DeMarcus Cousins received his 16th technical of the season during tonight’s Kings/Wolves game. If the technical isn’t rescinded by the league, he will incur an automatic one-game suspension and have his season ended prematurely. Here’s more from out west:
Mitch Kupchak told Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News that the Lakers are interested in re-signing Pau Gasol this summer. “There’s great interest in re-signing Pau back,” the Lakers GM said. “I don’t know why there would not be interest. He’s a Hall of Famer. But by virtue of being a free agent, he’s in the market place. By being in the market place, we have to see how things play out.”
For his part, Gasol told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com he’s excited about meeting with multiple teams when he becomes a free agent, including the Lakers (Twitter link).
The Knicks square off with the Bulls tonight at Madison Square Garden. With New York being eliminated from the playoffs the attention will be fully on Carmelo Anthony and if he re-signs with the Knicks or not. Chicago is one of the teams mentioned as a possible landing spots for ‘Melo if he leaves. Coach Tom Thibodeau had quite a few compliments for Anthony, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Thibodeau said, “He can score so many different ways. He can hurt you a lot of different ways. He can score the ball very easily. It doesn’t take him much to get going.” When asked about Anthony’s reputation as a “selfish ball-stopper,” Thibodeau said, “It’s interesting because with USA Basketball, they talk about him being a playmaker. He scores and if you a guy is open, he passes the ball. I think oftentimes it’s who he plays with. It’s interesting, a lot of the things that you hear about him, I heard about Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce before they came together and won it. That changes perception. Carmelo has been one of the elite scorers in the league for a long, long time.”
More from around the league:
Incoming SMU freshman Emmanuel Mudiay will be a big factor in the 2015 NBA Draft according to coach Larry Brown, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Brown said, “He’s going to be a lottery pick if I don’t screw up.” Mudiay is projected as the fifth pick in the 2015 Draft by DraftExpress.com.
The staff at Basketball Insiders debate the about the best sophomores from the 2013 draft class.
Adam Zagoria weighs in with his thoughts on last night’s Nike Hoops Summit, and the potential 2015 lottery picks that were on display.
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck believes in the team’s plan to rebuild through the draft, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Grousbeck said, “I’m not used to being out of the playoffs. I remember being back to the building phase back from ’03 to ’07, and we knew in ’03 that we didn’t have a team that was capable of winning. So we changed the coach and the general manager and really started over just building through the draft, with the goal eventually of maybe making a couple of transformative trades. And that’s really how it played out in ’07. So we really think we’re going to do the exact same thing. We’re going to draft and be patient and provide the payroll and support and steady hand necessary to bring this back, because I’m only interested in banners. I named my company ‘Banner 17′ – we got that one (championship in 2008). I might as well name it Banner 18, because that’s all we’re interested in.”
More from Boston:
In the same Amick article, when asked about his timetable for the team to contend, Grousbeck said, “Nothing would make me happier than to be contending next year. We went from basically worst to first in ’07-’08. Having said that, this is going to be a multi-year process. We’ve got a young core that we’re excited about. We’ve got picks (seven first-rounders in the next three drafts) and a GM and a coach that looks like a recipe for a lot of success in the future, but it doesn’t look like it’s an overnight success. So we’re prepared for the long haul, but we’d love to accelerate it if we could.”
If you ask Celtics coach Brad Stevens about the who the team might add in the draft, he’ll tell you developing the players already on the roster is just as important, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Stevens said, “I got asked just today, ‘What would you like to see us add’ with regard to positional need or shooting or whatever the case may be. We’ll get focused on some of those things but we also need to focus on the guys that are here and the guys that will be here — because they can all get better and they’ve all proven themselves to be really valuable.“
Brad Stevens’ college ties might make him the best talent evaluator in the organization heading into the draft, writes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Stevens had recruited many of this year’s draft entries while at Butler, plus has closer ties to high school and prep coaches than most NBA executives, writes Murphy.
Speaking in general about the Celtics future, Rajon Rondo told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that Boston’s fan base is a strength for the franchise. “I know that would be a big reason why you wouldn’t want to leave a city like Boston, because every night, even with the season we’re having, we’re probably still leading the league in attendance or at least up near the top.” said Rondo. “So you don’t take that for granted. I know I don’t.” Let’s round up the rest of the notes out of the Eastern Conference:
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets that the Magic are approaching the draft looking for the best talent available wherever they select, without prioritizing any one position or player.
Kyler adds that the Magic‘s draft decisions will overlap with extension talks with both Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic (Twitterlinks). Both are entering the final year of their rookie scale contracts, and play positions occupied by players projected at the top of the 2014 draft.
Al Jefferson didn’t expect a playoff berth in his first year with the Bobcats, but the center tells A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that he now has his sights set on continued success in Charlotte. “If you ask me did I say when I signed that we would be where we are now, no I didn’t say that,” Jefferson said. “But I feel this is only the beginning. You go back to Oklahoma City when they were not a playoff team, then made the eighth seed, lost in their first round. The next year, went to the Western Conference finals and the following year they went to the Finals. They just kept going until they became a team that everybody had to respect. That’s where we at right now; we’re at the beginning stage. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far. But I believe in my heart, we’re going to accomplish so much more.”
Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun points out the irony of Andrew Wiggins‘ courtside presence in Toronto on the night the Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title. When the season began, many had Toronto pegged as a team likely to tank, when phrases like “Riggin’ for Wiggins” were being thrown around.
As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, it’s the time of year when the annual coaching carousel begins to spin and a slew of faces will end up in brand new places. Heading into the 2013/14 season there were a total of 13 coaching changes, which if you’re keeping score at home, is the most ever in a single offseason.
We won’t know for sure just how many teams will be making a change on their bench until the playoffs are over. Normally you would think a playoff spot would ensure job security, but Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, and Larry Drew all weren’t retained after reaching the playoffs last year. So the exact number of vacancies are up in the air, but we know there will be some.
If your team is making a head coaching change, which would you prefer in your new hire? Do you want a veteran coach with years of experience to lead your team? One who has a proven track record, but also could be carrying baggage and bad habits picked up throughout the years. Or, would you prefer the energy and new ideas a first-time coach can provide? A new coach has more to prove, and might be more in touch with the pulse and culture of his players, but has no experience to rely on, and no track record to predict future performance.
Let’s look at how this year’s crop of new coaches fared as an example. First up, the ones with prior experience:
Doc Rivers (Clippers): The team is 55-24, first in the Pacific Division, and the third seed in the playoffs. Last year’s team went 56-26 under Vinny Del Negro, before Del Negro wasn’t retained and the team traded for Rivers.
Maurice Cheeks (Pistons): He was fired 50 games into the year with a record of 20-29. Detroit was 29-53 in 2012/13 under Lawrence Frank. After the team signed Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season, owner Tom Gores expected a much better record and for the team to make the playoffs.
Mike Brown (Cavaliers): The team sits at 32-47, which is good for tenth in the eastern conference. Last year under Byron Scott the team had a record of 24-58 and ended up with the first overall selection in the draft.
Larry Drew (Bucks): The Bucks sit at 14-64. which is good for the worst record in the league. In 2012/13 under Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan the team went 38-44.
Now for how the first-time coaches performed:
Jason Kidd (Nets): The Nets are at 43-35, which is good for the fifth overall playoff seed. Kidd replaced interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team finished 2012/13 with a record of 49-33.
Brad Stevens (Celtics): Stevens, taking over for Doc Rivers, has gone 23-55, but has the re-building team heading in a positive direction. Last year’s team went 41-40.
Mike Budenholzer (Hawks): The Hawks have gone 35-43 and currently hold the final playoff spot in the east. Last year’s Larry Drew led squad went 44-38.
Steve Clifford (Bobcats): Clifford has led the Bobcats to a 40-38 record and the sixth seed in the east. Under Mike Dunlap the team went 21-61 during last year’s campaign.
Brian Shaw (Nuggets): The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries all season, and sit at 35-44. Shaw replaced coach of the year winner George Karl, who led the team to a record of 57-25.
David Joerger (Grizzlies): Joerger replaced Lionel Hollins and has guided the team to a record of 46-32, and has the team is one game out of the final playoff spot. Last year the team went 56-26.
Brett Brown (Sixers): Under Brown the Sixers have the second worst record in the league at 17-61, including a record-tying 26 game losing streak. Last season under Doug Collins, the team went 34-48.
Jeff Hornacek (Suns): The Suns are one of the most improved teams in the league with a record of 47-31, and hold the seventh seed in the western conference. Last year under Lindsey Hunter and Alvin Gentry the team went 25-57.
Mike Malone (Kings): Under Malone the Kings have gone 27-52. During the 2012/13 season under Keith Smart the team ended up 28-54.
This means that in their first seasons with their new teams, experienced coaches went 121-164 (.424), and the first-timers went 313-391 (.444). There are many different factors outside a coach’s control that contribute to the team’s final record, but the nature of the NBA is that the coach is the first one to take the heat.
Now it’s time to vote. If your team makes a coaching change this off season, do you want an experienced person hired, or would you prefer the team brings in a brand new face? Cast your vote below and feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.
Earlier today, we were given an early peek at Steve Mills’interview with Spike Lee on XM Radio via ESPN New York, where the Knicks GM said that he and team president Phil Jackson could “do something special” while working together. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News weighed-in on the interview, passing along that Mills’ original plan upon being hired was to hire someone to run day-to-day basketball operations while then focusing on the business side of things. Ironically, Mills is now operating under the direction of a basketball executive.
Here’s what else we’ve gathered out of the Atlantic Division, including more from Isola:
During the interview, Mills claimed that he gave up his title as president and retained his title as general manager once Jackson was hired, which implies that Mills had a choice in the matter, opines Isola.
Isola says it’s unclear if Jackson still plans to hire his own personnel guy and what that could mean for Mills. Mills has suggested that his strengths lie in his relationships with players and agents, though Isola wonders how that will mesh with Jackson plans. The Knicks president recently told the media that he doesn’t plan to work as closely with agents or any one agency as the team had done in recent years.
One source tells Isola that Mills was prepared to make a coaching change on several occasions this season; Mike Woodson was ultimately kept on board because the team had either gone on a winning streak or owner James Dolan decided to overrule Mills.
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo hasn’t asked management to inform him about personnel decisions, but he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that he’d like to know what direction the team is going in: “I want to be aware of what’s going on, especially if I’m part of the future here…And being the point guard, I would like to know what the team has in store or wants to do or the moves they want to make. I think I’ll be around in Boston this summer and I’ll look forward to what’s going to happen. I’m very excited.”
Knicks GM Steve Mills denies last month’s report that he met with Phil Jackson about the possibility of the Zen Master coaching the team, though he admits that the team’s pursuit of Jackson, now team president, caused “problems” with coach Mike Woodson. Mills made his comments to Spike Lee in an interview airing tonight on SiriusXM NBA Radio, and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com provides an early peek. Mills also said that he feels he and Jackson can “do something special” as they work together in the Knicks front office. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
Danny Ainge wants to “blow off some fireworks” with splashy moves this summer, but he isn’t making promises, as he said today in his weekly radio appearance on 98.5 the Sports Hub (transcription via Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com). Ainge reiterated that he’s looking for rim protection and said he’s also seeking a “closer.” The Celtics boss also expressed concern about the injury history of soon-to-be free agent Avery Bradley, though Ainge once more spoke of the team’s interest in the guard.
Trevor Booker started his 41st game for the Wizards on Wednesday, so the value of the qualifying offer the Wizards must make to keep him from unrestricted free agency this summer has risen from $3,420,443 to $4,677,708. I explained last month that Booker was approaching the league’s “starter criteria” for restricted free agents.
The Cavs have assigned Sergey Karasev and Scotty Hopson to their D-League affiliate in Canton, the D-League team announced (Twitter link). Karasev and Hopson, who’d just been recalled to Cleveland on Wednesday, will be available for Canton’s playoff game tonight.
The Celtics and agent Arn Tellem, who represents Kris Humphries, have had preliminary conversations about a new contract for Humphries in the offseason, reports Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. President of basketball operations Danny Aingesaid last week that he’d spoken to Humphries directly about a return for next season. The two sides can’t sign an extension, since the power forward is only on a two-year contract, and Ainge said he can’t make promises at this point, given the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the team. Tellem understands Ainge’s position, Murphy writes, but the Celtics boss is a fan of Humphries, who reiterated his desire to remain in Boston.
“Look at the direction we’re heading in,” Humphries said. “Obviously this year there was disappointment. But [coach] Brad [Stevens is] a winner, Ainge has proven to be a winner on multiple levels. The organization and fans are great. The chance to be part of a playoff team here will be great. I think it’s possible. Ultimately it comes down to what the players do, but it’s one of those things where you get comfortable somewhere, and hopefully you can be there for a while and have success.”
The Celtics were reportedly eyeing a sign-and-trade of Humphries this summer shortly after the trade deadline, and he’s recently been identified on a list of players likely to change teams in the offseason. He was open to a trade away from Boston early this season, his first with the Celtics after they acquired him in last summer’s Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce blockbuster, but he’s clearly warmed to the idea of sticking around.
Humphries is in the final season of a two-year, $24MM deal he signed with the Nets in 2012. He clearly won’t see nearly as much this time around, given his decline in playing time the past couple of seasons, but the 29-year-old’s size and efficient play should have multiple teams at his door, as our Zach Links wrote when he examined Humphries’ free agent stock.
The National Basketball Player’s Association announced tonight that they have hired Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson to head a search committee to find a new executive director, tweets Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. The NBPA also announced that Kyle Korver has been elected to take over for Matt Bonner on the executive committee after his term expired (link). The press release indicates that the union’s goal is to have a new executive director in place by the start of next season, which would give them a new leader 20 months after firing Billy Hunter. More from around the league..
If the Knicks are going to replace Mike Woodson as head coach, they should put Phil Jackson in his place, Larry Brown opined in an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio.”You’re not going to make the Knicks better by living in L.A. and being there half the time and not talking to your coach,” Brown said, according to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. “Let him coach. He was the best coach probably ever. Let him coach.“
Cavs guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are downplaying talk of a rift, writes Bob Finnan of The News-Herald. “I just think, man, throughout this whole year with us two not liking each other, it’s total BS,” Waiters said. “We’ve been friends before we even made the NBA, before any of this. I just think y’all saying we don’t like playing with one another. … Yeah, we still need to learn certain things, but I think at the end of the day, we’re genuinely friends. I love him as a friend, teammate, everything. I just want everybody to know that. I don’t hate this guy.“
People around the league have had doubts from the beginning of Brad Stevens‘ tenure with the Celtics that he’ll want to stay for his entire six-year deal, but the coach tells Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald that he intends to fulfill his contract.
Former Spursguard Nando De Colo is making an impact with his new team, writes the Toronto Sun’s Frank Zicarelli. De Colo came to the Raptors in an under-the-radar deadline move, but he’s been anything but since February. ”[I'm] just being aggressive and playing my game,” said De Colo. “When a shot is open, you have to take it. Whether I’m playing the one (point guard) or two (shooting guard), staying focused on my job and nothing more.“
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said he and team president Flip Saunders would talk about signing a player, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune. The club now has an open roster spot following the release of A.J. Price last week.
Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News writes that Mark Jackson‘s greatest strength is also one of his trouble spots: a dead certainty that he’s doing everything exactly right. Jackson’s contends that the recent staff shakeup doesn’t have anything to do with him, but Kawakami argues that the dispatching of Brian Scalabrine after a philosophical dispute followed by the dismissal of Darren Erman must have something to do with the Warriors head coach.
Ray Allen appears unlikely to return to the Heat next season, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. League insiders nonetheless believe that if the Heat’s trio of stars return, there’s a strong chance the team will try to re-sign Allen, too, so it seems his future is contingent on what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decide to do. Indeed, those three will have much to say about what happens in free agency leaguewide, and Amico has more on the summer ahead and another member of the Heat as we highlight here:
Several teams are expected to court Heat forward Shane Battier for an executive job or a gig related to player development, Amico hears. Battier recently reiterated his plans to retire at season’s end.
The emergence of Brian Roberts has strengthened the belief around the league that the Pelicans will trade former lottery pick Austin Rivers this summer, according to Amico. Roberts is set to become a restricted free agent.
Sources tell Amico they wouldn’t be surprised if several teams aside from the Knicks try to convince Steve Kerr to run their basketball operations. Kerr has expressed a desire to coach, but it looks like the leaguewide interest in him is as an executive, the role he held with the Suns from 2007 to 2010.