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Goran Dragic's impact on the Suns

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April 17, 2014 | 02:21 PM ET Update

Frank Isola: Carmelo: "At this point in my career I'm not concerned about the money." Knicks can offer more than any other team: five years, $129 million Twitter @FisolaNYDN

Andrei Kirilenko, the National Basketball Association player known as AK-47, is defying Russian antipathy toward U.S. brands by opening the country's first Hooters restaurant. Kirilenko, who plays for billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's Brooklyn Nets, said the first of five restaurants he plans to build in Moscow will open April 28 under a franchisee agreement with Hooters of America Inc., the chain best known for the skimpy tank tops worn by its waitresses. Sydney Morning Herald

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEOS:
THE BEST OF VINE AND INSTAGRAM
Instagram

Adding to our social media tools, you can now watch here all the videos NBA players are posting online – including those by Nate Robinson, Iman Shumpert and JR Smith, of course.

   

April 17, 2014 | 01:32 PM ET Update

Jabari Parker: Today I sent my letter of intent to the NBA. That makes it official -- my days as a Duke basketball player are over. But my days as a Duke student are not. I intend to graduate from Duke while I'm in the NBA. I was an honor student when I arrived at Duke, and I'd like to graduate as one. SI.com

Smith played a full season with one team for the first time in his career after having played for two teams in each of his first three seasons. The Suns have a team option to bring him back next season at an NBA-affordable $985,000, which is what the 25-year-old made this season. "I'd love to stay," Smith said. "It's nice here. I like the coaches. I like the style. They allow me to play the way I like to play. It was a good start to hopefully being somewhere that I can stay for a little bit. "When you're with a high school team, you're with that same coach for four years and you develop. The same with college. That's why you see consistency with San Antonio and those teams. Coach (Jeff Hornacek) knows what he's getting out of me. He knows what I need to work on and get better at and the guys upstairs know the same. When you come back after building confidence with your team the first year, it continues to get better and you still take steps forward." Arizona Republic

Sophomore Caris LeVert, whose scoring average jumped 10.6 points to 12.9 this season, said that he submitted his name to the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Council to evaluate his potential in the NBA draft. But LeVert said that he was only getting information and will not leave Michigan after his sophomore season. “We did do the process,” LeVert said Wednesday night after the team banquet at Crisler Center. “That’s 100 percent, I’m coming back.” Detroit News

And there would be no quibbling if Olshey wanted to do it behind closed doors. But judging from Stotts’ unease, it is clear Olshey hasn’t afforded him that courtesy. I asked Stotts on Wednesday night if he has been given that assurance that his future is secure in Portland. Stotts, as he is wont to do lately, was curt. “I don’t think I have to answer that,’’ he said. Oregonian

It’s hard to make sense of it considering four players I spoke with — LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum — all say they want Stotts back. It’s hard to fathom there’s danger for the guy who has coached the league’s best offense, and has guided the marked development of Joel Freeland, Will Barton, and Lillard while igniting career-best seasons from Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Batum and Matthews. Yet, from all appearances, Stotts is dangling in the wind. Oregonian

The Miami Heat's LeBron James once again tops the National Basketball Association's list of most popular jerseys, where he has reigned as No. 1 since winning his second NBA title. The two-time NBA Finals MVP, who has held the top position six times, is joined by nine players that will compete in the 2014 NBA Playoffs beginning on April 19. The rankings are based on overall retail sales on NBAStore.com since the beginning of the 2013-14 season. NBA.com

Steve Kyler: adidas today announced a partnership with Australian NBA Draft prospect Danté Exum. “I’m really excited to join the adidas family,” said Exum. “I’ve had the opportunity to play in adidas Nations in the past. I’ve always liked their shoes and gear. I look forward to what’s to come for me and adidas,” Exum said. Twitter @stevekylerNBA

SNEAKERS:
WHAT THE NBA PLAYERS WEAR
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nike clearly leads the pack in terms of NBA endorsers, but Chinese brands like Li Ning and Peak are emerging powers. Check the Sneakers pages to see which specific shoe model each NBA player wore this season.

April 17, 2014 | 12:20 PM ET Update
April 17, 2014 | 06:46 AM ET Update

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think the Cavs have to at least explore the idea of trading Irving this summer. His sometimes pouty attitude has soured enough people, and there are enough people in the organization who question whether or not he’s worth a max deal, that it makes sense to at least explore it. Akron Beacon Journal

After the final buzzer sounded, after Kyrie Irving stuck around to hand out not just one pair of shoes, but several, at Fan Appreciation Night, the Cavaliers point guard at long last addressed the fact that he can sign a contract extension this summer. And he came the closest he has to announcing that he would like to remain in Cleveland. "I've been a part of this and I want to continue to be a part of this," he said. "We're making strides in the right direction, especially in this organization. I want to be part of something special, and I want to be part of something special in Cleveland. "I don't have a definitive answer to that right now, but it'll be something special. I can guarantee that." Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Cavaliers are expected to make a maximum five-year contract extension offer to Irving this summer. "It's a big deal for me and my family if they do offer that. It would be exciting, and I'll make the best decision for me and my family. That's what it's going to boil down to for myself." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Will the Wolves offer Love a new deal this offseason? “We have to wait,” Taylor said. “We could do an extension for two years, but I don’t think it’s something they would be interested in right now and we’re not pushing it, either. We’ll wait until next year, most likely.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

J.R. Smith still has hope that Carmelo Anthony, his longtime teammate with the Nuggets and the Knicks, will decide to stay in New York as a free agent this summer. “I mean, in my heart I believe he’ll still be here,” Smith said of Anthony, who didn’t play in either of the Knicks’ final two games after it was revealed Tuesday that he has a small tear in the labrum in his right shoulder. “It’s just a matter of him coming up with that decision. Whatever it is we’re still going to be friends till our dying days, so I mean, whether he’s on my team or he isn’t I still love him like a brother. “But I think he’s very unsatisfied, which he should be.” New York Daily News

Kenyon Martin said he will have left-ankle surgery soon, indicating it would be a “clean-up.’’ Martin missed the final two months but said he wants to return next season as a Knick. “I’ve got a lot of basketball left and I hope it will be here,’’ he said. New York Post

But the Suns don't necessarily have all the control when it comes to a potential return. Frye signed a five-year, $30 million contract back in July 2010, however the 30-year-old holds a player option for the fifth year worth $6.8 million. So the question is, will he pick it up this summer? "I don't know, you'd have to ask Channing," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM's Burns & Gambo Wednesday. "We'd like to have him back either way. If he picks up the option, that's great. It's remarkable. He's going to be the one guy who is going to start every game for us this year." Arizona's Sports Page

"He flairs his arm around so you know you might catch a random elbow or something that doesn't you know rub off too well on guys," Thompson said. "He's kind of like a bull in a china shop, kind of out of control sometimes. And then you do just see him flop sometimes like how can a guy that big and strong flop that much. "I can see how that gets under people's skin and be frustrating to play against." ESPN.com

While the Lakers (27-55) played their season finale, Kobe Bryant was already beginning his off-season, leaving for France either Tuesday or early Wednesday with family members, The Times learned. A team spokesman said he was unaware of the situation and referred a reporter to Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, who could not be reached for comment. Bryant later sent a tweet from overseas, saying how bad this season was: "Flush it. Forget it #amnesia Next Season will be epic." He added hashtags with the word "blackout," a reference to his famously difficult workouts, and "bussfam," a supportive nod, if not nudge, to the Buss family. Los Angeles Times

After slowly and steadily becoming more vocal over the past two years, he’s become more guarded, reclusive and admitted it was by design this season — the one where the expectations were highest and the team fell flat on its face. “I’ve censored myself, just because of the whole, so much speculation and so much stuff going on,” Monroe said. “I just tried to make sure I was as productive as possible. That I kept a straight head and kept it as positive as possible.” Detroit News

Monroe is one of a few in the locker room who wouldn’t rock the boat publicly, and with seeing a coaching change after 50 games, along with the man who drafted him stepping aside, speaking out wasn’t going to be viewed as a positive. “I just think that, looking at all the stuff that may have been said, all the stuff that’s happened, with a little bit of change with me, I didn’t want it to sound like I was speaking from frustration,” Monroe said. Being a good character guy can work against players, but his production has been steady this season. He knows character only takes him so far. “In this league, it’s about production,” Monroe said. “Being a good character guy is a plus, I don’t want to say it’s not a good thing but if you’re producing, that’s what really matters. If you’re not producing it doesn’t really matter.” Detroit News

Bynum came here with a positive attitude and for a while was arguably the hardest worker on the team. But I’ve maintained all along when he returned to the floor and still had pain in his knees, he began to question if this was all worth it – particularly while playing for a team that was losing two out of three nights. And when his attitude turned, it turned fast. By the way, I’ve spoken to a number of people who believe it’s not a coincidence the Cavs finally started to play better when Bynum left. Similarly, a lot of people believe it’s not a coincidence the Pacers crumbled once he arrived. Food for thought… Akron Beacon Journal

"All I want to do is win," said Howard, who averaged 18.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game this season while helping Houston improve four spots in the defensive ranking category (16th to 12th). "That's the only thing that matters to me. If we win, then everything falls into place. I can't control how people feel. I can't control any of that stuff, so that's not my focus. People are going to say whatever they're going to say about me, say I'm not playing as great or they don't talk about me as much. But that's fine. All you have to do is win. When you win games, nobody can say anything. So that's the only thing I'm going to do." USA Today Sports

"I feel great," Howard said. "We have a great chance. These other teams are seasoned, have been together longer, so of course they're going to have a little bit more experience when it comes to that as a team. But if me and James (Harden) do our part and lead these guys, we should have a great playoff run this year. We really want to win a championship, so that's our goal and our focus. "For myself, the biggest thing is making my teammates better. That's my whole plan is to help my teammates in any possible way so they can be the best players that they can be. That's the only thing that matters." USA Today Sports

UCLA guards Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine are leaving early for the NBA draft. Anderson, a sophomore from Fairview, N.J., and LaVine, a freshman from Seattle, each said Wednesday that they will forgo their remaining eligibility with the Bruins to start pro careers. ESPN.com

Olivier Hanlan wasn’t going to make a decision about his future until getting to know new Boston College head coach Jim Christian. Christian heading to Canada to meet Hanlan’s family is a major reason why the Eagles leading scorer this past season made the decision yesterday he will return to the Heights. Hanlan told the Herald yesterday that he will be back at BC for his junior season, foregoing a chance to enter his name into the NBA Draft. Christian met with Hanlan’s family earlier this week, securing what could be his biggest get just over a week into his tenure, even though Hanlan was already an Eagle. “That definitely helped a lot,” Hanlan said of Christian’s trip. “I was pretty comfortable with Jim after doing a few workouts with him and after having a few good conversations with him, too, on campus. The next step was for my family, my brother and my dad and Dave Smart (coach of the University of Carleton in Ontario) to be on the same page. That just made me more comfortable.” Boston Herald

Two college coaches mentioned as candidates to replace Adelman, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, aren’t likely to take the job because of their popularity and security at their respective schools. The Wolves could be a playoff contender next season with the personnel additions they made this year, but Izzo or Hoiberg probably won’t move unless offered a fantastic contract with big money. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Despite Woodson's stubbornness in playing Bargnani and his insistence on bigger lineups rather than the smaller ones that had better statistical success, Woodson was blunt in saying he deserved to coach the final year on his contract. "Am I the guy for the job? I'm the only guy for this job. I've always said that. I don't mean that in a braggadocios way. But I feel good about what I do as a coach. And I know the system works." Wall Street Journal

Mike D'Antoni might have coached his last game with the Lakers on Wednesday. Or he might return for the final guaranteed year of his contract. It'll be the biggest subplot of a Lakers off-season sure to feature twists and turns. "We'll sit down with Mitch and Jim at the end of the year and reassess everything and see where we are and see what their thoughts are," D'Antoni said Wednesday, referring to Lakers executives Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss. "I don't have any thoughts yet. The biggest thing was trying to get to the end of the year and we got that done. Now you go to the next step. Nothing has been talked about or said or looked at." Los Angeles Times

As Jackson still feels out the Knicks’ landscape, he brought in a former Bulls ally in Clarence Gaines Jr. last week to be his “eyes and ears,’’ according to an NBA source. Gaines Jr., whose father was Clarence “Big House’’ Gaines, the legendary Winston-Salem State basketball coach, does not yet have an official capacity and is just helping Jackson out for now, the source said. He could be named to the front office, but not to supplant Knicks general manager Steve Mills. Gaines could help with the expected Knicks coaching search. New York Post

Gaines was Jerry Krause’s right-hand man as a Bulls scout when Jackson coached there. Gaines has been hanging around the team for several days and with the front-office staff, including Mark Warkentien, Mark Hughes and Allan Houston. “Phil’s not comfortable with a lot of people but he’s very comfortable with him,’’ the source said of Gaines. “There’s some good people in the front office and I don’t think he’s intending to clean house.’’’ New York Post

The ownership change creates plenty of uncertainty for the Bucks management team led by general manager John Hammond and the players and coaching staff. Hammond and coach Larry Drew both have two years remaining on their contracts, and the Bucks are coming off the worst season in franchise history — a 15-67 effort that has earned the team the best chance in next month's NBA draft lottery of landing the No. 1 pick. "It's life; it's a business," Kohl said. "They understand. Whether we have new management, I would have the same choices to make (if he had remained team owner). "I hope good things happen for everybody, but you're running a business. It involves making choices. By the way, it's never come up. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Edens said pending league approval of the purchase, he and Lasry would begin to speak with the basketball staff and others in the organization. "It's Day 1 for us," Edens said. "And it's a process. We've had a lot of experience in investing in various businesses and successful ones are run by great organizations. We're all about hiring the right people and having the right people in place. "We think there are a lot of terrific people in the organization. We haven't really spent any time assessing people in the organization in any meaningful way. We're going to figure it out." Edens said, "Obviously there's a big draft coming up and there's a talent assessment going into that." "We'll start immediately but it becomes in earnest once we have closed on the transaction." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Brown, a former coach of the Knicks, has expressed his discontent with the organization of late, and the treatment of current coach Mike Woodson. He’s also been skeptical of the reasoning behind Jackson coming out of retirement as an executive, not as a coach. “If you’re going to hire Phil Jackson, who is probably as great a coach as we’ve ever had in our sport, why didn’t he coach?” He later went on saying, “If you’re going to do this job, it’s a full time job.” He continued to question the validation ofJackson’s role, saying, “To think that you can run a franchise like the Knicks, and not be there 24/7, and you’re going to do it from sitting in the stands, I don’t know if that’s going to be possible.” 1045 The Team ESPN Radio

Along with the time spent into the job, the scheme that Phil Jackson is famous for engineering and implementing (The Triangle Offense) may not translate with Coach Mike Woodson and the players on the court. “I don’t think it’s a good marriage because Phil believes in the triangle, and Mike played for Bobby Knight, who’s a huge influence on him… and I don’t think he has the same kind of philosophy Phil has.” 1045 The Team ESPN Radio

Rajon Rondo just tweeted this photo of the shoes he wore tonight to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. In short, they are exceptional. The kicks bear the initials of the victims on various areas of the shoe along with the words “Boston Strong” and the date of the incident on the tongue, which aptly serves as a marathon tag. Thoughtful touch. The Big Lead

Kevin Durant's travel agent claims she secretly booked flights and hotel arrangements for "numerous women" on behalf of the "KD entourage" for years ... and all she got in return was a lawsuit. TMZ Sports has obtained a lawsuit Durant filed against Lynn Swanson back in September -- claiming she overcharged him by at least $500,000 for work she did from 2007 to 2012. But Swanson fired back in docs of her own, filed in March, claiming she earned every penny from KD -- by taking all of Kev's high-maintenance requests ... including late-night calls, last minute requests and confidential arrangements for special ladies. TMZ.com

Jerome Williams on his fondest NBA memory

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