Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Rockets’ Next Head Coach

One of two teams that has yet to hire a new head coach, the Rockets are taking their time to finalize a decision on who will replace Mike D’Antoni. It has been over six weeks since D’Antoni and the team went their separate ways, and it has been nearly two weeks since a report suggested the Rockets had narrowed their search to three candidates.

Since Jeff Van Gundy, John Lucas, and Stephen Silas were identified as the Rockets’ presumed finalists, there have been conflicting reports on which candidate has the upper hand.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested last week during a TV appearance that Lucas had emerged as the frontrunner for the position and seemed to imply that Van Gundy was no longer a serious candidate. However, his colleague Adrian Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter later that day that Van Gundy had remained the “focus” of Houston’s search and that conversations between the two sides were continuing.

Providing an update this week on the state of the Rockets’ search, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (video link) said he doesn’t believe Lucas is the favorite.

“I really think at this point it’s going to be Jeff Van Gundy or Stephen Silas,” Feigen said. “John Lucas was – and is – a good candidate that they very seriously considered, and are considering, but I think it’s those two.”

Feigen explained that the Rockets’ desire to involve several different members of the organization in the decision – from the basketball operations department to team ownership to players – is one reason why the team has yet to make a hire. But with the draft just weeks away and free agency and training camps expected to follow shortly thereafter, it’s safe to assume Houston will finalize its decision pretty soon.

With that in mind, we want to know which direction you think the Rockets will go with their hire.

Will they lure Van Gundy away from the broadcast booth for another go-round in Houston? Will they stay in-house and promote Lucas, making him an NBA head coach for the first time since 2003? Will they opt for a first-time head coach with plenty of assistant experience in Silas? Or is there still time for the team to go off script and bring in someone unexpected for the job?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts on which candidate the Rockets will – and should – hire to replace D’Antoni.

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Poll: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Future

Although he won’t be among this year’s pool of NBA free agents, Giannis Antetokounmpo may be the player whose next move is monitored closest this offseason.

Entering the final year of his contract with the Bucks, Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year, super-max extension that would make him one of the NBA’s highest-paid players for years to come. However, after Milwaukee’s disappointing playoff showings during the last two seasons, there’s no guarantee that Giannis will sign that extension as soon as he’s eligible to do so.

Despite those postseason exits, Antetokunmpo has said all the right things about his desire to remain in Milwaukee long-term. And while we’ve heard those kind of comments before from star players who eventually leave their teams, Giannis’ stance seems genuine.

Milwaukee is the only home he has known since arriving in America, the Bucks are a talented team that has led the NBA in wins over the last two years, and Antetokounmpo doesn’t sound like he’s simply reading from a generic script when he talks about wanting to break through and win a title with the Bucks.

Still, until Antetokounmpo officially puts pen to paper on a new contract, anything can happen. Specifically, there are four scenarios that could play out for Giannis and the Bucks over the next year.

  1. Antetokounmpo signs a five-year, super-max extension with the Bucks this offseason. It would go into effect in 2021/22 and would start at 35% of the cap for that year.
  2. Antetokounmpo forgoes an extension this offseason, but remains with the Bucks for another year, then signs a new deal with the team during the 2021 offseason. He could still sign the five-year super-max in ’21. Or he could opt for a shorter-term deal, especially if the league’s updated salary cap projections suggest that approach might be more financially advantageous in the long run.
  3. Antetokounmpo doesn’t sign an extension this offseason, then joins a new team when he reaches free agency in 2021 — either by signing outright or via sign-and-trade. His max contract would be for four years, starting at 30% of the cap.
  4. Antetokounmpo doesn’t sign an extension this offseason and is traded before the 2021 deadline.

The fourth option has always seemed like the least probable outcome to me. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN reiterated this week, the Bucks are opposed to the idea of trading Antetokounmpo before his contract expires, preferring to make another run at a title with him in 2021. I imagine the team would only seriously consider a trade if Antetokounmpo asks for one, and he has stated he has no plans to do so.

The other three options are all more realistic possibilities, though I don’t have a feel yet for which outcome is likeliest. The Bucks will be able to put their super-max offer on the table for Antetokounmpo once the 2020/21 league year begins, which figures to happen in late November or early December. We should get a better idea by that point whether he’ll accept that offer this offseason.

If he doesn’t, the Bucks don’t need to panic. They’ll be able to put that same super-max offer back in play during the 2021 offseason and it’s worth more years and more money than Antetokoumpo can get anywhere else. Plus, if the Bucks can make the roster upgrades necessary to make a run to the NBA Finals in ’21, that would go a long way toward selling Giannis on a long-term future in Milwaukee.

We want to know what you think. Which outcome is the most likely for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks? Do you envision him remaining in Milwaukee for years to come, or are his days as a Buck numbered?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your two cents!

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Poll: What Will Be The Outcome Of The Finals?

When the Lakers and Heat tipped off Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday, several fans and league observers were prepared to crown the Lakers with their 17th championship in franchise history. Fast forward to today, and the Heat are now one win away from being one win away.

Miami will try to tie the series in Game 6 on Sunday night, with a potential Game 7 hanging in the balance on Tuesday. It’s a challenging feat for a club likely to be missing Goran Dragic (listed doubtful with a plantar fascia tear), but the Heat have embraced the identity of a team known for overcoming obstacles. They were propelled by Jimmy Butler in Game 5, who finished with an astounding 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals in over 47 minutes of action.

“Nothing,” Butler said of what he had left once the game ended, as relayed by Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.“I left it all out there on the floor along with my guys, and that’s how we’re going to have to play from here on out. Like I always say, it’s win or win for us. But this is the position that we’re in. We like it this way. We got two more in a row to get.”

For the Lakers, their fate could rest on the level of production they receive from players outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If the supporting cast goes down, the team could very well go down with it. Rajon RondoAlex Caruso and Markieff Morris have all shown signs of promise off the bench this series, but no game has been more important than this.

Davis is listed as probable with a right heel contusion, while Miami’s Bam Adebayo has continued to play through a neck strain. Other players remain mentally and physically fatigued, but the NBA’s longest season to date will ultimately come to a close on Sunday or Tuesday.

What do you think? What will be the outcome of the NBA Finals? Do the Heat have enough left in the tank to force a Game 7 and potentially come back from a 3-1 deficit, or will the Lakers take control and finish the series in Game 6 or Game 7? Vote in our poll, then take to the comments section below!

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Poll: Best NBA Head Coaching Hire So Far

Despite some speculation earlier this year that financial constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic would discourage NBA teams from making head coaching changes, that hasn’t been the case at all over the last few months. A total of nine clubs – nearly a third of the league – have parted ways with coaches so far, and four of those clubs have since hired replacements.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Those four head coaching hires are as follows:

  • New York Knicks: Tom Thibodeau (replacing Mike Miller)
  • Brooklyn Nets: Steve Nash (replacing Jacque Vaughn)
  • Chicago Bulls: Billy Donovan (replacing Jim Boylen)
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Doc Rivers (replacing Brett Brown)

Thibodeau’s Bulls squads made the playoffs every year and the Timberwolves went into win-now mode when he arrived, so he didn’t necessarily seem like an obvious fit for the rebuilding Knicks. But his demanding coaching style could help get the most of New York’s young players as the team looks to return to the postseason, and he certainly won’t be intimidated by a large market.

As for the Nets, the expectation was that they’d bring in a veteran coach with a championship résumé to lead a team with title aspirations. Instead, their choice is a first-time head coach only a few years removed from retiring as a player. Nash has a preexisting relationship with Durant and his impressive accomplishments as a player should help earn him the respect of the Nets’ other veterans, but there may be a learning curve as the former two-time MVP adjusts to his first coaching job.

Donovan parted ways with the Thunder in large part because he wasn’t enthused by the idea of a rebuilding or retooling period, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him join a Bulls team coming off consecutive 22-win seasons. But it’s not as if he doesn’t have experience developing young players, having spent two decades coaching the Florida Gators. And if the Bulls take forward strides in the next year or two, Donovan’s playoff coaching experience should come in handy before long.

Finally, the Sixers hired Rivers on Thursday, pivoting to the former Clippers coach after having previously narrowed their field to Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue. For a team trying to get over the hump in the playoffs, Rivers is an interesting choice — he wasn’t able to get over that hump in Los Angeles over the last seven years. And for Rivers, joining another team that features a superstar duo and some chemistry issues is a risk.

Still, despite some disappointing postseason losses, Rivers has consistently led his teams to winning records for more than a decade and he should command the respect of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

What do you think? Which of these four coaching hires do you like the best for these teams, given their respective situations, their goals, and the other options that were available to them?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Will LeBron James Win Fourth Finals MVP Award?

Only one player in NBA history has won more than three Finals MVP awards — Michael Jordan has six, having earned the award during each of the six championship series he won with the Bulls.

Lakers forward LeBron James, one of four players to have been named Finals MVP three times, has a chance to win the award for a fourth time this year against Miami. And the odds are in his favor.

As we noted on Tuesday, the Lakers are fairly heavily favored to win this year’s Finals. And James, who has been named MVP each of the last three times his team has won a title, is the odds-on favorite to earn the award again if the Lakers win this year. At BetOnline.ag, he’s listed at -165 for Finals MVP, meaning you’d have to risk $165 to earn a $100 profit on a winning bet.

If you expect the Lakers to win this year’s championship, James is the safe bet. He finished second in 2019/20 regular-season MVP voting, and is leading the Lakers in a number of postseason statistics, including 10.3 RPG and 8.9 APG.

However, LeBron isn’t the only superstar on his team. Anthony Davis has been the Lakers’ leading scorer during the playoffs, with 28.8 RPG on .571/.366/.810 shooting — all of those percentages are better than James’ shooting rates. And it’s Davis who is considered the anchor of Los Angeles’ stout defense, having finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting this season. So even if the Lakers win this year’s title, it could be Davis, not James, that takes home the Finals MVP award.

Of course, if the Lakers can’t defeat the Heat, the odds of LeBron earning Finals MVP honors fall off drastically. James received some votes for the award back in 2015, when he averaged 35.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG, and 8.8 APG in a losing cause. But even then, with no clear-cut choice on the Warriors, losing the series meant losing out on the Finals MVP award. Andre Iguodala, whose numbers (16.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.0 APG) were pedestrian by comparison to LeBron, received more MVP votes.

In other words, if you expect Miami to pull off the upset, it’s safe to assume your Finals MVP pick will be a member of the Heat, whether it’s Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, or someone else.

What do you think? Will LeBron make history by becoming the second player in NBA history to win a fourth Finals MVP award? Or will he be beaten out for this year’s award by a teammate – presumably Davis – or a Heat player?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Who Will Win 2020 NBA Finals?

After winning 12 of 15 playoff games against the Pacers, the Celtics, and the top-seeded Bucks, the Heat don’t consider themselves underdogs in the NBA Finals, Jimmy Butler told reporters today (Twitter link via Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group). However, oddsmakers disagree.

At BetOnline.ag, the Lakers are considered -325 favorites to win the series, meaning you’d have to risk $325 to earn $100 on a Lakers championship. The Heat, on the other hand, are +270 underdogs — risking $100 would result in a $270 profit if Miami pulls off the upset.

Despite the Heat’s impressive postseason run, it’s not hard to see why they won’t enter the NBA Finals as the favorites to take home the 2020 title. They were the East’s No. 5 seed, and while Butler and Bam Adebayo are All-Stars, they haven’t put together the sort of superstar résumés that Anthony Davis and especially LeBron James have.

Miami’s rotation also includes a rookie (Tyler Herro) and a second-year forward (Duncan Robinson) who had logged 161 total minutes in the NBA before this season. It remains to be seen how they’ll perform on the league’s biggest stage. And while Andre Iguodala has been championship-tested, the former Finals MVP isn’t exactly in his prime anymore at age 36.

James and Davis, meanwhile, have led the Lakers to a 12-3 playoff record, never facing a serious threat in the first three rounds from Portland, Houston, or Denver. Their supporting cast isn’t outstanding, but that group – which includes Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris, and Alex Caruso – has consistently featured at least one or two guys stepping up at the right time throughout the postseason so far.

Still, the Lakers aren’t infallible. While their defense has been strong, their offense can get stagnant at times, and the resilient Heat are capable of making them pay for mistakes. James and Davis will be a handful, but the Heat have a handful of talented defenders capable of making them work for their points, including Butler, Iguodala, Adebayo, and Jae Crowder.

What do you think? Are you sticking with the odds-on favorites from Los Angeles and predicting LeBron will win his fourth championship? Or do you think the Heat will knock off a higher seed for a fourth consecutive round and complete their improbable run to a 2020 title?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Will Lakers Win 2020 NBA Title?

When the NBA’s postseason began just over a month ago, the Lakers were coming off a shaky 3-5 showing in the summer seeding games, and had roughly the same odds as the Clippers and Bucks to win the 2020 NBA championship, according to most sportsbooks.

Five weeks later, the Clippers and Bucks have been eliminated from title contention, as have many of the teams viewed as second-tier title threats, such as Toronto, Philadelphia, and Houston. The Lakers hold a commanding 2-0 lead over the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, while neither the Heat nor the Celtics have looked especially dominant in the Eastern Finals.

In other words, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the Lakers find themselves in a great position to finish off an impressive playoff run and bring home the franchise’s first championship since 2010. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag currently list the Lakers as -350 favorites, meaning you’d have to risk $350 in order to win just $100 for an L.A. title.

While the Lakers may be the overwhelming favorites for now, it’s a little early to pencil them in as the NBA’s 2020 champions. After all, the Nuggets were just a Davis buzzer-beater away from pulling even at one game apiece in the Western Finals — and even down 2-0, Denver is hardly about to roll over, having already overcome a pair of 3-1 deficits in these playoffs.

If the Lakers can put away the Nuggets, they’ll enter the NBA Finals as heavy favorites, but the Celtics and Heat shouldn’t be overlooked either. Boston dominated Joel Embiid and the Sixers before eliminating the defending-champion Raptors – who had the league’s second-best record this season – in perhaps the most hard-fought series of the postseason.

As for the Heat, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s ankle injury helped them finish off Milwaukee, but they’d played better than the 56-17 Bucks even before Antetokounmpo got hurt. Knocking off the Pacers, Bucks, and Celtics would represent an impressive path to the Finals for Miami.

Either Eastern team will also benefit from playing in the Disney World bubble, where home-court advantage is essentially nonexistent and the Lakers’ regular-season edge wouldn’t give them an extra Finals game at Staples Center. Still, L.A. has shown so far that it doesn’t need the help that home-court advantage provides.

What do you think? Are you confident the Lakers will win the Finals and get LeBron his fourth ring, or will one of the other three teams still alive play spoiler and take this year’s crown?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Who Will Win Lakers/Nuggets Series?

When the Nuggets were down 3-1 to Utah in the first round of the postseason, the idea that they’d eventually appear in the Western Conference Finals seemed like a pipe dream. The same was true when they fell behind the Clippers 3-1 in the second round.

Having improbably survived both of those series, the Nuggets will once again take on an underdog role as they prepare for the next round of the playoffs, but they’ve come to embrace that role.

Among the four teams still active in the postseason, Jamal Murray is the second-leading playoff scorer, with 27.1 PPG on a red-hot .502/.491/.913 shooting line. Nikola Jokic has arguably been even better, complementing his 25.4 PPG (.515/.440/.830 shooting) with 10.8 RPG and 6.0 APG.

While no Nugget besides Murray or Jokic is averaging more than 11.1 PPG in the postseason, the club’s supporting cast has stepped up when needed. Michael Porter Jr. and Gary Harris have been reliable from beyond the arc and have the team’s best playoff net ratings among rotation players, while Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap have also provided Denver with good minutes.

Still, the Nuggets have a challenging task ahead of them as they look to upset the top-seeded Lakers. They’ll enter the series as +420 underdogs, per BetOnline.ag, which means you could win $420 if you risk $100 on Denver to advance to the NBA Finals. It’s hard to find any experts willing to pick the Nuggets in the Western Finals, and that extends to rival team employees too. Josh Robbins of The Athletic spoke to a coach, executive, and scout about the series, and all three picked the Lakers to win in either five or six games.

Like Denver, Los Angeles has leaned heavily on its two stars in the postseason, with Anthony Davis and LeBron James combining for 54.2 PPG, 21.2 RPG, and 12.9 APG through the first two rounds. Jokic, Millsap, and Grant will do their best to slow down that frontcourt duo, but they’ll only be able to do so much.

As is the case for the Nuggets, no third Lakers player has stepped up as a major scoring threat, but Rajon Rondo had a very effective series vs. Houston, with 10.6 PPG, 7.0 APG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.0 SPG. Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are chipping in with secondary scoring, and Markieff Morris and Danny Green had the club’s best on/off-court splits during the second round.

What do you think? Do the Nuggets have a chance at upsetting another L.A. team or will the Lakers do what the Clippers couldn’t and end Denver’s run here? How many games do you expect this series to last? And do you expect the winner of the Western Finals to ultimately claim this year’s NBA championship?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

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Poll: Who Will Win Celtics/Heat Series?

The Celtics and the Heat weren’t necessarily the teams that most fans and league observers expected to square off in the Eastern Finals this season, but the conference’s No. 3 and No. 5 seeds will fight for the right to play in the NBA Finals after knocking off the top two clubs in the East, Milwaukee and Toronto.

It’s a fascinating matchup, and one with no obvious favorite. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag currently list the Celtics at -137 for the series, meaning you’d have to risk $137 on a bet to win $100. That makes the Heat the slight underdogs at +118.

However, the Heat were the more impressive of the two teams in the second round, dispatching the top-seeded Bucks with relative ease in a five-game series. Miami held Giannis Antetokounmpo reasonably in check until he was sidelined with an ankle injury. And Jimmy Butler led a balanced offensive attack that saw four players – Butler, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, and Jae Crowder – average at least 15 PPG, while Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Kelly Olynyk stretched the floor.

The Heat’s 113.0 offensive rating was second among the eight teams in the second round, behind only the Lakers, and their 106.6 defensive rating was the best of any team not involved in the Boston/Toronto series. Miami’s play in that impressive second-round win is a big reason why 11 of 22 experts at ESPN.com, including Bobby Marks, Tim MacMahon, and Ramona Shelburne, are picking the Heat to knock off the Celtics and make the NBA Finals.

The Celtics won’t be an easy out by any means though. Boston’s offense is a little more well-rounded than Milwaukee’s attack, with a number of players handling play-making responsibilities — if Kemba Walker doesn’t have it going, as was the case in the last two games of the second round against Toronto, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and even Marcus Smart can step up and shoulder the bulk of the scoring duties.

And while the Bucks had the NBA’s best defense during the regular season, the Heat will be tasked in the Eastern Finals with solving the defense that has ranked first overall during the postseason so far. The Celtics’ defensive rating in the playoffs is 101.9, including an eye-popping 100.3 mark in their seven games vs. the Raptors. Underrated center Daniel Theis helps anchor the unit, which is versatile, switchable, and features several dangerous perimeter defenders in Smart, Tatum, and Brown.

With Game 1 of the series set to tip off in a matter of hours, we want you to weigh in with your two cents. Who do you think will win this series? The Celtics or the Heat? How many games do you expect it take? And do you think either club has a legit shot to win the NBA Finals?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to explain your pick!

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Poll: Who Will Win Clippers/Nuggets Game 7?

After the Clippers‘ Game 4 win over the Nuggets last Wednesday, an all-L.A. showdown in the Western Conference Finals appeared to be an inevitability. The Nuggets had mustered just 85 points in their Game 4 loss, Michael Porter Jr. was publicly griping about the team’s offensive approach, and the odds of Denver once again overcoming a 3-1 deficit were remote.

The Nuggets haven’t rolled over though, erasing 16- and 19-point Clippers leads in Games 5 and 6 respectively to push the series to 3-3 and set up a Game 7 on Tuesday. As was the case in the first round against Utah, Denver has been at its best when facing elimination, with all the pressure on the opponent to close things out.

If the Clippers can’t close things out, it would be another devastating collapse for a franchise that’s 0-7 all-time in series-clinching games to advance to the Western Finals, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Led by All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the club has been considered one of the NBA’s top title contenders all season long and entered the series as overwhelming favorites.

L.A. continues to be heavily favored in Game 7 (BetOnline.ag lists the Clippers at -7.5), but the Nuggets have done an excellent job holding the Clips’ supporting cast in check this series. Besides Leonard and George, no Clipper is averaging over 11.5 points per game. Lou Williams (.368/.130/.769 shooting) has struggled badly with his shot, while Sixth Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell has posted a dismal -11.3 net rating in his minutes.

The Clippers have had a knack this season for flipping the switch and coming up big when they need to after disappointing showings. But in a Game 7, there’s little room for error. If Nikola Jokic and/or Jamal Murray have big games, L.A. will need Leonard and George to match the Nuggets star(s) — and the Clippers would probably love to see at least one or two role players step up as well.

What do you think? Will the Clippers ultimately advance to the Western Finals as we all expected after Game 4? Or can the Nuggets pull off the major upset, coming back from a 3-1 hole for a second consecutive series?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.