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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marcus Smart headline All-Defensive teams

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NBA teams scored more points per possession this season than ever.

But a few players stood out for slowing the offensive onslaught.

The All-Defensive teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, voting points in parentheses):

First team

Guard: Marcus Smart, BOS (63-19-145)

Guard: Eric Bledsoe, MIL (36-28-100)

Forward: Paul George, OKC (96-3-195)

Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL (94-5-193)

Center: Rudy Gobert, UTA (97-2-196)

Second team

Guard: Jrue Holiday, MIN (31-28-90)

Guard: Klay Thompson, GSW (23-36-82)

Forward: Draymond Green, GSW (2-57-61)

Forward: Kawhi Leonard, TOR (5-29-39)

Center: Joel Embiid, PHI (4-72-80)

Also receiving votes: Danny Green, TOR (19-28-66); Patrick Beverley, LAC (14-20-48); Myles Turner, IND (1-37-39); P.J. Tucker, HOU (1-36-38); Pascal Siakam, TOR (0-24-24); Derrick White, SAS (4-7-15); Russell Westbrook, OKC (2-5-9); Jimmy Butler, PHI (2-5-9); Chris Paul, HOU (1-5-7); Robert Covington, MIN (1-3-5); Paul Millsap, DEN (0-5-5); James Harden, HOU (2-0-4); Al Horford, BOS (0-4-4); Kevin Durant, GSW (0-4-4); Malcolm Brogdon, MIL (1-1-3); Josh Richardson, MIA (0-3-3); Kyle Lowry, TOR (0-3-3)
Stephen Curry, GSW (1-0-2); Thaddeus Young, IND (0-2-2); Anthony Davis, NOP (0-2-2); Ben Simmons, PHI (0-2-2); Donovan Mitchell, UTA (0-2-2); Derrick Favors, UTA (0-2-2); Joe Ingles, UTA (0-2-2); Jaylen Brown, BOS (0-1-1); Kyrie Irving, BOS (0-1-1); Ed Davis, BRK (0-1-1); Gary Harris, DEN (0-1-1); Nikola Jokic, DEN (0-1-1); Andre Drummond, DET (0-1-1); Andre Iguodala, GSW (0-1-1); Jordan Bell, GSW (0-1-1); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC (0-1-1); Mike Conley, MEM (0-1-1); Kyle Anderson, MEM (0-1-1); Bam Adebayo, MIA (0-1-1); Khris Middleton, MIL (0-1-1); Brook Lopez, MIL (0-1-1); Terrance Ferguson, OKC (0-1-1); Damian Lillard, POR (0-1-1); De’Aaron Fox, SAC (0-1-1); Ricky Rubio, UTA (0-1-1); Bradley Beal, WAS (0-1-1)

Observations:

  • This voting could foreshadow a tight Defensive Player of the Year race. The three finalists for that award – Rudy Gobert, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo – each received a high majority of votes, but not unanimity, at their positions. Or Gobert could just cruise to another victory.
  • I have no major complaints about the selections. I would have put Danny Green (who finished fifth among guards) on the first team, bumped down Eric Bledsoe and excluded Klay Thompson. I also would have give second-team forward to P.J. Tucker (who finished fifth among forwards) over Kawhi Leonard. Here are our picks for reference.
  • P.J. Tucker came only one voting point from the second team. If he tied Kawhi Leonard, both players would have made it on an expanded six-player second team.
  • Leonard hasn’t defended with the same verve this season. He remains awesome in stretches, particular in the playoffs. But his effort in the regular season didn’t match his previous level. Defensive reputations die hard.
  • It’s a shame Thaddeus Young received only two second-team votes. My general rule is you can complain about a lack of votes for only players you picked, and I didn’t pick Young. But he came very close to P.J. Tucker for my final forward spot, Young had a stronger case than several forwards ahead of him.
  • James Harden got two first-team votes. Did someone think they were voting for All-NBA? Stephen Curry also got a first-team vote. Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard got second-team votes. Nikola Jokic got a second-team vote. Kevin Durant got a few second-team votes. There’s plenty of All-NBA/All-Defensive overlap with other frontcourt players. There could easily be an incorrectly submitted ballot.
  • But that still leaves a second Harden first-team vote with no other plausible explanation. Someone must really love steals, guaring in the post and absolutely no other aspects of defense.
  • Jordan Bell got a second-team vote at forward. He’s a decent defender, but someone who played fewer minutes than Dirk Nowitzki, Bruno Caboclo and Omari Spellman this season. Bell also primarily played center. Weird.

Kings, Pacers reportedly added to long list of Tobias Harris suitors

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It’s the biggest decision for Sixers GM Elton Brand this summer: What to do about Tobias Harris?

If Jimmy Butler decides to leave Philadelphia then it’s easy, re-sign Harris to a max or near max deal and make him the third player in the Big Three with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Then hope the Harris who dominated his first eight games with the Sixers and showed up sometimes during the playoffs is the guy you get all season next year (to be fair, Harris was a guy who had to sacrifice a lot to fit in with all those stars, put the ball in his hands more and he will thrive).

If Butler re-signs with Philly it gets more complicated. Owner Joshua Harris had said from the start he would pay the tax to keep them both — and extend Simmons — but to do so means likely losing J.J. Redick and having a thin bench without guys such as James Ennis and Mike Scott. The question for Brand becomes can most of Harris’ production replicated by a few other players and for half the cost? Without Harris, the Sixers should be able to round out a deeper bench. That said, the Sixers gave up a lot in trading for Harris at the deadline, too much for just a rental.

Brand is going to have to make his call quickly because the list of suitors for Harris is growing. Keith Pompey at the Philadelphia Inquirer says the Kings, Pacers, Mavericks, and Jazz are all expected to come after Harris. Sacramento and Indiana are new to that list, which in the past also has included Memphis and Brooklyn.

With that many suitors, someone is going to come in at the max, which for Harris is $141 million over four years from those other teams. Philadelphia can offer $190 million over five years.

This is also a decision for Harris. The money is going to be massive wherever he lands (and will push him north of $200 million in career earnings even if he leaves), so working environment matters even more. Is he willing to sacrifice a little more on the court to be part of something potentially special in Philadelphia? Or, does he want to go to Utah where he would get a lot of touches next to Donovan Mitchell on a team that seems a player away? Same with going to Indiana to play with Victor Oladipo. Or does he want to be the star in Brooklyn or Memphis?

Harris is going to have options.

What he decides may get overlooked by some fans, but it will change the course of franchises this summer.

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey on Mike Conley-Ricky Rubio trade talks with Grizzlies: ‘A team leaked something, and it was unethical’

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The Grizzles and Jazz reportedly discussed a trade built around Mike Conley and Ricky Rubio before the trade deadline.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey is upset we know about that.

Lindsey, via Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

“Unfortunately,” Lindsey said, “a team leaked something and it was unethical.”

The Jazz are notoriously secretive, which is their prerogative. But “unethical” is a loaded charge.

This could affect future negotiations between Utah and Memphis

The Grizzlies have since revamped their front office, promoting Jason Wexler and Zach Kleiman. But many executives in place during the trade deadline – including former general manager Chris Wallace (and Wexler and Kleiman, for that matter) – remain in the organization.

The Jazz could still use a point guard, especially with Rubio entering free agency. Will knowing Utah tried to trade him make Rubio less likely to re-sign? Will the Jazz still try to acquire Conley? The situation could be tough after trust was broken.

Kyle Korver says it’s been a ‘long few years’ as potential retirement looms

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Kyle Korver is 38 years old. There’s many infamous photos of him early in his career in the NBA, hanging out in giant, baggy pants that seem ridiculous for him today. The guy has been in the league since 2003, but he still is able to compete at a high level.

Now, after a season in which the Utah Jazz were bounced in the first round by the Houston Rockets, Korver is considering retiring.

In recent interview with Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News, Korver said there are several costs in consideration that he has to levy against playing basketball.

Via Deseret News:

“There’s a real cost as you get older,” he said of playing professional basketball. “There’s what you need to put into the game, but there’s also a family cost. That’s probably where I’m at is weighing that cost.”

Korver said that, “I think I still love playing basketball,” but it’s been a “long few years” for him with the unexpected 2018 passing of his brother Kirk, the fact he has young children, multiple trades and heartbreak coming up short of a championship in the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Each year we go through these rounds with veteran NBA players, and it’s hard to predict which way any of them will go. At nearly 40 years old, Korver is creeping up in age and it just doesn’t seem necessary for him to continue if he can’t fully commit his heart to it. And honestly, who could blame him?

Retirement or not, Korver will go down as one of the NBA’s all-time great shooters.

Report: Grizzlies, Jazz, Mavericks, Nets, could join 76ers in trying to sign Tobias Harris

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When the talk of “what could happen to the 76ers if they lose in the second round to Toronto?” heats up, much of the focus is often on Jimmy Butler. He’s a max free agent this summer — even if teams are a little uneasy paying him that much over four or five years because of his age and injury history — and he will have options, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. And other stops in between.

Tobias Harris can get overlooked in that, but he’s a free agent, too. And he’s going to get paid max or near-max money by somebody. The 76ers may have traded for Harris as Butler insurance, but Harris will have options, as Shams Charania of The Athletic noted.

Around the league, executives believe several other teams, such as Memphis, Utah, Dallas and Brooklyn, will also provide competition for Harris.

Harris is a borderline All-Star level player — he averaged 20 points a game, shot 39.7 percent from three, and pulled down 7.9 rebounds a night this season — who wants some stability after being on four teams in four years. He wants to be wanted, to be appreciated. Philly is trying to provide that, and show him how they can win with him (and how his role might grow if Butler bolts). However, it’s easy to see how he could fit on the wing as a second shot creator in Utah, how he could help lift a young team in Brooklyn, or how he could mesh smoothly with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas.

Philadelphia management has said the plan is to bring Butler and Harris back next season. Money will talk, but how this second round of the playoffs (and potentially beyond) goes will have an impact too. If the 76ers make Harris wait, he will have options.