Where do we stand with NBA’s top 50 free agents? An update.

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We are just four days into free agency now and it has started to feel like the lightning round. Everything came quickly.

That may slow down a little for a few days. Until the top two guys on this list make their decisions things will bottleneck a little, teams looking at the second tier of players will wait. Just in case. Some role players will agree to terms, but the top guys and the teams chasing them will wait.

Let’s use this little pause and the Fourth of July to take stock of where we stand. Below is an update on our top 50 free agents list, and where each guy stands right now.

1. LeBron James: Unsigned. His agent has conducted meetings (Cavaliers, Rockets, Mavericks, Suns, Lakers) but LeBron has been on vacation. Nobody really thinks he leaves Miami, but if Pat Riley can’t get some help fairly soon… things could get interesting.

2. Carmelo Anthony: Unsigned. Met with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks. He wanted to be wanted, he got that. He’s expected to make his decision early next week (and most observers think he stays in New York).

3. Chris Bosh: Unsigned. Expected to take a pay cut to stay in Miami, but if LeBron bolts he has options.

4. Dirk Nowitzki: Reached three-year, $30 million deal with Mavericks. As expected, he took the Tim Duncan discount deal.

5. Eric Bledsoe: Unsigned. Remember he’s a restricted free agent, no offers trying to poach him from Phoenix. Yet.

6. Kyle Lowry: Reached four-year, $48 million deal with Raptors. The Raptors came at him hard to keep him and showed how much they wanted him with cash. That’s always nice.

7. Greg Monroe: Unsigned. He’s a restricted free agent, no offers yet, that is likely to change once the LeBron/‘Melo signings happen.

8. Chandler Parsons: Unsigned. Same as above, he’s a restricted free agent, no offers yet, that is likely to change once the LeBron/‘Melo signings happen.

9. Lance Stephenson: Unsigned. The Pacers offered him five-years, $44 million, and he thought that too low. But nobody else has yet stepped up to beat it. Stephenson is learning how much those antics during the playoffs cost him.

10. Dwyane Wade: Unsigned. Also willing to take a pay cut in Miami but no deal yet as the we all wait for the LeBron domino to fall.

11. Gordon Hayward: Unsigned. He met with the Cavaliers and is hoping someone signs him to an offer sheet — he’s a restricted free agent and the Jazz are expected to match any offer.

12. Luol Deng: Unsigned. Another guy with multiple suitors — Atlanta, the Clippers would like to talk to him — but it may be after Anthony signs that his interest from teams really picks up on

13. Marcin Gortat: Reached five-year, $60 million deal with Washington Wizards. The money isn’t out of line with what other big men get in the NBA, but the full five years was a surprise.

14. Pau Gasol: Unsigned. Interest is warming up for him from the teams missing out on ‘Melo. The Bulls, Heat, Lakers, Spurs, Thunder all have interest in him.

15. Channing Frye: Unsigned.

16. Isaiah Thomas: Unsigned. With Kings signing Darren Collison it appears Thomas is on his way out of Sacramento.

17. Trevor Ariza: Unsigned. Wizards considered the frontrunners but interest is heating up.

18. Avery Bradley: Reached four years, $32 million deal with Celtics. He’s staying in Boston.

19. Paul Pierce: Unsigned. Clippers pitched Nets a sign-and-trade, that died quickly.

20. Boris Diaw: Unsigned.

21. Andray Blatche: Unsigned.

22. Nick Young: Unsigned.

23. Shaun Livingston: Reached three year, $16.6 million deal with Golden State Warriors. He’ll come off the bench behind Stephen Curry but he will get lots of minutes.

24. Vince Carter: Unsigned.

24. Rodney Stuckey: Unsigned.

26. Darren Collison: Reached three three-year, $16 million with Kings. The Kings didn’t want to overpay Isaiah Thomas so they went out and got another point guard.

27. Greivis Vasquez: Unsigned.

28. Josh McRoberts: Unsigned.

29. Ray Allen: Unsigned.

30. Shawn Marion: Unsigned.

31. Anthony Morrow: Unsigned. Miami and Oklahoma City among the teams interested.

32. Spencer Hawes: Agreed to four-year, $23 million deal with Los Angeles Clippers. He is a huge upgrade for the Clippers off the bench (remember Ryan Hollins and Glen Davis were their bigs off the bench last season).

33. Chris Andersen: Unsigned.

34. Thabo Sefolosha: Reaches three-year, $12 million deal with Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta sees him as a Spurs-style reclamation project — if they can help get his three point shot back they have a “3 and D” guy to plug in.

35. Glen Davis: Unsigned.

36. Danny Granger: Unsigned.

37. Marvin Williams: Unsigned.

38. Patty Mills: Reached three-year, $12 million deal with San Antonio. He is out until January (at least) following shoulder surgery, but the Spurs wanted to keep the Australian pint guard.

39. Jodie Meeks: Reached three-year, $18 million deal with Detroit. One of the surprises of free agency, not that the Pistons picked him up (they could use his shooting), but at that price? That is over-paying Meeks.

40. P.J. Tucker: Unsigned.

41. Evan Turner: Unsigned.

42. Mario Chalmers: Unsigned.

43. Xavier Henry: Unsigned.

44. Jerryd Bayless: Unsigned.

45. Ramon Sessions: Unsigned.

46. Steve Blake: Unsigned.

47. C.J. Miles: Reached four-year, $18 million deal with Indiana. The Pacers have been trying to add shooting, they got it.

48. Mike Miller: Unsigned.

49. Jordan Hill: Unsigned.

50. Caron Butler: Unsigned.

Raptors bench play key reason Toronto on cusp of first trip to NBA Finals

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There are multiple reasons the Toronto Raptors have beaten the Milwaukee Bucks three times in a row and now are one win away from the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals.

Kawhi Leonard and his play — particularly his defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo — is a huge one. So is the Raptors incredible halfcourt defense, which has held the Bucks to an 84.3 net rating on halfcourt possessions in this series. When the Raptors have been able to slow the game down (which they have done very well the last two games, with possession totals in the mid-90s) they win.

Just don’t forget about the Raptors bench.

Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Norman Powell — the three guys coach Nick Nurse leans on in his regular rotations — have been critical for the Raptors, and if they are again on Saturday night in Toronto it will lift the franchise to a place it has never been before.

Toronto’s starters are -23 in this series. That fivesome — Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol — were -10 in Game 5, struggling against an impressive Milwaukee starting lineup.

In Game 5, it was the Raptors’ bench that led the comeback after the Bucks’ fast start. It has been that way all series. Lineups that have at least one of those core three Raptors bench guys on the floor are +30 this series. Lineups with all three of them on the court together are +12.

Different guys are stepping up each game. In Game 5 it was VanVleet’s turn. After a rough few games in this series, he got to Milwaukee late after being with his wife for the birth of their son, then proceeded to knock down 7-of-9 threes in Toronto’s come-from-behind win.

“He oozes the confidence that spreads to the other guys,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said of VanVleet. “Again, he just stepped into the shots that were there tonight, and he was probably due to get hot in these playoffs. It’s been probably a long time coming. Great game by him.”

Toronto’s bench — and Leonard — are key reasons that this team responded to adversity, going down 0-2 in the series and bouncing back. It’s the experience of having been there before, having dealt with the pressure before, learning about themselves because they have been tested like this in previous years. Leonard and Green have rings from San Antonio, Gasol has been to conference finals in Memphis, Lowry has been there through all the Raptors struggles in recent playoffs. On the bench, Ibaka has seen plenty, and these guys have not been fazed by the moment.

It’s the test the Bucks are facing now — this group had never been challenged like this. Their athleticism and Antetokounmpo’s MVP-level season propelled this team to the best record in the NBA, then they swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs with an 8-1 record. After that, they beat the Raptors the first two games of this series.

However, now they have lost three in a row for the first time all season and they are learning about their weaknesses. The Bucks entire offense is based around the idea that nobody can slow Antetokounmpo one-on-one, except that Leonard has done just that. The Greek Freak has shot 35.5 percent this series (11-of-31, via Second Spectrum data) when Leonard has been his primary defender. Antetokounmpo also hasn’t found shooters and those guys have not hit the passes he does make, particularly in the halfcourt. Toronto has controlled the tempo the past few games, and when Antetokounmpo isn’t getting easy buckets in transition the Milwaukee offense stumbles. Toronto also has taken care of the ball and hit shots, with Leonard getting to his spots on the floor, which has limited the Bucks transition chances.

The Bucks need to make adjustments — finding ways to get Antetokounmpo the ball with better matchups, not having him attack from the top of the key every time and giving him some picks to force switches — and they need another ball handler, such as Eric Bledsoe or George Hill, to have a monster game. Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon can and should do a little more shot creation.

And Milwaukee has to contain that Raptors bench and not get beat so badly when they are on the floor.

If not, the Bucks will be on vacation in Cabo next week while the Raptors are still playing.

Are Rockets trying to push Mike D’Antoni out the door?

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After a slow start to the season, by the end the Houston Rockets had found their groove and were the second best team in the West. That still wasn’t good enough to get by the Warriors dynasty. That has led to some soul searching in Houston.

And some changes to the assistant coaching staff. First came the news Jeff Bzdelik would not return in his defensive coordinator role. Then on Friday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle put out a series of Tweets talking about the other coaching changes coming.

Cho had been with the Rockets for a decade. Roland worked closely with James Harden, among others.

This is a near total overhaul of Mike D’Antoni’s staff, which has led to speculation the Rockets are trying to push their coach out the door, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

D’Antoni has done an excellent job — and adapted his style — to coach these Rockets into being contenders. He is part of the reason this franchise is a contender. The Rockets have fallen short the last two seasons not because of D’Antoni, but rather because of the Warriors. Golden State is an all-time dynasty level team, they are beating everybody.

This feels like the East in recent years when coaches lost jobs and teams were broken up because they could not get past LeBron James‘ teams when the issue was really LeBron is one of the game’s all-time greats.

There could be other dynamics at play in Houston, but the challenge there is not the coach. If Tilman Fertitta is frustrated his team fell short again, he should start by looking in the mirror at the cost-cutting moves his team made this season to get under the tax line. That put a ceiling on this team more than anything D’Antoni did.

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?