Steve Kerr’s Condition Continues to Worsen

The physical problems that caused Warriors coach Steve Kerr to miss the final two games of the first-round series have gotten worse over the past week, reports Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News. Kerr’s indefinite absence from the team may stretch well into the second round or even beyond.

Kerr was at Stanford Medical Center today getting further tests and had to miss the first practice in preparation for the next round of playoffs. Interim coach Mike Brown was in charge and said he will plan to coach the rest of the postseason unless GM Bob Myers tells him differently.

Brown talked to Kerr Tuesday night about strategies for facing the Jazz or Clippers in the next round. Brown refused to comment on Kerr’s condition, referring all those questions to Myers.

Kerr is still dealing with the effects of surgery that he had in the summer of 2015 to repair a ruptured disk in his back. That created a fluid leak in his spine, and a follow-up operation was needed. Kerr missed the first 43 games of last season and still hasn’t returned to full health.

Myers addressed his coach’s condition after today’s practice in an interview on 95.7 The Game. He said the organization hasn’t set a timetable for a return, and he wants to see Kerr have several good days in a row before he comes back to the bench.

“For him to live the life that he wants to live, we need to figure it out,” Myers said. “I think we will.

The Warriors won’t play again until Sunday, and maybe not until Tuesday if the Jazz-Clippers series goes to a seventh game. Brown plans to continue having strategy sessions with Kerr and will try to handle his absence as smoothly as possible.

“You hope it’s seamless,” Brown said. “I’ve been coaching a long time and even though Steve’s older than me — a lot older than me (laughs) — he’s been coaching for three years now and I’ve learned a ton from him. Not just X’s and O’s. Maybe [Gregg Popovich] rivals it, but he’s by far the best communicator I’ve been around. There’s no way I’ll be able to emulate that. Just being here a year, having the veterans we have, the staff we have, it’s made it, in my opinion, seamless.”

Nuggets GM Discusses Nurkic, Gallinari, Defense

Earlier tonight, we shared Nuggets GM Tim Connelly’s announcement that rookie guard Jamal Murray will have surgery tomorrow. Here are a few other highlights of Connelly’s radio interview with Altitude Sports 950, all tweeted by Chris Dempsey:

  • Although Jusuf Nurkic blossomed into a key player in Portland, Connelly doesn’t regret the February deal that sent him to the Trail Blazers. Portland acquired Nurkic and a first-round pick this year in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-rounder. “We think Mason is going to be a huge piece of our core,” Connelly said.
  • Re-signing free agent forward Danilo Gallinari will be the top off-season priority. Gallinari has been with the Nuggets since 2011 when he was acquired in the Carmelo Anthony deal. Connelly also hopes to reach a new deal with Plumlee, who will be a restricted free agent, and work out an extension for third-year guard Gary Harris.
  • Another objective is to add a stronger defensive presence around breakout star Nikola Jokic.
  • Connelly believed 39 wins would be enough to grab the West’s final playoff spot. The Nuggets finished 40-42, but Portland was a game better. Connelly insists he would have been more active at the trade deadline if he had known the team would miss the postseason.
  • The organization is making progress in changing the league-wide perception about Denver as a place to play and live. Connelly said several lottery prospects in a recent draft were “begging” the Nuggets to select them because they wanted to be in the city.
  • The team needs a “pecking order” in the locker room, with a strong veteran presence to guide younger players. “Maybe our biggest struggle since I’ve been here,” Connelly said, “is we haven’t had a pecking order.” He adds that the organization has also encountered problems with “role acceptance” among players.

Community Shootaround: Blake Griffin

With the Clippers on the verge of elimination, the franchise is moving closer to addressing the tough decisions it will face this summer. J.J. Redick is definitely headed toward free agency, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are almost certain to opt out and join him, leaving owner Steve Ballmer to decide how much it’s worth to keep the current team together.

A recent report suggests that a five-year extension for Paul is a done deal. Redick is a valuable starter, but not a franchise-altering player. So L.A.’s most important choice will be what to do about Griffin.

At age 28, Griffin remains one of the most talented power forwards in the league. He averaged 21.6 points per game this season, topping the 20-point threshold for the sixth time in his seven NBA seasons. He’s a five-time All-Star who will be among the biggest draws on the open market.

But re-signing Griffin won’t be a slam-dunk decision. Injuries, behavior and finances will all factor in, as will the Clippers’ long string of playoff disappointments.

Griffin managed just three playoff games this year before being sidelined for the rest of the postseason with an injured toe. It’s the second straight season that the Clippers have lost Griffin in the first round, as both he and Paul were unavailable at the end of last year’s ouster against Portland. Griffin appeared in just 61 regular-season games, losing part of the season to arthroscopic knee surgery in December.

A year ago, he managed just 35 games and broke his right hand in a fight with equipment manager Matias Testi. Griffin apologized to teammates and fans, but the incident reportedly soured some members of the front office about his future in the organization.

Giving max deals to keep both Paul and Griffin would push the Clippers’ payroll among the highest in the league. Ballmer would be faced with a sizable luxury tax and a huge repeater tax on top of it. Vertical insider Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this morning that it wouldn’t be “realistic” to expect that kind of commitment after another early playoff exit.

One option if Griffin isn’t retained is to revisit a deal for Carmelo Anthony. The Clippers were one of the teams that the Knicks contacted before the deadline. Anthony could at least replace Griffin’s scoring and give L.A. a new Big Three with Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

That brings us to tonight’s question: Should the Clippers re-sign Griffin this summer, and if they don’t, where will he end up? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. We look forward to what you have to say.

Westbrook: ‘Oklahoma City Is A Place That I Want To Be’

Thunder fans who were looking for some good news following their playoff ouster got it today from Russell Westbrook, writes Royce Young of

After conducting his exit interview, the MVP candidate expressed a desire to remain in Oklahoma City, even though he didn’t specifically address a new extension.

“That’s something, like I said, I haven’t thought about anything, obviously,” Westbrook said. “Everybody knows that I like Oklahoma City and I love being here and I love everybody here. But I haven’t even thought about that. Obviously, Oklahoma City is a place that I want to be.”

Westbrook signed a three-year extension last summer, but it includes a player option that could put him back on the free agent market by July of 2018. The new collective bargaining agreement gives him a chance to sign another extension that would make him the league’s highest-paid player and could total as much as $220MM over five seasons.

The Thunder are expected to make the extension offer, Young notes, adding that it would cause panic in the organization if Westbrook doesn’t accept it. However, given the loyalty he displayed last summer in the wake of Kevin Durant‘s departure, there is confidence that he will remain in OKC.

Westbrook said his primary concern is fatherhood, with his first child due in May, and he is in no rush to address his contract.

Knicks Sending Assistant To Latvian National Team

The Knicks have worked out a compromise with Kristaps Porzingis regarding his desire to represent Latvia in the European Championships, according to international basketball writer David Pick (Twitter links).

New York’s front office offered to approve Porzingis’ participation provided that assistant coach Joshua Longstaff is permitted to join the national team to work with the second-year big man. Longstaff, who has been with the Knicks since 2014, will remain in Latvia throughout the tournament, which runs from August 31st to September 17th.

Porzingis doesn’t need approval from the Knicks to participate in international play, so the move is largely symbolic. Still it’s a change in philosophy from the organization, which previously advised him to skip the competition. Injuries are the main concern as Porzingis missed 16 games this season with a left Achilles issue and back problems.

The Knicks were originally surprised to learn that Porzingis was planning to be part of Eurobasket. He skipped his exit interview with team president Phil Jackson in a protest over the ongoing chaos surrounding the team and has had little contact with the organization since the season ended.

Nuggets GM: Jamal Murray To Have Surgery

Surgery is planned Thursday for Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Denver GM Tim Connelly made the announcement this afternoon in a radio interview with Altitude Sports 950.

The surgery is for a “couple” of injuries (Twitter link), including a sports hernia that bothered Murray for much of the season, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post.

The seventh pick in last summer’s draft, Murray had a productive rookie season despite the ailments. He appeared in all 82 games, starting 10, and averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night.

Murray was named to the Rising Stars Challenge and earned MVP honors with a 36-point, 11-assist performance.

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Portland Trail Blazers

After an unexpected second-round playoff run a year ago, the Trail Blazers underwhelmed in 2016/17, sneaking into the playoffs as a No. 8 seed and failing to win a single postseason game. The Blazers did unearth a gem when they acquired Jusuf Nurkic in a February trade, but the team’s cap situation will make it very difficult for the front office to make major upgrades to the roster this summer.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Trail Blazers financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Festus Ezeli ($6,733,000) — Partial guarantee. Guaranteed portion noted above.1
  • Pat Connaughton ($1,471,382)2
  • Tim Quarterman ($1,312,611)
  • Total: $9,516,993

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Cap Holds

  • No. 15 overall pick ($2,365,560)
  • No. 20 overall pick ($1,859,400)
  • No. 26 overall pick ($1,465,920)
  • Total: $5,690,880

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $38,119,655

  • Portland has an extraordinary amount of money tied up in guaranteed salaries for next season. If the Blazers were to waive all their players on non-guaranteed salaries, the club’s remaining salaries for 2017/18 – along with cap holds for first-round draft picks – would total $139,119,655, a figure that would be well above the tax line. Trades to clear some salary are possible, but the Blazers are a virtual lock to remain over the cap this offseason.


  1. Ezeli’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.
  2. Connaughton’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 25.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander Fined $100K

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has been hit with a $100K fine by the NBA for confronting a referee during live game action in Game 5 of his club’s first round series, the league announced today in a press release.

The incident occurred near the end of the first quarter of the Rockets’ series-clinching win over the Thunder on Tuesday night. With the Thunder controlling the ball, Alexander got up from his courtside side, walked over to referee Bill Kennedy, and appeared to express his displeasure with a call before walking back to his seat (video link).

While we’ve seen a number of players and coaches fined already during the NBA postseason, the $100K fine for Alexander is the largest penalty handed out by the league since the playoffs begin. Of course, as the Rockets’ owner, Alexander is more equipped to pay that fine than any player or coach.

Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale was docked $30K for criticizing officials in his post-game press conference, while Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo, Patrick Beverley, and Kelly Oubre were each fined $25K for various infractions.

Baskonia Parts Ways With Andrea Bargnani

Former first overall pick Andrea Bargnani is back on the free agent market, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who writes that Spanish team Baskonia has officially parted ways with Bargnani. The two sides agreed to a two-year contract back in 2016, but have reached a buyout agreement that will bring the deal to an early end.

Injuries impacted Bargnani’s ability to contribute to Baskonia in 2016/17, limiting him to just 15 Euroleague games and 14 contests in Spanish League play. When he was able to get on the court, he was a decent role player for Baskonia, joining fellow former NBA players like Shane Larkin, Rodrigue Beaubois, Tornike Shengelia, and Josh Akognon among the club’s leading scorers.

Although he’s still just 31 years old and is only a year removed from appearing in 46 games for the 2015/16 Nets, Bargnani seems unlikely to seek a return to the NBA when he gets healthy.

The former Raptor, Knick, and Net, who was the first player off the board in the 2006 draft, averaged a respectable 14.3 PPG in 550 career regular season NBA games, but saw his minutes cut back significantly during his final season in the Association. His best chance at a regular role going forward would be on a European club.

We first learned over the weekend that Bargnani and Baskonia were discussing a buyout.

Southwest Notes: Nene, Rockets, Mavs, Pelicans

While much of the praise this year for Daryl Morey‘s work in the 2016 offseason has focused on the Rockets‘ additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, the team’s decision to sign Nene to a modest one-year contract has also paid off in a huge way.

In a piece for The Undefeated, Marc J. Spears takes a closer look at the impact the veteran center has had in Houston, and shares an interesting tidbit: Nene actually contemplated retirement before deciding to sign with the Rockets last summer. Having battled injuries for much of his career, Nene has managed to stay healthy this season, and Houston’s success has him “loving basketball again,” according to Spears.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • The Rockets and a handful of other NBA teams are “gathering intel” on Argentinean point guard Facundo Campazzo, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Campazzo, whose contract with Real Madrid is ending, doesn’t have an interest in extending that deal, per Pick, and the 26-year-old has been talking since last year about making the leap to the NBA.
  • In a chat with readers for the Dallas Morning News, Mavericks beat writer Eddie Sefko wonders if the team’s newfound youth movement will extend into the offseason, or if the team will use its lottery pick as a chip to acquire a more established NBA player. Sefko also suggests that it wouldn’t be crazy if Dallas kicked the tires on Carmelo Anthony, though that sounds like speculation.
  • Sefko doesn’t expect the Mavericks to face a serious challenge in their effort to lock up Nerlens Noel to a long-term deal. Unless one side “wants to play hardball with the numbers,” a deal should get done relatively quickly once free agency opens, in Sefko’s opinion.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post and Bobby Marks of The Vertical each examine the upcoming offseason for the Pelicans, which both scribes pointing to Jrue Holiday‘s looming free agency as perhaps the most important storyline of the summer for New Orleans.
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