Dan Feldman

NBA: Knicks got away with key foul late in win over Timberwolves

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The Knicks beat the Timberwolves on Wednesday, but maybe New York doesn’t deserve all the blame for spoiling Karl-Anthony Towns‘ 47-point, 18-rebound night.

A late officiating error also factored into the Knicks’ 106-104 win.

Towns missed with 1:28 left, and Gorgui Dieng should’ve drawn a loose-ball foul on Kristaps Porzingis while they jostled for a rebound, according to the Last Two Minute Report:

Porzingis (NYK) clamps Dieng’s (MIN) arm and affects his ability to retrieve the rebound

The Knicks were in the penalty, so a correct call would’ve sent Dieng – a career 78% free-throw shooter – to the line for two attempts.

Instead, the Knicks secured the defensive rebound – and, eventually, the win.

Brett Brown: Ben Simmons will be 76ers’ point guard when he returns

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23:  Ben Simmons is interviewed after being drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The 76ers are waiting for their point guard to get healthy.

No, not Jerryd Bayless.

Ben Simmons.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

When Simmons is cleared, Brown has a vision of how to utilize the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

“My intention is to give him the ball and let him be the point guard,” Brown said. “That’s the plan. That doesn’t just happen. It takes a little bit of time to introduce him.”

76ers coach Brett Brown has previously mentioned using Simmons at point guard, but this sounds like that will be Simmons’ primary position.

This would help alleviate a frontcourt logjam so dense, not even trading a player – probably Nerlens Noel – would solve it. But it also comes with complications.

The No. 1 pick has tremendous ball-handling and passing skills, but his 6-foot-10 frame could make guarding opposing point guards difficult. It will take a well-crafted lineup around Simmons to make this work. So far, Philadelphia’s roster-building plan has been based on asset-accumulation.

There’s time to experiment, for the 76ers to learn what type of players would best complement Simmons as point guard. Whenever Simmons returns, that process can continue.

Isiah Thomas holds up giant Crying Jordan cutout to celebrate Indiana’s win over North Carolina (photo)

Isiah Thomas
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck
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Indiana beat North Carolina last night, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more excited than Isiah Thomas.

Thomas, the former Hoosier who battled Jordan’s Bulls while with the Pistons, gleefully held up a giant Crying Jordan cutout depicting the former Tar Heel.

Emphasis on gleefully.

Jordan Heck of Sporting News:

LeBron James named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of Year

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy and the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James delivered on a promise and ended decades of Cleveland sports misery in 2016.

For leading the Cavaliers to an NBA title and ending the city’s 52-year title drought, James was chosen Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year on Thursday, joining Tiger Woods as the award’s only two-time winners since its inception in 1954.

“I’m honored,” James said following shootaround before the Cavs hosted the Los Angeles Clippers. “I’m more happy for my family, my kids, for my wife, my mom, and for my foundation, for the kids that I represent and the kids that use me as a role model and an inspiration.”

Appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals in June, James rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the favored Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games during the regular season but couldn’t put Cleveland away. James scored 41 points in Games 5 and 6 and made a key block in the final minutes of an epic Game 7, making the Cavs the first Cleveland major sports franchise to win a title since the Browns in 1964.

James was selected finals MVP for the third time in his career.

The 31-year-old James returned to Cleveland as a free agent in 2014 and pledged to bring a title to his home state. He did it in his second season, an achievement that ranks as the greatest accomplishment of his career.

James had spurned Cleveland in 2010, leaving for Miami, where he and close friend Dwyane Wade led the Heat to two titles and four consecutive finals.

“It’s hard to remember a year with such a crowded field of Sportsperson candidates,” said Chris Stone, SI’s editor in chief. “But in the end, LeBron James was the clear choice.”

Report: Clippers expect Chris Paul to demand longest-possible max contract in free agency

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When you signal an intent to pay whatever it takes, you’re probably going to have to pay a lot.

Playing for free-spending Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul know their only limit in free agency next summer is the NBA’s max contract. So, they’ll take that to the fullest.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The team expects Paul to demand the full five-year max (or whatever the longest possible deal ends up being in the revised collective bargaining agreement) to stick around, per several league sources.

Give it to him. Give it to him and don’t think twice.

The Clippers have assembled a legitimate title contender, and that’s too difficult to do just to break it up now. If they re-sign Griffin, they’d have now recourse to replacing Paul if he leaves.*

*If they re-sign both stars, they’d have even fewer mechanisms to replace free agent J.J. Redick if he leaves. Redick could wind up with a max contract. No joke.

A five-year max contract – projected to be worth about $195 million (or maybe more in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement) – would take Paul into age 37. As he declines, that deal could become a liability.

But the Clippers’ championship window is open. Now is the time to spend. Let the backend of Paul’s contract be tomorrow’s problem.

If the Clippers re-sign Paul, Griffin and J.J. Redick – at any cost – the offseason will be a success. There were already positive signs about Griffin staying. Paul’s interest in a deal only the Clippers can offer him indicates his desire to re-sign, though that doesn’t preclude him from leaving. It’s a long season ahead, and the Clippers can’t secure Paul until July. But at that point, they could go a long way by agreeing to his contract demands.