Stephon Marbury agrees to three more years with Shanxi Zhongyu

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marbury_china.jpgMaybe Stephon Marbury was offered a chance to play with the Miami Heat or maybe he wasn’t, but it’s all moot now. According to the Associated Press, Marbury has agreed to a three-year deal with his current Chinese Basketball Association team, Shanxi Zhongyu.

Two pretty interesting tidbits, though. According to Shanxi’s website, Marbury may only be asked to play for two of his three years under contract. During the final year, he may become an assistant coach, which is just about the most fantastic news I’ve ever heard.

Also, as part of his deal with Shanxi, the team’s ownership will create a company specifically to produce Starbury brand products, and open three store locations in which to sell them. Your itch to purchase affordable Marbury-spawned basketball footwear is about to be scratched, world.

If Marbury really does retire in two years, I wouldn’t say it would be a fitting end to his saga, but it certainly is a surprising one. As much as players like Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, and even Brandon Jennings have come to symbolize the influence of the international game, Marbury provides an interesting look at the other implications of basketball as a globalized sport.

Rather than having foreign leagues serve as legitimate competition for prospects or even a training ground for the NBA, sub-elite leagues around the world offer an arena for past-their-prime NBA stars to still rule the day while bringing home a steady paycheck. The lights aren’t as bright and the money’s not quite as good, but somehow Marbury, as distinctly American as basketball players come, has morphed into a fan favorite in China. He’s certainly not the first player to make such a transition, yet his experience has to be the most surreal.

It’s a wacky world we live in, but this could conceivably be the path of post-NBA ballers for years to come. See the world, keep playing, keep making money, and hey, if you’re lucky, bring back your own defunct brand of basketball apparel.

Starbury is living the dream, even if it wasn’t his to begin with. Yet with no NBA team to call his own, this is who he is now. This is, somehow, who he’s become as a player. Marbury’s path from beginning to end may honestly be too bizarre to believe, but one day, when his playing days are finally through, we’ll have to make sense of all this. From urban legend to a figure of international import, Marbury didn’t go full circle. He created some new shape to travel, because as he’s made perfectly clear, you will not put him in the box.

Watch all 25 threes from Cleveland in Game 2 win

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Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.

Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.

In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.

Cavaliers threes shotchart

Report: Rockets to interview Mike D’Antoni, Frank Vogel for coaching vacancy

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 126-122.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.

Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.

Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks

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On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.

Nope.

The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.

The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.

18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:

That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.

LeBron James whips one-handed pass, leads to open Kevin Love three (VIDEO)

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:

The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.