Kevin Love’s Finals status uncertain after Game 2 concussion

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OAKLAND — Down 2-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals after an embarrassing blowout loss, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not in a great place. And with the uncertainty about Kevin Love‘s status, it could be about to get worse.

In the second quarter, with the Cavs trailing 39-30, Love caught an elbow to the head from Harrison Barnes and stayed down several minutes. He remained in the game after that, even hitting a three-pointer, after telling trainers he didn’t have any concussion symptoms.

That changed shortly into the second half, when Love abruptly left the game for the locker room, and the Cavs later announced that he had, in fact, been diagnosed with a concussion.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love experienced dizziness after returning to play at the start of the second half of tonight’s NBA Finals Game 2. He was taken to the locker room for further examination. As a result of that exam, Love was placed in the NBA Concussion Protocol and did not return to play. Love did not exhibit any signs or symptoms during the first half, or at halftime, that would have caused him to be placed in the concussion protocol prior to the third quarter. His status will be updated as appropriate.

“I didn’t even know what happened, but at halftime he showed no symptoms,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said after the game. “He didn’t talk about it. Then when we came back out in the third quarter, I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy. He went back on the floor for a second, and then we had to get him off the floor.”

The Cavs will fly to Cleveland on Monday and have two days off before Game 3 of the Finals. We’ll know more about Love’s status by then, and it seems likely he’ll miss at least the next game.

Lue wouldn’t commit to a replacement in the starting lineup if Love was indeed unable to play, but he has options. Channing Frye only played four minutes in Game 2, but he brings much of the same floor-spacing ability that Love does at the power forward position. Lue could also slide LeBron James to power forward and move Iman Shumpert into the starting lineup alongside Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith. Even Timofey Mozgov, who played the entire fourth quarter with the Cavs down big, could be an option if Lue wanted to change his strategy, since going small against the Warriors hasn’t paid off thus far.

Love wasn’t helping them much in his 20 minutes on the floor before the injury — when he went to the locker room, he had 5 points on 2-for-7 shooting. Given his limitations on the defensive end, Love hasn’t been effective against the Warriors’ deep, versatile frontcourt.

Still, losing him takes away some lineup flexibility from the Cavs, and if he misses the next game, it will force Lue to make a significant change to the rotation and starting lineup without having a choice in the matter.

But we won’t know Love’s status until closer to Game 3. Until then, all that’s left to do is wait.

“Losing one of our top three players is always going to be a big impact,” Lue said. “But right now he’s in a concussion protocol, and right now he’s just day-to-day.”

Michael Avenatti charged with stealing money Hassan Whiteside intended to pay ex-girlfriend

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Heat center Hassan Whiteside became the first player in NBA history to go from a minimum salary one season to a max salary the next.

Some of that money allegedly got embezzled by Michael Avenatti.

Avenatti – the infamous lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, who claimed she was paid to keep quiet about having an affair with Donald Trump – has been charged with attempted extortion of Nike and stealing from other clients. One of those other clients: Whiteside’s former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.

Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times:

An actress and barista, she’d hired him just a few weeks before to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. It’s unclear what she would have alleged. Avenatti quickly struck a $3-million deal, and the $2.75 million was Whiteside’s first payment.

Avenatti, prosecutors say, was entitled to take just over $1 million in legal fees, leaving the rest for Gardner.

Instead, they allege, Avenatti hid Whiteside’s payment from her and immediately took $2.5 million to buy a share of a private jet.

Report: Lakers have no plans to replace Magic Johnson, who’ll still help team recruit FAs

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Magic Johnson’s stunning resignation as Lakers president caused a commotion.

It didn’t create a power vacuum.

Rob Pelinka is clearly in charge. He’s the highest-ranking member of the front office. His title – general manager – is the one many teams give to the leader of their basketball operations. He’s running the Lakers’ coaching search.

Though they’ve been linked to big-name candidates for president, the Lakers could easily keep the status quo with Pelinka running the show. And it sounds as if that’s what Lakers owner Jeanie Buss will do.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

Buss has no plans to hire someone to replace Johnson, who is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer.

Allowing Pelinka to hire a head coach – which, again, he’s in the process of doing – then supplanting him would be absurd. At least it seems the Lakers aren’t doing that.

But Pelinka was part of the organization while it made a comedy of errors. The former agent also had front-office experience until getting hired with Johnson a couple years ago. It’s hard to believe he’s the right choice to lead the team as it enters this critical stage.

LeBron James is 34. The Lakers will have max cap space this summer. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are progressing toward establishing clearer value – one way or the other.

To entrust Pelinka in this situation, Buss ought to have a clear explanation for why Pelinka doesn’t deserve a fair share of blame for all the mistakes that occurred the last couple years. There are plenty of people, inside and outside the Lakers, who question him.

The wildest part about this report: Johnson still helping the Lakers recruit this summer. He’s an all-time great player and charismatic. But he also just said while resigning:

What I didn’t like is the backstabbing, the whispering. I don’t like that. I don’t like a lot of things that went on that didn’t have to go on.

How will he sell that to free agents – especially if Pelinka, suspected to be whom Johnson is referring to, remains in charge?

Russell Westbrook goes from ‘Next question’ to ‘That’s a good question. Not sure’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook can be a pain.

Pain to his opponents. Pain to his teammates. Pain to the media.

Sometimes, it seems Westbrook even takes pride in being a jerk. Which is fine. His cutthroat attitude is part of who he is, and it has gotten him a long way.

Lately, Westbrook has clashed with Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. For months, Westbrook has answered all Tramel’s questions with, “Next question.” Yet, Tramel keeps asking them – as he should. Westbrook has earned control over a lot of things. Tramel shouldn’t cede control of his job to Westbrook.

The back-and-forth has gotten increased prominence during the playoffs, when postgame press conferences are nationally televised. Both sides have found plenty of support. Westbrook’s fans love that his intensity never relents. Many also respect Tramel’s professionalism.

Four years ago, Westbrook infamously told Tramel, “I just don’t like you.” Westbrook got into it with Tramel again two years ago. But Tramel continues to cover the Thunder the best he can.

Likewise, Westbrook is trying to lead Oklahoma City the best he can. That means picking battles, even small ones like this, and pushing himself to win them all.

But after the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Trail Blazers last night, Westbrook finally gave an inch. But just an inch.

Tramel asked how the Thunder’s defense of Damian Lillard changed from the first half to the second half.

“That’s a good question,” Westbrook said. “Not sure.”

Tramel asked about the lessons learned about overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the Grizzlies in the 2014 playoffs. (Oklahoma City trailed 2-1 and 3-2 in that series, but never 3-1).

“Really don’t know,” Westbrook said.

For Westbrook, those answers were a huge breakthrough. They surprised everyone, even Tramel. Just a few days ago, the columnist predicted Westbrook wouldn’t change his two-word answers anytime soon: “He’s not going to give in this playoff series.”

Maybe this means the series is over.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse leaves mouth agape a loooong time after odd call (video)

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The Raptors got called for an extremely quick three-second violation during their Game 4 win over the Magic yesterday.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse couldn’t believe it.

Really couldn’t believe it.

Just couldn’t believe it one bit.