NBA AM: The NBA Playoffs Almost Set
Playoffs Almost Set : With their win last night over the New Jersey Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers have locked in the 8th seed in the East, all that’s left is the battle for eight in the West.
The Utah Jazz are one game up on Phoenix for control of the eight seed, with both teams having just two games left to play.
Here is how the playoff picture is taking shape as of this morning:
*** via games played through 4/23/12
You Call It – Coach Of The Year:
The post-season awards continue to roll on: Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving was your vote for Rookie of the Year, Oklahoma City’s James Harden ran away with the Sixth Man of the year vote, Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova continues to receive votes for Most Improved, winning that vote in a walk. LA Clippers executive Neil Olshey got the nod for Executive of the year.
The Defensive Player of the Year award was a little tighter than some of the others with New York’s Tyson Chandler winning the vote. The results looked like this:
Tyson Chandler – New York (34%, 464 Votes), Serge Ibaka – Oklahoma City (28%, 392 Votes), Dwight Howard – Orlando (13%, 178 Votes), LeBron James – Miami (11%, 156 Votes), Luol Deng – Chicago (7%, 99 Votes), Shawn Marion – Dallas (5%, 63 Votes), Andre Iguodala – Philadelphia (2%, 24 Votes)
Which leaves us with…
Grunfeld Staying?: Michael Lee of the Washington Post is reporting that the Washing Wizards, namely owner Ted Leonsis is keeping General Manager Ernie Grunfeld with a new multi-year deal.
Grunfeld’s contract was set to expire this summer, and it was commonly believed Grunfeld and his staff would be replaced, so news that Leonsis is keeping Ernie is a bit surprising considering how bad the team has been under Grunfeld’s watch.
According to Lee’s report, Leonsis is said to have weighed Grunfeld’s ability to amass draft picks and offload unfavorable contracts for younger talent as a basis for allowing Grunfeld to continue what he has started.
The Wizards are expected to announce Grunfeld’s new deal as early as today.
Under Grunfeld’s watch the Wizards have amassed a 282-438 record and have not made the playoffs since 2007.
The Wizards are sitting on $58.6 million in salary commitments which includes Rashard Lewis’ $22.6 million contract, of which only $13 million is guaranteed.
Based on the standings today, the Wizards look like they will land the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery is scheduled for May 30th. Based on the NBA’s ping-pong ball lottery system, Washington has a 19.9% chance of landing the top overall pick, an 18.8% chance of landing the 2nd overall pick and a 17.1% chance of landing the third overall pick. The absolute worst the Wizards could do in the lottery is the fourth which they have a 31.9% chance of landing.
Lee Wants Houston : Houston’s Courtney Lee is part of a star-studded class of would-be restricted free agents this July and is hoping for the security of a long-term contract. With more than 13 NBA teams looking at ample cap space, he may actually get it.
Lee, who came on strong for the Rockets down the stretch of the season, is optimistic about his situation and says he’d like to stay in Houston long-term, but that’s not entirely up to him.
“I’d love to stay in Houston,” Lee said to Jonathan Fiegen of the Houston Chronicle. “I have little control over that. The only thing I can control is how I play every night and give 100 percent effort. The off-the-court stuff is up to the front office and owner. I’d like to stay, but that’s their decision.
“Houston is always going to be my first choice. It’s up to those guys, if I get an offer, whether they match it or if they just come out and give me an offer.”
Lee and his agents tried negotiate a contract extension with the Rockets this season and were unable to reach a deal.
The Rockets hold Lee’s rights and with a $3.2 million Qualifying Offer they can make him a restricted free agent. The Rockets can and likely will match almost any offer given to Lee on the open market.
The Rockets have $40.8 million in salary commitments, which includes the non-guaranteed $6.9 million deal of Samuel Dalembert making Houston one of the top cap-space teams.
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NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Anthony Macri at 11am. Coach Macri works with NBA players year around with developing and improving their games and will do his best to answer your questions. Senior NBA writer Eric Pincus will hold down his weekly NBA chat at 4pm EST. Eric covers the Western Conference from LA with the Lakers and the Clippers. Stephen Litel will wrap up the day with his weekly NBA Chat at 8pm EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a completed chat, check the Chat Archive.