NBA Windsprints: Finals & Top of the Draft Rumors

finals 2016

NBA Finals 2016

LeBron James might make even more history after consecutive 41-point dominant performances, as Cleveland can be the first team in NBA history to win the championship after trailing 3-1. James was remarkable last night. You can bet that James will bring his A-game yet again. Actually, I’ll bet that we see a competitive game for the first time in these Finals. The splash brothers return to the friendly confines where their bench performs at a high level.

The real Steph Curry tried to stand up, dropping 30 points before fouling out. The MVP got exposed in the OKC series, so Ty Lue should be thanking Billy Donovan for the blueprint, as the Cavs look to do what the Thunder could not in game 7. Dethrone the champion Warriors.

Andrew Bogut is on the shelf with a knee injury for the rest of the Finals. The former #1 pick that has found a role with the champs by doing the dirty work. The good news is that he will not need surgery this offseason. The bad news is that James got inside early and often, while Tristan Thompson became an x-factor on the offensive end with his increased activity in the absence of the 7-footer.

The NBA Finals is nearing a conclusion, but there are 30 teams watching that series and trying to make moves to improve themselves.

Trying to Make Moves

One of those teams would be the Minnesota Timberwolves, who aim to break their postseason drought with new coach Tom Thibodeau. Of course, the former coach of the Chicago Bulls is interested in bringing some of his former players with him. These are experienced players that played for Thibs in big games, they know his philosophy, and they were successful as they made the postseason every season together. Big man Joakim Noah and swingman Luol Deng are free agents. Both guards, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler have been linked to trade rumors. The latest being Chicago’s preference to ship Rose out, who is entering the final year of his deal. Thibs’ favorite players were Noah, Deng, and Butler. Butler is rumored as Minnesota’s trade target, but that will only come to fruition if they can part with Andrew Wiggins and I doubt that happens.

Boston has not been shy about trying to acquire a big time player since their championship contending days and the big 4 left town: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. Perhaps, since the big 6 left, if you count coaches Doc Rivers and Thibodeau. The Celtics went out and got one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the game in Brad Stevens. Isaiah Thomas is an all-star, and the backcourt is loaded to trade a package of players. Their efforts to land Love and Butler have fallen short so far, and they will try to pry Kevin Durant out of OKC like every other team in the league. Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart have been dangled in trade rumors, along with their first round picks: #3, #16, and #23. If that wasn’t enough to package, they have 4 second rounders on top of that, including the first and fifth picks: #31, #35, #45, and #58. GM Danny Ainge has done an excellent job to put the Celtics in prime position to operate through the draft, free agency, and on the trade block.

Former Celtics Hall of Famer Larry Bird, GM of the Indiana Pacers, has definitely received calls about all-star Paul George. Two teams with reported interest are the Lakers and Celtics, and both have high picks. The Pacers would have to be blown away with an offer to even consider trading their franchise player. They’ve purged the veteran front line and it looks like Myles Turner is going to be a good player for them moving forward. George played more stretch 4 this season to cause mismatches in a small ball lineup, where Turner slid over to play minutes at center. George is the cornerstone, a top-10 player, and I wouldn’t consider trading him.

Top of the Draft

It shouldn’t be a big deal that Ben Simmons, who just signed a shoe deal, does not plan to workout for Philadelphia. Perhaps there’s already a deal in place. The top-2 prospect could only hurt his draft stock with a workout. Everything the 76ers or the Lakers need to see is already on game tape. So no, I don’t think it’s a big deal for Simmons not to workout. Brandon Ingram will be the opposite pick, likely on his way to Los Angeles. As for the 3rd pick where Boston is slated, I really like Jaylen Brown as the 3rd best prospect but there is word that Dragan Bender from Croatia is going in that slot. Brown has the makings of a good wing player and that’s what I would want on any team after Simmons and Ingram go. These guys are looking like the top-4 picks, as I don’t see Phoenix’s need for another guard like Buddy Hield or Kris Dunn. To me, barring some blockbuster trade up, the draft starts with the 5th pick and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Boston and Minny are interested in trading their lottery picks in a package for a star-caliber player.