If you need to know the value of Chris Copeland to the Knicks and their small-ball lineup, all you needed to do was watch Game 5 against the Pacers Thursday, when he had 13 points and four board, helping key a season-extending win for the Knicks.
Even if coach Mike Woodson didn’t recognize Copeland’s value (he had used him in a limited role this postseason) other teams did — which is going to make it tougher to keep Copeland in a Knicks uniform this summer.
The Knicks do not have Copeland’s “Bird rights,” meaning they can’t just go over the cap to keep him in house. With the Knicks set to be over the tax apron next year, their options with Copeland are limited, reports the New York Post.
The Knicks will extend Copeland his $900,000 qualifying offer to keep him restricted so they can match an offer. But they may be prohibited from matching any offer more than $3 million.
They would have to use one of their precious exceptions — the $1.9 million biannual exception or the $3 million mini mid-level exception given to luxury taxpayers. The Knicks don’t have the full $5 million mid-level because of their lousy cap situation.
The Knicks only get to add one player this summer at the $3 million exception — is Copeland worth that and the need they must fill the most?
Plus, if another team comes in with a $4 million a year offer for three or four years, the Knicks simply cannot match. It’s not allowed under league rules.
And in a league where a big man — Copeland is 6’9” — who can space the floor as a three point shooter has real value, the idea of $4 million a year for him is not unreasonable at all.
Which is to say, Copeland’s impressive run might have played him off the Knicks.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.