Juwan Howard made an All-Star team and an All-NBA third team. He spent 17 seasons in the league. He has been a Heat assistant coach the last five years.
But he might best be known as a member of the Fab Five.
That connection will resonate even more strongly as Howard returns to Michigan.
Miami Heat Beat:
Jeff Goodman of Stadium:
Michigan needed a coach after losing John Beilein – who had no NBA-coaching experience – to the Cavaliers. So, the Wolverines are hiring Howard, who has no college-coaching experience.
Shifting levels will be an adjustment for Howard. So will becoming a head coach for the first time.
But Howard was has established himself as a steady contributor to the Heat’s respected coaching staff. He interviewed for the Lakers, Cavs and Timberwolves head-coaching positions. Howard brings far more credibility than just his Michigan-alumnus status to this job.
NBA teams scored more points per possession this season than ever.
But a few players stood out for slowing the offensive onslaught.
The All-Defensive teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, voting points in parentheses):
Guard: Marcus Smart, BOS (63-19-145)
Guard: Eric Bledsoe, MIL (36-28-100)
Forward: Paul George, OKC (96-3-195)
Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL (94-5-193)
Center: Rudy Gobert, UTA (97-2-196)
Guard: Jrue Holiday, MIN (31-28-90)
Guard: Klay Thompson, GSW (23-36-82)
Forward: Draymond Green, GSW (2-57-61)
Forward: Kawhi Leonard, TOR (5-29-39)
Center: Joel Embiid, PHI (4-72-80)
Also receiving votes: Danny Green, TOR (19-28-66); Patrick Beverley, LAC (14-20-48); Myles Turner, IND (1-37-39); P.J. Tucker, HOU (1-36-38); Pascal Siakam, TOR (0-24-24); Derrick White, SAS (4-7-15); Russell Westbrook, OKC (2-5-9); Jimmy Butler, PHI (2-5-9); Chris Paul, HOU (1-5-7); Robert Covington, MIN (1-3-5); Paul Millsap, DEN (0-5-5); James Harden, HOU (2-0-4); Al Horford, BOS (0-4-4); Kevin Durant, GSW (0-4-4); Malcolm Brogdon, MIL (1-1-3); Josh Richardson, MIA (0-3-3); Kyle Lowry, TOR (0-3-3)
Stephen Curry, GSW (1-0-2); Thaddeus Young, IND (0-2-2); Anthony Davis, NOP (0-2-2); Ben Simmons, PHI (0-2-2); Donovan Mitchell, UTA (0-2-2); Derrick Favors, UTA (0-2-2); Joe Ingles, UTA (0-2-2); Jaylen Brown, BOS (0-1-1); Kyrie Irving, BOS (0-1-1); Ed Davis, BRK (0-1-1); Gary Harris, DEN (0-1-1); Nikola Jokic, DEN (0-1-1); Andre Drummond, DET (0-1-1); Andre Iguodala, GSW (0-1-1); Jordan Bell, GSW (0-1-1); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC (0-1-1); Mike Conley, MEM (0-1-1); Kyle Anderson, MEM (0-1-1); Bam Adebayo, MIA (0-1-1); Khris Middleton, MIL (0-1-1); Brook Lopez, MIL (0-1-1); Terrance Ferguson, OKC (0-1-1); Damian Lillard, POR (0-1-1); De’Aaron Fox, SAC (0-1-1); Ricky Rubio, UTA (0-1-1); Bradley Beal, WAS (0-1-1)
- This voting could foreshadow a tight Defensive Player of the Year race. The three finalists for that award – Rudy Gobert, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo – each received a high majority of votes, but not unanimity, at their positions. Or Gobert could just cruise to another victory.
- I have no major complaints about the selections. I would have put Danny Green (who finished fifth among guards) on the first team, bumped down Eric Bledsoe and excluded Klay Thompson. I also would have give second-team forward to P.J. Tucker (who finished fifth among forwards) over Kawhi Leonard. Here are our picks for reference.
- P.J. Tucker came only one voting point from the second team. If he tied Kawhi Leonard, both players would have made it on an expanded six-player second team.
- Leonard hasn’t defended with the same verve this season. He remains awesome in stretches, particular in the playoffs. But his effort in the regular season didn’t match his previous level. Defensive reputations die hard.
- It’s a shame Thaddeus Young received only two second-team votes. My general rule is you can complain about a lack of votes for only players you picked, and I didn’t pick Young. But he came very close to P.J. Tucker for my final forward spot, Young had a stronger case than several forwards ahead of him.
- James Harden got two first-team votes. Did someone think they were voting for All-NBA? Stephen Curry also got a first-team vote. Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard got second-team votes. Nikola Jokic got a second-team vote. Kevin Durant got a few second-team votes. There’s plenty of All-NBA/All-Defensive overlap with other frontcourt players. There could easily be an incorrectly submitted ballot.
- But that still leaves a second Harden first-team vote with no other plausible explanation. Someone must really love steals, guaring in the post and absolutely no other aspects of defense.
- Jordan Bell got a second-team vote at forward. He’s a decent defender, but someone who played fewer minutes than Dirk Nowitzki, Bruno Caboclo and Omari Spellman this season. Bell also primarily played center. Weird.
NBA award votes were cast at least 40 days ago. The regular season being judged ended even before that. After rounds of high-level playoff basketball, it’s easy to lose interest in these honors.
But All-NBA selections – which the league plans to release this week – can’t be overlooked.
They could determine the fates of several players and franchises.
In 2011, the NBA began allowing a higher max salary for certain young players. The Collective Bargaining Agreement got updated in 2017 to allow certain veterans to earn super-max salaries. The most common route to eligibility: Making an All-NBA team.
Here are eight players and teams with a lot riding on these results:
Kemba Walker, Hornets
But they can potentially give him a super-max contract.
It might be a necessary tool to retain the greatest player in franchise history.
Yet, don’t rule out Walker re-signing – especially if the Hornets can offer him a super-max contract projected to be worth $221 million over five years. That’s far larger than Walker’s projected max if leaving, $140 million over four years.
Heck, if he doesn’t make an All-NBA team, Walker might even return for his regular max, projected to be $190 million over five years.
That begs the question: How badly do the Hornets want Walker back? Their outlook is bleak either way.
Keeping Walker would make them far more competitive in the short term but carry serious downside risk with the 29-year-old point guard. Maxing out, let alone super-maxing out, Walker would also force Charlotte to clear salary unless Michael Jordan is willing to make an unprecedented trip into the luxury tax. So, a lackluster roster would get even further depleted.
Walker leaving would invite other problems, namely the loss of the team’s best player. The capped-out Hornets would have no mechanism to adequately replace him. They’d be heading into a year of purgatory then rebuilding from near rock bottom.
It’s hard to see Walker settling for the regular max if he’s eligible for the super max. But if Walker misses All-NBA and constrains Charlotte’s offer, the regular max could be enough.
Walker seems to take pride in representing the Hornets and living in Charlotte. He also appears fed up with the franchise’s losing.
These opposing forces will pull at him this summer.
A giant bag could soothe everything. Or its absence could be the final straw.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns signed a five-year contract extension last fall that projected to be worth $158 million or $190 million.
Why the $32 million difference? It depends whether Towns makes All-NBA this season.
Eventually, he pushed to trigger that extra money.
Towns averaged 28-13-4 after the All-Star break, up from 23-12-3 prior. Minnesota didn’t suddenly start winning more. But Towns posted shiny numbers.
The Timberwolves would love if Towns maintained that urgency. For all his talent, he has too often failed to assert himself on the court.
But they also might quietly like if he misses All-NBA this season. With Andrew Wiggins already on a max contract, paying Towns an extra $6 million or so per year would further squeeze flexibility.
Towns still looks like he’d be worth the super-max over the next five years. But he could be a bargain at the regular max.
Klay Thompson, Warriors
The near-consistent expectation since the season began: Golden State will sign Klay Thompson to a max contract this summer. If the Warriors offer any less, he’d take it as a sign of disrespect and explore the market.
That implies Thompson will demand the super-max if eligible for the projected five-year, $221 million contract (up from a projected $190 million over five years with the regular max). The difference could be quite costly for Golden State.
- Regular max: $128 million
- Super max: $161 million
Considering Thompson’s salary, this All-NBA vote could cost Golden State an additional $38 million next season alone.
Of course, Durant might not stay. If he leaves, the Warriors could even avoid the dreaded repeater tax altogether.
But the issue looms next year, when Draymond Green will be up for a big raise. There’s no easy way maintain a championship contender without it getting very expensive.
Thompson’s All-NBA status will go a long way toward determining just how much it costs Golden State to remain elite.
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Washington knows the danger of offering the super-max to someone who has made only one All-NBA team and won’t hit free agency for another two years. John Wall is the poster child for the super-max gone wrong. His extension hasn’t even taken effect yet, and his contract is arguably the NBA’s worst.
You think Bradley Beal is willing to let that become his problem?
Beal stepped up while Wall was injured and earned serious All-NBA consideration. Beal is extolling his loyalty to the Wizards. Even as he says he wouldn’t rush to sign the super-max if offered, Beal sounds ready to get paid.
Washington should be reluctant. A projected $193 million over four years is a lot of money for a player of his caliber, and it could doom the franchise for years. A super-max extension would also prohibit the Wizards from trading Beal for one year, taking him off the market while his value remains high. Plus, with Wall already on the books, Washington has less margin for error.
I can’t imagine it’d go over well with Beal if the Wizards spurned him because Wall got overpaid first – especially considering the history of friction between those two.
Yet, it’d be incredibly risky for Washington to commit so much to Beal now. There’d be only a narrow path for Beal to lead the downtrodden team to meaningful winning next season. All the while, he’d be ineligible to be traded. Longer term is hazier, which is treacherous uncertainty when someone could get paid so much.
If Beal makes All-NBA, there’s a good case the Wizards shouldn’t offer him a super-max extension. If they don’t offer him the super-max extension, there’s a good chance he’ll resent it.
Where this all leads: If Beal makes All-NBA, that could prompt Washington to trade him.
That wouldn’t be just an unintended consequence of the super-max. It’d be the exact opposite of the super-max’s intended design.
Maybe Beal won’t make All-NBA, which would create its own set of complications. Beal would be just two years from unrestricted free agency, and a non-super-max extension seems unlikely. But at least doors would be open.
If he makes All-NBA, suddenly there’d be a lot of pressure on the Wizards to commit one way or the other on him. Not an ideal situation, especially for a team without a general manager.
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
Anthony Davis made a trade request.
David Griffin has indicated he might not honor it.
That’s probably a combination of hope and bluff. Griffin obviously wants Davis in New Orleans, but if Davis remains intent on leaving, it’s tough to keep him. However, by announcing a plan to sell Davis on the Pelicans over the next year, Griffin improves his trade leverage.
Of course, Griffin might actually follow through and keep Davis into 2020 free agency. That plan becomes much more tenable (or improves the viability of Griffin’s bluff) if Davis makes an All-NBA team this year.
The Pelicans can already offer Davis a super-max extension this offseason. But if Davis makes All-NBA this season or next, they could also re-sign him to a super-max contract in 2020 free agency. The extension or fresh contract would have the same terms – projected to be five years, $235 million.
That’s a lot more than Davis’ projected max with other teams in 2020 ($156 million over four years).
If Davis misses All-NBA this season and next, New Orleans would still have a financial advantage in its 2020 offer for Davis (projected max of $202 million over five years). Davis could still qualify for the super max with the Pelicans in 2020 free agency by making All-NBA next season.
But that’s obviously a smaller guaranteed edge without him clinching super-max eligibility this season. It’d be incredibly risky for the Pelicans to keep him into 2020 free agency without knowing they’d have the bigger upper hand.
It’s probably too risky to keep him, anyway.
Davis has said the extra money won’t sway him. His trade request affirms that.
But people change their minds.
More money only helps.
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
Lillard will make an All-NBA team, but the playoffs would always go a long way toward answering questions that remained.
Would Portland commit now to paying Lillard a projected $193 million from ages 31-34? Would Lillard lock into team control for six more years?
After the Trail Blazers’ run to the Western Conference finals, the answer is clear: Yes.
This is the designated-veteran-player extension everyone should be watching. If it doesn’t work with Lillard – an excellent player and even better leader – it could prompt changes in the next CBA.
Nikola Vucevic, Magic
Among those six, Vucevic ranks second in real-plus-minus-based wins, third in PER-based estimated wins added, fourth in win shares and fourth in value over replacement player.
Plus, there are the factors that shouldn’t matter, but often do. Vucevic has the narrative of working his way into first being an All-Star in his eighth season and ending Orlando’s six-year playoff drought. There will definitely be no voter fatigue with him.
I don’t expect Vucevic to make All-NBA, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if, as voters researched their picks, he holds up well. If he gets on some ballots and many voters are divided on other candidates, it’s possible for Vucevic to sneak onto the third team.
Even if that happened, though, is it possible he’d actually get a super-max contract?
It’s hard to see the Magic – whose front office inherited, rather an acquired, Vucevic – paying him that much. He’s 28 and has made the All-Star team only once. Orlando barely snuck into the playoffs in the East with him. He had a very fine season, but that doesn’t mean his long-term trajectory has completed changed.
I’d be quite surprised if the Magic gave him a regular-max contract (projected to be $190 million over five years). A super-max contract (projected to be $221 million over five years)? That’s barely even imaginable.
But the super-max salary could be useful on a short-term deal in Orlando. The Magic will have only moderate flexibility this summer anyway if Vucevic leaves. A one-year contract at the super-max salary of $39 million (up from $33 million without an All-NBA selection) could make sense for both sides if Vucevic gets big multi-year offers from other teams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo seems happy in Milwaukee.
The Bucks can secure him in 2020.
Antetokounmpo is too inexperienced to sign a veteran-super-max extension this offseason. But because he made All-NBA last year and will certainly make it again this year, he’ll already clinch eligibility to next year sign a super-max extension projected to be worth $250 million over five years.
A lot can change in year, including Antetokounmpo’s desire to stay in Milwaukee. But the Bucks can do their part to keep Antetokounmpo happy between now and then. That starts with advancing from the Eastern Conference finals, where Milwaukee is tied 2-2 with the Raptors. The Bucks can also pay the luxury tax to keep their strong supporting cast intact next season. Follow that with another deep playoff run next year, and Antetokounmpo seems highly likely to stay.
Still, the only certainty once Antetokounmpo makes All-NBA this year, will be in his eligibility for a super-max extension next year. His and Milwaukee’s views on it once it can actually be signed can’t be known until then.f
It’s the biggest decision for Sixers GM Elton Brand this summer: What to do about Tobias Harris?
If Jimmy Butler decides to leave Philadelphia then it’s easy, re-sign Harris to a max or near max deal and make him the third player in the Big Three with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Then hope the Harris who dominated his first eight games with the Sixers and showed up sometimes during the playoffs is the guy you get all season next year (to be fair, Harris was a guy who had to sacrifice a lot to fit in with all those stars, put the ball in his hands more and he will thrive).
If Butler re-signs with Philly it gets more complicated. Owner Joshua Harris had said from the start he would pay the tax to keep them both — and extend Simmons — but to do so means likely losing J.J. Redick and having a thin bench without guys such as James Ennis and Mike Scott. The question for Brand becomes can most of Harris’ production replicated by a few other players and for half the cost? Without Harris, the Sixers should be able to round out a deeper bench. That said, the Sixers gave up a lot in trading for Harris at the deadline, too much for just a rental.
Brand is going to have to make his call quickly because the list of suitors for Harris is growing. Keith Pompey at the Philadelphia Inquirer says the Kings, Pacers, Mavericks, and Jazz are all expected to come after Harris. Sacramento and Indiana are new to that list, which in the past also has included Memphis and Brooklyn.
With that many suitors, someone is going to come in at the max, which for Harris is $141 million over four years from those other teams. Philadelphia can offer $190 million over five years.
This is also a decision for Harris. The money is going to be massive wherever he lands (and will push him north of $200 million in career earnings even if he leaves), so working environment matters even more. Is he willing to sacrifice a little more on the court to be part of something potentially special in Philadelphia? Or, does he want to go to Utah where he would get a lot of touches next to Donovan Mitchell on a team that seems a player away? Same with going to Indiana to play with Victor Oladipo. Or does he want to be the star in Brooklyn or Memphis?
Harris is going to have options.
What he decides may get overlooked by some fans, but it will change the course of franchises this summer.