Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game 5

Report: Spurs, Tiago Splitter near four year, $36 million deal

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Tiago Splitter is coming off his best season in the NBA. He took on a larger role in San Antonio — he was a starter on a team that went to the seventh game of the NBA Finals, he was the real anchor of their defense, he averaged 10.3 points a game on 56 percent shooting, he grabbed 6.4 rebounds a game and had a PER of 18.7. He’s not an All-Star, but he is a quality NBA big man.

And in the NBA, quality bigs get paid well.

Splitter is on the verge of a four-year, $36 million deal to stay with the Spurs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Portland had strongly considered signing Splitter to an offer sheet near the $9 million salary that Spurs paid, but Splitter’s representatives and San Antonio worked out most of the details of an agreement on Monday night and into Tuesday, sources said.

This is about the going rate for a quality big man in the NBA today. I think the fourth year could be a little bit of a surprise, but  at age 2  four years is a safe bet. If the Spurs decide to make changes down the line, they will be able to move this contract.

Splitter was key to helping Tim Duncan’s renaissance this year, doing a lot of the physical big man dirty work that wears down the older Duncan now. Splitter was at the heart and rim protector of a resurgent Spurs defense that carried this team all the way to the Finals.

If you want to say Splitter isn’t worth it because he struggled against the Heat’s small ball lineups in the Finals, I’ll remind you that without his big body and strong play in the conference finals against Memphis San Antonio would have been watching the Finals on television like you were.

Besides, by now shouldn’t the Spurs get the benefit of the doubt on all their signings?

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

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This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. However, those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and the team’s playoff chances have taken a serious hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers).

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and had said planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).