Can the upstart Spurs topple the aging Heat?

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Does this old, run-down, over-the-hill team still have what it takes to win a championship?

The question never stops lurking and will play a prominent role in discussion of the 2014 NBA Finals.

Unfortunately, it will usually be applied to the wrong team.

The Miami Heat – not the San Antonio Spurs – are the old team in these Finals.

The Heat have an average age* of 31.0 in the playoffs, second only to the Mavericks (31.3).

The Spurs (29.5) rank fifth in average age.*

*Weighted by minutes played, using a constant of a player’s age on Feb. 1 of that season

This is not a revelation. Merely, it’s a repeat of last year and a continuation of a half-decade trend.

Miami and San Antonio have both made the playoffs each of the last five years. Though the Heat started considerably younger, they’ve aged since signing LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. The Spurs, meanwhile, have fluctuated while trending younger.

Here’s each team’s average age during the playoffs in the last five years – the Heat in red and Spurs in black:

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Miami’s three most-prominent players – Wade (32), Bosh (30) and LeBron (29) are collectively much younger than San Antonio’s three most-prominent players – Tim Duncan (38), Manu Ginobili (36) and Tony Parker (32) – and that’s why the narrative is often backward.

But those six alone don’t tell the entire story.

The Spurs have given prominent roles to Kawhi Leonard (22), Danny Green (26) and Patty Mills (25). The Heat, on the other hand, have turned to Ray Allen (38), Chris Andersen (35) and Rashard Lewis (34) to fill out their rotation.

Miami has also continuously depended on its big three as they’ve aged a year each season. San Antonio has deemphasized Duncan, Ginobili and Parker as they’ve aged. When evaluating age by weighing for playing time, that matters a great deal.

The Heat aren’t too old to win a title. The Mavericks were even older when they won in 2011.

But if we’re going to question anyone’s age in these Finals, it should be the fogeys in Miami.

Report: Dewayne Dedmon opts in for $6.3 million with Hawks

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland
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The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.

And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.

He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.

Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.

If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.

Nick Young says ‘everybody needs to do cocaine,’ later insists he was joking

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.

Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.

Young, via TMZ:

“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”

Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.

Report: 76ers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.

Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.

So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.

Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.

Kyle O’Quinn opts out of Knicks contract

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The Knicks have the No. 8 pick, and tomorrow’s draft will be the most important part of their offseason.

Will they also have cap space to add talent in free agency? That hinges on Enes Kanter‘s player option.

If Kanter opts out, New York will have even more room to operate thanks to Kyle O'Quinn declining his $4,256,250 player option.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.

O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.

How much is that player worth?

It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.