Play-in tournament expected to stay
This year’s play-in tournament resulted in mixed reviews throughout the league. The league’s largest superstar LeBron James voiced his displeasure back in May saying, “Whoever came up with that (expletive) needs to be fired.”
Although some players and front office personnel disagreed with the play-in tournament, commissioner Adam Silver viewed it as a success. On Friday, Silver appeared on ESPN’s Keyshawn, J-Will, and Zubin on ESPN Radio and said, “I haven’t made any secret that I want it to be around.”
The Athletic reporter Anthony Slater also tweeted yesterday conveying the play-in tournament is expected to return next season.
Adam Silver said it's the league's "expectation" that the NBA's play-in tournament will remain next season.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) July 7, 2021
Of course, the league is concerned with their viewership numbers, and the play-in provided more interest than traditional playoff scenarios. It is no surprise some want the format to return, but it may come with disapproval from some players. That being said, it will be interesting to hear the sentiment from the rest of the league but fans should be excited about more playoff basketball.
NBA Finals Game 1
Milwaukee didn’t play bad but Phoenix is just scorching right now. They dominated the second half ultimately beating the Bucks 118-105. It was fantastic to see Giannis return to action after suffering a potentially dangerous knee injury during the Eastern Conference Finals. Most were not sure he would play as he was a game-time decision but Mike Budenholzer decided to pull the trigger minutes before tip-off. He clearly was not the typical Greek Freak as he still seemed hampered by the knee but he showed some resolve scoring 20 points and hauling 17 rebounds. He also contributed on defense making some fantastic plays such as this:
As for the Suns, they once again completed a full team effort with exceptional play from their two stars. Chris Paul absolutely dominated with a game-high 32 points and 9 assists. His 16 point 3rd quarter fueled an elongated lead for the Suns and they never looked back. He is now one of three players to score 30+ in the NBA finals at age 36 or older alongside Kareem and Duncan.
Deandre Ayton was a force inside last night. He ended up with 22 points and 19 rebounds on 8-10 shooting. He is the first player with 15+ points and 15+ rebounds in a Finals debut since Tim Duncan.
The Suns had six players with double figures but their big three in Paul, Booker, and Ayton combined for 81 points which seemed to be the differentiating factor. The Bucks outshot the Suns from three but Phoenix crushed them from the free-throw line shooting 25-26 compared to Milwaukee's 9-16.
Phoenix remains one of the hottest teams in professional sports. Denver isn’t the only team unable to guard their pick and roll as they are achieving near perfection with some of their actions. With Giannis returning and performing well under the circumstances, the Bucks should feel decent about their chances if he is able to get better. With that being said, there is a difference between feeling decent and confident and Phoenix is supremely confident right now. They are a tough team to stop but if we know anything about this postseason, it is to expect the unexpected.
Game 2 will be in Phoenix on Thursday at 7:00 PM MT.
What is an NBA offseason without a myriad of trade rumors? Some are beginning to circulate and a popular one is about Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons. On Friday, Jason Dumas of Bleacher Report, announced the Sixers have been listening to offers for the star guard including declining a trade to the Pacers for Malcolm Brogdon and a 1st round pick.
The Sixers have already fielded offers for Ben Simmons but continue to hold a stance that they will only trade him for an all-star caliber player. They most recently turned down a deal with the Pacers that included Malcolm Brogdon and a 1st round pick.— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) July 2, 2021
The next day, another report declined this notion saying there have not been talks between the two teams, in part, because the Sixers are focusing in on Damian Lillard.
While #Pacers are open to moving down from 13 or packaging it in a deal, Im told there havent been any talks w/#Sixers who are angling for Lillard. For context about Pacers, they avoid albatross contracts. Had a deal in place for Conley 2 yrs ago nixed by Simon. Too much salary— J. Michael (@ThisIsJMichael) July 3, 2021
Another interesting rumor is DeMar DeRozen to the Los Angeles Lakers. There have been reports they are interested in the veteran wing and that a sign-and-trade would be the most likely scenario for that to work.
Similar reports surfaced last offseason and nothing came to fruition but there is interest from both sides. DeRozan appeared on ALL THE SMOKE podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson in November of 2020. He conveyed the idea it is nice to be wanted by any team but he went on to say, “Especially me, being from L.A., it’s like ‘damn, my hometown team want me? They just came off a championship and they want me?’ It’s definitely crazy to be able to see that.”
Furthermore, the Utah Jazz are looking to bring back guard Mike Conley. He battled injuries throughout the regular and postseason but when on the court, he is a fantastic shooter and floor general helping the Jazz to the best record in the league. The 14-year veteran averaged 16.2 PPG, 6 assists on 44% shooting from the field last season.
Twelve teams will compete in this year’s Olympics. For the full set of teams visit this link. The competition will begin on July 25 through August 7 as the USA searches for its fourth straight gold medal.
The Olympics will once again be littered with NBA talent. The United States is the favorite but there are some tough squads to contend with. Australia is usually competitive and they will return with Patty Mills joined by Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, and more.
France will have the reigning defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert along with sharpshooter Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Frank Ntilikina.
Denver Nuggets guard Facu Campazzo will return to the Olympic stage with Argentina. They are ranked 4th in the FIBA World Ranking and are looking for their first medal since winning gold in the 2004 Athens Games.
Dallas Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic will headline the Slovenian squad. It is their first appearance in the Olympic games, and Doncic is eager for the potential to bring a gold medal to his country saying it would mean more than winning an NBA championship.