Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened to Sunday while you were filling out your brackets completely for fun with absolutely no wagers involved…

Cavs 104 Celtics 93: We already told you about the Celtics getting run around a bit, but I wanted to follow up with Antawn Jamison. Jamison finished with 15 points on 6 of 17 shooting which is terrible. But the number of looks he got at the rim which touched inside-iron and then rimmed or clanged out was pretty high. Those are shots he’s going to make in April and May, along with at least half of those six missed free throws.

Jamison tossed in 12 rebounds to boot part of a 51-43 advantage for the Cavs. He may not be showcasing the highlights, but he’s filling in the holes quite nicely.

Bucks 98 Pacers 94: Not televised, which is a shame since it sounds like it was fun. Plus, it was the one game a year where Solomon Jones is an actual storyline. Luke Ridnour had a good game, Solomon Jones led a comeback that failed.

Bobcasts 96 Magic 89: Throw Dwight Howard into the illustrious group of teams that refuse to admit the Bobcats shut ’em down. The Bobcats’ doubled hard and have the athletes to run off the three. No doubt the Magic had an off shooting night, but if there is a formula for beating the Magic, that’s it.

Doubling Howard forces him to make adjustments he’s not comfortable with and the Magic feast on the kick out and second rotation. But you have to run out effectively.

I’d love to give you some sort of insight on how Stephen Jackson dropped 28 on them but honestly it boggles the mind.

Heat 104 Sixers 91: Just so we can get this out there.

The Sixers lost to a Heat team without Michael Beasley (injury) and Jermaine O’Neal (ejection) and Dwyane Wade didn’t have to play in the fourth.

That my friends is a one-page recipe for Suck.

Jamal Magliore has flashes every now and again where he looks legit, like today in limited minutes. Go ahead and pencil in the Sixers for the best available point guard in the draft. Carlos Arroyo had 12 assists for crying out loud.

Thunder 119 Jazz 111: The Jazz for some reason did not play Kyle Korver much in their loss to the Bucks even though they needed a perimeter scorer to spread the floor. Then tonight they let him try and guard Kevin Durant for a bit.

Kyle Korver was then dragged to hell.

Westbrook and Durant scored 65 points on 33 shots. Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams brought it, but the Jazz lost in the paint which is insane because that’s where they should dominate. Serge Ibaka had 0 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes, but of course there is no box score stat for “punking Carlos Boozer like a madman.”

Suns 120 Hornets 106: Amar’e Stoudemire is back, ladies and gentlemen. THAT Amar’e.

Stat has topped 30 points in four of the last five games and the one he didn’t he had 29. There was very little the Hornets could do in this one. It wasn’t even the usual Nash pick and roll slice and dice either. Stoudemire took whoever was defending off the dribble, got it in transition did the whole thing. A dominant Stoudemire is something for playoff teams to fear.

Blazers 109 Raptors 98: This was a Rudy Fernandez game. He dazzled in limited minutes the type of game that makes you wonder if he shouldn’t have more time on the floor. He lit up from the arc and made a big show with some dazzling assists.

The Raptors? I don’t want to say it again. Don’t make me say it again. There’s got to be a different way to say this.

Nope. Raptors can’t guard anyone. Or anything.

Kings 114 Wolves 100: Tyreke Evans had 29 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds.

Man if only the Wolves had gotten the #2 overall pick. Or hadn’t selected a point guard that prefers Spanish beaches and mild winters.

Watch Lonzo Ball dodge relentless stream of LeBron James questions (video)

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Shortly before the draft, Lonzo Ball was asked in a televised interview to pitch LeBron James on joining the Lakers – and did.

A couple months and a tampering investigation into the Lakers later, Ball learned his lesson.

Sports Illustrated:

Rohan Nadkarni’s questions were all in good fun, and he couldn’t trick Ball into tampering, anyway. The NBA has essentially decided it won’t punish players for tampering with each other.

Ask Ball an honest LeBron question, and he’ll give an honest answer.

Report: People close to LeBron James ‘fairly confident’ Dwyane Wade will join Cavaliers

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Will the Bulls and Dwyane Wade reach a buyout?

Apparently, not only do people close to LeBron James believe it’ll happen, they have a read on Wade’s destination.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

As of right now, people close to James are fairly confident that, at some point this year, Dwyane Wade is going to end up on the Cavs.

Earlier in the podcast, Vardon even listed the only five people he believes reports should source as close to LeBron:

  • LeBron
  • Rich Paul
  • Maverick Carter
  • Savanah James
  • Adam Mendelsohn

So, that something about the proximity of this information to LeBron. Given Wade’s friendship with LeBron, Vardon’s sources could have inside information on Wade’s plan.

But hold your horses on Wade to Cleveland.

Though they could buy him out sooner, the Bulls are incentivized to keep Wade past the trade deadline. His $23.8 million expiring contract could prove useful in a trade. If no trade comes up and Chicago is out of the playoff race, as expected, a buyout would make far more sense. Now, eliminating that trade chip and sticking a large amount of dead salary on the books would be problematic for the Bulls – unless Wade cuts them a big discount. He doesn’t sound inclined to do that.

Even if Wade gets bought out, he has been rumored to follow LeBron to Cleveland for years. It obviously hasn’t happened yet. Wade’s friendship with LeBron is the primary lure – but it also might push Wade to signal a desire to team up while he can’t commit then go a different direction when push comes to shove. It can be hard to tell friends no.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade ends up with the Cavaliers. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is just wishful thinking by people close to LeBron.

Clippers’ Jerry West: ‘I did not want to leave’ Warriors

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A report emerged last spring that Jerry West was nearing a deal to stay with the Warriors as a consultant. Instead, he took the same job with the Clippers.

West, via Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, via NBC Sports Bay Area:

“Frankly it was very sad, OK? It really was. A place where I thought that if I was going to work another year or if somebody wanted me to work another year, I thought I could contribute; I did not want to leave. I did not want to leave. I was very happy there.

But those things happen sometimes. Obviously to be around a bunch of players that were as together as any I’ve seen and I think more importantly the talent that was on that team and to see the joy. There’s a lot of joy there. I think those are the kind of environments where people really prosper.”

“It was time for me to leave. I’m in Los Angeles again. For me, I’ll have a chance to go in the office a little bit and watch some of the people that have been hired, to watch our coaches coach. I’ve often said I’ve done some crazy things in my life because of the timing and maybe the timing was right.”

The Clippers’ appeal appeared to be their salary offer – reportedly $4 million-$5 million annually. And maybe that factored.

But it sure sounds as if there’s more to the story.

With Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum, Celtics continue ascent – just not as steeply as hoped

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Celtics landed the No. 1 pick and signed the top free agent to change teams.

Given that, it feels like their offseason should have gone better.

Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward are nice, and I won’t lose sight of that here. But…

Boston traded down from the top pick to No. 3 to draft Tatum. Count me among those who believed there was a significant drop from Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball to the next tier – and the tier after that.

The extra first-rounder the Celtics acquired has also only lost value since the trade.

It’d convey from the Lakers if they pick 2-5 next year. But they added two players, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, better than they were expected to get. Los Angeles looks less likely to stumble into a top-five pick – especially without incentive to tank.

If not the Lakers’ pick this season, Boston will get the higher of Sacramento’s and Philadelphia’s 2019 first-rounders (or lower if one is No. 1). The Kings signed a couple veterans, George Hill and Zach Randolph, to help them in 2018-19. Sacramento’s young players will be more developed by then, and mirroring the Lakers this year, there’s no incentive to tank. (Philadelphia is also on the rise, but the Celtics probably already knew that.)

There’s still a chance Boston winds up with a high pick – or even wins the trade with a middling additional selection. Tatum, as the Celtics have claimed, might be a better prospect than Fultz outright.

I originally thought the trade was about fair. Developments swing the pendulum away from Boston, though perhaps I’m overly colored by my relatively dim evaluation of Tatum. (I expected the Celtics to draft Josh Jackson when the trade was made.)

Boston’s next big move, signing Hayward, also comes with a major caveat. To get Hayward, the Celtics had to downgrade from Avery Bradley to Marcus Morris.

The reasons are clear: Bradley is earning $8,808,989 in the final season of his contract. Morris is locked up for two more seasons at $5 million and $5,375,000.

Not only was that salary difference essential for clearing max cap space now, Bradley will enter unrestricted free agency with Isaiah Thomas next summer. The raises necessary to re-sign both likely would’ve pushed the Celtics higher into the luxury tax than they’re willing to go. Thomas and Morris should be affordable.

Morris is a fine player, but it looks like he’s caught between better combo forwards (Hayward and Jae Crowder) and higher-upside/younger combo forwards (Jaylen Brown and Tatum). How much will Morris matter in Boston?

Bradley certainly did plenty, defending the better opposing guard so the undersized Thomas didn’t have to. Marcus Smart can handle some of that responsibility, but that cuts into the time he can play in relief of Thomas at point guard and the time he can defend forwards.

Getting Aron Baynes for the room exception was solid. He might even start for the Celtics, eating up minutes against big starting centers. I suspect Al Horford will play center in most pivotal minutes, though.

Signing Baynes was one of Boston’s several respectable moves – drafting Semi Ojeleye in the second round, signing 2016 first-rounders Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic and paying to take a flier on Shane Larkin.

But the real needle-movers were signing Hayward, a 27-year-old versatile star, and adding a highly touted talent in Tatum. Even in the less-flattering greater context, those are huge additions.

Offseason grade: A-