A quick side note on the Lillard-Westbrook relationship: They have become one of the biggest rivalries, if not the biggest rivalry, going in the NBA. They are both elite, intense and don’t back down. It has created some great theater. But Lillard says there is a funny thing people don’t realize: The two don’t dislike each other. “People get it confused that we have an issue with each other, when we really don’t,” Lillard said. “That’s the weirdest thing about it.”
May 19, 2022 | 5:24 pm EDT Update
“I think, with Talen, obviously he did not get to where everyone wanted him to be that quickly,” one Western Conference coach told Sean Deveney. “But he is 21 years old. He is playing for the Lakers and development is not the biggest thing there. Every season he has been in the league, there has been COVID and the bubble and something that has gotten in the way of him making steps. But I think most of us would take him on our team in a minute. He is big (6-foot-4) and long, he can handle the ball, he can initiate the offense, he will be a good defender even if he is not there yet. He has value.”
Kyle Lowry remains out because of a strained left hamstring, but his impact is still being felt through Gabe Vincent. Vincent has filled in for the injured Lowry as the Miami Heat’s starting point guard during most of its playoff run. The Heat entered Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals at FTX Arena on Thursday night with a perfect 7-0 record this postseason with Vincent in the starting lineup. “I feel like my IQ has grown a lot being around him,” Vincent said of Lowry’s influence in their first season as teammates. “Learning how to read defenses differently. I think I’ve become a much better passer. A lot of that has to do with being able to see things develop or see where I can get guys the ball where the defense can’t get it. I think you see that most for me particularly with pitching the ball ahead.
James Plowright: Kupchak on the next head coach “I can’t give a timeline, we hope to have a coach in place before the draft but not within the next week”
Spoelstra finished third in the race for the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award this season. Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams earned the honor, which was voted on by a panel of 100 media members. But Spoelstra would have received Heat center Bam Adebayo’s first-place vote. “I feel like he should have got coach of the year,” Adebayo said. “60 percent of your team is undrafted and you’re No. 1 in the East. I feel that was really overlooked. I talk to Spo a lot, asking him schemes, tendencies, plays, how to attack matchups to just help the team be better. He’s one of those coaches who’s willing to adjust if players want to adjust.”
Throughout the course of the season, rumors began to float around that Kupchak would step down as the GM at the end of the season or potentially retire altogether. During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Kupchak revealed his status and future plans. “I will be here for the foreseeable future,” Kupchak said. “I’ve agreed with the Hornets to continue to work for years to come. I think the expression would be a ‘multi-year deal’. I’m thankful to still be working in this league, going to meetings with general managers and the commissioner, and all of these great people at the league office. I’m lucky to be in this position and to continue to do it. For better or worse, I’ll be here for the next couple of years. “As far as I know, it’s the same role,” Kupchak said with a laugh and a wink.