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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 5/25

Basketball Insiders looks back at some articles from last week in case you missed them the first time around.

Kyle Cape-Lindelin



Top Five Playoff Stories

By Bill Ingram

Every once in a while, the basketball gods align things just right and we wind up with two conference finals comprised of the two top seeds in each conference. That’s precisely what’s on tap as we await today’s tip-off of the Eastern Conference Finals between the top-seeded Indiana Pacers and the second-seeded Miami HEAT. Tomorrow, of course, we’ll see the West’s top-seeded San Antonio Spurs take on the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. As we eagerly anticipate the start of what is sure to be a competitive week of basketball, here are five things we’ve learned about the NBA during this year’s postseason run.

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Time To Move Kevin Love?

By Steve Kyler

Are you ready for the worst kept secret in the NBA? Teams would love to trade for Minnesota’s Kevin Love. Seriously, a lot of them would trade huge assets to get him.

All joking aside, you can safely say that virtually every team in the NBA would make an offer to obtain Love.

Before we get too much further into this; that is not news. It’s not news that the LA Lakers would like to obtain Love, it’s even less of a shock that the Boston Celtics would potentially give up their lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft if it returned Love. The Houston Rockets would give up almost anything on the roster not named Dwight Howard or James Harden to get Love.

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Time for the Celtics to Trade Rajon Rondo

By Moke Hamilton

As the dawn of a new day becomes high noon, Rajon Rondo—even at the young age of 28 years old—is an old sage among his peers.

In basketball years, eight years with one franchise is a lifetime, and in Boston, Rondo has seen it all.

From a 24-58 campaign in which he played behind the likes of Delonte West and Tony Allen to being mentored and at times supplanted by Sam Cassell, Rondo’s drafting, emerging, thriving and surviving in Boston has been a tremendous story to behold.

Yet, just like the talented triumvirate in Boston that featured franchise cornerstone Paul Pierce, the legendary Kevin Garnett and the unbelievably durable Ray Allen, all good things must come to an end.

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NBA Charging Document Reveals League Strategy

By Nate Duncan

On Monday the NBA scheduled the official hearing on Donald Sterling’s future as Los Angeles Clippers owner for June 3, 2014. More notably, the “Summary of Sterling Termination Charge” released by the league reveals a number of interesting facets to the league’s strategy. The first confirms what was said in this space a few days ago, namely that Sterling was foolish to refuse to pay his $2.5 million fine. That refusal, as the league points out, provides clear and unequivocal grounds for franchise termination under Article 13(c). Sterling has not-and has stated that he will not-pay the fine, and the league’s release correctly points out that “[a]n NBA membership may be terminated upon the failure of a member or owner to pay any indebtedness owing to the league.”

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Trades Impacting The NBA’s Draft Lottery

By Yannis Koutroupis

The day that some teams have been waiting well over a year for is finally here. It’s Draft Lottery night and a little after 8 p.m. ET we will officially know the order for the 2014 NBA Draft. This is one of the most highly anticipated draft classes in recent memory, making spots at the top quite coveted. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid – the projected top-three picks overall – are viewed as potential franchise players, while there’s a handful of players in the second tier, like Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh to name a few, who will also make teams feel like they’re walking away as one of the winners of the draft as well if they land them.

In today’s AM Report, Steve Kyler broke down what each team with a realistic chance to win the lottery would do if the ping pong balls bounce in their favor. At the conclusion of the lottery, Basketball Insiders will put out a lottery mock draft reflecting the impact the lottery has on the draft boards. In further preparation for tonight’s Draft Lottery, we take a look back at some of the trades that are going to have an impact on it, and those that would have if certain protections weren’t in place.

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David Lee On The Outs In Golden State?

By Lang Greene

The Golden State Warriors are a team on the rise. The franchise is coming off its first 50-win campaign since the 1991-92 season and has made the playoffs in consecutive years.

But the Warriors’ front office wants to be even better and the group is intent on using this offseason as a way to position themselves to join the ranks of the league’s elite in fairly short order.

For starters the club dismissed head coach Mark Jackson earlier this month, despite the recent run of success the club had under his leadership.

Warriors management then took a huge gamble by hiring league veteran (and five-time NBA champion) Steve Kerr, who has zero NBA head coaching experience, to replace the well-liked Jackson.

However the changes for the franchise don’t appear to be stopping at the coaching level.

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Ainge To Weigh Options after Celtics Land Sixth Pick

By Jessica Camerato

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge knew going into the NBA Draft Lottery the odds were not in favor of his team getting a top pick. But maybe, just maybe, the ping pong balls would make a surprise landing.

They did, for the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers who got the number one pick in spite of just a 1.7 percent chance. The night was more predictable for the Celtics. They received the sixth pick, which they had a 34.2 percent chance of landing.

“We (Ainge and staff) were all disappointed. But at the same time, we were prepared for this and we knew that this was a strong possibility,” Ainge said Tuesday night from Los Angeles, where he is watching draft workouts. “It’s a momentary disappointment. You hope to get the lucky ball, but now we have some clarity and some marching orders.”

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Top “Draft Day Values” From the 2013-14 Season

By Tommy Beer

Last month we handed out the hardware for Fantasy MVP and Rookie of the Year, as well as “All-Fantasy First Team” for the top overall performers from this past season. Today, we’ll glance back at drafts held last Fall and highlight the best “Draft Day Values.”

Many of the fantasy owners that won titles in 2014 ended up at the top of their league’s standings due to surprisingly impressive performances from mid-to-late round draft picks. So often, it is these underrated, undervalued stars that make all the difference in leagues across the land.

We all have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the elite, top-tier picks such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul. However, when GM’s can get first-round production from a seventh-round selection or mid-round production from a waiver-wire add, those teams become very difficult to defeat.

Listed below is the 2013-14 All-Value Fantasy First Team:

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History’s Worst Playoff Injuries

By Joel Brigham

After watching two games of the Western Conference Finals, it has become pretty clear that Oklahoma City is not the same team, especially defensively, without star big man Serge Ibaka. With him, OKC may have been on their way to NBA Finals redemption and an eagerly-anticipated showdown between Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Without Ibaka, they just look like burnt toast.

With the recent news that Ibaka’s calf is healing and he is now day-to-day, his loss probably won’t prove to be among the most frustrating playoff injuries of all time, but here are some of the other most devastating postseason injuries in recent league history:

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Embiid Going No. 1?

By Alex Kennedy

Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker have been hyped up as No. 1 pick candidates for years. They have been in the spotlight seemingly forever and their YouTube highlights and mixtapes have amassed millions of views. Wiggins’ first mixtape was released when he was 13 years old, and he has had the “prodigy” label ever since. Wiggins and Parker have been on the NBA’s radar for a long, long time.

But something interesting happened this past season. Joel Embiid, who had only been playing basketball for four years, entered the NCAA season as a raw center but developed quicker than anyone expected. By the end of the season, most scouts around the league agreed that he had leapfrogged Wiggins and Parker as the top prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft, which seems crazy since Embiid came out of nowhere.

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Scott On Lakers: “I Thought It Was A Perfect Fit”

By Jabari Davis

Now that the NBA’s Draft Lottery has finally come and gone, not only can the Lakers move forward with their plans of how to reconstruct their roster with the knowledge they’ll have the seventh selection (barring a deal) come June 26, but they can also actively continue the process of filling their head coaching vacancy. Although GM Mitch Kupchak said there was no sense of urgency to necessarily hire a coach over the next few weeks, the team has already begun interviewing candidates for the position.

Former Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy (90-92) interviewed with the team earlier in the week, and reportedly felt ‘positively’ with how the conversation went. Dunleavy has either interviewed or been mentioned in relationship to the Lakers’ head coaching position each time it has been available over the past decade or so, but the 1998-99 NBA Coach of the Year has also interviewed with the Knicks.

Byron Scott is another available coach that interviewed with the Lakers’ brass this week, and would almost have to be considered one of the leading candidates for the position given all the variables. While UConn’s Kevin Ollie may have been the candidate many felt was ideal prior to his recently signed extension to stay in Connecticut for up to five additional years, Scott brings a lot of similar qualities to the table.

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Kyle Cape-Lindelin is based out of Portland, OR covering the NBA while being one of the newsline editors and contributor to "Out of Bounds."


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NBA Daily: Jaylen Brown Set To Return For Celtics

The Celtics finally got some good news on Thursday. Jaylen Brown’s return is imminent.

Moke Hamilton



Finally, some good news for the Boston Celtics.

Jaylen Brown is set to return to action.

Brown has been M.I.A. since sustaining a concussion during the team’s 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves back on March 8, but has traveled with the team to Portland and is expecting to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Celtics do battle with the Sacramento Kings.

As the Celts gear up for a playoff run, which they hope will result in them ending LeBron James’ reign atop the Eastern Conference, they’ve picked the wrong time to run into injury issues. Along with Brown, both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart have each been conspicuous by their absences, and the team could certainly use all of their pieces as they attempt to enter the postseason on a high note.

Fortunately for Boston, with the Toronto Raptors leading them by 4.5 games in the standings and the Celts ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a comfortable six games, Brad Stevens’ team is enjoying the rare situation of having a playoff seed that appears to be somewhat locked in.

Still, with the team only able to go as far as its young rotation will carry it, Brown addressed the media on Thursday.

“I’m feeling a lot better. I’m just trying to hurry up and get back,” Brown said, as quoted by

“I’m tired of not playing.”

Stevens is probably tired of him not playing, too.

As we head into the month of April, playoff-bound teams and conference contenders begin to think about playing into June, while the cellar-dwellers and pretenders begin to look toward the draft lottery and free agency.

What’s funny is that in the midst of the Raptors and their rise out East, the Celtics and their dominance has become a bit of a forgotten storyline. When Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, the neophytes from the Northeast were thought to be a decent team in the making whose ceiling probably wasn’t anywhere near that of the Cavs, the Raptors and perhaps even the Washington Wizards.

Yet through it all, with the impressive growth of Jaylen Brown, impressive rookie Jayson Tatum and the rise of Irving as a franchise’s lynchpin, the Celtics stormed out the games to the tune of a a 17-3 record. What made the strong start even more impressive was the fact that the team won 16 straight games after beginning the season 0-2.

Although they weren’t able to keep up that pace, they began the month of February having gone 37-15 and turned a great many into believers. With their spry legs, team-first playing style and capable leader in Irving, the Celtics, it was thought, were a true contender in the Eastern Conference — if not the favorite.

Since then, and after experiencing injuries to some of its key cogs, the team has gone just 11-8.

In the interim, it seems that many have forgotten about the team that tantalized the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season.

Brown’s return, in one important respect, will signify a return to Boston’s prior self.

With Marcus Smart having recently undergone surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, he is expected to be out another five weeks or so, meaning that he’ll likely miss the beginning of the postseason.

As for Irving, although reports say that his ailing knee has no structural damage, everything the Celtics hope to accomplish begins and ends with him. FOX Sports 1’s Chris Broussard believes that it’s no slam dunk that Irving returns to action this season, but he’s in the minority. This team has simply come too far to not give themselves every opportunity to compete at the highest level, so long as doing so doesn’t jeopardize the long term health of any of the franchise’s cornerstones.

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics are far from a finished product. With their nucleus intact and flexibility preserved, they will have another offseason with which to tinker with their rotation pieces and plug away at building a champion.

But here and now, with what they’ve got, the Celtics are much closer than any of us thought they would be at this point.

And on Sunday, when Jaylen Brown rejoins his team in the lineup, to the delight of the Boston faithful, the Celtics will be that much closer.

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Winslow and the Miami HEAT Are “Believing in Each Other”

Justise Winslow discusses the all-around team effort of the Miami HEAT with Basketball Insiders.

Dennis Chambers



The days of LeBron James in Miami are over. Chris Bosh isn’t there anymore, either. No more Ray Allen or Shane Battier. Dwyane Wade is back, but he’s not “Flash” nowadays.

Actually, check the entire Miami HEAT roster; there’s no superstar. They have an All-Star in Goran Dragic, even if he was the third alternate. But during this most recent playoff push, the HEAT don’t have a worldwide household name to plaster all over billboards as a reason for their success.

With 10 games remaining until the playoffs, Miami doesn’t have a player averaging more than 33 minutes per game. Instead, they have 11 players who average at least 20 minutes a contest. Their approach is that of a deep rotation, and its led them to a 39-33 record and the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. All while the rest of the league is star-driven.

One of those key cogs to the Miami machine is third-year wing, Justise Winslow. A former top-10 pick out of Duke, Winslow is enjoying most efficient season so far for the HEAT. To him, the fact that his squad isn’t littered with names like LeBron and Steph doesn’t make a difference.

“I think our team is extremely confident in each other,” Winslow said. “I think that’s a big thing is that we all believe in each other. We play to each other’s strengths, and most importantly we’re a defensive-minded team. We hang our hats on the defensive end, and that’s really what gets us going as a team.”

Winslow isn’t exaggerating. The HEAT is seventh in the NBA in defensive rating. Head coach Erik Spoelstra harps on the team’s defensive scheme and preparation. Without a go-to scorer capable of getting the team 30 any given night, Miami needs to do their job as a collective unit on the defensive end of the floor night in and night out.

“Each night the coaching staff preaching to us that we have enough, no matter who is in the lineup,” Winslow said. “So it’s just about going out there and executing and putting together a good game of 48-minute basketball. I think our belief in each other that we have enough to get the job done is key.”

In the current NBA landscape, a lot of the playoff contenders are centered around players with big resumes and bigger names. As a result, the HEAT get lost in the shuffle of the national conversation from time to time. Their culture of togetherness and slight from the media outside of their city could make for the perfect “chip on the shoulder” recipe. Or so you would think. Winslow doesn’t believe the chatter, or lack thereof, matters any to Miami.

“We don’t pay too much attention to that,” Winslow said. ‘We’re so focused, and locked in on our team, and each other, and trying to win each game. For us, it’s about having the respect of your peers, of the other team. I think every night no matter who we have or who’s healthy, I think teams know we’re going to be a tough, physical team. Guys in this league don’t want that, you don’t want to have to play against a Miami HEAT team that’s going to be physical, that’s going to get into your body, that’s going to make you play a hard, 48-minute basketball game.”

Because of the HEAT’s brand of basketball, an 82-game season can be grueling. For Winslow, keeping his body right throughout the grind is important to him. After dealing with a few injuries last season, and ultimately being shut down for the year last January to undergo right shoulder surgery for a torn labrum, Winslow was determined to make sure he kept his body in check throughout his comeback so he would be available for a long playoff run.

While his numbers aren’t flashy, Winslow is showing improvement. His 49.3 true shooting percentage is the highest of his career, along with shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc, Winslow made strides in arguably the biggest knock against his game since coming out of college.

Because NBA players have the freedom to form partnerships with whichever companies they’d like, Winslow made the choice to strike up a partnership that he felt would not only help him off the court but more importantly, on it as well.

“My partnership with MET-Rx has been great,” Winslow said. “They’ve really helped take my game to the next level with all their nutritional supplements, and the Big 100 bar. So, for me, I’m always looking for ways to stay off my feet, but also get in the best shape possible and this was just a great way to help.”

The grind of the NBA season is also eased for playoff teams by a veteran presence. So, when the HEAT brought back franchise legend Wade at the trade deadline, their locker room suddenly had a face and feel of someone who’s been there before. A player who reached the pinnacle, with the very team that traded for him nonetheless.

Getting Wade back to Miami was crucial for the team’s playoff run down the stretch, and more importantly for Winslow, who benefited greatly from his time with the future Hall of Famer when he was fresh out of college.

“First and foremost, it was great to get him back,” Winslow said. “Just the role that he played in my career as a rookie, and everything I learned from him. But then also, just the energy and positivity that he brought to the locker room, and also the community of Miami, the city of Miami as a whole. It was a much-needed energy boost, and good vibes that he brought back for that post All-Star break push for playoffs. So, it’s just been great having him back, and it’s kind of rejuvenated the team and the locker room, and just the city in general.”

Wade is the MVP-caliber player he once was this time around, though. But that’s okay. This version of the Miami HEAT is charging toward the postseason with a team-first mentality.

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NBA Daily: The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr. is an elite prospect, but questions surrounding his back will determine his landing spot in the NBA.

Steve Kyler



The Road Ahead for Michael Porter Jr.

While some of the highly thought of college players have made their intentions on declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft known, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr still hasn’t made his proclamation. Most people in NBA circles believe he’ll be in the 2018 NBA Draft class—you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think he’s in.

Back in November, the Missouri staff was somewhat vague and guarded about Porter’s condition until it was announced that he’d have back surgery on a couple of problematic discs in the lumbar area of his spine. The procedure is called a microdiscectomy and by all accounts was a success.

Porter missed virtually all of his college season but opted to play in the post-season for Missouri, who got eliminated fairly quickly.

There were certainly a lot of ugly things about Porter’s game. He looked out of shape, and certainly wasn’t the overwhelming dominating force he’d been in high school. Some executives applauded his decision to play, even though he wasn’t at a 100 percent. Some pointed to that fact that too many college players play it safe and that’s not always viewed positively. Almost no one Basketball Insiders spoke with was holding the less than stellar outing against him. In fact, most had far more positive things to say than negative. There was one resounding theme from the NBA executives who spoke about this situation—none of it matters until they see his medical.

Assuming Porter does as expected and hires an agent and enters the draft, the next challenge he’ll face is how open he wants to be to teams looking at drafting him.

In recent years, NBA teams have not shied away from using high draft picks on injured or recently injured players. Once a team can get a sense of how the player is recovering, they can make a value judgment.

Agents often use this information and access to the player to help steer their client to the situation they deem most favorable. While fans and outsiders often get caught up in the pick number a player ultimately lands at, more and more agents are concerned with fit, especially for a player that may need time to get back to 100 percent.

Most agents would want to steer their client to a team with favorable medical staff, a team with a proven track record of patience or more importantly, a team with the best chance at a long and fruitful career.

This won’t be good news for some team that could end up in the top 10, as it’s more likely that Porter isn’t made available to everyone. NBA executives will tell you, they can certainly draft him if they wanted to, but most teams won’t draft a player if their medical staff doesn’t sign off, and without information and access how can they do that?

There is a significant financial difference in going third in the draft ($5.47 million) and 10th ($2.964 million) – but several agents commented that the short-term money shouldn’t drive the long-term decision, especially if the player isn’t 100 percent. The fit and situation typically trump everything in these situations.

Another concept to consider is while Porter did play, there are questions about whether he’ll host a pro-day, take part in private team workouts or simply let his body of work drive his draft value.

Almost no one who spoke about this situation believed Porter would take part in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, as he’d have to subject himself to the medical testing that’s part of that event.

The common perception on Porter is he’s a top-five talent, although it seems more likely that his camp is going to try and work the process to ensure he lands in a favorable situation. That could mean he falls out of top-five selections, simply because he and his agents choose to.

There is still a lot that needs to play out for Porter, including his announcement that he will enter the draft. But given where things stand with him, it’s more likely than not he’s coming into the draft, and it’s more likely than not he’ll have a lot of questions NBA teams will want to understand before his real draft position is clear.

The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago this year and is scheduled for May 15th. The annual Draft Combine, also in Chicago, gets underway on May 16th.

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