Reports: Joakim Noah has continued recruitment of Carmelo Anthony

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Ask any college coach in any sport — recruitment is almost never about one call, one visit. It’s about multiple texts and repeated calls, it’s kissing up to family and friends, and all sorts of ways big and small to show your interest in a particular player and why he/she fits the university, the team, etc.

Along those lines, Joakim Noah’s recruitment of Carmelo Anthony to come to the Bulls has not been just one conversation All-Star Weekend.

It has continued and still continues, a source told the Chicago Sun.

According to several sources, including a teammate, Noah’s All-Star Weekend “conversation’’ with New York Knicks standout Carmelo Anthony didn’t end in New Orleans. They had discussions via text the rest of the season, including the day after the Bulls were eliminated in the playoffs by the Washington Wizards.

“I was kidding Jo that they were boys now,’’ a source said in a phone interview Friday. “ ‘Well, get your boy to come to Chicago.’’’

‘Melo has said he wants the “full Dwight Howard treatment” in terms of being a recruited free agent, and certainly the full-court-press by Chandler Parsons on Howard impacted that decision. So Noah is on the right path.

But one other thing Noah has made clear through this is he doesn’t want to get Anthony at the expense of Taj Gibson, according to the report. If it is one of the other, Noah wants to keep his teammate.

Which means a steep pay cut for Anthony (down into the four years, $60 million range, maybe a little more depending on the moves).

There are conflicting reports about what Carmelo Anthony wants to do this summer, most likely because Carmelo Anthony doesn’t know what he wants to do this summer. How important is being in New York and leading the Knicks? Does he trust Phil Jackson to rebuild (and James Dolan to stay out of his way)? How important is winning (the Knicks can and should improve but the Bulls or Rockets are several big steps ahead)? How important is money? What is important to his family?

He has a lot of questions to figure out for himself. The Knicks retaining him remains the morning line favorite, but we have to see how the race plays out.

If you want to influence that decision, recruiting him now is a smart play.

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.