If Cavs sends Baron Davis packing, Lakers or Knicks may win

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As we wait for Billy Hunter and David Stern to sit down and bother to talk to one another, one of the favorite games of NBA fans has become “amnesty clause roulette.”

Who will teams waive with the amnesty clause when the season stars again? Then, where will that player land?

Few scenarios are as interesting as Cleveland. There they have Baron Davis, a point guard on a team that spent the No. 1 pick on Kyrie Irving and also have Ramon Sessions in house. Davis is owed $13.9 million this season and $14.7 million next season (although you can buy him out of that second year for “just” $12.8 million).

Davis says he wants to mentor Irving, but the Clippers traded him to Cleveland (and sent the first round pick that became Irving) to get Davis and his questionable work ethic and attitude away from their young team. Ah, but it is not that simple, as ESPN pointed out in its look at players likely to get the amnesty axe.

The Cavs are known to not value cap space as much as trade assets. They’ve also been on a mission to acquire future draft picks since the departure of LeBron James. There’s also one more issue: If the Cavs were to burn their amnesty card on Davis, sources say LeBron’s Heat would become an instant suitor and serious threat to sign Baron … which would be painful beyond words for Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to stomach.

Miami needs a point guard and Davis, for all his flaws and focus issues, is way better than Mike Bibby. Except, Marc Stein reports at ESPN that Miami is not on top of Davis’ list.

Davis’ hometown Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks, sources say, are the two teams he’s always dreamed of playing for.

Davis also still has a good relationship with the Charlotte community, Bobcats coach Paul Silas and Bobcats assistant coach Stephen Silas, all of which would likewise make the Bobcats an option if Michael Jordan is interested.

The Lakers need a new point guard for new coach Mike Brown’s system, and Davis is better than Derek Fisher or Steve Blake. But could he really be a facilitator in the classic sense, because in Los Angeles Kobe/Gasol/Bynum get the shots? New York is fascinating — when focused Davis is very good in the open court and could fit well in a Mike D’Antoni system. But Davis would be going to a city known to distract and would have to back up Chauncey Billups next season.

This is one of the fascinating things about the amnesty clause — it will make some elite teams better. There are guys who are likely going to get waived — Rashard Lewis, Andres Nocioni, Beno Udrih — can still contribute and it is the contenders that will go after them. Contenders can promise a shot at a ring if these guys will play a role on a veteran team, and most will jump at it.

No team may benefit as much as the Miami Heat, a team is need of quality role players on the cheap. But they might not get Baron Davis.

LeBron James: ‘The closeout game is always the hardest, and Boston is going to make it even harder’

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BOSTON (AP) — It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals’ matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn’t backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

“The closeout game is always the hardest, and Boston is going to make it even harder,” said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night – particularly on the defensive end – is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday.

Boston shot 47 percent from the field and 35 percent from the 3-point line in the first half of Game 4 on their way to building as much as a 16-point lead.

While Irving’s scoring ignited the Cavs’ comeback, it was made possible thanks to Cleveland’s defensive effort over the final 24 minutes. Cleveland limited the Celtics to 41 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc.

“We have to go in with a bunker mentality that we had in Game 1 and Game 2, to go out and do what we do, but we have to defend,” James said. “We have to execute offensively. We have to have low turnovers, and we have to try to make them miss because some of those guys play a lot better at home. That’s just how the game be played.”

If the Celtics were playing with house money heading into the series, they are flush with it again as they return to the Garden.

They’ve given themselves a chance to erase the sting of their 44-point loss in Game 2. The Celtics are also guarding against ending their season by having to watch the Cavs celebrate a conference title on their home floor.

Boston lost All-Star Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the postseason to a hip injury in Game 2, forcing coach Brad Stevens to shuffle his lineup and rotations in Games 3 and 4.

In addition, Jae Crowder suffered a strained left thigh in the third quarter of Game 4 as well, but returned to play the entire fourth quarter.

It’s an indication that despite still being in a dire 3-1 hole, the resolve inside Boston’s locker room remains strong.

“We owe our fans a better performance, and we know that, and we’re going to play hard,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. “You’re going to see a team playing hard, very hard, the entire game.”

It’s also why Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said that his team must keep all thoughts of being on the cusp of a return to the NBA Finals at bay for now.

“You can’t (think about it). As much as you want to, it’s not over,” he said.

If nothing else, Lue said their recent taste of adversity should help them remain humble heading into Game 5.

“I think it is making us better. And it’s making us tougher. It’s making us work,” the Cavs coach said. “Because they got a tough group over there. (Terry) Rozier is tough, Avery is tough, (Marcus) Smart’s tough. Crowder. So, they got a lot of tough guys that are going to compete so they’re making us compete, which is good for us.”

 

PBT Podcast: Celtics draft or trade? Carmelo future? All from your Twitter questions.

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What will Boston do with the No. 1 pick, keep it or trade it?

What does the future hold for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks?

Is there a correct way to eat pizza? Actually, the answer to that one is yes, and it is not with a knife and fork, Donald Trump.

PBT’s Kurt Helin and Dane Carbaugh discuss all that that and more from your Twitter questions.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Lakers hire Kardashian trainer Gunnar Peterson

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers’ new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

Report: Bucks interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin

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The Magic hired Jeff Weltman, and the Hawks are reportedly close to hiring Travis Schlenk.

In other words, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin – who’s still without a contract for next season – lost his leverage with other teams.

But to the rescue are the Bucks, who will not necessarily promote assistant general manager Justin Zanik to replace Orland-bound general manager John Hammond.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.

Griffin and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert have spoken about continuing their partnership in recent days, sources said, though no agreement was reached.

I still think Griffin stays in Cleveland. He helped assemble a championship contender, and he has LeBron Jamesendorsement. Plus, the Cavaliers can afford him.

But whomever gets the Milwaukee job will inherit a roster stocked with promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. The Bucks wouldn’t be a bad fallback option for Griffin – if he can’t use them to get a deal with the Cavs.