The Evening News: Nets and Clips make Shaw top target; Hawks tampering charge; J.R. to opt out

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Hello and welcome to the Evening News.

As the playoffs continue, we’ll keep you updated every evening. What’s happening today?

Here’s the latest from around the league:

SH Blog: Howard calls D’Antoni a “great person” when asked if he’s a great coach, Riley almost drafted Kaman over Wade

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Dwight HowardSince an early first round exit against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten absolutely no assurance that Dwight Howard would remain with the team beyond this season. In fact, most assume that Howard will bolt once he becomes a free agent in the summer (including Phil Jackson), and all reports about Howard up to this point have only indicated the possibilities of him landing in a variety of locations, including Houston, Dallas and even Golden State.

All we can really do at this point is assume and assume some more, since Howard refuses to discuss anything in detail about his plans (the smart thing to do, given his history). He did, however, answer some questions presented by Los Angeles Times writer T.J. Simers about certain matters, and there are some subtleties in his responses that makes you believe that he really may be ready to move on:

Between missed shots, I asked why he hasn’t committed to the Lakers.

“It’s free agency and I have the opportunity to choose where I’m going to play,” he said. “God opens doors, and I’m relying on my faith to direct me. ”I don’t think it’s fair I get criticized for waiting on such an opportunity.”

But what does he want in a team?

“I want to win; I’ve done everything else,” he said. “I just want to win.”

Can the Lakers win?

“Any team I am on can win,” he said with a grin, “but nice try.”

What about getting more money or a chance to do TV shows here?

“I’ll get those opportunities later; it’s all about winning now,” he said.

So what do you think of D’Antoni? ”I love him,” he said. “He’s a great person.”

Is he a great coach?

“He’s a great person and I’m glad we had the opportunity to be together,” said Howard, which some will undoubtedly interpret as goodbye.

What was never explicitly said, but also seemed to hang heavy in the air was the uncertainty in the Lakers’ front office, with Jim and Jeanie Buss. ”I want to see what each opportunity offers,” Howard said. “I want to see how people plan on winning.” ”So will I be seeing you next season?” I concluded. ”I’m always a phone call or tweet away,” he said, while whistling and moving on.”

So in short, here’s what we can gather from Howard’s answers: he’s going to let his faith do the talking when deciding which team to play for, wants to refer to Mike D’Antoni as a “great person” when asked if he’s a great coach, and doesn’t want to talk about seeing Simers again.

Sorry, Lakers fans. The chances of him returning just doesn’t look so good (and some of you are probably okay with that). I’m not saying there’s no shot of him coming back at all, but you’ve got to hear him say something positive about the Lakers to have a sense that he’s considering them too, right? That interview screams “I’m out of here”, but we’ve certainly seen plenty of the unexpected when it comes to the NBA and free-agency situations. I think that’s about all you can hope for if you’re hoping for a miracle return.

Onto other news from around the league:

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Bernucca: LeBron has another decision to make

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LeBron James Chris Bosh Dwyane WadeTonight in Miami, LeBron James has another “Decision.”

This one is not about where James is going to play, however. Tonight is about how he is going to play.

And this decision is tougher, because he doesn’t have days to think about it. He has about an hour, tops.

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SH Blog: Kings looking at Bird, Dunleavy, Chris Wallace for GM; Howard favoring Houston?

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We’re into June, which means the playoffs are almost over and we’re coming up on the draft and free agency. Fittingly, today’s blog includes a lot of discussion of those two topics. For a look even further ahead, check out Adam Zagoria’s column on why the 2014 draft is even more exciting than this one coming up.

The other big topic right now is the coaching and front office shuffle. Some big names have already moved around, including Masai Ujiri to the Raptors, and some other teams still have moves to make. One team that was a little late getting into the game is the Kings, unsurprisingly considering their ownership situation. But they’ve made a coaching hire already, former Warriors assistant Mike Malone, and next up, as we’ll get to later, is a new GM.

Now let’s dive right into the latest NBA news and rumors on this first day of June.

  • Larry Bird 1985 NBA PlayoffsMarc Stein of ESPN.com gives us the scoop on what the new Kings ownership is planning to do as far as management, and there are some big names in the discussion: “Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace has taken the early lead in the Sacramento Kings’ search for a new head of basketball operations, according to sources close to the process. Sources told ESPN.com that Wallace’s interview this week with new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive went well enough that it stretched into a second day. Yet Ranadive, according to sources, has not abandoned his interest in expanding the search to include other candidates, not even after highly regarded San Antonio Spurs president R.C. Buford publicly stated that he’s not interested in the position. ESPN.com reported earlier Friday that Ranadive, after his sit-downs with Jerry West-endorsed Wallace, will next interview longtime NBA coach and executive Mike Dunleavy for the GM job this weekend. And, furthermore, sources said late Friday, that Ranadive hasn’t abandoned hope of making a splashy Buford-type hire and has thus felt out former Indiana Pacers executive Larry Bird about his willingness to return to front-office work in Sacramento.”

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Heisler: Video on what’s next for Paul, Clippers

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Chris Paul is being blamed for the dismissal of Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro and isn’t happy about it.

Paul has spent the last two seasons with the Clippers, which not coincidentally have been the best back-to-back seasons in the history of the once-woebegone franchise.

Now Paul is approaching free agency, the timing of which at the root of the blame. Is he ticked off enough to leave the Clippers over it?