GMs predict Heat to beat Lakers for title, LeBron to get MVP

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The Lakers are the sexy new girl on the block, the latest super team to land the disgruntled star of another franchise, the team everybody says can challenge the Miami Heat for an NBA title.

But NBA GMs still think the Heat get the ring. And LeBron gets another MVP.

The NBA conducts an annual survey of the 30 general managers around the league for their predictions on the upcoming season. In case you forgot, last year they predicted Miami would beat Oklahoma City in the finals. These guys generally know their stuff.

This season 70 percent of them think the Miami Heat will win the NBA title. The Lakers come in second at 23.3 percent, the Thunder got two votes (6.6 percent).

But those GMs generally think the Lakers make it to the finals, with 60 percent of GMs picking them. The Thunder are second at 36.7 percent and there was one vote for the Denver Nuggets.

As for the division winners, the GMs like Boston (66.7 percent), Indiana (80 percent over a Bulls side without Derrick Rose that still got 20 percent of the vote), Miami (96.7 percent, I’d love to know who the one GM voting for Atlanta was), San Antonio (96.7 percent, one vote for Memphis), Oklahoma City (86.7 percent) and the Los Angeles Lakers (96.7 percent, one vote for the Clippers).

As for MVP, the GMs like LeBron James (66.7 percent) over Kevin Durant (30 percent) with one lone vote for Carmelo Anthony. And I checked, Isiah Thomas doesn’t still have a vote so not sure who the ‘Melo vote was from.

LeBron landed on the top of a bunch of other lists — if you cold start a team from scratch who would you take (80 percent), which player forces a team to make the most adjustments (50 percent), Best small forward in the NBA (73.3 percent).

As for winner of Rookie of the Year, the GMs like top pick Anthony Davis of New Orleans, he got 76.7 percent of the vote, with Portland’s Damian Lillard second with 20 percent. Austin Rivers was third with one vote, and if you made me guess it was Danny Ainge voting to make Doc Rivers happy.

The GMs took Boston’s Jared Sullinger as the sleeper rookie pick. And they think Dirk Nowitzki remains the best international player in the game. Which is pretty hard to argue.

DeMarcus Cousins answers first several Kings-related questions same way (video)

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DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.

Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.

Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.

Justin Verrier of ESPN:

Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.

Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.

Report: Sweet-shooting 7-footer Lauri Markkanen leaving Arizona for NBA draft

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Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.

That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.

Evan Daniels of Scout:

Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.

Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.

Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.

Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.

There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.

But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.

Dwyane Wade wowed by jumping, around-the-back alley-oop pass in McDonald’s All-American Game (video)

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Watch for Collin Sexton in the 2018 NBA draft.

In the meantime, the Alabama commit had all eyes — include Dwyane Wade‘s — on him with this pass in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night.

Carmelo Anthony on shrinking role with Knicks: ‘I see the writing on the wall… I’m at peace with that’

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Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 12 shots in the Knicks loss to the Heat last night — well below his season averages of 22 points on 19 shots per game.

Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN:

“I see the writing on the wall. I see what it is,” Anthony said late Wednesday night. “I see what they’re trying to do, and it’s just me accepting that. That’s what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I’m at peace with that.”

Is Anthony talking about just the Knicks’ final dozen games of this season, when they’re clearly interesting in testing less-proven players? Or is he referring to his entire tenure in New York?

Anthony has said he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks want to rebuild, and they’ll reportedly try again to trade him this offseason. Perhaps, this is Anthony indicating he’s warming up to the idea of allowing a trade.

Anthony’s and Kristaps Porzingis‘ timelines are barely compatible, if at all. It’d make sense for the Knicks to go in a different direction.

Could Anthony be at peace with that?