Report: Pacers to apply for disabled-player exception after Paul George’s injury

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Paul George is reportedly out for the season after his horrific leg injury.

Sometimes, those evaluations are inspired by public-relations – rather than medical – reasons. (See Serge Ibaka.)

The Pacers surely don’t want people repeatedly asking when George will return. Better to just put the matter behind them, for a season at least, by declaring him out now. If he comes back earlier, all the better, and a year of incessant questions will be avoided in the meantime.

But now Indiana will put that diagnosis before an impartial physician.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The Indiana Pacers are expected to apply to the NBA for a disabled player exception in the wake of forward Paul George’s gruesome broken leg, according to a league source.

The Pacers must convince an NBA-selected doctor George is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15 to get the disabled-player exception (DPE). It would allow the Pacers to sign a player to a one-year contract worth up to $5,305,000, or they could trade for or claim off waivers a player who makes up to $5,405,000 and is on the final year of his contract.

There’s really no harm in applying. If the request is denied or Indiana gets, but doesn’t use, the DPE, there’s no consequence.

And it’s certainly possible the Pacers wouldn’t use it, especially not in full.

For one, they also have 15 players under contract, the regular-season limit. But Donald Sloan’s contract is fully unguaranteed, and Shayne Whittington’s is just $25,000 guaranteed. It wouldn’t be difficult to clear a roster spot.

The luxury tax presents a much larger problem.

Indiana is just $1,622,151 below the tax line. That room would almost assuredly increase if the Pacers take the necessary step of clearing a roster spot to make room for another player – to $2,570,314 if they waive Sloan for example. But even with the DPE, George would continue to count against the cap. Maybe Indiana also waives Whittington and/or Luis Scola, another player with a partially guaranteed contract, but that’s a lot of trimming.

And for what?

The best and best-fitting free agent on the market, Shawn Marion, is leaning toward signing with the Cavaliers. No other unrestricted free agents makes sense above the minimum with the exception of Ray Allen, but I sure don’t see him in Indiana.

The trade market could reveal more possibilities – Marco Belinelli (Spurs), Dorell Wright (Trail Blazers) and Luc Mbah A Moute (Timberwolves) to name a few ideas – a trade partner’s desired return and the tax-avoiding gymnastics necessary to facilitate a deal are probably too much for the Pacers.

Indiana would be wise to seek the DPE in case it proves useful. Even if the Pacers get it, George could return earlier than expected, and the player they acquired with the DPE would remain eligible.

But the most significant outcome of the application very well could be the public learning what a neutral doctor really thinks of George at this point. If that doesn’t seem very significant, that’s because it’s not (unless the request is denied).

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.