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Early East preview: Which lottery teams are rising up

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Early East preview: Which lottery teams are rising up

The first half of our super duper early Eastern Conference forecast looked at those teams that reached the playoffs this season. Now we examine those currently thinking about the draft lottery.

Indiana - GM Larry Bird didn't have enough resources to replace the massive amount of wing production lost following All-Star Paul George's leg injury and Lance Stephenson leaving in free agency. Yet this tough-minded group battled throughout, coming up just shy of reaching the playoffs. The organization made it clear they prefer a future without hulking center Roy Hibbert, who is something of an oddity in this era of free-flowing offenses. How they handle this delicate scenario likely determines whether the Pacers can compete for a fourth Eastern Conference finals appearance in five seasons or not. Expect a return to the playoffs regardless

Miami - The Heat never had the chance to incorporate point Goran Dragic with their main group because of Chris Bosh's season-ending blood clot situation. Should Miami keep Dragic and fellow free agent Luol Deng, return a healthy Bosh, nurse Dwyane Wade through another campaign and add help inside, this squad could be a scary good next season. Plenty of ifs, but sincere top-4 potential as well. Miami keeps its top-10 pick if they aren't jumped in the lottery. Otherwise, Philadelphia gets the selection.

Charlotte - Injuries across the roster -- and the disastrous first season with Stephenson -- ultimately torpedoed the Hornets' hopes of a second straight postseason berth. Whether they retain potential free agent Al Jefferson (player option) determines whether Charlotte rebuilds or reloads. Mo Williams is an unrestricted free agent while fellow guard Gerald Henderson has a player option. Head coach Steve Clifford is the right man for the job. Knowing which lineup he can use for any given game would be helpful.

Detroit - Greg Monroe played out the final year of his contract. Now the former Georgetown star becomes one of the most coveted free agents this summer. Maybe he returns, maybe not, but expect the skilled power forward to test the market. Restricted free agent Reggie Jackson is another offseason priority. Center Andre Drummond anchors the middle and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provides plenty of perimeter punch.

Orlando - From Victor Oladipo to Elfrid Payton to Nik Vucevic, there is young talent throughout the roster. Another high pick comes this season. The issue has been taking the next step. The Magic's coaching search will be among the most interesting in the league. Their plan with restricted free agent Tobias Harris bears watching as well.

Philadelphia - Good luck projecting the future here, at least not until management begins making moves for the present. Still, don't dismiss the plan. Philly has tons of assets, including big men Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid plus a likely top-5 pick this season. Don't expect a dramatic rise in wins, but don't discount their long-term plan either.

New York - Here's a breakdown of the Knicks' assets: Carmelo Anthony, a top-5 pick, cap space, Phil Jackson's reputation and the lure of the Big Apple. Maybe with the right moves they contend for the playoffs. We'll get back to you on that.

Part 1: Early look at the top of the Eastern Conference in 2015-16

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

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Blazers' C.J. McCollum has a theory on DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Wizards to reunite with John Wall

Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has a theory that may sound familiar to Wizards fans. The star shooting guard now hosts a podcast and said on his most recent episode that he could see DeMarcus Cousins teaming up with John Wall in Washington.

McCollum's Blazers happened to lose in the first round to Cousins' Pelicans, though Cousins did not play in the series due to injury. Now, McCollum has offered thoughts on his future.

Here is what McCollum said about Cousins potentially going to Washington on his Pull Up podcast, as transcribed by SLAM Magazine:

"No slight against the homie. I think he’s a very, very good player. But you just have to look at the team roster and try to figure out what’s best for that roster moving forward...

“I think team success, playoff success, factors in to decision-making with personnel moving forward. Obviously, Jrue Holiday, Rondo, AD will have input on what they decide to do going forward. So that’s something to keep an eye out on in the free agency.

“And if that is the case, Boogie would jump out in to the market as a free agent and be a very hot commodity, and could potentially team up with the Washington Wizards.

“You heard it here first. You heard that here first. You know that Kentucky connection, man. I could see that happening. That’s just something to think about going forward.”

The funny part of those quotes is that McCollum said "you heard it here first." Wizards fans, of course, have been banging that drum since, oh, 2010 when the two were drafted.

As it has often been throughout the last eight years, a reunion of Wall and Cousins is unlikely. Yes, Cousins is expected to hit free agency, but the Wizards currently do not have the money to sign him. They are in the luxury tax and would have to move some big contracts to make room.

Cousins is also coming off a torn Achilles injury. That creates major questions about his future and how much money teams will offer him. 

If healthy, Cousins would fit nicely with the Wizards who will need to get younger at the center position at some point. It just doesn't seem like a good bet given all the factors in play. 

You can listen to McCollum's full podcast here.

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Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

There appears to be at least some chance the Wizards will be without starting small forward Otto Porter when they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their first round playoff series on Friday night in Washington.

Porter, 24, continues to deal with a right lower leg strain. The injury is located on the outside of his calf and will require further testing from the Wizards' medical staff to determine his status.

Head coach Scott Brooks addressed the media on Thursday and did not rule out an MRI.

"We don't know as of yet, but he's banged up. So, hopefully we will find out some good news and see how he feels tomorrow," Brooks said.

Porter first suffered the injury on April 10 against the Celtics in the Wizards' penultimate regular season game. He missed the regular season finale, but has appeared in all five games of the Wizards-Raptors series.

Brooks did not make it seem likely that Porter will miss Game 6, but expressed uncertainty.

"Anything is possible," he said. "We hope for the best."

Porter appeared hobbled in Game 5 and has at other times this series as well. After the first two games of the series, Brooks was asked about Porter's health and said that he was "100 percent." It's unclear if Porter suffered a setback in the time between, but clearly that isn't the case anymore.

Porter is averaging just 10.0 points in this series, down from his 14.7 per game season average. Ideally, the Wizards would be getting more than that from their third scoring option.

"We need Otto," Brooks said. "We need Otto to be more of a nine or 10-point scorer for us to win this series."

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