NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Parker expects to be OK for Game 1 — Spurs star point guard Tony Parker missed the second half of San Antonio’s West finals-clinching victory in Game 6 over the Oklahoma City Thunder with a balky left ankle. Since the Spurs wrapped up the West title, the focus has been on whether or not Parker will suit up for Game 1 tomorrow. Parker talked with reporters after Tuesday’s practice and assured the masses that he will be active for Game 1:
Tony Parker plans to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs open their rematch with the Miami Heat on Thursday, and their star point guard is nursing a balky left ankle.
“He’s getting better every day, and I expect him to play,” coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday.
Parker aggravated the injury Saturday, missing the second half of San Antonio’s series-clinching victory over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.
Parker didn’t practice Tuesday, but said he expects to be back Wednesday.
“I always try to be honest with Pop,” Parker said. “He knows, but if I’m 50 percent I’ll try to play. If I’m under 50 percent, we can argue.”
Parker conceded the ankle has bothered him since San Antonio’s second-round series against Portland, although he did not divulge it at the time.
“I don’t like to talk about when I’m hurt,” he said. “I played on it for the whole series against Portland. That’s why I think my hamstring got hurt because I was playing on a bad ankle.”
Parker had tightness in his left hamstring midway through the second quarter of Game 5 against the Trail Blazers, forcing him to miss the rest of the Spurs’ series-clinching victory.
He did not miss any of the Western Conference finals because of his hamstring. But he aggravated the ankle injury in Game 4 against Oklahoma City.
“I twisted it again, but didn’t say anything,” Parker said. “Played on it, and then Game 6 I think my body is like, `That’s enough.’ It’s perfect timing to get five days and to get better and to be ready for Game 1.”
No. 2: Report: Rockets to let Parsons enter free agency — Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons has become an integral part of the team’s future as it looks to contend in the West with him, Dwight Howard, James Harden, Patrick Beverley and the rest of the group. Parsons has been on the Rockets for three seasons and seen his stats steadily increase and last season, he averaged a career-bests in points (16.6 ppg), rebounds (5.5) and assists (4.0). Houston holds a fourth-year option on Parsons’ deal and according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, will not pick up that option this summer and let him become a restricted free agent:
The Houston Rockets plan to decline the fourth-year option on forward Chandler Parsons’ contract, freeing him to become a restricted free agent this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Rockets hold a $960,000 option on the fourth and final year of Parsons’ contract for the 2014-’15 season, but want to avoid letting Parsons, 25, become an unrestricted free agent next summer. As a restricted free agent in July, the Rockets can match an offer sheet and retain Parsons on a long-term contract.
The Rockets have until June 30 to formally decline the option.
For the Rockets, there are two distinct advantages to letting Parsons into restricted free agency now. First, Houston is determined to clear the necessary salary cap space this summer to chase a third maximum contract free agent to join Dwight Howard and James Harden, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Houston plans to pursue the major stars who could be available upon opting out of deals, including Miami’s LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and New York’s Carmelo Anthony, league sources said. Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki is expected to be a target too.
The Rockets are pursuing Minnesota’s Kevin Love in trade talks too, and Parsons could hold sign-and-trade possibilities.
No. 3: Grant: LeBron’s Heat couldn’t top Jordan’s Bulls — Yesterday marked the 22nd anniversary of Michael Jordan‘s “shrug” game during the 1992 NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. One of the Chicago players who was in that game — and a key part of the Bulls’ first three-peat — was power forward Horace Grant. As such, Grant saw plenty of times how Jordan elevated those Bulls teams to countless playoff wins and three championships and can speak accurately as to who, if anyone, could hang with those Chicago teams. One team Grant says wouldn’t be able to stop those Bulls teams are today’s Miami Heat led by LeBron James. ESPNChicago.com has more:
With four more wins, the Miami Heat will match one of Michael Jordan’s greatest feats — three straight NBA championships — but former Bull Horace Grant says that doesn’t mean LeBron James’ team could have beaten those Chicago teams.
“The Heat wouldn’t have had a chance,” Grant said Tuesday on WSCR-AM in Chicago. “We would have locked them up. We would have locked them up. Especially with the rules today, Michael would have had a field day.”
Jordan led the Bulls to three straight NBA championships from 1991 to ’93 and then did it again upon coming back from retirement with three titles from 1996 to ’98. The Los Angeles Lakers were the last team to win three championships in a row (2000-02).
If anything, Jordan can point to the fact his three-peat run was utterly dominant. Jordan and the Bulls swept teams five different times and played only one Game 7. Jordan’s playoff win percentage from 1991-93 was .776 (45-13), compared to James’ current .721 from 2012 to this postseason (44-17).
Grant was part of the Bulls core that won the first three championships before he left as a free agent for the Orlando Magic.
No. 4: Dolan says Jackson calling shots on ‘Melo, new coach — New York Knicks owner James Dolan is viewed by some of those who closely follow the team as a bit meddlesome in the handling of the team’s roster, playing time and other on-court issues. That notion raised a quiet (if future) concern when Dolan brought Phil Jackson aboard as the team’s new president: how long until Dolan would potentially meddle in what Jackson has planned? According to Al Iannazzone of Newsday, though, Dolan said in a radio interview that Jackson will solely decide on the team’s new coach as well as Carmelo Anthony‘s future:
Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan said that Phil Jackson has the final say on whom the Knicks hire as their next coach and on how to handle Carmelo Anthony’s impending free agency.
“I made a commitment to Phil that he was going to run it,” Dolan said during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN Tuesday. “Unless he asks me to help, it’s his to run.”
On the coaching search, Dolan said, “I have no idea who he’s talking to” and that Jackson has to “check back with me” when he starts talking money.
Now Jackson is expected to pursue Derek Fisher, but he would need permission from the Thunder to speak to him since he’s under contract until June 30. The NBA fined Jackson $25,000 on Monday for tampering with Fisher because he told reporters he’s a candidate for the Knicks’ vacancy.
Fisher’s name never came up during the WFAN interview, but when the coaching search did, Dolan said to ask Jackson.
“Phil asked me not to tell anybody this but I’m going to tell you,” Dolan said. “For my birthday, my family gave me a T-shirt and it says only two words on it — it says, ‘Ask Phil.’ That’s it.
“I have not asked him about the coaching search on purpose. I have not asked him about it. I just told him I’m here for you if you need me. If you don’t need me, that’s fine, too. I got lots to do.”
Dolan said he likes what he’s seen from Jackson thus far and that he’s working well with general manager Steve Mills.
“He’s taking control,” Dolan said. “He and Steve are working really well together. That was a big piece for me because there are a lot of the pieces of the operation that have to be run. I knew that Phil wasn’t going to have the time for it.
“Having Steve in there, things like the D-League and the development of players and everything down to the medical staff, etcetera. Phil has a great guy underneath him, actually right next to him. I think I got the right team in place managing it. We’ll see how it turns out.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, multiple lottery picks might be available in this year’s Draft … Chris Andersen isn’t practicing with the Heat, but is expected to play in Game 1 … Ex-Sixers guard Eric Snow is auctioning off a pair of shoes worn by Michael Jordan during The 1996 Finals … Get a look at the hats for the 2014 Draft … OKC general manager Sam Presti has a full plate this summer … Charles Barkley says the Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in an ‘awkward situation’ now … The Jazz need a coach who can teach defense and some other things to Utah’s young crew … The Hornets’ practice court got a rebranding to match the one at Time Warner Arena
ICYMI of The Night: Just one more day until The 2014 Finals begin. Why not take a look back at the Game 6s in the East and West finals?