No stopping Steph: Curry’s unrelenting drive finally yields Finals MVP

Stephen Curry at 2022 NBA Finals - Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics
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BOSTON – Before his standard post-game press conference, before recording an interview with ABC, before appearing on ESPN, before doing another interview where he shared headphones with the host, before joining NBA TV, before sitting down for another ABC/ESPN interview… Stephen Curry had about as private of a moment as a Finals MVP can have in the immediate aftermath of winning a championship. He sat in a folding chair in a hallway deep into the arena while waiting for Warriors coach Steve Kerr to finish at podium. Surrounded by “just” a few videographers/photographers and a couple other people, Curry couldn’t stop jabbering.

“This is amazing!” Curry shouted. “This is freaking amazing.”

“Aghgh,” he yelled from the back of his throat.

“Ahhh!” he yelled in a higher pitch.

“Wow!” Curry exclaimed. “Wow!”

He looked down in disbelief at the Bill Russell Trophy in his arms, noting how many Finals MVPs the Celtics legend would’ve won if the NBA presented the award back then.

“It’s really over,” Curry said. “It’s really over.”

He remarked how long these last few months have felt.

“This is different,” Curry said. “This hits different.”

He noted he’s undefeated in purple shoes.

“I went to Davidson!” Curry said. “I’m not even supposed to be here!”

Stephen Curry is unyielding. For seven of the last eight years, he has run literal circles around the NBA, cutting and weaving his way through screens to four titles, two MVPs (including the only one ever voted unanimously), an All-Star MVP and now – finally – an NBA Finals MVP.

That missing hardware has been brought up by critics for years, ever since Andre Iguodala won 2015 Finals MVP. Never mind that Curry was the most-deserving Warrior that year. Never mind that Curry has a long track record of playoff excellence. Not winning Finals MVP was an easy way to undercut him.

No more.

Curry leaves Oscar Robertson as the greatest player never to win Finals MVP since the league introduced the award. (As Curry said, Bill Russell, whose titles predated the award, would’ve won more than a few.)

Maybe now we can focus more on what makes Curry great.

He’s the best shooter of all-time. While that’s frequently mentioned, it’s still not appreciated enough. Shooting is not some niche skill. It is the fundamental aspect of basketball.

Curry is elite at conditioning. He tirelessly zips around the court, leaving defenders in the dust if they take even a moment to catch their breath. That movement, coupled with his shooting, gives him incredible gravity and opens Golden State’s offense.

Curry is also a phenomenal teammate. That’s why the Warriors could integrate Kevin Durant and reach such great heights. It’s also why this older, less-talented version of the team still showed championship mettle. Curry sets such a great tone with his competitiveness and selflessness.

Asked how it felt to win Finals MVP, Curry slammed the table.

“Forget that!” Curry said. “We champs! Why you start with that question? We’ve got four championships!”

Though Curry doesn’t want to discuss it, his Finals MVP is transformational.

He’s the first non-forward, non-wing to win the award in 15 years. The narrative that small guards can’t dominate at this level is extinguished. Though Curry has a few more Finals duds than other players of his caliber (including Game 5 of this series), he was outstanding in five of six games in these Finals  – including 34 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the clincher.

Curry soaked up this experience.

He hit a deep 3 and pointed to his finger, where he’ll make room for a fourth ring:

He put the series to bed:

And when it was time to accept his first Finals MVP trophy, Curry turned his head-nodding into rocking his whole body as if he were convulsing:

Curry’s energy is incredible. For the better part of a decade, he has taken on every responsibility necessary to achieve massive team and individual success. And he’s still coming.

More than two hours after Game 6 ended, Curry yelled “Thank you everybody!” and let out a loud scream as he headed into the night with his Finals MVP trophy and a legacy that keeps growing.

Are Pistons going to hold on to Bojan Bodanovic into next season?

Milwaukee Bucks v Detroit Pistons
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For much of the run-up to the Feb. 9 trade deadline, Bojan Bogdanovic has been one of the best and most discussed players available. The 6’8″ wing who can knock down 3s and do some secondary shot creation could help a lot of teams.

One of those is the Pistons, who want to take a big step forward next season. Bogdanovic told Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype the front office spoke to him, and it doesn’t sound like he will get traded.

“Having conversations with the club, Troy [Weaver, general manager] and the owners, they assured me that we’re going to be great next year,” Bogdanovic said. “We have a lot of cap space to sign great players. We’re going to have a high pick again, so that’s going to help us a lot. We have a great young group of guys. When Cade [Cunningham] went down, that kind of hurt us big time. We were thinking that maybe we’d be fighting for the play-in tournament, but when he went down, he was our main guy. All of our offensive strategies were connected to him. When he went down, our season, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs without him.”

The Pistons reportedly have set the price for Bogdanovic at an unprotected first-round pick, which is very steep. This may simply be a case of Detroit being willing to keep Bogdanovic around if nobody wants to meet that price. They did just extend him for two years, $39.1 million and he would be the kind of professional veteran that is good to have in the locker room around a younger team.

Bogdanovic, for his part, would rather not hear the rumors.

“I heard the rumors, but I’m trying to stay away from those conversations,” Bogdanovic said. “I don’t even have any social media like Twitter. I don’t read much about that. It’s not in my control. It’s about the franchises. I’m just going to try and stay focused and play as best I can. Then, we’ll see what’s going to happen at the end of the trade deadline.”

The rumors are not going anywhere, they will stick around through the trade deadline. Bogdanovic may as well.

Report: Mavericks looking for another star at trade deadline. Good luck with that.

Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings
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Two things are true. First, the painted-over mural was right, the Dallas Mavericks desperately need a second star to go next to Luka Dončić. Second, they have backed themselves into a corner without the trade assets or cap space to easily make that happen.

It may be a longshot, but the Mavericks are open to trading anyone but Dončić to find that second star at the deadline, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News reminds us.

It shouldn’t be a surprise Dallas is open to this, of course they are.

The challenges start with, what star is available? The best player maybe on the market right now is John Collins or Bojan Bogdanovic, and while both would help the Mavericks neither is changing the team’s fortunes the way they would hope.

If Toronto decides to become sellers things get interesting. However, as of the latest reports, they are on the fence and telling teams they are waiting to decide what they will do at the deadline (sell, stand pat, or become buyers). Fred VanVleet could be available, and would essentially be a Jalen Brunson replacement, certainly a step up from where the Mavericks are currently. However, the Clippers and others could drive up the asking price, plus the Mavericks would have to step up and pay him this summer, VanVleet is expected to opt out of his $22.8 million contract. O.G. Anunoby would be a great fit next to Dončić, but he is not a star, he is more of a high-level role player.

Pascal Siakam could be that second star next to Dončić, a 6’8″ wing who can finish at the rim, shoot 3s, and would be a great secondary shot creator. It’s a good fit. Siakam is not an elite defender — Dallas would want some 3&D guys added to the roster — but he would be the kind of addition Dallas needs.

Dallas can offer its three first-round picks starting in 2024, but is some combination of those picks and Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood and Dorian Finney-Smith going to entice the Raptors? They will look for a massive package for Siakam and likely see better offers than Dallas can construct.

It may not be easy to pull off, and likely will wait until the offseason (at the earliest), but know the Mavericks are serious about a second star.

Knicks reportedly very interested in Anunoby, if Raptors make him available

Toronto Raptors v Golden State Warriors
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The Toronto Raptors are the one team that could move this trade deadline from a dud to shaking up the playoff race. There are 29 other GMs waiting to see what Massai Ujiri will do, and when they called, they’ve been told “the franchise will make a decision about being a buyer or seller – or standing pat – near deadline day,” reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

If Toronto does decide to trade a player beyond the expected Gary Trent Jr., then the Knicks want to be at the front of the line for defensive wing O.G. Anunoby, Charania reports.

The Knicks and Suns are among the interested suitors in Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby, sources say. New York has shown a willingness to offer multiple first-round picks for Anunoby, according to those sources. The Suns, meanwhile, have control of all of their first-round picks — eight in total —through 2030. SNY first reported the Knicks’ interest last week.

There would be a lot of teams in line for Anunoby, but he is a very Thibodeau-style player — an All-Defensive Team level wing stopper who can finish and is averaging 16.9 points per game — so you can see where the interest comes from. Anunoby also is just 25 and is locked in next season at $18.6 million. While the demand for wings in general is lower this trade season — point guards and centers are more in demand — a lot of teams could use a player the quality of Anunoby. Including the Knicks.

Getting him won’t be cheap — two unprotected first-round picks (or lightly protected) with matching salary would be the price range.

All of that is moot if the Raptors don’t make him available, which is what everyone is waiting to see.

Report: Bucks have been given permission to talk to Jae Crowder

NBA 2022 Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
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Jae Crowder may be the most likely player to be traded at the deadline. The Suns need a shake-up (and to get Devin Booker back), and they are sitting on a $10.2 million player that is not helping them on the court and has yet to bring back any trade value they want.

We may have movement on that front, based on reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic.

In a new development, the Suns have given permission to the Bucks to meet with Crowder and they met over the weekend, league sources tell The Athletic. The Bucks are believed to be the only team that has received permission to visit one-on-one with Crowder, those sources have also indicated…

Both the Suns and Bucks have engaged in serious trade talks for months, with current proposals surrounding Jordan Nwora, George Hill, Serge Ibaka and second-round draft compensation to Phoenix for Crowder, according to sources. The Bucks and Suns have searched for a third team to provide Phoenix with a forward – so what outcome will emerge between now and next Thursday?

Those talks between the Bucks and Crowder likely focused on his role on the team this season (backup four) and possibly re-signing him after this season (he will be a free agent).

Crowder has sat out the season after asking for a trade but is still a Sun because Phoenix head of basketball operations James Jones had a very specific ask in the trade — a forward with a similar skill set to Crowder. It’s tough to trade like-for-like in the league, so nothing has happened. It’s also why that offer from the Bucks doesn’t seem the fit the Suns want. Nwora is a forward but a fringe rotation player, Hill can help with some backup point guard minutes, but nothing really moves the needle for Phoenix. The problem is the Suns have waited so long to get a trade done that Crowder’s value has gone down — by the time he is traded, works his way back into game shape, then steps on the court for his new team he’ll be lucky to play 30 games in the regular season. Teams aren’t going to give up as much for a rental.

The report states the Heat also are interested, which is not a shock they want a P.J. Tucker-like player at the four and Crowder fits the bill, but putting together a trade that works for both sides is difficult (unless the Suns suddenly fell in love with Duncan Robinson, which would be a bigger trade). The Hawks come up, but there is a growing sense around the league that the new Landry Fields-led front office is less inclined to trade John Collins, and they may ride with him at the four.

It’s likely Crowder gets traded somewhere at the deadline and the Bucks maybe make the most sense, but this deal could have been done long ago if the sides wanted to.