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NBA roundup: Duncan, Popovich likely to return

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Signs point to power forward Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich returning to the San Antonio Spurs next season.

Speculation during the playoffs has centered around whether the two would be back should they win a fifth NBA title. ESPN reported that the 38-year-old Duncan has a June 24 deadline to opt in to his contract next season.

But the Spurs believe both Duncan and Popovich — win or lose — will stay next season. The contracts of Duncan, Popovich and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili expire after next season. Parker makes $12.5 million and Ginobili $7 million this season.

Duncan and Popovich have refused the address their futures during the postseason. According to ESPN sources, Duncan’s opt-in date is earlier than most players to help the Spurs get a read on his plan before the June 26 draft and the beginning of free agency on July 1. But there apparently is some flexibility on Duncan declaring his intentions on whether he’ll exercise the option year of his contract.

—Superstar LeBron James will not let winning or losing the NBA Finals dictate his decision on whether to opt in to the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat, according to a report.

James and the Heat are facing elimination, trailing 3-1 with the best-of-seven series returning to San Antonio for Game 5 on Sunday. No team has come back from a similar deficit in the Finals.

James, guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh are eligible to opt out of their contracts after this season and become free agents. ESPN reported Thursday that the Heat might pursue New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony if he opts out of his contract for free agency.

—Through four games, the 2014 NBA Finals are averaging 14,931,000 viewers per game, up compared to last year’s Finals between the same teams, according to Nielsen.

The games are averaging a 9.1 U.S. household rating, also up versus last year’s Finals through four games.

Game 4, which saw the San Antonio Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-86, averaged nearly 15 million viewers (14,964,000), peaking with 16,742,000 viewers from 11-11:15 p.m. ET. The broadcast on ABC generated a 9.3 U.S. household rating.

—Attorneys for former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling are hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former commissioner David Stern and the league’s owners, the Associated Press reported.

According to the report, investigators were given a six-figure budget over the next 30 days to look into the NBA’s finances, allegations of previous discrimination and compensation to Silver and Stern. They are also reportedly examining if other owners made any off-color jokes, or racist or sexist remarks.

—The Minnesota Timberwolves named Sidney Lowe as an assistant coach.

Lowe will work under head coach Flip Saunders for a fourth stint. Previously, Lowe served as an assistant under Saunders in Minnesota from 1999-2000 and 2003-05, and in Detroit with the Pistons from 2005-06.

—Free agent forward Metta World Peace will be an assistant coach with the Palisades High School girls team in Southern California.

World Peace, 34, played 29 games with the New York Knicks last season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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