Jabari Parker believes Bucks will pick him No. 2 overall in NBA Draft

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NEW YORK — The Cavaliers are reportedly torn between selecting Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker with the number one overall pick in this Thursday’s NBA Draft. But Parker himself believes their decision may have already been made.

Speaking to reporters at the pre-draft media availability in Manhattan on Wednesday, Parker made it very clear that if Cleveland goes in another direction, he fully expects to be selected by the Bucks with the second pick based on what he was told when meeting with the team during the workout process.

“Yeah, I think so,” Parker said, when asked if he expected to be picked by the Bucks. “Because I had some comfort level with them, especially with them telling me that ‘we want you.’ I didn’t really get any answers from the Cavs, so I’m just going with what I’m certain with.”

Parker was pressed on the topic, and while he fell short of using the word “promise,” it was evident that he feels he won’t be falling below the second pick no matter what Cleveland decides.

“Like I said, I got that answer,” he said. “I got that fair assessment. They sat with me and said ‘oh, we’re going to go with you.’ I didn’t get that with the Cavs.”

Cleveland didn’t come out and tell Parker they wouldn’t select him, however, which leaves the door open at least slightly.

“They just didn’t make commitments,” Parker said of his conversations with the Cavaliers. “I think that they’re playing the safe side of things. They don’t want to say they’re all in too early, because they hold a high pick and have plenty of opportunities with other free agents. So you never know, it [could be] a really surprising draft.”

It was rumored following his workout with the Cavaliers that Parker tanked it, because he preferred to end up in Milwaukee instead. But he firmly and professionally denied that allegation on Wednesday.

“I think I have too much pride to just waste other people’s time,” Parker said. “I come from Duke, but most importantly, I come from a family with good values, and I don’t have time to just waste other people’s opportunities and the chances that I have in front of me. There’s going to be a lot of speculation and a lot of negativity, but I would be glad to look that person in the eye who wrote that stuff. And they can give me their assumptions.”

Parker was asked if he would be opposed to going to Cleveland, given the way his workout went and the way the organization was relatively non-communicative with him at the time.

“It would be a great opportunity too,” he said. “Anywhere that I’m going, I’m going there for a reason. If they pick me, I’m going to go on that stage, accept that hat and that opportunity.”

Parker, like the rest of the players projected to be lottery selections, seemed to be appreciative of and excited by the opportunity before him.

“Being a top draft pick is something that will go down in history,” he said. “One, two, three, four, five, even in the lottery. I think a lot of the guys — it’s safe to say that we’re glad to be in this position.”

Report: Celtics focused on adding All-Star-caliber frontcourt player

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Isaiah Thomas said he he’d happily forgo a renegotiation-and-extension if the Celtics use their cap space to upgrade their roster.

Where are they looking?

A. Sherrod Blakey of CSN New England:

Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.

In the last three years, 22 frontcourt players have been All-Stars. Boston already has one: Al Horford. Could the Celtics land any of the other 22?

Almost certainly unavailable

Free agency

Trade

Free agency or trade

  • Pau Gasol (Though Gasol said he’d opt in, San Antonio might try pushing him out to pursue Paul. If Gasol opts in, the Spurs could also trade him to clear space for Paul.)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (The Mavericks have a $25 million team option on Nowitzki for next season. Nowitzki going to Boston, via trade or free agency, would probably require a mutual agreement between Dallas and him that pursuing a title elsewhere is the right way for him to end his career.)

Report: Spurs exploring Chris Paul pursuit

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The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.

And apparently so are the Spurs.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.

San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:

  • Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
  • Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
  • Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.

The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.

But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.

Detroit’s Van Gundy honored for cooperation with media, fans

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.