The San Antonio Spurs had the best record in the regular season in the west last year and they were looking primed to get back to the NBA Finals, but they were mowed down in the playoffs by Oklahoma City in the conference finals. The Spurs, and rightfully so, believe the core group led by the usual suspects of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have at least another run left in them this upcoming season.
Without a a first-round draft pick, San Antonio opted to stay in-housewhenit came to free-agency. The Spurs re-signed Duncan to a three-year deal for 30-million to finish his career with the team he started it with back in 1997. The 36-year old Duncan still can get it done. He averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds to help the Spurs to a 50-16 record last season.
After putting up 18 points and acareer-high 7 assists last season,Parker is back to run the show as the Spurs point guard.Ginobili is healthy for the upcoming season and that's good news for the Spurs who saw him play in only 34 regular season games last year in which he had his lowest scoring average since 2003-04 at 12.9 points a game.
Players that the Spurs picked up mid-way throughlastseason -- such as Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills -- all return. Jackson and Diaw played major minutes in theplayoffsand the team will rely on them again this season for scoring off the bench.
There's just one new face on the roster and that's French guard Nano Colo, who the team drafted back in 2009 and who is finally joining the Spurs. The 6'-5" shooting guard Colo will have to beat out veteran players Gary Neal and Danny Green for playing time. Green got a three-year, 12-million deal to stay with San Antonio. Green had his best season as a pro, averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds last season.
With Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich back, big things are always expected from the Spurs, but the X factor now could be second-year pro Kawhi Leonard. The 2011 first-round pick by San Antonio is primed to have abiggerseason. Leonard started all 14 playoff games and averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds. The 6'-7" small forward can go inside and out to score and is a lock-down defender.
San Antonio is a year older and wiser, but can they keep up with Oklahoma City or bang with the Lakers and Dwight Howard? The Spurs will definitely be in theplayoffsagain to find out.
Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season.
One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday.
NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.
Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance.
The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years.
Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year.
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The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.
The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.
That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.
Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.
Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden.
Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.
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