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This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


Welcome to the NBA Finals! The Nuggets and Heat meet in a championship matchup few could have predicted, but now that they're here, we should be in for a terrific series.

Let's start with our expert predictions, and our crew really likes Denver. Unanimously so. Brad Botkin explains his reasoning:

  • Botkin: "Nuggets in 6. Miami deserves a lot of credit for making it this far, but Denver will not beat itself in the ways that Boston did. Nikola Jokic guarantees good looks every time down the court, Jamal Murray is cooking, Denver is defending, the shooters are shooting, everything is dialed in and the Nuggets are ready for the first championship in franchise history. MVP: Nikola Jokic"

I'm going with Denver too, and the biggest reason is the offense. Yes, Miami is outstanding defensively. But the Nuggets are on pace for one of the best offensive postseasons ever, and they absolutely shred zone defense, which Miami likes to deploy, notes our Jack Maloney.

But the Heat have been picked against before, and yet here they are. That's a huge credit to Erik Spoelstra, who our Bill Reiter calls an all-time great coach, and to Jimmy Butler, who was confident this group would be in the Finals before they even made the playoffs. I can't wait to see how Spoelstra and Butler attempt to solve their toughest task yet.

Here's what else to know:

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...



Kentucky has a lot of work to do, and not a lot of time to do it. The Wildcats lost two key pieces on Wednesday's NBA Draft deadline day, with 2022 national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe remaining in the draft alongside Chris Livingston.

  • Tshiebwe averaged 16.5 points and 13.7 rebounds last year, and in 2021-22, he averaged 15.1 rebounds, most by any player since 1980. Still, he barely made Kyle Boone's prospect rankings, and his decision could have gone either way.
  • Livingston, a 2022 five-star recruit, is an athletic, 6'6", 240-pound forward who showed flashes but sat outside Kyle's top 75 prospects.
  • Antonio Reeves, a sharpshooter who transferred in from Illinois State last offseason, is returning to college basketball. Whether that's to Kentucky remains to be seen.
  • Cason Wallace and Jacob Toppin are also in the NBA Draft. Sahvir Wheeler, Lance Ware, CJ Fredrick and Daimion Collins are all transferring.

Kentucky does bring in the No. 1 recruiting class, with five five-star prospects, but depth and experience are major concerns. 

Kentucky hasn't made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2019, and Calipari now has arguably the biggest makeover of his career on his hands -- and he's had a lot of them. It'll be an anxious next few months in Lexington.

Not so honorable mentions

More NBA Draft decisions: Zach Edey returns to Purdue, FAU reloads 🏀


Zach Edey spent last season becoming the face of college basketball and ended it as the face of the team that suffered the second-ever 16-1 upset. He's making sure that won't be the final image of him in a Purdue uniform.

Edey, the 2023 player of the year, withdrew from the NBA Draft and is returning for his senior season in West Lafayette.

  • Edey, the Boilermakers' 7'4" center, averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season. The last player to produce that stat line was Adonal Foyle back in 1996-97.
  • Purdue won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles but fell to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the NCAA Tournament, joining 2018 Virginia as the only 1 seeds to lose to a 16 seed.

As for a team that won the title, UConn lost do-it-all star Andre Jackson Jr. to the draft. He joins Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins as Huskies leaving for the next level. Tristen Newton, however, will return.

Here are other key developments:

  • After a magical run to the Final Four, FAU is returning both Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin.
  • Terrence Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins are back for Illinois.
  • Julian Phillips, who was in the transfer portal, is staying in the draft, and Arthur Kaluma withdrew his name from the draft and is still in the transfer portal.
  • Kaluma's Creighton teammate, Trey Alexander, is returning to the Bluejays
  • Michigan State is bringing back both A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins

NFL potential post-June 1 cuts, plus why today matters so much 🏈

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It's been quiet on the NFL front over the past few weeks. Too quiet, if you will. That's all about to change, though, because today is June 1, and June 1 is a huge day on the calendar.

Let a former NFL agent, Joel Corry, explain.

  • Teams can release up to two players each league year before June 2, and they'll be treated under the salary cap as if they were released after June 1.
  • The team must carry the player's full cap number until June 2, even though he's not on the roster. The player's salary comes off the books at that time unless it's guaranteed.
  • The remaining money on players released with a post-June 1 designation can be spread over two years.
  • Basically, it gives team a little more flexibility financially and allows players designated for a post-June 1 release to hit free agency earlier and potentially cash in on a bigger payday.

The Cardinals for example, used their designations on J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson. Then, last week, they released DeAndre Hopkins and will eat over $21 million in dead cap, all in 2023.

So, we could see big names on the move soon. Our Cody Benjamin has eight prominent veterans potentially finding new teams, including...

  • Benjamin: "Vikings RB Dalvin Cook -- Probably the favorite among all the big names listed to be cut loose, Cook has a sterling resume with four straight 1,100-yard rushing seasons to his name. It's very possible he'll eventually take a pay cut to stick in Minnesota, where the offensively minded Kevin O'Connell adores his natural athleticism. ... His release would save an instant $9M."

Pistons hire Monty Williams on a massive contract 🏀

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The Pistons' up-and-down young core is getting a steady, successful guiding hand: Monty Williams reportedly has agreed to become Detroit's head coach, and he's getting a deal worth up to $100 million to lead the long-term rebuild.

The Suns fired Williams, 51, after they lost to the Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs.

  • Williams had a strong run in Phoenix, with a 194-115 record overall, playoff appearances in three of his four seasons, one Finals appearance and one Coach of the Year award.
  • Williams' Suns had the third-best record in the NBA over the past four years, behind the Bucks and 76ers, both of whom also fired their coaches this offseason.
  • Williams also coached the Hornets from 2010-15, posting a 173-221 record and making the playoffs twice.

Williams is regarded as one of the game's top coaches, and his exit from Phoenix was a tough one. There were impossibly high expectations after Kevin Durant joined midseason, and new owner Mat Ishbia was eager to make a big move on the coaching front, too.

In Detroit, Williams inherits a roster that has intriguing young talent in Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren and James Wiseman but also joins a franchise that has the NBA's worst record over the past half-decade. The Pistons moved Dwane Casey, another former Coach of the Year, from coach to the front office earlier this offseason.

The Pistons hold the fifth pick in the NBA Draft. In his latest mock draft, Kyle has them taking Houston forward Jarace Walker.

What we're watching Thursday 📺

Angels at Astros, 8:10 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Heat at Nuggets, 8:30 p.m. on ABC