Andre Iguodala is interested in a future with the Nuggets

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When you trade for a guy on an expiring contract, there’s always the risk that, much like a date after the first night out, they won’t see a future with you. There’s still a feeling of rejection when someone says they prefer the company of others to your exclusive company. You have to worry about them bolting, leaving you with nothing after all the assets sent out. That was the Magic’s dilemma. They knew they were going to be terrible, and that getting someone to opt-in for more years of awfulness was going to be a sell they couldn’t make.

The Nuggets, though, at least off the bat, don’t have that concern. At his introductory press conference with the Nuggets on Thursday, Andre Iguodala offered up a pretty frank opinion his future. He has a player option for 2013-2014 but there was no “We’ll deal with all that later” from Iguodala. From the Denver Post:

Iguodala made some news at the news conference, admitting that he wants to sign with Denver long-term. He is currently under contract for 2012-13 and has a player option for 2013-14.

“We weren’t coming into this thinking this will be a one-year deal,” Iguodala said.

Denver executives Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri were also at the news  conference. Ujiri spoke about how the team would like to lock down “Iggy” to a long-term deal, something he will look into in the coming season.

via Andre Iguodala says he wants a Denver Nuggets contract extension – The Denver Post.

Great, so he can get an extension and he’ll sign it and everyone’s happy! Right?

Not so much. Here’s the thing. The new CBA, under these circumstances, actually does the exact opposite of what it’s intended to do. Instead of creating a system where the logical thing is to opt in with your current team, the CBA makes it where there’s absolutely no incentive for an All-Star caliber player who’s healthy to sign an extension versus entering free agency. At that point, the most lucrative option is to re-sign with the current team, but you still have to get to free agency to get it.

See, the new CBA says that you can re-sign with your team using Bird Rights for five years. You can sign with another team for four. But it also says that an extension can only be granted for four seasons, including those left on the contract. In this instance, Iguodala would sign an extension and be under contract with the Nuggets through 2017. But if he enters free agency, he can get a contract that pays him guaranteed through 2018.

So the guaranteed money is there, and it matters.

Now, Iguodala may forgo that option just to get the thing done. Maybe he’ll do it to reward the Nuggets for their faith in him. Maybe he’ll do it so he can leave sooner but still get paid. There’s no difference in the raise structure between the five-year-max, the four-year-max, and the extension. But it doesn’t change the situation. There’s almost no incentive for Iguodala to sign an extension vs. opting out, and that point, anything can happen, even if the most money can come his way from Denver.

Aren’t you glad we had that lockout now?

(CBA info via Larry Coon’s CBAFAQ)

Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer agree to part ways

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This was expected.

It was pretty obvious Mike Budenholzer didn’t want to stick around and lose a lot of games with the Atlanta Hawks as they rebuild the next few years, especially after he had been stripped of his GM powers. Budenholzer went well down the road with the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching position before thinking better of it. Since then he has set up a meeting with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy, a job he reportedly wants badly.

At this point there was no need for the Hawks and Budenholzer to continue their sham marriage, so they have agreed to amicably separate, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Hawks.

Budenholzer said this to Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

For Budenholzer, the long-time Spurs assistant and a strong Xs and Os coach, look for him to both push for the Knicks job and be in the running if/when the Milwaukee Bucks job opens up whenever their season ends. In both cases he’s a fit — those are teams that need a culture and system reset, and Budenholzer proved he can bring that to Atlanta (that was a good team before they let Al Horford and Paul Millsap walk for nothing).

With Atlanta, they likely will turn to a top assistant coach who will get a chance to develop young players on that team (and not cost Atlanta as much as an established coach). Stephen Silas of the Hornets is a rumored name, but there are others.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

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LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.

Raptors’ ‘culture reset’ shines in Game 5 win over Wizards

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The Raptors promoted ball movement. They emphasized 3-point shooting. They empowered their reserves.

This was why.

Backups Delon Wright and C.J. Miles and starting center Jonas Valanciunas – who was benched in previous postseasons due to his old-fashioned style, but expanded his game beyond the arc this year – scored Toronto’s final 18 points in a 108-98 Game 5 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Stars DeMar DeRozan (0-for-4 from the field) and Kyle Lowry (0-for-1 from the field, 0-for-2 on free throws) struggled down the stretch, as the Raptors burst open what had been a one-point lead.

Though DeRozan (32 points) and Lowry (17 points and 10 assists) were good overall, they succumbed late in previous playoff games. Toronto didn’t want that duo stuck with the burden of creating so much in a stagnate offense.

Hence, Masai Ujiri’s famous “culture reset.”

The results have been mixed so far against a tougher-than-average-eight-seed Washington. But at least the Raptors – up 3-2 entering Friday’s Game 6 in Washington – are on the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

Raptors honor victims of van attack before Game 5 (photos)

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TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors honored the victims the deadly van attack Monday with a moment of silence Wednesday night before Game 5 of their playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag #TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed:

The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.

“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”

Guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for peacefully arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.

“In America he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”

Coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood,

“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.

Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”

Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.

“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”

Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.