This is what we’ve been waiting for. Through the desert of the lockout and “how u” jokes. It’s the emotion and beauty of these playoff games that made us hope everyone would come to their senses and not kill the season. This is what we powered through a condensed, roller-coaster season to get to.
The NBA playoffs are here.
To help you be prepared for what is about to start this weekend, we present ProBasketballTalk’s NBA Playoff previews for the first round. All eight series will be broken down with stats and our insights so you can decide for yourself where that upset we all know is going to happen in the first round is going to come from. We throw in our predictions, too.
Read and enjoy.
Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8)
Miami Heat (2) vs. New York Knicks (7)
Indiana Pacers (3) vs. Orlando Magic (6)
Boston Celtics (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5)
San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Utah Jazz (8)
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7)
Los Angeles Lakers (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)
Memphis Grizzlies (4) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)
This is the standard penalty for coaches and players hit with a DUI. I don’t think the penalty is stiff enough in general for a serious issue, but this is the precedent that has been set.
Detroit Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been suspended two games by the NBA for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan,” the NBA announced. He will miss the first two games of next season.
This will not stop Caldwell-Pope from getting PAID this summer.
A quality wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he is a restricted free agent. Other teams with cap space — Brooklyn and Sacramento come to mind — could step in and give him a max or near max offer. Then Stan Van Gundy needs to decide if he is going to match. He may not have much of a choice, if he wants to keep Andre Drummond and build an inside-out team around him, he needs Caldwell-Pope, and the Pistons don’t have the cap space to replace him.
One way or another, Caldwell-Pope is in line for a massive pay raise. This suspension will not slow teams, it just takes a little money out of his pocket.
If you are betting right now on next year’s NBA Rookie of the Year award, you are a die-hard fan of your team and their new addition. Or, you have a problem and need to seek help. Maybe both.
Either way, the people at the gambling site Bovada have posted the early betting odds for the ROY award for next season.
Lonzo Ball (Lakers) 5/2
Ben Simmons (76ers) 3/1
Markelle Fultz (76ers) 5/1
De”Aaron Fox (Kings) 7/1
Josh Jackson (Suns) 9/1
Jayson Tatum (Celtics) 9/1
Jonathan Isaac (Magic) 16/1
Malik Monk (Hornets) 16/1
Dennis Smith (Mavericks) 16/1
John Collins (Hawks) 20/1
Justin Jackson (Trail Blazers) 22/1
Lauri Markkanen (Bulls) 22/1
Yes, Ben Simmons is in the mix.
The two bets I like here, if I were a gambling man, are Jackson in Phoenix and Dennis Smith in Dallas. I doubt Smith wins it, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft Smith will start for them next year, which means he gets opportunities and can rack up assists feeding Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow for a year.
Jackson is going to be unleashed in an up-tempo Suns offense where he will be the defender they need on the wing, play with high energy, and get buckets in transition. Winning ROY is as much about fit and opportunity as talent, and Jackson has landed in a good spot.
Paul George reportedly wants to play with Gordon Hayward. George is also reportedly willing to join his desired team (universally accepted to be the Lakers) by means that don’t guarantee the highest salary.
Could the Celtics – who are pursuing Hayward in free agency – leverage those conditions into getting George?
Adam Kauffman of 98.5 The Sports Hub:
I don’t what George would do, but it’d be a MAJOR financial disadvantage to go this route.
There a couple ways it could happen – George getting extended-and-trade or George getting traded then signing an extension six months later. The latter would allow George to earn more than the former, but even if he pledged to sign an extension, would the Celtics trade for him knowing he’d have six months to change his mind if he doesn’t like Boston as much as anticipated?
There’s a bigger issue, anyway. Both extension routes would leave George earning far less than simply letting his contract expire then signing a new deal, either with his incumbent team or a new one.
Here’s a representation of how much George could earn by:
- Letting his contract expire and re-signing (green)
- Letting his contract expire and signing elsewhere (purple)
- Getting traded and signing an extension six months later (gray)
- Signing an extend-and-trade (yellow)
||Expire & re-sign
||Expire & leave
||Trade, extend later
Firm numbers are used when it’s just a calculation based on George’s current contract. When necessary to project the 2018-19 salary cap, I rounded.
The Celtics could theoretically renegotiate-and-extend, but that would require cap room that almost certainly wouldn’t exist after signing Hayward.
Simply, it’s next to impossible to see this happening. It’d be too costly to George.
Dwyane Wade said he wanted to see the Bulls’ direction – winning now with Jimmy Butler or rebuilding? – before deciding on his $23.8 million player option for next season.
While Chicago was actively shopping Butler (before eventually trading him to the Timberwolves), Wade opted in, anyway.
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
This is most real answer answer you’ll ever see. Props to Wade for his directness.
This also speaks to the unlikelihood of him accepting a buyout, no matter how poorly he fits with the rebuilding Bulls now – though maybe he’d accept a small pay cut to choose another team.