Report: Knicks realize they likely strikeout with Marc Gasol this summer, will try anyway

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Marc Gasol has slimmed down and is having a career year so far, an MVP-like season — 19.8 points a game on 50.4 percent shooting, plus is pulling down 8.2 rebounds a game. He has a PER of 23.2 and is the rim protector and anchor on the fourth best defense in the NBA. He has been the best center in the game and the Grizzlies are off to a 15-4 start.

He’s doing all that in a contract year — Gasol will be a free agent this summer.

Which means teams are lining up to take a shot at landing him, including the New York Knicks who rightfully think he’d be a perfect big man fit in the triangle offense.

But the Knicks realize that they are likely going to strikeout with this quest, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post (hat tip Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball).

As the Knicks plummet to the bottom of the league, a source told The Post the club doesn’t believe its chances are too good of landing the Grizzlies stud center with their 2015 cap space — not that Knicks president Phil Jackson won’t try like mad….

The Knicks’ lone edge is Gasol is best friends with point guard Jose Calderon, his teammate on Spain’s national team.

While the Knicks, who lost 90-87 to the Cavaliers Thursday night at the Garden, were confident they would land LeBron James entering 2010 free agency, they realize the odds are against them for Gasol. If he leaves Memphis, he likely will choose a title contender, not the woebegone Knicks.

The general sense around the league right now is that Marc Gasol isn’t going anywhere — Gasol is a max player, Grizzlies can and will offer the most money (an extra guaranteed year and larger raises). Money talks. In addition he’s in a city he likes and is comfortable with, plays in a system he both likes and is the focal point of, and he is playing on a team that’s a potential contender (although I think they need a little more shooting and depth).

If he does leave, the most interesting option would be the San Antonio Spurs, who reportedly covet Gasol as a replacement for Tim Duncan should The Big Fundamental decide to retire after this season (a distinct possibility). The Spurs would have the money for a max offer (four years) and the lure of playing in that system for Gregg Popovich would be strong.

Marc’s brother Pau Gasol said that Marc signing with the Knicks was “possible.” They should at least try. We know that the Lakers and just about every other team with cap space this summer are going to make calls to Marc and his agent come July 1 when free agency opens. He will have options and plenty of suitors if he wants to be courted (ala Carmelo Anthony). So far Marc himself has refused to discuss his pending free agency, which always fuels speculation because the internet abhors a vacuum.

But next year expect to see Gasol wearing the same uniform he’s wearing now. It’s all about the money.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.

Report: 76ers focused on Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni in coaching search

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The 76ers appeared focused on Mike D’Antoni in their coaching search.

Then, Doc Rivers surprisingly became available.

The former Clippers coach met with the 76ers and is now in the center of the conversation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

For the Sixers now, the focus is on Rivers and D’Antoni, a source told ESPN. A decision is expected this week.

Rivers would be an easier fit with this roster than D’Antoni, whose style doesn’t appear to work as well with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Rivers also looks like he’d help Philadelphia take the next step.

But that seemed like it’d be true with the Clippers and wasn’t.

Tyronn Lue’s candidacy with the 76ers has clearly faded. Could he join the Clippers, Rockets or Pelicans? If Philadelphia hires Rivers, maybe D’Antoni still lands with the Pacers?

Rivers’ availability has definitely thrown a wrench in the coaching carousel.

Victor Oladipo denies trade rumor he wants out of Indiana

Victor Oladipo
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It was a trade rumor that kind of came out of nowhere — maybe more as a thought exercise for Celtics fans hoping to move on from Gordon Hayward — but it got traction: Victor Oladipo reportedly wanted out of Indiana.

Not true, Oladipo said.

Oladipo jumped on Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe and shot down the rumors (hat tip Clutch Points):

“I’m a Pacer. I’m a Pacer…

“Those rumors on the internet, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I’m just focused on getting my knee right for next year.”

He said later in the interview he wants a ring, he wants “hardware” because that is needed to show you are one of the greats, and he would consider leaving the Pacers to get it. But that wasn’t a short-term thing. (Also, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and a lot of other guys would like to talk with you about that attitude.)

Oladipo returned mid-season from his knee injury to a Pacers’ team that finished as the four seed in the East but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

Oladipo never quite returned to his All-NBA form after coming back from injury and averaged just 14.5 points a game in the 19 regular season games he did play. Oladipo is owed $21 million next season, the last year of his current deal.

Whether he wants out of Indiana or not, at $21 million and with questions about just what level of player he is post-injury, there is not much of a trade market for Victor Oladipo. Indiana more than likely runs it back under a new coach — who has yet to be chosen — and banks on a healthy Oladipo helping the team make the next step.