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.

Marcus Smart wants to be back for Game 6 vs. Bucks

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Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.

In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.

We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.

Via ESPN:

Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.

The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Warriors

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Although the San Antonio Spurs were outmatched against the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili was an integral part of the Spurs staving off elimination against the reigning champs on Sunday. San Antonio beat the Warriors, 103-90, to put the series at 3-1.

The 40-year-old wingman scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in San Antonio as Ettore Messina logged a playoff win at the helm of the team. Gregg Popovich, who sadly lost his wife this past week, did not coach.

Ginobili was 5-of-10 off the bench, adding five assists and three rebounds in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs scorers with 22, notching a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the only Warriors player to score more than 12 points was Kevin Durant, who rose above all scorers with 34 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson shot an embarrassing 25 percent from the field, scoring just 12 points.

Ginobili put the dagger on the Warriors with 90 seconds to go, hitting a spinning flip shot over Draymond Green to give San Antonio a 10-point lead.

The series heads back to Oakland for Game 5 with the Spurs trailing, 3-1.

Kevin Durant on Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘I would tell him to play for himself’

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Kevin Durant was once the big star in a little city. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star now plays for the Golden State Warriors, and has a championship ring to his name after making a switch in 2016.

So Durant has at least some experience similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is currently leading the charge for the Bucks against the Boston Celtics in the first round, and he’s seen as the future in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo signed a 4-year, $100 million contract in the summer of 2016, so presumably he’ll be in Wisconsin for some time.

Meanwhile, Durant had some advice for Antetokounmpo, should he ask for it. In a feature on ESPN, Durant was quoted as saying he felt Antetokounmpo should be sure to have fun, and to play for himself.

Via ESPN:

What I would say to him, I would tell him to play for himself,” Durant said. “Because he’s the one out there putting in the work, he’s the one out there getting up in the morning staying committed to the game. Obviously [the comments about staying put] sounds good to the fans in Milwaukee and to the ownership, because he cares so much about wanting to please them and play well for them, and I get it. But his career is about him; it’s about whatever he wants to do and however he feels is right for him. And what type of basketball does he want to play? He’s not going to stay in Milwaukee if he’s not having fun playing the game.

That’s some pretty good advice, although factors surrounding Antetokounmpo will likely weigh the same as they did on Durant in OKC. The Bucks presumably need a new coach once their season ends. They’re currently helmed by interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over when Jason Kidd was fired earlier this year.

The Bucks also need to fill out their roster and find a way to stay healthy. The Thunder famously had roster issues (read: the James Harden trade) and eventually the lack of playoff success drove Durant to switch teams.

Milwaukee doesn’t seem close to that kind of juncture, although eventually things will flip for the young Bucks and fans and management will expect some kind of production in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo beats Celtics with late-game tip-in; series tied 2-2

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It was an exciting finish in Milwaukee on Sunday, where the Bucks took home a win on their home court to level the series against the Boston Celtics, 2-2.

The game came down to the wire, with 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon giving the Bucks the lead after a corner 3-pointer with just 33.5 seconds left. The Celtics responded with a sideline out of bounds play that resulted in Al Horford tying the game with free throws.

On their final possession, the Bucks again went to Brogdon, who missed on a layup driving to the left side of the floor. Luckily, Giannis Antetokounmpo was there to follow with the tip-in with just five seconds left.

Via ESPN:

Boston was unable to convert on a final play, and Milwaukee grabbed the win, 104-102.

Game 5 will be in Boston on Tuesday.