New Knicks GM Mills says he won’t be bringing back Isiah Thomas

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The conventional thinking surrounding the Knicks surprising front office shakeup just days before the start of training camp was that it was done to ensure the proper person was in place who could make the moves necessary to make sure Carmelo Anthony doesn’t choose to leave in free agency next summer.

Whether or not new GM Steve Mills is up to the task remains to be seen, but what is odd about the situation is his return to power in the organization considering the way his messy separation from the Knicks occurred five years ago.

Frank Isola of the New York Post gave us some of the details:

It really wasn’t that long ago when Steve Mills returned from vacation and suddenly had the sinking feeling that his job as the president of Madison Square Garden was in jeopardy.

There were two not-so-subtle signs that Mills’ days were numbered; Hank Ratner, his immediate superior, had moved into his office at 2 Penn Plaza, and Mills’ parking spot had been taken away.

The ugly divorce, which began when the Garden was found liable in a highly publicized sexual harassment case, was near its completion.

That harassment case also involved Isiah Thomas, who had an unsuccessful run with the team (to put it mildly) from 2003-2008 as president of basketball operations.

Thomas remains close with Knicks owner James Dolan, and is viewed by many as having a role of an unpaid adviser. The return of Mills sparked speculation that Thomas might be brought back in a more official capacity, but Mills said in a radio interview this week that he has no intention of doing so.

From Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News:

Though conspiracy theorists abound, new Knicks president and GM Steve Mills did his best to quell speculation that he will be bringing back Isiah Thomas to the Knicks, suggesting that Thomas would make a fine executive director of the NBA Players’ Association instead.

“No, Isiah will not be coming back to the Knicks,” Mills said. “I’ve known Isiah for a long time. I think he has a lot of good things going on in his life. . . . He’s probably an excellent candidate for the executive director’s job at the NBA players’ association.”

That sound you heard was the team’s fan base breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The internal workings of the Knicks are a mystery to many, but even an organization that’s had more than its share of issues couldn’t possibly bring back Thomas, given the damage he did to the brand during his brief stint in charge.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.