Nate Robinson would be open to returning to Knicks in free agency

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Nate Robinson put together a stellar postseason run that kept the Bulls scratching and clawing to the very end in the second round of the playoffs, despite suffering a rash of injuries to several key players.

It was excellent timing for Robinson, considering the fact that he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.

There will be plenty of options for Robinson to choose from, and it isn’t clear if his former Knicks team would be one of them. The point guard spent his first four-plus NBA seasons in New York, and wouldn’t rule out a return to play in front of the Madison Square Garden faithful once again.

From Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York:

Nate Robinson, who will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, would be open to returning to the Knicks, according to his agent, Aaron Goodwin.

“Nate’s first thought would be to remain with the Bulls, but if the Knicks’ opportunity presented itself, I am sure he would appreciate an opportunity to play in New York again,” he told ESPNNewYork.com.

This is only really of interest because Robinson began his career in New York — obviously, no free agent in their right mind would rule out playing for any team that came up with the right dollar figure for the right number of years on a new contract. But let’s explore it nonetheless.

It’s highly unlikely that Robinson will return to the Bulls next season, for the very same reasons the team was considering waiving him and his non-guaranteed contract in the middle of this one.

With a healthy Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, not only are there few minutes available for Robinson in the rotation, but his high-octane style of play was something that was forced upon head coach Tom Thibodeau out of necessity, not out of preference.

As for the Knicks, they’re a team that could certainly benefit from a guard like Robinson who is able to get into the paint at will in order to create shots for himself or his teammates. New York’s offense stagnated at times during the postseason once the shooting percentages from the outside fell below their regular season levels, and J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are both more effective when they’re getting clean looks after there has been a good amount of ball movement in the team’s half-court sets.

It’s a nice idea, and Robinson could be a fit back in New York in theory. But the thought of Robinson and Smith on the same team, let alone on the court at the same time might be too much for Mike Woodson, or any sane head coach to be willing to sign up for.

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

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NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

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It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

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After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

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The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.