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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 5/11

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

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Noah Recruiting Anthony to Bulls

By Alex Kennedy

Joakim Noah reportedly started recruiting free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls at this year’s All-Star weekend, when the Bulls center gave a pitch to the New York Knicks forward. It was during this conversation that Anthony supposedly asked Noah what it was like to play for Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and seemed to express some level of interest in playing for Chicago.

Well, Noah has continued to recruit Anthony, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Joe Cowley writes that Noah and Anthony communicated via text messaging throughout the second half of the 2013-14 season, including talking one day after the Bulls were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by the Washington Wizards.

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Is The NBA Becoming Too Soft?

By Jabari Davis

“[The NBA is] more of a finesse game,” Kobe Bryant said. “It’s more small ball…which, personally, I don’t care very much for. Makes me nauseous. You can’t touch a guy.”

Recently, these words certainly rang true, as many fans were actually clamoring for a suspension for Indiana’s Paul George following a minor skirmish between teammate George Hill and Atlanta’s Mike Scott. While Bryant may have been referring to the on-court play when he made those comments during a January interview with NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, the same can be said for how we’ve been reconditioned to consume the product over the last couple decades. Often complained about by players, coaches and observers alike, the NBA has developed and in some cases earned the distinction of growing “softer” over the years.

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Chicago Can’t Afford to Sell Off Thibodeau

By Joel Brigham

First it was the New York Knicks reportedly setting their sights on current Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, but when those rumors died down in favor of new ones featuring Steve Kerr, the next story du jour was that the L.A. Lakers, on the heels of the Mike D’Antoni resignation, would be asking Chicago for permission to speak with one of the league’s most respected head coaches.

So far, Thibodeau or the Bulls haven’t released any official statement saying that no such conversation will happen between the two parties, but let’s not allow ourselves to believe for one minute that Chicago is really going to let Thibodeau walk.

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Studs and Duds from Week 3 of the Playoffs

By Moke Hamilton

And then, there were eight.

With the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs set to begin on Monday night, the masses were treated to a number of thrilling occurrences.

From Vince Carter and Damian Lillard’s respective game- and series-clinching three-pointers to a brilliant Game 7 performance by Chris Paul to a series-clinching block by Paul Pierce, these NBA playoffs have been riveting.

The best part? It’s only just begun.

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What’s Next For Kyle Lowry?

By Steve Kyler

As the Toronto Raptors cleared out their lockers and did their requisite exit interviews with the team and the media, a common questions was asked of virtually everyone. ‘Is Kyle Lowry Going To Be Back Next Season?’

The short answer on Toronto’s unrestricted free agent is very likely.

The long answer is it depends on who else comes calling.

Lowry both publicly and privately has said he likes the situation in Toronto and that he’d like to be back. Privately, Raptors president Masai Ujiri has told staffers that re-signing Lowry is a top priority and that the team will meet the expected asking price, said to be in the $10 to $12 million per year range.

The problem for Toronto and for Lowry is that the Raptors won’t be the only team calling.

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Who Should Replace Mark Jackson?

By Yannis Koutroupis

The Golden State Warriors fired Mark Jackson today after months of speculation that they would part ways with the third-year head coach at season’s end. They were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend after a close seven-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers that they played without their starting center Andrew Bogut. Short of winning an NBA championship, though, it just didn’t seem like there was anything Jackson could do to save his job.

His dismissal has been met with a lot of public criticism of the Warriors front office, but this was truly a decision made due to what occurred behind the scenes. On the surface, Jackson deserved an extension/raise. He guided the team to back-to-back postseason appearances, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the early 90s, and had the complete and total support of the locker room. From Stephen Curry to Jermaine O’Neal, everyone backed Jackson.

The opposite was the case with the people in the front office who actually determined Jackson’s fate. According to reports, he butted heads with everyone from the team’s owner Joe Lacob to the highly respected Jerry West. Add in his conflicts with his own coaching staff and a high-profile extortion case last year, and Jackson’s off the court failures triumphed his on the court successes – in their eyes at least.

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Fixing the Golden State Warriors

By Nate Duncan

The Golden State Warriors have seen quite a bit of upheaval during the last 12 months. A year ago, they were the darlings of the league after an electric upset of the Denver Nuggets. Since then, they (rightly) let Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack go, then acquired Andre Iguodala in a sign-and-trade that was enabled by the trade of 2014 and 2017 first round picks to the Utah Jazz.

Yet after a 51-win regular season and a hard-fought first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Warriors have fired head coach Mark Jackson with one year remaining on his contract. Whether that was a wise decision remains to be seen, but with Jackson’s firing the pressure is now squarely on management to nail their next coaching hire and improve the personnel. And, as we shall see, the pressure is also going to be on owner Joe Lacob and his ownership group to open their wallets to maximize this team’s odds at a championship. Here’s what the Warriors should do moving forward:

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Hawks Looking To Join League’s Elite

By Lang Greene

From head coaches Mike Woodson to Larry Drew to Mike Budenholzer. From franchise leading men Joe Johnson to Al Horford and to a degree Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. From general managers Rick Sund to Danny Ferry. No matter the amount of organizational transition over the years, the Hawks have managed to put together an impressive streak of seven consecutive playoff appearances.

However the Hawks’ inability to advance past the second round during any of those postseason appearances is typically the talking point fans and pundits usually harp on when discussing the current state of the franchise.

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Knicks, Bulls Should Talk ‘Melo Trade

By Eric Pincus

The New York Knicks hired Phil Jackson as president to make the difficult decisions as the franchise looks to rebound from a down season.

Carmelo Anthony is expected to become the top free agent on the market this summer, presuming he opts out of the final year on his contract at $23.4 million.

The Chicago Bulls are one of the top defensive teams in the league, but are in desperate need of an elite scorer (along with a healthy Derrick Rose).

It could be in the best interest of the Knicks, Bulls and Anthony to work out a trade before the All-Star forward ever hits free agency in July.

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Fixing the Charlotte Bobcats

By Jessica Camerato

The Charlotte Bobcats exceeded expectations this season by doubling their win total from the previous year and making their first playoff appearance since 2010, all under a rookie head coach. At 43-39, the team finished seventh in the Eastern Conference. In spite of a first round sweep by the Miami HEAT, the Bobcats had one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the league this season and have positioned themselves as a playoff contender for the future.

The pieces are in place to move forward. Steve Clifford quickly proved he can turn around a team in just his first year. His 43 wins are second only to Larry Brown’s 44 for most in a single season by a Bobcats head coach. Captains Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson provide leadership that will push the team to continue to improve.

When the Bobcats officially become the Hornets next season, they will look to keep their new-found winning ways as part of their identity.

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Ranking the Restricted Free Agents

By Jesse Blancarte

There are now eight teams left standing in the NBA playoffs, which leaves 22 teams to start planning for the upcoming offseason. While this year’s draft class has considerable talent, there is also a list of young, promising free agents that will be available. In particular, there are a number of talented restricted free agents that could be snagged away by teams willing to pay the right amount.

This is generally a risky strategy as teams will often match any offer their player receives. It is also risky because often times restricted free agents are still anywhere from 23 to 26 years old, and it isn’t yet clear how valuable they are as players. Teams that extend an offer sheet to a restricted free agent also tie up their cap space for several days while they wait to find out if that player’s original team will match. Still, each season teams look to pry away these young players, banking on their current skill and future potential.

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Kevin Durant’s MVP Moment

By Tommy Beer

As sports fans, it’s often difficult to remain dedicated.

The heartbreaking losses pile up (and for most franchises there are far more painful defeats than uplifting wins), which can erode the faith and devotion of even the most ardent fan. In addition, selfish attitudes and/or unconscionable off-the-field behavior by players on our favorite teams can become too much to bear.

Even when things are going swimmingly, disgraceful stupidity can throw things off track. For instance, the 2014 NBA postseason has been nothing short of miraculous. Somehow, these playoff games have provided incredible, edge-of-the-seat entertainment on a near nightly basis. However, a significant chunk of the 2014 postseason has also been unfortunately overshadowed by the specter of Donald T Sterling’s racist ramblings.

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Fixing the Houston Rockets

By Bill Ingram

The 2013-14 NBA season was supposed to herald in a new era of contention for the Houston Rockets. After all, they landed the biggest free agent on the market in Dwight Howard, they boasted one of the best shooting guards in the league in James Harden and they have one of the best young wings in the league in Chandler Parsons. That trio was expected to get Houston significantly closer to a return to the NBA Finals.

Unfortunately, despite a radically improved roster, the Rockets still found themselves watching from the sidelines when the second round of the playoffs started.

Postseason disappointment aside, the Rockets did win nine more games this season and they did it on the strength of their offense. They scored 107.7 points per game, second only to the Los Angeles Clippers’ 107.9, and had a league-leading True Shooting Percentage of 57.1. Where they struggled was on the defensive end, where they ranked 12th in the league in defensive rating, giving up 103.1 points per 100 possessions.

Where do the Rockets go from here? Let’s take a look:

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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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