• The Warriors and Pelicans are surging while the Sixers take a one-game lead in their series versus the Heat. Nikola Mirotic goes berserk. Again. A masked hero returns from injury to carry his team to a key win for a series lead. All that and more in this edition of the Daily Dish.

    The Man in the Carbon Fiber, Kevlar-reinforced Mask

    A masked Joel Embiid returned to action on Thursday and helped power the Sixers to a 128-108 victory over the Heat with 23 points and a full line. Not only did he return with a bang, but Embiid took it to Hassan Whiteside and got him into foul trouble, which hampered his ability to make an impact in the game. Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double and Dario Saric continued on his scoring tear with his fourth straight 20-plus point game.

    Robert Covington was a quiet but still stuffed stat sheet, nonetheless. Marco Belinelli was a one-man wrecking crew off the bench with 21 points and a buttload of threes.

    Goran Dragic, James Johnson, and Justise Winslow stepped up for the Heat. Dragic scored a team-high 23 points while Winslow dropped a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double. Johnson cashed in with some money counters with both Whiteside and Olynyk left pretty much ineffective for most of the game.

    The Sixers stay in South Beach for Game 4 with the Heat needing to pull out a rabbit out of a hat for what is essentially a must-win game.  While I’d like to see this series go the distance, I expect the Sixers to close this one out in six.

    Pelicans Go Airborne, Bombard Blazers

    The Pelicans are on the verge of an upset-sweep of the Blazers after taking them down in Game 3 119-102. Nikola Mirotic was the main protagonist of this chapter, dropping 30 points on a blistering 12-of-15 shooting from the field and a phat stat line with zero turnovers. Talk about the Blazers’ poor perimeter defense. Ouch! As expected Anthony Davis dropped an impressive 28-11 double-double and five combined steals and blocks, while the Pels’ backcourt duo of Rondo and Holiday chipped in 16 points apiece.

    Jusuf Nurkic was clearly hampered by both his leg contusion and foul trouble. Yeah, Anthony Davis browbeat him all over the court (pun intended). The trio of Lillard, McCollum, and Aminu scored 20 points or more, apiece, but the Blazers’ bench was largely ineffective against what the Pelicans brought to the table.

    My take, the Pelicans clean up this series with a sweep. They’re simply that sharp right now.

    No Curry Needed to Spice Things Up

    Speaking of impending sweeps, the Warriors are now 3-0 over the Spurs after claiming Game 3 110-97. Still without Stephen Curry (knee), Kevin Durant spearheaded the Warrior’s offense with 26 points, nine rebounds and six dimes. Klay Thompson chipped in with 19 markers, while Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala added 10 points each. KD did roll his ankle and left the game in the fourth quarter, so there is that glimmer of hope for a last stand at the Alamo. Durant still expects to play on Sunday so the Spurs will have to muster up some extra mojo to topple Warriors.

    The Dubs played to their strengths and not even an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double from LaMarcus Aldridge was not enough to carry the Spurs. Tony Parker miraculously turned back the clock with 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench, but the Basketball Gods were not able to bless his team with an upset.

    The Dubs should close this one out 4-0.

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi Leonard - SF - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Stein of the New York Times is reporting that Kawhi Leonard is strongly considering signing a two-year, $70 million deal to remain with the world champion Raptors.

    Leonard is being courted by nearly every team in a major market after his championship run with the Raptors, and he is expected to meet with the Clippers next week. It has been suggested that signing a two-year deal with a player option in the third year would hold appeal for Leonard, since he would then be eligible for a higher maximum contract in the summer of 2021, after completing his 10th season. Kawhi averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 60 regular-season games with the Raptors and he should maintain the same value regardless of where he lands.

    Source: Marc Stein

  • Klay Thompson - SG - Golden State Warriors

    All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson would be open to a meeting with the Clippers should the Warriors not offer him a max-level contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Thompson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will undergo surgery later this week while Warriors general manager Bob Myers said it’s unclear when he will return. Thompson’s father, Mychal Thompson, told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month that there’s “no question” Klay will re-sign with the Warriors. The 29-year old shooting guard averaged 21.5 points and 3.5 rebounds during the regular season and along with Steph Curry and Draymond Green, has been an integral part of the Warriors’ core that has reached the Finals five straight times.

    Source: ESPN

  • DeMarcus Cousins - C - Golden State Warriors

    Free agent center DeMarcus Cousins is among the players on the Knicks’ radar, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

    Cousins, 28, is coming off a one-year stint with the Warriors, where he averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, but he was limited to just 30 regular-season games. New York is still holding out hope for Kevin Durant but if he doesn’t come to the Big Apple, the Knicks clearly have others on their radar as sort of contingency plans and Boogie is one of them. Spears also reported that the Knicks have their eyes on Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and DeAndre Jordan.

    Source: Marc J. Spears

  • Kevin Durant - SF - Golden State Warriors

    Appearing on ESPN last night, Adrian Wojnarowski said that the Nets plan to offer Kevin Durant, a four-year max contract.

    Brooklyn is in a great position to offer Kyrie Irving a max contract and then use that to pursue KD or perhaps another free agent. Zach Lowe added that the idea of Kyrie as a solo doesn’t appear to be the plan but the Nets would ultimately take on Irving as a solo act, although there would probably be a divide within the organization. KD is expected to miss the majority of the next season but it looks like teams won’t have any second thoughts offering him the max.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski

  • Bobby Portis - PF - Washington Wizards

    Tony Jones and Fred Katz of The Athletic are reporting Bobby Portis is looking for as much as $16 million in free agency and has interest from multiple teams.

    According to Jones and Katz, the Wizards aren't expected to match a huge offer sheet on Portis. As a restricted free agent, the Wiz declining to match would allow him to go elsewhere. The Utah Jazz have been a team at the top of the list on the rumor mill. Portis averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in 28 games for the Wiz last season.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter

  • Nikola Vucevic - C - Orlando Magic

    Per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, the Mavs like how Nikola Vucevic fits alongside Kristaps Porzingis, but his expected salary would cost too much for the Mavs to sign.

    The Mavs will enter free agency with a ton of cap space, but after the expected max contract that they'll extend to Porzingis, they may be more inclined to spread the wealth around or target Kemba Walker than committing a max contract to Vucevic. Vucevic had a career year as an All-Star for the Magic this past season, but his next destination remains a crapshoot.

    Source: Dallas News

  • Jimmy Butler - SG - Philadelphia Sixers

    Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets' ideal plan in free agency is to get Jimmy Butler by a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers.

    Butler is going to be a sought after commodity once free agency opens as the Sixers, Lakers, and others are also going to be looking to ink him to a long-term deal. Butler regained his level back to max contract level after his play during the playoffs this season. The Rockets don't have any cap space to sign Butler outright, so they'll have to get a commitment from him to take a pay cut, while also getting the Sixers to agree to help facilitate a deal. This is going to be interesting.

    Source: ESPN

  • Khem Birch - C - Orlando Magic

    The Magic have extended qualifying offers to C Khem Birch and F Amile Jefferson, rendering both restricted free agents ahead of free agency which is set to begin on June 30th.

    Birch, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game this past season, is seemingly a priority for the Magic to bring back, and now they'll get the opportunity to match any contracts he may fetch from other teams. Jefferson was in the G-League for the majority of the season, where he was very productive. Both may take on larger roles, should they stay with the Magic, as star C Nikola Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent.

    Source: Magic PR on Twitter

  • JR Smith - SG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers could eventually take a look at signing J.R. Smith should he be released by the Cavs, or traded and bought out by another team.

    Smith is likely to become a free agent one way or the other by the end of the month, and the Lakers will be looking at cheap floor-spacers to fill out their roster. Smith and LeBron James are familiar with one another after winning a championship together with the Cavs, and it looks like Smith to the Lakers is a real possibility.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Kristaps Porzingis - PF - Dallas Mavericks

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the Mavs will meet with restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) once free agency opens on June 30th, and the team will offer him the full five-year, $158 million max contract.

    This was expected ever since the Mavs traded for Porzingis mid-season while he recovered from his knee injury. Porzingis is fully expected to sign with the Mavs and become reigning ROY Luka Doncic's running mate for the foreseeable future.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter