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OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry will likely make his much-anticipated postseason debut Tuesday for Game 2 of the Golden State Warriors‘ second-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Warriors are officially listing Curry as probable.

Coach Steve Kerr said Curry will not be on a minutes restriction.

“I feel like he’s in a pretty good place to come back right now,” Kerr said.

Golden State won Game 1 123-101 over New Orleans.

It has been just more than five weeks since Curry, a two-time MVP, suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, forcing him to miss 15 games. The plan all along was for him to make a return at some point during the semifinal round.

“He’ll want to get his legs underneath him,” Kerr said after practice. “So we’ll try to find that balance between being cautious and letting him go a little bit.”

Curry has participated fully in four consecutive practices. He had wanted to give it a go for Game 1.

“If it were up to me, I would have played for about 20 minutes tonight,” Curry told ESPN after the Warriors’ victory on Saturday. “The plan is to return Tuesday, but ultimately it’s up to the training staff. I feel good.”

Through 51 games in the 2017-18 season, the All-Star point guard averaged 26.4 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3-point range.

“I expect him to be who he is,” Kevin Durant said Monday. “I’m not saying it’s guaranteed to happen. But he puts in the work and prepares himself right when he’s put in that position, so when he comes out and he plays well it’s not a surprise to me at all.”

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As the San Antonio Spurs attempt to salvage their relationship with Kawhi Leonard, there is reportedly belief within the organization that the star’s camp is aiming to get him more into the national spotlight.

Per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright, multiple league sources revealed San Antonio believes Leonard’s group wants him to play in a bigger market, such as Los Angeles, New York or Philadelphia. That could lead to a trade demand as Leonard enters the final year of his contract.

A quadriceps injury limited Leonard to just nine regular-season games this past season, and the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Spurs in five games in the opening round of the 2018 NBA playoffs.

Leonard missed the first 27 games of the season due to the injury and was eased back into action when he returned. However, after just nine appearances over a 17-game stretch, he did not play after Jan. 13.

He averaged 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game this season.

The injury lingered over the team the rest of the season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Wright reported the seventh-year forward had been “distant” and “disconnected” from San Antonio. Following that, ESPN’s Jalen Rose reported Leonard wanted a trade.

Wright noted last week that “an all-hands-on-deck summer meeting” with Leonard is a priority for the Spurs this offseason. As a $200-million-plus max contract offer could soon loom, the organization wants to see if the two sides can work things out or if the relationship is beyond repair.

Among Leonard’s complaints in San Antonio, per the New York Daily News‘ Frank Isola, is that he wants coach Gregg Popovich to “lighten up a little with practice and tweak some things.”

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Tune in Mon-Fri @7pm

White Sox 8, Royals 0 / Royals 5, White Sox 2

Tim Anderson is very popular among players – White Sox players. Others around the game continue to take issue with him.

The latest came in Saturday’s nightcap. The exuberant Anderson led off the game with a home run and hollered as he broke out of the box. Royals catcher Salvador Perez took exception.

After Anderson touched home, Perez said he told Anderson: “I’ve hit some homers, too. I keep running the bases. I don’t get loud like you. That’s the only thing I tell him. Keep doing what you’re doing, bro. Have fun. It’s a game, you know. That’s it. He was mad about that.”

A relaxed Anderson said after the game: “I’m a leadoff guy so my job is to get my teammates going. It’s not about them, it’s about my teammates. I play the game with a lot of energy, lot of confidence. Just having fun.”

After Perez reached second base in the bottom of the inning, he and Anderson got close enough to rate each other’s breath. Both benches emptied but there was no pushing or shoving. And, eventually, the two shook hands.

“For my side, I think it’s over,” Perez said. “I’m not the kind of guy (to say): We’re gonna hit you. No, no, no. I don’t want him to do it again (or) we have to make some decisions. He can come in (Sunday) and play hard and have fun. We’re going to have fun, too. I don’t think we have any problem. What happened tonight is done. We have to be professional.”

Abraham Almonte then hit a grounder that Anderson could not handle; it was ruled a hit because Anderson got screened. The Kauffman Stadium crowd howled in delight at the miscue.

After Eric Skoglund struck out Anderson in the third, the two looked at each other. Anderson shook his head while walking back to the dugout.

Perhaps the Royals are still steamed from Opening Day when Anderson had the nerve to enjoy hitting two home runs.

Pitchers Justin Verlander and Marcus Stroman also have taken offense to Anderson, with Stroman saying in August: “I don’t understand why he would be running his mouth walking back to the dugout. It made zero sense to me.”

A lot of the unwritten rules regarding celebrations make zero sense to fans.

Sunday was a quiet, leisurely day at the Milwaukee Bucks’ Sports Science Center. The basketball courts and weight room were unusually barren while many sets of eyes were glued on the day’s NBA playoff games.

Just 24 hours prior, the Bucks were part of the playoff picture. Then, with a Game 7 loss Saturday night to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, Milwaukee was subtracted from the championship equation.

Instead of heading to Philadelphia, the team returned home for a final day of physicals and exit interviews before heading their separate ways for the summer.

“If you’re asking me do I still want to be playing, heck yeah,” Bucks coach Joe Prunty said when asked if Milwaukee’s 44-38 season followed by a first-round exit was a disappointment. “And would I want to be playing until June? Yeah. Absolutely. There’s no question there. …

“I’m sure there will be people that label it as a disappointment, but those people might also be people who don’t look at growth in a lot of things. For us, I think there are a lot of positives to take from it.”

With Saturday’s loss, the Bucks have unwillingly been thrust into the off-season, one that is full of critical decisions for the franchise as it prepares to move into its new arena next door to its now-former home, the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Among the numerous choices the Bucks must make are who will man the sideline as the team’s head coach next season and how will Milwaukee handle the restricted free agency of forward Jabari Parker.

Prunty inherited the position of head coach when the Bucks decided to fire coach Jason Kidd in January, citing his lack of production with a talented roster that was just one game over .500 prior to Kidd’s removal. With Kidd out, Prunty, his top assistant, was given the reins for the remainder of the season.

Under Prunty, the Bucks closed the season with a 21-16 record to finish as the No. 7 seed in

Paul George is set to become one of the most highly coveted free agents this summer. Several teams are expected to be in pursuit of the superstar, and after the way things ended this season with the Thunder, there is reason to believe he could be on the move. 

Here are the four best destinations for George:

Philadelphia 76ers

If Playoff P wants to become Finals P he needs to become a 76er. If George is your best player, the chances of winning a title are slim to none, but as a third option on a team like this, the chances are no longer slim. Even as the C-option, George may turn out to be the one they go to late in games until (if ever) Ben Simmons develops a jump shot.

The 76ers should be one of, if not the favorite, to win the East next season, and with George they can own the conference for years. The Big 3 in Oklahoma City was a failed experiment; George, Simmons, and Joel Embiid could become the most unguardable Big 3 in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers 

The Lakers have always felt like the ideal fit for George since he made it clear that he would “love” to play for his hometown team and listed the Lakers as a place he wanted to be traded to last summer.

Whether he would be joined by LeBron James or not, the purple and gold would be a natural fit for George. Without LeBron, it would be the return of the Indiana PG13 as the primary scoring option. With LeBron, George will get the opportunity to compete for championships.

Going home is one thing, playing with a pass-first point guard in Lonzo Ball and a young talented roster is another. Oh, and it is Los Angeles.

San Antonio Spurs

This move will require several moving parts, but with Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs severely damaged, this trade scenario could satisfy all sides. If George is willing to commit to a sign-and-trade, a deal that involves the Spurs and Leonard is ideal. The Spurs can provide him with the best coach in the NBA, an unmatched system, and a ticket to be Batman on the River Walk.

Unless Leonard’s injury is career-threating, what better return can the Thunder receive? Even if the Thunder cannot get Leonard to sign an extension on their end, they have shown before they have no problem renting and hoping.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Of course, resigning with the Thunder cannot be ruled out. After all, the Thunder do own George’s Bird Rights and can potentially offer him a five-year deal worth $207.4 million. Along with the most money, familiarity, and minimal pressure, the Thunder’s GM Sam Presti has proven to be one of the best in the business. If Presti has both George and Russell Westbrook locked up, the smart money is on him providing them with a more than reasonable supporting cast.

The issue, however, is that Westbrook is difficult to play with on the court and the Thunder cannot even think about a championship as long as Carmelo Anthony is around.

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Jimmy Butler (23) reacted after hitting a three-pointer during the third quarter of Game 3.

With Andrew Wiggins already signed (for better or worse) to a maximum contract, the Timberwolves now aim themselves after their first playoff season since 2004 toward a summer in which they must decide if and how they can sign All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns to similar deals as well.

When or if they do, they also must determine how they can assemble a competitive roster around a team that would dedicate most of its rising payroll to three players.

Could they create some flexibility to improve their three-point shooting and defense by trading backup center Gorgui Dieng, who has three years and more than $48 million left on a contract that looked reasonable in October 2016 when money was flooding into the salary cap from a massive new TV deal and Dieng still was a productive starter. Now it’s a commitment few teams would be willing to make.

Might they try to trade Wiggins and his deal worth at least $146 million before it even begins this next season? Guaranteed such a big contract last fall, Wiggins delivered a season in which he said he “learned a lot” while learning how to play with Butler on the perimeter. He also said, “I don’t think I had the best season,” a statement some Wolves fans consider the euphemism of the year.

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor calls decisions to sign both Butler and Towns “big issues” about which he wants to give himself, coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden time to ponder after their just completed 47-victory season and the next season ahead before they start making such big decisions.

“Well, we’re working on it,” Taylor said.

From there, the Wolves must decide whether to re-sign veteran guard Derrick Rose, a Thibodeau favorite who was effective in the playoffs. And can they afford to keep upcoming restricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica, who intrigued at least two NBA teams with money to spend this summer when he became a starter after Butler sustained a February knee injury and played well.

“I don’t know what I can say right now,” Bjelica said after Wednesday’s Game 5 loss. “I hope I will stay here. We will see. We had bad luck to play against Houston in the first round, but we have a great group of people here. First time in playoffs in 14 years is very important for us. I like it here.”

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford has a player option for next season and said he won’t begin to contemplate that decision until he decompresses from this past season. Backup point guard Tyus Jones, a member of Towns’ 2015 draft class, will be eligible to sign a contract extension this summer, and little-used veteran center Cole Aldrich can be paid off $2 million of the nearly $7 million owed him next season if he is waived by June 20.

 

He’s the reigning NBA MVP. He’s the first player in Association history to average a triple-double in consecutive seasons. Russell Westbrook’s personal accomplishments stand among the game’s greatest.

The Oklahoma City Thunder should still seriously consider trading the guard this summer after yet another postseason letdown for the squad. You read that right. An organization that Russ helped put on the NBA map following its move from Seattle should relieve itself of the future Hall of Famer.

 

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It seems pretty ridiculous on the surface. Relevance in the NBA is an important thing, especially for those in a small market. Just ask Milwaukee before Giannis or this year’s version of the Memphis Grizzlies. Having star power is needed to lift up a small market.

That’s the economic situation here. On the court, Russ and his Thunder have failed to do anything of substance during the most important time of the season: The NBA Playoffs.

This year saw OKC go down in six games to a much less-talented Utah Jazz team in the first round. That series was only extended beyond a fifth game due to Westbrook’s own performance. And thus tells us a story of the Thunder under his watch.

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