Greg Monroe says he ignored rumors about future while in Africa, will focus on getting deal now

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The rumors have been swirling around Pistons’ restricted free agent Greg Monroe: That he doesn’t really want to return to the Pistons, that he wants a max contract, that there were sign-and-trade talks with teams, that he wants Josh Smith traded, that front line partner Andre Drummond thinks Monroe will return anyway, and that the Pistons have upped their offer to him.

Monroe says he hasn’t paid attention to any of it.

Monroe is just getting back from time in Africa with the NBA Cares “Basketball Without Borders” program and told Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated that he has been ignoring the rumors while over there, but now that he’s back with a clear head he wants to focus on getting his status resolved.

“It’s been great to get out here, relax, clear my mind and take this new experience in. I don’t listen to all of the reports and rumors — I’m just enjoying the fresh air….

“I’m heading back Saturday. We’re still trying to sort things out. I’m really not sure what is going to happen, I’ve just enjoyed my time here, and it’s been nice to get away and do something positive with my time.”

While Monroe was trying to inspire youth in Africa his agent was still working to get something done stateside. The wheels never stopped churning, he just was outside the continent and the rumor loop, so he could simply ignore it.

But it doesn’t change the fact he is stuck. He should call up Eric Bledsoe and they can commiserate.

No team made a free agent offer because they knew the Pistons would just match it, they weren’t going to let him go for nothing. There have been talks of sign-and-trades — Phoenix, New Orleans and Portland were among those interested — but everyone has walked away after talking price.

Monroe at this point may need to be thinking about his third contract and not this second one — get more money and fewer years so he can get on the open market sooner. He’s not going to be hurting, mind you, the Pistons reportedly offered to pay him more than Josh Smith’s bloated contract (the offer currently on the table is reportedly four years, $54 million), but if he’s not happy with the situation (and nobody should be happy with the Drummond/Smith/Monroe combo) then looking for a way to move on sooner rather than later (or force Detroit to move Smith sooner) may be the best he can do.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.