Sounds like Pacers president Larry Bird, head coach Frank Vogel don’t want Roy Hibbert back next year

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Roy Hibbert was viewed as a key player for the Pacers during two straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. But his time in the good graces of both head coach Frank Vogel and team president Larry Bird appears to have come to a close.

Indiana missed the playoffs this year (just barely), thanks mostly to All-Star Paul George being sidelined for the bulk of the regular season. At exit interviews, however, both Bird and Vogel made it clear that the organization is ready for a change to a more uptempo style — one that would lead to a diminished role for Hibbert next season.

There’s a lot more to this, but first, the quotes — via Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:

“I was talking to coach earlier, we’d like to play a little faster tempo,” Bird said. “And that means we’ve got to run a little faster, maybe at times play a little smaller. We just got into it, so I don’t know what style, but we’d like to change it a little bit. … But I would like to score more points and to do that you’ve got to run.” …

When asked if Hibbert would be benched next year as Indiana pushes for more a quicker pace, Vogel responded: “Yeah, potentially.

“We’ll have to see how it all plays out and what the roster ultimately looks like but there’s a possibility that Roy’s role will be diminished, if we’re trying to play faster and trying to play smaller,” Vogel continued. “But a lot of stuff is going to happen this summer, we’ll see how the roster shapes out coming into next season.” …

Though Bird appeared hopeful that power forward David West, 34, will take his player option and stick around, he sounded less sure about Hibbert. When it comes to Hibbert, the unknown may be the only thing that’s apparent.

“Roy, I have no idea,” Bird said. “We just talked about different things and whatever he does, he does. I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

If all of these remarks are indeed sincere, then Bird and Vogel deserve a ton of credit for being so honest with reporters in discussing the franchise’s future plans.

But it’s worth noting that there may be a very real ulterior motive in play.

Hibbert has a player option for next season for $15.5 million; these comments make it seem as though the team would rather he opt out and explore his options as a free agent instead.

But the smarter thing to do would be for Indiana to hope he opts in, and then trade him for something of value in return — if in fact they’re ready to go in a completely different direction in terms of style, as Bird and Vogel seemed to discuss so candidly now that the Pacers season has finished.

There’s a mural in L.A. of Alex Caruso dunking over Harden, Leonard, Doncic

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It’s hard to overstate how popular Alex Caruso is in Los Angeles. Seriously. This isn’t just cult status popular, when he enters the game off the bench Staples Center explodes in cheers like LeBron James just fed Anthony Davis for an alley-oop.

Now Caruso has his own mural in Los Angeles.

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This is legit, it’s on the side of SportieLA, a clothing/apparel store on Melrose Ave. in the trendy heart of Los Angeles. Artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. has done murals in the past for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other Los Angeles sports icons such as Vin Scully.

This one plays off a huge Caruso dunk from earlier this month when Dallas’ Maxi Kleber was the victim.

It’s good to be Alex Caruso in Los Angeles right now.

Kawhi Leonard just destroyed Boston’s Daniel Theis on dunk

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Daniel Theis‘ play as a rim protector is one of the reasons Boston has a top-10 defense this season. He has anchored the Celtics’ defense in the paint.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, and if he wants to go to the rim nobody is stopping him. Theis found out the hard way.

After the game, Leonard was asked about the dunk and he responded in about the most Kawhi way possible.

This was the first game Leonard and Paul George played together and they combined for 42 points, and they both made key play down the stretch of a 107-104 overtime win.

It took Luka Doncic 25 minutes to put together 35-point triple-double (VIDEO)

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DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 33 of his 35 points in the first half and had yet another triple-double to help the Dallas Mavericks rout the short-handed Golden State Warriors 142-94 on Wednesday night.

Doncic fell a point short of matching Dirk Nowitzki’s team record set Nov. 3, 2009, against Utah. In just 17 minutes, Doncic was 10 for 11 from the floor, making 6 of 7 3-pointers, and hit 7 of 8 free throws.

The second-year star from Slovenia had 22 points, five assists and five rebounds in the first quarter alone. He played only 25 minutes total, but still managed 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Doncic was coming off a 40-point triple-double Monday night against San Antonio, and has an NBA-best seven triple-doubles in 14 games this season.

The Mavericks never trailed and tied a franchise record with 22 3-pointers while sending Golden State to its worst loss since a 1973 playoff game.

The Warriors, who ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Memphis on Tuesday night, are an NBA-worst 3-13. Their five-year run of at the top of the NBA has collapsed under a weight of injuries, with Draymond Green out Wednesday because of right heel soreness.

With Green out, Golden State dressed only eight players, none of whom suited up for the team last season when it made the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Eric Paschall led the Warriors with 22 points.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 for Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double.

 

Bulls’ Otto Porter Jr out 2 weeks with bone bruise in foot

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say forward Otto Porter Jr. has a bone bruise in his left foot and will be reassessed in two weeks.

The Bulls say a second MRI on Tuesday revealed the bruise, something “not apparent” on the first MRI.

“He had a second scan, and something showed up that didn’t show up on the first scan,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen told NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s tough, tough for him, feel bad for him. But we’ll treat him and move on.”

Chandler Hutchison had been filling in Porter’s spot in the rotation, but he is out indefinitely now with sore shins.

Porter, averaging 11.2 points in nine games, has been sidelined since he sprained his left foot at Atlanta on Nov. 6.

The Bulls were 4-10 with three straight losses heading into Wednesday’s game against Detroit.