No arbitrary deadlines, conflicting reports over Doc Rivers' future in Boston

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have conducted the most high-profile and widely publicized coaching search for two reasons. First and foremost, because the Cavs are fighting for LeBron’s services, and whichever coach they pick needs to be both palatable to James and suitable for life in the doomsday scenario. Second — and this is related to the first, obviously — the Cavs have reportedly gone after the biggest names they possibly could, be they currently employed college greats or simply respected NBA coaches.

Tom Izzo, in particular, turned the entire event into something of a field day. After much deliberation (which is fine; it would be foolish for a coach not to carefully consider his options), it was the scheduling of trips that may or may not have happened, the announcing of press conferences that certainly did not happen, and the release of reports that thought they knew what was going to happen that managed to turn Izzo’s reflection into a media circus.

Boston’s coaching situation has flown a bit more under the radar. While Izzo’s possible departure from Michigan State drummed up plenty of interest, the lowly Doc Rivers — y’know, that coach that has led his team to a title and two NBA finals’ in the last three seasons — is making the decision over his future in peace. It’s just so much easier that way, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, we also don’t know much more now than we did in the playoffs, as Rivers revealed to Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston that he has a current preference, but still seems far finality:

Pressed if he could look someone in the eyes and promise he hadn’t made a decision, Rivers, who has one year remaining on his contract, admitted he was leaning in one direction. “I’m not going to say which way I’m leaning, and I am one way, but I can look you in the eye and tell you I have not made a decision,” he said. “We’ve only had one small conversation and we’re going to do that in the next week or so.”

…”The only reason you stay is the love for the guys you coach, and the organization — [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], and all those guys you work for,” Rivers said. “You know if you do leave, you’re not going to get that back. You can get a coaching job back, no doubt about that, but I don’t think you can ever get the situation that I have here in Boston. “So that will be difficult to leave, but the other side of it is so strong as well with family. It’s going to be an interesting decision, and I don’t know what is yet.”

Rivers indicated his decision is likely to come before Ray Allen and Paul Pierce make decisions about their own futures in Boston, so it sounds as if Rivers will be the first domino to fall in the Celtics’ offseason.

Even if Rivers wasn’t fully appreciated during the Celtics’ title run in 2008, he’s finally receiving his due for the fine coach that he is. There’s no fluke here, just a skilled coach and locker room manager that pressed all the right buttons to get his team of veterans back to the finals. The Celtics as we know them are already likely to fall apart this off-season, effectively closing the championship window. However, few things could possibly shut that window any tighter than Rivers choosing to move on or retire, particularly with Tom Thibodeau headed to Chicago.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.