Johnson explains his abrupt resignation from Lakers

Before the Los Angeles Lakers’ final game of the 2018-19 season, Magic Johnson stunned the team and the NBA world at large by stepping down as the team’s president of basketball operations. More than a month later, Johnson appeared on ESPN and said that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was the one who was “backstabbing” him.

Johnson did not hold back on “First Take” this morning, saying that Pelinka had circulated talk within the Lakers that Johnson was not working hard or showing up at the office enough. Upon stepping down from his role on April 9, Johnson alluded to the fact he was tired of “all the backstabbing” and “whispering” going on within the Lakers organization. 

The Lakers hired Johnson and Pelinka within weeks of each other in the spring of 2017. In his interview Monday on “First Take,” Johnson said he and Pelinka worked well initially as

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Reports: Connelly opts to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly will apparently be back where he was last season: serving as president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets.

Connelly had interviewed for the Washington Wizards’ president of basketball operations vacancy, but has reportedly decided to stay with the Nuggets, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and NBCSportsWashington.com’s Chris Miller. Connelly played a significant role in Denver’s post-Carmelo Anthony rebuild, which included the drafting of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray as well as signing Paul Millsap in free agency. 

Can confirm per a source that Tim Connelly will stay in Denver. First reported by @wojespn. I’m told he has unfinished business in Denver. #DCFamily#NBA

— Chris Miller 🎥🎙🏀 (@cmillsnbcs) May 20, 2019

Per Wojnarowski, Nuggets team president Josh Kroenke made an aggressive case to keep Connelly once the Wizards extended him an offer over the weekend. With Connelly out of the mix in D.C., the Wizards are expected to turn

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2019 NBA Awards: Categories & Nominees

The 2019 NBA Awards will air on June 24 on TNT.

Fan Vote

Vote for House of Highlights Moment of the Year

Featured Awards

Kia NBA Most Valuable Player

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden, Houston Rockets

Kia NBA Rookie of the Year

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Kia NBA Sixth Man Award

Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Lou Williams, LA Clippers

Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Giannis Antetokounmpo,  Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George,  Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Kia NBA Most Improved Player

De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

NBA Coach of the Year

Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets
Doc Rivers, LA Clippers

NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Donovan Mitchell, Utah

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Reports: Wolves, Saunders nearing multi-year deal

Minnesota Timberwolves interim coach Ryan Saunders is reportedly set to take on that job full time.

The team and Saunders are ironing out the details to make him the permanent coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. Per ESPN, the deal is expected to be completed soon. Saunders is working on rounding out his coaching staff. Wolves GM Gersson Rosas had reportedly interviewed several candidates recently for Minnesota’s coaching job, but has apparently settled on keeping Saunders in that role.

Ryan Saunders and Minnesota are nearing agreement on a multi-year deal to make him the Timberwolves coach, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2019

Deal is expected to be completed soon, sources tell ESPN. Saunders is working on a staff. Gersson Rosas met with candidates at Draft Combine but search turned back to Saunders, the interim coach. https://t.co/VcwzUdb8xa

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May

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D'Antoni says he wants to coach at least three more seasons

Coach Mike D’Antoni has led the Houston Rockets through one of their most successful eras as a legitimate NBA title contender. As he enters the final year of his contract, D’Antoni isn’t looking to step back from coaching anytime soon.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, D’Antoni and the Rockets’ front office have had preliminary talks about a contract extension that would keep D’Antoni from entering the final year of his deal. D’Antoni said he told both Houston’s owner Tillman Fertitta and its general manager Daryl Morey that he intends to keep coaching the team for at least three more seasons, per Wojnarowski.

“I’ve let Daryl and Tilman know that I’m energized to keep coaching — and believe that I can continue to do this at a high level for at least another three years,” the 68-year-old D’Antoni told ESPN on Sunday night. “I want to be a part of a championship here.”

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For the Raptors, Game 3 came down to their will to survive

3:10 AM ET

TORONTO — Nothing in the NBA playoffs goes off as planned.

Lineup rotations can be tweaked and defensive coverages can be refined, but no matter how much preparation has been performed, the crucial minutes of a playoff game are nothing more than a desperate exercise in survival. Every possession is a fire drill, and few of them resemble the inspired plays drawn up on crisp whiteboards by basketball brainiacs when all is at peace.

For the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night, fighting for their postseason lives, unforeseen circumstances were the norm. Kawhi Leonard landed awkwardly in the first quarter with questions swirling throughout the game about his condition.

Find everything you need to know about the playoffs here.

Schedules, matchups and more
Experts’ picks for conference finals
Bucks should not be a surprise to anyone
The coach who unlocked Steph’s

Giannis: 'I never expected this series to be easy'

3:03 AM ET

Malika AndrewsESPN

TORONTO — These are the nights when Giannis Antetokounmpo frets.

Through the first three quarters of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Antetokounmpo scored just six points. He finished with 12 total. He missed two key free throws in the first overtime and fouled out less than a minute into the second overtime. He committed eight turnovers in all.

The Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Toronto Raptors 118-112 to drop there series lead to 2-1. Antetokounmpo doesn’t accept performances like that. He is as allergic to losing as Khris Middleton is to pine nuts.

“It is a culture we’ve built as a team,” Antetokounmpo told ESPN after the game. “We don’t like losing. We know we are two games away from the NBA Finals. We cannot jump steps. We have to do it a game at a time, a play

Kawhi shrugs off leg issue after win: 'I'm good'

2:06 AM ET

Tim BontempsESPN

TORONTO — So much of this season for Kawhi Leonard has been spent on the topic of load management.

Well, load management went out the window Sunday night.

With his Toronto Raptors‘ season on the line, Leonard played a career-high 52 minutes — almost all of them coming after he landed awkwardly on a layup in the first quarter. And he put up his latest stellar line, finishing with 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead Toronto to a 118-112 victory in double overtime against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The win got the Raptors back into the series, as they now trail 2-1 in this best-of-seven affair — thanks mostly to Leonard’s latest heroics, which came exactly a week after he kept Toronto’s season alive here with his miraculous buzzer-beater to close

Leonard stars in Raptors' Game 3 adjustments

TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard has grown into one of the best offensive players in the world, a machine that ranks second in this postseason in scoring (32.0 points per game), with an ultra-efficient true shooting percentage of 65.5 percent (third-best among players with at least 50 postseason field goal attempts).

But what makes Leonard truly special is how good he can be on both ends of the floor … in the playoffs … having played more than 50 minutes … while hobbled by a leg injury … and with his team’s season on the line.

The Toronto Raptors are still alive in the Eastern Conference finals, having escaped with a 118-112, double-overtime victory in Game 3 on Sunday. They’re still alive because Marc Gasol finally made the shots the Milwaukee Bucks have been daring him to shoot all along, because Pascal Siakam had his best game of the series, and because Fred VanVleet and Danny Green

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Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday, he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could.

His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it.

Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit.

Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise

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