Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your big bag of baby carrots.

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe: "Silence and confusion were the coherent themes in the Cavaliers locker room following their 120-88 Game 5 loss to the Celtics. A team so primed for success, so ready for a title run and so geared to cruise to the Eastern Conference finals is now one game from elimination. No one in the Cleveland locker room at Quicken Loans Arena expected to approach abject failure, especially so soon. The No. 1-seeded Cavaliers were supposed to be done with Boston and preparing for a rematch with Orlando. But getting to the Magic will take consecutive wins. After last night's performance, it seems the Cavaliers aren't capable of such feats. The 20,562 in attendance may have witnessed (now that's a nasty word in Cleveland) LeBron James's(notes) final home game. If the Cavaliers fall short, the team could be completely dismantled, starting with James, who will exercise his opt-out clause and become a restricted free agent. James refuses to acknowledge that his right elbow is hindering his performance, but it's difficult to believe he's completely healthy. He is 17 for 47 from the field in the three losses to Boston and last night there were times he wanted nothing to do with scoring or spearheading a comeback. The repercussions of losing this series could be catastrophic to the city of Cleveland and Cavaliers basketball. Although Quicken Loans won't be confused with Richfield Coliseum of the early 1980s, the Cavaliers could be LeBron-less and without an identity next season."

Brian Windhorst, Cleveland Plain Dealer: "In the shell-shocked silence at The Q Tuesday night, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sat stoically in his baseline courtside seat less than 10 feet from LeBron James, who passed the time of the neverending final minutes on the last seat of the bench. The scene on the floor and the silence in the emptying building wasn't what either of them had planned for this 'all in' season, which is now down to Thursday's Game 6 after the Cavs lost, 120-88, to the Celtics. After the game, in an exclusive interview with The Plain Dealer, Gilbert expressed some frustration at the effort level of his team that he's spending more than $100 million in payroll this season; a team he put together by sparing no expense in an attempt to win the title this season. 'Our entire franchise has done everything in its power to put all of our players and its coaching staff in the best possible position to execute when it counts,' Gilbert said. 'And to deliver to the highly supportive fans of Cleveland a proud, intense, impassioned all-out drive to achieve a championship. The last two home playoff losses and the manner in which we lost these games does not come close to being anywhere near the high expectations all of us have of our organization. Our fans and supporters deserve more.'"

Ross Siler, Salt Lake Tribune: "One of the most interesting things about Jazz coach Jerry Sloan's season-ending session with reporters as the Jazz cleaned out their lockers Tuesday was how much Sloan spoke up in support of Carlos Boozer(notes). Just consider Sloan's answer to David Locke's question about what the biggest surprise of the season was. 'I had to the answer the Boozer question every day and it was kind of aggravating,' Sloan said, 'but other than that, I thought he held himself high and tried to do what we asked him to do from a coaching standpoint. You can't ask any more than that from a player. The nail had already been driven in the coffin when he came back, but I thought he fought through that very well.' There was some more Boozer praise a little later: 'He's been terrific to work with. I don't know where all the stuff has come from. He may have said some things over the summer, but he's been terrific to coach and he's been great for us to have a chance to win.'"

Jeff Caplan, "Unless J.J. Barea or Roddy Beaubois are packaged in an offseason trade, the Dallas Mavericks have their point guards in order. Obviously, Jason Kidd(notes) returns as the starter with Beaubois, who could wind up as the starting shooting guard as well as a backup point guard, and Barea, who is set to return for a fifth season with the Mavs, competing for minutes. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said the Mavs are prepared to pick up the $1.7 million team option on Barea, who put up nearly identical stats over the past two seasons after doubling his average minutes played after his second season. Barea averaged 7.6 points and 3.3 assists in 19.8 minutes this past season, compared to 7.8 and 3.4 in 20.3 minutes in 2008-09. Barea shot 44.2 percent two seasons ago and 44.0 percent last year, while hitting for 35.7 percent from the 3-point arc in both of the past two seasons."

Julian Garcia, New York Daily News: "The Nets were the laughingstock of the NBA this season, finishing at 12-70. But now, with one of the richest owners in sports finally in place, they might have the last laugh. Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian oligarch worth an estimated $13.4 billion, was officially approved Tuesday night by the NBA's board of governors to be the new owner of the Nets. Prokhorov will officially seize control of the team this afternoon. 'It is my pleasure and honor to be joining the ranks of NBA team owners,' Prokhorov said in a statement released by the Nets. 'Today's vote will give the NBA a greater global reach and bring a multitude of new fans to the game of basketball. For those who are already fans of the Nets and the NBA, I intend to give you plenty to cheer about.'"

Matt Stark, Fox Memphis: "The agent for Memphis Grizzlies center Hasheem Thabeet(notes) has told the team that an alleged incident involving Thabeet and R&B singer T.I.D never took place. FOX13 Sports Director Matt Stark spoke with Ugo Udezue, Thabeet's agent, by phone Tuesday night, and Mr. Udezue said the allegations that Hasheem had knocked out the singer were completely false. Udezue acknowledged that Thabeet was in a nightclub last weekend when an altercation broke out, but that the Grizzlies center was in a private section of the club and being protected by three bodyguards at the time, which is the norm for Thabeet when staying in Tanzania. Udezue says his client was immediately removed from the club, and was stunned later to hear the allegations that he had been involved."

Al Iannazzone, North Jersey Record: "The Nets' coaching search will begin next week, but they're probably not going to make a splashy hire - as many thought would happen when Mikhail Prokhorov became owner. Team president Rod Thorn said there are 'four or five guys' the Nets would pursue. All have different degrees of appeal, but none the level of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has said he's not interested in coaching the Nets. 'I think from my conversations with Mr. Prokhorov, he's interested in a coach who can move the team in the right direction,' Thorn said. 'Not necessarily a big-splash coach, but somebody who can move a team in the right direction.' Current television analysts and former NBA coaches Jeff Van Gundy and Avery Johnson, Villanova coach Jay Wright and Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau are the leading candidates for the Nets' job, sources said."

Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer: "The 76ers, flush with notes and thoughts after this weekend's quartet of interviews, will likely pause in their coaching search to evaluate the six current candidates. Over the weekend, Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski met with former Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Bill Laimbeer, Phoenix Suns assistant Dan Majerle, and Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams. Coupled with Stefanski's earlier interviews with Doug Collins and Avery Johnson - both former NBA coaches - the Sixers now have half a dozen candidates who could possibly fill their coaching vacancy. According to multiple sources close to the situation, the Sixers are not close to making a coaching hire. In the next 48 hours, the Sixers will review those interviews - lengthy in most cases - and decide whether to continue pursuing additional candidates, adding to their already mounting total, or whether to focus on a couple of particular candidates and schedule second interviews."

Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: "Center Erick Dampier(notes) underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure Tuesday to clean out debris in his left knee. Dr. T.O. Souryal of Texas Sports Medicine performed the successful procedure. Dampier is expected to make a full recovery."

Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee: "The Kings' marketing strategy had a personal impact on Ryan Thompson when he landed in Sacramento on Monday. It's one thing to be on your way to your first NBA workout, which Thompson had Tuesday at the Kings' practice facility. It's another to work out for the team on which your older brother plays. 'It was really awkward coming off the plane and the first thing I see is a little billboard with him on it,' Ryan said of his brother, Kings forward Jason Thompson(notes). 'It's like, "Wow.'' Ryan, a 6-foot-6 guard from Rider, was happy with his workout. It's the first of two the Kings will host this week featuring six draft hopefuls each. Ryan has the advantage of having his older brother, just two years removed from the draft process, for advice. 'It's a grueling process,' Jason said via phone. 'And this process prepares you for the league. The workouts are the most important thing.'"

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