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NBA awards predictions: Defensive Player of Year, Coach of Year, Sixth Man

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It’s that time of year — prediction time. While we understand that making NBA preseason awards predictions is the equivalent of nailing Jell-O to a tree, but we soldier ahead in the face of futility anyway. Because that’s what we do.

Monday we made our picks for MVP and Rookie of the Year.

Now we move on to the defensive player, coach, and sixth man awards.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers). He came close last season (missing those final eight games while Rudy Gobert was on a tear hurt) but this season he is fully healthy and if he plays more than 63 games (*knocks on wood*) he can win this award. Beyond that, with Markelle Fultz in the starting lineup instead of J.J. Redick (at least to start the season), the Sixers should be an elite defensive team, maybe best in the league, and Embiid will be its anchor. One other candidate to watch: Kawhi Leonard.

Dan Feldman Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz). The NBA’s three best defenders are Gobert, Draymond Green, and Kawhi Leonard. I’m more convinced Gobert will be healthy and motivated during the regular season than I am with Green and Leonard, though I wouldn’t be surprised if either Green or Leonard wins this award. Green especially could chase it to become eligible for a super-max extension. But he also has his eyes on a long playoff run. Coming off his injury last season and one season from free agency, Leonard is a mystery.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin: Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks). The Bucks have been loaded with talent for a while now but the past few years they have played too slowly, not shot enough threes (or had enough three-point shooters), and played a defensive system the best teams could easily exploit. Coach Bud is going to change all that, Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to look even more like an MVP candidate, and Budenholzer will get credit for the improvement.

Dan Feldman Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks). Budenholzer is a good coach in position to prove it. The Bucks needed a coaching upgrade, so they give him a chance to shine. Jazz coach Quin Snyder is another strong contender, but he might have set his bar too high last season. Arguably the NBA’s best coach, Gregg Popovich has a path to winning the award this season if he guides the reworked Spurs into the playoffs.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin: J.J. Redick (Philadelphia 76ers). This pick is based on the presumption that Markelle Fultz will stay in the Sixers starting lineup for most, if not all, of the season (an experiment that may not last that long). Redick will get second unit time with T.J. McConnell and Fultz (who I think will play with that unit a decent amount each night), and they will love feeding him as he curls off screens that second-team defenders can’t or won’t follow him through. Tyreke Evans is my second choice here, I think he’ll have a big season in Indiana.

Dan FeldmanLou Wiliams (Los Angeles Clippers). Last season, Williams was the rare reserve to receive All-Star consideration. He has figured out how to come off the bench, play within himself and contribute to winning. Importantly, he does it through scoring — the area voters care most about.

Phoenix council postpones vote on Suns arena renovation

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PHOENIX (AP) — The City Council has postponed a vote on a proposed $230 million renovation of the Talking Stick Resort Arena that would keep the Suns in downtown Phoenix.

The council agreed unanimously Wednesday to postpone a decision until Jan. 23 so residents can attend five public meetings to be held around Phoenix to discuss the project.

Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly threatened to move the franchise to Seattle or Las Vegas if not given enough public funding.

Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley says the organization looks forward to the public discussions and to answering any questions about the proposed renovation.

The deal would revamp the nearly 30-year-old arena, the oldest in the NBA that is not currently being renovated.

The Suns agreed to a 40-year lease in 1992, but the deal included a provision for the team to opt out at 30 years.

Final minute of Celtics-Wizards featured five-possession, 10-point, no-stoppage stretch (video)

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Crunch time of a close NBA game is awesome.

It’s exponentially better when nobody calls timeout.

The Celtics and Wizards finished with a flourish tonight, Boston coming out ahead in a frenetic final minute. The last minute included two Kyrie Irving 3-pointers (one tightly contested, one extremely deep) and a sharp drive by John Wall (who had just returned to the game from an injury).

After a flow-killing foul in the final few seconds, the Celtics won, 130-25.

More games should be like this.

Jeremy Lamb hits game-winner despite Bismack Biyombo, others Hornets prematurely running on court to celebrate

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The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.

Too excited.

After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.

Ashley Holder:

The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.

Several Hornets were certainly relieved.

Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)