Kurt Helin

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Craig Sager will join ABC broadcast crew to do sideline reporting for Game 6 of Finals

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CLEVELAND — Craig Sager has never worked an NBA Finals game.

Until Thursday night, that is.

Sager, the flamboyantly-dressed sideline reporter for TNT, has signed a one-game contract with ABC to work Game 6 of the NBA Finals, ABC announced on Wednesday. Sager and Dorris Burke will share sideline reporting duties.

“I’d like to thank Turner and ESPN for approaching me with this tremendous opportunity to be part of the Finals broadcast team,” Sager said in a statement. “I’ve been watching the series very closely and, while I do not want to distract in any way from the event itself, I look forward to being in the building for what will be an incredibly exciting Game 6. The NBA community is very special one and this is a great honor.”

Sager has been battling leukemia, and while he has twice fought it back it into remission it is not there now.

He is one of best broadcasters in the sport and someone beloved by fans, players, and coaches alike. Because he has worked for Turner Broadcasting (TNT and NBA TV), and they have not had NBA Finals broadcast rights, he has never been able to do one of those games.

Kudos to ABC/Disney and Turner for making this happen.

Damian Lillard says he hasn’t decided on playing in Rio Olympics

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No Chris Paul. No Russell Westbrook. No Stephen Curry. No John Wall.

A number of the NBA’s top point guards have pulled out of consideration for USA Basketball’s team for the Rio Olympics. What about Damian Lillard? He’s still thinking about it, as reported by Kevin Berry at CSNNW.com.

Speaking in Taguig City while on tour for Adidas, Damian Lillard indicates that he hasn’t made any decision related to playing for Team USA in the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

The Manila Times quotes Lillard saying, “I have not thought about it yet.”

There’s a spot for Lillard now if he wants to go and pick up a gold.

Lillard and Kyrie Irving could well be the two point guards for Team USA this summer. If this were the NBA you’d have defensive concerns with that backcourt, but internationally the best point guards The USA will go up against are likely Matthew Dellavedova (Australia) and Jose Calderon (Spain). If France qualifies, Tony Parker may jump to the top of the list. Nobody that’s going to make the USA pay too much for their point guard’s defense, and even if someone gets hot Coach K can put Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler or Paul George on him and take that threat away.

The USA is going to be just fine at the Rio Olympics.

LeBron had two impressive chase-down blocks in Game 5

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We’ve talked at length about LeBron Jamesfantastic performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Tyronn Lue asked him to run the offense more and not only did he score 41 points — with his jumper finally falling — he set a tone early (25 first half points) that Kyrie Irving picked up on and helped push the Cavaliers to extend the series.

Almost forgot in that — LeBron had a couple of his classic chase-down blocks. Nobody makes that play like him.

It’s one last look back at Game 5, Thursday we’ll see if the Cavaliers can replicate that performance at home, with Draymond Green on the court.

Report: Some in Memphis front office concerned Mike Conley may bolt in free agency

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The general feeling around the league is that Mike Conley will remain in Memphis this summer. He’s a free agent and the best point guard available, but the sense is if Memphis makes a max offer as expected he probably stays put.

But we’re all tempted sometimes by the possibility of change.

Could Conley be thinking that way? That’s a growing concern in the Grizzlies front office, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.

…some members of the Grizzlies front office are growing a bit concerned about the possibility of Conley leaving in free agency, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Memphis, which plans on using a video featuring Grizzlies part-owner Justin Timberlake as part of its recruiting pitch, per a source, can offer Conley a five-year deal worth approximately $124 million. Other clubs can ink Conley to a max contract for four years worth approximately $92 million.

There should always be a little concern, unless your Mark Cuban trying to keep Dirk Nowitzki. But I’m not sold there should be much unless the Grizzlies try to pitch him on taking less than the max.

If Conley opens the door to other teams, the Knicks, Spurs, and other teams are said to be interested. He’s one of the best defensive point guards in the league, a smart floor general, he shot 36.3 percent from three, and he’s good at getting players the ball when and where they want it. He would have been an All-Star had the West not been loaded with other great point guards at the same time.

All of which is why the Grizzlies GM has said keeping Conley is their top priority.

Warriors GM says Andrew Bogut will travel with team, no official update on status

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CLEVELAND — Andrew Bogut will be with the Warriors in Cleveland for Game 6 Thursday night.

Whether he plays or not is another question — nobody expects him to in the wake of a painful looking knee injury Monday night where he had to be helped off the court not to return. However, there has yet to be an official announcement from the Warriors on his status.

But he will travel with the team, Warriors GM Bob Myers told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco on Tuesday.

It would be unfortunate for Bogut to be sidelined.

However, with Tyronn Lue saying he will start Kevin Love in Game 6, no Bogut forcing the Warriors to go small with the “death lineup” from the opening tip is not the worst thing. The Warriors with Draymond Green at the five — he will be back from suspension for Game 6 — have torn up Cavaliers lineups most of the series. Start that lineup and get out to an early lead and the Warriors can close out the Cavaliers on the road. Again.