Free Agency Rundown 7.1.12: The movers, they are a shaking

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Here’s what’s going on with free agency news and rumors as the moratorium period began Sunday night at 12:01 a.m..Do not, by any means, consider this comprehensive. There’s so much going on, we’re just trying to get you an overview. (HT: Hoopshype, IAmAGM.com)

Atlanta Hawks

Well, for starters, they’re exploring a deal for Joe Johnson to the Nets, per Yahoo. That’s a pretty strong indication of where they’re at. The Hawks are considered to be extremely active in the trade market, angling for a total overhaul of the team under new GM Danny Ferry. Nothing may come of it, but they’re on the phone, taking calls.

They’re also talking about, or to:

Ray Allen (link)

Rashard Lewis (link)

Brandon Bass (link)

Boston Celtics

They re-signed Kevin Garnett for a lot of money over three years and he’s old and is only going to oh, you know what? It’s Kevin freaking Garnett. You pay the man.

The Celtics want to get Ray Allen back in the fold and have reportedly offered him two years at $12 million. That’s a LOT for him, and a lot for him to turn down.

Everything else hinges on those two getting locked in first.

Bass reportedly wants to come back, Boston’s his preferred destination.

Brooklyn Nets

Oh, you know. The usual. Trying to trade for Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard, re-signing Gerald Wallace.

If they get Johnson, they don’t get Howard. They may not get Howard anyway. They definitely have Wallace. They’ll try and get O.J. Mayo if Johnson falls through. They have a lot of pans in the fire.

Charlotte Bobcats

Eric Gordon might take a meeting with them. There’s not much point.

Chicago Bulls

Omer Asik has agreed to sign a 3-year, $25.1 million offer with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls have until the 14th to match. The third year is structured to pay Asik $15 million, which may be a poison pill to the Bulls if they still want to dodge the luxury tax. It’s hard to see them matching.

They have interest in:

Kirk Hinrich (link)

Cleveland Cavaliers

They reportedly have interest in:

Nicolas Batum (link)

Ersan Ilyasoava (link)

Dallas Mavericks

They meet with Deron Williams on Monday, and meet with him first. But neither Mark Cuban nor Dirk Nowitzki will be in attendance, and you’d think that those two missing the meeting has some level of importance. But Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Michael Finley isn’t a slouchfest by any means. Something interesting, though.

Steve Nash is going to hold off on making a decision until he’s met with the Mavericks. He has a three-year, $36 million offer from the Raptors on the table.

They have interest in:

Ray Allen (link)

Brandon Roy (link)

Denver Nuggets

Josh Howard (link)

Detroit Pistons

All’s quiet on the Pistons front.

Golden State Warriors

The Dubs are not going to work on an extension with Stephen Curry at this point. They don’t seem to have a very firm lock on who their “core” is.

Houston Rockets

Signed Asik to that three-year deal mentioned above. The Rockets have been looking for a franchise center forever. This does seem to indicate a step away from Dwight Howard, however, as they’re now tied up with a significant chunk of change towards a center. There will be talk about Asik being overpaid, but the third year of the contract, Asik will be a $15 million expiring. That’s a trade chip Morey can use.

The Rockets are expected to host Eric Gordon at some point.

Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert has agreed to terms with the Blazers on a max contract, four years, $58 million. Will the Pacers sign? That’s a huge question. They have long thought highly of Hibbert, but have never been in love with him, so to speak. They like to date him, they enjoy going steady with him, but they don’t consider him marriage material. They might let him go because they just don’t consider him worth it. But if they do, who plays center? Hibbert was a huge advantage in the playoffs for the Pacers, especially against the Heat. Do they really want to let that walk?

They have interest in:

Eric Gordon (link)

Nick Young (link)

Restricted free agent George Hill (link)

Jamal Crawford (link)

Los Angeles Clippers

They inked Griffin to an extension as expected, and Chris Paul turned them down for an extension out of a pretty basic understanding of the CBA, no reason to read into it.

The Clippers are going to take a shot at Ray Allen.

Jason Terry is on their radar. They clearly want a two-guard upgrade.

They’ve already gotten out in pursuit of getting Chauncey Billups back.

Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard! Again!

Nick Young and Brandon Rush are on the Lakers’ targeted list. That’ a fairly big indication that they want a bench shooter to add behind Kobe Bryant. Interesting, considering how many minutes Bryant played last season,and how often Metta World Peace plays at that position.

They’re already reaching out to Ramon Sessions to get him back under contract.

They’re also interested in:

Lou Amundson (link)

Kirk Hinrich (link)

Rashard Lewis (link)

Memphis Grizzlies

Targeting Ray Allen. They’ve reportedly offered the full mid-level exception.

Randy Foye, Kirk Hinrich, and Andre Miller are all also on the list.

Miami Heat

Ray Allen. So much Ray Allen. Targeting Ray Allen. Need the Ray Allen. Want the Ray Allen. May not have the money to get the Ray Allen. Boston’s offer throws a major wrench in their plans. Jason Terry will likely become option 2 if Allen goes back to Boston.

You can put them on the list if Jose Calderon is amnestied.

Milwaukee Bucks

Not sounding like Ersan Ilyasova will be back. With John Henson, Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, the Bucks have a lot of depth down low. But they don’t have a lot of skill offensively. Could get tough to get balanced scoring.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They’re reportedly hot to trot for Nicolas Batum. Can’t see a situation where Portland lets him get away. But the Hibbert deal could change all that.

Jamal Crawford is reportedly on their list.

New Orleans Hornets

Laughing as teams host Eric Gordon before they match any offer and continue their rebuilding plan, I’d imagine.

New York Knicks

Got Steve Nash in the building to try and stay in the conversation. The Raptors offer may have been a death knell.

Oklahoma City Thunder

YOU GOT THABEET (maybe).

Orlando Magic

Oh, you know. Dwight.

Philadelphia 76ers

Got Lavoy Allen back on a great, two-year, $6 million deal. Total steal.

Phoenix Suns

Looking at all options as it looks like Nash is gone. Going to take a whack at Eric Gordon.

Portland Trail Blazers

Offered Roy Hibbert a max contract. That impacts their ability to re-sign Nicolas Batum, but also gives them maybe the best guy to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge in the league. If they get him, they may be overpaying, but they’re also going to have a ridiculously tough frontcourt.

Sacramento Kings

All’s quiet on the Kings front, for now.

San Antonio Spurs

Looking at options, nothing heavily invested now.

Toronto Raptors

Offered Steve Nash a 3-year, $36 million contract to come back to the motherland. Raptors would then presumably amnesty Jose Calderon. Where Nash fits in with the Raptors’ defensive approach is still up in the air.

Utah Jazz

Josh Howard is visiting a number of teams, and it doesn’t look likely he’ll return.

Paul Millsap wants an extension for more than $10 million per year.

Washington Wizards

All’s quiet on the Wizards front, for the most part.

Warriors put up historic 45 in first quarter on way to 128-103 Game 4 rout, sweep of Blazers

Associated Press
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This game was never in doubt. Much like the entire first-round series.

Golden State had Kevin Durant back and he hit a pull-up three to open the game, and pretty soon the Warriors had stretched the lead to 12-0 on a Klay Thompson three (and eventually were up 14-0).

That led to the Warriors putting up a historic 45 points in the first quarter, tying for the most points in an NBA playoffs first quarter ever. The Warriors were up 23 after one, and never looked back on their way to a 128-103 Game 4 rout, completing the sweep of Blazers.

There’s not much to analyze here, this game is was similar to so many games over the past couple seasons where the Warriors overwhelmed their opponents. Portland fought, but this was not going to be their game or their series. Here are some highlights.

Stephen Curry had 37 points, Draymond Green 21, and Klay Thompson had 18.

Damian Lillard had 34 points for Portland.

It may have been a disappointing ending to the season for Portland, but the team found a center late this season in Jusuf Nurkic who balances out what Lillard and C.J. McCollum bring on the outside. The Blazers have to figure out how to become a better defensive team this summer, but they took a step forward after the All-Star break that they can build on.

The Warriors will get some rest before taking on the Jazz or Clippers in the next round.

Hawks battle back to knot series with Wizards, 2-2

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Paul Millsap shoved Markieff Morris out of the way, grabbed an offensive rebound in the middle of the paint and pushed through a shot while Marcin Gortat bumped him to the floor.

The Wizards knocked down Atlanta. They didn’t stop the Hawks.

Millsap and Atlanta showed plenty of fight, topping Washington 111-101 in Game 4 Monday to tie their first-round series 2-2 after falling behind 2-0.

Have the Hawks seized meaningful momentum? History says no.

Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home then lost the next two on the road have won 81% of the time. The Wizards’ regular-season superiority still speaks loudly, and up to two more home games – starting with Game  5 Wednesday – also help.

Still, credit Atlanta for making the series competitive after digging such a big hole.

Millsap (19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals) soundly outplayed Markieff Morris (nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, -10) in the latest round of their personal feud. Millsap also got plenty of help with seven Hawks scoring double digits.

Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists and three steals) played meaningful defense and hit a couple big shots. Jose Calderon (10 points, five assists, +29 in 20 minutes) provided a huge spark. Dwight Howard (16 points and 15 rebounds) asserted himself for the first time this series. Taurean Prince (11 points on 5-of-7 shooting) picked his spots well. Dennis Schroder (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting) had his ups and downs. Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points) at least offset some of his defensive shortcomings.

This was a total team win.

Washington, on the other hand, got little outside its starting backcourt. Bradley Beal (32 points) thrived, and John Wall (22 points and 10 assists) was still good in an off-by-his-standards performance. But the Wizards crumbled when either sat – especially with both on the bench in the late third/early fourth quarters. Erasing those few minutes with staggering would’ve helped, though it wouldn’t have been the answer tonight.

This has become a far less certain series than Washington hoped, but the Wizards don’t need a wild fix. They just need their top players to play better. Maybe going home will help.

Raptors break out best game of postseason, rout Bucks 118-93 to take 3-2 series lead

Associated Press
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Norman Powell was draining threes, throwing down dunks that would have won the contest All-Star weekend, and he finished with a career playoff-high 25 points on just 11 shots. Plus defensively he caused Khris Middleton trouble.

The Raptors finished with 28 assists, the most in a playoff game since Dwane Casey took over as coach.

Toronto shot 57.7 percent overall, a franchise playoff best.

The Raptors bench played well pitching in 27 points and growing the lead when they were in, part of an overall strong night from the role players in Toronto.

Combine that all with the expected good nights from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and you get the Raptors best game of the playoffs. It looked like a different team than the one in Milwaukee.

Toronto raced out to an early lead and went on to rout the Bucks 118-93, giving the Raptors a 3-2 series lead.

This was a game where the Bucks tried to force the ball out of the hands of Lowry and DeRozan as much as they could, using their length and athleticism. However, Lowry had 10 assists, and DeRozan would get the ball off pindown screens and feel the double coming, move the ball, and another quick pass or two later the role-playing player Raptors were getting good looks and knocking them down. Or throwing it down like this.

Or this.

Toronto just looked more comfortable against the Bucks pressure, having seen it for so many games in a row, than they have all series.

Powell had 25 points for Toronto, Serge Ibaka had 19 and three blocks, Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists, DeRozan had 18 points and six assists, even DeMarre Carroll had 12 points on six shots.

The question for the young Bucks team is how does it bounce back from this kind of loss in the biggest NBA game most of them have ever played? Can they get their defensive edge back?

“We’re going to miss some shots, and we can’t let our offense dictate our defense,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “And also the turnovers, again. Right off the bat we had three…

“Our defense kind of got hit there in the first quarter, we knew that they were going to come after us, we had to expect that. And we just couldn’t respond.”

The Bucks had some runs in the second quarter and got the lead to nine at one point, but the Raptors always seemed to be in control.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had another strong game with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, and rookie Malcolm Brogdon pitched in 19 points on 11 shots, but for the most part the Bucks struggled with their offense in this game. As their coach noted — and as often happens to young teams — they let their offensive woes impact the other end of the court.

At home, the Bucks will likely feel more comfortable, and they will fight for their playoff lives.

The question is, can the Raptors be this sharp again and close them out? Or will the yo-yo nature of this team continue?

 

Kevin Durant will play in Game 4 for Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

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In case you were curious how serious Golden State was about closing out Portland in four…

After missing the last two games with a strained calf, both Warriors wins to put them up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors are bringing back Kevin Durant for Game 4.

Steve Kerr is also out tonight for Golden State, Mike Brown will coach the team.

There was buzz that Durant could have gone in Game 3 if needed, but the Warriors felt confident they would win without him and they don’t want this injury to linger. There’s no more holding him back now.

Durant averaged 25.1 points a game, and thanks to the space created by the other stars on the team had his most efficient season, with a true shooting percentage of 65.1. He also pulled down 8.3 rebounds a game, dished 4.9 assists, and had his best defensive season in a long time as well. If not for an injury after the All-Star break that had him missing games, he would have made a lot of voters’ All-NBA team.

He adds to Golden State’s size advantage against Portland. The Warriors would like to close out the series tonight and get additional rest before facing the Clippers or Jazz in the next round.