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April 17, 2015 | 09:07 PM ET Update

"I don’t really read any of that stuff or pay attention to it, but you know it’s out there. I could have eight points and we win the game, but somebody would say, ‘Parsons is a max player, why doesn’t he have 20 points?’ A lot of times from the outside looking in, people want points. That’s not necessarily what I do. I can score points, I’ve scored 17 points per game in this league before. I’m a basketball player and I impact the game in many different ways. Defending, rebounding, passing the ball – I’m a very good play-maker for a guy my size. Negativity sells, and people are going to write whatever they want to write. My job is to be a good teammate, work extremely hard and do whatever it takes to win games." Sports Illustrated

Twenty-two years later, Charles Barkley would like to clear his name of an infraction that even some of his teammates have thought he committed for all these many years. No, he didn't hang out with Michael Jordan too much during the 1993 playoffs, when Barkley's Suns lost to the Bulls in the only NBA Finals appearance of his Hall of Fame career. Asked about it on Thursday, Barkley revealed that the perception of his chumminess with Jordan during that series has always been false, rooted in a case of mistaken identity. “Michael and I laughed about that 10 years, 20 years later,” said Barkley, whose final NBA game came 15 years ago Sunday. “They say we played golf together everyday, and we never played golf. They said we had dinner together every night, and we never had dinner. So we always found it funny that people said we spent every night together. We never saw each other during the Finals.” Sporting News

Barkley can remember distinctly, he said, where the rumors about his time spent with Jordan began. He was sitting at home, watching television, when a broadcast from a news helicopter shoed Michael Jordan at a Phoenix-area golf course, playing a round. With him, the broadcast reported, was Barkley. The fact that he was golfing with Jordan, Barkley said, came as a surprise to him as he sat in his living room. “I guess Michael was playing golf somewhere and was playing with somebody who looked similar to me,” Barkley said, “and a helicopter flew over and said … that’s Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley playing golf. And to this day, every time I think about it, I just die laughing. They couldn’t get too low, but they had Michael Jordan and they said we were playing golf.” Sporting News

Damian Lillard just made these elderly folks’ days. The Trail Blazers guard sent new pairs of his Adidas D Lillard 1 kicks to a group of Portland-area seniors. And they were absolutely elated. “Just because I’m not 29 anymore doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have something this beautiful,” one woman says in the video above, smiling. The crowd got even more excited when Lillard himself walked in — an adorable reminder that NBA fans can be any age. For The Win

April 17, 2015 | 08:48 PM ET Update

When asked about Hibbert's reaction to comments made by Bird and Vogel, Hibbert's agent, David Falk, replied with an e-mail to The Indianapolis Star: "We will respond at the appropriate time." Falk suggested his client would take his time to choose to opt-in for the final year of his contract. "We will decide that in late June," Falk wrote in an e-mail. If Hibbert decides to stick with the Pacers, he will get paid more than $15 million for the 2015-16 season. That number provides plenty of reasons to weather any ignominy as a backup center. However, the Pacers have been turning away from Hibbert for a while now. Indianapolis Star

The NBA on Friday released the pre-lottery drawing order for the June college draft and, as expected, the New Orleans Pelicans will lose their first pick to the Houston Rockets in the transaction for center Omer Asik. The Pelicans protected the pick on the front end and the back end of the draft at the time of the trade last summer. But the pick, which falls at No. 18 according to the league release, is just outside the protection parameters of Nos. 1-3 and 20-30. Asik will be a free agent at the end of the season, putting the Pelicans under the gun to offer him a deal that would have him return to the Pelicans and not essentially be a one-year rental. New Orleans Times-Picayune

April 17, 2015 | 07:28 PM ET Update

Sources told ESPN.com that, based on current projections, league officials expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1 million figure to $67.1 million next season, $89 million in 2016-17, and $108 million in 2017-18. The jumps represent massive increases largely triggered by the influx of television money that will begin pouring in after the 2015-16 season when the NBA's new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal kicks in. To put it into perspective, the largest salary-cap jump in history is $7 million in one season. ESPN.com

Sources say that the league, though, has been careful to stress to its teams that these are not only mere projections but also contingent on the NBA and its players avoiding a work stoppage after the 2016-17 season. Both sides have the right to opt out of the current labor agreement by Dec. 15, 2016. ESPN.com

BEST PLAYERS THAT DIDN'T GET THEIR NUMBERS RETIRED

There's no shortage of great players who don't have their jerseys hanging in the rafters at the arenas of the teams they starred for.

   
April 17, 2015 | 06:27 PM ET Update

"They're all different," James said. "But I think every last playoff series for me is a learning experience, especially in my younger days. But some of them was even in my later days, like my first year in Miami (against Dallas), those playoff series, I learned so much from that, all the way to the last one that I lost (against San Antonio), on how to improve my game. So it's either ways I can improve my game—which is the most important thing. If I don't play well in a series, I critique that whole series and I look what I was doing, what I could have done. And if there's something that I couldn't do well in that series, I work on it all summer. And I don't know, I just approach it that way. I take it very seriously. Like I say, I'm a totally different person in the playoffs." Bleacher Report

The new state-of-the-art NBA Replay Center, which was unveiled at the start of the 2014-15 NBA season and created to enhance the performance of NBA referees, reduced the average time of reviews by more than 50 percent compared to the previous season. Final statistics for the regular season included: The NBA Replay Center conducted 2,162 reviews, averaging 42.1 seconds; 1,596 replays were upheld or overturned. 80.8 percent of these calls were upheld (1,289) while 19.2 percent were overturned (307); NBA Replay Center monitored a total of 1,225 games, averaging approximately 1.76 reviews per game; The top two triggers the NBA Replay Center reviewed this season were the two-point/three-point made field goal (623 instances) and end-of-period made field goal (482 instances); 858 live look-ins to the NBA Replay Center from across the country were conducted by the NBA’s national television partners and regional sports networks. NBA.com

The strongest action to come out of the owners meeting: the NBA starting next season will reduce the number of back-to-backs and four games in five days that teams play by doing a better job of scheduling, handling the time off during the All-Star break and potentially extending the season by a week. "Those are changes we can make immediately for next year. … That's real progress for next season," Silver said. Teams on average will play 16 back-to-backs and the number of four games in five days will be reduced to on average one per team next season, Silver said. Teams played an average of 19 back-to-backs and 2.3 four games in five days this season, according to a schedule analysis at nbastuffer.com. USA Today Sports

The NBA will also explore the possibility of reducing the number of preseason games while ensuring sufficient practice time and starting the season earlier for the 2016-17 season. USA Today Sports

The NBA is not close to making changes to its playoff format, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday after the league and its owners wrapped up two days of meetings in New York. "It's early days in these discussions," Silver said. "This was the first serious meeting among all our board members on this subject, and the result was I would say inconclusive as to where we should ultimately go. It's not to say we don't think there should be a change. This is one of these issues that's going to require a fair amount of discussion and study, not just directly among the owners in the big room but with committees as well." USA Today Sports

Silver also said draft lottery reform is not coming until at least after the 2016-17 season because owners want to see how the significant increase in the salary cap because the new TV deal impacts the construction of teams. "There's still a sense we need to make a change but until we know what the team behavior is going to be with all this new cap room, we hold it and wait and look holistically at the whole system," he said. USA Today Sports

THE TALLEST PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY

There's been 20 players 7-foot-3 or taller in the NBA. Sadly, most of them were no good.

   
April 17, 2015 | 05:35 PM ET Update

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have assigned forward Kyle Anderson to the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League. In his most recent assignment to Austin, Anderson averaged 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.50 steals in two games to help guide the Spurs past the Bakersfield Jam in the first round of the D-League Playoffs. Anderson appeared in 26 games with Austin during the regular season, averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.96 steals and 1.46 blocks in 40.0 minutes. The Spurs host Game 1 of the best-of-three Western Conference Finals series vs. Santa Cruz tonight at 7:30 p.m. inside the Cedar Park Center. The former UCLA Bruin has appeared in 33 games for San Antonio this season, averaging 2.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.8 minutes. NBA.com

NBA SALARIES BY COUNTRY

More than 20 percent of the money spent on NBA salaries is going to international players. Who's getting the biggest part of the pie?

   
April 17, 2015 | 04:09 PM ET Update

NBA A TO Z PODCAST

Breaking down the first-round matchups with USA Today Sports' Sam Amick, Jeff Zillgitt and Kevin Spain.

   
April 17, 2015 | 03:58 PM ET Update

In the playoffs, teams with limited game plans get exposed. Conveniently, Cuban believes that Houston, his team’s first-round opponent in this season’s playoffs, is one of the most one-dimensional teams in the playoffs. “[The biggest difference is] practice time. There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets. You know exactly what they’re gonna do,” he says. “But James Harden is so good. That’s what analytics have begot. Right? Predictability. If you know what the percentages are, in the playoffs, you have time to counter them. Whether you’re good enough to do it is another question. Because they are very talented, and James Harden, I think, is the MVP. Because that’s not a very good team over there.” Grantland

In other injury news, Mike Scott (back contusion) was a limited participant in practice Friday. Budenholzer said the reserve forward will need further evaluation before his playing status is known. “He is progressing,” Budenholzer said. “We’ll know more between now and (Game 1) Sunday. I don’t think we can say either way that he is definitely in or definitely out. He went through a lot of practice today. We’ll see how he feels today and Sunday. We are hopeful he’ll be ready to go.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gary Washburn: The #rockets win the #tiebreaker with the #clippers for the 27th pick. That means the #Lakers will pick 27th and the #celtics 28th. The #lakers have #rockets first-round pick because of Jeremy Lin trade while #celtics have the #clippers first-rounder in Doc Rivers swap. Twitter @GwashburnGlobe

NBA DANCERS ON INSTAGRAM

Aside from player and team Instagram pictures, you can now check out the photos NBA cheerleaders are posting online on HoopsHype.

   
April 17, 2015 | 02:34 PM ET Update

Paul George was diagnosed on site with a left calf strain. He has since gotten an MRI, which confirmed the trainer’s opinion. “There’s no timetable on his recovery but it’s not considered serious,” coach Frank Vogel said Friday after his end of the season wrap-up press conference. The good news is that it’s not an injury to the right leg he fractured on August 1, but instead his left one. Overcompensating and an increased workload was likely the cause. George was carried back to the locker room by teammates David West and Donald Sloan. Vigilant Sports

Sonics legend Shawn Kemp will be at Neumos co-hosting a party celebrating the Thunder’s failed playoff run and more Thursday night at Neumos on Capitol Hill in Seattle. DJ Clinton Sparks and rapper Neema will also host the event, which begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Seattle Times

THE 30 BEST-PAID PLAYERS IN NBA HISTORY

We're living in a time when it's great to be good at basketball. Most of the highest-paid players of all time are in the NBA right now.

   
April 17, 2015 | 02:26 PM ET Update

Hornets general manager Rich Cho says the Lance Stephenson signing last summer "didn't work out as we expected it to." Cho, speaking at his end-of-season press conference Friday, says when Charlotte signed Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million contract last offseason, "We thought it would work out a lot better." USA Today Sports

Stephenson is under contract for next season and the Hornets have a team option for 2016-17. Cho expects "Lance to work hard this offseason and have a better year next year." USA Today Sports

Statement from Brooklyn Nets team physician Dr. Michael Farber: “Over the last three months, Mirza has been closely monitored on blood thinners and follow-up testing has met our expectations. The most recent bloodwork was normal and Mirza has been cleared to resume all basketball-related activities. NBA.com

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Clippers are definitely going with the entire graphics package that was shown to me by Source One. But it probably means that they’re going with something pretty close to it. With that caveat in mind, here’s what Source One originally sent to me. Another source has confirmed that these Clippers designs are legit. (PHOTOS) Uni-Watch.com

BUZZ METER: WHO'S TRENDING IN THE NBA TWITTERSPHERE?

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

   
April 17, 2015 | 01:10 PM ET Update

The consensus seems to be that Aldridge will simply re-sign with the Blazers this summer, but ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne believes the veteran power forward might head elsewhere. Shelburne made an appearance on 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland on Wednesday and was asked about what NBA rumors might be floating around. Shelburne said the following about Aldridge’s future: “I think LaMarcus Aldridge is actually a lot more in play than people think. “You have that group there. How can you really improve that group up in Portland? I think Neil [Olshey] has done a great job up there, but it’s Portland, he’s never quite fit in and they’ve made it really clear that Damian Lillard is the face of their franchise.” Lakers Nation

Candace Buckner: Vogel's "gut" is telling him that David West will opt in. What does Vogel's gut tell him about Roy's plans? "Yeah, I really don't know." Twitter @CandaceDBuckner

Bird and Vogel endorsed a smaller, faster lineup that can score more points after finishing 24th in scoring this season at 97.3 points per game. "If (Hibbert) comes back we're probably going to play another style and I can't guarantee him anything," Bird said. "He's going to have to earn it." Indianapolis Star

Anthony Slater: Dion Waiters offseason goal: "Eating right." Said the biggest reason he played better late this season is cause he got in shape. Twitter @anthonyVslater

Yogi Ferrell's decision whether to stay at Indiana or turn pro after his junior season will be announced on April 25, according to his father. Kevin Ferrell Sr. told The Indianapolis Star on Monday that his son will make the announcement at Ruth's Chris Steak House on the north side of Indianapolis at 7:30 p.m. on April 25, a Saturday. Ferrell has one year of eligibility remaining, and he's considered a potential second-round pick according to various mock drafts. Indianapolis Star

THE TOP 25 AMERICAN PLAYERS EVER IN EUROPE

Many of the best American players in European basketball history were FIBA journeymen, but we have a former NBA star at No. 1.

   
April 17, 2015 | 11:28 AM ET Update

The tryout is over, apparently. Now it’s just business. “Of course, I need to sit down with my family, with my agent, and explore the options and see which option is the best for myself, but, like I said, the last two months was beautiful for me,” Dragic said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, but that doesn’t affect my decision. The teammates were great and the team has a bright future, the coaching staff, the organization.” Miami Herald

Wade said after Wednesday’s game that he doesn’t recruit free agents. He doesn’t have to. The Heat sells itself, says Wade, and it appears Dragic likes his new home even though he said it was difficult leaving his old teammates in Phoenix. Dragic and Wade played well together from the beginning, and they combined to lead the league in field-goal percentage among backcourt duos (48.5 percent). “For me, it’s pretty tough because I was part of two teams,” Dragic said of this season. “Now the exciting part is that I have new players, I have new friends … So, hopefully next year, if I’m staying here, that is going to be a better season than this year.” Miami Herald

Goran Dragic and Luol Deng have to decide whether they want to be back with the Heat next season, and the team is eager to have them. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said today he thinks there is a good relationship between the organization and both players as they head toward potential free agency July 1. “We love them; Hopefully they love us,” Spoelstra said. “I love working with them and our staff loved working with them. They’re two pros. From an objective point of view, they’re not difficult guys to work with. They’re absolute pros, the kind of guys you want to build your team around, the guys you want to go to work with, the guys you want to be in a foxhole with. Palm Beach Post

Parsons has been in their seats, so to speak. Long before anybody would have pictured Parsons as an NBA prospect, his family owned Orlando Magic season tickets, so he’s plenty familiar with the feeling of fan heartbreak. “If one of my favorite players left, I would boo them if they came back,” Parsons told ESPNDallas.com, smiling and sipping iced coffee at a café in his uptown Dallas neighborhood a couple of days before returning to Houston as Public Enemy No. 1 in a first-round playoff series. “That’s just how the world works. “I booed Shaq when he came back. I booed T-Mac when he came back. You boo everybody when they come back. If you’re passionate as a fan, a diehard fan, you don’t care about the player. You care about the team.” ESPN.com

NBA owners planned to discuss several competition-related issues at their annual end-of-the-season meetings, which conclude today in New York. Improving the schedule, conference alignment, playoff format changes and draft lottery format improvements are among the topics owners planned to address. USA Today Sports

Especially Charles Barkley, the outspoken TV analyst that continues to perceive the Warriors as a one-dimensional team reliant on making jump shots despite considerable evidence that they also apply superior defense. "I love Charles. I worked with him for eight years," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, referring to his years as a TV analyst. "He's incredible at what he does. He's hilarious. He picks up every bar tab when you're on the road; 28 people from TNT at the bar, and he picks up the tab. He bought me so many beers over the years that whatever Charles wants to say about our team I have no problem with." CSNBayArea.com

 

SOCIAL MEDIA PICTURES: PHOTOS PLAYERS POST

Just like everybody else, NBA players are spending more and more time on social media sites and photo-sharing services. Check all the pictures they are posting on Instagram, Twitter and more here.

   
April 17, 2015 | 09:05 AM ET Update

Greg Monroe and Reggie Jackson are the team’s two most prominent free agents, and Stan Van Gundy, who has the title of president in addition to the one he holds as head coach, says he’d like to see both of them return next season — if the price is right. “We want Greg back, we want Reggie back,” Van Gundy said during his customary pregame availability session. “Again, they all have decisions to make in the whole thing. Our decision process will obviously be what to offer and all of that, but we want those guys back. And then we’ve got to talk about all of our other guys, too.” NBCSports.com

This summer, Granger, his wife and two kids will stay in the Valley where they are building a house. and he'll continue working with Suns athletic trainers. Granger, who turns 32 on Monday, is three years removed from being a perennial 20-points-per-game scorer, including a 2009 All-Star season. Arizona Republic

"I do want to come back," Green said. "I think they do want me back, too ... I just talked to Lon (Babby, president of basketball operations). It was a good conversation so I'm a little positive about that." Arizona Republic

Orazio Cauchi: I've mentioned this before but I can confirm what @Derek Bodner just said: no NBA buyout in Saric's deal for this summer. It's very very unlikely that Saric will join the #sixers next season. In 2016 there will be more possibilities, that's for sure. #NBA Twitter

In his first sit-down interview with reporters since his season-ending surgery in February, Carmelo Anthony admitted Thursday that he briefly rethought his decision to sign a long-term contract with the Knicks after the team got off to a terrible start this season. “Not often did I think about that, [but] there was one point in time this season where it was just cloudy,” he said. “I didn’t really have any clarity, and I was second-guessing what I did and the decision I made.” Wall Street Journal

During home games, he was cooped up at the top of Section 106, constantly seen scrolling through his phone. During road games, he watched from his couch, listening to the broadcast and stewing over the knee-jerk reactions of the social media world. “I’m definitely pissed,” a surly Durant said at his exit interview on Thursday morning. “I've heard a lot of stuff over this time I've been injured from everybody, from different people. So I can't wait for the first game (of next season).” Oklahoman

He gets so worked up over what’s being said that those close to Durant often try to convince him that it’s best to ignore it all together. But he can’t. “I like reading that stuff because I get upset,” Durant said. “And I play well when I get really, really upset.” Oklahoman

“It’s kind of like a balance that I use,” Durant said. “I use it for fuel sometimes because I know most of it’s bull**** and I know most of the people don’t really know the game like I know it…(But) like I said, it’s a balance I have to have in between getting too mad and just letting that distract me and take that away from how I play and using that as fire as well. So I’ve heard it all. And I can’t wait to play again.” Oklahoman

The Nuggets need a bona fide star. Can Gallo be an all-star in this league? "It's my goal. It has been in my mind since I came in the league. ... There is something in my mind that tells me I have a chance to go to the All-Star Weekend," said Gallinari, looking forward to next season after needing almost two years to regain his form after a knee injury in 2013 led to the downfall of the Nuggets in the playoffs and the nasty divorce between Karl and Kroenke. Denver Post

Lawson can move at warp speed with the basketball and he's not a bad dude, but he's far from a leader. While he did not deem it necessary to make himself available to the media on the day his teammates cleaned out their lockers at the Pepsi Center, my educated guess is Lawson dreams of playing in a city with brighter lights than Denver. So here's a suggestion: Trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Use Lawson as bait in an attempt to move up in the NBA draft, in the likely event the Nuggets fail to get unbelievably lucky in the lottery and cash in on their 15 percent chance to land one of the top three picks. Denver Post

Trevor Booker who took issue with Kanter’s comments on the organization’s lack of professionalism and made a sarcastic tweet concerning him the night before, didn’t pile on when asked about the change after he left. “The locker room was fine when he was here and it was great after he left,’’ he said. Deseret News

When asked if the chemistry improved after the All-Star break, Derrick Favors said, “I think it was bound to happen either way. We practiced and got better on the defensive end.’’ Then there was Joe Ingles, whose locker was next to Kanter’s. “Enes was a good guy,’’ he said. “We had no issue with him in the locker room or on the court.’’ Deseret News

Embiid's work ethic has been questioned by some inside the organization. The whispers ended after the center started doing on-court drills in March. However, a blow-up with assistant strength and conditioning coach James Davis was one of the reasons Embiid was sent home during a West Coast road trip in December. After he underwent surgery for a fractured right foot in June, Embiid missed his entire rookie season while rehabilitating his leg. Philadelphia Inquirer

An altercation with Davis during the West Coast trip, coupled with Brown's wanting him to be in "more of a structured, stable environment," prompted the Sixers to send him home, the sources said. "If you can't coach your best players, I call it buying time and dying," Brown said. "You have nothing. . . . "I tell my guys, you want me to coach you. You want to show up on time. You want to do the right thing. You want to act the right way." Philadelphia Inquirer

Stephenson said he lost confidence in his jump shot early in the season and never regained it. "I just wanted to make the shot so bad and when it doesn't go in you just lose your confidence," said Stephenson, who went from starter to out of coach Steve Clifford's rotation. "That plays a major part when you don't have confidence in your shot. This summer I am going to find my confidence and come in a better player." ESPN.com

When asked about the NBA’s tricky history of big men and foot injuries, Durant, clearly having read about these comparisons before, shot back: “Well, Bill Walton and Yao Ming had two totally different injuries than I had. And I can remember a lot of people telling me I was too small, too skinny and now all of a sudden I'm a big man?” "Hell no," he said when asked whether he'd watch the playoffs. Oklahoman

NBA players will be blood-tested for human growth hormone beginning next season. The league and the players association announced Thursday that HGH testing will start during training camp next fall. All players will be subjected to three random, unannounced tests annually - two during the season and once in the offseason. Philadelphia Inquirer

The curse of the Zombie Sonics is alive and well. That’s right, Emerald City hoops fans can breathe easy once again knowing the Larry O’Brien Trophy will not be hoisted by Clay Bennett in Oklahoma City this year. Entering last night, the Thunder were in a heated race to capture the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference, but thanks to a New Orleans victory over San Antonio, their championship hopes were dashed once again. Seattle Times

BEST PLAYERS MOVED AT THE TRADE DEADLINE

Carmelo Anthony and many other big-name players have changed places at the trade deadline in the last two decades.

   

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