When I asked two weeks ago, on the eve of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which team would walk away with the 2013 title, the results were surprisingly heavily slanted toward the Spurs, with more than 62% of you picking Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Co.
Today's poll essentially asks the same question that one did, though we have more information at our disposal. We've seen Dwyane Wade and Manu Ginobili struggle, we've seen Danny Green shine, and we know that it'll all come down to one last game at a packed American Airlines Arena (packed until the Heat fall behind by five points late in the game, at least).
With the game being played in Miami, the Heat will enter Game 7 as the favorites, so it will be interesting to see whether the majority of Hoops Rumors readers still like the Spurs. What do you think? Who wins tomorrow night's game and the 2013 championship?
A few random notes from around the league as the Spurs and Heat do battle in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Former Spurs guard Stephen Jackson says he isn't bitter about being waived by the team earlier this season, and maintains he'll land somewhere else this summer, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. Jackson also said three teams called him after he was waived, but wouldn't specify on which did so.
Tim Healey from WEEI.com wrote a profile of Providence guard Ricky Ledo, and how the scorer who took last season off can help the Celtics, who hold the 16th pick in the upcoming draft.
Hoopsworld.com's Alex Kennedy reports a rumor that the Spurs will take French forward Livio Jean-Charles in the draft and then allow him to develop overseas for at least one year.
The Nuggets plan for most of their interviews for a new GM to occur once the team hires a coach, reports Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. Wednesday's scheduled meeting with Lionel Hollins will be the first formal interview the team will conduct for the coaching job, and it's unclear when any other candidates will be interviewed, Dempsey notes.
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke tells Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post that he wouldn't have allowed a team other than the Raptors to have permission to speak with former GM Masai Ujiri. Kroenke admits he put himself in a difficult position because of his friendship with Ujiri, who had a soft spot for the Raptors organization for which he worked once before.
The Rockets have paid the luxury tax just once in the 15 seasons its been in existence, but owner Leslie Alexander tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he'd be "thrilled to pay a tax if we have a championship-caliber team."
Manu Ginobili said before the Finals that he would consider retirement after the series, and he reiterated that sentiment today in speaking to reporters, including Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "There's a small chance," Ginobili said. "It's not that I'm really considering, but I can never say 'no' for sure, because I sometimes consider it." If the soon-to-be free agent returns next season, it seems overwhelmingly likely he'll do so with the Spurs, notes Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com. Here's more from a busy Saturday around the Western Conference:
If Shaw doesn't land the Clippers job, he probably won't be coaching in L.A. anytime soon. Late Lakers owner Jerry Buss adored Shaw, but his successors aren't as high on him, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitterlinks).
Hollins was supposed to interview with the Nuggets today, but flight delays prevented that, tweets Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. The interview has been rescheduled for Wednesday, reports Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
When Pistons general manager Joe Dumars traded Chauncey Billupsto the Nuggets for Allen Iverson's expiring contract in 2008, the cap space it later created was ultimately used on the free agent signings of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon during the summer of 2009. At the time, Villanueva agreed to an offer worth $35MM over five seasons, while Gordon signed on for $55MM over five seasons. Unfortunately, Villanueva's scoring averages and minutes dipped every season since then, whereas Gordon struggled to consistently regain the form that had made him an enticing commodity in Chicago and was later traded to Charlotte. Now set to be equipped with significant cap room this offseason, Dumars implied that he'll be very conscientious about what he'll do with the flexibility:
"What we don’t want to do is use all of it for the sake of it. You want to use it wisely" (Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News relayed the quote via tweet).
Here's more from around the Association:
Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press hears that the Knicks and Lakers have expressed interest in Pistons free agent point guard Will Bynum (Twitter link).
While the Celtics ponder over whether or not to pick up the last year of Paul Pierce's deal or buy him out for $5MM, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News heard from one Eastern Conference GM that people in Pierce's camp are readying themselves for free agency. Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus has heard rumblings that if the veteran forward is let out of his contract with Boston, he'd have interest in joining the Clippers (Twitter link).
Warriors center Festus Ezeli underwent successful surgery yesterday to reinforce the MCL and PCL in his right knee, as per the team's official website. The timetable for recovery is expected to be a minimum of six to nine months. With Ezeli out, Andrew Bogut plagued by injuries, and Andris Biedrins seemingly lost in the fold, Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area tweets that Golden State is clearly in the market for a big man.
Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.net tweets that former 2011 second round pick Davis Bertans (whose draft rights are currently owned by the Spurs) suffered a torn ACL but should be able to return later this year. The 6'10 forward is in the second of a three-and-a-half year deal with KK Partizan of the Serbian League.
The field of potential suitors for Dwight Howard has "widened considerably," sources tell Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (Twitter link). According to Kyler, the Lakers, Hawks, Rockets, Mavericks, Spurs, and Nets are all expected to pursue the All-Star center this offseason.
We've heard plenty about the interest that a handful of those teams have in Howard -- the Lakers remain optimistic about re-signing him, while the Hawks, Rockets, and Mavs are all seeking an impact player and have a good chance to create room for a maximum contract offer. The Spurs and Nets, on the other hand, haven't been mentioned in the Howard discussion with the same amount of frequency, though I think there are reasons for that.
In the Nets' case, while we've heard they still maintain interest in Howard, they also have $86MM+ in salary commitments for next season. Without the cap space to sign D12 outright, they'd need to complete a sign-and-trade, and ultimately end up below the tax apron, which figures to be in the neighborhood of $75.6MM. Given the amount of undesirable contracts on the roster, it's hard to envision a scenario in which the team is able to make something work, even if Kyler tweets that they're "willing to do whatever it takes."
As for the Spurs, they've been linked to Howard multipletimes by Kyler's fellow writers at HoopsWorld. Their path to cap room is easier, but they still likely won't have quite enough space for a max offer. Clearing the necessary cap room would also figure to mean parting ways with Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, unless those players were inclined to agree to significant home discounts. On top of that, I'm skeptical that a team whose chemistry is arguably unmatched around the league would risk making such a big commitment to Howard, considering the circus that's followed him around the last two seasons.
Even if the Nets and Spurs are long shots for Howard, we've heard that he'll be willing to listen to pitches from just about any interested team, so plenty of clubs will have the chance to at least kick the tires this summer.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com follows up on severalreports we've heard about Doc Rivers this week, confirming that Rivers wouldn't be interested in sticking around if the Celtics decide to rebuild. GM Danny Ainge believes the team can avoid a full-fledged rebuild, but it remains to be seen what will happen with Paul Pierce, whose contract is only partially guaranteed for now, and Kevin Garnett, who is believed to be considering retirement. As Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld notes (via Twitter), if Rivers steps down as the Celtics' coach, it will be a pretty good indication that Pierce's and Garnett's days in Boston are numbered.
Let's round up a few more odds and ends from around the NBA....
If Rivers does decide to part ways with the Celtics, it's unlikely that the team would allow him to coach elsewhere without receiving significant compensation, tweets Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.
Speaking to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Metta World Peace seems to hint that he'd like to work out a new deal that would assure he remains with the Lakers. "I came here at a discount five years ago and I did that because I just want to win," World Peace said. "I thought my last contract was fair. I probably could have got more
somewhere else, but I thought it was fair. Right now, the main thing
with the Lakers whenever we cross that path is that (the offer) is just
Addressing a report that suggested he and Monta Ellis nearly came to blows in the locker room after a Bucks playoff loss to the Heat, Larry Sanders says it was "just personalities clashing" and that he'd have no problem playing with Ellis next season and beyond (Twitter link via Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times).
Although the focus will be on their pursuit of a star, the Mavericks should also be looking to add quality depth to the roster this summer, writes Bryan Gutierrez for ESPNDallas.com.
The NBPA is looking for its next executive director and there's no leading candidate to fill the job just yet, Jerry Stackhouse told Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal (via Twitter). “We haven’t got a search firm in place; how can there be a leading candidate?,” said the longtime NBA veteran, who says that the union is looking at two or three firms and may nail one down after the Finals (link). Meanwhile, the players' union is likely to have their annual meeting in Las Vegas in August (link) and it stands to reason that they'll have their next leader appointed by then. Here's more from around the Association..
Arizona forward Grant Jerrett is rising on draft boards, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Jerrett is only 19 and has impressed in workouts with great range for a 6'10" player. DraftExpress currently has him at the back end of the second round on their latest mock.
Spurs guard Danny Green has asserted himself in the NBA just a few seasons removed from questioning his basketball career in the D-League, writes Alex Kennedy of USA Today. Kennedy notes that if Green hooked on elsewhere, he might not have found individual success.
Dirk Nowitzki's career is likely winding down and Mac Engel of the Star-Telegram writes that he'll be extremely missed when his career with the Mavericks is through. The big man would like to play for a title again before calling it quits and Dallas is working diligently this summer to make a free agent splash.
Following up on her report this morning which indicated that negotiations between the Grizzlies and Lionel Hollins had become "dormant," Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com took to Twitter to add a couple more details.
According to Shelburne, talks between the two sides never really even got to money or terms, since there was a sense that the short-term deal the team wanted was a sign to Hollins that he wasn't really wanted back. Although Hollins wanted to return, coming back on a two-year contract with increased expectations and perhaps a lesser roster was a problematic scenario, says Shelburne.
Here are a few more notes from around the Western Conference:
One source told Shelburne that Hollins was scheduled to speak with the Clippers this afternoon (Twitter link).
Michael Lee of the Washington Post tweets that the Suns have named Pat Connelly - the former Wizards' director of player personnel - as an assistant GM. Ken Berger of CBS Sports added that Phoenix also hired Ronnie Lester - formerly the scouting director of the Lakers - as a scout along with promoting Trevor Bukstein as another assistant GM (Twitterlinks).
Asked by TNT's David Aldridge what effect Karl's ouster in Denver would have on his odds of re-signing with the Nuggets, Andre Iguodala replied, "Good question. Need some time to let it sink in."
Ten years after the Spurs nearly landed Jason Kidd in free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports looks back on a summer that would have changed the futures of two points guards, one (Kidd) who retired this week, and another (Tony Parker) who is playing in his fourth NBA Finals.
Appearing on ESPN's Sportscenter today (link via ESPN.com), Kevin Love said he had "absolutely" moved past any negativity he felt toward the Timberwolves and is looking forward to seeing what Flip Saunders will do as the team's new head of basketball operations.
Although he said just a week ago that he had no plans to retire after this season, Manu Ginobili wasn't quite so adamant about that stance in a conversation with NBATV's Rachel Nichols. As Marc Weinreich of SI.com writes, Ginobili suggested to Nichols that he'll at least consider the possibility of retiring after the Finals are over.
"I don't know," Ginobili said, when asked whether he would continue his playing career. "I think so. The chances are... yes, I will keep playing and probably with the Spurs. But I'm going to just wait. Once [the Finals are] over in July, I'll sit with my family and think about it and decide."
Ginobili will turn 36 this summer, and isn't under contract beyond this season, so if the Spurs were to beat the Heat to win the 2013 Finals, it might be a good time for the veteran guard to go out on top. Still, despite health problems and declining scoring totals over the past two seasons, Ginobili has still been a key contributor for the Spurs, and clearly has something left in the tank. I'd be surprised if he didn't return, though he'd certainly have to take a paycut after earning $14.11MM in 2012/13.