REPORT: Kyrie Irving Staying in Brooklyn After Opting-in to Final Year

REPORT: Kyrie Irving Staying in Brooklyn After Opting-in to Final Year | SLAM


Top prospects not selected in 2022 NBA Draft: Scotty Pippen Jr., Kofi Cockburn among notable snubs


With the NBA Draft officially behind us and all 58 of this year’s picks made, there are many — many! — players who were worthy of being selected but who unfortunately were not. Among those who did not hear their name called on draft night were Big Ten star Kofi Cockburn, Scotty Pippen Jr., Jean Montero and a host of other college standouts who somehow flew under the radar.

This is not a death knell for their careers, of course — players like Jose Alvarado and Fred VanVleet have carved out roles in the NBA after being undrafted, it’s part of the business — but it is a milestone worth remembering. Many of the players who were undrafted are only surprises because the scouting community was high on them and by extension expected they would be taken with a Round 1 or Round 2 pick.

Ultimately, this is just a checkpoint as they continue to chase their career — and some, if not all, will have opportunities either on two-way deals or Exhibit 10 deals to showcase their talents for NBA teams. But a snub is a snub and we must put them on wax to remember those who, despite pre-draft expectations, leave a post-draft world having been excluded from the 58 draft night announcements.  

Top  100 Big Board undrafted players


Davidson to retire Stephen Curry’s No. 30 in August ceremony following Golden State Warriors star’s graduation

One day after Stephen Curry added a fourth NBA title and first Finals MVP Award to his illustrious résumé, his alma mater, Davidson, announced that the Golden State Warriors star would have his number retired by the school at an August ceremony.

Davidson athletic director Chris Clunie said Friday that Curry’s No. 30 would be the first retired by the school during an Aug. 31 ceremony.

As part of the celebration, Curry will be inducted into the Davidson Athletics Hall of Fame and will receive his bachelor’s degree. Curry completed his Bachelor of Arts with a major in sociology in May but could not attend the commencement ceremony during the NBA playoffs.

Graduating was a condition for Curry to be honored, as Davidson retires only the numbers and jerseys of players who complete their degrees. Davidson has previously retired the jerseys of six men’s basketball players, but Curry’s 30 will be the first number to never be worn again at the school.

Curry attended the North Carolina school from 2006 to 2009 and is arguably the best player in Davidson history. He is the school’s all-time leader in points, 3-pointers, free throws, field goals and steals and led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2008 during a breakout NCAA tournament run.

On Thursday, Curry was unanimously named the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP after his Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 103-90 for a 4-2 series win.


Home Teams Dominate Game 1 of 2022 Conference Finals

The NBA is down to its final four teams, and so far, there have been few surprises. Unlike the drama that comes from an event like the Preakness Stakes, the conference finals have been a predictable affair in both the Eastern and Western Conference editions.

The beauty of playoff basketball is its length. Seven-game series allow teams an opportunity to come back, so it’s not as if this year’s NBA Finals matchup is set in stone. But through Game 1, both home teams held serve in front of their loyal fans.

Heat Comeback Against Shorthanded Celtics

Despite controlling the number one seed in the East and possessing home court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Miami Heat entered the Eastern Conference Finals as underdogs. However, they looked anything but during Tuesday’s decisive 118-107 win over the Boston Celtics.

Once again, Jimmy Butler was the star of the show. The 32-year-old dropped a game-high 41 points, 27 of which came in the second half. It was Butler’s fifth 40-point effort with the Heat, all of which have come in the postseason.

Beyond Butler, Tyler Herro dropped 18 points off of the bench. The Sixth Man of the Year now has 10 double-digit scoring nights in 12 postseason games in 2022.

Miami won Game 1 with a massive third-quarter showing. Down 62-54 at the half, the Heat outscored the Celtics 39-14 in the third quarter. Jayson Tatum, who led Boston with 29 points, went the whole third quarter without a field goal and had more turnovers (6) than points (5).

Although it took some time before clicking, the Heat took advantage of a shorthanded Celtics squad. Boston was missing Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and veteran big man Al Horford. As a result, role players Payton Pritchard and Daniel Theis had to fill more minutes.

Smart, who suffered a mid-foot sprain in Boston’s second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, should be back for Game 2 on Thursday. However, Horford is still in health and safety protocols while Derrick White has been ruled out for personal reasons.

Warriors Dominate Against Mavericks

With the one-seed Phoenix Suns going down in the second round, the Golden State Warriors took their place as West favorites. And they certainly lived up to their reputation, thrashing the Dallas Mavericks 112-87 in Game 1.

Golden State was in control from start to finish. Thanks to 15 first-half points from Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors built a 54-45 halftime lead. From there, the “Splash Brother” duo of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry scored 15 and nine points respectively, with all nine of Curry’s points coming in the third quarter.

Whether it was good defense or bad shooting, the Mavericks had trouble keeping up with the Warriors. Dallas shot 40.5% from the field and a dismal 21.1% from three. Luka Doncic had his worst playoff game, scoring 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting with seven turnovers and a -30 rating.

It was a team effort from Golden State. The Dubs had seven players reach double figures including all five starters. Meanwhile, Dallas had four.

Game 1 was another example of the Warriors’ overall dominance this postseason. In its first playoff berth since 2018-19, Golden State took down back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in five games, then survived the two-seed Memphis Grizzlies in six games.

While the Mavericks are down, they’re certainly not out. After their six-game victory over the Utah Jazz, the Mavs won all three home games against the Suns to force a Game 7. From there, Dallas’ 33-point Game 7 win on the road served as one of the more improbable upsets in recent NBA history.

The Heat and Warriors each have a long way to go before punching their respective tickets to the NBA Finals. That said, their Game 1 performances prove how difficult it will be for their opponents to win four times over the coming days.


How the Return of Gary Payton II Changes The Finals

When Gary Payton II checked into Game 2 for his first minutes since suffering a nasty elbow fracture last month, the Golden State crowd rose to their feet and gave him a hero’s welcome.

Payton is a cult figure in the Bay Area, and for good reason. He’s a likable, soften-spoken character who got cut before the season but worked his way back onto the team and became a crucial part of their identity.

In Game 2 on Sunday, Payton was exactly what the Warriors needed in a game they couldn’t afford to lose, accepting a range of defensive assignments with gusto and harassing his opponents like a pitbull with its sights set on the neighbourhood postman.

Golden State held Boston to a minuscule 86.8 points per 100 possessions when Payton was on the court. The Warriors’ net rating was 30.5 when he played and 4.5 when he sat. Of course, his teammates’ performances affected those stats too, but the eye test confirmed what the numbers were telling us: Payton was having a major impact, especially as the Warriors’ missing piece when it came to defending the Celtics’ small ball lineups.

He was especially dangerous when teamed up with an absolutely possessed Draymond Green, and together they threw the kitchen sink at Boston’s primary guards, who don’t always have the tightest of handles.

Steph Curry’s offensive laser show remains the main attraction at Chase Center, but the work Payton and Green put in at the defensive end was match-winning. That certainly wasn’t lost on Steve Kerr, who swapped the offensively-minded Jordan Poole for Payton early in the night. The result was Payton and Green, along with Curry, Wiggins and Porter, outscoring the Celtics by nine points in their eight minutes together as the second-most used lineup of the night.

And while Payton did his best work at the defensive end, he was hyperefficient on offence too, notching seven points and three assists on perfect shooting. He even drained a three despite struggling to move his injured arm properly just days before the game.

And to think the Warriors almost cast Payton aside before the season even started…


Al Horford on Finals Debut: ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This Moment’

Al Horford on Finals Debut: ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This Moment’ | SLAM


Jazz coach Quin Snyder contemplating future with team, per report

As the Utah Jazz face a pivotal offseason after getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, they could be doing so without their coach. Quin Snyder is contemplating his future with the team and could step down, per ESPN.

Snyder has been in communication with Utah’s ownership and management about his future with the franchise, but a commitment from him to return hasn’t happened yet. There’s no deadline for Snyder to make a decision, and both sides will continue conversations.


“While talks are described as ‘good faith’ attempts at a resolution that’ll keep Snyder, discussions with owner Ryan Smith and CEO of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge have yet to secure the coach’s return for next season, sources said.

“The Jazz has offered to extend Snyder’s current contract, which has two years left including his option for the 2023-24, sources said. The organization would also welcome Snyder simply returning on his current contract for next season, sources said.”

The conversations Snyder has been having with the franchise have been about “philosophical issues,” per ESPN, and how the team can build toward being a title contender. Though Snyder is undecided about his future with the Jazz, ESPN reports that he hasn’t shown interest in any of the coaching vacancies right now. There was a point in time where Snyder was linked to the Los Angeles Lakers as a potential coaching candidate, but the Lakers recently announced that Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham would be their new head coach. The only remaining coaching job is with the Charlotte Hornets, after the Sacramento Kings hired Mike Brown to replace interim head coach Alvin Gentry, who took over for Luke Walton earlier this season. 

Snyder, who has a .585 win percentage with the Jazz, has been in charge in Utah for eight seasons. During that time the Jazz have missed the playoffs just two times but have failed to make it to the conference finals. Snyder has helped transform Utah into a consistent playoff contender, but although they’ve been one of the best regular-season teams in recent years, that success hasn’t translated over to the postseason. 

There also has been reported tension between star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. There have been doubts about Utah’s ability to win with both players on the team, and Gobert has been mentioned as a trade candidate this summer. How the Jazz reload around Mitchell this offseason could not only determine the future of Utah’s franchise, but it might be a factor in Snyder’s decision to remain head coach of the team. It was already going to be an important offseason for the Jazz as they try to improve the roster, and now they might have to worry about a coaching search if Snyder decides to leave the team. 


Los Angeles Lakers hire Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as next head coach, sources say

Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham has agreed to a four-year deal to become the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Ham separated himself in the process in recent days, interviewing with Lakers officials Thursday and inspiring an offer Friday afternoon, sources said. The Lakers were sold on Ham’s stature and toughness, his history of coaching star players and championship pedigree as an assistant and player, sources said. Ham’s history with the Lakers franchise for two seasons — 2011-2013 — played a part in his hiring, too.

Ham will be charged with returning the Lakers to the postseason after a disastrous 33-49 season that cost Frank Vogel his job. One of Ham’s most important directives: finding a way to incorporate future Hall of Fame guard Russell Westbrook into the franchise’s framework with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It was a significant subject of every Lakers coaching interview in the process, sources said.

“So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!” James tweeted Friday night in response to the hiring.

Ham has been a part of one of the league’s most successful coaching trees under Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer — including Memphis‘ Taylor Jenkins, Utah‘s Quin Snyder and Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson. Ham spent nine seasons with Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee, including winning the 2021 NBA championship together.

“I’m so happy for him,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo told ESPN, referring to Ham. “He’s the right fit for them. He keeps it real with you. No BS at all. It’s about damn time. He deserves it more than anyone.”

Ham played eight seasons in the NBA, winning a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

The Lakers conducted interviews with two of the three finalists this week — Ham and Terry Stotts, sources said. After the Ham interview, the franchise leaders knew they had their coach.


Jimmy Butler scores 47 as Heat beat Celtics to force Game 7

Jimmy Butler had 47 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and the Miami Heat forced the Eastern Conference finals to a decisive seventh game by beating the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Friday night.

Ten years after LeBron James scored 45 points in Boston to help the Heat avoid elimination in Game 6 of the conference finals en route to the first of their back-to-back NBA titles, Butler had 17 points in the fourth quarter to top him and send the series back to Miami.

With a victory at home Sunday, the Heat would advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.

In the most back-and-forth game of the series, Boston took a 97-94 lead on Derrick White‘s 3-pointer with under five minutes to play — the first time all series the lead has changed hands in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry answered with a 3 and then added two free throws as Miami scored 11 of the next 13 points.

Lowry finished with 18 points and 10 assists before fouling out with 2:18 left. Butler made 16 of 29 shots, hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range and all 11 free throws.

Jayson Tatum had 30 points and nine rebounds and White came off the bench to score 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Boston. The Celtics are trying to reach the finals for the first time since 2010.

Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 20 points, missing a pair of free throws with the game tied at 99 after Lowry fouled out. Brown fouled out himself on an offensive charge that was assessed after a challenge on a missed dunk with 13 seconds left and the Celtics down by four.

Miami guard Tyler Herro missed his third straight game with a strained groin, costing the team its No. 2 score. Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring) and P.J. Tucker (knee) had been listed as questionable but were in the starting lineup.

Boston’s Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Robert Williams III (sore knee) tested their injuries pregame and were also in the lineup.

Reporting by Associated Press.

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