Now what for Milwaukee Bucks? For rookie of the year race?

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The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the fun surprises of the NBA season — the team with the worst record in the NBA last season are 13-12, the six seed in the East and looking like a playoff team. Jason Kidd has got them to play much better defense and helped guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo bloom.

Then there was Jabari Parker. He had averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game, he was their second leading scorer and one of the key parts of their rotation. He was getting it done on both ends of the court pretty well for a rookie (he did a solid job defending Blake Griffin a few nights before in a Bucks win. All of this had

Parker is now lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Now what for the Bucks? And now what for the Rookie of the Year race?

For the Bucks, there is good news and bad news. The good news is they have a couple quality other power forwards in veteran Ersan Ilyasova and young but promising John Henson, both of whom could take on minutes. The bad news is both of those guys are currently injured and are not with the Bucks on their current West Coast road swing. Both could return next week.

Expect to see Kidd try Giannis Antetokounmpo at the four some. That will be fun to watch.

In the short term Kidd may go small, suggests Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.

It could mean more small ball for Kidd, who has used small lineups with success early in the season.

As for the Rookie of the Year race, it is now wide open. Parker was the clear leader at the quarter pole of the season — he was putting up good numbers, doing it efficiently, and was a key part of the rotation on a playoff level team. No other rookie has been near as good this season.

Andrew Wiggins is scoring for Minnesota, 12 points a game and more than that in recent weeks, but is shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Nikola Mirotic has consistently contributed for the Bulls, but his shooting and scoring numbers have dipped recently. K.J. McDaniels shows a lot of promise in Philadelphia but is inconsistent on offense and barely shooting 40 percent on the season. Bojan Bogdanovic was putting up numbers for the Nets and has shown he can shoot the rock.

But the candidates left after Parker are certainly left wanting. Especially for this hyped a draft class.

Like with the Bucks, there just are not good answers for what’s next.

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?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.