Kurt Helin

Associated Press

51 Questions: Which team will win the East? Make playoffs?

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It is the final days of PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For six weeks we have tackled 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We are entering the prediction portion of the preview season, today the PBT staff is tackling:

Which teams make the playoffs, then who wins the East?

Here are our staff predictions.

Kurt Helin

1. Cavaliers
2. Celtics
3. Raptors
4. Pacers
5. Pistons
6. Wizards
7. Hornets
8. Bulls

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavaliers over Celtics

On the one hand, the East is not that interesting: It’s Cleveland then everyone else. The only question is do they have enough of a championship hangover that Boston or Toronto can catch them in the regular season? That question will be moot in the playoffs, Cleveland is in its own class out East. However, what is interesting is that spots 4 through 12 could go almost any direction — I have the Hawks, Knicks, Bucks, and Magic out of the playoffs, but any of them could make it if their season comes together (the Hawks, in particular, are hard to leave out, but I believe they downgraded at point and center). I’m higher on the Pacers than most, but I wonder about their defense. I think teams 4-12 will all win between 36-46 games, it’s going to be a tight bunch with health and other small factors deciding who is in and who is out.

Dan Feldman

1. Cavaliers
2. Celtics
3. Raptors
4. Pistons
5. Wizards
6. Hawks
7. Hornets
8. Pacers

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavaliers over Celtics

Cleveland is in the top tier on its own, though it’s quite conceivable someone else passes them in the regular season. Boston and Toronto occupy the next group. Then it’s everyone else — including maybe the Bulls, Bucks and maybe even Magic. The difference between homecourt advantage in the first round and missing the playoffs entirely is slim, especially with Reggie Jackson‘s injury destroying my confidence in Detroit as the No. 4 seed.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Cavaliers
2. Celtics
3. Raptors
4. Hornets
5. Bulls
6. Pistons
7. Wizards
8. Hawks

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavaliers vs. Raptors

The real question in the East isn’t about the Cavaliers, but about the two teams projected to finish below them in the Celtics and Raptors. Yes, Toronto has more experience, and they should have a healthy DeMarre Carroll, but losing Bismack Biyombo is big, especially so as Boston added Al Horford. Isaiah Thomas is an All-Star, Brad Stevens looks like a great coach, and I think the Celtics take the No. 2 in the regular season. Then again, I’m also taking the Raptors experience in the playoffs, so maybe I’m hedging.

Watch Pelicans’ Anthony Davis drop 33 in his return to court

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Anthony Davis missed a chunk of the preseason after spraining his ankle in a game against the Rockets during the league’s tour of China. He was considered questionable to return for opening night.

He came back faster than that, in time for New Orleans’ final preseason game Thursday night — and he looked good doing it. Very good.

Davis had 33 points, 13 rebounds and four assists’ in the Pelicans’ 114-111 overtime loss to Orlando. He was red hot from the start as he scored 16 points in nine minutes of the first quarter.

This is a good sign for the Pelicans, who are going to need Davis (and rookie Buddy Hield) to carry the scoring for the team to start the season as they are without Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans for an extended period.

Patrick Patterson begs: “Please don’t make Space Jam 2”

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LeBron James‘ production company signed a development deal with Warner Bros. That would be the same Warner Bros. which extended its trademark on “Space Jam” recently. Rumors of LeBron starring in Space Jam 2 have been swirling for years. If they do it, Blake Griffin wants in.

Patrick Patterson wants the entire thing to stop.

Writing at The Players’ Tribune, the Raptors forward begs for there not to be a sequel to the Michael Jordan original.

I’m a huge movie fan. Movies are a big part of my life. This summer I even had the opportunity to help cover the Toronto International Film Festival for the CBC. So please know that I don’t say this lightly: The original Space Jam is the perfect movie. The. Perfect. Movie. It is a cinematic experience.

And that’s why, for the sake of preserving its greatness, we must never try to improve upon it.

To make a sequel to Space Jam would be like trying to paint the Mona Lisa again. Sure, you can probably do it, but why the hell would you want to?

First off, not sure the realism of Renaissance art is the best comparison for Space Jam. It was more cubist Picasso at best.

But I appreciate what Patterson is saying. If someone decided to remake “Godfather II” I’d march in protest. If they decided to remake “Network” I’d… actually, that’s pretty much what the news looks like now.

Patterson’s love of Space Jam exceeds mine (he calls Bill Murray the glue guy of the film), and I respect that. But this sequel is happening, and even Patterson knows why — money. A lot of people are going to make a lot of money on this movie, even if it gets a 28% at Rotten Tomatoes.  Warner Bros. is not in the business of making good movies, it’s in the business of making money through movies, and franchises go a long way down that road for studios.

Let’s just hope the take the time to get a decent script together for this. Nobody wants another Godfather III on our hands.

Atlanta Hawks waive Jarrett Jack

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Last summer, the Atlanta Hawks signed Jarrett Jack to provide a veteran backup for Dennis Schroder.

But Jack has not recovered from the major knee injury that ended his season after 32 games. He hadn’t played with the Hawks throughout the preseason.

Thursday, the Hawks waived Jack, the team announced. He had a guaranteed contract for the veteran minimum (just less than $1 million), and he will still get paid. The Hawks just wanted the roster space and didn’t see him returning soon enough to help them.

If he can get healthy and prove it, another team will likely grab him during the season (some team will suffer point guard injuries and be in the market). For now, he has a lot of rehab in his future.

Malcolm Delaney, the former Virginia Tech star who spent the last five seasons playing overseas, will not be the Hawks backup point.

Report: New CBA deal “within sight,” one-and-done rule remians

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Nobody likes the NBA’s one-and-done rule. Adam Silver and the owners want to extend that to two seasons out of high school, and they have colleges in their corner (while a couple of coaches know how to work the one-and-done system, none of them prefer it). The players want to be able to make the leap from high school straight to the NBA — if you’re 18 and good enough to play, you should be allowed to play.

The result of that will be the compromise nobody loves will stay in place.

The league and NBA’s players union met again on Thursday, and the two sides got close to a deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Also, the rookie and veteran minimum scale deals will increase, plus the “over 36 rule” (which prohibits a player from signing a five-year deal if he turns 36 during the deal, it can only be four years) will be changed to an “over 38 rule” according to Wojnarowski.

We knew before today was the revenue split between the owners and players would remain the roughly 50-50 split agreed to in the last CBA — and once the money is figured out everything else usually falls in line. The players are pushing or a fund to help retired players who need assistance with medical and other expenses, that seems to have traction with the league as well.

Adam Silver is meeting with the NBA owners the next couple of days and much of the discussion will certainly center around what is in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, with all the money flooding the system with the new television deal — it wasn’t just the players getting an infusion of cash into salaries, the other half of the money went straight to the owners’ bottom lines — it’s expected a deal gets done. Nobody wants to kill the golden goose.