Report: Alvin Gentry considered ‘a leading candidate’ for Cavaliers head coaching job

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The Cavaliers just finished a season that was bad enough to land them in the NBA’s Draft Lottery, and good fortune ended up smiling upon them for the second straight year as they came away with the number one overall pick once again.

But none of that was by design.

Cleveland acquired players via both trade and free agency in hopes of making a run at the playoffs in a watered-down Eastern Conference, it’s just that none of those moves ended up panning out. Before the season it was Earl Clark, Jarrett jack and Andrew Bynum, and in the middle of the campaign it was Luol Deng. But Mike brown in his second stint as Cavs head coach couldn’t make the pieces fit, and he’s now gone again as a result.

Cavaliers GM David Griffin said after winning the Draft Lottery that owning the top pick wouldn’t affect his coaching search, although he did admit it might help make his team more attractive to potential candidates. The team seems to have one in mind who might be at the top of that list, based on a prior relationship.

From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

The Cavaliers have asked permission to speak with Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Alvin Gentry, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Thursday. One source with knowledge of the coaching search wouldn’t confirm the report, but said the Cavs have not interviewed any candidates yet.

Gentry, 59, is considered a leading candidate for the Cavs job because of his Phoenix ties to General Manager David Griffin. He has a 335-370 record in parts of 12 seasons as a head coach with the Phoenix Suns, Clippers and Detroit Pistons. He also served as interim coach of the Miami Heat.

Gentry is an offensive-minded coach who Doc Rivers brought to Los Angeles as his associate head coach in order to help the spacing of the Clippers offense. It worked, too — L.A. finished number one in the league in offensive efficiency, with a rating of 109.4 points per 100 possessions.

Cleveland has talent, and by virtue of owning the top pick in the draft, has assets. A good, veteran coach should be able to make it work there fairly quickly, at least in terms of seeing some tangible results. Gentry’s overall experience, along with his relationship with the man running the front office would appear to make him a fine choice for the job.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.