NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers set to dominate, so enjoy the Bulls while you can

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What do the Chicago Bulls need to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers?

A miracle. Hijinx. Steroids. Food poisoning for LeBron. Flubber. Possession by a basketball-playing demon. Stink bombs in the Cavs’ locker room. A magic lamp.

Oh, and on top of all that, they need to play nearly perfect basketball from top to bottom.

Honestly, if the Bulls win a single game I’d be mildly impressed. If they take two games, it would be a serious accomplishment. If they win three games, some shenanigans must be involved. If they win the series, I will eat my own foot. This is the Cavs’ series to lose, but there’s just not even a remote chance they’ll actually lose it. I wouldn’t even count on them misplacing it for awhile.

LeBron James is just too good, and the team Danny Ferry has constructed is finally worthy of James’ talents. Not only is LeBron playing alongside more talented players than ever before (Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal, Mo Williams), but the pieces have fit together in particularly impressive fashion. It’ll be nice for the Cavs to have an additional first round adjustment period to work Shaq back into the mix, but Cleveland is entirely too good to even let Chicago smell a victory.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy Derrick Rose while you still can. Despite Derrick’s incredible athleticism, breathtaking style, and startlingly high ceiling, he’s a commodity that’s taken for granted in the NBA. He has a decent rep, but he still gets lost in the superstar shuffle. Rose may not be fully evolved just yet, but he’s still an fascinating player and an incredibly entertaining watch. You’ll have plenty of time to stargaze with LeBron, so don’t glaze over Rose’s performance in this series.

That’s what you should really be looking for from the Bulls: entertainment. This team plays hard, and the resolve they showed to force their way into the playoffs was certainly admirable Appreciate Joakim Noah’s coverage of the pick-and-roll, or his effort on the glass. Pay attention to Luol Deng’s defense, and try to find signs of a dependable scoring game. Laugh at Jannero Pargo. Watch Brad Miller be Brad Miller. Point at Vinny Del Negro’s hair. Nod in approval at Kirk Hinrich’s game. Try to figure out Taj Gibson’s future.

Just make sure you do all of that quickly, because the Cavs are already getting their brooms ready. If I was a betting man, I’m taking Cleveland in four.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.