NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Love could be cleared for Game 3— The Cleveland Cavaliers are staring up at a 2-0 series hole in The Finals against the Golden State Warriors as Game 3 looms (9 p.m. ET, ABC). Getting back in the series starts with a win tonight and the Cavs need everyone in the mix, including Kevin Love, to pull that off. Love’s status for Game 3 has been in doubt because of the blow to the head he took in Game 2 and his need to pass the NBA’s concussion protocol. However, according to Chris Haynes of Clevleland.com, Love is confident he’ll be OK’d to go tonight:
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is progressing well in the NBA’s concussion protocol program and it’s very possible he will be cleared to play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, cleveland.com has learned.
The Cavaliers will send out an update on his status this afternoon, but the release will not say if he’s able to go. That determination will be made closer to game time.
Team doctors are evaluating him around the clock. The power forward will have to show he can ride a stationary bike, jog, perform some light agility work and participate in non-contract drills without showing signs of concussion symptoms. The league will have the final say on if he can return to action.
Love did not practice Tuesday morning. He sustained the concussion in the second quarter of Sunday’s game after Harrison Barnes inadvertently elbowed him in the back of the head while going for a rebound.
Cleveland lost 110-77 and returns to Northeast Ohio 0-2 in the best-of-seven series. With or without Love, the Cavaliers desperately need a win. Veteran Richard Jefferson would likely get the start if Love is a no-go. The team understands the opposition won’t feel sorry for their state.
“It’s going to be next man up,” LeBron James said. “We’re down 0-2 and we can’t afford to look and say, ‘Wow, Kev’s not playing. What are we going to do?’ It’s next man up because it’s a must-win for us.”
No. 2: Nowitzki open to variety of contract options with Mavs — Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki can opt out of his contract this summer to enter free agency. But we all know Nowitzki isn’t going anywhere and will be a “Mav for life” as he always said he would be. Still, if Nowitzki does opt out, what kind of deal might he seek from the Mavs? According to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, there are a several options Nowitzki and the team may pursue:
The 18-year veteran has already met with owner Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson – the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations – on mapping out a plan for his future.
“I might opt-out and sign maybe a two- or three-year deal,” Nowitzki said. “It depends on how it goes, but that was probably the plan for now.”
Owner Mark Cuban said he’s on board with whatever contract Nowitzki wants to pursue.
“Dirk gets to do whatever he wants to do, period, end of story,’’ Cuban said. “If Dirk wants to be the head chef, if Dirk wants to be the head coach, (we’ll) move (coach) Rick (Carlisle) over a little bit.
“Dirk has done so much for this franchise that he’s earned that opportunity.”
Nowitzki even acknowledged that he could sign a longer-term contract. But he also noted that the length of his contract doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when he plans to retire.
“The thing is, I can sign a five-year or a four-year, and I can always retire (before that contract expires),” Nowitzki said. “It’s not like if I sign the deal, that locks me in, it’s not like I’m playing for money anyways.
“So let’s say I play one year and my body breaks down, and I don’t like it any more. I can always step away. This doesn’t necessarily lock me in to doing something that I don’t want to do, but I think it makes sense to sign a two- or three-year deal, but we’ll see when July hits.”
Cuban certainly doesn’t mind if Nowitzki plays until he reached his mid-40s.
“Dirk can play until he’s 50,’’ Cuban said. “It’s not like he can get any slower.”
Nowitzki said if it will help the Mavericks improve their team during free agency, he’ll opt-out of his current contract and sign a short-term deal.
“You can always plan something, and then when July hits, stuff happens left and right,”
Nowitzki said. “You need a trade, maybe I’ll sign a one-year if that’s better for our franchise.
“You can plan all sorts of things and once July hits, or even the trading deadline or trading around the draft, things happen so quick that you can plan all you want. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way.’’
On an annual basis, Nowitzki is aware that the Mavericks make their customary run at the top free agents in the NBA. But for whatever reasons, none of those players wind up signing with the Mavericks.
Since the Mavericks don’t have a first-round pick in the upcoming draft, Nowitzki knows the quickest way for the team to make huge strides is to step up and take another swing in free agency.
“Obviously we want to take a step forward again,” Nowitzki said. “There’s some names out there that obviously we’d love to have, but we all know how that worked the last few years.
“Sometimes there’s some luck involved. But it’s not for a lack of trying.”
No. 3: Johnson convinced ‘Showtime’ Lakers would beat Warriors — All season long, the Golden State Warriors have heard from a myriad of former NBA stars from different generations about how their teams would beat these Warriors. Add another squad to the list in former Los Angeles Lakers standout and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Johnson responded to a quote from Warriors star Klay Thompson (said somewhat jokingly) that his team could beat the “Showtime”-era Lakers of the 1980s (of which Johnson was the maestro and Thompson’s father, Mychal, was once a teammate). The former Lakers legend didn’t hold back in saying he’d take his squad any day against these Warriors:
Klay Thompson caught Johnson’s attention after the Warriors dismantled the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.
“We are better than the ‘Showtime’ Lakers,” Klay Thompson said, interrupting teammate Draymond Green, who was asked whether the Warriors could be compared to a team from a previous era.
“I think it’s all subjective,” Green said before Thompson jumped in. “To say we’re better than the ‘Showtime’ Lakers, how can you say that? We never played them.”
Mychal Thompson, a member of two of the Lakers’ five championship teams in the 1980s, knows.
“I admit this: We would shoot. And we shot eight 3s a game. They make eight 3s a quarter,” Mychal Thompson said Monday on the Thompson and Trudell Show on ESPN LA 710. “Golden State would outscore us 50-15 on 3s. So how are we supposed to win? So I agree with Klay, I think they would beat us. We couldn’t keep up with them offensively because of the way they can score so quickly.”
“We’ve never seen two guys who can shoot like Steph [Curry] and Klay, and I give them that,” Johnson said Tuesday on First Take. “But they’ve never ran up against somebody like us. I’m telling you, whoever is going to dog me, I’m going to be wearing them down. I’m going to be wearing them out. James Worthy will be wearing them out, wearing them down. Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] is going to be wearing them out, wearing them down.”
“But the Warriors would have bad matchups against us. There’s no way they’re going to deal with Kareem. There’s no way they’re going to deal with James Worthy. The thing that we could do, that would affect them and cause some problems, is that we could set up and we could run on them on the fast break.”
Having played on those Lakers teams, and having coached against these Warriors, Byron Scott sees both sides of the debate. And he agrees with Johnson.
“No doubt in my mind, we would have beat them,” Scott said Tuesday on The Jump. “Magic’s right, there are so many things you can look at when you talk about this matchup.
“I’m not taking anything away from the Warriors. I love the way this team plays. They’re great, they’ve got great chemistry. They have two of the best shooters who have ever played this game. But who’s going to guard Kareem? Who’s going to guard Magic? Who’s going to guard James Worthy?”
Mychal Thompson played a key frontcourt role in the Lakers’ back-to-back titles in 1987-88 before retiring in 1991.
“I am a man secure in my legacy, secure in my accomplishments,” Mychal Thompson said. “I don’t have to be all, ‘Oh, we’re better than them.’ I’m not that grumpy old man, even though I sound like that many a time. But I can admit when the new era is better than something else or that’s changed from the time I played. And the way they play, we would have a hard time keeping up ’cause, like I said, our game wasn’t shooting 3s, which theirs [is]. And 3 beats 2.”
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