No. 1: Warriors' Kerr still out indefinitely -- Golden State has enjoyed its 11-day layoff, kicking back and preparing for the Western Conference semifinals while it waited for the winner of the Utah Jazz-LA Clippers series. As Game 1 of Jazz-Warriors looms tonight (10:30 ET, TNT), Golden State may be rested but it will still be without coach Steve Kerr. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com has more on how Kerr's health is faring of late:
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will continue to have medical tests and procedures this week at Stanford. He remains out indefinitely.
Kerr has been sidelined by symptoms, including migraines and nausea, related to complications from the back surgery he had almost two years ago.
Assistant coach Mike Brown will continue to act as head coach of the Warriors for Game 1 against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, as he did for Games 3 and 4 of the Warriors' first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
"I think the way we look at it is plan on him [Kerr] not coming back," Warriors forward Draymond Green told reporters. "That's the way we're approaching this thing ... Mike Brown is our coach, we have the rest of our staff, and that's who we're rolling with."
"We're gonna hope and pray that Steve gets better and can get back," Green said. "But at the end of the day, his health is more important than anything ... We know how bad he wanted to be here and how bad we would love for him to be here. But at the end of the day, he needs to take care of what he has to take care of.
"And whether that's this year or next year, then you know, we're ready. But we're gonna approach this entire thing as 'Steve isn't coming back.' And that's our approach for this entire playoffs until we hear otherwise."
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UPDATE, 7:08 p.m.: After making it more than clear he plans to play in Game 2, Markieff Morris has been listed as a starter in tonight's game.
Morris playing, starting for Wizards.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 2, 2017
No. 2: Morris says he'll play in Game 2 -- The Washington Wizards were at a disadvantage in Game 1 of their series with the Boston Celtics after Markieff Morris went down with an ankle injury in the first half. He missed the rest of the game and the Celtics dominated as the game went on in a 123-111 romp. Morris says he's doing better and vows he's going to play in Game 2 tonight (8 ET, TNT), writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
Markieff Morris has needed round-the-clock treatment after spraining his left ankle during the Washington Wizards‘ 123-111 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday afternoon. However, Morris announced he will be ready for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
“I’m playing tomorrow. It’s final,” Morris said with conviction Monday afternoon. “There’s nothing the doctors can say to me for me not to be able to play.”
Morris attempted a jump shot in the second quarter and landed on the foot of Celtics forward Al Horford. Morris immediately was in great pain and gingerly left the court. When asked if he felt Horford had undercut him — a dangerous play in which a player moves his foot to the landing spot of his opponent — Morris responded: “I’m not sure. I’m [going to] ask him though.”
“I’ve looked at it a couple times,” Morris said about the replay of the injury. “It’s not really that pretty so, couldn’t really watch it too much.”
Although Morris made his declaration to play in Game 2 while his ankle received shocks from an electronic muscle stimulator, he still sounded bold and clear. Wizards Coach Scott Brooks, however, expressed much more reticence while discussing Morris’s status.
He’s had treatments all day yesterday and last night and same thing this morning. Just see how he feels game to game,” Brooks said. “I don’t want to make any call on anything right now. I just know he’s going to get treatments all day today. I’m sure he’s going to do the same thing tomorrow.
“It’s a sprain and our medical team will all get together and do what’s best for him,” Brooks said, “but right now he’s out until we see how he feels tomorrow.”
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No. 3: Ainge amazed by Thomas' resilience -- Pick either of the on-court storylines Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas has endured -- a slow start in the first-round vs. Chicago, getting a tooth knocked out in Game 1 of the East semis vs. Washington -- and it would be something for a player to overcome. Yet those trials pale in comparison to Thomas losing his sister and attending her funeral as the playoffs were going on. None of what Thomas has endured has been lost on Celtics president Danny Ainge, writes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:
The loss of 22-year-old Chyna in a car accident has perhaps made peace unattainable, but the Celts have taken measures to make the logistics less of an issue.
And through it all — playing with grief, returning from Washington at 4 a.m. Sunday and leading the Celts to a Game 1 win over Washington in a 1 p.m. tipoff — Danny Ainge has gained even more respect and admiration. If that were possible.
The Celtics president of basketball operations was on the chartered jet out of Chicago following the series-clinching win against the Bulls with Thomas, his wife, Kayla, and son, Jaiden.
“It was a good trip,” Ainge said after yesterday’s practice. “We were trying to get Isaiah to sleep on the way out, because we knew it would be a long day. So we didn’t talk much. We just talked a little bit about the game and talked a little bit about Chyna, but most of it was him sleeping, trying to get as much rest as he could.”
Assistant coach Jerome Allen took a commercial flight out to the services Saturday morning, and that night Ainge was the one who went commercial and gave up his seat on the private plane to Allen on the way back to Boston. Everyone could have fit, but not in a way that would have allowed them room for rest.
“I wanted Isaiah and Jerome to get as much rest as they could for the game,” Ainge said. “I flew back commercial. I think I got back a little earlier, but they were more comfortable and able to stretch out and sleep on their plane.”
But even with the accommodations the Celtics have made, there is no way to fully comprehend how Thomas has been able to play through this emotional pain — let alone the fact he went for 33 points and nine assists Sunday in the Game 1 win against the Washington Wizards while sleep-deprived.
Ainge has witnessed a lot in more than 30 years around the NBA. But this?
“I’ve seen a lot of people go through a lot of challenges and adversity in life, and I think what makes Isaiah’s situation really hard is, I mean, he’s under such a microscope already as a person,” Ainge said. “Everything is public — from right when he finds out to everyone knowing every detail of how he’s mourning and how he’s dealing with his issues. That’s hard in its own right, just to deal with everything so public. But I think it’s been amazing how well he’s dealt with everything and how he’s tried to inspire his teammates and not miss any games and just to fight through it the best way he can. I think it’s been very impressive, even all the way up to speaking at his sister’s funeral. He did a great job. He’s done magnificent in every facet.”
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No. 4: Presti 'hopeful' Westbrook will sign new extension -- Just a summer ago, Russell Westbrook signed a contract extension to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thanks to the new NBA collective bargaining agreement, Westbrook is eligible to sign a longer-term extension, something he said he hasn't thought much about yet. The Thunder front office has and GM Sam Presti discussed that and more yesterday, writes Royce Young of ESPN.com:
With another summer of uncertainty on the horizon, Thunder general manager Sam Presti is "hopeful" the franchise can sign point guard Russell Westbrook to a new long-term extension.
"The rules are that you can't have that conversation until July 1, and you know, when that time comes, we'll sit down, we'll have conversations with him about what that opportunity presents," Presti said Monday at his end-of-season availability. "And you know, we're obviously hopeful that he remains really excited about being a part of this organization for the remainder of his career."
Because of changes in the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, Westbrook will be eligible for a Designated Player Extension -- a five-year, $217 million "supermax" that will make him the highest-paid player in league history. Last summer, Westbrook signed a three-year, $85 million extension with the Thunder one month to the day after All-Star Kevin Durant departed for the Golden State Warriors.
Westbrook has a player option on the final year of that contract, though, enabling him to enter unrestricted free agency next summer. Should he turn down the Thunder's extension offer this summer, alarm bells will sound and the franchise will have to look at other options, which would include trading the potential MVP winner. That is a move, however, Presti said he hasn't considered.
"Let's not think so far ahead," Presti said. "Let's just see where the information takes us. I understand the question. I think the biggest thing is, we had that conversation with Russell last year, and you know, he was really clear, and it worked itself out. So before we get all the way down the road on what if, what if this happens, what if that happens: Again, that's one of those things where we're talking about a very complex question, a very complex situation with a lot of moving parts, and looking for, like, a simple answer to that."
"So let's just have the conversation, see where it goes," Presti added. "I think everybody knows how we feel about him. He's a transcendent player. I think he's a futuristic player. I think he's a tremendous competitor, and we're fortunate to have him. We'll have a conversation, and hopefully it goes our way."
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Stephen Curry is dedicating the Golden State Warriors' playoff run to the memory of a young fan ... The Houston Rockets nailed 22 3-pointers last night ... Ranking the free-agent point guards in this year's class ... The Utah Jazz have built a team ready to contend for years to come out West ... Jazz forward Derrick Favors (back) is questionable for Game 1 tonight ... The results of the Big3 League draft are in ... The Oklahoma City Thunder have decisions to make about Andre Roberson and Nick Collison this summer ...