak. "A lot of people think that if you do decide to go out it's because you weren't supposed to be able to play no more. It's not always supposed to be that," Wade told ESPN after the game. Wade said he will take time after the season to decide whether to retire or return to the Heat for one more season. "Just taking time to think, that's all I'm doing," Wade said. "Taking time to think and looking at every angle and what's the best situation for me to be in. That's all. It's a lot of different, it's a lot of different things that come into play."


Saturday, April 14, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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The Lakers have long been expected to chase the top two free agents in this summer’s class, LeBron James and Paul George. After clearing salary cap space by trading Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson in February, Johnson and Pelinka massaged those expectations, saying their cap flexibility allowed them to add two maximum-level free agents from the classes of 2018 and ’19, and not both necessarily this year. “We’re not going to give money away just to say we signed somebody,” Johnson said. LA Daily News

“Those decisions are going to be controlled by those players, so we are only going to control what we can control,” Pelinka said. “And so if we have to do it some other way, we are going to find a way to do it.” Might that include trading members of the vaunted young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart? “We are not going to talk about that,” Johnson replied sharply. “We are not going to talk about that.” LA Daily News

Lonzo Ball’s offseason will not include an appearance at the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas. Lakers president Magic Johnson said Ball and Kyle Kuzma will skip the July event to focus on their individual progress following strong rookie seasons. “We want those guys in the gym, working with weights, working on their game, so they won’t be playing in summer league,” Johnson said. OC Register

It hardly helped that, with the Warriors locked into the No. 2 seed behind Houston, many of those matchups were meaningless standings-wise. Golden State now hopes to show that it still has plenty of talent to weather the absence of Stephen Curry, who will miss the first round with a sprained left MCL. “In your mind, you’re telling yourself, ‘We’ve got to be better, we’ve got to do better,’” associate head coach Mike Brown said. “Still, it’s hard sometimes mentally and physically to get to the level of these teams where they’re fighting just to get into the playoffs.” SF Chronicle

Looming is a team also without its best player. Though the Spurs have yet to rule out Kawhi Leonard for the series, reports suggest that it is extremely unlikely he will return against the Warriors after being limited to nine regular-season games with a quad injury. But even if Leonard is sidelined for the first round, Golden State knows better than to overlook a Gregg Popovich-coached team. This is a franchise that has won five NBA titles since 1999 and hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1997. Without Leonard for almost 90percent of the regular season, San Antonio won 47 games and secured the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. SF Chronicle

The Sixers will start the playoffs Saturday night without starting center Joel Embiid. “[Embiid] will not play in Game 1,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said on the Dan Patrick Show on Friday morning. “He will not play in Game 1 and from that point going forward, we’ll figure some stuff out. Unless something remarkable happens, Dan, I don’t plan on him playing in Game 1.” Palm Beach Post

Embiid has missed the past eight games after sustaining the injury and a concussion in a March 28 game against the New York Knicks. Journeyman big man Amir Johnson has been starting in place of Embiid, with the 76ers undefeated in the interim, with Philadelphia ending the regular season on a 16-game winning streak. Sun Sentinel

The Charlotte Hornets have fired coach Steve Clifford after five seasons on the job. Clifford was let go following a meeting with new general manager Mitch Kupchak, who took over Monday night. The 36-46 Hornets missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, despite a veteran roster and a player payroll in the top half of the NBA in terms of cost this season. Charlotte Observer

Clifford finished slightly below .500 as Hornets coach, with a record of 196-214. His teams made two playoff appearances, but did not advance either time beyond the first round. This was Clifford’s first job as an NBA head coach, following a long career as an NBA assistant with the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. Charlotte Observer

Thanks to the ongoing renovation of The Q — a $140 million project that began in February and is supposed to be finished in September 2019 — traffic conditions will be anything but ideal during this playoff run by LeBron James and the Cavs. That is especially true for fans who customarily enter the arena district from the east and use Prospect Avenue and Huron Road to reach the Gateway East parking garage and other parking garages and surface lots within easy walking distance of The Q. News Herald

Jeremy Lin spent most of the season at Rick Celebrini’s Fortius Sport & Health in Vancouver. After Lin saw Celebrini’s work with Steve Nash while he was a Laker, he always wanted to work with the trainer. He had no idea it’d come this way, changing not just his shooting mechanics but all of his mechanics. “It’s going to make me better. It’s going to make me faster, make me more efficient. The only hard part is I have to effectively undo 29 years of movement, that’s the hardest part,” Lin said. “So when I say I’m still on schedule with my knee, it’s exciting because I’m also tackling these other things at the same time. NY Post

Foremost is deciding whether to give coach Doc Rivers a contract extension beyond the 2018-19 season, the last year of his current deal that will pay him $11 million. The next order of business is DeAndre Jordan making a decision on his player option for next season that is scheduled to pay the Clippers center $24.1 million. After that, the Clippers have the NBA draft on June 21 and free agency opening July 1. Rivers said he told the players Thursday at the team's practice facility that he would hold exit meetings with them Monday. LA Times

Under the NBA rules, Jordan can opt in to his contract after Wednesday night's game. He has a deadline of June 29 to make a decision. "We're going to try to do what we can to keep him," Rivers said. "But at the end of the day, DJ has played himself into being a free agent and he's played himself into the right to choose." LA Times

Lawrence Frank declined to discuss his contract status when asked if he had gotten an extension. "I'm not going to talk about any negation other than I'm standing here today and loving where I'm at," Frank said. LA Times

Pistons: The big question is who’s going to be at the helm. It could be Stan Van Gundy, wearing both hats as the team president and head coach. Or either hat. Or neither at all. Van Gundy is scheduled to meet with Pistons owner Tom Gores next week in California and Gores insists he’s not leaning any direction. Van Gundy is the fourth coach in Andre Drummond’s six seasons and Gores has a close relationship with Drummond — and likely will consult with Drummond on Van Gundy. Detroit News

Drummond acknowledged it’s an uneasy time for the team, wondering what the future will look like — potentially with a new coach or front office next season. “That’s completely out of my control, when it comes to that front-office talk. It’s definitely going to be a tough few weeks for (Van Gundy), with that conversation coming up,” he told The News. “Who knows what’s going to happen — I really don’t know. He brought in structure to this team and helped us get on the right path. “He definitely did a good job of that from when he got here.” Detroit News


Friday, April 13, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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Enes Kanter loves New York. So much so that he is leaning toward opting out of his contract in hopes of getting a new long-term deal with the Knicks. “You could say that, yes,” Kanter said Thursday. NY Newsday

It would be a risky and surprising move that could backfire on Kanter for multiple reasons. He would be opting out of a whopping $18.6 million next season. Kanter may not see that in a new deal from the small amount of teams that have cap space, and he probably won’t from the Knicks. They don’t want to sign anyone to any long-term contracts this summer so they have the money to be spenders in 2019. NY Newsday

The Knicks fired Hornacek shortly after returning from their final game of the season in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Hardaway, who found out when he got home from the airport, said he liked playing for Hornacek but he also understood that the Knicks’ new management team wanted to install their own coach. “Under Jeff I had a career year. So I thank him for putting me in position to succeed, be better on both ends of the floor and I just want to thank him,” said Hardaway, who averaged 17.5 points. NY Newsday

Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry cited issues with player accountability and on-court consistency as two reasons why they fired head coach Jeff Hornacek. "Jeff did a good job in some areas and in some areas he could have done a little bit better job," Mills said on Thursday. "(We) just thought that there was an opportunity to get someone who really fit where we wanted to be three to five years from now."

Perry said that the Knicks would not limit their search in any way, suggesting that the club would be open to interviewing college coaches for the vacancy. Former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt -- now coaching in Turkey -- and former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, now an ESPN analyst, are among the candidates the Knicks are planning to contact, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. New York also plans to contact Jerry Stackhouse, the head coach of Toronto 905, the Toronto Raptors' G League affiliate, according to sources.

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green is also endorsing Mitchell as the 2018 Rookie of the Year. “For me, I would go with Donovan just for the simple fact: I think he’s a true rookie,” Green said. “With Ben (Simmons), I think just having NBA training, eating like a pro, watching film like a pro, I think all that makes a difference. Deseret News

The NBA announced Thursday that Quin Snyder and Donovan Mitchell have been named the Western Conference Coach and Rookie of the Month for games played in March and April. The honors came one day after the Jazz finished the regular season 48-34 to earn the fifth seed in the Western Conference versus the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. Action is set to begin Sunday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m. MT. Deseret News

Without DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans averaged the most possessions in the league (104.5 per game), allowing Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday and Davis to run the floor with reckless abandon. It opened routine advantages in transition, and the Pelicans averaged a league-leading 19.1 fast-break points in that span by attacking staggering defenses, whose frontcourts simply couldn’t keep up. The Advocate

It also unleashed Anthony Davis, who became the game’s most statistically dominant player, averaging a league-leading 30.2 points over the season’s final 33 games, converting 51.4 percent from the field and pulling in 11.9 rebounds per game (sixth-best in that span). No matter how defenses aligned to slow him down, the Pelicans ripped up those plans by getting Davis on the move and then forcing defenses to choose between him and Holiday in a variety of pick-and-roll situations. The Advocate

Jeff Hornacek got his expected pink slip. It occurred after landing in New York early Thursday morning after the plane ride home from Cleveland after the Knicks beat the Cavaliers in the season finale, an NBA source confirmed. Knicks president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and player development director Craig Robinson made the trip to Cleveland to serve as the grim reapers, ending Hornacek’s reign after two 50-loss seasons. NY Post

Hornacek had one season left on his contract and the writing was on the wall — with the president stone silent virtually the entire season regarding his head coach. Mills and Perry now will embark on finding the Knicks their 11th coach since Jeff Van Gundy resigned in 2001. Mills is expected to meet the media Thursday afternoon to discuss the firing. NY Post

Sources indicate the Knicks are expected to interview, among others, Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Kidd and David Blatt. Doc Rivers will be a candidate if he doesn’t return to the Clippers. The only other coach officially relieved of their duties Thursday morning was associate coach Kurt Rambis, a longtime Phil Jackson confidante. NY Post

As the Daily News reported, the potential replacements include Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers, Jerry Stackhouse, David Fizdale, David Blatt, Jeff Van Gundy and the Knicks current player development vice president, Craig Robinson. Michael Beasley was lukewarm when asked about Hornacek’s coaching late Wednesday night, saying “he did some things good, he did some things bad.” Beasley also said that Hornacek’s uncertain job status might’ve prompted him to make mistakes on the sideline. NY Daily News

Hornacek is still owed $5 million, and James Dolan probably isn’t happy about paying that bill on top of the $12 million left on Jackson’s deal. But Hornacek was on the clock as soon as the season started because he was tabbed as Jackson’s hire, and a new front office always gets a chance to hire its own coach. The next coach will be the Knicks’ 11th since Van Gundy left in 2001. NY Daily News


Wednesday, April 11, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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Dirk Nowitzki reaffirmed his intention to return to the Dallas Mavericks for a record-breaking 21st season. "That's the plan," Nowitzki said before Tuesday's season finale, his first public comments since undergoing surgery last week to remove bone spurs in his left ankle. "That's why I went ahead and got the surgery, kind of get the whole process started, get the rehab process started early. I'm planning on coming back.

Nowitzki, who joins Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history to play 20 seasons for only one franchise, said he has known for months that he would need surgery on his ankle. He still managed to play in 77 games, the most ever for a player in his 20th season, and averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor and 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

However, Nowitzki never wavered in his goal of completing the two-year, $10 million contract he signed last summer. The Mavs technically hold a team option for his $5 million salary next season, but owner Mark Cuban has indicated that is a mere formality.

At a news conference prior to the season finale against Phoenix Tuesday evening, Nowitzki reiterated he wasn't retiring, but said "It's hard for me at this point to commit farther than one year and say one year is it. I want to see how it goes." The superstar is recovering from ankle surgery and will miss the final three games of this season, including Tuesday's game against the Suns at the American Airlines Center. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"I'm hoping this ankle will give me a lot of relief next year and we'll go from there," Nowitzki said. "It (recovery) will be three or four weeks. It's going to take some time unfortunately. It's also the reason I went and got a head start on it. At my age, recovery takes a little longer." Fort Worth Star-Telegram

There was no final practice for Jeff Hornacek, who canceled Tuesday’s session. But there is a final flight and a final game. Hornacek will take the sidelines Wednesday with a 59-104 Knicks coaching record to face the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Then, Hornacek will likely face the firing line. Lacking a vote of confidence from president Steve Mills or contract-extension talks, Hornacek looks like he is being set up as the fall guy for another depressing campaign that in some ways couldn’t have gone worse. NY Post

Management supported Hornacek in his rumble with Joakim Noah, willing to banish the veteran center for the season. But the management team probably hasn’t seen enough objectives met — a clear uptick in defensive consistency (they rank 23rd in defensive efficiency) or an offensive post-triangle identity (they are second-to-last in 3-point attempts). NY Post

The mediocre roster couldn’t come close to withstanding that type of injury. There is still no official timetable for Porzingis’ return, though sources indicate it could be around Christmas. NY Post

The Nuggets have ripped off six consecutive victories since that meeting, now highlighted as the turning point of the season, putting Denver on the verge of its first playoff berth since 2013. The Nuggets need to beat Minnesota in Wednesday’s regular-season finale. “I knew that we weren’t out of it,” Malone said of that meeting. “But the only way we were going to have a chance to stay in it was more mental than physical. I use the word ‘belief’ because I think that is a huge part of this. If our guys did not believe, we would not have beaten OKC and we would have been out of the playoffs probably five games ago.” Denver Post

Denver has treated the past six games like the playoffs, a needed mentality given the Nuggets would already be eliminated if not for their longest winning streak of the season. But they need one more victory against an opponent vying for the same prize in order to clinch a postseason spot. The Nuggets can easily trace the origin of this late-season surge back to Toronto. It’s where they reaffirmed that they still believed. Denver Post

A win Wednesday will help atone for those earlier sins. Wiggins said a playoff berth will show people that the Wolves are moving in the right direction. He believes they are, anyway, as shown by their 46 wins — the franchise’s most since the 2003-04 season. “We did a lot of good stuff this year,” he said. Yet Wiggins said a loss Wednesday will mean Minnesota’s season was “basically” a failure. “(Then) everything we did is for nothing,” Wiggins said. St Paul Pioneer Press

Dario Saric had a game-ending injury on the first play of Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The 76ers power forward suffered a cut upper lip and a chipped left central incisor (big tooth) when he collided with Hawks power forward John Collins 13 seconds into the game. After falling to the court, Saric got up and immediately jogged to the locker room. Philadelphia Inquirer

Several coaches on the hot seat have better records than the Nets’ Kenny Atkinson. But with the average NBA coach lasting just three seasons, and Atkinson’s two-season record just 48-115 going into Wednesday’s finale, the question is why do the Nets believe in him? And they’re not the only ones. It seems much of the league does. “You can tell the decisions he’s made — you can tell by Kenny demanding and being fair at the same time, working with these young kids — it’s going in the right direction,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said earlier this season. NY Post

Jaylen Brown is going to be a very important player for the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs, and he showed why Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards. Brown dropped 21 points in the first quarter with most of his damage coming from the 3-point line, where he connected on five of seven attempts. He also shot 4-for-4 from the free throw line, while adding three steals and a rebound. NESN


Tuesday, April 10, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

The Cleveland Cavaliers will sign 13-year NBA veteran Kendrick Perkins with their final roster spot for the playoffs, league sources told ESPN. Cleveland will sign Perkins on Wednesday, the final day of the regular season, just as it did in 2016 when guard Dahntay Jones was added, and in 2017 when both Jones and center Edy Tavares were added for the Cavs' playoff run.

Andre Iguodala will sit out when the Warriors (58-23) visit the Utah Jazz (47-33) on Tuesday in a regular-season finale, marking the second consecutive game Iguodala will miss because of left knee soreness. Mercury News

Iguodala has missed six of the past seven games of his latest injury, which happened during the Warriors’ loss to Indiana on March 27. The 34-year-old Iguodala has missed a combined 16 games because of injuries, and another two for rest purposes. Mercury News

Marcus Smart was reevaluated for his the injury to his torn right UCL, and is expected to be cleared to return at the six-week mark of the surgery, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania. If that’s the case, Smart will be eligible to return on April 27. NESN

For Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris, tough losses have recently been followed by upset phone calls. “What the hell are y’all doing?” starts the interrogation from his twin brother, Marcus, a forward for the Boston Celtics, the team that controls the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The siblings want no part of becoming rivals during a first-round playoff series, but since late February, the Wizards have been in a free fall, dropping down the conference standings and losing control of their playoff destiny. Marcus Morris is simply asking the question that has reverberated around the East: What’s wrong with the Wizards? Washington Post

“It’s an all-around game,” said Bradley Beal, explaining the recent “selfish” label, which also arrived courtesy of the Wizards’ coach. “It’s getting back in transition, which is something I’m terrible at. I have my faults with that. Rebounding, boxing out. Blow-bys and helping your man, switching the right way, communicating and talking. So there’s a lot more than just not passing somebody the ball in terms of selfishness.” Washington Post

After 15 years of keeping the Nuggets crowd dancing, DJ Bedz will spin his last regular season game at the Pepsi Center Monday night. “All good things must come to an end, but in retrospect 15 years isn’t too shabby,” Bedz posted to Twitter on Monday night. “Tonight will be my final regular season game as the DJ of the Denver Nuggets.” Denver Post


Sunday, April 8, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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Rockets guard Eric Gordon on Saturday sat out for a second consecutive game with a sore left ankle, but coach Mike D'Antoni said Gordon could have played if the playoffs were beginning Saturday instead of next weekend. Houston Chronicle

Ryan Anderson's sprained left ankle could make D'Antoni's decision-making more challenging. He had wanted to experiment with different combinations and did use Anderson for some stretches at center with Joe Johnson at power forward, but Anderson played just five minutes against the Wizards before he was hurt. Houston Chronicle

Jimmy Butler’s return to the Timberwolves Friday night after 17 games away injured brought back more than their four-time All-Star and best two-way player. It provided energy and hope to a team that began to lack both the longer it played without him. Star Tribune

The Wolves went 8-9 while Butler healed a partly torn knee meniscus injured in February. Coach Tom Thibodeau praised his players before Friday’s 113-96 victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles for how “they fought like crazy” to keep themselves positioned, however precariously, for the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 14 years. Star Tribune

The Wolves’ magic number to assure at least the West’s eighth and final playoff spot remained at two Saturday after the Nuggets eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers from contention. Any combination of Wolves victories and Denver losses reaching two will clinch. Each team has two games left, including their Wednesday season finale at Target Center. Star Tribune

Joel Embiid joined the Sixers for the first time since his March 31 surgery to repair a left orbital fracture but it wasn’t on the court. Dressed all in black, he was on the sideline cheering on his teammates as they withstood a second-half comeback by LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Sixers have been successful since Embiid’s injury, intensifying the speed of the offense and relying heavily on the team’s long-range shooters. But as Embiid watched from the bench on Friday, he served as a stark reminder that the Sixers can be even better with him, and the margin for error without him is slim.

Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving underwent successful surgery to remove two screws from his left knee Saturday, the team announced. "The surgery went exactly as planned, and we expect Kyrie to be fully healthy for training camp in the fall," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement.

The second surgery came as a surprise to Irving's teammates. "I was shocked [about the second surgery]. I mean, you still had the hope that he was going to be able to come back this season," Celtics All-Star Al Horford said Saturday. "But now we're at the point that we just have to look forward, look ahead and, obviously, wish Ky a speedy recovery. And for our group, what we have now, we have to look forward. We can't dwell on the past."


Saturday, April 7, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

The NBA's Two-Minute report from last night is out and it determined the officials' call that fouled Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns out with 1:46 left in last night's loss at Denver was correct. It says about the play where Jamal Murray faked Towns on a shot: "Murray (DEN) draws Towns (MIN) into the air towards him, and the contact to the body affects his jump shot attempt." Star Tribune

A Knicks player sat at his locker March 19 with his eyes fixed on the TV. He was watching a tape of that night’s opponent. But some of the players he saw would not be at that night’s game. The Bulls left three of their top players — Zach LaVine, Lauri Markannen and Kris Dunn — in Chicago. It didn’t appear that the Bulls came to the Garden to win that night, prompting the Knick to ask, “How can they do that? Will the NBA fine them?” There was no punishment from the NBA because the Bulls listed each player as injured. NY Newsday

One of the biggest issues facing the league is that it can’t prove teams are not trying to win. The term “developing young players” has become a euphemism for tanking. Teams are choosing to sit veterans in favor of young players who may or may not be part of the team’s future to get as many Ping-Pong ball combinations in the NBA Draft Lottery as possible. NY Newsday

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed guard MarShon Brooks to a multi-year contract. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, “Brooks will sign for the remainder of the season and return to the Grizzlies for the 2018-19 campaign with a fully guaranteed deal, Yahoo Sports reported.” Inside Hoops

The Boston Celtics signed guard Jonathan Gibson today. Gibson’s lone NBA experience came last season in 2016-17, when he averaged 6.2 points (36.8% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 72.4% FT), 1.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 13.6 minutes played in 17 games with the Dallas Mavericks. Inside Hoops

The Memphis Grizzlies today signed forward Omari Johnson to a multi-year contract. In addition, the team waived guard Marquis Teague. Johnson (6-9, 220) started 38 of his 44 appearances this season with the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, and averaged 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 27.9 minutes. Inside Hoops

The Utah Jazz today signed guard David Stockton for the remainder of the season. Stockton has appeared in three games for the Jazz, averaging 3.3 points on 66.7 percent from the field in 3.0 minutes per contest. Inside Hoops

The New Orleans Pelicans have signed guard Jordan Crawford. Crawford, 6-4, 195, has appeared in 21 games with New Orleans over the past two seasons, averaging 13.6 points, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per contest. Crawford appeared in two games with the Pelicans this season, averaging 9.0 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 rebounds in 18.5 minutes of action before being waived on October 21. Inside Hoops


Thursday, April 5, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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After 20 seasons, the wear and tear on Dirk Nowitzki's joints is visible every time he lumbers down the court. He did not join the team on the three-game road trip that started Wednesday in Orlando. If he can take care of the left ankle impingement, which is related to bone spurs that have bugged him off and on for years, and have it not be a problem in his 21st season, then that's simply being smart. Dallas Morning News

Nowitzki has maintained since November that he wants to fulfill the second year of the contract he signed last summer, although he's always left open the option open that retirement could still happen after this season if his body sent him signals that it's time. He told The Dallas Morning News as early as Dec. 14 on a road trip to Golden State that "it's looking like" he would return for a 21st season. Dallas Morning News

For the 12th straight game, the Sixers walked away with a win. And they nearly did it in double-digit fashion once again. JJ Redick put up a team-high 25 points to help the Sixers capture their 12th straight win and eliminate the Detroit Pistons from playoff contention with a 115-108 victory at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday. NBC Sports Philly

The Sixers were once again without two of their best players — Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, both of whom are nursing injuries. But, once again, they weren’t needed. Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ben Simmons finished with 16 points and Ersan Ilyasova, who recorded his third double-double in his past four games, added 13. NBC Sports Philly

With the [Pistons] loss the Bucks clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and the Pistons (37-41), who had won seven of their previous eight games, will miss the playoffs for the second straight season. Also, their first-round draft pick, which will be in the top 14 picks, will be relayed to the Los Angeles Clippers — as part of the Blake Griffin trade — unless they move up into the top three spots through the draft lottery. Even without All-Star big man Joel Embiid, the 76ers (48-30) won their 12th straight and moved into a third-place tie with the Cleveland Cavaliers for third place in the East. Detroit News

The Clippers’ next challenge is a road date with the Utah Jazz on Thursday night. The Clippers need another victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. It doesn’t matter how they get it done, but it does matter that they add another victory to their total before returning home for their final three games. “(It) was one of my favorite wins of the season because we didn’t play perfect,” Austin Rivers said after the victory over the Spurs. Daily Breeze

The Clippers conclude the regular season with home games Saturday against the Denver Nuggets (ninth, one game ahead, as of Wednesday morning), Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans (eighth, 1-1/2 games ahead) and Wednesday against the Lakers (11th, eliminated). A rally is possible, but the Clippers probably need to win all four remaining games plus get the right kind of results in several other contests involving conference rivals down the stretch to pull it off. They have been bucking the odds since the start of the season, so there’s no reason to count them out. Daily Breeze

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey dusted off Lucas Nogueira and shook the cobwebs off Norm Powell, going as far as he possibly could to coax the most important win of the season out of his team. With a couple of newish playing groups and his team’s renewed focus to defensive detail, the Raptors beat the Boston Celtics 96-78 on Wednesday night to move a giant step closer to finishing first atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The win — Toronto’s 56th of the season, equalling a franchise record — reduces the magic number to clinch first overall to one for the Raptors. Toronto Star

New Orleans Pelicans reserve point guard Ian Clark fell hard to the Smoothie King Center floor with a sprained right ankle Wednesday and did not return. Clark, a reliable backup to Rajon Rondo, crashed after missing a layup in the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. He required help walking off the floor and avoided placing pressure on the injured right leg. The Advocate


Wednesday, April 4, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

If Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks had an MVP vote, it would go to Houston Rockets guard James Harden. But that vote would come with a caveat. "He's definitely an MVP this year," Brooks said of Harden before the Wizards lost to the Rockets 120-104 on Tuesday night. "He's played well on the team that's playing the best in basketball, but you can always argue LeBron [James] can get it every year. Like Michael Jordan should have had 12 of them. LeBron's the same type of player. He's having probably a better year than he had before, however many years he had."

Maybe there’s a silver lining to the disappointing night suffered by the Westchester Knicks, who were eliminated from the G-League playoffs Monday in the first round by the Raptors 905. For the second straight season, the Raptors 905 have been guided by head coach Jerry Stackhouse, who may get an interview for the Knicks job, with Jeff Hornacek on thin ice. It wouldn’t be Stackhouse’s first Knicks’ interview. The 18-year NBA veteran shooting guard interviewed with former president Phil Jackson and then-general manager Steve Mills in 2014 — more for the position of player-developmental coach. Perry is the new GM and has a history with Stackhouse, whose Pistons stint intersected with Perry’s from 2000-02. NY Post

Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead had successful surgery Tuesday to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. The procedure was performed by Dr. Michelle Carlson at the Hospital for Special Surgery. After a spate of backcourt injuries last season led to Whitehead finishing third on the team in appearances and fifth in minutes, he saw his playing time cut this time around. He made just 16 appearances and averaged 6.3 points in 11.2 minutes. Whitehead spent most of his time with G-League Long Island, pouring in a team-high 22.3 points in 30 games. NY Post

It happened midway through the third quarter, with the Sixers up 20. The horn rang, Markelle Fultz loped onto the court, and Ben Simmons stayed right where he was. Granted, the place where Simmons was standing was the foul line, where he preparing to shoot a couple of free throws. But even after the league’s best rookie made one of two, the Sixers bench remained motionless as play continued.

This was a significant development, as interesting a moment as can possibly occur in the second half of a blowout against one of the league’s worst teams. Standing between the Sixers and the end of the regular season were 2-1/2 quarters that would decide what kind of role Fultz would occupy come playoff time. In his first four games since returning from his five-month sabbatical late last month, the enigmatic rookie had logged 118 minutes of court time, many of which offered a tantalizing glimpse of the potential that prompted the Sixers to trade up to select him at No. 1 overall in last June’s draft. Yet every single one of those minutes had transpired with Simmons sitting on the bench.

The Clippers rallied from a 19-point second-quarter deficit, answering every challenge from the San Antonio Spurs and pulling out a 113-110 victory at Staples Center that kept their faint playoff hopes alive with their second-biggest comeback win of the season. Lou Williams’ jump shot gave the Clippers a 106-105 lead in the closing seconds, but Patty Mills countered with a 3-pointer for the Spurs at the other end. Austin Rivers put the Clippers back in front with a 3-pointer. Mills then missed badly, with the ball going out of bounds with 6 seconds left. Daily Breeze

On track to finish with their worst record since their inaugural season 50 years ago, the Phoenix Suns finally closed out an opponent and won again. Josh Jackson scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half and the Suns ended a franchise-record, 15-game losing streak with a 97-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. "It was a win that we really, really wanted," Jackson said. Star Tribune/AP


Tuesday, April 3, Basketball Rumors
Updated 7:00 a.m. ET

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With Monday's expected news that Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn won't play in any more games for the Bulls this season, the coaching staff and front office now have to make an evaluation of their play based on a much smaller sample size than they would have preferred. Dunn played in 52 games, averaging 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6 assists, while LaVine was limited to just 24 games, averaging 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3 assists. Even more concerning was the lack of extended court time together, with Dunn playing his best basketball while LaVine was still in rehab mode following ACL surgery in February of 2017. NBC Sports Philly

Since the Bulls hold LaVine's Bird rights after the trade with Minnesota, LaVine would be eligible for a five year max contract at around $146 million, depending on where the cap is set in July. The Bulls could try to sign LaVine at a lower total package or for fewer years, and they also have the option of letting Zach and his agent shop the market for an offer sheet the Bulls could match. NBC Sports Philly

Starting against Utah (44-33) on Tuesday, the Lakers will only face teams in the Western Conference playoff hunt from here on out, although the Clippers (41-36) are perilously close to being eliminated and might be out of the race by the time they clash with the Lakers in the season finale. Luke Walton has said the Lakers (33-43) should focus on playing their own game rather than try to serve as a playoff spoiler. The two objectives inherently go hand-in-hand. Wins will benefit the Lakers and disrupt the natural order of the playoff race. Daily Breeze

Golden State hasn’t found an answer to Steven Adams. The Thunder have outscored the Warriors by 6.6 points per 100 possessions during the 97 minutes Adams has played against the defending champions this season, making them more than 24 points per 100 better than when he’s on the bench. Specifically, the Warriors aren’t grabbing rebounds when Adams, the NBA’s best on the offensive glass, is on the floor. They’ll have a chance to change that when they play in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Norman Transcript

Steven Adams is now pulling down 16.6 percent of his team’s misses, best in the NBA. The Thunder own the highest offensive rebound rate as a team, as well. They’ve matched it with the NBA’s second-stingiest transition defense, according to Synergy Sports. It’s a rare combination. Norman Transcript

It’s stating the obvious that Jimmy Butler’s absence hurts, but the Wolves have struggled defensively most of the season and are ranked 26th in the NBA in defensive rating. For whatever reason(s), Thibodeau’s reputation as a defensive savant hasn’t translated on the court. And being one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams does not bode well for playoff success. This should be an exciting time for the organization. The way the Wolves have played lately has made people cranky and restless. Star Tribune

The Kings' foray into esports, competitions using video games, added star power when Hall of Fame center and Kings minority owner Shaquille O'Neal was named general manager of Kings Guard Gaming. “I’m looking forward to my role with Kings Guard,” O’Neal said in a statement. “Just like I dominated the hardwood, music industry, showbiz, nicknames and broadcasting, I plan to help build the most dominant 2K franchise in history.” Sacramento Bee


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