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NBA AM: Pivotal Offseason For Golden State
Posted By Lang Greene On May 1, 2013 @ 6:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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Pivotal Offseason For Golden State
The Golden State Warriors posted their second-best regular season record since 1994 and are just one win away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The positives for the team are numerous. Forward David Lee returned to All-Star form, guard Stephen Curry will likely reach All-Star status next season, second-year guard Klay Thompson is shaping up to be a promising cornerstone and head coach Mark Jackson is a frontrunner for NBA Coach of the Year.
Simply put, with the Los Angeles Lakers in disarray and the San Antonio Spurs aging, the Warriors are on the cusp of joining the Western Conference’s elite. But the decisions made by the team’s front office will go a long way in determining if the club can keep up the forward momentum.
The Warriors currently have roughly $74 million in salary on the books for next season, although only $45 million is guaranteed.
Veteran frontcourt players Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million) hold options and could choose to opt out this summer in hopes of securing long-term deals. This scenario is unlikely as both players have been in decline in recent seasons and their market values seemingly aren’t at high levels across the league.
Brandon Rush and Carl Landry also hold $4 million player options for the 2014 campaign.
Rush only appeared in two games this season after suffering a left knee injury. The guard may choose to ride out the final year of his deal to prove to teams his surgically repaired knee has fully healed and test free agency in 2014.
Landry, on the other hand, has been vocal about his desire to secure a multi-year deal and wants it to be with Golden State. Landry has been a key performer in Golden State’s surprise playoff performance up to this point after Lee was lost for the season with a torn hip flexor.
The Warriors will also have to make a decision on unrestricted free agent to-be Jarrett Jack.
Jack was the team’s fourth-leading scorer (12.9) during the season and was averaging 20 points on 62 percent shooting through the Warriors’ first four playoff contests.
As HOOPSWORLD’s Steve Kyler pointed out, the Warriors have Jack’s Bird right so they can do a deal to re-sign the veteran guard and then worry about luxury tax implications at a later time.
As it stands currently, the Warriors are sitting in luxury tax territory for the 2014 campaign with Jack and (potentially) Landry headed toward free agency in high demand and expected to get strong offers.
Golden State players have routinely talked about the strong chemistry and tight knit brotherhood the current roster has built over the course of the campaign, but in today’s NBA economy it will be interesting to see the Warriors’ front office next move with such a promising outlook.
Knicks’ Smith Says Celtics On Borrowed Time
The New York Knicks were seemingly on cruise control, thoroughly handling the aging Boston Celtics and rolling to a 3-0 first round series lead. But late in the team’s Game 3 tilt, the league’s Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith elbowed Celtics guard Jason Terry out of the triple threat position and promptly earned a suspension for Game 4, which the Celtics pulled out in overtime on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Smith let it be known he truly believed the Knicks were headed to a resounding sweep if he was in the lineup and not serving a one game suspension.
“Oh yeah, it would’ve been over. I’d have been playing golf today. It was very tough to watch,” Smith said, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. “Especially that first half. I mean, from the turnovers to missing shots. … It wasn’t the easiest thing ever.
“I wasn’t pleased with it. My teammates [weren’t] either. I’ll get the chance to make up for it tomorrow.”
The Celtics struggled to find a rhythm in the series’ first three games, failing to score 80 points in each contest, before recording 97 in Game 4. The series shifts back to New York for Game 5 on Wednesday. With a win, it would be New York’s first playoff series victory since the 2000 campaign.
No team in NBA history has blown a 3-0 playoff series lead.
Lakers Management Banking On Re-Signing Howard This Summer
Over the past two years, one of the biggest mysteries in the league has surrounded the mental state of Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and what team will finally secure his autograph on a long-term deal.
The Lakers underachieved this season and were swept out of the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. The disappointment on the court this season has once again raised questions of whether Howard will choose to bolt the Lakers for perceived greener pastures in free agency this summer.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is optimistic Howard will re-sign and become the club’s franchise player of the future.
“I think he has complete faith in the organization. I think he does like living here. I think it’s all good, which leads me to why I’m optimistic,” Kupchak said according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. “But if there’s something here that we’re lacking, I don’t know what it is.”
Kupchak added that he expects Howard to make a quick decision on his future so the Lakers can focus on other areas of need for improvement.
“I think he understands that the sooner he makes a decision, the better it is for everybody,” Kupchak said. “I don’t know if that means a week, a month or seven weeks. It allows us to plan and it allows him to start putting down roots in the city. People can no longer say, ‘I wonder what he’s going to do. Is he going to be gone?’ We’re hoping that he chooses to stay in Los Angeles.”
Howard and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul are the marquee free agents on the market this summer. Teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are expected to have enough cap room to make a strong run for Howard and each possess their own unique selling point.
Dallas has a more recent championship banner than the Lakers and presents the opportunity to play with future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. Atlanta is Howard’s hometown and offers the chance to play with childhood friend Josh Smith (also a free agent). Houston is a team on the rise with prolific scoring guard James Harden seeking more talent on the roster.
The Lakers currently have $83 million in salary cap commitments for the 2013-14 campaign already on the books, placing the team deep in luxury tax territory. This figure doesn’t include a salary for Howard, who could demand a five-year $118 million deal from the team this summer.
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