Nuggets, Lawson to work on contract extension this summer

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Ty Lawson is at the heart of the Denver Nuggets’ future. That much was clear as the Nuggets played gutty, fun basketball and pushed the Lakers to seven games — Lawson averaged 19 points a game on 51.4 percent shooting and added 7 assists per game as the point guard.

After his fourth year in the NBA Lawson is now up for a contract extension and both sides want to work one out that keeps Lawson playing in the mile high city, reports the Denver Post.

Asked about possibly getting a contract extension from the Nuggets this summer, Lawson told The Denver Post: “It’s definitely a goal. I want to be here long term. I’m pretty sure my agent and Masai (Ujiri, the Nuggets’ executive vice president of basketball operations) will talk this summer.”

Asked Sunday about Lawson, Ujiri said: “He’s going to be a big part of the Denver Nuggets. We’re excited. Ty is going to grow even more. He made a little jump, and he’ll continue to make jumps as he gets older.”

Lawson will be back with the Nuggets either way, he either works out an extension or comes back for a fifth season then will try out the market as a restricted free agent next summer.

But if you’re committed to a guy and want to make him happy, you do the extension (they can talk about it after July 1). Denver has already done that with Danilo Gallinari (four-years, $42 million). I expect we’ll see the same here.

Lawson is not a max deal guy but he can get some long-term security and Denver can lock down Lawson for five years at what might be below market rate in a couple years (if Lawson keeps taking steps forward). While the numbers will be different, think of what Danny Ainge did in Boston locking down Rajon Rondo at a price he could no longer get.

Some work needs to be done to fill out the rest of the Nuggets roster if they are going to take the next steps forward, but Lawson will be part of that future.

JaVale McGee, on the other hand, is a restricted free agent this summer and it will be interesting to see what the market will bear for him.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.

It’s official: Joakim Noah cleared to play, 20-game suspension starts tonight

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What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.

Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).

That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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Tuesday’s win gives Wizards first division crown since 1979

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Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.

Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.

That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.

According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.

Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).

With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.