Summary of “What Kawhi Leonard’s Potentially Lost Season Means for the League”

Monotone as ever, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich casually dropped a bombshell after a team practice on Wednesday: Kawhi Leonard will be out for the rest of the season, as far as he’s concerned.
Forty-year-old Manu Ginobili, who almost retired last season, also came back to help what was supposed to be another chance at knocking off the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.
For the remainder of the season, expect a larger focus on Murray and a heaping helping of LaMarcus Aldridge, who is in the middle of a bounce-back season.
Pop said before the season that he realized he was forcing Aldridge into the wrong role-good timing for someone now permanently this season’s first option.
The Spurs got only nine games out of Leonard so far, and as a result, have played outside their means this season; their record is nothing short of valiant.
Pop’s sorcery with a healthy Kawhi is, plausibly, enough to beat the Rockets in a potential 2-3 semifinals rematch from last season, assuming the Warriors regain the top seed by season’s end.
What about James Harden’s Game 6 meltdown against a Kawhi-less Spurs from last season, you ask? Chris Paul might have a few words.
More WTF Spurs Speculation More time spent on the bench means more time to stew for Kawhi.

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Summary of “Five moves each AFC team should make in 2018 NFL offseason for trades, free agency, cuts”

The Bills should designate Taylor as a post-June 1 release, which will free up $15 million on their cap for 2018 and get them over $44 million.
More likely is that they would designate Suh as a post-June 1 cut, which would free up $17 million in 2018 but leave $13.1 million in dead money on Miami’s cap next year.
The 31-year-old won’t approach the $5.5 million he’s due on his current deal if he hits the free market again, but after handing Timmons a $5 million signing bonus on a two-year deal, the Dolphins will save only $4.5 million by cutting the former Pro Bowler.
Cutting those four guys would free up just under $17 million and push the Pats to $34 million in free space.
Assuming the 23-year-old stays healthy and sees his sack total bounce back toward the mean in 2018, Williams should be in line for a five-year, $70 million extension next offseason.
If you’re the Browns and you want to give Cousins something to think about, what’s stopping you from offering him $40 million per year? You want a quarterback, right? The Browns could hand Cousins a five-year, $200 million deal with a $20 million signing bonus and $30 million roster bonuses in each of the first two seasons of the contract, guaranteeing him a total of $91 million over two years.
The former first overall pick isn’t going to be cheap, because some team is going to offer him $18 million per year if he hits free agency next year.
The Broncos already are handing Roby a raise to $8.5 million as a result of picking up his fifth-year option last offseason, so while Denver could let Roby play out his deal and work on an extension next offseason, it seems more likely they’ll sign Roby to a five-year extension in the $55 million range.

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Summary of “Crystal Small Ball: Predicting the NBA’s Second Half”

Which team will make the biggest push in the second half? Danny Chau: The Sixers.
The Heat are mostly an anonymous team, but they do feature a player you’re bound to hear about over the next few years.
O’Connor: It’s the same team as it was before the season: Houston.
Who will get left out of the West playoffs: Clippers, New Orleans, Portland, and/or Utah? O’Connor: New Orleans is at a severe disadvantage without DeMarcus Cousins, but the Pelicans still have the best player of any of the four teams on the bubble, so it’s hard to pick against them.
Tjarks: The good people at Denver Stiffs did a nice breakdown of the schedule for all of these teams, and the one that stands out is Utah, which plays 11 games against non-playoff contenders who don’t have much incentive to win.
It’s hard to top the existential dread induced by your owner telling Dr. J that your team is a loser, but the Kings recently started a lineup in which the oldest player was Bogdanovic, a 25-year-old rookie.
O’Connor: Mark Cuban said the best option for the Mavericks is to lose, which is certainly true, but it’s largely fascinating because the statement could either suck the life out of the team or motivate it more than ever to close the season strong.
Which team will finish first in the East standings? O’Connor: The Raptors are the deepest team in the East, and they seem to be getting better and better as the season progresses.

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Summary of “The Cavaliers Are a Brand-New Team”

Hill has not played particularly inspired basketball since signing with Sacramento in the offseason, but Cleveland is hoping he will be revitalized by the opportunity to start on a contender, while also moving back to a more complementary role on offense.
Utah is a deep team with lots of options on the wing, and the Jazz usually play in the half court with two big men who can’t space the floor.
He’ll be the most complete wing that LeBron will have played with in his second stint in Cleveland.
Green has had one of the best seasons of his career playing next to LeBron.
There’s a chance the Cavs will take both of their big men out in the fourth quarter of playoff games and just play with LeBron at center next to four perimeter players, like they did for stretches of the 2017 Finals.
He has never looked more apathetic on defense than he has this season, but now has to set the tone for how the team will play on that side of the ball.
A five-man unit of LeBron, Green, Osman, Hood, and Hill could be a proto-Lineup of Death that spreads the floor with five 3-point shooters and five players who can switch screens.
Oklahoma point guard Trae Young could be available where they are picking; other possibilities are players with the potential to be a high-level contributor on both sides of the ball, like Villanova wing Mikal Bridges, Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, or Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. The Cavs were able to walk a tightrope with all these trades.

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Summary of “LeBron James and Cavaliers chaos is unprecedented, and time is running out”

They aren’t just looking at losing this season, but they are looking at losing LeBron James.
This is all a whirlwind around LeBron James vs. the Cavs’ front office, which is to say it’s about James vs. owner Dan Gilbert.
Since the end of the NBA Finals last season, James has watched as Jimmy Butler, Paul, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin have been traded.
James must wonder: If the organization won’t go all-in to try to keep the best team around him, would he want to be elsewhere? Would he want to waive his no-trade clause?
Then the Cavs look back and point out James will not commit to them past this season.
Point out they tried to get him another star when coming to the brink of a deal for George last summer but stopped when James declined to commit to the franchise.
The Cavs must wonder whether they should just publicly come out and say they will trade everything, they will trade the Brooklyn Nets pick, if James were only to commit past this season.
“You’ve got LeBron James over there in that locker room. You know what I mean? What else the man need to do?” Paul said.

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Summary of “It’s a Little Too Quiet: Your 2018 NBA Trade Deadline Primer”

The deadline is an opportunity for some teams to set themselves up for the future.
Cap space will come at a premium-much like it did in the 2000s and early 2010s, before the booms from the past few offseasons-which means teams will look to create room that can be used in the summers ahead. The NBA moved the trade deadline ahead of All-Star weekend this season so teams can settle their rosters before the break, which means there are only 10 days left of trading season.
Though teams would like to get their hands on Will Barton, Denver has remained muted as this deadline approaches; the team is happy with what it has in a young, developing roster competing for the playoffs.
Atlanta’s Trade Roost Teams looking to make a splash should contact the Hawks.
Evans would be a wonderful addition to any team that needs a spark-plug scorer who can also shoulder playmaking responsibilities-a team like the Sixers, Pelicans, or Celtics.
There are so few teams with max contract space available this summer, and a 30-year-old center who can’t shoot isn’t the type of player that teams will clear the books for.
It’s spoken with several teams about Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson; one team to keep an eye on is the Mavericks: Labissiere fills a need and fits their timeline.
The calm before the deadline suggests most teams are taking the long view.

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Summary of “Who contributed more to New England Patriots dynasty? 2017 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl LII”

Bill Belichick has won seven Super Bowls, including five as head coach of the New England Patriots.
A question we can ask is this one: Between the two of them, has Belichick or Brady contributed more to the success of this Patriots dynasty? It’s impossible to answer definitively, but the questions we ask on the way to finding a solution might be illuminating in themselves.
A Brady ankle injury forced Bledsoe back into the game, and Belichick’s special teams blocked a field goal and returned it for a critical touchdown before two late Patriots interceptions sealed a 24-17 win.
In all, Belichick has gone 13-6 in 19 games without Brady at quarterback for the Patriots.
Nobody would argue that Belichick doesn’t need his Hall of Fame quarterback, but the Patriots have been extremely good even without Brady at the helm.3.
It would be impossible to choose between Belichick or Brady, and there’s no way the Patriots of the past 17 years would be the Patriots with one or the other in a different city.
The more nuanced answer? Well, Belichick has had a coaching run up there with some of the greats in the history of football, and he has done it in an era in which it’s more difficult to build and sustain success under the salary cap.
Belichick certainly deserves some credit for providing Brady with the infrastructure to succeed, especially early in the future Hall of Famer’s career, but who else could have led the Patriots back from down 28-3 in the Super Bowl?

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Summary of “Zach Lowe on the Blake Griffin trade and future for LA Clippers, Detroit Pistons”

Chauncey Billups joins SC6 to explain why he was surprised to find out the Clippers traded away Blake Griffin, and not players like DeAndre Jordan or Lou Williams.
Blake Griffin is an exquisitely skilled player in his prime.
When you read that the LA Clippers traded him for a lightly protected first-round pick and a younger power forward they might have some interest in re-signing in July 2019, your reaction was probably: That’s it? That’s all they get for Blake freaking Griffin?
The Detroit Pistons could end up paying Griffin and Andre Drummond almost $70 million combined that season.
What does the Clippers’ future look like without Blake Griffin? And how good will the Pistons be after adding the superstar? Kevin Pelton grades the trade.
Blake Griffin’s trade to Detroit doesn’t only impact those directly and indirectly involved in the deal, it also signals that Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan could be the next to leave Los Angeles.
A word on loyalty: The Clippers went out of their way to label Griffin a “Clipper for life.” As I first revealed here, the preamble to their free agency pitch meeting involved walking Griffin through a makeshift museum of his life and then retiring his number – literally raising it to the rafters as music played in an empty Staples Center – in a staged “Ceremony.”
Detroit needs one of them to get really good, because it’s unclear how else they are going to come close to putting enough perimeter talent around Griffin and Drummond.

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Summary of “Reevaluating the NBA’s MVP Race”

The MVP race has ebbed and flowed as much as the standings this season.
Giannis began the season by forcing us to wonder if gravity existed while we looped his highlight reels.
He shot 63 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3 in the first month of the season, but crowning him the MVP favorite was like giving a Big 12 quarterback the Heisman in September.
With the Bucks currently eighth in the East, Giannis, like Westbrook last season, might need to make his case based on his individual numbers rather than on team success.
Forty-nine games into this season, the Warriors have already lost more games than they did in all of the 2015-16 season.
Curry has had an MVP-level impact ever since returning from injury in December, while Durant is quietly on the fringe of a 50-40-90 season with career highs in assists and blocks.
Without much push from the tier below, one may be able to ride strong team success in the second half of the season to a top spot on some ballots.
Harden is taking and making 1.2 fewer free throws per game than last season, yet his league-high 31.2 points per game are a career high.

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Summary of “Five Team-Building Lessons From the 2017 NFL Season”

With no playoff action on tap and the Super Bowl matchup set, it’s the perfect opportunity to look back and glean what this NFL season - and the pair of teams still alive - has taught us.
Pick-for-Player Trades Are the New Market Inefficiency It’s no coincidence that the two teams playing in the Super Bowl are the ones that were most active in the trade market over the past year.
No one would have guessed that Robinson - a 30-year-old journeyman playing for his third team in three years - would emerge as the team’s best cornerback.
Directly addressing needs in the offseason is far from a novel concept, but this season was proof of what can happen when teams use every available resource to attack a single problem area.
Free Agency Is No Longer a Treacherous Path to Team-Building - If You Look for the Right Clues Wide receiver may have been the Rams’ focus in 2017 free agency, but the team’s shrewdest signing was left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
The other component here is that all three of the aforementioned teams fielded terrific defenses in 2017.
Head Coaches Who Call Plays Aren’t Going Away Any Time Soon If the success stories from the 2017 season and the latest wave of hires are any indication, play-calling head coaches are quickly becoming the standard in the NFL. Consider the NFC playoff teams.
As long as McVay, Pederson, and San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan are overseeing entire teams and exploding scoreboards as a play-caller, expect teams to continue looking for options who fit the same mold.

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