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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 29 May 2018 at 9:27pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Good analysis, Rick.

Would LeBron have accomplished as much if he were in the Western
Conference? Also, was the East tougher when MJ played compared to
the past decade?
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 30 May 2018 at 5:23am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Memories are short and the past is always viewed with
rose colored glasses. Things I remember people using
to criticize Jordan compared to great players before
him:

1- Jordan didn't have a true rival to test him
(Russell vs Chamberlain, Magic vs Bird, etc).
2- Expansion weakened the league overall during
Jordan's run so he had an easier path than players
before him.

It's funny because both of those basically imply MJ
was playing against inferior competition and now
people say LeBron is playing against inferior
competition compared to Jordan's era.

I don't think the Bulls would've won 8 straight titles
had Jordan stayed away from baseball. The timing was
actually perfect in a sense as it allowed the Bulls to
completely retool. Pippen is the only player that was
there with MJ for all 6 titles. If Jordan had been
there my guess is they win a 4th straight or at least
make another Finals or two but the rebuilding process
would've been harder to stay in the championship hunt.
What MJ has that will be hard for anyone to ever
compete with is the pure storybook aspect of his
career. Everything just sort of went perfectly for
him as if it were a screenplay.

Speaking of MJ playing baseball...when he left the
Bulls won 55 games...how many games will this Cavs
team win next year if LeBron isn't there...?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 30 May 2018 at 12:22pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Memories are short and the past is always viewed with
rose colored glasses. Things I remember people using
to criticize Jordan compared to great players before
him:

1- Jordan didn't have a true rival to test him
(Russell vs Chamberlain, Magic vs Bird, etc).
2- Expansion weakened the league overall during
Jordan's run so he had an easier path than players
before him.

It's funny because both of those basically imply MJ
was playing against inferior competition and now
people say LeBron is playing against inferior
competition compared to Jordan's era.
*****
Yep.  I remember those arguments too and they've always been weak sauce.  Jordan had no true rival because he was simply better than anyone else, not b/c the league was weak.  And while Bird and Magic were in decline when Michael finally broke through, he competed against them earlier at their best and generally smoked them individually even if his then-inferior teams didn't win out initially.  Bird described him as God disguised as Michael Jordan.  Magic was also quite in awe as I recall.

Some try to dismiss Russell's 11 championships in 13 years and 8 straight titles as asterisked because there were fewer teams and the league had far less impact in popularity / influence.  Many games weren't even televised nationally in the early years.

Bosh and rimshaw.  Fewer teams means the talent was more highly concentrated and there were fewer tomato cans.  And just because it wasn't on everyone's tv and in the national consciousness doesn't mean Russell didn't rip down those rebounds and Jedi mindfuck the countless centers he Jedi mindfucked and win more titles more often than any other athlete in any professional sport in modern history.  It just means he (along with Chamberlain and even Kareem, whose true dominance occurred before the NBA reached true prominence) was early to the show.  It's hard to convince a nation of their dominance because they weren't saturated with nightly Sports Center highlights of their work for decades.  A small box score and short blurb is about all there was in those days for many.  But it doesn't mean they weren't unstoppable monsters.


I don't think the Bulls would've won 8 straight titles
had Jordan stayed away from baseball. The timing was
actually perfect in a sense as it allowed the Bulls to
completely retool.
****
It's a reasonable question.  Taking the two years off allowed Michael to pause and get his mind right.  People forget that as in demand as LeBron is today (after every Cavs game they now run a teaser saying "coming up:  LeBron's press conference!!"), back in the day, Michael was even more deluged with fan and media attention.  One story had a scantily clad woman lay on top of the hood of his car and refuse to get up, delaying him for a long time while he negotiated his escape.  That doesn't sound so bad but it probably happened in many worse iterations every day, which got old.  He was mentally exhausted after the third championship and badly needed to de-compress.  All that scrutiny without any break certainly would have worn more on him had he stayed. 

It's also hard to say what would have happened had his Dad not fallen asleep at the side of the the wrong road.   I'm selfishly guessing we would have likely had two more years of Jordan at his peak.  Whether that would have translated to additional titles, who knows.  He would have at least compiled that many more ridiculous highlights and added to his totals.  Just knowing the competitor in MJ and how amazingly dominant those teams were (the year after Jordan first retired, they lost on a bad call in game seven to the Knicks in the semis.)  I think it's plausible he would have added one additional title.


What MJ has that will be hard for anyone to ever
compete with is the pure storybook aspect of his
career. Everything just sort of went perfectly for
him as if it were a screenplay.
*****
Yes, and that's part of why it's been so hard to wrap my mind around anyone being able to possibly challenge his position.  He was MVP in all six of his Finals!  Scoring champ, DPOY, All Star MVP, Reg. Season MVP and Finals MVP all in the same year!  Dream Team captain and champion.  Game-winning shot in the NCAA championship.  At his peak, he bulldozed and buried any and all challengers time after time after time and it wasn't particularly close.  There was never any question of his dominance on both ends nor of his desire, competitiveness or ability to win in the critical moment.  I just wish he had retired after abusing Russell in his game-winner in his sixth Finals, though... as Bob Costas pointed out at the time, that would have been the ultimate storybook ending.


Edited by Rick Senger on 30 May 2018 at 12:28pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 30 May 2018 at 12:48pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Would LeBron have accomplished as much if he were in the Western
Conference? Also, was the East tougher when MJ played compared to
the past decade?
*****
For LeBron, it depends on which Western team he played for.  The East was tougher when Michael was there, but a big part of that was because Michael was there.  The two years Michael wasn't in the league between titles, a Western team won.  It was a Western team that won for the first time after he left the second time and that team (the Spurs) shortly became its own dynasty. 

In thinking about this, the strengths of each boil down to this for me:

Michael took good to very good teams and consistently elevated them to unstoppable on the biggest stage for an unusually extended period of time.

LeBron has taken mediocre to good teams and elevated them to highly overachieve and sometimes win it all on the biggest stage for a crazily extended period of time. 

Michael's excellence was more concentrated and it was definitive.  6 Finals appearances, 6 wins.  Once his teams were good he was usually (always?  I can't quite recall) the favorite but nobody ever defeated him when he had the horses. 

LeBron's excellence has been less definitive but it has lasted longer.  9 Finals appearances, 3 wins (to date).  He's been defeated but I can't think of more than one or so times he lost when he was really given much of a chance to win.   He has won several times when he was not expected to do so. 
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 30 May 2018 at 6:49pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

It's fun to speculate what would have happened if MJ had played those two full seasons. I got to give him 2 more rings. The Knicks and Magic would have been his only competition thru the playoffs (Hawks!?). The Finals, I love Hakeem but against that full Bulls roster....no.

Though we have to think of MJ's mental state, would he have been burnt out which had him walking away to golf and play baseball in the first place. Or would the fierce competitor in him have driven him to 2 more championships?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 31 May 2018 at 11:18am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Iguodala is out for game one, but Love remains in concussion protocol and they will wait until gametime to decide.  Love's absence actually helped vs. Boston in games six and seven, boosting the minutes for former Celtic Jeff Green who then got sweet revenge against the team who traded him.  

Iguodala is surely the best GS LeBron defender.  Still, the pundits have already labeled this as easily among the biggest FInals mismatches in the past 30 years.  We'll see.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 01 June 2018 at 12:53am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Ouch.  Great game but it's sad LeBron's 51 got wasted because Hill couldn't hit a free throw late and JR Smith didn't know how to keep score. 

As much as I appreciate Draymond Green's skills and hustle, I'm sick of his constant crying and whining like a little girl.  He blatantly poked LeBron's eye (blood red the rest of the game) and dropped him to the parquet in agony and vehemently denied doing anything.  Lather, rinse, repeat on at least two other obvious fouls plus the obnoxious clapping / cheering right in Thompson's face when Thompson got ejected... that punk is shameless.
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 01 June 2018 at 5:05am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Cavs had bad luck, bad calls go against them and JR
Smith...too much even for yet ANOTHER all-time great
LeBron performance to overcome. I really thought the
Cavs were going to pull it out.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 01 June 2018 at 12:03pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

yet ANOTHER all-time great LeBron performance
*****
Russell once got 30 points and an absurd 40 rebounds in a Finals game 7.  Rookie Magic got 42 with 7 assists and 15 rebounds and 3 steals in game six of the 1980 Finals.  MJ got 38 with 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in his famous "Finals flu game."  In the 1988 Finals Isiah Thomas got 43 with 8 assists and 6 steals.  Ignoring all James' heroic previous Finals outings, those are among the most dominating Finals games that immediately come to mind.  James' 51 points, 8 rebs and 8 assists stands right with them all.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 02 June 2018 at 1:17am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Some people say MJ was hung over not sick in that game.
Any truth to that?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 02 June 2018 at 9:41am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Doubtful it was the flu.  With those symptoms, he would have been highly contagious and risked exposing his entire team.  Also, he was completely fine two days later for game 6 when the flu usually lasts a week. 

There are rumors (one source: Matty Goukas) that he was at Robert Redford's chalet in the Utah mountains the night before and partied too hard.  Also media outlet stories of his being spotted up at 4 am somewhere else (which contradicts reports from Jordan's trainer that he called at 2 am from his hotel room complaining of flu-like symptoms and was soon diagnosed as being unable to play the next day.)  A third story had him eating bad pizza (delivered by a suspiciously large posse of five smiling Utah pizza delivery guys, which spooked his teammates who refused to eat the tainted pizza unlike Michael.)

I like #3.  Food poisoning would run its course typically in a day and lines up with his symptoms.  Maybe he was a little hungover too; he did like to party.  Whatever the health issue, Jordan reportedly slept all day and barely got out of bed in time to make the 7 pm game where he crushed the competition.


Edited by Rick Senger on 02 June 2018 at 9:43am
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 06 June 2018 at 11:18pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

2nd crummy Finals in a row for two reasons.  Number one reason: Kevin Durant, who was unstoppable for the second year in a row.  Number two reason:  Kevin Durant not having the courage to try to win a title by joining any team other than the one which had just won an NBA-record 73 games right before he joined.  Unless LeBron joins Houston, I don't see it changing next year. 
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 07 June 2018 at 5:25am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

It ain't over until it's over so I won't eulogize the
Cavs yet. I really hate that Steph can be 1 for 14 from
the floor (at one point anyway) and the Warriors can win
decisively even with LeBron having another excellent
game (33-10-11) and actually getting some help (Love,
Smith and Hood all in double figures).
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 07 June 2018 at 9:16am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I bleed wine and gold (the Cavs' colors, y'know) - but I know when it's over. The only way the Cavaliers can win this series is a plane accident on the way back to Oakland for the Warriors. :)

They're just too damned good. Our problem Wednesday night wasn't Kevin Durant - our problem was the rest of the team. If one player is having a juggernaut night, you can't stop that - you can only try to limit the damage. But Curry and Thompson were having bad nights, and we STILL couldn't stop the rest of the Warriors.

The Warriors have a world class team, and we do not. We have Lebron, Love, and nine role players. Damned good role players some nights - but not EVERY night, and that's what we need.

Thus, I'm afraid, begins the decline of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I do not believe we will show up again next year; I'm not entirely sure that Lebron James won't go to another team, or simply retire.

Who can stop the Warriors? Lebron on another team - Houston or Boston maybe. But I just feel that we're the Buffalo Bills of the late 80s right now.

I would LOVE to be proved wrong; I would celebrate a "Miracle at the Q" as much as anyone. But no one's ever come back from an 0 - 3 deficit, and I don't see this team doing it. Lebron is the best player ever, but he cannot do everything.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 07 June 2018 at 9:44am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Steph and Klay were both way off (Steph did have that killer three late),  but Javale McGee of all people killed the Cavs, pretty disheartening for Cleve fans.  I never understood Hood's benching; he's a 16 PPG scorer and way too athletic to get all the DNPs, especially with aging JR Smith having a horrendous shooting playoffs and not d'ing up like usual.  Smith played better last night but Cleve surely would have won game one had Hood taken even 12 or 15 of Smith's 38 horrific minutes; they should split those minutes ideally.  Cleveland had chances late to win games one and three but I find ultimately the best talent pulls away in those key moments and that's what happened.  Besides shuffling a few equivalent bigs and roleplayers, basically the GS team the Cavs barely and miraculously beat in 2016 replaced Harrison Barnes with Kevin Durant.   Cleveland traded away clutch perennial All Star Kyrie Irving and got some middling starters and roleplayers.  Just too big a difference to overcome.


Edited by Rick Senger on 07 June 2018 at 10:15am
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 07 June 2018 at 9:59am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Lebron on another team - Houston or Boston maybe.
*****
I would LOVE for LeBron to take his talents to Beantown but unless they trade Kyrie Irving, that's off the table.  Houston has cap issues and would need to do some serious horsetrading but Morey is certainly capable of anything.  Philly has some space and some young bucks so they seem more plausible, though putting ball dominant Simmons and LeBron together is an odd fit.  Rumors persist that LBJ and George may also land in LA, who has cap space and some decent youngsters, though not the firepower of Houston.   As usual, it will be a drama filled offseason.

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Doug Centers
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Posted: 07 June 2018 at 4:24pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

If someone would have told me the Cavs backcourt would outscore the Warriors backcourt , I would say that's a win for the Cavs!.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 08 June 2018 at 9:16am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I am amazed Steve Kerr lets Curry take so many 3-pointers
when he is not playing well. He is pretty good at
finishing at the rim, he should go to the basket more
often.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 08 June 2018 at 6:51pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Kerr has always given Curry free rein, starting with letting him take those ridiculous 35 - 40 footers back when nobody else in the league ever did it except when the shot clock was at 1.  Now probably 10 players do it regularly, including several Rockets.  Steph is certainly at his best when he mixes up dribble drives in the lane with shots from outer space but it was probably also in the back of Kerr's mind that Curry was coming off an all-time NBA-Finals record 9 threes in the previous game .
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 09 June 2018 at 9:09am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

WTF Lebron?  Secretly playing the last three games of the series with a broken hand??  I understand not wanting to help the Warriors with strategy but now that sports wagering is legal I have a feeling more than a few bettors are pretty peeved.  

David West and Shaun Livingston are hinting that there were some major distractions / b.s. going on with GS behind the scenes; curious to find out what that was because other than the Houston series, GS looked pretty invulnerable and locked in.  That's three titles in four years and the only team to lose was the 73-win group some anointed "the best ever."  With Durant committed to returning, this team will be standing in the way of all contenders for many years to come. 

Let the free agency moose hunt begin.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 10 June 2018 at 2:38pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

I feel like the Warriors need to make some changes to counter the
Rockets next season. If Chris Paul didnít get hurt, Houston may have
beaten the Warriors.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 11 June 2018 at 10:02am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Paul's injury was a big factor no doubt.   However, his health is so unreliable I'm almost on the other side and feel like Houston needs the extra piece to get over the top.  Paul was supposed to be that piece and he was making the case until the injury but he'll be 34 next year and other than 2014 he hasn't avoided serious injury since 2010-11.  That doesn't tend to get better with age.  Certainly Hou and GS are the two best teams until Boston or some other Eastern team gets to the Finals to test that theory.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 11 June 2018 at 6:53pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Gary "The Glove" Payton is saying LeBron's son has committed to Sierra Canyon, an LA-based school where the sons of Scottie Pippen and Kenyon Martin play.  James has been saying all along his family will play a major role in where he ends up so if this rumor is true, it's hard to see LeBron going anywhere next year but LA.  Link
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 13 June 2018 at 4:54pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Here are most of the players of any value possibly available this summer.  Who goes and who stays?  Who would you go after for your team?

ATLANTA HAWKS

Player options: 
Dewayne Dedmon

BOSTON CELTICS

Restricted free agents:
Marcus Smart 

Unrestricted free agents:
Aron Baynes 
Greg Monroe
Shane Larkin

BROOKLYN NETS

Unrestricted free agents:
Joe Harris
Jahlil Okafor

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Unrestricted free agents:
Michael Carter-Williams

CHICAGO BULLS

Restricted free agents:
Noah Vonleh 
Zach LaVine 

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Restricted free agents:
Rodney Hood

Unrestricted free agents:
Jeff Green 
Jose Calderon 

Player option:
LeBron James

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Unrestricted free agents:
Seth Curry 
Nerlens Noel

DENVER NUGGETS

Unrestricted free agents: 
Will Barton
Devin Harris

Team option:
Nikola Jokic

DETROIT PISTONS

Unrestricted free agents: 
Anthony Tolliver
James Ennis

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Unrestricted free agents:
Nick Young
Zaza Pachulia
David West
JaVale McGee
Kevon Looney

Player option:
Kevin Durant

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Restricted free agents:
Clint Capela 

Unrestricted free agents:
Chris Paul
Joe Johnson
Gerald Green
Trevor Ariza

INDIANA PACERS

Unrestricted free agents: 
Trevor Booker

Team options: 
Lance Stephenson

Player options:
Thaddeus Young
Cory Joseph

LA CLIPPERS

Unrestricted free agents:
Avery Bradley 

Player options:
DeAndre Jordan
Austin Rivers

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Restricted free agents:
Julius Randle 
Andre Ingram 

Unrestricted free agents:
Channing Frye
Brook Lopez
Isaiah Thomas
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Unrestricted free agents:
Mario Chalmers
Tyreke Evans 

MIAMI HEAT

Unrestricted free agents:
Dwyane Wade 
Wayne Ellington

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Restricted free agents: 
Jabari Parker 

Unrestricted free agents:
Shabazz Muhammad

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

Restricted free agents:
Nemanja Bjelica

Unrestricted free agents:
Derrick Rose

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Unrestricted free agents:
Rajon Rondo 
DeMarcus Cousins 
Jordan Crawford 
Ian Clark 

NEW YORK KNICKS

Unrestricted free agents:
Jarrett Jack
Michael Beasley 

Player options:
Enes Kanter 
Kyle O'Quinn 

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Unrestricted free agents:
Corey Brewer
Raymond Felton
Jerami Grant 

Player options: 
Paul George
Carmelo Anthony (early termination)

ORLANDO MAGIC

Restricted free agents:
Aaron Gordon 

Unrestricted free agents: 
Marreese Speights 
Mario Hezonja

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Unrestricted free agents:
Marco Belinelli
JJ Redick
Ersan Ilyasova
Amir Johnson 

Team options:
T.J. McConnell
Richaun Holmes

PHOENIX SUNS

Restricted free agents:
Elfrid Payton 

Unrestricted free agents:
Alex Len

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Restricted free agents:
Shabazz Napier
Jusuf Nurkic 

Unrestricted free agents: 
Ed Davis 

SACRAMENTO KINGS

Unrestricted free agents: 
Vince Carter 

Player options:
Kosta Koufos 
Garrett Temple

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Restricted free agents: 
Davis Bertans 
Bryn Forbes  
Kyle Anderson 

Unrestricted free agents:
Tony Parker 

Player options:
Rudy Gay 
Danny Green

TORONTO RAPTORS

Restricted free agents: 
Fred VanVleet 

UTAH JAZZ 

Restricted free agents:
Dante Exum 

Unrestricted free agents:
Derrick Favors 

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Unrestricted free agents: 
Ramon Sessions 
Ty Lawson (didn't play last year)
Mike Scott



Edited by Rick Senger on 13 June 2018 at 5:04pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 15 June 2018 at 11:42pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Kawhi's virtual trade request (to the Lakers no less) complicates SA's plans.  If LA can nab Kawhi, surely LeBron will follow.  The problem is, what assets can LA offer that will satisfy the Spurs?  Also, does SA really want to keep him in their conference vs. shipping him east where they won't face him as often?  Teams like Philly and Boston have plenty of assets to offer but now they may be reticent to offer their best because they know Kawhi may bolt after a year for Lakerland.  It was obvious things weren't right in SA but after being mum all season, this is a stunner. 
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