Dwight Howard’s free agency advice to Carmelo Anthony: Follow your head not your heart

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Dwight Howard should not be the guy on the top of your list for advice on how to make your free agency process go smoothly.

Howard had an ugly, awkward exit after he forced his way out of Orlando,. He landed with the Lakers and was not healthy on a team that by the end of the season was a dumpster fire and he was the scapegoat.

However, he ultimately landed in a spot he likes in Houston, he is healthy and the 39-18 Rockets are looking like a team growing into a contender.

Since he went through a high-profile free agency, it was inevitable that someone would ask him what he thought of Carmelo Anthony’s should-he-stay-or-should-he-go situation with the Knicks. Sam Amick of the USA Today was that guy and Howard’s response was interesting (and not exactly what Knicks management wants to hear):

“I can’t say (what he’ll do). That’s on him. He’s got to decide. (But) he can’t be what everybody else wants. In this situation, you’ve got to take your heart out of it…So I’d just say for him, take his heart out of it and think with his head and think about business….

“If you don’t win, you’re not going to get all the (off-court endorsement) stuff you want anyway,” Howard said. “I saw that last year (in Los Angeles). I was in the biggest market for the NBA, and we lost, so those (companies) aren’t going to be coming to you for losing.

“When I was in Orlando, a small market, and we were winning. I was very popular with a lot of different deals on the table. So it’s moreso about winning, and you’ve got to put yourself in a position to where you’re winning basketball games and you’re having fun doing it. Losing is not fun, and Melo wants to win.”

He does. And in speaking to ‘Melo All-Star weekend it was clear his heart is in New York with the Knicks.

If he wants to win there are other destinations (Chicago for one) that are better fits, where he can instantly contend, but he would have to take a healthy pay cut and leave the Knicks to do it. Could Anthony leave $7 million+ a year on the table just to go to another market and try to contend? Or does he want the cash and want to go down a Knicks legend enough to trust management there to build a contender around him?

It’s going to be an interesting summer for Carmelo. He has to decide what really matters to him most. And that’s not always easy.

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.