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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 5/18

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

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Projecting NBA Free Agent Prices

By Eric Pincus

The NBA’s free agent process will start back up in July, less than a week after the June 26 NBA Draft.

A number of teams could have significant cap room this summer although the list of free agents isn’t nearly as strong as it projects to be in 2015.  Interesting spenders could include the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Bobcats and possibly the Memphis Grizzlies.

Who exactly will be on the free agent market also isn’t yet clear.  A number of players have to decide on opt outs before July, which could dramatically change the free agent puzzle.

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Kevin Durant’s Big Lesson

By Bill Ingram

It seems strange to talk about an established NBA super star and perennial MVP candidate learning an important lesson at this stage of his career. After all, since being drafted with the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft Kevin Durant has been one of the best players in the league, with a list of honors and awards that have him headed for the Hall of Fame. And yet, despite being a five-time NBA All-Star (and an All-Star MVP in 2012), a four-time scoring leader and a All-NBA First Team member and with one trip to the NBA Finals under his belt, over the last week this basketball phenom had to adapt to something he had never before faced.

He had to learn to ignore criticism from the media.

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Why Skip The NBA Draft Combine?

By Steve Kyler

With the 2014 NBA Draft Combine set to get underway in Chicago on Wednesday, news broke this weekend that the top overall prospects Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker would not be attending. Yesterday Andrew Wiggins joined the fray with word leaking that he too would be passing on the combine.

While none of these guys were going to compete in drills or do much more than pose for the cameras and sit in on a few face-to-face meetings with teams. There were some red flags raised by this decision, the biggest being on Embiid.

Embiid was unable to finish his season at Kansas due to a stress reaction in his back, and the word is he still has not been medically cleared for full contact. With doubts about his back and to some extent his problematic knee, opting not to take part in the combine raises some concerns among teams that could be in range to draft him.

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Top 5 NBA Draft Lottery Lucky Charms

By Joel Brigham

The 2014 NBA Draft lottery is just a little over a week away, and teams with high hopes of landing a top star like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker already are doing some pretty crazy things in the name of luck.

The Milwaukee Bucks, for example, are crowdsourcing their fans for pictures of their own lucky charms. The winning fan gets a pair of season tickets, whether Milwaukee lands the top pick or not. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, are doubling that prize by offering four season tickets in a similar promotion. Even losing submissions win a couple of tickets to a Sixers game at some point during the upcoming season.

Teams are shameless when it comes to their lucky charms, which have been surprisingly silly over the years. Here are a few of the most memorable (and the most ridiculous) from lotteries of the past:

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Griffin Takes Control of Cavaliers

By Yannis Koutroupis

When the Cleveland Cavaliers re-hired Mike Brown as their head coach this summer, it came off as an admission that they made a mistake when they fired him in 2010. It was an indication that in their eyes Brown was more responsible for their successful run from 2005-2010 than he got credit for. Along with LeBron James, he took the franchise to heights they’ve never experienced before. In their haste to try to keep James in town, they made him the scapegoat and let him go, only to see him James leave anyway. That didn’t sit well with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and then general manager Chris Grant. They righted that wrong by giving Brown a five-year deal and another young team that they hoped he could mold into a contender in time.

They weren’t expecting it immediately. The expectations were actually quite realistic. All Gilbert and company wanted to see was the team return to the postseason. But in a year where 38-44 was good enough for the Atlanta Hawks to earn the eighth seed, the Cavaliers still underachieved badly enough to head back to the lottery for the fourth straight season.

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Studs and Duds from Week 4 of NBA Playoffs

By Moke Hamilton

The NBA’s version of the Elite Eight is in full-force and as the clock ticks, the hourglass sifts on the season of four more teams that hope to play for the Larry O’Brien trophy. At the end of the day, though, we know that there will only be two, and unfortunately for those that reside in Rip City, or support the team that hails from there, we know it will not be the Portland Trail Blazers.

Entering week five of the NBA Playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs have not only beaten the Blazers, they have embarrassed them, dropping them into the all-too-familiar 0-3 hole and beating them by an average of 18.7 points per contest.

After a first round full of exciting finishes and scores of fans walking around with exposed cuticles due to the nail biting, the second round has been a bit of a dud comparatively speaking.

But of course, not the biggest one. That designation will be revealed below.

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Are the Spurs and HEAT On Another Collision Course?

By Jabari Davis

Before you pound your desk, keyboard, or laptop in protest, take a moment to consider the idea. Would it really be the end of the world to watch a rematch of what was one of the more entertaining NBA Finals in recent memory? Although there will always be a certain percentage of you that will rebuke the mere thought of watching a Finals that involves the Spurs (especially outside of San Antonio), many of us have come to truly appreciate Gregg Popovich’s preferred style of play as well as the manner in which the Spurs conduct themselves.

While they may be a far cry from your father’s “Spurs” that depended heavily upon Tim Duncan’s post game for years, this group still possesses the type of cutthroat precision we’ve now come to enjoy. Their core of Tony Parker, Duncan, and Manu Ginobili are still very effective (especially when rested), but aren’t constantly leaned upon quite so much as they were in the past. The difference is, they now have the type of athletes that can also cause havoc on both sides of the court. Throw in the fact that said athletes also tend to do the right thing with the ball more often than not, and you can see why some consider this roster one of the more versatile that Popovich has ever had the pleasure of leading.

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Lakers Face Complications in Acquiring Thibodeau

By Nate Duncan

With the Los Angeles Lakers job open, it has been reported that the team might attempt to trade for Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who remains under contract with the Bulls for another three years.

Such a deal is very unlikely even if there were some interest on the part of both parties because figuring out compensation that makes sense for both franchises is difficult, so this is a bit of an academic exercise. The Lakers would be fools to part with a cost-controlled top-three pick for Thibodeau and are so bereft of talent that even giving up a top-six pick (where the Lakers will fall if the lottery does not boost them into the top three) to get a win-now coach for a barren roster seems a poor idea.

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Van Gundy’s Hands Full In Detroit

By Lang Greene

According to multiple media reports, the Detroit Pistons have reportedly reached an agreement in principle with Stan Van Gundy to become head coach and president of basketball operations.

The deal is reportedly worth $35 million over five years. An official announcement is expected sometime this week.

Van Gundy has a sparkling 371-208 (.641) career record in the regular season in previous stops with Miami and Orlando. The veteran coach also boasts a 48-39 record in the postseason, with a 2009 trip to the NBA Finals with the Magic on his resume.

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Can Crawford Save Clippers with Download Moves?

By Jessica Camerato

The moves look rehearsed, as if he had spent hours working on them in the gym. The seamlessness of the finished product is too smooth to have been created on the fly. He couldn’t be improvising in the heat of the game, could he?

Jamal Crawford is capable of putting on a show with the ball in his hands at any time. Nicknamed J. Crossover, he continues to wow in his 14th NBA season thanks to a skill he calls “download moves.”

The term refers to Crawford’s ability to see a move once, remember it, tailor it to his in-game situation and carry it out on the court. He came up with the name while discussing the talent with former teammate Maalik Wayns during Los Angeles Clippers training camp this season, and he has been showcasing it throughout the playoffs.

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Van Gundy Ready For Challenge in Detroit

By Jesse Blancarte

Stan Van Gundy, who was recently hired by the Detroit Pistons as head coach and president of basketball operations, is already busy assembling his new staff. While Van Gundy is an accomplished coach (48-39 in the postseason and a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals), he has never held a front office position. Despite the lack of experience, it seems the opportunity to create a culture, build a team and coach was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“It would’ve taken a great job,” Van Gundy said at the 2014 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “I mean, my brother and I talk about it all of the time. I mean, it would have really taken something very, very good. You know there were some good opportunities that I wasn’t really interested in. It would have taken great, and this one, when it presented itself with the commitment of our owner to getting things turned around paired with the fact of the dual responsibilities, which the advantage to me is that it allows you to create a very unified culture where people are not pulling against each other and then the Pistons tradition, it became one that I got excited about pretty quickly.

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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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