Clippers coach Doc Rivers sits down with Harvey Araton of the New York Times to discuss the scrutiny that accompanied his exit from Boston and his willingness to accept the responsibility if things don’t go well in Los Angeles: “But when (the opportunity to coach the Clippers) presented itself, I thought, ‘Wow, this would be a unique situation for me…If there’s a mistake, it’s my fault. I don’t want to blame someone else. I want to blame me.”
Rivers also commented on how the free throw shooting struggles of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin has been somewhat of an achilles’ heel for the team in the past: “Blake and D. J., they missed a couple, and their whole game changed…Blake would stop driving, stop attacking, because he didn’t want to get fouled. D. J. didn’t even want to touch the ball. Then he would take all that defensive energy he had and throw it out of the game.”
Here are the rest of tonight’s miscellaneous links:
- Despite the tumultuous way in which their working relationship ended in Orlando, former coach Stan Van Gundy still thinks that the Magic should retire Dwight Howard‘s number, writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel (Subscribers only).
- Jazz camp hopeful Lester Hudson values his opportunity to stick in the NBA after being a career journeyman since entering the league (Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune). In another Utah-related piece, John Lucas III talks about being fueled to secure his NBA future after his international and D-League experiences: “Every time I step on the court, (I think), ‘I don’t want to go back to Italy. I don’t want to go back to Spain. Don’t want to go back to China (or the) D-League…I feel like I’m at home. I just have that in the back of my head all the time, so when I step on that court I give it everything I have” (Jody Genessy of the Deseret News).
- Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston answered a few questions from his readers in his newest edition of “Celtics Mailbag.”
- Bucks head coach Larry Drew spoke about the importance of having a veteran like Zaza Pachulia around the team, especially with their familiarity together stemming from their history in Atlanta (Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel).
The Bulls opened training camp today, and that meant a return to the practice court with a 100 percent healthy Derrick Rose. The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson relayed quotes from coach Tom Thibodeau, Bulls starters Carlos Boozer and others proclaiming the old Rose's return.
Rose was attacking the basket during scrimmages with a ferocity not seen when he was cleared to play in the spring.
“I got confidence in my (surgically repaired left) knee,” Rose told the Tribune. “There’s no testing anymore. It’s going out there and playing hard and attacking.”
“He attacked all day, in fact from the start,” Thibodeau revealed. “He made that clear.” Boozer added that "Pooh" – Rose's nickname – "had it going. It was like old times."
Rose is doing one thing differently from before tearing his ACL at the start of the 2012 Playoffs.
“I’m really taking stretching serious before and after — when I wake up, before I go to sleep. I just try to get my body as loose as possible because when you have ACL tears, your hamstrings will be the first things that go especially when you’re fatigued. Me building that tolerance up on my leg, I think that will help me in the long run.”
Here's more on Rose's return to practice, Jimmy Butler's excellent showing and divisional rivals, the Bucks…
- The sentiments expressed by the players and coach in the Tribune's piece on the first practice of the 2013/14 season were echoed by Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times. Derrick Rose is back attacking the rim, and despite some hard fouls was fine with the contact.
- Rose also offered some insight into his decision not to come back for the playoffs last season after being cleared to play. "I knew I wasn’t ready to take on a double team in the playoffs, so I had to make the decision not to come back," Rose said.
- Another player who impressed coach Tom Thibodeau at the first day of practice, was 6'7" swingman Jimmy Butler. Thibs told the Tribune's Johnson "[Butler is] an excellent athlete, very explosive, very quick to the ball. That tells you how he sees the game. His reaction to the ball is special. He's very quick, strong, can think ahead, very strong."
- The former Marquette player won the starting shooting guard spot last season with Chicago after some blanket defense on the wing, and improved 3-point shooting.
- The Sun-Times' Cowley also paid deference to Butler saying that – other than Rose – he got the most attention after the first day of practice.
- After the Bucks were again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season, GM John Hammond started the offseason ready to make big changes, writes the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner.
- After hiring a new coach – Larry Drew, formerly of the Hawks – the Bucks traded their point guard Brandon Jennings to the Pistons and let their other guard Monta Ellis leave for the Mavs. Hammond will see what a fresh start can do after the largest roster overhaul in his five years as GM.
Kyle Draper of CSNNE.com provided an abridged transcript of his one-on-one interview with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, touching base on how he plans to adjust to the NBA game and the team's roster. In the 13-minute video of the full interview included in the piece, Stevens admits that he's not sure of a timetable on Rajon Rondo's recovery, still needs to learn more about the players, and offered this interesting answer when asked if the offense will be tailored to Rondo in his absence:
"That a very good question. Because what he may do well may not be as good a fit for somebody else. So, do you play that way? Start that way knowing that when he is going to come back we don't know yet, or do we change midstream?"
With that aside, let's take a look at what else is brewing in the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of August, Chris Copeland told reporters that his knee is feeling much better and expects to be ready for Pacers training camp at the end of this month (Michael Pointer of IndyStar.com)
- As per the Knicks PR Twitter account, it was announced that forward Jeremy Tyler underwent surgery today to repair a stress fracture in his right foot and is expected to be out for eight to ten weeks (Twitter links). ESPN New York's Ian Begley tweets that according to the timetable, it would sideline the 6'10" big man through at least the first week of the regular season.
- Bucks general manager John Hammond made it clear that Caron Butler was acquired to be a starter and have a significant role on the team, notes Jim Hoehn of the Associated Press (hat tip to the Star Tribune). Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times (via Twitter) says that head coach Larry Drew lobbied heavily for the team to acquire Butler for the type of positive impact he'd make on the team's young players.
8:11pm: The Hawks' President of Basketball Operations and GM Danny Ferry said in a press release tonight: "We are happy to bring Jeff back to our team. He has improved each year of his career and continues to get better." Ferry continues, "At 25, he’s already been a key contributor on a playoff team and we look forward to seeing him develop into even more of a leader on our team.”
Hawks' head coach Mike Budenholzer also added his thoughts on retaining the point guard: "I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach Jeff. He has a high level of talent. Keeping him with our group allows us to continue to build and improve going forward."
5:50pm: A source tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the Hawks' intention all along was to keep Teague, not sign-and-trade him to the Bucks (Twitter).
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com tweets that a Bucks source tells him the Hawks have officially matched the Bucks' offer for Teague.
As Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer points out, via Twitter, Teague didn't want the Hawks to match the offer and was hoping to be reunited with his coach from the Hawks last season, Larry Drew.
The Racine Journal Times' Gery Woelfel tweets that it'll be interesting to see whether the Bucks still pull of the Brandon Jennings sign-and-trade now that Teague is going back to Atlanta.
5:34pm: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constituation's Chris Vivlamore (via Twitter), the Hawks will match the Bucks' four-year $32MM offer sheet for Jeff Teague.
Only a little earlier today, Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times had heard continued chatter the Hawks were not likely to match the Bucks' offer sheet and would let Teague, a restricted free agent, go to Milwaukee. But that appears to have been a mask for their true intentions to match the offer.
Teague had already expressed his desire to Hawks general manager Danny Ferry that he'd like to continue his career elsewhere, which Vivlamore mentions in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution update. Teague would have been reunited with his coach from the Hawks last season, Larry Drew, if the Hawks hadn't matched the offer.
5:55pm: Drew's deal will cover four years and is worth $10MM, sources tell ESPN's Chris Broussard.
4:29pm: The Bucks have hired Larry Drew to be their next coach, GM John Hammond tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Drew was one of three finalists for the gig but the Bobcats' hiring of Steve Clifford left it as a two-horse race between Drew and Kelvin Sampson.
In three seasons as the Hawks' head coach, Drew compiled a 128-102 record and took the club to the playoffs all three years, including the conference semifinals in 2010-11. Drew's contract was set to expire on June 30th, but he has long been expected to be replaced as coach. Atlanta recently found their new man in Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer.
"After a thorough search and interview process, it was clear to us that Larry's track record in Atlanta, along with his experience as an assistant coach and player, make him the right choice to lead our club," Hammond said in a statement. "We look forward to what he will bring this franchise and we welcome him and his family to Milwaukee."
Drew's deal will give him a guaranteed three years with a team option for year four, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), as well as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Before he wound up with the Bucks, there appeared to have been mutual interest between Drew and the Pistons, who are still searching for their next head coach.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
WEDNESDAY, 1:33pm: The Bobcats have made the hiring of Clifford official, announcing the move in a press release.
"We are excited to have Steve Clifford as our new head coach," said president Rod Higgins in a statement. "He brings a strong pedigree and a track record of success to our franchise. He has built a reputation as an innovator, especially defensively, and has experience in multiple systems. We look forward to utilizing his knowledge as we continue to build this team."
MONDAY, 5:13pm: The Bobcats are set to hire Steve Clifford as their next head coach, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). The Lakers assistant will receive a three-year, $6MM deal with a team option on the third year, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.
The longtime assistant came to L.A. under head coach Mike Brown. Clifford spent most of the last decade working for Jeff and Stan Van Gundy as a defensive specialist before joining up with Brown and the Lakers. He'll now be charged with turning around a woeful Bobcats franchise that is coming off of a 21-61 campaign.
Clifford was also in the mix for the vacant Bucks job. With Clifford out of the running in Milwaukee, the Bucks search will now focus on Larry Drew and Kelvin Sampson, tweets Wojnarowski. Each candidate has second interviews coming up this week.
The Bobcats fired Mike Dunlap last month following just one year at the helm in Charlotte. The former St. John's assistant coach managed to improve upon the club's dreadful .106 winning percentage but rubbed people in the front office the wrong way and found himself at odds with veteran guard Ben Gordon.
The Bucks' coaching search is now down to three finalists - Hawks coach Larry Drew, Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson, and Lakers assistant Steve Clifford, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Clifford will visit Milwaukee again on Tuesday, and Sampson and Drew on Wednesday for their second interviews, according to league sources.
Bucks GM John Hammond has a stronger history with Sampson thanks to the two years he spent on the Milwaukee staff under Scott Skiles. However, Hammond has been increasingly impressed by Clifford, who comes strongly recommended by the Bulls' Tom Thibodeau and Stan and Jeff Van Gundy.
Sampson had a strong run as the Rockets' interim coach while Kevin McHale had to leave the team and showed that he can handle the pro game. In three seasons in Atlanta, Drew has a 128-102 record and took the club to the playoffs all three years, including the conference semifinals in 2010-11. Drew's contract expires on June 30 with the Hawks, and he's expected to be replaced as coach soon.
While Sampson and Clifford are also strong candidates in Charlotte, each is eager for the opportunity with the Bucks, according to league sources. Milwaukee made the playoffs this season and has a much better overall roster than the Bobcats/Hornets.
As the lengthy layoff between Game Two and Game Three of the Western Conference Finals continues, let's check out a few links from around the West….
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times breaks down the pros and cons of a few potential candidates for the Clippers' head coaching position.
- Larry Drew hasn't been mentioned yet as a Clippers target, but he'd have interest in the job, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
- Peter May of Sheridan Hoops and Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM.com are the latest writers to make the case for why Dwight Howard should sign with the Rockets instead of the Lakers. Given Houston's relative youth and cleaner cap outlook, you can certainly see the logic behind the argument, particularly when it's not you who would be giving up $30MM+.
- In an in-depth piece for Blazer's Edge, Dave Deckard explores the possibility of the Trail Blazers trading up in next month's draft.
- If the Mavericks make a pitch to free agent point guard Chris Paul, can they sell him on complementing him with a strong supporting cast? Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com attempts to answer that question.
After interviewing Maurice Cheeks yesterday, it appears the Pistons are done bringing in coaching candidates, reports Vince Goodwill of the Detroit News. According to Goodwill, Detroit's front office appears likely to decide on a new head coach "relatively soon."
In addition to Cheeks, the Pistons have interviewed a list of candidates that is believed to include Nate McMillan, Lindsey Hunter, Mike Budenholzer, J.B. Bickerstaff, and Darrell Walker. One report suggested the team also planned to interview Brian Shaw, but the Pacers reportedly aren't allowing Shaw to formally meet with any clubs until after Indiana's playoff run ends.
According to Goodwill, the Pistons likely won't wait for the Eastern Conference finals to finish to formally interview Shaw or Heat assistant David Fizdale, though that won't necessarily preclude the club from talking to one or both candidates via phone.
Goodwill also notes that there could have been mutual interest between the Pistons and Larry Drew. Drew, who technically remains under contract with the Hawks for a few more weeks, impressed the Pistons by taking a roster with nine expiring contracts to the playoffs, says Goodwill.
As for Phil Jackon's involvement in the process, Goodwill speculates that the advisory role may have merely been a way for Jackson to get his name back out there, as opposed to an attempt to push one of his preferred candidates to Detroit or strong-arm his way into the Pistons' front office.
"He was in town for a couple days, we spent time together in those couple days," Pistons GM Joe Dumars said of the Zen Master. "We've had a couple conversations since he left town."