When we talk about where Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James or where the biggest potential free agents (or trade pieces) could go the usual suspects start with Chicago and Houston, then move on to New York, the Los Angeles Lakers and on down the list.
Dallas wants to be in that mix.
But they don’t seem to be foremost on free agents’ minds and Dirk Nowitzki knows that. He admitted to Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com that he doesn’t expect to see Anthony in Dallas.
“Not really,” Nowitzki said. “Somebody in his camp brought up the Mavericks first. It’s not like we brought him up. If we’re actually on his radar then it’s great. Then, we obviously have to look at it. Like I’ve said, he’s obviously one of the most explosive scorers that we have in this league. If a player like that has your team on the radar, [president of basketball operations] Donnie [Nelson] and [owner] Mark [Cuban] obviously have to look at it. Do I think it’s realistic? No. You’ve got to explore all of your options.”
Dallas may have a long-shot of landing someone, this was a 49-win team last year and still has Nowitzki, plus Monta Ellis.
But their biggest problem in attracting top flight free agents is location. No, not Texas, but rather the Western Conference. Anthony and LeBron are only leaving their current spots if they think where they go gives them a better shot to win a title (I don’t think LeBron leaves at all, but that’s another post). Both of them are in the East, where the flawed Heat were still the best of the conference. The East should be improved next season but it is still a far easier path to the Finals than the West with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and so on.
Mark Cuban is still big game hunting. At some point he will land one. But this summer it seems a tough sell.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.