SH Blog: Al Jefferson has foot injury; NBA salary cap set to increase by $5M

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Nothing in the NBA playoffs is going like it’s supposed to. The Pacers look like they’re all done, the Spurs struggled to get past the Mavs, the Warriors-Clippers game was a mess of missed free throws and turnovers, the Wizards are winning games… yeah, it’s a little weird.

Of course, we’re only one game in. There’s going to be lots more. But right now, if I were a Pacers fan, I’d be worried. Losing to a Hawks team without Al Horford, a Hawks team that finished the regular season with a losing record, on your home court is not the way #1 seeds should be opening the playoffs.

The last two years, top contenders have had their star point guards go down to knee injuries in the first round. Russell Westbrook recovered, but we’ve barely seen Derrick Rose since. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen this year. The playoffs are better when the stars play.

There’s still one game to go tonight, and it should be a good one. Can the Rockets guard Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge? They’re considering bringing back a strategy they tried briefly for this series. Read on to find out what it is.

First, though, let’s get to the rest of the NBA’s latest news:

SH Blog: Lakers/Mavs Positioning for Kevin Love; Knicks One of Many Interested in Rondo; LeBron Happy in Miami, For Now

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KevinLoveSH1With the NBA Trade Deadline less than 48 hours away, we have a lot of noteworthy news and rumors around the league to get to.

Before we just recklessly cannonball right in, let’s take a look and see how deep the water is.    

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Bernucca: Clippers Captain is Back, But the Ship Ran Just Fine Without CP3

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ChrisPaulSH1Chris Paul returned to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

We don’t want to be party-poopers, but it probably should be pointed out that the Clippers were better without him.

This does not mean that GM Gary Sacks should start exploring trade possibilities for a top-five player. And it doesn’t mean that coach Doc Rivers should go with the hot hand at point guard at the end of games.

But it does mean that if the Clippers want to win a championship this season – which is entirely within the realm of possibility – Paul has to reacclimate himself with his teammates more than they do to him.

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SH Blog: Dan Gilbert still has hopes for Cavaliers this season, Barkley says Curry is not a superstar

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Dan GilbertThe Cleveland Cavaliers are an absolute mess this season, and owner Dan Gilbert has finally had enough.

After watching his team suffer a humiliating defeat at home against a depleted Los Angeles Lakers team on Wednesday, Gilbert made the decision to fire general manager Chris Grant, the architect of this currently-disastrous team. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the news:

Gilbert informed Grant of his dismissal late Thursday morning, sources said.

Assistant general manager David Griffin will take over as the interim GM, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Gilbert had grown increasingly frustrated with the losing and dysfunction within the Cavaliers, and the loss to the Lakers – who finished the game with four eligible players – was the breaking point.

Grant had a reputation as a hard-working executive, but failed to construct an infrastructure of talent to return the Cavaliers to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left as a free agent in 2010.

Grant had been responsible for drafting several high lottery picks that have yet to validate themselves, including No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett in the 2013 NBA draft. Grant has been waiting for several top-five draft picks, including Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, to fulfill their promise.

So who are the potential replacements for Grant? Ken Berger of CBSSports says there is no shortage of good general managers to choose from:

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Bernucca: Fixing the Fans’ All-Star Mistakes

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Kyrie IrvingNBA fans do an awful job of protecting the image of their favorite sport.

This is not the NFL, which has been America’s pastime for a generation and can do no wrong in the eyes of its fans. The only time the NFL has an image problem is when a storm affects satellite reception.

This is also not baseball, which has a considerable image problem with its collection of prima donnas on PEDS. But it also has more than a century of tradition on its side.

NBA fans constantly have to argue the merits of their sport not only against other sports but against other versions of their sport. The international game is more fluid. The college game has more energy and emotion. The women’s game has more fundamentals.

So what do NBA fans do to cultivate and protect the image of their favorite sport? They ignore common sense and vote their darlings as All-Stars.

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