The Finals series between the Heat and the Spurs was epic not only because it took all seven games to decide, but because of the extremely high overall level of play that was displayed by both teams throughout.
It’s also likely to be among the most painful to remember by the losing team’s players.
San Antonio held a 3-2 series lead in Game 6, and was up by five with 28 seconds to play before Miami made its somewhat miraculous comeback. Without another season yet started to give the Spurs new memories to bury these ones that are just two months old, it’s not surprising that the way their championship chase ended is still on their minds.
From Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype:
How was the feeling following the Finals after losing against the Heat?
Boris Diaw: It was tough, it’s never easy to lose. It was a tough time, you think about it… You try to take it off your mind. But there’s nothing you can change about it. Sometimes I still think about it, I’m still very disappointed that we lost. The only thing you can do is come back next year and try to do it again.
Was there one moment at the end of Game 6, before Ray Allen hit the three, that you thought ‘We are champions’?
Boris Diaw: Not champions but when we were +5 of course we were like, ‘OK, that’s pretty good so far’. We were pretty close but we weren’t champions yet.
The three from Ray Allen will go down as one of the biggest shots in NBA history, and the Spurs can take some comfort in knowing that’s only part of what it took to beat them in the series. Over time, the frustration may subside. But it’s still too fresh to be forgotten about just yet.
The Clippers have (an ideally healthier) Patrick Beverley at point guard. Lou Williams and Austin Rivers are comfortable as lead ball-handlers. With the No. 12 or 13 pick, L.A. could add another point guard – Trae Young, Collin Sexton or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Where does that leave Milos Teodosic, a 31-year-old who’s coming off a rookie season in which he missed 37 games while dealing with a foot injury?
O. Cauchi of Sportando:
The Los Angeles Clippers, in fact, are not planning to keep the Serbian point guard for the next season, a league source told Sportando.
his health is one of the main concerns behind Clippers’ decision, a source told Sportando. The team would love to add a younger player in that position and fear that Teodosic’s foot issue won’t be fixed easily, sources told Sportando.
Teodosic holds a $6.3 million player option for next season, but just $2.1 million is guaranteed until July 15. He ought to opt in and collect his $2.1 million before moving on. And if he opts in, maybe the Clippers strike out in free agency, don’t need the additional cap flexibility and keep him.
If they go through with waiving him, Teodosic could land with another NBA team or return to Europe. His foot issues could determine whether another NBA team wants him.
Teodosic is a wonderfully creative passer and good shooter. He’s also a woeful defender, and foot problems would only set him back further.
Chris Paul built himself into the NBA’s greatest point guard since Magic Johnson (until Stephen Curry came around). Paul mastered the game, offensively and defensively. He led two franchises, New Orleans and the Clippers, taking huge burdens for each.
Then, he engineered a trade to the Rockets to become James Harden‘s sidekick. Paul learned to excel at that, too.
Now comes phase two in Houston. The Rockets must pay him, and it sounds as if they will. And Paul will recruit his friend LeBron James to join him.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.
The Rockets were on the cusp of beating the Warriors. LeBron could put Houston over the top and get Paul an elusive championship. I certainly understand Paul’s hunger to make it happen. He’ll probably never get a better opportunity to win a title than this.
Could the Rockets get LeBron? Carmelo Anthony, before getting traded to the Thunder, told friends of a desire to team up with Paul and eventually LeBron in Houston. LeBron once said he’d take a pay cut to play with Paul, Anthony and Dwyane Wade – not that LeBron must to play with just Paul in Houston. The Cavaliers, Rockets and LeBron could execute an opt-in-and-trade that sends LeBron to Houston, similar to how Paul got there last summer.
But it seems Paul is fighting an uphill battle. LeBron reportedly said he doesn’t like Houston as a city, and lifestyle matters.
Not that the intensely competitive Paul will just give up.
The Suns will almost certainly take DeAndre Ayton No. 1 overall in Thursday’s NBA draft.
The mystery begins with the Kings at No. 2.
They’ve been linked to Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr. and now, most strongly, Marvin Bagley.
Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:
I wouldn’t like that pick. Bagley is a high-end prospect, but I’d take Doncic (and prefer a few others to Bagley).
Bagley is a phenomenal finisher and rebounder due to his athleticism and exertion. He runs the floor hard and is quick off his feet, repeatedly.
But he is a huge liability as a rim protector, making him a tough fit as a defensive center. His just lacks the awareness, length and strength to defend the paint well. He can improve his awareness and maybe his strength to acceptable levels, but there is such a long way to go.
I also don’t trust his jump shot or defensive awareness on the perimeter enough for him to play power forward offensively or defensively.
Of all the top prospects, Bagley might be the trickiest to build around. And the Kings don’t have the greatest track record of roster building, even in the rare times they get a lottery pick right.
The Washington Wizards had the fourth highest payroll in the NBA last season — a lot to pay for the No. 8 seed and an unceremonious first-round playoff exit.
One way or another expect changes to the Wizards’ roster going into next season. Big names could be on the move. Even before that, the Wizards have signaled they will trade the No. 15 pick in Thursday’s draft if teams will take on one of the Wizards’ oversized expiring contracts, reports our old friend Ben Standig working for thesportscapitol.com.
The Wizards are open to trading down from the 15th overall pick in Thursday’s draft if another team takes on one of Washington’s expiring contracts. That’s the message relayed from the Wizards to other NBA teams, a league source tells The Sports Capitol.
The Wizards have five players with expiring contracts, including starters Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris. Gortat’s $13.56 million salary for the 2018-19 season dwarfs the other expiring deals. The hefty figure counts among the reasons why the 34-year-old center is considered a likely trade piece.
This plan is unlikely to work unless the team in question actually wanted one of those players anyway. It is worth the shot.
That said, expect a lot of trades and movement on draft night — that is the buzz around the league. After DeAndre Ayton going No. 1 there is not really a consensus, and some teams have fallen in love with players and are willing to trade up and get them. Teams starting with Sacramento at No. 2 are fielding serious offers for their picks, and a few may jump at them.
The problem is the guys teams love will be off the board by No. 15, which means the Wizards may be making a pick. Which is not a bad thing, they have traded their picks away for years and they could use the injection of youth. Still, they will look to trade this pick too if it helps lessen the burden on their payroll.