NCAA Men's Championship Game - Butler v UConn

Lockout has some top college prospects hesitant about NBA

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If you’re an elite college basketball player thinking about the NBA, this is the advice you get from the sage people (not the dirty agents and others trying to be a parasite, but the people looking out for the students):

If you are a guaranteed first-round pick in the NBA draft, you have to seriously consider going.

Because it means — at the very minimum — three years guaranteed money and as players have a limited career to earn money this gets you on the clock and out of your rookie deal at a younger age so you can earn more down the line. You can still get your degree, but you only have a short window to earn money that can and should set you up for life.

But the looming NBA lockout changes the equation. There will be a lockout and potentially a protracted one (the NBA sides are farther apart than the NFL owners and players, and you see how well that is going.) The New York Times spoke to a number of people involved and while so far nobody is really seeing a difference because of the threat of a lockout it could happen.

“I had one N.B.A. guy tell me that anyone that is a bubble guy, the lockout should pop everyone’s bubble,” Georgia Coach Mark Fox said in a telephone interview. “Those guys are a risk anyway. Put this factor into the mix, and it’s just too volatile.”

“I think it will have an effect, and it should have one,” the agent Mark Bartelstein said, noting the consequence of leaving early and being sidelined by a lockout. “That’s a disastrous thing for a player in the development stage of his career. It is an issue, and something I’ve raised with coaches and families, and that’s part of the equation, I think.”

There are still guys in for it. Duke’s Kyrie Irving — the likely No. 1 overall pick — is expected to announce he is still coming out for the NBA soon. Kemba Walker of Connecticut also is expected to decide soon and told the Times the lockout will not impact his decision. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (likely a top five pick) has said he is staying. (We should note that the list of players who said they are staying during the tournament then left anyway is a long and storied one, so stay tuned.) UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt is in and hired an agent so he is committed. There are a lot of guys putting their name out without agents to preserve their eligibility, but about the usual amount the NBA says.

The equation of the lockout works two ways, as Butler Coach Brad Stevens told the Times.

“Does that make this draft weaker? Might,” Stevens said. “So you might be able to get drafted higher. Does it make it so that nobody wants to go out because they don’t want to sit out their whole senior year and not play basketball until February?”

Nobody is sure what impact the lockout will have on prospects coming out. So far none, but that may change as decisions need to be finalized. We know the lockout is coming, and we know it’s going to be bad. The Summer League and that development time are certainly going to be wiped out. The question is camp and games, and many around the negotiations are not optimistic about saving all of those.

There are no easy decisions here. It’s just another way the lockout is going to screw with people’s lives.

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.