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The NBA offseason has arrived Korey Toomer Color Rush Jersey , which means nothing will happen for the next four months other than a draft, three summer leagues, free agency, the creation of a new schedule, coaching hires, trades, roster reworkings and possibly movement toward letting high school graduates jump directly into the league again.

It all adds up to very little downtime.

There is no shortage of questions about what will happen this summer – leading off, of course, with yet another decision to be made by LeBron James about his future and where he’ll play next season as he resumes his quest for more championships.

Here are some non-James topics heading into the offseason:

KAWHI LEONARD

The mystery of the 2017-18 NBA season is the mystery of the offseason as well. Leonard played in only nine games for the Spurs this season while dealing with a leg injury, the specifics of which are a closely guarded secret even by San Antonio’s notoriously tight-lipped standards. He could get a supermax deal, he could get traded, he might still be hurt. But the Spurs – and the league – need answers, because he can change a lot of directions in a hurry.

COACHES

The vacancies in Detroit and Toronto should be filled soon. The Pistons might be best-served to hire Dwane Casey, who led the Raptors to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season. This is a crucial hire for the Raptors Jaleel Scott Color Rush Jersey , since whoever will be calling the shots next season will have a team that should be good enough to contend for the East title.

THE DRAFT

Arizona center Deandre Ayton will likely go No. 1 to Phoenix, which makes sense on a lot of levels. The intrigue really starts there. Does Vlade Divac use the No. 2 overall pick and bring Luka Doncic, the young Slovenian who has been talked about as a can’t-miss NBA star for some time, to Sacramento? What does Atlanta do at No. 3? Inevitably, someone will move up on draft night and that probably means an established player (or players) will be on the move.

GAMBLING

The Supreme Court ruling already has bets on games being placed in Delaware, and more states will be following suit soon. Expect the NBA to continue pushing for 1 percent of the action, which the league says is needed in part to cover what will be its new costs as far as protecting the integrity of the game and the players. It’s also unclear if injury reports will have to be more specialized in a betting world. Wouldn’t bettors have liked knowing LeBron James had a badly injured – he says broken – hand in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals?

OFFICIATING

The NBA knows fans, players and coaches aren’t thrilled with the level of officiating in the league right now. This will absolutely be a big topic – maybe the primary topic – when the board of governors meet in Las Vegas next month. Also, there will be a challenge-flag-type item tinkered with during summer league games; it won’t be a red cloth like in the NFL, but the concept will be the same as the league studies whether something like that should be added.

THE LAKERS

Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka should have about $62 million in cap space to go shopping with when free agency opens July 1 – including for James, meaning the Lakers could get transformed and become a playoff team again in a hurry. Expect them to use the No. 25 pick in the draft on a 3-point shooter, since no team can surround James with enough of those.

CHRIS PAUL AND PAUL GEORGE

Again, like so many other topics http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-sebastian-janikowski-jersey , the futures of Chris Paul and Paul George will probably have some impact on whatever James decides to do this summer – or vice versa. Paul wants a max contract, and if his hamstring didn’t pop late in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals he and the Houston Rockets may very well have been in the NBA Finals. George seemed to be hinting that he could stay in Oklahoma City, but is a Los Angeles native. It seems likely that either, or both, would try to align with James – but how?

THE PELICANS

Yes, the Pelicans. West semifinalists this season, New Orleans needs to decide what it wants to do with DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. The Pelicans have already given coach Alvin Gentry an extension , and keeping either Cousins or Rondo – or both – to play alongside Anthony Davis might make New Orleans a sleeper pick in the West next season. Question is, will Cousins be full-go coming off his Achilles injury.

THE HEAT

Dwyane Wade has been talking about retirement, and there’s been no indication yet if he’s anywhere near a decision. Miami is in a tough situation on the cash front – Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Goran Dragic and James Johnson will make nearly $78 million themselves next season – and the Heat wants to find a way to keep Wayne Ellington. What will Wade do? And if he stays, how much can the Heat pay him? Or do they make big trades and add some star power?

THE KNICKS

Two questions for the Knicks to figure out: Will they allow David Fizdale the time he needs to build the team he wants? And what will they do with Kristaps Porzingis this season? Give Fizdale time, and he’ll win in New York. But rushing Porzingis back off ACL surgery could be a most unnecessary risk for a team that isn’t going to contend next season anyway.



One team has a suffocating defense. The other has the NFL’s No. 1 unit.

Defense should win at least the NFC championship.

Two of the league’s elite defenses go at it Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) in the conference title game.

”They have a great defense Dorian O'Daniel Color Rush Jersey , we have a great defense,” Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said. ”Whoever is most complete will win.”

The Vikings allowed the fewest yards (275.9) and fewest points (15.8) per game. The Eagles were fourth in yards allowed (306.5) and fourth in points (18.4).

May the best defense reach the Super Bowl.

”Typically, when you’re good defensively, you’re going to stay in the ballgames,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. ”Then you have a chance to win them at the end.”

Minnesota has three Pro Bowl players on defense: end Everson Griffen, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Safety Harrison Smith and Rhodes are All-Pros.

”It’s just a smothering defense,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. ”(Griffen) is a game wrecker. They just mix it in. You don’t know necessarily what’s coming. Rhodes is a tremendous corner, safeties are playing extremely well.”

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins are Philadelphia’s Pro Bowl picks. Defensive end Brandon Graham had an excellent season and cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are solid.

Hearing about Minnesota’s defense all week is extra motivation for Philadelphia, which is a home underdog for the second straight game.

”When you’ve got the No. 1 defense coming in statistically, obviously, it fires us up,” Cox said. ”We know going into this game that whoever’s defense plays better is going to win the game. The way we’re prepared, we won’t change nothing that we do. We’ll just go out and be ourselves.”

Here are things to watch for in the NFC championship game:

BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS: Case Keenum and Nick Foles were teammates in St. Louis in 2015 and began this season as backups. Keenum had a breakout season for the Vikings after Sam Bradford was injured. Foles is 3-1 since MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Expect defenses to focus on the running backs and challenge the quarterbacks.

”We’ve got to make Nick Foles win the game,” Griffen said. ”We’ve got to make him win the game but we’ve got to stop the running game Olivier Rodrigue Oilers Jersey , affect him and give the ball back to our offense as much as possible so that they can score points.”

OWNING MINNESOTA: Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery has more catches (45), yards (685), and touchdowns (7) against the Vikings than he has against any other team. But Jeffery, who spent his first five seasons with the Bears, did most of his damage against other cornerbacks while also being the featured guy in Chicago’s offense. The Eagles spread the ball around, so Jeffery had only 789 yards receiving, but his nine TDs were the second most in his career. Jeffery, by the way, turned down more money in free agency from Minnesota to join the Eagles on a one-year deal. Philadelphia gave him a four-year, $52 million extension during the season.

BROTHERLY LOVE: The Kendricks family from Northern California is guaranteed to have a son playing linebacker in the Super Bowl. Eric Kendricks is in his third season with the Vikings, and Mychal is in his sixth year with the Eagles.

Eric had his best season with 136 tackles to lead the team for the third straight time, nine passes defended and one interception return for a touchdown. Mychal was fifth on the Eagles with 72 tackles in 2017, adding two sacks.

Both were second-round draft picks, Eric out of UCLA with the 45th overall selection in 2015 and Mychal from Cal with the 46th overall pick in 2012. Their father Adrian Clayborn Color Rush Jersey , Marvin, was UCLA’s leading rusher in 1970 and 1971 and went on to play in the CFL.

With both teams at the top of the NFC and both defenses at the top of the league all season, the two siblings have traded their share of friendly trash talk along the way. Family members have been known to wear split jerseys to support both players.

”I always make jokes: I feel like my brother gets a little bit of the advantage as far as who the family roots for, because he’s the first born,” Eric said. ”It’s all love, though.”

FIND THEIR FOOTING: The Eagles laid fresh sod between the hash marks this week to help improve the conditions at Lincoln Financial Field. The weather should help, with a dry forecast and expected temperatures in the 40s, but the Vikings have been preparing for the worst.

Zimmer had a video put together of Falcons players sliding and slipping on the field last weekend. Players have been encouraged to try seven-stud cleats in pregame

NOT YET: The Vikings are 0-3 against the Eagles in the postseason. Philadelphia won a wild-card game in Minnesota after the 2008 season and home games in the divisional rounds on the way to Super Bowl appearances following the 1980 and 2004 seasons. Minnesota has not been to the Super Bowl since 1977 and is 0-4 in them.



AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed.



AP NFL website: .
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