Dan Feldman

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Gregg Popovich confirms: Kawhi Leonard will play Game 1 of Spurs-Warriors

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An anonymously sourced report said Kawhi Leonard will play Game 1 of Spurs-Warriors tomorrow.

But Leonard himself said he’d play in Game 6 of Spurs-Rockets and didn’t.

So, if you want more confirmation for the conference finals…

Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News:

Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to play in Game 1 of the Spurs’ Western Conference Finals series against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Sunday.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard “absolutely” fully participated in Saturday’s practice in San Antonio.

San Antonio finished off Houston without Leonard, but that was a sample of one game, and Golden State if far superior to the Rockets. The Spurs will need Leonard’s two-way brilliance against the Warriors.

Leonard could spend time on Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. So much of San Antonio’s offense relies on Leonard isolations, a key play for slowing the pace against up-tempo Golden State.

The Warriors are favored in this series regardless, but a healthy Leonard gives the Spurs a little more of a chance.

Jeff Hornacek, Phil Jackson indicate Knicks will keep Kristaps Porzingis

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Kristaps Porzingis is, by far, the best thing the Knicks have going for them.

But he skipped his exit interview over reported frustration with the team’s dysfunction. That led to several other teams sending trade offers. Porzingis tweeted, “LA Clippers .” Even an interview about Porzingis’ commitment to New York, Porzingis’ brother talked about “If he were traded…”

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

Hornacek was asked about his certainty that the Latvian will remain with the franchise.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Hornacek said.

Still, that confidence isn’t based on anything Porzingis told him directly. Hornacek said his only contact with Porzingis was a text message that probably went ignored, as Hornacek declined to answer — while holding a guilty smile — whether Porzingis responded to his text.

Is Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek certain enough he’ll remain in New York to talk about Porzingis’ future there? Can we hear from someone with more clout?

Knicks president Phil Jackson, via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

“I think Jeff [Hornacek] said something yesterday, and he kind of expressed our feelings about it.”

Porzingis might be unhappy with the Knicks, but he’s at least saying the “right” things.

More importantly, it doesn’t matter much how he feels. He’s under contract for two more years and then would be a restricted free agent. Leaving within three years would require taking the qualifying offer, a huge financial setback.

That team control is part of what makes Porzingis so valuable.

Porzingis can agitate for a trade as much as he wants, but I doubt even Jackson would back off this stance of “no doubt” keeping him.

Markieff Morris on black-wearing Celtics: ‘They want to be us so bad’

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The Wizards wore black to a January game against the Celtics. Corny? Yes, but at least Washington won.

The Celtics wore black to Game 6 last night – and lost. So, they’ll have to hear about it.

Markieff Morris, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“They just trying to be like us. They want to be us so bad,” Morris said after Wall’s three-pointer gave Washington a 92-91 victory to force Game 7 Monday. “There’s only one Death Row D.C. They can’t do it like we can do it.”

John Wall:

“Don’t come to my city wearing all black talking about it’s a funeral,” Wall said in a televised interview from the court after the game. “We’ve worked too hard for this. All we asked for was a Game 7, 50/50.”

Isaiah Thomas:

Second thoughts? No. I wear black all the time, so. I’m the first one in this gym, too, so I didn’t see nobody else wearing black.

Coincidence?

I guess so. Call it what you want.

It’s the playoffs. You should be motivated by anything. I don’t think they were just motivated by that. It’s Game 6. Their season was on the line. They should have been motivated by everything else, just like we’re motivated for Game 7. It’s the playoffs. That’s all I can say.

Avery Bradley, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:

“I think it just happened, that everybody just happened to be wearing it, maybe,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. “I don’t know. It wasn’t planned. Kind of weird. I didn’t notice it until people started saying something about it.”

Pressed on the issue, Bradley promised reporters that it wasn’t intentional.

“Really, I wear black every game, to be honest,” he said. “So I don’t know. [Terry Rozier] pointed it out to me. I didn’t realize it.”

Gerald Green, via Forsberg:

“I had nothing to do with it, I swear. I don’t know why you’re asking me, I swear,” Green said.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, via Forsberg:

“I’m not on the text chain — by design,” Stevens said to laughter. “I still haven’t heard anybody talk about it, so I don’t even know what the deal is. I’m being dead honest. Like, I didn’t hear anybody talk about it. There weren’t that many guys on the bus that I rode over with, then I just walked in there, and talking about the Wizards and how to prepare for this game.

“No, they don’t consult me on fashion, surprisingly, nor do I get the memo.”

I don’t know whether the Celtics are just trying to fool us or also fool themselves, but the former isn’t working. Of course this wasn’t a coincidence. They wanted to rub in eliminating a rival.

They’ll have another change in Game 7 Monday, but for now, the Wizards get to bask in embarrassing Boston into weak denials.

Udonis Haslem to Ray Allen-lamenting Celtics: ‘You got your ass whooped with Ray, and we got Ray and we whupped your ass again’

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Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and other former Celtics went on TV to talk about how sensitive they still are about how Ray Allen left the Celtics for the Heat in 2012.

Allen’s former Miami teammate, Udonis Haslem, stuck up for him.

Haslem on The Joe Rose Show on WQAM, as transcribed by Ira Winderman of the South Florida SunSentinel:

“It’s not like the year before with Ray they beat us,” Haslem said of the Heat defeating Allen, Garnett and Pierce in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals. “Put it this way, it wasn’t the similar situation to maybe Kevin Durant going to the team that beat him. It was, you got your ass whooped with Ray, and we got Ray and we whupped your ass again.”

“I mean, they got to let that go,” Haslem said. “I think when you get to a point where you’re a free agent, you have the opportunity to make the best decision for you. Quality of life: Boston, Miami? Ahh, you guys can figure that one out.

“You’ll never hear me say anything bad about Ray. Even if he was to leave the Heat and go play for San Antonio, I would still have the same, as much respect for Ray. And if we had to play then the next year, it wouldn’t change the way I feel about Ray as a person. And I’m the ultimate competitor. Like, I keep a bad taste in my mouth, I keep a chip on my shoulder. You can’t be mad at Ray. Ray’s not that guy.”

I don’t see how this differs from Kevin Durant. Both Durant and Allen signed with the team that eliminated them from the playoffs then achieved success with their new team.

But Haslem is right about one thing: “They got to let that go.”

James Harden parties night of Rockets’ elimination. So? (video)

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James Harden stunk in the Rockets’ season-ending loss to the Spurs last night: 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, six turnovers and six fouls. Houston got outscored by 28 points in his 37 minutes.

But he didn’t hole up at home to dwell on the loss.

TMZ:

he partied ALL NIGHT LONG while fans in Houston chanted at him, “MVP!”

TMZ Sports obtained footage of Harden at Set in Houston where he turned up in the VIP section while Travis Scott performed.

Multiple witnesses say Harden went to Dreams strip club later on in the nigh

This will only fuel rumors about Harden partying too much and increase talk that a championship organization would never – oh, right.

Harden’s season is over. He has months to relax and work out and relax and work out and… His record of improvement suggests he knows how to balance his time. If he wants to begin his offseason with a night out on the town, more power to him.