2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability

Report: Tim Duncan faces June 24 deadline to opt in to final year of contract

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Most contract options must be decided by June 30, but teams and players can negotiate earlier dates. For example, Carmelo Anthony faces a June 23 deadline to exercise his early termination option (which he says he’ll do).

Another player with an earlier-than-usual option date: Tim Duncan.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan has until June 24 to notify the team whether he intends to pick up his $10.3 million player option for next season, according to sources familiar with the terms of the contract.

The date still can be moved closer to July 1, sources said, if both parties agree to do so

sources say the Spurs, to this point, are quietly operating under the assumption that Duncan and Popovich will indeed be back next season

The reliable ShamSports.com lists Duncan’s 2014-15 option at $10 million, but as the site accurately notes, the NBA prohibits option-year salaries from decreasing from the prior season. Duncan made $10,361,446 this season.

The NBA ratified Duncan’s contract, anyway. Maybe the league has to just let that stand, or maybe it can force the Spurs to raise Duncan’s option-year salary to equal his 2013-14 salary. It’s unclear.

Anyway, I doubt less than $400,000 makes a difference.

At or near $10 million is a pretty fair salary for Duncan at this point, and he if wants to return, he could just opt in. Or maybe he’d opt out to re-sign for less, giving San Antonio room to sign an impact free agent.

However, this option has little to do with whether Duncan returns. He could easily opt in and then retire later in the offseason, walking away from his guaranteed salary. The option, related to retirement, matters only if Duncan decides to extend the Spurs the courtesy of informing them on his future before opting in. Opting out would give him no more or less flexibility to retire.

Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are under contract through next season. (As are Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph). I suspect everyone will come back for one more run.

Duncan could either opt in or opt out, but if he does the latter, plenty of doors remain open for him to return. It’s just one step in the process.

Sit back and watch the top 10 dunks from the first five weeks of NBA season

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Who doesn’t love a good dunk compilation?

Well, somebody probably just said “bah, humbug” but is that the person you really want to hang out with?

The fine folks at NBA.com put together the Top 10 dunks of October and November, and when Rudy Gobert dunking over Kristaps Porzingis is all the way down at 10, you know it’s a good list. Put off starting your Christmas shopping, at least for another 2:44, and watch the video.

Want to watch Chance the Rapper throw dodgeballs at mascots? Here you go.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Chance The Rapper performs on Camp Stage during day one of Tyler, the Creator's 5th Annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at Exposition Park on November 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Want to watch Chance the Rapper throw dodgeballs at mascots? Of course you do. How is that even a question?

Above you can see just that from Chicago Friday night (where Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and the Bulls knocked off the Cavaliers). Benny the Bull is on his side as well, while the Cubs’ mascot and others try and stay out of the way.

I’ll take this over another kids’ dribbling contest any day.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili hustling saves lead to Spurs bucket (VIDEO)

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That’s about the most Spurs play ever.

During the third quarter of San Antonio’s win over Washington Friday night, LaMarcus Aldridge saved the ball from going out-of-bounds on the baseline, he threw it out high to Manu Ginobili, who had to leap and save it from going into the backcourt. Two hustle plays. From there the Spurs whipped the ball around the perimeter, and it ended up back to Aldridge on the baseline, where he nailed the 12-foot jumper.

Eventually, the Spurs would get a Kawhi Leonard jumper to give them the victory.

LeBron on Cavs’ three-game losing streak: “We got to get out of the honeymoon stage”

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wipes his face as he looks down after guard Kyrie Irving missed a shot during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Chicago. The Bulls won 111-105. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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For a team that is 13-5 and atop the Eastern Conference standings, the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been their intimidating selves consistently this season. There have been flashes during a 13-2 start, but mostly they win on talent, or when they flip the switch for a half, but they haven’t looked like a tested team working on building good habits through the first quarter of the NBA season. They have an elite offense, but their defense is surrendering 105.1 points per 100 possessions, 20th in the league.

It’s been worse the last four games. The Cavaliers had to come from behind to beat the Sixers, then got blown out by the Bucks and Clippers. Friday night, Cleveland lost to Chicago, giving the Cavs a three-game losing streak, and LeBron James had enough. He sent a message to his team through the media (from the Associated Press):

“We got to get out of the honeymoon stage,” James said. “You got to play the game, the right way. We’ve got to battle every night like we ain’t won nothing. Last year is last year. After ring night is over with, now it’s a new season and everybody is gunning for us every night and we have to understand that. The honeymoon stage is over. It’s time to play some real ball and be physical, especially in the trenches. Giving up 78 points (in the paint) is ridiculous. We’ve got to man up. Everybody.”

The Cavaliers would be far from the first team to have a championship hangover, and considering the five-decade title drought in Cleveland before that win we should have expected one of those “I can’t get off the couch, I’m just going to lay here and watch golf all day” kind of hangovers. As Gregg Popovich has said before, its human nature to let up after a big win.

However, the blowout loss at the hands of the Clippers Thursday — the only title contending team the Cavs have faced this season — should be a wake-up call. The fact is the Cavaliers are still playing well enough to beat everyone in the East, but their real tests come in the form of the Warriors/Clippers/Spurs out West. Right now it’s hard to picture the inconsistent defense of the Cavaliers lifting them past any of those teams in four out of seven games.

LeBron has been to six-straight Finals for a reason — he does not let up. And he’s going to have to shake this team out of its malaise to get them back to an elite standing.

It’s also the first week of December. It’s we’re having this same conversation the last week of March about the Cavaliers then it’s okay to start looking for the panic button in Cleveland. For now, trust LeBron to be the leader this team needs. Calling them out was just step one.