Unwilling to let Lillard have the last word, Westbrook shot back. “What seed you all? What playoff seed are you all?” Lillard remembered him saying. Then Lillard ended the conversation. “I said, ‘You know I’m the last person you want to see in the playoffs.’”
May 27, 2022 | 11:52 am EDT Update
After Jokic publicly stated his desire to sign the extension late last month, sources say the 27-year-old has reiterated his long-term commitment to the franchise this week and made clear his belief in the organization’s future in the wake of Connelly’s exit. Multiple sources tell The Athletic that when the Nuggets offer Jokic the five-year, $260 million supermax deal in July, the All-NBA center plans to sign the contract.
Jokic’s brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja, met with Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth and assistant GM Tommy Balcetis in recent days to discuss the team’s future. All sides, sources say, left the meeting aligned in their vision. For the new Nuggets regime, it was important to spend time with the Jokic family in person stateside in the aftermath of Connelly’s departure. Booth and coach Michael Malone have also spoken to Nikola Jokic over the phone, as the big man remains on his annual offseason respite in Serbia. Both sides reaffirmed their long-term commitment to the partnership in that conversation.
Yet while the Nuggets are expected to move forward with their core of Jokic, Murray and Porter, sources say this Booth-led front office plans on being aggressive when it comes to improving the roster around them. The focus, sources say, is on adding the kind of long and versatile defensive-minded players who are on display in the Boston–Miami Eastern Conference finals. If that means discussing the team’s draft assets as a way of upgrading the level of win-now talent, sources say, then there will be an openness to doing just that.
It’s obvious why teams have been intrigued with Wood in the past. He’s a unicorn of a big man. That interest hasn’t waned, even in the early weeks of the offseason, sources told The Athletic. Wood is talented enough to where the Rockets can’t let him walk without getting assets back if their tenure is headed for an ending.
But if there is a shred of doubt in Houston’s mind — whether it’s from Wood, the coaching staff or the front office — about long-term prospects, the clock is ticking. Wood is no stranger to hearing his name involved in trade rumors. “I just continue to play my game,” Wood told me that month. “Continue to hoop. If anything, it’s motivation. I know all 30 teams are watching, regardless if I’m in a trade talk or not. Just motivation to keep going. It gives me a little extra step when I step on the floor.”
“They’re one player away,” an Eastern Conference executive told ESPN, suggesting the Mavs could win a title as soon as next season if they figured out a way to add an impact center — in the mold of 2010-11 Tyson Chandler — who could be a primary Doncic pick-and-roll partner, rebounder and rim protector. It’s an opinion shared by several other rival coaches, scouts and executives who have recently discussed Dallas’ outlook with ESPN.
Daniel Greenberg: Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young said on the Gimme The Hot Sauce Podcast that he thought he was going to get drafted by the Chicago Bulls. Trae said he had an exciting and fun pre-draft workout with the Bulls. “I know what that city brings and basketball fans.”