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NBA News Around the Association 26.05.2019

We still don’t know which team will challenge Warriors for the title. Late this night Game 6 in the East Finals took place in Toronto. Raptors did the unthinkable and made a shocking twist to take the lead in the series from 0-2 down to 3-2. They won on the road in Milwaukee on Thursday night for the lead. The game was even but the Canadians made a few critical defensive stops in the last 3 minutes of the 4th quarter against Giannis and took the lead for good. Thus they might be East champions already if taking their home Game 6, or the series might go to Game 7 in Milwaukee.

Let’s turn our attention to some of the more important news around the association this past week though.

The leading MVP candidates, Rockets’ guard James Harden and Bucks’ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were unanimously selected to the 2018-19 All-NBA First Team, announced Thursday this week. The Beard led the NBA in scoring for the second straight year, averaging 36.1 points a game, along with 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds. The Greek Freak recorded similarly astonishing stats (27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists) and was the key factor for the Bucks, which achieved the league's best record with 60 wins. This is Milwaukee's best season since the 1980–81 campaign.

Joining both superstars on the first team are Warriors point-guard Stephen Curry, Thunder forward Paul George and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. The King, LeBron James, who has been named an All-NBA First Team performer a record 12 times in his career, failed to make the team for the first time since the 2006–07 season.

Another notable omission was that of Golden State’s shooting guard Klay Thompson. Klay’s exclusion from the team would prevent him from negotiating a supermax contract with the Warriors this summer according to the agreed rules of the NBA and the player’ syndicate. The disappointment on Klay’s face was very evident upon hearing the news. At the same time Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker made the All-NBA Third Team, which means he’ll be eligible for a mega contract this summer. This is putting Charlotte in a very tricky position as the team management must decide what to do with the best player in franchise history. Walker will be one of the most courted free agents this summer anyway.

Speaking of the upcoming free agency, rumours are swirling under the surface already. LeBron James has reportedly met with Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard and Philadelphia’s swingman Jimmy Butler regarding their upcoming free agency. Lakers' pursuit of stars this offseason would almost certainly include a run at the Celtics' Kyrie Irving too, who previously played with James on the Cavaliers. Irving has restored his friendship with LeBron since joining Boston, so all options seem wide open right now.

 

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo could break the NBA's record for the largest contract in the history of the league when free agency begins in 2020.  Giannis will have one year remaining on his current contract next summer. By then, he'll be eligible for a designated veteran contract extension, more commonly known as the "supermax" contract. The deal would give Antetokounmpo a starting salary worth up to 35% of the salary cap. Players can only sign supermax contracts with their current teams and become eligible if they have been in the league for seven or eight years and have not been traded since the first four years in the league. Additionally, they must prove themselves as one of the elite players in NBA, which can be done in one of 3 ways: winning MVP in any of the three most recent seasons, winning Defensive Player of the Year in the last 3 seasons, or being named to an All-NBA team (any of them) in last 3 seasons.

Let’s turn to the injury news around the Warriors now. Kevin Durant is "unlikely" to play in the Warriors’ Game 1 matchup against the Raptors or Bucks in the NBA Finals, as per the team’s press release on Thursday. Durant has been out of Golden State's lineup with a calf injury since May 8. He exited the Warriors' Game 5 win over the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals, but Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thomposon took care of business with six-straight victories to advance to the Finals once again. NBA Finals begin on May 30. The team said they are "hopeful that [Durant] could return at some point during the series."

The Warriors also provided an update on center DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his left quad on April 15. Cousins "continues to make good progress". He is expected to "play at some point during the 2019 NBA Finals."

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