Report: Chris Bosh gives Raptors five teams he wants to play for, wants to play with LeBron James

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nba_bosh1.jpgUPDATE 5/22 9:52 am: Bosh’s agent has denied there is a list to our own Ira Winderman (writing for the South Florida Sun Sentinel).

“I haven’t closed the door on anything,” (Henry) Thomas insisted. “I haven’t
given Bryan any lists. There is no list. This is a process that is
ongoing.”

Nobody believes that, especially since later on Toronto General Manager Bryan Colangelo confirmed to ESPN that they have been given a list.  Winderman, later on in his piece, says sources tell him there is a list, although the five-team one listed by ESPN is incomplete.

While Bosh cannot negotiate with other teams until he is a free agent on July 1, the Raptors can start to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal at any point because they own his rights. For now.

5/21 5:47 pm: ESPN is reporting that Chris Bosh’s agent has provided the Toronto Raptors with a list of five teams he would like to play for on his next contract.

One of them is Toronto. So that’s nice. They’re still in the running. That has to make them feel better as they stare down the barrel of the gun that’s been aimed at them for the past six months.

The other teams are the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks. The Raptors were informed of this in the event they want to begin pursuing sign and trade deals with those teams. The report says Bosh prefers that option because it nets him the extra year and salary that goes along with it. It’s also likely that Bosh doesn’t want to desert his first NBA home without giving them anything in return.

If we’re assuming sign and trade, go ahead and throw New York out. They’ve got four players on roster and not nearly enough to cover a max contract. Miami is also unlikely, barring some bizarre double sign-and-trade that would never happen. Which leaves us with the Raptors, Bulls, and Lakers. Let’s put the Raptors aside for a moment because just by telling the Raptors this, you have to consider the odds of them retaining him low. This seems more like a “Hey, so, you might want to start making plans” conversation, even if his heartstrings could still be pulled back North.

The Bulls and Lakers would both have packages that would interest the Raptors. The Bulls have contracts of lower length and don’t have considerable young talent to provide. The Lakers on the other hand, have big contracts to fill the void, including Andrew Bynum, a big man with enough upside to draw the Raptors interest should Bosh want to follow up on his little visit to Staples earlier last month.

The deciding factor could end up being something else entirely. LeBron James. ESPN’s sources indicate that Bosh is likely to sign with Chicago if James chooses the Windy City. In that eventuality, a quick sign and trade netting Luol Deng and his death scourge contract and Kirk Hinrich would probably be worked out. It would also pretty much make for the most dominant Eastern team with a starting five of Derrick Rose, Some Person-Who-Cares, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Joakim Noah. Run, children. Vaminos.

This list isn’t shocking by any means, but it is a significant development. It means that leaving is formally on Bosh’s mind, and he’s pursuing an exit strategy, even if giving the Raptors hope by including them on the list. It means the Lakers are in play, which somehow makes the team headed to the Finals even scarier than they already are. And it means that LeBron does have the power to shift momentum.

The Heat are going to have to figure out a strategy for convincing Bosh to forgo that final year if they want to lure Bosh in. New York may want to start considering Plan B.

Celtics look to push win streak to 16 vs. Mavs

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DALLAS (AP) — The Boston Celtics aren’t yet halfway to the NBA record for consecutive victories, a mark the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers still hold, but at 15 in a row, they are in rare territory.

Since 1946-47, there have only been 35 instances of a 15-game win streak or longer. And of all the legendary Celtics teams, this squad already holds the franchise’s fifth-longest win streak. A victory Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks, who are an NBA-worst 3-14 overall and 2-8 at American Airlines Center, would tie the 1964-65 Boston team’s 16-game win streak.

If the Celtics (15-2) get the win, they would climb closer to the 1959-60 team’s 18-game win streak, and then comes the club mark of 19 in a row accomplished by the 2008-09 team.

This version of the Celtics has to be considered the most unexpected to string together so many wins. The team has a slew of new players, starting with guard Kyrie Irving, and Boston lost another prized newcomer, forward Gordon Hayward, in the season opener.

After starting 0-2, Boston hasn’t lost. Yet, it’s not exactly as if the Celtics are steamrolling the league. For the Mavericks, who are coming off snapping the Milwaukee Bucks’ four-game win streak Saturday, the fact that Boston has actually had to rally to get a handful of its wins must be seen as an opportunity to steal a decision.

In fact, four of the Celtics’ victories during the streak have come after Boston trailed by 16 points, including a 110-109 win against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

“Most of us have never been on a winning streak like this,” Irving said following the win over Atlanta. “I don’t know if we even know how to pay attention to all the hoopla that goes on in terms of the excitement of it. I just think that every single game we take it as a challenge.”

Irving has been accepting that challenge with tremendous success after asking to be traded away from Cleveland, where he won one title with LeBron James and lost twice in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors.

He closed out those same Warriors last week, scoring 11 of the last 15 points in the final 4:21. The clutch play has Irving already being talked about as an MVP candidate.

“He’s so good in those moments that you want to give him the appropriate amount of room,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe about Irving. “Maybe it’s finding a matchup. Maybe it’s creating a two-man game with Al (Horford).”

Irving will be a major test for Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who has displayed some tremendous flashes while also showing he is a green 19-year-old with one season of college ball under his belt.

Dallas, one of the league’s lowest-scoring offensive teams, is relying heavily on Smith and Harrison Barnes to carry the load. Dirk Nowitzki, 39, has dropped off significantly, averaging just 10.3 points a game, his lowest output since his rookie season in 1998-99.

Unlike the Celtics, Dallas has lost its share of games by being unable to close out games late. On Saturday, the Mavericks won a rare game going away, blitzing the Bucks with a franchise-tying 19 3-pointers. Guard Wesley Matthews said he thinks all the hard work is starting to pay off.

The history-chasing Celtics will put that claim to test.

“We can actually see everything that we’ve been trying to do come together, and hopefully that just carries the momentum into the off day where everybody’s feeling good,” Matthews said after Dallas’ victory. “We’ve got another tough battle Monday against Boston, who is the hottest team in the league right now, but it’s another opportunity for us.”

Nuggets’ coach Mike Malone suspended one game for confronting referee

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Denver coach Mike Malone decided if he was going to get tossed and fined/suspended, he was going to get his money’s worth.

During the second quarter of the Nuggets’ Sunday loss to the Lakers, Malone ran onto the court during play to argue a no-call on a play by Nikola Jokic around the basket. Malone furiously confronted referee Rodney Mott, who swiftly ejected the coach. As he should. Malone was suspended one game for “entering the court, halting play and making contact with a game official,” the league announced. Malone will serve his suspension tonight when the Nuggets face the Kings in Sacramento.

Mott also tossed Jokic when he entered the argument Sunday night, but the NBA rescinded the ejection saying Jokic earned a technical but should not have been thrown out. A lot of good that does the Nuggets now, who had to go more than half the game without their best player and lost (not that he changes the outcome of the game, but a comeback is less likely without him).

 

 

Kevin Garnett: Thon Maker “is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down.”

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Not to get to inside baseball on NBA journalism, but one fundamental truth is player trainers pump up their guys. There usually is some truth in what they say, but it is in their interest to spin the player the best way possible. On and off the record it happens. It’s like asking a political campaign manager about his candidate, you will only get the positive.

Kevin Garnett worked out and helped the Bucks’ Thon Maker this summer.

In just his second season, Thon Maker has been in and out of the starting lineup for the Bucks at center, and he’s struggled this season with a true shooting percentage of 48 getting him 4.5 points a game, and PER of 9.3. (Bucks fans are understandably disappointed, but this is a second-year player, some patience is required).

Garnett had Makers’ back in a Q&A with Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams.

Thon Maker reminds me a lot of myself. He loves the game. He’s a young, exuberant athlete who has a lot of tools—he has touch; he has agility; he has really, good feet. He has a really good shot from three-point all the way up to 19 to 21 feet. He has very good bones, as we say.

Thon is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down. He has the bones. He has the appetite to be able to chase something like that.”

Garnett may have the wrong young-stud Buck with an MVP in his future.

Maker has gotten KG comparisons for years, he’s a very mobile and athletic but thin big who can shoot from the wing… but the physical similarities are not enough. Maker is no KG. Not yet. Maker showed promise against the Raptors last playoffs but has not taken a step forward off that progress this season, looking far more prone to fouling than defending. The effort is there, but the maturity of game has a long way to go to catch up.

Garnett is right that Maker has the tools, and he is just in his second NBA season so patience is required, but there were concerns around the league before the draft if he had the makeup to put it all together and become a quality NBA player. That question is still out there, let’s get past it before we heap on accolades.

LeBron James all good with Reggie Jackson’s free throw gamesmanship, “I’ve done it before”

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Let’s set the stage: Sunday night, the fast-rising Pistons led the fast-rising Timberwolves by three with  6.2 seconds left when Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer. Butler drained the first two free throws. Before the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit held on to win 100-97. Here’s the play in question.

It was a bit of gamesmanship by Jackson.

LeBron James was asked about the move at Cavaliers shootaround and endorsed it with a smile on his face.

“I’ve done it before. I won a playoff series before doing that actually. So, I’m all for it.”

That series was in 2007, overtime of game 6 of a first-round playoff series against Washington, and the victim was the Hibachi, Gilbert Arenas. The Cavaliers were down 1, Arenas had two free throws, missed the first, then LeBron stepped in. Arenas missed the second, and the Cavs went on to get the win.

Is interrupting free throws about to become an NBA thing? If it works, players will do it.