Report: Kevin Love would consider New York and Chicago in addition to L.A. in free agency

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One night after the Lakers lost to the league’s worst team in Milwaukee, they barely bothered to show up in Minnesota.

The Timberwolves scored 143 points en route to a 36-point victory, and Kevin Love logged a triple-double of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in just 29 minutes of action.

Love has widely been rumored to be interested in bolting the Timberwolves once he’s a free agent in 2015, for reasons that include Minnesota’s small market and their inability to this point to surround him with enough talent to even take the team to the playoffs, much less compete with the league’s elite and enter the championship conversation.

Los Angeles has been the city most commonly mentioned when Love’s potential relocation comes up, mainly because he and his family have so many ties there. But Love downplayed the L.A. scenario after the victory, and he may have just as much interest in being one of the best players in an equally big city.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Love’s ties to L.A. are undeniable. He went to college at UCLA. His father, Stan, played for the Lakers — and coincidentally was on the 1974-75 team, a.k.a. the worst team in Lakers history up until this season, so his son could help make up for that. And Love was born in Santa Monica, to boot.

“You know, my parents live there and they had me there,” Love said of L.A., after his Wolves beat the Lakers for the third time in four tries to win the season series Friday. “It’s not my fault. So, I don’t really care about that right now. I just go out there and play and don’t think about it.”  …

A source familiar with Love’s thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com that it’s not just L.A. that is appealing to Love; he’s enamored with the idea of being “big time in a big city,” and that list of potential places he’d seek includes New York and Chicago, as well.

It’s impossible to predict where Love might end up, because there are so many variables in play.

The Timberwolves may be able to add talent this summer to improve the team to where Love’s decision to leave — which would of course include leaving an extra contract year and an extra $30 million or so on the table — could be made much more difficult.

There’s also the state of those big market teams to consider.

No one has any idea what the Lakers might look like a season from now, considering they’ll have a ton of salary cap space to play with and will be doing everything possible to court All-Star free agents to fill what will be a large number of open roster spots. The Knicks, of course, have Phil Jackson running things now, and even if Carmelo Anthony chooses to remain beyond this season, that roster is going to look much different in the years to come, as well.

All we know at the moment is that the Timberwolves have no desire to trade Love before it becomes absolutely necessary, and will do everything in their power to get him to re-sign in Minnesota. Love will carefully consider all of his options when the time comes — and, yes, that will include large market teams that may be in a better competitive position by then.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.