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.

Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball

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When Derrick Rose went AWOL from the Knicks last season for what he called a family issue, rumors swirled that he was contemplating retirement. Rose denied it, but those whispers are reemerging.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.

Before the season, Rose was talking about getting a raise on his next contract. He seemed happy to join a contender and have LeBron James in his corner.

But something is amiss. Hopefully, Rose can find contentment – whether that’s continuing his NBA career or walking away.

Ryan McDonough: Suns want to sign two-way Mike James to standard contract

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Brandon Knight got hurt. Eric Bledsoe got traded.

The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.

Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.

The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, via Scott Bordow of azcentral:

We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.

The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.

The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.

Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.

So, a trade is possible. Greg Monroe never seemed long for Phoenix. Or anyone else could be moved.

If it comes to it, the Suns could send James to the minors to bide time. But they want to play competitive basketball, and he helps. So, expect something else to give within the next couple weeks.

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

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A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.