Advertisements


BLOGTABLE: Who looks like a first-time All-Star?

NBA.com blogtable _________ is putting together a solid case to earn his first NBA All-Star selection this season. * * * David Aldridge: Tobias Harris. He's having a great year in Detroit -- 19 points, 5 boards a game, and shooting 46 percent on 3s for a winning team. He's put up numbers in big games, too: 31 at Boston last week, 34 against Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves, 27 at Philly. LeBron, Giannis, Porzingis, Embiid and Love are likely frontcourt locks in the East, and I won't be surprised if the coaches take one of Al Horford or Jayson Tatum from Boston. And Aaron Gordon will have supporters, too. So Harris is certainly not a gimme. The Pistons will have to keep winning to keep his candidacy alive. Steve Aschburner: There are so many possibilities, from Kristaps Porzingis and Devin Booker to Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo. But since the All-Star Game is neither the first nor the second of back-to-back games, I’ll go with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, whose talent and production should earn him a spot and whose personality and entertainment value are perfect for the star-spangled Weekend. Shaun Powell: I so, so badly wanted to answer "Mike Conley" who might be the best veteran without a trip to the Game, but injuries happened. Therefore, you can toss in a handful of the young candidates: Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis. Let's go with Embiid because All-Star Weekend needs his presence and personality. Ask me this question in a month and maybe the answer is Tobias Harris, because the Pistons are winning and he's breaking out. John Schuhmann: Joel Embiid is a lock. His boxscore numbers (23.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks) are fantastic. The Sixers are a playoff team and have been much better, both offensively and defensively, with him on the floor than they've been with him on the bench. And this year, we don't have to scrutinize how much he's been playing. He's averaging 30 minutes per contest and has missed only three of the Sixers' 23 games. Sekou Smith: Devin Booker is putting together a spectacular case, even though it'll be virtually impossible for him to get his due in a Western Conference stacked with outstanding backcourt players. The Suns have struggled in ways that don't suggest anyone on that roster could squeeze into the All-Star mix. But Booker's play this season has been more than just an occasional blip on the jaw-dropper radar (see his demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers for video evidence). He's a next-level scorer and a better overall player than he gets credit for being. If the Suns were in the playoff mix, he'd be locked into that All-Star debate heading into the new year......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 7th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: 2018 pre-playoffs predictions

NBA.ph blogtable 1) Which first-round series in the West is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: For sure it’s Portland-New Orleans. I love Damian Lillard’s game, but the Pels are a really tough bunch with a lot of weapons, even sans Boogie Cousins. Jusuf Nurkic will have a really tough time containing AD; that’s one reason this has a high potential for an upset! Migs Bustos: The Jazz and Thunder matchup. It's a tale of upward momentum versus inconsistency. The Jazz have won seven out of their last 10 games, and OKC are 5-5 in their last 10. With how the Jazz are playing great team basketball, led by super rookie, Donovan Mitchell, they have a great chance of upsetting the erratic OKC Thunder. If maganda ang gising ng Utah for four games, may tulog ang OKC sa kanila. Marco Benitez: I think the Thunder-Jazz series is the one where most likely we will see an upset. The Thunder experiment of Westbrook-George-Anthony has been up and down all season, while the Jazz are a well-coached team anchored on a great defensive presence in Gobert. The Thunder win if Westbrook dominates the game and Adams is able to neutralize Gobert. But if OKC becomes stagnant on offense and their usual selves defensively, then the Jazz can wreck havoc on this matchup. Favian Pua: Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: In order for the Pelicans to stun the Blazers, Anthony Davis must cement his status as the best player on both ends of the floor throughout the series. A Playoff Rondo sighting paired with the feisty defense of Jrue Holiday should stymie the backcourt attack of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Adrian Dy: If it turns out Kawhi Leonard was just saving himself for a postseason run, then the Spurs would absolutely wreck the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors. Barring such a comeback though, I'm riding high on the Pelicans. The Blazers don't have the bigs to even slow down Davis, and the Jrue Holiday + Playoffs Rajon Rondo combo could make things really tough for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 2) Which first-round series in the East is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: Don’t look past the veteran-laden Miami Heat. Philadelphia is by far the deeper team, sure, but if Embiid is hampered by his injury and both D-Wade and Goran Dragic have their way, Miami can push the Sixers to the distance and an upset may not be that surprising. Also, coach Spo shines in 7-game series! Migs Bustos: In the East, it's a bit more challenging. We all know about the success of the Sixers this season; no matter what seed Lebron's team is, it will be hard to upset them; the Raptors have been long consistent at the number 1 spot all season. So, the best bet would be the Bucks overthrowing home court advantage. And this is because Kyrie is out of the season. It's just up to Giannis and Co. to take advantage of that disadvantage by the Celtics to pull through. Marco Benitez: The plague of injuries to the Boston Celtics really hurt their chances of contending in the East, much less win a championship this season. Without Kyrie, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are vulnerable against the Greek Freak-led Bucks, who are long and talented. With that being said, Boston is still an extremely well-coached, albeit young team, and Giannis will have to be the best player on the floor for most of the series for the inconsistent Bucks to pull off the upset. Favian Pua: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat: Though the Sixers are rolling into the playoffs, only J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli can boast of a legitimate postseason resume. Led by All-Star Goran Dragic, the Heat are an unrelenting unit of two-way veterans who can both muck it up inside and bait opponents into a long-range shootout. Joel Embiid’s uncertain status will force Sixers head coach Brett Brown to find a counter for Hassan Whiteside. Adrian Dy: Though I have the 76ers advancing, it wouldn't surprise me if the Heat shut down Ben Simmons and shut up Joel Embiid. Erik Spoelstra has a knack for getting the best out of his squads, Dwyane Wade could have some clutch moments, and if the aforementioned Embiid doesn't return as soon as expected, South Beach could be singing after round one. 3) Which team that missed the playoffs has the best shot at making it next season? Enzo Flojo: I’d love to say Denver, but their being in the West really makes their window tight. That’s why I’m picking the Detroit Pistons, who have enough talent to make quite a big impact in the East, especially if their big names (e.g. Drummond, Griffin, Jackson) all stay put and stay healthy! Migs Bustos: To be honest, there are not much compelling story lines on teams that barely missed the playoffs this year. There's nothing like one of the most recent examples -- the Heat's 2016-2017 season where they made a late season run but just missed it at .500 (41-41), or how about Phoenix having a winning record at 48-34 in the 2013-2014 season missing out? The 16 teams were more or less 'predicted' to make the postseason this year so there wasn't a big surprise. Marco Benitez: I think a healthy Memphis Grizzlies team, with Conley, Gasol, Parsons and Tyreke Evans (assuming all are still with the Grizzlies next season) will be a lock to make the playoffs after a disappointing 22-60 win-loss record this season that saw a season-ending surgery for Conley happen in late January. Favian Pua: The Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and his ragtag bunch of scorers were an overtime loss away against the Minnesota Timberwolves from getting their first taste of the postseason. To do so, the Nuggets will need to handle their business and take care of bottom-feeders, as it was backbreaking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks in March that prevented them from securing an outright playoff berth. Adrian Dy: The Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki will likely want to go out with a bang, Rick Carlisle is still a really good coach, Dennis Smith Jr. is a fantastic attacking guard, and if the lotto balls bounce the right way, they could return to the upper echelon of the West. 4) Which team that made these playoffs has the biggest chance of missing it next season? Enzo Flojo: It may sound crazy, but the Spurs are at great risk for next season. Kawhi continues to be a huge question mark and their veterans will get even older in 2018-2019. They nearly didn’t make it this year, and next year could be the tipping point! Migs Bustos: I'd have to go with the San Antonio Spurs. No doubt all of the other teams are on the up-swing, and they all boast of youth. If Kahwi does not play for the Spurs next season, expect younger teams with great potential like the Nuggets and Lakers to overtake SAS. Marco Benitez: Depending on what happens in terms of offseason trades, and assuming that the rest of the Western Conference regains full strength next season, the two teams I feel have the biggest chance of missing the playoffs next season are Miami and New Orleans. For Miami, DWade is not getting any younger, and Hassan Whiteside has not been at a consistent All-Star level all season. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond getting a full year under their belt in Detroit and Kristaps Porzingis back at full strength in New York, I see Miami as the most likely team to get bumped off in the East next season. For New Orleans, the Davis-Cousins experiment did not necessarily turn them into a legitimate playoff contender in the West, and when Cousins fell to injury, they've had to rely on AD to carry them almost entirely on his shoulders. With the ultra competitive West getting healthier next season, unless the Pels are able to get better on the wings -- assuming of course Cousins doesn't bolt in the offseason -- they may find themselves out of the playoffs. Favian Pua: Cleveland Cavaliers. Hinging on the premise that LeBron James bolts for the Sixers or Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this offseason, the Cavaliers are headed for a massive nosedive towards the number one pick in the 2019 draft. No other team has more to lose than the Cavaliers this postseason, and it is highly probable that winning the title is the only way The King stays in The Land. Adrian Dy: If we get another round of LeBron James free agency sweepstakes, and he winds up getting the Banana Boat Gang together in Houston, it's hard to see the Cleveland Cavaliers being competitive, let alone back in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Should that happen, I'd expect them to trade guys like Kevin Love, and hope that lotto luck favors them anew. 5) Which team is your early favorite to win it all? Enzo Flojo: Despite all the injuries and all their inconsistencies, the Warriors are still my odds-on fave to win it all. They have four big time playoff performers, and they know this is where their real season begins. Migs Bustos: Don't count out the Warriors. Even though they have been plagued with injuries towards the end of the season, the Dubs will hope that they will be healthy in time and turn 'on' the button with their championship experience Marco Benitez: Still the Warriors. Although they'll be without Steph in the first round, I foresee the same dominant Dubs starting the second round all the way to the Finals. The regular season has been a bit of a drag for them this season, and I believe that's why we haven't seen the same Warriors squad as that of past years. But come playoffs, there's no reason why the defending champs don't get locked in; and when they do, frankly, there's still no better team in the league than Golden State. Favian Pua: The Houston Rockets. The playoffs is all about trimming the fat in the roster and letting star power take over in the biggest moments. In James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets will always have at least one elite shot creator and facilitator on the court for all 48 minutes. Flanked by capable three-point shooters and wing defenders acquired specifically to neutralize the Golden State Warriors’ juggernaut, Clutch City is on track for its first Larry O’Brien trophy since 1995. Adrian Dy: Yes the defending champions are banged-up and looked uninterested as the regular season wound down, but now that it's winning time, I expect the Warriors to do their thing, although there's no way it'll be as smooth as their 16-1 romp last season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Who leads the Coach of the Year race?

NBA.com blogtable Who are your top three candidates for NBA Coach of the Year? * * * Steve Aschburner: Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Indiana’s Nate McMillan, possibly in that order. Casey has helped to reinvent the Raptors after another disappointing playoff exit last spring and a summer in which his boss Masai Ujiri issued a somewhat ominous call for a “change in culture.” Now Toronto has its best shot ever at The Finals. Stevens and his Celtics could have had their season yanked from under them in Game 1 when Gordon Hayward went down. Instead, Boston dominated early, turned massive personnel changes into all positives and still looms as a top East contender. And let’s be honest, most folks expected the Pacers to whimper into lotteryland after the Paul George trade. Instead, this has been a bright, happy season in Indiana, with Victor Oladipo as a top Kia Most Improved Player candidate and a record better than George’s OKC team. Tas Melas: 1. Dwane Casey. 2. Nate McMillan. 3. Brett Brown. Casey got multiple-time All-Stars to buy in to a new style of play. I thought it was unthinkable. That’s real coaching right there, and the bench’s success just puts it over the top. McMillan’s team has surprised and he probably receives the least recognition of any playoff coach, so let’s give him some here. Brown deserves a heck of a lot more than this acknowledgment for coming to work every day with a smile over the last few seasons. He has been a model of consistency in a consistently painful environment. Shaun Powell: My choice by a large margin is Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors. I love how he has adapted and evolved his system to fit the needs of his players, and how the bench has developed. No. 2 is Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers -- I'm surprised his name hasn't come up much in this conversation. He's doing wonders for a team that lost Paul George and in preseason was targeted for last place in the East. No. 3 is Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers. He may not make the playoffs, but the Clippers lost Chris Paul, traded Blake Griffin, dealt with injuries all season ... and they're still in postseason contention. John Schuhmann: 1. Dwane Casey. The Toronto Raptors are the only team that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They've changed their offense, have actually been more improved on defense, and altered their rotation (no longer keeping either Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan on the floor at all times, even after losing their two most reliable reserves of the last couple of seasons), with terrific results. 2. Brad Stevens. The Boston Celtics have the league's No. 1 defense and its fourth best record, having lost an All-Star to injury in the first six minutes of the season and with four first or second-year players in the rotation. 3. Mike D'Antoni. Daryl Morey obviously did a terrific job in the offseason, but D'Antoni is the architect what's happening on the floor. He was the Coach of the Year last season and the Houston Rockets have been improved on both offense and defense. Sekou Smith: Dwane Casey is my frontrunner for Coach of the Year. It's not often you see a coach with his seasoning and stature scrap what's been working and completely revamp his offense. Casey has always been a defensive mastermind, but to do what he's done on the other side of the floor has been simply tremendous for a team that could very well end up as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And Masai Ujiri should be at the top of your Executive of the Year list, too. Brad Stevens has worked wonders in Boston for some time now. And he's the second name on my list. Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan are tied for the third spot, and I'd go with the guy whose team finishes with more wins this season. They're doing excellent work under trying circumstances (you see what you can put together when you lose talent like DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, respectively)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Bigger loss - Cousins or Roberson?

NBA.com blogtable Fast-forward to the postseason. Which absence will weigh more heavily: The Thunder without Andre Roberson, or the Pelicans without DeMarcus Cousins? * * * David Aldridge: Oh, Pels without Boogie, no question. He and Anthony Davis were so good together, and he took so much pressure off of AD by playing center. If New Orleans does finish off the deal for Mirotic, that helps some, but the Pelicans are still diminished greatly without Cousins. Roberson being out impacts OKC defensively, no doubt. His presence allows Russell Westbrook and Paul George to be so much more aggressive defensively and on the weak side. But the Thunder can still win at a high clip without him. New Orleans can’t without Cousins. Steve Aschburner: The Thunder will miss their guy more. I’m basing that on their loftier ambitions and upside, pre-Roberson injury, than the Pelicans had with Cousins. New Orleans has wanted to reach the playoffs and, with their All-Star bigs, mess with top seeds Golden State or Houston in a contrast of styles. But Oklahoma City has wanted to go after the Warriors or Rockets for real and seemed to be coalescing into a group that maybe, perhaps, might have pulled off a spring special. Losing their defensive catalyst hurts mightily, by all the numbers and by any eye test. Now Paul George most notably has to handle a bigger defensive load and there’s not enough manpower there, I fear, to counter the West’s big-gun firepower. Trey Kerby: It’s impossible to say now if the Pelicans would have been able to pull a first-round upset against any of the teams they might face in the playoffs, but New Orleans would have no doubt been a trendy upset pick when postseason prediction time comes. But without Boogie, not so much. He is too important to the Pelicans as a creator (second on the Pelicans in assists per game) and a shooter (leading the Pelicans in 3s made per game) to paper over his loss, not to mention his more standard huge guy contributions as the best big man in the game. Losing your starting center is bad, but it’s even worse when he’s also one of your best perimeter players. Tas Melas: I’m not sure the Pelicans get there so I’ll pick OKC. Paul George now has to guard the other team’s best offensive player and shed the habit of jumping passing lanes for steals. More onus on 'Melo defensively. 'Melo might even play some three if Patrick Patterson gets minutes. Billy Donovan has to settle on a new rotation which will always score, but, added defensive responsibilities will hurt that end, too. Shaun Powell: Well, I'm not convinced the Pelicans will definitely make the postseason without DeMarcus Cousins. But I'll play along: Provided they do, then Andre Roberson's absence will hurt OKC more. That's because, even with Cousins, the Pelicans' playoff run was destined to be a short one, given that they would likely see Golden State or Houston in the first round. Meanwhile, OKC was playing its best ball when Roberson got hurt and looked to rise as high as No. 3 in the standings (and still might). Projection: His absence will cost them in the second round when they'll need defense. John Schuhmann: Can I fast-forward to next week to see if either team makes a trade? It's hard to see the Pels winning a playoff series with or without Cousins. But if the ninth-place Clippers didn't just trade their best player, I might have picked New Orleans to miss the playoffs after the Cousins injury, so in that regard, it weighs heavily. (The Jazz have just beat two of the best teams in the league and have an easier schedule than New Orleans going forward, but it's tough to see Utah making up a five-game deficit.) Given their talent, Oklahoma City remains dangerous, though Roberson's value shouldn't be understated. Not only were their defensive numbers much better with Roberson on the floor, but no offense has depended more on points off turnovers and second chance points more than that of the Thunder, and Roberson's absence affects both of those numbers too. If OKC doesn't replace Roberson at the deadline, it's much tougher to pick them to beat one of the top four teams in the West than it would be if he was healthy. Sekou Smith: In the postseason, provided both teams make it there, the absence of DeMarcus Cousins looms much larger. The Pelicans were so dependent on Cousins and what he brings as a scorer, rebounder and playmaker that his absence could very well cost them a spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. As critical as Roberson is to the Thunder's defensive bottom line, the blow of not having him in a postseason series is offset by a player, in Paul George, who is more than capable of picking up the slack as your main perimeter defender. There is no one on the roster or in the city of New Orleans capable of doing what DeMarcus Cousins did for Alvin Gentry's crew......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2018

BLOGTABLE: What are you looking forward to in 2018?

NBA.com blogtable What one thing are you most eager to see in 2018? * * * Steve Aschburner: More competitive playoff series than we got a year ago and, most of all, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers really being pushed to the wall in at least one round each. I think last year’s hunger for The Rubber-Match Finals made us accept without too much grumbling the relative breezes both Golden State and Cleveland had through the April and May portions of the postseason. But seeing some new blood, however unlikely, would be fine, maybe even welcome, this time around. That requires some fine team on either side -- Toronto, Washington, Boston out East, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City to the West -- mustering a serious challenge. And, allowing for an injury or suspension or whatever, maybe pulling off something more notable than that. We can always find context and storylines for The Finals, if we get a bit of freshness dialed in. Shaun Powell: I'm eager to see the playoffs and if someone can come along and disrupt another Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers matchup in June. Because nobody is creating much doubt as of yet. The team that's coming the closest is the Houston Rockets but they have three people who have underperformed in the playoffs: Mike D'Antoni, Chris Paul and James Harden. There's always the San Antonio Spurs, yet they seem a star shy. And in the East, the Boston Celtics of 2019 stand a better chance and the rest ... meh. Which means, I'm most eager to see Warriors-Cavs in June. John Schuhmann: I want to see what will happen with the Thunder, both on and off the floor. Can they continue to make progress offensively and if they do, will that encourage Sam Presti to keep the group together through the trade deadline? Or will the threat of Paul George leaving in free agency (and the long odds at beating the Warriors) force Presti to see what he can get for George by Feb. 8? Is it a guarantee that Carmelo Anthony will decline his early termination option this summer and stay under contract for another year? Do other stars want to play with Russell Westbrook? Sekou Smith: As much fun as the trade deadline can be in a given year, I have to admit that the free agent summer has me daydreaming about the chaos that a couple of moves could cause. Of course, LeBron James could turn the basketball world upside down if he were to decide to take his talents elsewhere (I'm not suggesting he should or I even think he will, I'm only thinking about the seismic activity it would cause). What happens with Paul George is also another potential game-changer for several teams around the league. That said, it's the great unknown that most intrigues me about 2018. None of us saw the Kyrie Irving trade request coming or the Chris Paul-to-Houston move coming. Things like the Draft and trade deadline offer a season of speculation that usually centers on name players we know will be involved in the process. It's the moves we don't see coming, the things we cannot forecast, that produce the best drama......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Assessing aftermath of Paul George trade

NBA.com blogtable As Paul George returns to Indiana tonight for the first time since he was traded by the Pacers, who should be happier with how things have turned out: Pacers fans, or Paul George? * * * David Aldridge: Uh, Pacers fans. This isn't close right now, is it? PG-13 is miserable in OKC, which inexplicably hasn't been able to figure out how to win regularly yet with three All-Stars, each of whom should be considerably motivated to make it work with the other two guys. George may well have the last laugh if he walks to the Lakers next June, as most still suspect will happen. They have a young core that's promising, and he'll be back home. But Indy isn't a laughingstock, as I and most people thought it would be. Victor Oladipo (One DeMatha!) is having an All-Star season, and Domantas Sabonis looks like a 10-year guy at the the four. I was wrong about how bad the Pacers would be. Way wrong. Loud wrong. Stupid wrong. For now. Let's see where we are in March. Steve Aschburner: Paul George should be happier, even in the muck of the Thunder’s season so far. He’s on his way to what he really wants, which is a key role for the Los Angeles Lakers. Once his perfectly legitimate ambition became publicly known, his days as the Pacers’ best player and leader were over. So much so that I wrote at the time, the best move for all considered -- for George, for the Lakers, for the NBA -- would have been for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to have done a deal in the summer. It’s not healthy for the league to have a star and a team pining away for each other from afar. But Indiana’s Kevin Pritchard pulled the trigger on the trade with OKC and that was OK. More than OK, given the play so far of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. But let’s not forget the fine years of service George gave to the folks in Indianapolis, and his desire to please extended to sometimes being too candid in interviews. It’s just too bad his journey home to California has to be a two-step process. Shaun Powell: The longer I watch the Thunder, I'm not sure what Paul George can be happy about. And of course, Pacers fans are elated with their team in the playoff mix (OK, it's early) and actually looking entertaining some nights. Victor Oladipo has turned out better than expected and has the floor to do what he wants, now that he doesn't answer to Russell Westbrook anymore. We should wait until summer to check the happy-meter of George, who could be moving on to another place in search of joy. John Schuhmann: I won't pretend to know how George feels. Maybe the Thunder's struggles, if they continue, will make it easier for him to choose a new team next summer. But he can't be happy with the results or the lack of chemistry in Oklahoma City. Pacers fans should surely be happy with how things have turned out. The Pacers have been a better team than the Thunder, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis (who were both clearly misused in OKC) have been terrific, there's more stability in Indiana, and there's still room for improvement. Myles Turner isn't yet the player he can be and Glenn Robinson III hasn't played all season. Of the 16 teams in playoff position, the Pacers are the biggest surprise. Sekou Smith: With the way Victor Oladipo is playing, Pacers fans have every reason to feel like happy heading into the Christmas holiday. The trade that looked so lopsided early in the summer looks like a smashing success for Kevin Pritchard and the rest of the franchise braintrust. It's not just Oladipo playing like an All-Star, though that's a huge part of it. It's Domantas Sabonis playing as solid as he has and the splendid chemistry this group has shown in coach Nate McMillan's second season at the helm. The Thunder haven't had an easy time transitioning George and Carmelo Anthony into a cohesive Big Three. But I'd caution Pacers fans to refrain from gloating too much tonight. There is still plenty of time left in this season. Be careful of celebrating prematurely. If the Pacers make the playoffs and Oladipo continues on his current trajectory, there will be plenty of time to rub in the faces of everyone who doubted things would turn out well in Indianapolis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Who looks like a first-time All-Star?

NBA.com blogtable _________ is putting together a solid case to earn his first NBA All-Star selection this season. * * * David Aldridge: Tobias Harris. He's having a great year in Detroit -- 19 points, 5 boards a game, and shooting 46 percent on 3s for a winning team. He's put up numbers in big games, too: 31 at Boston last week, 34 against Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves, 27 at Philly. LeBron, Giannis, Porzingis, Embiid and Love are likely frontcourt locks in the East, and I won't be surprised if the coaches take one of Al Horford or Jayson Tatum from Boston. And Aaron Gordon will have supporters, too. So Harris is certainly not a gimme. The Pistons will have to keep winning to keep his candidacy alive. Steve Aschburner: There are so many possibilities, from Kristaps Porzingis and Devin Booker to Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo. But since the All-Star Game is neither the first nor the second of back-to-back games, I’ll go with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, whose talent and production should earn him a spot and whose personality and entertainment value are perfect for the star-spangled Weekend. Shaun Powell: I so, so badly wanted to answer "Mike Conley" who might be the best veteran without a trip to the Game, but injuries happened. Therefore, you can toss in a handful of the young candidates: Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis. Let's go with Embiid because All-Star Weekend needs his presence and personality. Ask me this question in a month and maybe the answer is Tobias Harris, because the Pistons are winning and he's breaking out. John Schuhmann: Joel Embiid is a lock. His boxscore numbers (23.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks) are fantastic. The Sixers are a playoff team and have been much better, both offensively and defensively, with him on the floor than they've been with him on the bench. And this year, we don't have to scrutinize how much he's been playing. He's averaging 30 minutes per contest and has missed only three of the Sixers' 23 games. Sekou Smith: Devin Booker is putting together a spectacular case, even though it'll be virtually impossible for him to get his due in a Western Conference stacked with outstanding backcourt players. The Suns have struggled in ways that don't suggest anyone on that roster could squeeze into the All-Star mix. But Booker's play this season has been more than just an occasional blip on the jaw-dropper radar (see his demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers for video evidence). He's a next-level scorer and a better overall player than he gets credit for being. If the Suns were in the playoff mix, he'd be locked into that All-Star debate heading into the new year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Would less games benefit the NBA?

em>NBA.com blogtable /em> NBA commissioner Adam Silver was quoted recently saying 'there's nothing magical about 82 games.' So what is the right number of games for the NBA regular season, and what would that schedule look like? * * * strong>David Aldridge: /strong>A 70-game schedule would, IMHO, be perfect for just about everyone concerned. Over the course of six months, that's just two fewer games per team per month. Fans would barely notice. But players would. While that doesn't sound like a major reduction, I think there would be an improvement in quality of play. Reducing to 70 while keeping the new mid-October start date of the regular season would also allow two significant changes: under my schedule, teams that get scheduled to play on Christmas Day on ESPN/ABC and TNT would get a mandatory four days off afterward to be with their families at home -- no games for any of those dozen teams after Christmas until Dec. 30. And, it would allow the league to make the post-All-Star break as long as it wants. A whole week? No games until the following Saturday/Sunday? Fine by me. Especially with the earlier trade deadline now in place, a whole week off for everyone would allow newly acquired players significant practice time with their new team. Now, owners would complain about losing six home games and the revenue they get from them. But, really: is a fan in Milwaukee really going to miss those second games against Indiana or Detroit or Charlotte in a given year? (And, vice versa for fans of those teams.) strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong>The right number is 82. The ideal schedule would look like this season’s or maybe something slightly airier. Let’s let the extra week folded into the 2017-18 schedule play out to see if it has the desired result in rest and recovery, and then maybe stretch things by an additional week next season. Better that than to cut back to, say, 66 games, which would reduce revenue for both the owners and the players, while ending much of the fun in comparing teams and stars across eras. Say bye, too, to modern players scaling lifetime statistical categories unless they plan to stick around for an extra three or four seasons. At some point, it no longer will make sense to argue about the superiority of the most highly conditioned, prepared and doted-upon athletes in history if they’re swaddled in bubble wrap relative to the legends of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s who gutted out four games in five nights while flying commercially. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong> This marks the 50 year anniversary of the 82-game schedule, but it's really meaningless to have an intelligent conversation about shortening the schedule until players and owners and networks agree to shorten their wallets. And we know that's not happening. The ideal length would be 70-75 games but good luck getting owners to refund the networks about 15-20 percent, and the networks offering rebates to sponsors, and the players taking pay cuts. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong>I've long thought that 72 games -- three against each team in your conference, two against each team in the other conference -- would be a better number, further reducing back-to-backs and general schedule stress. Now, if we want to get to a 1-16 playoff format and a balanced schedule, then there would need to be a system that rotates your three-game opponents through the years. Gate and local TV revenue would suffer some, but a reduction in total games doesn't necessarily mean a reduction in national TV games. In fact, those national TV games would become more important and less likely to be hampered by injuries or fatigue. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong> I agree with the Commissioner, there is nothing particularly 'magical' about the 82-game schedule. There's only something sentimental about it, mostly because we've grown accustomed to that number over the course of the past five decades. The number of games is not relevant if the end goal is to find a sweet spot for player rest and the finest product that can be produced for the consumption of the basketball public. Perhaps a stretch provision of the current season is more important than a reduction in the number of games. We're already starting the season a week earlier this season, why not another week or two earlier? An improved NBA calendar, to me, is like an improved school calendar (for those of you with school-age children, you know where I'm coming from). The number of days stay the same. But the start and end date and the built in breaks are what really matter. Would a 12-game reduction to 70 regular season contests satisfy all involved? I think so, in many respects. It would also allow for a stretching of key dates (All-Star, trade deadline, Draft, free agency, etc.) over the course of the calendar. My ideal NBA season would include all of those key dates during the course of the regular season so that 'offseason' felt more like a break than it does now. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell an athlete since day one

BRIEFLY in town for his “Spida in Manila Tour,” young Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell took time to meet with members of local media where he shared some of his thoughts, including the impressive rookie season he had in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and how growing up in a “sports household” honed the person he has become. The post Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell an athlete since day one appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated News2 hr. 45 min. ago

Government may need more time to pass BBL, Duterte says - Philippine Star

Government may need more time to pass BBL, Duterte says - Philippine Star.....»»

Category: newsSource:  googlenewsRelated News16 hr. 45 min. ago

Mitchell wants to play with LeBron but ‘I’d rather play against him’

Anything can happen during a LeBron James free agency frenzy. In 2010, James took his talents to South Beach and joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Four years later, he returned home to Cleveland to settle an unfinished business. Fast forward to 2018, there have been reports of numerous landing spots for James that almost every NBA city could end up being the King's next home. James' possible destination has been a hot topic not only for the media and fans but also the players themselves that even Donovan Mitchell, the Utah Jazz star rookie, was asked if he would want to play with the three-time NBA champion. "Would I want to play with him? Who wouldn't?" Mitch...Keep on reading: Mitchell wants to play with LeBron but ‘I’d rather play against him’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated News21 hr. 58 min. ago

Donovan Mitchell recruits Paul George, LeBron to Utah Jazz

  MANILA, Philippines – Donovan Mitchell is planning to make the Western Conference even tougher than it already is. The 21-year-old rookie star of the Utah Jazz – who's in Manila for the first time – made his recruitment pitch to incoming free agents LeBron James and Paul George in a ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

MPBL: Manila opens campaign with statement win over Bataan

Manila has wasted no time in making it known that it should be looked at as one of the contenders in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Datu Cup. NAASCU standout Aris Dionisio had a breakout game in his league debut as the home team Stars stole the spotlight from stacked Bataan, 89-82, last Saturday at the San Andres Gym. Dionisio, the pride of St. Clare University, tallied 21 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals to tow his team to a season-opening win. It was also his fastbreak layup in the dying seconds that sealed the deal for Manila and closed the door for good for the Risers who had the likes of ex-pro Gary David, UAAP star J-Jay Alejandro, NCAA star Gab Dagangon, as well as ABL champions Robbie Celiz and Pamboy Raymundo. Backstopping Dionisio were former PBA D-League player Adrian Celada who had 18 points to his name as well as ex-pros Reil Cervantes and Marvin Hayes who had 15 and 13 markers, respectively. For Bataan, Byon Villarias topped the scoring column with 17 points. The highly-touted team will have to wait a little longer to prove their worth, however. Meanwhile, Navotas has also barged into the win column courtesy of the hot hands of Levi Hernandez who shot his team over expansion team Pasay, 83-75. Arellano University product Hernandez poured in his 12 of his 26 points in the third quarter to take both the lead and momentum for the Clutch. They would never relinquish those en route to 1-0. Former San Beda University player Yvan Ludovice paced the 0-1 Voyagers with 17 points. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME NAVOTAS 83 – Hernandez 26, Publico 22, Arong 9, Neypes 7, Denison 6,  Trinidad 6, Porter 5, Sorela 2, Javelosa 0, Salem 0, Padilla 0, Gumaru 0 PASAY 75 – Ludovice 17, De Leon 15, Alanes 10, Lastimosa 8, Salcedo 7, Jamon 7, Balucanag 6, Vidal 2, Cadavis 2, Mendoza 1, Bartolo 0, Ilad 0 QUARTER SCORES: 11-20, 32-34, 60-57, 83-75 SECOND GAME MANILA 89 – Dionisio 21, Celada 18, Cervantes 15, Hayes 13, Yap 7, Sabellina 6, Bitoon 4, Rodriguez 3, Lopez 2, Laude 0, Cruz 0 BATAAN 82 – Villarias 17, Raymundo 14, Batino 13, Alejandro 12, David 7, Grospe 6, Inigo 6, Celiz 6, Tolentino 1, Dagangon 0, Faundo 0 QUARTER SCORES: 19-20,42-42, 69-64, 89-82 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Azkals captain Phil Younghusband excited to learn from new coach

Thursday evening, as the 2018 FIFA World Cup commenced in Russia, there was also a new beginning back home in the Philippines, with the hopes of one day also qualifying for the biggest stage in football. With around five months to go before their next major tournament, the AFF Suzuki Cup, the Philippine Azkals announced a brand new coaching staff, led by former England captain and new Philippine National Team head coach Terry Butcher. Butcher, who will be replacing Thomas Dooley, donned England’s colors for a decade, which included 77 caps and three World Cup appearances. And as a new era begins in Philippine football, the Azkals’ own team captain was nothing short of excited to be able to play for a compatriot of sorts. “Very proud, I’m looking forward to learning, being educated by someone who’s played at such a high level.” the Fil-British star told the media at Thursday’s press launch. “Other than the England team in 1966, he was part of the team that got the furthest, making it into the semifinals, unfortunately losing to Germany on penalties, he’s played at the highest level against the best players in the world, he would know what to do when coming up against high level players.” For Younghusband, who was born and grew up in England, being able to learn from someone who he admired as a child is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “More than anything I’m excited to learn from him and be educated, especially from someone who I grew up watching.” From a personal standpoint, impressing the new guy calling the shots is a must for Younghusband. Having seen a number of coaches come and go, the team captain admits that familiarity is the challenge everytime someone new takes over the reins of control. “I think it’s not knowing, you’re wondering what the coach is thinking about you. Obviously you want to impress him, you want to show him what a good player you are, but there’s always that doubt in your head, does he think I’m a good player? Does he know I’m a good player? Does he know about the things I’ve done well in the past?” “That little bit of doubt can creep in, but it can work the other way as well. It can be a fresh new start, I can show the new coach what a good player I am. I’m sure that would be the case for most of us.” Younghusband added. With roughly five months to go before the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and seven months to go before the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, it’ll be time for the Azkals to get back to work real soon. According to team manager Dan Palami, training camp begins in Bahrain this September. For Younghusband, chemistry shouldn’t be too much of an issue, especially with Coach Terry and Senior Football Adviser Scott Cooper coming in. “Pretty much most of the players are the same, obviously there will be a few new players coming in, but the chemistry within the team will be the same.” Younghusband said. “With the sort of level that Scott [Cooper] and Terry have coached at, they’re used to coming into teams  and making sure that the teams jell quickly and understand each other and understand their way of coaching.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Warriors made 'tongue-in-cheek' offer for Kobe to un-retire

Kobe Bryant disclosed that Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers told him that there was a spot for The Black Mamba in The Bay if ever he considered un-retiring. Bryant made the revelation on The HoopsHype Podcast with Alex Kennedy, but said that the offer was "tongue-in-cheek" because of his long relationship with Myers. Kennedy had asked him if any teams had tried to lure him out of retirement, ala the 07-08 Boston Celtics making an offer to Reggie Miller, to which Bryant said: "I've known Bob Myers, the general manager of the Warriors, forever. Like, I remember the day he was going to go take his bar exam! We used to hang out together all the time. At my last All-Star Game, we had a chance to catch up. We were staying in the same hotel and I had a chance to tell him congratulations on everything. Then, he said, 'Hey listen, if there’s any chance you want to change your mind and come back and play another year, you can always come over here [to Golden State].' But it’s all tongue-in-cheek, man." Prior to being hired by the Warriors, Myers had worked as a sports agent with multiple NBA clients. Bryant retired following the 2015-16 NBA season, finishing with career averages of 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. The thought of Bryant coming off the bench for the ball movement-heavy Warriors may be a little odd, but Warriors mentor Steve Kerr's offense has elements of the triangle offense that the Lakers used to run under Coach Phil Jackson.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

3x3WC: Love from fans fuel Italy s gold medal run

BOCAUE, Bulacan --- Maybe fans indentified with Rae Lin D'Alie or whatever but fans at the Philippine Arena here absolutely embraced Italy's women's 3x3 team. At the front of course was D'Alie, Italy's 5'4" star oozing with talent and charisma, but the 8th-seeded Italians certainly had something in their whole team that fans just seemed to love. And the newly-crowned FIBA 3x3 World Cup champions certainly felt that love. "Oh yeah," the Italians said in unison when asked if the crowd’s cheering helped them in their dream run to the gold medal. "We loved it. We love the Philippines," they said. With no more Philippine team seeing action in the final day Tuesday at the Philippine Arena here, fans needed to find a team to root for. Italy was that team. According to D'Alie, who was named tournament MVP, they started to feel the energy of the crowd more after they won the quarterfinals against the favored Americans. That she said, was the time they realized they can actually win the whole thing with the crowd backing them up. "I think for me it was in the quarterfinal. I think we already had the support of the home court before that. But I think we really believed we could do it. And then after that quartefinal, we were like, everybody hold on, cause we’re just gonna take energy and we’re just gonna go," she said. "For me personally, that’s—after that game, I was just, 'wow, I think we could really do it,'" D'Alie added. Getting tremendous support since Day 1, the champs just had to say thanks to all their supporters. "Thank you, thank you for coming out, for driving out here, thank you for filling the stadium Monday night, Tuesday night, you guys are probably working all day, you guys probably have stuff to do, and you decided to come out to support 3x3," D'Alie said. "We wanna say thank you. And I think if you just love people and just spread light, it’s gonna come back and I saw that a lot, the staff at the hotel and here at the arena, and it’s just like energy, you feed off on another," Rae added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

Report: Gregg Popovich, Kawhi Leonard trying to meet

NBA.com staff report A resolution could take place between the Spurs and their estranged superstar as early as this week. According to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard are attempting to arrange a meeting in hopes of repairing the issues that may exist between the former NBA Finals MVP and the only franchise for which he has played. League sources tell the Express-News that head coach Gregg Popovich and Leonard are trying to schedule a meeting, possibly this week, to discuss any issues or concerns Leonard may have, and hopefully come to a decision on offering Leonard the five-year, $219 million super-max extension he is eligible to receive. Leonard played in just nine games for San Antonio in the 2017-18 campaign due to a quad injury he initially suffered in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals. The two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year's absence was especially notable late in the season, when he went to New York to continue rehab and chose not to be with the team during its one-round playoff run. The tension surrounding the situation intensified when, after opting to not be with the team for rehab reasons, Leonard was spotted three weeks later attending a Dodgers game in Los Angeles. San Antonio is hoping to regain the usual good footing it holds with its stars in order to maintain the standard of excellence they have maintained since drafting Tim Duncan No. 1 overall in 1997. The Spurs had won at least 50 games in every season since then -- until this year, when they earned a 47-35 record and the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Of further concern is Leonard's contract status. The two-time All-Star can enter unrestricted free agency in 2019 if he does not sign a contract extension with the Spurs this summer......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

Japeth, Romeo lead netizens’ Gilas 3x3 Dream Team; Lassiter, Rosario complete cast

Japeth Aguilar headlined ABS-CBN Sports’ recent poll of Filipino netizens’ Filipino Dream Team for a 3x3 tournament following Gilas Pilipinas’ gallant stand at the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup. The Ginebra forward led all candidates with 28 mentions on our Facebook and Twitter polls as of 11:30 AM, while TNT star and 3x3 fan favorite Terrence Romeo was close behind with 26 combined votes. San Miguel gunner Marcio Lassiter and KaTropa Troy Rosario, a member of the recent Pinoy 3x3 squad at the FIBA World Cup, were tied at 20 to complete the dream squad. Two high-scoring swingmen, and two mobile bigs who can stretch the floor while gobbling up those rebounds is definitely a good combination for 3x3’s electric style of play. The current iteration of the Pinoy 3X3 squad was the strongest one yet,  made up of Christian Standhardinger, RR Pogoy, Stanley Pringle, and Troy Rosario but fell just short of qualifying into the next round of eliminations of the 2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup, but the host squad put up a good fight, even stunning no. 6 Brazil in the Filipinos’ lone win in the tournament. How would you think the 'new' squad will fare? Barely missing the cut is rejuvenated Alaska big man Vic Manuel, who amassed a total of 19 points in the online poll. San Miguel center and four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo garnered 16 votes to place sixth, while Stanley Pringle and Calvin Abueva were tied at 14 mentions each. Beermen Arwind Santos (12) and Christian Standhardinger (11) round out the top 10 of the poll. POLL: After Gilas Pilipinas' gallant stand in the FIBA #3X3WC... Who makes up your Gilas 3X3 Dream Team 🇵🇭🤔 Drop yours below! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SAU4ARunHb — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) June 12, 2018   Here are the results:  TOP 10 (Facebook & Twitter as of 11:30 AM) AGUILAR - 28 ROMEO - 26  LASSITER - 20 ROSARIO - 20  MANUEL 19 FAJARDO 16 PRINGLE - 14 ABUEVA - 14 ARWIND - 12 STANDHARDINGER - 11.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

LOOK: Jia Morado’s boyfriend just dropped the ultimate wedding 'hugot

Jia Morado’s boyfriend, Miguel De Guzman just set fans of their tandem into a frenzy after dropping a slick caption to go along with their regal portrait during his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.    At the 50th wedding anniversary of my grandparents. Naunahan kami sa pagpapatunay na may forever! 😅 di bale, gagayahin nalang namin! A post shared by Miguel de Guzman (@amigueldeguzman) on Jun 8, 2018 at 8:18am PDT   Oh, he went there. The caption that sparked the now-viral Instagram post (Over 16,000 likes and counting!) stirred fans into offering up emoji-filled comments of approval.  Fifty years is an awful long time to reach for but the “JiaGuel” couple appears to already be off to a good start. Miguel can be seen in nearly every Creamline game to support the Cool Smashers and its star setter Jia. Aside from being a couple, however, they’re also looking towards a brighter future together as they already co-own a couple of businesses. #RelationshipGoals indeed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

Star exclusive: Meet two ‘Pixnoy’ artists behind the scenes of ‘Incredibles 2’

The last time I met Paul Abadilla, Pixar set designer, he was in Manila to attend a premiere of Finding Dory, which he had just worked on......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 9th, 2018