Will Barton, Denver Nuggets

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Age (as of July 1): 27

Free-Agent Status: Unrestricted

2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 15.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks, 45.2 percent shooting cheap nfl authentic jerseys

Advanced Stats: 16.2 player efficiency rating (PER), 54.11 total points added (TPA), 0.70 real plus-minus (RPM)

Will Barton will not guarantee his return to the Denver Nuggets. Their backcourt is set for the future, with Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, and he fancies himself a starter.

“If I would be able to know I would be a starter coming into next season, that would push me in the offseason,” Barton said, per the Denver Post’s Gina Mizell. “It’s something that I’ve never been before or done before. That’s what makes me who I am and what makes me better every year. That will definitely be a goal of mine.”cheap authentic nfl jerseys

Starting Barton at small forward is a possibility. Wilson Chandler (player option) could be a free agent as well, and the Nuggets outscored opponents by 32.7 points per 100 possessions in the 65 minutes Barton played beside Harris, Murray, Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.

That sample is…nothing. Indefinitely inserting Barton into the starting five also compromises the bench. The Nuggets don’t have another shape-shifting playmaker who can keep the offense afloat when one or both of Jokic and Murray are on the sidelines. Barton started 40 games this season mostly out of need,cheap authentic nfl jerseys  when Harris or Millsap was battling injury.

Losing him for nothing would be worse than reconciling the rotation’s politics. And even those could work themselves out, to some extent, if Chandler hits free agency. But cost will be an issue. Barton turned down a four-year extension worth roughly $40 million last summer and is in line to command more now.cheap authentic nfl jerseys

Can the Nuggets afford to pay him market value with Harris’ four-year, $84 million extension set to kick in and Jokic (team option) potentially about to receive a max deal? Would Chandler’s decision to opt in deter them from paying him? Will they have to pay an up-charge to keep using Barton as a sixth man and spot starter?

Denver needs wings no matter what. Barton is more necessity than luxury—especially given the time he soaks up at point guard. cheap nfl jerseys china But paying him, Chandler and Jokic without shedding salary elsewhere puts the luxury tax in play. The Nuggets would be hard-pressed to rationalize that bottom line after missing the playoffs—unless they read all the way into the three-game gap that separated them from the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.

A Look Ahead at NBA’s Toughest Contract Decisions in 2018 Free Agency

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Signing NBA players to contracts worth tens of millions of dollars isn’t always easy. Go figure.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Some free-agency decisions are cakewalks. LeBron James deserves a max salary because he’s an honorary Avenger. The Golden State Warriors should have no issue paying Kevin Durant top dollar if he doesn’t feel like honoring coupons from billionaires because he’s almost as important to them as Stephen Curry.

Other high-profile instances aren’t as cut and dried. Some induce migraines and squandered sleep. A few seem genuinely unsolvable.nfl jerseys for cheap

Household names coming off their rookie-scale deals with undefined values are usually the most difficult. Teams are trying to reward them for what they’ve yet to do, which often entails paying them more than they’re worth. This offseason has plenty of those.

Impact role players ready for more responsibility and high-end talent working their way back from major injuries also fall under this umbrella. Some find themselves on teams grappling with depth-chart logjams and taxing salary obligations, and their futures are left hanging in the balance as a result.cheap nfl jerseys

These impending paydays represent the toughest to project. Never mind minor hiccups. We don’t care whether the Houston Rockets are keen on maxing out a then-33-year-old Chris Paul. The Orlando Magic won’t want to overpay Aaron Gordon (restricted), but he’s the closest they come to a viable cornerstone. nfl jersey cheap Matching an above-market offer is the least of their problems. Those decisions aren’t nearly difficult enough to make the cut.

Look instead to the more precarious situations. These players aren’t all hopeless flight risks, but their next deal is bound to be the subject of excruciating internal debates.

Boston Celtics: Aron Baynes

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This one’s easy, mostly because the Boston Celtics have a ready replacement for Aron Baynes, who started 67 times in 2017-18.

Baynes banged around just fine (and got banged on) in his 67 starts this past season, but Gordon Hayward is the man cheap nfl jersey Boston needs back in its first unit. Rather than bump rookie standout Jayson Tatum or breakthrough sophomore Jaylen Brown from the starting crew, why not slide Al Horford to the 5 full-time and trot out three interchangeable and ridiculously talented wings in between him and Kyrie Irving?
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“Twenty-eighteen will be my year. I will be back on the court,” Hayward told Lisa Pierpoint of Boston Common magazine.

And in one of the easiest corresponding developments, Baynes will be back on the bench.

This isn’t a knock on Spencer Dinwiddie, who emerged from nowhere to become one of the Brooklyn Nets’ most effective players in 2017-18. Instead, think of it as an endorsement of DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, Allen Crabbe and D’Angelo Russell. Those five should be the Nets’ first unit next year, which means Dinwiddie ought to wind up coming off the bench as a second-string spark.

As a point guard who can generate his own looks from deep and attack the basket,cheap authentic nfl jerseys  Dinwiddie (58 starts in 2017-18) could thrive against reserves. And though most remember his hot streak of game-winners and clutch play in January, he still only shot 38.7 percent from the field overall. If Russell is healthy, he should be the one running the show with the starters. Softer competition could help Dinwiddie boost his substandard scoring efficiency.

Brooklyn will have to reintegrate Jeremy Lin and find minutes for Caris LeVert, whose length, playmaking and versatility continue to make him a tantalizing prospect. That could mean Dinwiddie slips further down the depth chart than might seem fair for a player who contributed so much this season.cheap nfl jerseys from china

Look at it from a team perspective, though: If Dinwiddie isn’t starting anymore, it’ll probably signal that the Nets are getting better.

One Starter Every NBA Team Must Replace This Summer

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All 30 NBA teams want to get better, and though the path to improvement is complicated and context-dependent, one of the best ways to make a leap is to improve the starting lineup.

Because even the strongest starting fives have a weak link.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

And in the cases where messing with a truly great first unit seems ridiculous, we’ll get creative and search for ways to make the group more fun or more effective. In other words “must replace” will sometimes turn into “wouldn’t it be cool if…”

The criteria will shift for every team, because the 30 situations across the league are distinct heading into the summer of 2018. In the case of rebuilding clubs, it might make sense to replace a quality starter because he’s too costly or too old to fit into the organization’s big-picture timeframe. nfl jersey cheap For top-end clubs, the calculus will often be simpler: Which starter just isn’t producing enough in the short term?

Suggesting replacement doesn’t necessarily mean a team has to cut ties with the player in question either (though sometimes that’s exactly what we’ll suggest)nfl jerseys for cheap . In some situations, it just means a guy is better suited to coming off the bench.

In the long-ball era, your point guard just cannot shoot 29 percent from three-point range…unless your point guard has unusual skills in other areas (height, playmaking, defense, etc.) that make up for an inability to space the floor. We’re talking “Ben Simmons” levels of compensatory excellence.

Dennis Schroder is not Ben Simmons.

The five-year vet is a career 32 percent shooter from deep, which could mean last year’s woeful conversion rate was little more than a prolonged, mild slump. Or, it could mean that’s how effectively Schroder converts his treys when he’s the clear No. 1 option on his team.nfl jersey cheap

He wouldn’t be the first player to struggle while taking on added responsibilities.

Either way, the Hawks are in the earliest stages of a rebuild, and Schroder hasn’t shown enough in his five seasons to warrant consideration as a long-term piece. Especially for an Atlanta club that cut bait with Dwight Howard in part because of concerns about his personality. Schroder, owed $46.5 million cheap nfl jerseys over the next three seasons, could face felony battery charges stemming from an incident at a club on Sept. 29.

If Atlanta is really starting fresh, it should do so without Schroder as its first-unit point guard.

Kawhi Is Not Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan set the standard for what became known as “The Spurs Way,” which is understood to mean selfless sacrifice on and off the floor. The thinking went: if Duncan, arguably the best power forward of all time, set the bar high, everyone else would be held accountable. It worked—Duncan and the Spurs’ five NBA titles will attest.
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That extended to contract talks and taking less money than the max, or trusting the singular word of team doctors. The Spurs Way wasn’t challenged.

Leonard is the best Spur since Duncan was drafted in 1997. Though his stoic outward demeanor is similar to Duncan’s, the comparisons might end there.

The Spurs doctors have cleared Leonard, but he has sought second opinions from medical personnel outside the organization and hasn’t been cleared from the independent doctors.

“The ‘totally cleared’ part? The doctors are saying they feel you can’t harm the injury anymore if you play. Outside of a freak accident,” the executive said. “But if you don’t feel you are, it’s a mental part for these guys. That’s big.”5d9739c62748398af146d25311a379a4_crop_exactcheap nfl jerseys first

Leonard can be offered a “supermax” contract this summer, a five-year deal worth up to $219 million. But rival executives feel neither the Spurs’ offer nor Leonard’s accepting the offer is a certainty—thus the trickiness of the Spurs’ old-school ways and Leonard’s modern sensibilities.
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“As a player, potential free agent, that sticks a little to him,” the executive said. “If you rush him, you end up with Grant Hill in Orlando.”

Hill was one of the game’s five best players as a Detroit Piston, but he played on an ankle injury at the end of the 2000 season that should’ve sidelined him. It was the start of a cycle that robbed Hill of his prime years as he left Detroit for Orlando that summer. It took five years before he found his health again, and he turned into just a valuable role player as his career wound down.

One can assume Leonard doesn’t want to put himself in such a vulnerable position. Injuries to Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler and Irving are all leg issues—perhaps a byproduct of a changing game that requires more torque and cutting as offenses grow more sophisticated. It’s not a stretch to say Leonard, possibly the NBA’s best two-way player, needs his body at optimal condition to be the player he expects to be. nfl women jerseys

Jackie Robinson Didn’t Shut Up and Play Ball, so Why Should Today’s Athletes?

In America, April 15 is known as Tax Day. In America’s national pastime, it’s Jackie Robinson Day.

In this current sports era—a historic moment filled with protests and calls for athletes to “shut up and dribble,” it is especially important to remember the Jackie Robinson who was determined to use his platform to fight for civil rights. And the Jackie Robinson who embodied the message: “A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.”
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Some black-and-white photos and cinematic scenes from 42, starring Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa himself) as Robinson, would lead us to believe Jackie was a mild-mannered character who quietly tipped his hat to crowds yelling racial slurs at him—because for the early part of his career, he had to.

“They’re waiting for you in the jungles, black boy!” and “Hey snowflake, which one of those white boys’ wives are you dating tonight?” Phillies manager Ben Chapman jeered, per Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had It Made. Confrontations like these caused Robinson to bury his hostility and go home to his wife, Rachel, “tense and irritable, keyed up because [he] hadn’t been able to speak out.”ac518c79f9709de1e1b3b6ee920247e5_crop_exactcheap nfl authentic jerseys

Robinson wrote in the book that he was always careful about being publicly critical, because he knew “the minute I began to answer, to argue, to protest—the minute I began to sound off—I became a swellhead, a wise guy, an ‘uppity’ n—-r. When a white player did it, he had spirit. When a black player did it, he was ‘ungrateful,’ an upstart, a sorehead.”cheap nfl jersey

This wasn’t easy for Robinson, “a black man who never tolerated affronts to his dignity” prior to the major leagues. Not because Robinson wanted to get revenge, but because, as he later admitted, “I wanted to be Jackie Robinson,” the more authentic Robinson who emerged in the 1949 season.

Rachel Robinson said his shift in attitude wasn’t tied to any pledge, but to Jackie’s confidence in his standing and in the integration of MLB.nfl jersey cheap

“He had purchased the right to speak his mind many times over,” President Barack Obama said in Ken Burns’ 2016 documentary Jackie Robinson.

Robinson became more vocal regarding off-field issues like juvenile justice, communism and police brutality in African American communities.

He used his platform to advocate for black youth on the issue of juvenile delinquency. He hosted numerous sports camps at the Harlem YMCA, wrote various New York Post and New York Amsterdam News columns on the problem of youth crime and regularly called on athletes and celebrities to be more involved with organizations seeking to steer kids down the right path.

LeBron James’ 21-Game Win Streak in Round 1 Snapped in Cavaliers’ Loss to Pacers

Victor Oladipo posted 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals as the Indiana Pacers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-80 in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoff series on Sunday.

LeBron James, who won 21 straight games in the first round of the NBA playoffs leading into this series, had a triple-double for the Cavaliers thanks to 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
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The Pacers set the tone for the entire game with a dominant first half, which included a 33-14 Pacers lead after one quarter. Oladipo led the Pacers’ charge, posting 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals before halftime. The front-runner for Most Improved Player also hit four of five three-pointers, including this shot that put the Pacers up 50-34:
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Oladipo received help from his supporting cast, as Myles Turner (12 points), Bojan Bogdonavic (10 points) and Lance Stephenson (nine points) helped the team to a 55-38 halftime lead. The Pacers shot 47.6 percent from the field and made half of their 14 f cheap nfl jerseys irst-half threes.hi-res-bd1d88a5db0c19e1f5b2fffc2d23a1c5_crop_north

On the other side, it was a one-man show as James had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. He showcased his excellent ball-handling skills with this nifty move through the paint to bring the Cavs within 40-25 early in the second quarter:

No other Cavalier scored more than six points in the first half, and the team minus James shot just 10-of-31 from the field. Kevin Love led the team on the glass with eight rebounds.

The Pacers picked up where they left off in the third quarter as they took a 63-41 nfl jersey cheap  lead following a Thaddeus Young layup. Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports credited the Pacers’ energy:

However, the Cavaliers stormed back and ended the quarter on a 24-10 run. The key bucket was a Kevin Love 30-foot three-pointer to cut the deficit to 70-63:

Love was fouled on the play and missed the ensuing free throw, but the Cavs trailed by just eight heading into the fourth.

Once there, however, Oladipo continued his fantastic performance, scoring 10 points en route to helping the Pacers end the game on a 22-11 run.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer summed up Oladipo’s afternoon:
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For the Pacers, Turner finished with 16 points, while Bogdanovic and Stephenson added 15 and 12, respectively. Oladipo, Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph also combined for 12 steals.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers won nine more games than last year, defended well enough in some especially committed stretches to finish 12th overall on that end and got positive performances from just about every young player with a future on the roster.

And before you go burying Lonzo Ball for his busted shot, note that he posted the second-best DRPM among point guards, per ESPN.com, while also producing the highest on-court net rating of any Laker to log at least 1,000 minutes.

A pivotal summer awaits, but the 2017-18 regular season went about as well as could have been expected.

19. Detroit Pistons (19)

“Philadelphia is good, and everyone is praising the process, how great it was, but the process is based on being as bad as you can be, historically bad for as long as you can,” Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy lamented after his team finished four games out of a playoff spot with a 39-43 record. “If that’s the process and the accepted way to build a team in the NBA, then something needs to change.”
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Van Gundy isn’t the only coach to think this way, but he’s uniquely positioned as the leader of one of the teams stuck in the middle because it refuses to use the incentive structure the Sixers exploited.

With Detroit spinning its wheels over the next several seasons, locked into crippling deals for Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, its unwillingness to embrace a real rebuild will look awfully misguided.

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18. Washington Wizards (18)

The Washington Wizards must hope John Wall’s 29 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds against Boston on Tuesday are a harbinger of what’s to come. Because if they’re not, that means the blown leads, lazy defense and selfish offensive play that produced a 3-9 mark over their final dozen games will be.

It’s hard to find a playoff team that looks shakier than Washington.

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17. Los Angeles Clippers (17)

The Los Angeles Clippers lost six of seven to close out a transitional year but managed to stay alive in the playoff race until the season’s final week. Forty-two wins and a top-10 offense are nothing to be ashamed of for a team that used a league-high 34 starting lineups and gave nearly 2,000 minutes to players either called up on two-way deals from the G League or inked to 10-day contracts, per ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz.
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This was a big year for resiliency in L.A.

NBA Power Rankings: How All 30 Teams Stack Up at the End of 2017-18

How good are all 30 NBA teams?

That’s a more complicated question than you’d think because answering it means pricing in whatever extra gear we believe each team has while also taking into account its entire body of work from the 2017-18 regular season.

Mostly, we’re ranking on the usual basis: stats, recent play and health are the key factors. But since this is the last set we’ll publish ahead of the playoffs, we’ve also got to account for the more nebulous idea of switch-flipping.

That doesn’t mean these will read like a rundown of who’s got the best title odds, but there will be more “OK, deep down, how good do we know this team to be?” thinking than in previous editions.

Six months of power rankings highs and lows have led us to this.

It’s been emotional.

30. Phoenix Suns (30)

The Phoenix Suns closed out their season with a 124-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks that represented, easily, their largest margin of victory all year. In that contest, a gentleman named Alec Peters scored 36 points. Admit it: You’ve never heard of him.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Phoenix finished last in offensive and defensive efficiency and will hit the lottery with the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick.

Congratulations, Suns. You were the worst team in the NBA this season. Mission accomplished.

29. Memphis Grizzlies (28)602908e419aaf807d25d7f5717b891a1_crop_exactnfl jerseys for cheap

The Memphis Grizzlies also logged a victory this week, which would normally have been enough to get them upward momentum. But if this final edition is to be reflective of the season as a whole, the Grizzlies can’t be any better than second-to-last. They had two double-digit losing streaks in 2017-18, the longer of which spanned an incredible 19 games.

Bring on Luka Doncic!
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28. Chicago Bulls (26)

If not for that ridiculous 10-3 stretch to close out December, the Chicago Bulls would have handily won the race to the bottom. But because Nikola Mirotic led them on that improbable spurt before getting traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 1, they wound up with 27 wins and in a tie with the Sacramento Kings for sixth in the lottery odds.nfl jersey cheap

If we acknowledge the roster that accumulated that 10-3 streak doesn’t resemble the one that finished the season, it’s fair to drop the Bulls this low. Especially since they concluded the year with a minus-7.8 net rating, tied for second-worst with the Kings.

Western Conference Opening Round

1. Houston Rockets vs. 8. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Houston Rockets have been the NBA’s best team in 2017-18, and they should be almost impervious to any first-round matchups. Drawing the Minnesota Timberwolves is the least appealing option out of the candidates that existed during the season’s final week, but James Harden and Co. cheap nfl jerseys china still match up nicely against their opening foes.

Even with Jimmy Butler back on the court, the T-Wolves aren’t a great defensive team. They allow 105.1 points per 100 possessions when he’s logging minutes (the best mark of any rotation member), but that would still be just the No. 12 defensive rating in the season-long standings. Plus, Butler isn’t going to play 48 minutes per game throughout an entire postseason series, despite Tom Thibodeau’s enduring presence as Minnesota’s head coach. authentic nfl jerseys

A team with defense as its primary weakness isn’t going to topple the top-seeded juggernaut that’s climbed to its perch on the shoulders of historic offensive efforts. Harden and Chris Paul are going to have a field day, easily overcoming the absence of Luc Mbah a Moute as he tries to recover from a dislocated shoulder in time for the second round.nfl jerseys wholesale

Prediction: Rockets in five.b10b7f075e280e5ea410090f87232ccd_crop_exact

2. Golden State Warriors vs. 7. San Antonio Spurs

Watching the Golden State Warriors over the last few weeks, you get the sense they’re just biding their time and waiting to flip the proverbial switch at the most opportune moment. Injuries have decimated their rotation at times, but they still boast the services of three healthy wholesale nfl jerseys All-Stars in Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Beyond that, their bench is filled with useful veterans who understand their roles, as well as some high-upside youngsters. nfl jerseys china

But the Dubs aren’t the same without Stephen Curry, who isn’t likely to be available for this first-round clash with the San Antonio Spurs. On the season, they’ve notched a 2.9 net rating sans their star point guard (easily the worst mark on the roster), and that dropped to minus-2.7 since his second-to-last injury on March 8.

This is concerning. The defending champions are vulnerable until their floor general returns, no matter how impressive nfl jerseys from china Quinn Cook has been while capitalizing on this unforeseen opportunity.

However, the Spurs aren’t suited to pull off the upset. Head coach Gregg Popovich will milk as much production from his troops as humanly possible, but San Antonio is outclassed without Kawhi Leonard. It overachieved throughout the season with a roster filled of middling talents and downward-trending veterans, but it now has to deal with its leading offensive star (LaMarcus Aldridge) lining up against Golden State’s premier individual stopper (Green).