Even 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.”