Report: Darko Milicic may leave Celtics to return to Europe, sick mother

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After a preseason when Celtics fans were high on him (this is why we say don’t read much into those games), Darko Milicic has been a non-factor for the Celtics. He played five minutes in the season opener and hasn’t sniffed the court since.

Part of it is his mind is elsewhere — with his sick mother back in Europe.

And he may leave the Celtics to go back to be closer to his mother, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Milicic, the No. 2 overall pick in the famed 2003 NBA Draft, didn’t travel with the Celtics to Detroit this weekend, and sources say that he’s close to deciding to leave the NBA for the season to be with his ill mother in Serbia. After failing to play since opening night, After failing to play since opening night, Milicic has also been frustrated with his lack of a role with the Celtics, sources said….

Boston coach Doc Rivers met with Milicic recently and told him to take time to make a decision on his family and future, sources said. Milicic had been productive in the preseason, but has fallen behindJason Collins in the Celtics’ rotation.

First things first, we wish Milicic, his mother and their family the best. That is what really is important, not basketball.

That said, you get the feeling if Darko heads to Europe he will not be back in the NBA ever. He has flirted with the idea in recent years but stayed this year to play with Boston, except he can’t get on the court with a team and coach that demands focus and attention to detail from its players.

But if Darko does leave, who fills the spot?

The obvious name on the market is Kenyon Martin, and he would certainly bring more than Milicic has to the table. He’s also a four, not a five, and would make the Celtics smaller. But there are not quality seven footers on the free agent market, and the Celtics sent Fab Melo to the D-League because he has a lot of work to do before he could help a veteran contender.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.