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Report: Pacers wing C.J. Miles opts out of final year of contract, will be free agent

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This is the right move for C.J. Miles. And it was expected.

The veteran wing will be entering his 13th NBA season at age 30 in the fall, and he had developed into a solid “3&D” rotation wing player (better at the three than the “D” but he is good on both ends). He has decided to take those skills to the free agent market this summer, reports Chris Haynes at ESPN.

Indiana Pacers swingman C.J. Miles will decline his player option for the 2017-18 season and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, league sources tell ESPN.

Miles, 30, is forgoing a salary of approximately $4.8 million in hopes of securing an extended, lucrative deal this offseason.

Miles will likely double his annual salary and draw a three-year contract in the mid-level exception range — three years, $26 million or so.

For teams looking for a quality wing player who can shoot the rock, he could be a good value. Teams such as Orlando or New Orleans should be on the phone with him early in free agency, he fits what they need. Expect a handful of teams to reach out, and for Miles to have options, including returning to the Pacers.

Report: Bucks get permission to talk to top assistant GMs to fill their GM vacancy

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The Milwaukee Bucks are working to fill their vacant general manager position. The guy who held the gig and had been a big hand in building Milwaukee into a talented team on the rise in the East took his talents to Orlando to be the GM there as part of a regime change in that organization.

The Bucks, for their part, are going to speak to a number of top assistant GMs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

As a precursor to possible interviews, Milwaukee made calls on Tuesday to inquire about Indiana vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Denver assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Memphis Grizzlies VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski and Atlanta Hawks special adviser to ownership Wes Wilcox, league sources told The Vertical.

Those teams granted permission for Milwaukee to interview the candidates.

A few of those names may be familiar, including a couple former GMs. For example, Wilcox was the GM worked with Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta in recent years, but a split in what direction the organization should take going forward has led to changes there (Budenholzer is now only coaching, while Wilcox is in a holding pattern position). However, the one guy that could have the inside track is Stefanski, as he has a history with team coach Jason Kidd as well as the guy the Bucks hired to run their search, Rod Thorn.

Stefanski has history with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and team consultant Rod Thorn, whom he worked closely with in New Jersey. Stefanski was Thorn’s top assistant in the Nets’ run to consecutive NBA Finals appearances and led the Sixers to three playoff appearances in four years as GM, including the drafting of Jrue Holiday (No. 17 overall in 2009) and Nikola Vucevic (No. 16 overall in 2011).

Despite all those names, the smart money is still on Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik, who is now running the team on a day-to-day basis and is considered the leading candidate for the job.

Whoever gets the job needs to be able to work well with Kidd. There have been rumors of that for a while that he has almost GM powers over moves, and that it led to friction in the organization.

Whoever gets the job takes over a team on the rise in the East, one that already has Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Kris Middleton. The next step is to continue to develop those players add the right pieces around them to guide this team to becoming a contender. It will take a deft hand at GM to do that.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch in the NBA Finals

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Finally, on Thursday we get to the main event: The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Golden State Warriors, round three. The trilogy. The greatest rivalry the NBA has seen in years — now with more Kevin Durant!

In this PBT Extra, I discuss three things to keep an eye on during these NBA Finals. At the top of the list is what I see as the key to the series — Cleveland’s defense. It has looked a little better the last couple of playoff rounds, but Golden State presents a different level of challenge.

Cleveland can win this series, but their margin for error is slim.

Unnamed Cavalier reportedly doesn’t think JaVale McGee is “smart enough” to play in Finals

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There are some regular rotation players who will end up with very good courtside seats but sharply reduced minutes in the NBA Finals due to matchups. It happens every year.

One of those could be the Warriors backup bigs — JaVale McGee in particular. If Tristan Thompson isn’t on the floor it might be difficult to find a good matchup for McGee (plus the Warriors will likely play small a lot themselves this series).  However, one anonymous Cavaliers player told Dave McMenamin of ESPN there is another reason McGeen could sit, a story the reporter relayed on ESPN’s The Basketball Analogy Show podcast with Brian Windhorst (hat tip to DefPen.com and Bleacher Report).

“I had a Cavs player disagree with your opinion of McGee, Brian. He postulated to me that he doesn’t even think McGee’s gonna be able to get on the court or certainly not stay on the court because he doesn’t think he’s quote, unquote ‘smart enough’ to be able to play in this series.”

There’s a little more motivation for the Warriors. As if blowing a 3-1 lead in the last Finals didn’t provide enough.

McGee has played well for the Warriors through the season and into the playoffs. He will get his chances. But if he is limited these playoffs it’s not about intelligence as much as it is matchups. Cleveland could face the same problem with Kevin Love, and improved perimeter defender but one who can be exposed out there and who will find himself in difficult matchups in this series.

PBT Podcast: NBA Finals preview with Dan Feldman

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It’s the NBA Finals we all expected and wanted — the two best teams in the NBA, teams with just one playoff loss between them, playing with a lot of legacy on the line. There are a lot of questions to be answered over the coming weeks:

Is Cleveland’s defense going to be focused for 48 minutes? How is Golden State going to handle LeBron on the pick-and-roll? What does this Finals mean for the legacy of LeBron James? Or the Warriors?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports delve into all that and more in this Finals preview podcast. They discuss the historic nature of this series as well as some things to watch. Then, of course, there are predictions.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.