Kurt Helin

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AP Source: Bulls’ Denzel Valentine has ankle surgery

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CHICAGO (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says Chicago Bulls guard Denzel Valentine had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle.

The person, confirming reports by several outlets, spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because the team has not disclosed the operation. He is expected to play for the Bulls in the summer league in Las Vegas in July.

Drafted with the No. 14 overall pick last year, Valentine had issues with the ankle at several points in his rookie season. He averaged 5.1 points in 57 games and played a total of 22 minutes in Chicago’s first-round playoff loss to Boston.

Celtics get No. 1 pick, Lakers will select No. 2 in NBA Draft Lottery

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The Boston Celtics have looked like the team calling “we got next” after the Cleveland Cavaliers — well, really LeBron James — has dominated the Eastern Conference for years.

That looks a lot better after they drew the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick second and the Philadelphia 76ers third (a swap with Sacramento, who moved up from eighth to third, but the Sixers had rights to exchange picks so Philly is third and the Kings will pick fifth).

This is a monster win for the Celtics — they are the No. 1 seed in the East, they are in the Eastern Conference Finals this season, and they have the No. 1 pick.

“It’s a good time to be a Celtics fan,” said Wyc Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, on the ESPN broadcast. “I wish the draft were today and we could get a little help for tomorrow night (Game 1 of the Conference Finals) but this is a great night.”

With Boston landing the No. 1 pick (this is actually the Brooklyn pick, but Boston had the right to swap as part of the Kevin Garnett deal), the next question is will GM Danny Ainge use it to add to the team’s impressive depth, or might he trade this pick in a package for an established star (such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler)? Ainge has been incredibly patient so far trying to land stars (he did get Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas developed before their eyes), does he think his team is one piece away from challenging LeBron James and the Cavaliers now, or does he want to wait for that powerhouse to wilt a little. Also, if the Celtics draft a top point guard such as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, what does that mean for the future of Isaiah Thomas (who is a free agent in the summer of 2018)? Whatever Ainge is thinking, don’t expect him to tip his hand before draft night.

The other big winner was the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers get to keep their pick in this draft (this is the third straight year they’ve had the lottery balls bounce their way and the pick owed Philly has stayed theirs), and that’s a double blessing. They not only get to select No. 2 now — they are reportedly high on Los Angeles are native Lonzo Ball and this makes it highly likely they can land him — they also keep their 2019 first round pick which would have gone to Orlando. (Next year’s Lakers first round pick unconditionally goes to the Sixers, and they owe the Magic two second rounders but not a first). Magic Johnson gets to make a big splash.

The biggest loser was the Orlando Magic. Not only did they slide a spot to sixth, they do not get that 2019 Lakers first rounder.

Here is the draft order (with a break at the end of the lottery.

1. Boston (swap with Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia (swap with Sacramento)
4. Phoenix
5. Sacramento (swap with Philadelphia)
6. Orlando
7. Minnesota
8. New York
9. Dallas
10. Sacramento (via New Orleans)
11. Charlotte
12. Detroit
13. Denver
14. Miami
———–
15. Portland
16. Chicago
17. Milwaukee
18. Indiana
19. Atlanta
20. Portland (via Memphis, via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Brooklyn (via Washington)
23. Toronto (via LA Clippers and Milwaukee)
24. Utah
25. Orlando (via Toronto)
26. Portland (via Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn (swap with Boston)
28. L.A. Lakers (via Houston)
29. San Antonio
30. Utah (via Golden State)

It’s official: Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, Warriors’ Andre Iguodala out for Game 2

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Both of these were expected, but as tipoff nears in Game 2 they have become official:

The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala are out for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night.

Leonard re-sprained his left ankle in Game 1, first accidentally stepping on the foot of David Lee (who was sitting on the bench) while trying to run up court, then on a controversial play where Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia closed out on Leonard and took away his landing space.

This is a big blow to the Spurs. One one end Leonard is their best defender, on the other he is the focal point of shot creation in their offense. Game 1 made it clear: The Spurs were +21 in 24 minutes when Leonard was on the court and -23 in the 24 minutes he was not.

Iguodala played just 10 minutes in Game 1, all in the first half. He changes up the depth for the Warriors, who have had good play from their bench these playoffs but have yet to see it seriously tested.

Both of these guys had MRIs that found no structural damage.

Also in both cases, missing this game means almost a week of rest before Game 3 on Saturday.

Once again, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Wizards look ahead after 2nd-round exit

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WASHINGTON (AP) — For the third time in four seasons, John Wall and Bradley Beal exited the playoffs in the second round, extending the Washington Wizards’ nearly four-decade drought without a conference finals appearance.

“It feels a little different, but a little bit of the same. It’s kind of like I’m tired of being in this situation. I’m tired of losing in the second round. I’m kind of at that point now,” Beal said Tuesday, about 15 hours after Washington was eliminated with a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“I felt like we were right there,” he added. “That’s the worst thing, especially about the day after.”

Still, it’s primarily because of backcourt mates Wall and Beal that the Wizards do have reason to look on the bright side after winning only a single playoff series.

“Obviously, having those two guys on the team, like Brad and John,” center Marcin Gortat said, “we’re always going to have expectations.”

This season began with a new coach – Scott Brooks replaced Randy Wittman, who was fired after missing the playoffs a year ago – and with questions about the chemistry between Wall and Beal. It also started with a 2-8 record.

But Washington turned things around, thriving at times under Brooks and finishing with 49 wins, and its guard tandem could smile Tuesday while discussing the perceived rift between them.

“It didn’t do anything but make our friendship and brotherhood become more tight,” Wall said.

As for where they need to improve, Wall sounded a note he’s hit after past postseason exits.

“I’m tired of saying the same thing,” the four-time All-Star said, “but we’ve got to do a better job of closing out games.”

Beal wants this season’s ultimate disappointment to fuel the Wizards for the future.

“For sure, I’m confident in our team. … It’s on to getting better this offseason. And next season, it’ll be totally different,” Beal said. “We’ve got to remember that feeling that we have now and be better next year.”

Here are other things to know about the Wizards as they head into the offseason:

GORTAT’S FIT

Gortat tends to speak his mind and did so again Tuesday, raising the possibility that he might wind up elsewhere despite still being under contract with the Wizards. “I’m just going to sit down in the summer and talk to my agent, talk to my people, my closest people,” he said, “and I’m going to analyze if this is the right fit.”

A couple of other nuggets from him:

– About his critics, “I know there’s a lot of freaking idiots looking directly at the column with the points, telling me that, `You scored only four or six points; team lost because of you.”‘

– About his position’s place in today’s NBA, “Nobody respects centers anymore. Nobody looks at them as a valuable piece.”

– About the way the season ended, “Yeah, we could say `If, if, if, if.’ There’s a lot of `if.”‘

PORTER’S PATH

One key question is whether restricted free agent Otto Porter Jr. will return to his only NBA team. He didn’t shed any light on the matter, saying, “I haven’t really thought about that yet.”

BROOKS REVIEW

Brooks received glowing praise from players after Year 1 of his five-year, $35 million contract. “As a team, we respect him, we respect how he coaches, the way he does and how he is as a person, outside of coaching,” Beal said. “I loved him. He granted everybody confidence, freedom, on both ends of the floor.”

INJURIES

Reserve forward Kelly Oubre Jr. said that he had an MRI exam last week on his injured right knee but did not want to hear the results, so he doesn’t know if he will need offseason surgery. Backup center Ian Mahinmi, who missed a chunk of the regular season with a knee problem and the start of the playoffs because of a calf issue, said he is not sure whether he might need any sort of procedure now that the season is over.

 

J.R. Smith, wife Shirley buy mother’s day flowers for every mom of child in Cleveland Clinic NICU

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The Cavalier’s J.R. Smith‘s wife Shirley is a nurse in one of the most heart-wrenching places on the planet — the neonatal intensive care unit of a major hospital. It’s where babies at risk of imminent death go as doctors and nurses work to save them, and where new parents are understandably emotionally distraught. It takes a special kind of person to work there.

Smith wanted to brighten a Mother’s Day for new moms spending it in a hospital, so he and his wife teamed to buy every mom flowers, as reported by Fox 8 in Cleveland. Shirley wrote about it in her blog.

My husband came up with the brilliant idea of getting all of the mothers in the NICU flowers today so we did just that. When the flowers arrived I pushed the cart and Demi placed an arrangement of flowers in every room…it was super special and we both enjoyed it.

It was a thoughtful, generous gesture to brighten the day of people he did not personally know. J.R. Smith is not just a guy who rides a hoverboard around the arena drinking a beer after a big loss, or who hates shirts, he’s far more complex than that.

Hat tip to Reddit NBA.