Basketball Insiders Week in Review 6/15

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Kevin Love’s Best Option?

By Bill Ingram

Now that 28 teams have been officially eliminated from contention, it’s easy for the conversation around the NBA to focus on something other than what those final two teams are doing. That’s largely why Kevin Love has been the subject of protracted discussion this week and will continue to be until he has either been traded or re-upped with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Be sure you check out Basketball Insiders’ Lang Greene’s breakdown of the entire scenario in Minnesota as we take a quick look at the best destinations for Love, in no particular order.

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Adam Silver on the State of the NBA

By Yannis Koutroupis

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been a busy man since taking over for the league’s longtime commissioner David Stern, who officially retired in February. They day-to-day operations alone are daunting, but with former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist rants getting leaked to the media and the air conditioning system going out in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Silver has already had to take on two of the biggest issues since the lockout.

In his handling of both matters, Silver has shown everyone that he was the right man to replace Stern. The vast majority may not have been aware of his qualifications beforehand, but so far there’s no questioning that the league is in good hands. In fact, the league has never been in a better place.

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New Team Surfaces in Kevin Love Sweepstakes

By Joel Brigham

Spend three minutes on the internet these days and you’ll bump into seven or eight articles about how Kevin Love is a perfect fit for the Chicago Bulls and how the Chicago Bulls are a perfect fit for Kevin Love. The Bulls do, after all, have some reasonable assets to offer up in a trade for Love, including some combination of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer’s expiring contract, the rights to Nikola Mirotic and a couple of top-20 picks in this year’s draft, but believe it or not, getting Love to the Windy City could potentially take more than that.

Minnesota Timberwolves team president (and now head coach) Flip Saunders said earlier this week that 16 teams had already contacted him about Love, and while it’s impossible for all of them to put up stronger offers than the Bulls, there is one organization that could have a decent shot at one-upping Chicago: the Phoenix Suns.

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Hate Doesn’t Faze HEAT

By Alex Kennedy

If you haven’t noticed, the Miami HEAT have quite a few people rooting against them in the NBA Finals. Miami is easily the most hated team in the NBA and one of the most despised franchises in all of professional sports. Some fans root just as passionately against the HEAT as they root for their favorite team, and social media can get downright ugly during Miami’s games.

LeBron James is a lightning rod for criticism, Chris Bosh seems to appear in a new mean-spirited meme every day and the HEAT as a whole are labeled dirty, soft and cocky among other things by many fans.

Ever since James and Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade in South Beach back in the summer of 2010, Miami has had a target on their back. The Decision, followed by the over-the-top pep rally celebrating the Big Three’s arrival, rubbed many people the wrong way and many fans haven’t moved on.

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In the 2014 NBA Draft, the Road Diverges for Cavaliers

By Moke Hamilton

With a midrange touch, exquisite timing and a raw game that has scouts and front office staffers salivating, Joel Embiid has tickled the imaginations of many.

But after an uneventful rookie campaign by last season’s number one overall pick, Anthony Bennett, the Cleveland Cavaliers simply cannot afford another pick that fails to make an immediate impact. That is especially true with Kyrie Irving approaching free agency.

Once upon a time, back in 2007, Greg Oden was considered to be in special player—the second coming of Bill Russell, perhaps.

Five years later, the same was said of Anthony Davis after an impressive championship season at the University of Kentucky.

Now, two years later, the dichotomy between Oden and Davis is stark. Oden recently called himself one of the biggest busts of all-time while Davis seems poised to be the most positionally ambiguous big man since Kevin Garnett completed his ascension to being the league’s Most Valuable Player back in 2004.

Now, the Cavaliers have the difficult task of trying to determine where Embiid’s trajectory lies. In many ways, the franchise may have been better off with the third overall pick. At least in that instance, the Cavs would have no concern over potentially picking the wrong guy the way that the Portland Trail Blazers did in 2007—back when they selected Oden over Kevin Durant.

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Gallinari on the Road to Recovery

By Jesse Blancarte

On April 5, 2013 the Denver Nuggets announced that Danilo Gallinari had torn his ACL playing against the Dallas Mavericks. Gallinari underwent surgery to repair his meniscus, but the surgeons did not repair his ACL, believing it would heal on it’s own. Unfortunately, Gallinari’s ACL did not heal, and he underwent another surgery on January 21, 2014 to reconstruct the torn ligament.

On Monday, Basketball Insiders caught up with Gallinari at adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy to see how his rehab is progressing.

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What about Josh Smith As A Sixth Man?

By Jabari Davis

Stan Van Gundy is already making an impact in Detroit, as the new team President and head coach has made a point to come out publicly in support of another one of his players. Just two weeks ago, Van Gundy made an effort to dispel the notion that his hiring signaled an automatic exit soon-to-be restricted free agent Greg Monroe. This time, the veteran coach took time to also defend Josh Smith.

“I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s fair,” Van Gundy recently told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. “One of the things that happens – and not just to the media and fans, it happens on a team – is when things don’t go well, everybody loves a scapegoat. The reason you love a scapegoat is that it takes responsibility off you, so coaches look for them, too. It takes responsibility off you.”

While Van Gundy is absolutely correct about each point, that hasn’t entirely been the case with these Pistons. Part of the issue was the way the team was constructed. Quite frankly, while the core players are each individually talented in their own way(s), the team was poorly structured from the start. Smith is still somewhat versatile, but can no longer defend the position nearly as effectively. The truth is, he probably never had quite the range or consistency from the perimeter needed to balance the floor at that position. That isn’t Smith’s fault, mind you, but the fact remains Van Gundy will have some difficult decisions on his hands if unable to devise both offensive and defensive schemes to better utilize all of the talent this roster has on paper.

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Blazers Ready To Join League’s Elite

By Lang Greene

The Portland Trail Blazers finished the season with 54 wins and advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2000 campaign. The progress  marked a 21 victory improvement over the 2013 season where the team finished 16 games under .500 and faded terribly during the second half the schedule.

Although the Blazers would ultimately be dismantled by the San Antonio Spurs in five games during the Western Conference Semifinals, the future is undoubtedly bright in Portland with a young talented core poised to rise in the league standings.

Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, who figures to play a prominent role in Portland’s ascent in the league’s standings, can’t hide his excitement of what’s to come for his teammates and the organization overall.

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A Look Back at the World When Allen, Duncan Debuted

By Jessica Camerato

Nearly 20 years after entering the NBA, Ray Allen and Tim Duncan are still going strong as top-caliber players in the midst of a Finals battle. Their age seems irrelevant when it comes time to contend for a championship, and it’s easy to forget just how long these Future Hall of Famers have been leaving it all on the court.

The reality is, though, a lot has changed since they entered the league in the 90s. To appreciate the longevity of their careers, take a look back at when Allen made his NBA debut on November 1, 1996 and Duncan on October 31, 1997.

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Solving the Milwaukee Bucks’ Surplus of Bigs

By John Zitzler

The Bucks had their fair share of problems last season; They finished with the worst record in the league, everything imaginable went wrong for Larry Sanders, O.J. Mayo never came close to playing to the level expected and Ersan Ilyasova’s three point shot eluded him all season long. Along with those issues, going forward one of the main concerns will be trying to balance out the roster and build a winner from the ground up. The Bucks frontcourt is very crowded and is something the team will have to address. Here’s a player-by-player look at how they should go about it.

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Extensions Possible Throughout the NBA

By Eric Pincus

Before hitting free agency, each year a number of players choose instead to sign extensions with their existing teams.

First-round picks, heading into the final year on their contracts, can avoid the free agency process altogether.

Perhaps the biggest question of the offseason will be the status of Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who could be eligible for an extension that would be near $100 million if he’s voted in again as an All-Star starter.

Whether he wants to stay in Cleveland long-term or not, that may be too much money for any player to turn down.

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