HoopsHype rumors

Playoff preview: Western Conference

April 20, 2014 | 07:51 AM ET Update

The NBA has informed teams that it is projecting a rise in the salary cap of nearly $5 million for next season, which could aid clubs such as Chicago and Houston in their attempts to steal free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks, according to sources familiar with the forecasts. ESPN.com

But sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the Bulls -- even before these developments came to light Friday night via noted NBA salary-cap expert Larry Coon -- were already feeling increasingly optimistic behind the scenes about their chances of convincing Anthony to leave the Knicks in the wake of New York's failure to make the playoffs. This is the first season Anthony has failed to reach the playoffs in his 11-year career. It's believed that the Bulls would still have to shed some veteran salary in addition to releasing former All-Star forward Carlos Boozer via the amnesty clause this summer to be able to make a competitive offer that could persuade Anthony to leave the new Jackson-led Knicks and the Madison Square Garden stage he loves so dearly. But a higher cap figure than anticipated would naturally make things easier for Chicago. ESPN.com

Both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are going into the “poison pill” season of their contracts. But if Houston were to trade them, it would remove only the average salary of Asik and Lin’s contract ($8 million) from the books rather than the $30 million that the players (combined) will make in 2014-15. So both Houston and Chicago would have to make major roster alterations if they want to sign Anthony as a free agent. ESPN.com

The biggest personnel decision figures to involve Monroe, who made just more than $5 million this year, and figures to see that more than doubled in free agency, though the Pistons can match any offer. If Monroe receives an offer the Pistons deem excessive, they must try to muster and sign-and-trade deal with another team, or let him go without compensation. It generally is believed the Pistons will not choose the latter option. Booth Newspapers

Monroe said he is looking forward to the "mini-recruiting process," and is expected to receive four-year offers upwards of $12 million per year. "There will be a lot of changes, a lot of personnel changes, on this team," Monroe said last week. "A lot of guys' contracts are up. So you will see some changes." Booth Newspapers

The Wizards have a player option of the final year of Miller’s contract next season. Miller can be bought out for $2 million of his $4.6 million salary but he has helped solidify the Wizards’ bench and completed the team’s long and frustrating search for a backup to John Wall. Whereas the Wizards once dreaded when Wall sat, they can now expect Miller to maintain or lead a ignite a rally with one of his patented point guard clinics. “He has that high IQ and he’s been in the league for a long time,” Beal said. “He knows everything.” Washington Post

Just three months ago, Miller was home in Denver, working out on his own and waiting for the Nuggets to trade or release him. Golden State, Minnesota and Washington were in the mix, but the Warriors nabbed Steve Blake and the Wizards swooped in with an offer of Jan Vesely to get Miller, a move that allowed him to reach the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 years. “This was my first option, just looking at the roster, previous history with Martell [Webster], Nene and Al [Harrington],” Miller said. “This was my first choice. It was granted and I’m just happy to get here and try to get comfortable with the situation. It’s been a good experience so far. I’m going to enjoy my time here for as long as they want me here. I’m just happy to be in the playoffs, happy to be able to contribute to this team.” Washington Post

The Warriors had battled and come away with a surprising 109-105 win Saturday at Staples Center in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series, and Jackson was left explaining why he and his players excelled in the underdog role. "When you look at the makeup of this basketball team individually and collectively, they're fighters," Jackson said, noting his own relative inexperience at coaching. "Top to bottom, we've got a bunch of guys that survey says, we're not supposed to be here." Oakland Tribune

Blake Griffin fouled out in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series between the Clippers and the Warriors, and after watching the replay of the foul called on him, he reacted by gesticulating wildly. He was holding a cup of water when he did so. For The Win

Pero Antic, at his first game in the NBA playoffs, did not step back when David West of the Pacers had something to tell him. The two players got nose-to-nose during Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs between Hawks and Pacers. Sportando

Game One of the Rockets best-of-seven series against Portland is Sunday night at Toyota Center. "This is the reason why I chose this place and this team," Howard said after the Rockets practice on Friday. "I feel like we've got a great opportunity and I don't want to take any moment for granted. "We've come along way. I told you guys at the beginning of the year, we would be a lot better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning," said Howard, who averaged 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game against Portland this season. CSN Houston

Rockets coach Kevin McHale would not directly say he would play Asik and Howard together again, elevating it only from a topic he would not discuss to “it’s possible. “We haven’t done it a lot lately,” he said. “They were effective earlier at stages, and this might be one of those games where if we’re having a heck of a time with Aldridge we might try one of our big centers on him.” Houston Chronicle

Aldridge had several monster games against Houston this season and averaged 26.5 points and 15.5 rebounds per game against Houston this season. He also committed just four turnovers all season against Houston in 156 minutes of action. "He's a helluva player. He's a tough shot maker, he can shoot over the top," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "We're going to give him some different looks, we're going to do some different things to try to get him off his game. He's one of those guys, that if he's making those tough turnaround fadeaways, it's hard (to stop him)." "He's a tough shot maker, and tough shot-makers, they at times can get you down," McHale added. "We just have to make him take a lot of shots to get his points. Where he's really hurt us is on the boards. He's hammered us with his rebounding. that's a big area for us. We've got to handle the boards." CSN Houston

Forward Shawn Marion believes it’s foolish for a team to bring its offense to a crawl in the playoffs when running the ball during the regular season is what put them in the playoffs. “A lot of stuff doesn’t change, but for the most part if you’re able to run you’ve got to explore that option,” Marion said. “Think about all the teams that won it lately in the last three or four years, most of the stuff they were doing in the regular season they continued to do the same thing in the playoffs. “It’s just that some series are going to be more of a drag-out, bang-out than others. But, if your biggest strength is pushing the tempo of the game, you’re going to continue to push the tempo of the game. You’re not going to slow down just because it’s the postseason.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The father of Kentucky Wildcats freshmen guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison told FOX 26 Sports on Saturday the family is waiting for feedback from the NBA before making a decision on whether the two will make themselves available for the NBA Draft or stay in college. If the Harrisons, who are former stars at Fort Bend Travis High School, are headed to the NBA they must let the league know by April 27. "I just sent the paperwork in two or three days ago," said Aaron Harrison Sr. "I talked to a gentleman at the NBA and he said he would get it to me as fast as possible and then we'll go from there. "It's important. You're trying to find out what the prospects are for them and where they'll be drafted and all those things." FOX 26 Sports

"(Jackson) did an excellent job of subbing on the fly," said small forward Andre Iguodala, who fouled out and played only 20 minutes, getting his fourth foul midway through the second quarter. "I heard somebody try to say a knock (against Jackson) is X's and O's or rotations, but tonight it was almost perfect. ... The second unit was really good for us, especially in that second quarter. We won that second quarter. You'd think (the second unit would) play a lot in the second half, but (Jackson) saw something he really liked and it got us going in the third." USA Today Sports

Lacob will keep watching and waiting. He'll seek counsel from his revered consultant, legendary player and executive Jerry West, and make the cold and calculated decision that he bought the right to make when his group paid a then-league record $450 million. "When I speak to Joe, he likes what we have," O'Neal said. "But hey, it's a different era right now. We have a new breed of owners in our league and their patience is a lot shorter. So I don't know ultimately what his plan is — that's up to him. He pays the bills. He can do whatever he wants to do with his team. But from the conversations I've had with him, he likes Mark." USA Today Sports

Ultimately, the team's 36-46 record wasn't close to what he wanted it to be. It was a 21-win slide from a season ago. Shaw said it's fair to hold his feet to the fire and expect more next season. "Criticism, I can take it," Shaw said. "That's nothing. I've been subjected to that at the highest levels. My expectations are higher than anybody's. So when I say I'm on the clock, and if I can't get it done, it should be on to the next one to try to find somebody that can get it done. "I believe, if we're healthy, with the guys that we have, that I can get it done. And I'm not just saying that for lip service. I believe that. So I stand behind that 100 percent." Denver Post

Brian Shaw on Player management: "Middle of the pack. If you would ask the players, I think they all genuinely like me. They probably would all say he would be one of the coolest coaches we played for. But with that being said, I also feel like that was taken advantage of at times. Because I'm laid back by nature and I try to leave a lot of things up to them to decide for themselves, and I need to be more directive when it comes to that. Obviously I feel that I was always open to communicate with them — I kept it real with them. But there were instances where the players felt like ... like the Andre Miller situation. He didn't feel like he was communicated with. Denver Post

"I wasn't aware that he had a streak of never gotten a DNP (did not play) before. I should have been more aware of that. I don't know if it would have changed anything. So there were instances where I clashed with guys. But I thought it was important that I got the way I wanted to do things established, got that foundation laid. So I stuck to my line. Some of it was good, some of it was not." Denver Post

Phil Norment also said that interim coach John Loyer has been promised to be "part of the process" in the pursuit of a permanent head coach, and the same for assistant general manager George David and director of basketball operations Ken Catanella in the general manager pursuit. Realistically, their best hopes probably are to be retained in something less than the head coach or GM roles. Meantime, Loyer toils in his office, David and Catanella prepare for the draft, and everyone waits. Booth Newspapers

One of the big surprises to come out of the Nets’ 94-87 victory over the Raptors in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first round series was the fact super sub Andrei Kirilenko never got off the bench for Brooklyn. It appears his wife, Russian pop singer Masha Lopatova, was just as surprised as everyone else. On her Instagram account after the game, Lopatova tweeted out a picture of her husband sitting on the bench with the comment, “…And you are Kidding like Jason…” which appeared to be a reference to Nelly’s song, “Hot in Herre” which includes the line, “I’m just kiddin’ like Jason.” As fans and others began to comment on the photo, Lopatova later wrote, “I don’t want to say anything bad, but just think about 350 million Russian fans back in Russia cheering for the one Russian player in the playoffs (not to mention Russian community and Russian ownership) that hurts!!!” New York Post

The stars are starting to align for an eventual reunion of Phil Jackson and Jim Cleamons in New York. Cleamons, the former Knicks starting point guard, and Jackson were teammates in New York in the late 1970’s. From there, Cleamons became Jackson’s right-hand man on the bench for nine of the Zen Master’s 11 coaching titles — four with the Bulls and all five with the Lakers. Cleamons, now a Bucks assistant coach, would seem a perfect fit as top assistant — a veteran and master of the triangle who could help potential new head coach Steve Kerr. Kerr has emerged as Jackson’s leading head-coaching candidate. According to an NBA source, Cleamons is interested in rejoining Jackson’s Knicks in any capacity. Already, former Bulls personnel man, Clarence Gaines Jr. is on board with the Knicks in an unnamed front-office job and was in Portsmouth, Va. with team brass this week for the second day of an important pre-draft camp. New York Post

The NBA source said Cleamons also would have interest in anything Jackson has to offer, including a personnel gig. The NBA source also said Cleamons is a big fan of his former player, Kerr, and his ability to be a head coach because of his “quick learning curve.’’ There probably isn’t another assistant coach as well-versed in the triangle offense as Cleamons. New York Post

Sixers owner Josh Harris told reporters Friday that he's proud of what the 19-63 Philadelphia 76ers accomplished this season despite losing 26 in a row. "I think the season has been a huge success for us," Harris said in an Associated Press story on Friday. Give Harris credit for his honesty. The Sixers hold two lottery picks (one via a trade) and never were shy about admitting they had to tank -- make that, rebuild -- this season in order to start their hopeful championship track. "We don't use that word," Harris said of tanking. CBSSports.com

Her older brother Jim Buss, 54, in charge of the Lakers' basketball operations, spoke up in the boardroom of the team's El Segundo training facility and pledged to resign in a few years if the suddenly dark fortunes of the franchise weren't reversed. "I was laying myself on the line by saying, if this doesn't work in three to four years, if we're not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed," he told The Times about the meeting. "I don't know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I'd walk away and you guys figure out who's going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn't do the job. Los Angeles Times

For her part, Jeanie uses the word "empowering" to describe the current situation with Jim, and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, trying to fix the basketball side of the franchise. "Jim has assured me that they have a plan in place, that the team will be better next year and we will be back in contention shortly," Jeanie said. "He's very confident in that plan and so I have to believe he knows what he's doing and what he's trying to accomplish. We have to be patient and give him that opportunity." Los Angeles Times

There's no doubt, though, who has the final say in the team's day-to-day operations, according to the family trust set up by their father. "If Jeanie and I got into a disagreement, Jeanie can overrule my argument," Jim said. "If she is adamant about the way she wants to do things, all she has to do is say, 'That's the way it's going to be.' But I don't anticipate those kind of arguments. We're two smart people and we respect each other. We're grown up enough to where we can talk things out." Los Angeles Times

Although Jim and Jeanie Buss say the family is committed to keeping the team, it only requires a "yes" vote by four Buss siblings to force the sale of the Lakers. Philip Anschutz, whose company owns Staples Center and the NHL Kings, and who personally owns 27% of the Lakers, holds the "first look" if the Buss family decides to sell its two-thirds ownership stake. It's not as strong as a right of first refusal, but it allows Anschutz a chance to buy the team. But if Anschutz passed because the Busses asked for too much, the Chicago investment group Guggenheim Partners, owner of the Dodgers, would eagerly jump into the bidding. The Guggenheim group envisions employing former Lakers star Magic Johnson as the ceremonial face of the franchise, a role he currently holds with the Dodgers. Los Angeles Times

Q: Both of you know the metrics of this past season. Last in attendance, worst record, one of the smallest markets, if not the smallest market, in the NBA. Tiny TV ratings. What convinces you that this market can come back and you can bring fans into the arena. A: Edens: First of all, I love underdogs, and I think Marc loves underdogs. The notion of buying into a team at this time in some respects is perfect. There is no doubt there is a tremendous fan base in Milwaukee and in the Wisconsin area for sports. All you have to do is look at the attendance figures for the Brewers. Go to a Packers game. There is no doubt there is a huge fan interest for it. We just have to create a product that everybody is excited about...In the NBA you can become competitive in a very short time if you get the right people in charge and you get the right players on the court playing the right way. I think it's a great opportunity. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Lasry: I agree with Wes. Part of this for us, you can only go up, right? If you look at this, if we do the right things. If we pick the right players. If everything works the way hopefully it will and we can follow the model of San Antonio or the (Oklahoma City) Thunder. I think, look, all everybody wants is the same thing we do. Everybody just wants a winner. If you're winning, people show up. If you're losing, people get discouraged. I think in Milwaukee, you've had one championship and sort of everybody talks about the glory days...When you're talking to your kids about the glory days, your kids look at you and say, "You're fricking crazy." When we talk about the Knicks in New York, they're like, "The Knicks suck. They haven't done anything lately." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Q: What fueled your interest in buying a professional basketball team? A: Edens: From my standpoint, I've been very interested in being involved in a professional sports franchise for a long time. Two things I'm most passionate about in life are sports and business. And the nexus of those two is a professional sports team. I love the prospects for the business aspects of it. For our company we invest in business in a variety of different industries. That's just a tremendously fun, interesting pastime...In the NBA, it's just one of the greatest sports you can be involved in. It's a fantastic league and a fantastic product. It's a lot of fun. That's what it is for me. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Q: What if this arena plan fails? Some people have suggested there is a provision in the sale agreement that if you are unable to secure an arena, the NBA would buy the team back from you and start anew. Is that in your sale agreement? A: Edens: I don't think it's appropriate for us to comment about the sale agreement. It's really the NBA's place if they want to make a comment on that. I can just say that it's not allowed to not happen. We don't really believe that getting an arena built is anything but an absolute positive outcome for everybody. There's no real energy or value in coming up with other alternatives. We are going to build an arena. We are going to be part of the community. The Bucks are going to be a great basketball team. That's our goal and that's what's going to happen. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Things took a bizarre turn halfway through the third quarter of the Nets’ 94-87 victory over the Raptors in Game 1 of their best-of-7 first round playoff series Saturday afternoon when both shot clocks stopped working. After a delay of several minutes while attempts were made to fix the clock, the game continued without them working, and with Raptors public address announcer Herbie Kuhn having to call out every time the clock reset to 24 seconds, as well as when it hit 10 seconds and then counting down from five down to it expiring on every possession for the remainder of the game. New York Post

Lamar Odom should get a therapist, stat ... so says ex-NBA star Kenny Anderson who tells TMZ Sports his shrink has been a life-saver ... and it could do the trick for Lamar, too. We spoke with Anderson -- who spent 14 seasons in the NBA -- and he told us he's rooting hard for Lamar's NBA comeback with the Knicks to be a success ... but says the guy is gonna need help. "I talk to a therapist once a week," Anderson says ... "Lamar should do that. His mind has to be right." "You need someone you can talk to who has no hidden agenda. Your mom, dad, brother, sister might not want to tell you the truth. My therapist doesn't care, she tells me how it is." TMZ.com

BUZZ METER: WHO'S TRENDING IN THE NBA TWITTERSPHERE? USA TODAY Sports Images

Who's the man of the minute in the NBA Twittersphere? Find out here who's getting the most mentions at any given moment.

   

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