TIM REYNOLDS, AP basketball writer
A parade is expected in San Francisco in honor of the champion Golden State Warriors. With the NBA Draft just days away, presumed top three picks Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero are ready to take their first steps towards realizing their huge potential. Free agency starts in less than two weeks.
The 2021/22 NBA season has ended.
It looks like the 2022-23 NBA season is here.
The Warriors are back on top of the NBA mountain. Their victory over the Boston Celtics in this season’s finale capped the league’s 75th anniversary celebration and opened an off-season that, as always, will start with a huge focus on player movement – or, in some cases, players not moving.
Two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is eligible for a $260 million supermax extension from the Denver Nuggets; it’s basically a sure thing that it will be offered and accepted. Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns are both waiting for $210 million extensions, and neither will come as a surprise.
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In addition, there is a class of young players in line to receive their first post-rookie salaries: Ja Morant of Memphis, Tyler Herro of Miami, R. J. Barrett of New York and Darius Garland of Cleveland are just a few of the names in this group. So did New Orleans’ Zion Williamson, which would be an interesting case as he was healthy enough to play in just 85 games in his first three pro seasons and is constantly being asked about his fitness.
Zach Lavigne, who is expected to remain with the Chicago Bulls, leads the class of unrestricted free agents. Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal have player options for next season, each worth between $34 million and $43 million.
And then there’s LeBron James, who is about to start his 20th season — likely one in which he will overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — and will soon be eligible for a two-year extension with Los Angeles. The Lakers will be worth almost $100 million in 2023/24 and 2024/25.
“When we get to this point, then we’ll see,” James said as the Lakers season ended.
This point does not exist yet. But it’s coming.
According to the bookmaker FanDuel, The Warriors are favorites for the 2023 title ahead of the Celtics.
Brooklyn is third in odds released just after Game 6 of this year’s Finals, followed by the Milwaukee and Los Angeles Clippers, who will bring back Kawhi Leonard next season. Phoenix, Miami, Philadelphia, Memphis and Dallas round out the top 10 at odds published by FanDuel.
Of course, take any forecast right now with a grain of salt.
When last season ended, Brooklyn was the clear favorite to win the 2022 NBA. The Nets did not win the playoff game, losing to the Celtics in the first round.
The second choice of the bookmakers after last season was the Los Angeles Lakers. They didn’t even make the playoffs and fought in almost every possible way.
For reference, the Warriors had the top five odds of winning this year by most bookmakers, while last season ended roughly 12-1. The Celtics were in the middle of the rankings, about 40-1.
All 30 teams will be in Las Vegas from July 7 to 17 for the NBA Summer League, which – before the pandemic slowed down – used to draw large crowds and is hoped to return to it again this summer.
Before the Vegas league, there are two other smaller events organized by the Warriors and the Utah Jazz.
At league meetings in Las Vegas next month, the owners are expected to approve a new way of adjudicating the oft-maligned “transition foul” and to introduce tougher penalties for such games starting next season.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press earlier this month that he was confident the changes would be made. It’s a topic that the NBA and its competition committee have been studying for several seasons.
Since 2018, such fouls have been adjudicated in League G as follows: The fouled team retains possession of the ball and is entitled to one free throw before play restarts. A foul on a clear path results in two hits and a ball.
The only team without a head coach right now is the Utah Jazz, which has asked permission to interview several assistants from across the league.
Charlotte has yet to officially confirm the hiring of Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson as a new coach, but the deal will be announced now at any time. He is one of two Warriors assistants to leave the champions, with Mike Brown leaving to take over as coach of the Sacramento Kings.
The Houston guard hasn’t played this season while the Rockets have been trying to find a trading partner. It is possible that the same offer could be used at the same time next year.
Wall was selected to the NBA All-Star Game for five consecutive seasons from 2014 to 2018. Since the last of those picks 4 1/2 seasons ago, he’s played exactly 82 games—the equivalent of one NBA season—and earned $150. million in wages.
Wall has a $47.4 million option for next season, which he will almost certainly take as no team will give him anything even remotely close to that after his injuries – most notably heel surgery followed by Achilles surgery – in recent years.
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