Dan Feldman

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Report: Mavericks targeting Jrue Holiday in free agency

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The Pelicans have built a fragile core around Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the rest of the roster leaving plenty to be desired. And New Orleans’ third-best player, Jrue Holiday, is entering unrestricted free agency.

Expect the 26-year-old Holiday to have plenty of suitors, including the 76ers – and Mavericks.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

League sources say members of the Mavericks organization view Holiday as a free agent target this summer.

The Mavericks hold a $25 million team option on Dirk Nowitzki, and he plans to return. Dallas will have to decide on that option – part of a retirement-gift contract – before free agency. Maybe Nowitzki would happily take less to add talent, but he can’t know whom the Mavericks will lure until the option deadline.

The smart play: Convince Nowitzki that the team will do right by him even if it declines the option. The extra cap space could help, and if Dallas strikes out in free agency, it could always re-sign Nowitzki to a similar salary.

If the Mavericks decline Nowitzki’s option, it’d still probably take more tinkering to clear enough cap space for Holiday. But if they exercise Nowitzki’s option, it’d take a fairly large overhaul to make room for Holiday.

After tanking, Dallas has the No. 9 pick in a point guard-heavy draft. That might be a more cost-effective and realistic way to land a point guard.

Report: Zaza Pachulia’s MRI came back clean

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Zaza Pachulia left Warriors-Spurs Game 2 with a heel injury – what many saw as fitting comeuppance for the Golden State center injuring Kawhi Leonard.

But don’t expect Pachulia to be out for long.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia underwent an MRI on his sore right heel Wednesday, and the results came back clean, league sources tell ESPN.

Pachulia, whose status is day to day, suffered a heel contusion in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

Ain’t karma a… forgiving lady.

LaVar Ball ups shoe deal asking price to $3 billion

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LaVar Ball has upped the ante.

The outspoken father of former UCLA star Lonzo Ball said Wednesday on Fox Sport 1’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” that it will now cost a shoe company $3 billion to make a deal with his Big Baller Brand.

“If they want to talk to me now, it just went up to $3 billion. Triple Bs – billion, billion, billion,” LaVar said.

He also repeated that he wants Lonzo to play only for the Los Angeles Lakers, the hometown team that got the No. 2 pick Tuesday night in the NBA draft lottery.

“Now that Lonzo’s headed to Los Angeles, what they should have done is give me a billion dollars and let me be on my way,” LaVar said.

LaVar said he has sold 400 to 500 pairs of the $495 ZO2 shoes.

Cavaliers one win from longest playoff winning streak in NBA history

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The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals.

Don’t let that distract you from the fact that the Cavaliers haven’t lost since that three-game comeback.

Cleveland has since swept the Pacers and Raptors in the first two rounds of these playoffs then taken a 1-0 lead on the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s a 12-game playoff winning streak – tied for the second-longest of all-time.

Only the Lakers, who won the last two games of the 1988 NBA Finals then swept through the 1989 Western Conference playoffs, have produced a longer playoff winning streak. The Cavs can tie that 13-game run by beating Boston in Game 2 tomorrow.

The Cavaliers aren’t the only team with an active historic playoff winning streak. Golden State has won 10 straight playoff games – tied for the sixth-longest streak ever – by sweeping the Trail Blazers and Jazz and going up 2-0 on the Spurs.

Here’s every double-digit playoff winning streak in NBA history:

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Los Angeles Lakers (1988-1989): 13

  • Beat Detroit Pistons in 1988 Finals, 4-3 (won final two games)
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 1989 first round, 3-0
  • Beat Seattle SuperSonics in 1989 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Phoenix Suns in 1989 conference finals, 4-0

Lost 1989 NBA Finals to Detroit Pistons, 4-0

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016-2017): 12

  • Beat Golden State Warriors in 2016 NBA Finals, 4-3 (won final three games)
  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 2017 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Toronto Raptors in 2017 second round, 4-0
  • Lead Boston Celtics in 2017 conference finals, 1-0

Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2001): 12

  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 2000 NBA Finals, 4-2 (won final game)
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 2001 first round, 3-0
  • Beat Sacramento Kings in 2001 second round, 4-0
  • Beat San Antonio Spurs in 2001 conference finals, 4-0

Lost first game of 2001 NBA Finals to Philadelphia 76ers, but won series 4-1

San Antonio Spurs (1999): 12

  • Beat Minnesota Timberwolves in 1999 first round, 3-1 (won final two games)
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers 1999 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 1999 conference finals, 4-0
  • Beat New York Knicks in 1999 NBA Finals, 4-1 (won first two games)

Detroit Pistons (1989-1990): 12

  • Beat Chicago Bulls in 1989 conference finals, 4-2 (won final three games)
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers in 1989 NBA Finals, 4-0
  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 1990 first round, 3-0
  • Beat New York Knicks in 1990 second round, 4-1 (won first two games)

Golden State Warriors (2017): 10

  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 2017 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Utah Jazz in 2017 second round, 4-0
  • Lead San Antonio Spurs in 2017 conference finals, 2-0

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016): 10

  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2016 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Atlanta Hawks in 2016 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Toronto Raptors in 2016 conference finals, 4-2 (won first two games)

San Antonio Spurs (2012): 10

  • Beat Utah Jazz in 2012 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Los Angeles Clippers in 2012 second round, 4-0
  • Lost to Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 conference finals, 4-2 (won first two games)

New Jersey Nets (2003): 10

  • Beat Milwaukee Bucks in 2003 first round, 4-2 (won final two games)
  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2003 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Detroit Pistons in 2003 conference finals, 4-0

Lost first game of 2003 NBA Finals to San Antonio Spurs and lost series, 4-2

Markelle Fultz: ‘Me and Isaiah Thomas would be a great backcourt’

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Some 2017 NBA draft prospects were reportedly trying to avoid to the Celtics, who, as the rare playoff team drafting No. 1, are deep and wouldn’t necessarily offer major early playing time.

Don’t count Markelle Fultz among that group.

The consensus No. 1 prospect sounds enthusiastic about Boston (which has sent indications it’ll keep its pick), even though the Celtics already have Isaiah Thomas at point guard.

Fultz, via SiriusXM NBA Radio:

I think that would be a great fit for me, just being able to put me at the one or two and play aside Isaiah Thomas and the other guards. I think I would fit in perfect and just do whatever I have to do to make the team better.

Fultz, via CSN New England:

Me and Isaiah Thomas would be a great backcourt. I think the opportunity that would be there would be amazing, just for him to play off the ball, where I think he’s better at it, or him to play on the ball and I can play off the ball. I think the chemistry would be amazing.

It really doesn’t matter to me, really. I just love the game, and I think I’m versatile enough to play the one or the two. Whatever a team needs me to do to win, I think I’m capable of doing that.

Thomas and Fultz are both better with the ball in their hands, so there would be diminishing returns in pairing them. Thomas, a true star, would get immediate priority.

Sharing an alma mater, Washington, might help forge a connection that gets Thomas and Fultz to work past the fit uneasiness. Fultz at least sounds eager to work at it, which isn’t nothing. But there is something to overcome.

Thomas is 28 and 5-foot-9, traits that suggest he could decline rapidly in a couple years. The 19-year-old Fultz, as polished as he is, will need time to adjust to the NBA. Even if the pairing doesn’t immediately click ideally on the court, they could work well over time – not Thomas and Fultz, but Thomas then Fultz.

In the meantime, Fultz could back up Thomas. And they could sometimes share minutes in hope of developing chemistry. If Fultz meets the hype, a Thomas-Fultz tandem could still excel – even with diminishing returns.

Boston should draft the best prospect available. Drafting is too difficult to get caught up in fit. If that’s Fultz, take him and work out the complications later.

I can’t see the Celtics – whose window to win at a pleasing level is already open – trading Thomas, either. He’s their best player and, often, only reliable offensive threat.

But Boston has several small guards: Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Drafting Fultz could mean dealing one of those other guards.

Drafting Fultz wouldn’t be quite as simple for the Celtics as he indicates, but it could work well – especially if he keeps embracing the situation.