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Celtics reportedly “cautiously optimistic” Kyrie Irving will stay

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Nobody knows what Kyrie Irving is going to do. Anyone who says they know what is in Mr. Flat Earth’s head is selling something.

Irving wants to carve his own path, which is why he forced his way out of LeBron James‘ shadow in Cleveland, it’s why he pushed back on the idea that what Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis or anyone else is doing as a free agent will decide what he will do come July.

Irving is at the center of the Davis trade scenarios — Boston can’t put together the same package, or have the same confidence of re-signing Davis if Irving is gone — and he’s a wild card.

Boston continues to project confidence it can re-sign Irving and trade for Davis, reports Zach Lowe at ESPN.

Boston, for its part, remains cautiously optimistic about keeping Irving, though the events of the past week — Irving’s comments, New York opening up a second maximum salary slot — have shaken them. But Boston is always confident. That is Ainge’s default mindset. The league at large is much less confident, but it is hard to say who knows what, and with what level of reliability. The postseason could be really telling for so many of this summer’s headliner free agents.

Around the league, there is a sense that New York would not have done the Kristaps Porzingis trade unless it was very confident it was going to land two stars. Which is to say, very confident they got back-channel assurances. The caveat is this is the Knicks, so who knows, and things can change.

How things change ties back to the last sentence in that paragraph from Lowe — the playoffs shake everything up.

What Boston looks like after a second-round exit at the hand of Toronto is very different from what happens if Boston makes the NBA Finals. Both are very possible, the Celtics have gone 9-1 in their last 10 with a +10.7 net rating. They have looked like the team we thought would be the team to beat in the East. If the Celtics make it to the Finals, does Irving still bolt? You can make a good case for Toronto, Milwaukee, and now-improved Philadelphia to make the Finals as well. The top four in the East are tightly bunched. It’s going to come down to health, matchups, and who gets hot at the right time, plus a few lucky bounces.

(As a side note, the two of those teams that get bounced in the second round — and math says two have to — will have very different summers than if they are in the conference finals or Finals. How does Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard feel entering free agency off a second-round exit vs. a trip to the Finals? And don’t forget the Bucks have as many as eight free agents on their roster this summer.)

The Celtics may be confident, but Danny Ainge doesn’t know what Irving is thinking, either. What Irving is thinking come July 1 could be something totally different from today. There is a wild ride ahead.

Hornets’ Miles Bridges on All-Rookie: ‘I didn’t get snubbed. I played like a— all year’

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The NBA released its All-Rookie teams yesterday. Hornets forward Miles Bridges missed out, getting only one first-team vote and four second-team votes.

Bridges:

I love this attitude. Bridges didn’t deserve to make it. It’s silly to for anyone, including him, to pretend otherwise.

He’s obviously being too hard on himself. He had an OK rookie year. It just wasn’t one of the NBA’s 10 best this season.

Players often hold inflated opinions of themselves. That might help them succeed in a high-pressure job, and that’s obviously their priority. To be clear: I’m not criticizing them for adopting an approach that helped them reach this high level. But it leaves them as lousy analysts of their own performance.

Bridges doesn’t have that problem. It’s easy to see how this will drive him to improve.

His humility won’t work for everyone. But it works for him, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.

Warriors nine-day layoff before NBA Finals one of longest in NBA history

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The NBA Finals will begin May 30 – their earliest start in 33 years.

The Warriors will still have to wait a while to begin play.

Golden State, which completed a sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals Monday, is in the midst of nine straight off days. That’s tied for the fourth-longest layoff during a postseason in NBA history:

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The Warriors probably don’t mind the long break. Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins are battling injuries and can use the time to recover.

The big question: Is rest or rust more important?

Of the previous 10 teams with such long layoffs, seven won the ensuing Game 1 and seven won the ensuing series. But we’re dealing with varying levels of team quality, major differences in opponent rest and a small sample.

It seems clear rest matters more for a banged-up Golden State. But that doesn’t mean rust won’t be a challenge against the Bucks or Raptors.

Magic Johnson not keeping his stories straight (video)

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As Lakers owner Jeanie Buss repeatedly asked Magic Johnson about problems within the organization, he reportedly said there were none. Then, he went on television and detailed a ton of internal dysfunction.

After resigning as team president, Johnson said he had a good working relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka:

Then, Johnson went on television and accused Pelinka of betrayal.

In that same interview, Johnson also said Buss approved his part-time status while running the front office:

I told her, I said listen, ‘I can’t give up all my businesses. I make more money doing that than becoming president of the Lakers. So, you know that I’m going to be in and out. Is that OK with you?’ She said yes

In this case, Johnson went on television and contradicted himself… TWO YEARS EARLIER.

Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold:

Johnson:

If it was probably any other situation, I probably wouldn’t have left my business aside, left my business to concentrate fully, 150 percent on Lakers business. But because of her leadership – and I know she wants to win so bad – I decided hey, I wanted to work side-by-side with her.

So, Johnson and Buss (who was at his side for that interview) apparently knew the importance of saying Johnson was fully committed to running the Lakers. They apparently didn’t understand the importance of Johnson actually being fully committed to running the Lakers.

No wonder he was so bad at his job.

Reports: Michigan hiring Heat assistant Juwan Howard as head coach

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Juwan Howard made an All-Star team and an All-NBA third team. He spent 17 seasons in the league. He has been a Heat assistant coach the last five years.

But he might best be known as a member of the Fab Five.

That connection will resonate even more strongly as Howard returns to Michigan.

Miami Heat Beat:

Jeff Goodman of Stadium:

Michigan needed a coach after losing John Beilein – who had no NBA-coaching experience – to the Cavaliers. So, the Wolverines are hiring Howard, who has no college-coaching experience.

Shifting levels will be an adjustment for Howard. So will becoming a head coach for the first time.

But Howard was has established himself as a steady contributor to the Heat’s respected coaching staff. He interviewed for the Lakers, Cavs and Timberwolves head-coaching positions. Howard brings far more credibility than just his Michigan-alumnus status to this job.