EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- As Steve Nash and Pau Gasol pondered their NBA futures following exit interviews with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, both expressed uncertainty about the months to come.

Only their reasoning was vastly different.

Nash, under contract with the Lakers for next season for $9.7 million, is sure he will be back in Los Angeles. But after playing just 15 games this season because of persistent nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, the point guard doesn't know how effective he can be.

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Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Caron Butler (2) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Photo by Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Brief profiles of the eight Eastern Conference teams that qualified for the 2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs:


Regular season record: 56-26
How they qualified: Won Central Division
Head coach: Frank Vogel
Top scorer: Paul George (21.7 points per game)
Top rebounder: Lance Stephenson (7.2 rebounds per game)
NBA titles: None
Joined NBA: 1976

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San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) dribbles against the Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) at Target Center. Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Brief profiles of the eight Western Conference teams that qualified for the 2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs:


Regular season record: 62-20
How they qualified: Won Southwest Division
Head coach: Gregg Popovich
Top scorer: Tony Parker (16.7 points per game)
Top rebounder: Tim Duncan (9.7 rebounds per game)
NBA titles: Four (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)
Joined NBA: 1976

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PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Yes, Blake Griffin heard that Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson called him "a bull in a china shop," adding to the familiar narrative that the All-Star forward plays a bit "out of control" for some people's tastes.

No, Griffin will not punch back after the first volley in what promises to be a contentious first-round series between the Pacific Division rivals.

"Yeah, I heard about it," Griffin said Thursday before the Clippers' practice.

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Quo Vadis? An apt query for frustrated Lakers fans (April 18, 2014)
Mark Lamport-Stokes [ Source: Reuters ]

  Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (L) leaps for a dunk against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California April 7, 2013.  Credit: Reuters/Alex Gallardo

(Reuters) - The title of the historical novel "Quo Vadis" is an apt question for frustrated Los Angeles Lakers fans to ask of players and coaches after the team's nightmare 2013-14 NBA campaign came to an end.

Written by Pole Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1895, the novel borrows its title from the biblical query "Quo vadis Domine?", Latin for "Where are you going, Lord?", and the future destination of the Lakers franchise is certainly up for debate.

Granted the team were severely hampered by multiple injuries throughout the season but, as 16-time NBA champions, they are held to a lofty standard by their supporters who could not believe their eyes as one low after another was posted.

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Top-seeded Indiana won't have Andrew Bynum for its first-round series against Atlanta.

Coach Frank Vogel said Thursday that he believes the Pacers' oft-injured center still could work his way back for the playoffs. But he won't be available for the first round, which opens Saturday in Indianapolis.

The Pacers signed the free agent in early February with hope he would add depth behind All-Star center Roy Hibbert. Bynum looked good in his Pacers debut, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds. But he hasn't played since March 15 because of a sore right knee.

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Wiser Freeman to reinforce Kings (April 18, 2014)
Nelson Beltran [ Source: Philippine Star ]


MANILA, Philippines -- The Barangay Ginebra Kings liked what they saw from Gabe Freeman in practice upon his arrival in the country Wednesday morning.

The Ginebra coaching staff and players are convinced Freeman is in top shape, contrary to reports that the former two-time PBA Best Import awardee might not be in playing condition because of long idleness.

“He kept on dunking, he kept on running and he energized the locals right away,” said Ginebra top official Robert Non.

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Mark Cuban says Milwaukee Bucks sale a bargain (April 18, 2014)
Tim McMahon [ Source: ESPN ]


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban considers the sale price of approximately $550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks to be a bargain, suggesting the true value of NBA franchises is north of $1 billion.

Longtime Bucks owner Herb Kohl announced Wednesday that he has reached an agreement to sell the team to hedge-fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, a deal subject to approval by the NBA and its board of governors.

"I think they got off cheap," Cuban said. "I think that was a bargain. I think it's worth a lot more. I think it's worth a lot more than that. I think someone got a bargain. You can't look backwards. You've got to look forward. You don't value teams based off what happened in the past."

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Will he stay or will he go? Carmelo Anthony is keeping his options open after a losing season. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony said on Thursday he'd like to re-sign with the New York Knicks this summer but first would need assurances that team president Phil Jackson can build a winner around him.

"I want to come back. But I also want to win," Anthony said after his exit interview with Jackson at the team's practice facility. "You know, me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of [the next contract], then I'm willing to stay here and I'm willing to ride or die for New York.

"You know, I've never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to see what's out there."

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Heat playoff run could decide James' future in Miami (April 18, 2014)
Frank Pingue [ Source: Reuters ]

Mar 1, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) adjusts his mask before a game against the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Arena. Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The Miami Heat may not be entering the playoffs as the top seed but they are still very much the team to beat, and anything less than a third consecutive NBA title could lead to the breakup of their Big Three.

No club has won three straight titles since the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s, and the 16-team field for this year's playoffs, which begin on Saturday, has no shortage of contenders for the NBA's Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

The San Antonio Spurs, who were a whisker away from winning last year's NBA Finals, and the Indiana Pacers, eager to avenge last season's loss to Miami in the Eastern conference finals, are just two of the many teams feeling good about their chances.

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