While the Knicks have the glitz and glamor of Madison Square Garden, the Nets have undoubtedly the brighter future given each team’s current assets. For the price of Eddy Curry ($11.3 million in 2010-2011), New Jersey has both Devin Harris ($9.0 mil) and Brook Lopez ($2.4 mil). They have Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Terrence Williams, and Yi Jianlian locked up next season for about $8.5 million total, and they’ll be able to add one high lottery pick and one late first rounder to that collective in order to entice a big free agent score.
Throw in a flashy new owner, a likely score of a solid free agent coach, and the impending move to Brooklyn, and it’s tough to see why any free agent at all would prefer the situation in New York to that in New Jersey. This season was dismal, but the future looks really, really bright for the Nets.
And Kris Humphries apparently wants to be a part of it. For one more season, at least. According to Dave D’Alessandro of the Star Ledger, Humphries is likely to exercise his $3.2 million player option for next season. D’Alessandro cites “the general feeling around the league” as his source, but it could easily be traced to common sense. Humphries is a decent option at forward, but at his best he’s an end-of-the-rotation player. There’s little upside to his game, his defense and shot selection can be suspect, but he does offer fairly solid scoring and rebounding in limited minutes.
Given his talent level relative to his salary, picking up the option is a no-brainer. There may be some appeal for a guy like Hump to score a longer salary before the new CBA kicks in, but there’s no guarantee that anyone would be willing to sign him to such a deal. $3.2 million could be the most substantial paycheck Humphries ever receives in his career, and playing it safe in this case is the right move.
That does cut ever so slightly into the Nets’ cap space this summer, though not enough to prevent them from signing a max free agent and then some. A couple of factors (which pick the Nets get in the draft, whether or not they want to retain Keyon Dooling) keep New Jersey’s exact amount of cap space in limbo, but it should be interesting to watch how Hump’s $3.2 million salary affects who the Nets can target as their second free agent acquisition.
It’s what the playoffs are all about — win or go home Game 7s. Pressure, drama, unlikely stars Sunday is going to have it all. Here are a few things to watch:
1) Can Miami’s jump shooters have another hot game? Dwyane Wade got the headlines (and he earned them) for his Game 6 performance (everyone except purple shirt guy was impressed), but the real key for the Heat to force a Game 7 was they were hitting their jumpers — or at least enough of them. In their three losses, Miami shot 33.7 percent from 3 feet out to the arc, but in Game 6 the Heat shot 43.5 percent in that range, plus knocked down eight threes. The Hornets have packed the paint all series, when the Heat hit their jumpers they win. It’s that simple.
2) Does Kemba Walker have one more big game in him? Walker was fantastic in Game 6 (37 points), and he’s been very good in the Hornets’ victories. He’s going to penetrate and get some shots inside eight feet, but will he be able to finish? And, more importantly, will he hit his threes when they pack the paint on him? If Walker has a huge game, Charlotte very likely moves on.
3) Is Toronto too far into their own head? No team has more pressure on them to advance out of the first round than Toronto after two previous years of getting bounced in the first round, and they will feel that weight at home in Game 7 against Indiana. Will Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan step up with big games in the biggest moments of their careers, or will they succumb to the moment and the Pacers defense? For all the Xs and Os that do matter in this game, how the Raptors handle the pressure will be key.
4) Can the Pacers again get a few quality minutes when Paul George sits? In the Pacers comfortable Game 6 win, George got a rest in the second quarter and the Pacers were +5 while he sat. That was a huge step up from Game 5, where the Pacers were -18 when he was out for less than 7 minutes. If Indiana — by playing some starters such as Myles Turner — doesn’t have a huge bench drop off when George rests a few minutes their odds of winning go way up. We know Paul George can handle the moment.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.