Kelly Dwyer

  • Bulls rookie Denzel Valentine will wear Michael Jordan's old number

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 17 hrs ago

    When Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in the early spring of 1995, it was hardly a surprise. He’d been flirting with the idea for months, the baseball team he was slumming with was in the middle of a players’ strike, and he was still technically under contract with the Chicago Bulls. By the time he issued his famous “I’m back” fax, we were all pretty used to the idea that Jordan was, well, back .

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    What we weren’t used to was the man’s new uniform. For nine seasons Jordan had worn No. 23 with the Bulls. He’d chosen No. 45 to wear in the Chicago White Sox minor league system, but many assumed this was only because the Sox featured hot shot Robin Ventura with No. 23 at the time, and MJ didn’t want any conflict should he be called up to The Show.

    Some 21 years later, someone new has MJ’s old number:

    4️⃣5️⃣ @denzelvalentine Get yours ➡️ https://t.co/iqusFoTj7R pic.twitter.com/16t8pHuBJg

    Uh oh.

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  • Grading the 2016 NBA draft

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    We’re well aware that draft grades – passing judgment on the hiring of a 19 or even 18-year old just hours after their names were called – is rather silly. There were 30 NBA franchises working with 30 disparate motivations, strategies, needs and abilities on Thursday night during the league’s draft, and though some fared better than others the 2016 NBA draft (like all NBA drafts) was not a level playing field for myriad reasons.

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    With that in place, we can still hand out interim report cards for every franchise on the docket. Dig in:

    Atlanta Hawks

    The Haul: Taurean Prince (Baylor) at 12, DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph’s) at 21, Isaia Cordinier (France) at 44.

    Grade: B

    ***

    Boston Celtics

    The Haul: Jaylen Brown (California) at 3, Guerschon Yabusele (France) at 16, Ante Zizic (Croatia) at 23, lottery-protected first round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers in either 2019 or 2020, Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame) at 45, Ben Bentil (Providence) at 51, Abdel Naber (Iowa State) at 58.

    The tramping the dirt down on Danny Ainge’s supposed grave of assets needs to be dialed back a bit.

    Grade: B

    ***

  • James Harden on free agent Dwight Howard: 'I haven't really talked to him'

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 4 days ago

    Yes, the Houston Rockets disappointed in 2015-16 and, yes, stars James Harden and Dwight Howard didn’t always seem to coalesce on or off the court during the team’s but-with-a-whimper run to a first round exit, but couldn’t the boys at least give a cursory attempt to keep it all together? Maybe a text thread, however insincere, started by Harden as he attempts to convince Howard to stick with the team as a free agent summer?

    Nah. Not the Rocket Way.

    It was long assumed that Howard would opt out of his contract this summer even if the pair had gotten along famously and the Rox contended for a title, as there is a lot of money to be made this summer. That expectation was driven home during the regular season as the Rockets struggled and Harden and Howard’s non-existent relationship reached stasis levels in its second year together and crisis levels during its third. The hiring of coach and former Dwight combatant Mike D’Antoni just about made the Howard opt-out ironclad.

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    Now, there are myriad reasons for this.

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  • The NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers? Gone till November.

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 7 days ago

    The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by a legendary performance from LeBron James, are NBA champions. Though James has 46,861 (bloody hell) combined regular and postseason minutes under his belt, there is little reason to believe that the 2016 Finals MVP can’t come through with yet another performance along those lines during the 2017 Finals. Given the little resistance his Cavs will, at this point in our estimation, likely receive from the Eastern Conference, it’s expected that he’ll be take to his seventh consecutive NBA Finals 12 months from now.

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    What’s concerning as always – as it was with his lacking team in his 2007 Finals loss, his bewildered team in his 2011 Finals loss, his too top-heavy team in his 2014 Finals loss, and his injured team in his 2015 Finals loss – is the support around him. These aren’t digs at James. An individual can mean the world in this league, but this remains a team sport.

    And, for one year, James can get away with it without creating the largest NBA payroll and luxury tax windfall we’ve ever seen.

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  • The Golden State Warriors? Gone till November.

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 7 days ago

    The Golden State Warriors should not be ashamed of themselves.

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    This year’s version of the team won 88 games between October and early June, and they were involved in a tie game in the final minute of a Game 7 to win it all on Sunday night before falling just short. Was that game at home? Yes. Did that contest happen two games and six days following the first of the team’s three different chances to nail a clinching win and second consecutive championship? Sure. Is Warrior fatigue a legitimate gripe? I guess?

    Some teams don’t match up well with others. The embarrassing Chicago Bulls of the last two years give the Cleveland Cavaliers all they can handle in regular season games. This same Warrior franchise downed a 67-win Dallas Mavericks team nearly a decade ago after winning just about every other game during the regular season. Ted Williams couldn’t slap one the other way, and Joni Mitchell says “about” kinda funny. The greats are not infallible.

    That’s the core. Now the questions.

    Would the Warriors want to make it happen, though?

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  • Three reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 7 and a title

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 8 days ago

    The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA championship in franchise history on Sunday night, downing the top-seeded and 73-win Golden State Warriors by a 93-89 score in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.

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    Here are three key reasons why the champs pulled it out:

    LeBron James left it out there

    The 2016 NBA Finals MVP sat all of 71 seconds of a 2,880-second basketball game in Game 7, steadying the Cavalier offense with his screen-and-roll work as proto-point guard while working the back end defensively in ways that didn’t show up in Vines or highlight clips. James was masterful in his 199th playoff game, notching a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, two steals and three blocks in the win.

    As is the usual custom for players who average 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, three blocks and 2.7 steals per contest over a three-game span, LeBron’s Cavaliers won Games 5-7 and became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals.

    Kyrie’s crutch

  • Three Things to Watch: Golden State vs. Cleveland, Game 7

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 8 days ago

    Sunday night will provide the NBA and its fans with the most important game in league history. It will feature a superstar that could one day retire as the greatest player in league history working against a record-setting squad fighting for its chance to be regarded as the best team in NBA history.

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    At no point in NBA Finals lore have the stakes ever been higher. Previous outfits from Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Antonio to Los Angeles failed in their attempts to create something as lofty. The heft behind Sunday night’s winner-take-all Game 7 cannot be overstated, though we’ll certainly go down trying.

    Here are three things that might stick out, in the game that will decide the NBA’s 2015-16 championship.

    The Legend of LeBron

    It says far, far too much about how LeBron James’ career has been handled, to date, that his work in Games 5 and 6 has been considered somewhat surprising to some. And that his play during the first four games of the series was looked on as somehow disappointing. Some 15 years after meeting the guy, we’re still getting him all wrong.

    Matchups

  • Three reasons why Cleveland topped Golden State in Game 6

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 11 days ago

    The Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that entered Monday having lost eight of nine against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, have pushed the 2016 NBA Finals to the brink. On the back of the team’s superstar, the Cavaliers took Game 6 by a 115-101 score, forcing a Game 7 and winner-take-all contest on Sunday to decide the NBA’s 2015-16 champion.

    Here are three reasons why Cleveland was able to prevail on Thursday.

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    LeBron Freakin’ James

    With five minutes left in the third quarter, LeBron James hit a driving layup to put his Cavaliers up by a 74-57 score. That would seem like a comfortable lead, but with Stephen Curry warming up and Klay Thompson in the middle of what would turn into a 15-point quarter, the Cavaliers needed their franchise player to let loose.

    LeBron’s night ended with him scoring 41 points, turning the ball over just once in 42 minutes of action, contributing 11 assists, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Goodness, gracious, sakes alive.

    No Help

  • Jared Dudley on Kevin Durant signing with Washington: 'I don’t see it'

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 11 days ago

    Just about everyone associated with the NBA – from its owners, front office staff, coaches, media and (most importantly) players on down – has an opinion as to what team Kevin Durant will sign with in July.

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar and 2014 NBA MVP is a free agent, a rather highly-coveted one, and while you have to respect the voices of all in the league that offer their suggestions and/or predictions as to where Durant is headed, some tend to deserve more perked ears than others.

    Jared Dudley’s guess, for a start, would be one of them. Not just because he’s one of the NBA’s more respected players and voices, but also because he is still under contract with the Washington Wizards – the team that for years was expected to make the most effective push to bring the Washington D.C.-born Durant back home.

    “I realistically don’t,” Dudley said. “I hope for the fans they do, because he’s from there, and he would bring such excitement. They’d be right behind Cleveland, right there with them to be able to contend. I don’t see it though.”

    […]

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  • Ex-Cavaliers coach David Blatt: 'I can't watch the Finals'

    Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie 11 days ago

    In the third week of January the Cleveland Cavaliers were on pace to win 60 games, coming off of a sound and nationally-televised 13-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers. With Chicago and Atlanta fading, and Toronto not quite there yet, the team was the overwhelming favorite to take the East’s top seed and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year.

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    For the Cavaliers’ front office, however, this presumption wasn’t enough to live on. Head coach David Blatt, who as an NBA rookie was in charge of 2014-15’s Finals participant, was let go in favor of lead assistant Tyronn Lue. Lue, like many at the time and even now, thought the whole switch was a little more than effed-up, but with LeBron James having just turned 31 a few weeks before, the franchise apparently thought it couldn’t waste time as James and Blatt’s relationship slowly developed.

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