The Evening News: Ujiri weighing offers; Clips after big names; Rockets now Dwight’s favorite

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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: Hornacek to coach Suns; Hibbert and James “blatantly obsessed with each other”

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Tonight is Game 3 in the Pacers-Heat series, and it looks like a pivotal one. The Pacers can show that they are a real threat to the Heat’s dominance, or the Heat can assert their dominance after two games where they were arguably the worse of the teams on the floor. If you’d mentioned this scenario five years ago, it would have been laughed at. Probably. But hey, five years ago LeBron James was a Cavalier, the Pistons and Hornets got the #2 seeds, the Heat finished 15-67, and the Thunder played in Seattle. The NBA can change… fast.

And if you’re tired of the playoffs and can’t wait for the real excitement, the Dwight Howard rumors, to start back up, or if you just care about where one of the NBA’s best players will be playing in the fall, then Jan Hubbard has got a column for you.

And if you just want the latest NBA news, well, that’s what I’m here for. Enjoy.

  • Henry Abbott of ESPN.com has a really interesting look at Roy Hibbert and LeBron James. Here’s a snippet: “Let me tell you about Roy Hibbert and LeBron James. On the basketball court, they are blatantly obsessed with each other. When LeBron has the ball, Hibbert often ignores his own man to better focus on James. And that’s not new. When other Pacer bigs sense a James drive coming and step into the lane to protect the rim, Hibbert has been known to physically shove a teammate or two out of the way in order to patrol that zone. The tallest player in the Eastern Conference (at 7-foot-2) does that because he knows James hates to try to score over him. James is an entirely different player with Hibbert in the game, to the unfathomable extent that James adds a weird-looking new shot to his arsenal — the teardrop — almost exclusively for use over the massive Hibbert. It’s such a rare move that James’ first attempt in Wednesday’s game — a miss — was greeted by commentator Steve Kerr’s observation, “That’s not part of his game.” Which is true — against most opponents.”

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Hubbard: Leaving Los Angeles would be the Dwight thing to do

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Iron Man IronmanEarly in Iron Man 3, the evil Aldrich Killian shows the beautiful Pepper Potts a 3D image of his brain. My immediate thought was:

Dwight Howard.

Yes, Lakers fans would love to get an idea of what is going on in that big brain, which seems to work slightly different than … well, every great player in NBA history.

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SH Blog: Raptors closing in on Ujiri; Howard warming on Rockets; Wolves like Oladipo, Shabazz

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IND_George_PaulEven though the Pacers lost Game 1, they had to have impressed many impartial observers. Maybe the Heat won’t have an easy path to the Finals after all. Or maybe the first game was an aberration and they’ll turn on the jets and roll over Indiana from here on out. We’ll see, I guess. For some analysis of what went wrong for Indy at the end of OT, check out Chris Sheridan’s column blaming Paul George.

And since we’re about to start another offseason, that means it’s Dwight Howard rumor season yet again. This time, though, he might just get to choose where he goes, and we can skip the whole process of putting together trade packages and then those deals falling through. We can hope. To get started on the next chapter of the Dwightmare, check out Peter May’s column advocating for the Rockets as Dwight’s next stop.

Now here’s all the latest news from around the NBA:

  • It’s looking like the Raptors might pull off a coup. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes: “The Denver Nuggets have granted the Toronto Raptors permission to speak to the NBA’s Executive of the Year, Masai Ujiri, and a meeting is expected to take place within the next 24 hours, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Unless Denver responds soon with a market-value contract extension to keep its general manager, Ujiri is prepared to leave Denver for the chance to rebuild the Raptors organization, league sources said. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke is aggressively pursuing Ujiri to become the Raptors’ general manager and plans to present an offer that will pay him nearly $3 million annually over the course of a multiyear contract, league sources said.Denver has long been reluctant to pay its top front-office executives market value, and current contract extension talks with Ujiri are believed to include figures that are nowhere near the commitment that Toronto’s willing to make.”
  • That said, Ken Berger of CBS Sports notes that there are other names in the running: “The Toronto Raptors have asked permission to interview Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard to head up their basketball operations, league sources told CBSSports.com on Friday. As with similar requests from teams to speak with assistant coach Brian Shaw for head coaching vacancies, the Pacers have indicated that they prefer to wait until their season is over to grant permission for interviews. The Pacers trail the Heat 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals, with Game 2 on Friday night in Miami. … The Raptors job is attractive to potential candidates because the team does well financially and is prepared to commit significant resources to restoring the team to prominence. Former Staples Center executive Tim Leiweke is in full command of the Raptors’ decision-making process and vision as president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. League sources told CBSSports.com that one of the possibilities that Leiweke has identified is teaming Pritchard with Oklahoma City assistant GM Troy Weaver, whose name has been attached to several front-office searches in the past two years. It is unclear whether the Raptors have reached out to the Thunder to ask permission to interview Weaver, though it is highly unlikely that Oklahoma City would grant permission for Weaver to entertain a lateral move.”

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SH Blog: Carlesimo says Nets have unrealistic expectations, LeBron disagrees with MJ’s scouting report

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CarlesimoIt’s always interesting to hear candid thoughts from former players or coaches about the situations of the teams they used to play for or coached.

P.J. Carlesimo, the former interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, is now an ESPN analyst. Able to share all his thoughts in an objective matter, Carlesimo had plenty to say about what level of talent the Nets really have, why it’s bad for the league to be a players league, and what it really means when headlines say a coach has “lost the locker room”. Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News has all the details:

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