Warriors in mix. Lakers pitch better than expected. Dwight race wide open.

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The Lakers meeting with Dwight Howard turned into the kind of clear the air honest talk about system and effort the team should have had in December, but in the end everybody felt better and on the same page.

After his Golden State meeting Dwight Howard can see himself and see himself winning in the Warriors organization. The question is just how he gets there.

The Houston Rockets remain the team to beat in the clubhouse with a squad ready to win now.

Which is to say, everything is up in the air.

Howard and his camp are in Aspen for the Fourth of July holiday, trying to decide what is best for him. What he really wants. While the Rockets should still be considered the front-runner — and their meeting with him went very well — everything is up in the air. This could still go a lot of directions.

So we all just wait.

Marc Stein of ESPN said that Golden State has moved into the conversation.

The biggest problem for Golden State isn’t the roster, it’s that they would need to do a sign-and-trade with the Lakers and the Lakers’ front office has quickly shot down any talk of that. If Howard leaves, the Lakers are not going to help him out of town and they are going to bank the cap space for a free agent push next summer.

Golden State would allegedly offer Andrew Bogut and his expiring $14 million contract (needed for the balance) and the Lakers choice of Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson in the deal. But the Lakers do not seem tempted in the least. And in this situation, the Lakers have the leverage so they would want more if they changed their minds on a deal.

But they are not likely to change their minds because they think they have a chance to keep him.

You would think after the Lakers had a year to show Howard how things could be it wouldn’t come down to a couple hour meeting, but it did. And multiple reports and sources say that meeting went well — the Lakers talked offensive philosophy, how Mike D’Antoni wants to use Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash sharing the ball, Howard’s effort during the season and a whole bunch of the things that should have been cleared up during the season but were not.

Every report out of that meeting has said the Lakers gave themselves a real chance to keep Howard because if they can convince him they can win he knows he can get the extra year and $30 million, plus all the off-the-court possibilities.

Still, smart money is on Houston. Dallas is in the mix with cap space and Mark Cuban’s pitch.

Basically, it’s not an easy decision for Dwight Howard to make. And those kinds of outcomes are very hard to predict.

Hornets’ Miles Bridges on All-Rookie: ‘I didn’t get snubbed. I played like a— all year’

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The NBA released its All-Rookie teams yesterday. Hornets forward Miles Bridges missed out, getting only one first-team vote and four second-team votes.

Bridges:

I love this attitude. Bridges didn’t deserve to make it. It’s silly to for anyone, including him, to pretend otherwise.

He’s obviously being too hard on himself. He had an OK rookie year. It just wasn’t one of the NBA’s 10 best this season.

Players often hold inflated opinions of themselves. That might help them succeed in a high-pressure job, and that’s obviously their priority. To be clear: I’m not criticizing them for adopting an approach that helped them reach this high level. But it leaves them as lousy analysts of their own performance.

Bridges doesn’t have that problem. It’s easy to see how this will drive him to improve.

His humility won’t work for everyone. But it works for him, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.

Warriors nine-day layoff before NBA Finals one of longest in NBA history

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The NBA Finals will begin May 30 – their earliest start in 33 years.

The Warriors will still have to wait a while to begin play.

Golden State, which completed a sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals Monday, is in the midst of nine straight off days. That’s tied for the fourth-longest layoff during a postseason in NBA history:

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The Warriors probably don’t mind the long break. Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins are battling injuries and can use the time to recover.

The big question: Is rest or rust more important?

Of the previous 10 teams with such long layoffs, seven won the ensuing Game 1 and seven won the ensuing series. But we’re dealing with varying levels of team quality, major differences in opponent rest and a small sample.

It seems clear rest matters more for a banged-up Golden State. But that doesn’t mean rust won’t be a challenge against the Bucks or Raptors.

Magic Johnson not keeping his stories straight (video)

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As Lakers owner Jeanie Buss repeatedly asked Magic Johnson about problems within the organization, he reportedly said there were none. Then, he went on television and detailed a ton of internal dysfunction.

After resigning as team president, Johnson said he had a good working relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka:

Then, Johnson went on television and accused Pelinka of betrayal.

In that same interview, Johnson also said Buss approved his part-time status while running the front office:

I told her, I said listen, ‘I can’t give up all my businesses. I make more money doing that than becoming president of the Lakers. So, you know that I’m going to be in and out. Is that OK with you?’ She said yes

In this case, Johnson went on television and contradicted himself… TWO YEARS EARLIER.

Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold:

Johnson:

If it was probably any other situation, I probably wouldn’t have left my business aside, left my business to concentrate fully, 150 percent on Lakers business. But because of her leadership – and I know she wants to win so bad – I decided hey, I wanted to work side-by-side with her.

So, Johnson and Buss (who was at his side for that interview) apparently knew the importance of saying Johnson was fully committed to running the Lakers. They apparently didn’t understand the importance of Johnson actually being fully committed to running the Lakers.

No wonder he was so bad at his job.

Reports: Michigan hiring Heat assistant Juwan Howard as head coach

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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.