FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS: 1. NBA FINALS PREDICTION - Spurs in 7: A major percentage of folks are rooting for the Spurs - so am I - yet, I feel that when its all said and done, both of these teams are pretty even when you compare/contrast their strengths and weaknesses. I do think the Spurs have a preparation edge, having had to play the tougher competition all season on a more nightly basis in both the regular season and playoffs in the Western Conference, and it helps that theyve gone through the fire on a more consistent basis. The Heat have the better "Big 3" from a talent perspective and the best player on the planet in LeBron James. Tony Parkers health status concerns me for San Antonio. So many variables that you can toss around and argue over, which Ive done, but Im just going to go with my gut here and take the Spurs. Last years series was terrific and I hope and think that this one will be even better. Enjoy! 2. RANDY WITTMAN (Wizards): A job well done in getting his team to the second round and figuring out how to win which led to a well deserved contract extension. This team was always a bit of a tease the past few years, yet Wittman pushed them to the next level and got nice buy in from them on how the game should be played. Now, they have to try and keep Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza who are both free agents. Regardless, I think the future is bright and on solid ground due to the leadership of Wittman. 3. CHANDLER PARSONS (Rockets): Houston has apparently declined to pick up the option on his contract. I love this guys game and hes still really improving. Parsons shoots it and plays with great energy and awareness. Hell be a restricted free agent and it will be interesting if they can make a run at another big free agent to team with Dwight Howard and James Harden and then try to match Parsonss offer sheet that hell surely get in the open market. Hes a guy that I consider a glue guy who you can win with and has lots of value because he backs it up with production as well. Its going to be a delicate situation to navigate for GM Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale with an important piece of the puzzle. Im quite curious to see how it unfolds. 4. JEFF BOWER (Pistons): Stan Van Gundy hired him as his GM and I really like this hire. Ive known Jeff for over 25 years and hes a good basketball man. Hes paid his dues as a NCAA Div. 1 assistant and head coach and has spent a great deal of time in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets, as well as their move to New Orleans, as their assistant and head coach, scout, assistant GM and finally GM. He knows all the ins and outs of the business and is someone that Van Gundy can trust to handle the front office responsibilities for him. Van Gundy will have final say on all basketball matters, but you need someone to look after lots of details while youre busy coaching. This really makes sense to me. 5. LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE (Blazers): Aldridge was named to All-NBA Third Team today, but I really feel he should be on Second Team ahead of Kevin Love at the power forward spot. I strongly believe that winning should and does matter. You could argue that Aldridge has a little better supporting cast in Portland, yet when I give the eye test, I see Aldridge perform consistently at a high level against all competition and I see Love as a guy who gets nice numbers within the structure of the game, but Im still just a bit skeptical about what he brings to the table in terms of competitive production in the major moments of the game. I think Aldridge is a Second teamer and Love is a Third. Just my opinion, but winning has to mean something. Jim Plunkett Jersey
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.C. United have acquired midfielder Alex Caskey from the Seattle Sounders for a third-round pick in the 2016 MLS draft.INDIANAPOLIS -- James Hinchcliffe will have to wait a little bit longer before he can return to the track. The Oakville, Ont., driver was evaluated Tuesday and IndyCars medical team has yet to clear Hinchcliffe to begin Indianapolis 500 practice. He was progressing well and is now cleared to begin light training with a another evaluation set for Thursday. The 27-year old driver was diagnosed with a concussion Saturday when he was hit in the head by debris in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He was taken on a stretcher to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway medical centre and was later transported to a hospital. Hinchcliffe hasnt been made available to the media since. "Pretty much the doctors said he should be a little bit disconnected," E.J. Viso said. "Just pretty much trying to stay in his room and rest." Filling in for Hinchcliffe for the third consecutive day, Viso shot straight to the top of the speed chart on the third day of practice. He reached 224.488 mph within the first 20 minutes of the start of practice. Kurt Busch was second fastest at 224.159 and Colombias Juan Pablo Montoya was third at 224.115. Just before a yellow flag for rain, Montoya pulled off the track and required a tow. The rookie reported an electrical problem with the car. "Thats why I stopped in the grass," Montoya said. "We ran a lot of laps yesterday in preparation for it, so its nothing major and it gives the guys time to catch up on the car." Meanwhile, Viso is spending each practice session with the intent to qualify and even race Hinchcliffes No. 27 car in this years Indy 500. That kind of focus, Viso believes, will have him best prepared should have be called on for the May 25 race. "I just put myself into the drivers role," he said. "I believe that its the best scenario that I could put myself in right now is with that mindset." Theres still a chance that Hinchcliffe could return in time for IndyCars signnature race.dddddddddddd Nothing has been offered to the Venezuelan, but if thats the case, Viso hasnt ruled out stepping into another car to race in the Indy 500. "If its a competitive ride, I will of course take it," he said. "Trust me, theres nothing worse than being lapped every two laps, so for that I truly dont know if its worth it. Its not like Im dying to do it, but Im dying to do well and to have a chance to win." Four other things to know from Tuesdays practice session: FAST HONDA: Honda engines recorded some of the top speeds, with seven of the top 10 fastest cars. The three fastest Chevy cars on Tuesday were Montoya, Scott Dixon (223.235), and rookie Sage Karam (222.635). PRACTICE CANCELLED: Teams wasted no time getting on the track for practice. Twenty-six cars made their way to the pits within the first 20 minutes of the start of practice before rain and thunderstorms ended track activity early. Teams have been pressed for time after a quick turnaround from Saturdays race. Rain is in the forecast for the remainder of the week. OPPORTUNITY TO RELAX: Josef Newgarden had no problem with Tuesdays practice being called early. The inclement weather that cut practice short gave the 23-year old and his crew a chance to relax after a busy stretch. By the third day of practice, Newgarden said many teams have made the full transformation of going from road course to oval racing in a short amount of time. "Most people by now are pretty sorted," Newgarden said. "Theres not a lot to do. Theres not big items you have to take off the list. Its all little things that youre looking for now." FIRST PRACTICE: Sebastian Saavedra returned to practice for the first time since wrecking at the start of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The pole-sitter for Saturdays race was clipped by Carlos Munoz before he was hit from behind by Mikhail Aleshin. Saavedra completed just seven laps and reached 208.985 mph on Tuesday. ' ' '