Archive for the ‘ NBA Teams ’ Category

The 2018 Eastern Conference Finals begin shortly, and the Celtics are making a starting lineup change, moving useful role-playing Aron Baynes to the bench and starting Marcus Morris.

While Baynes is more of a center, Morris is clearly a forward. The move, we speculate, is to allow Morris to help guard LeBron James, either fully or as a help defender alongside rookie Jayson Tatum. If we had to guess, Morris will likely guard James. And then Tatum shifting to him when Morris sits.

We’ll soon find out. Game 1 starts at 3:30pm ET on ABC television.

Paul George undergoes medical procedures

Thunder forward Paul George, whose time with the team could end this offseason, went through more than one medical procedure recently. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

In addition to the left knee scope Paul George underwent this week, the Thunder star also had some work done on his arm.

George had been dealing with bursitis in his right elbow. Doctors drained the bursa sac to treat it, the team told The Transcript.

George spent part of this past season referring to what he called “tightness” in his right forearm. He began making the complaints in December and spoke about the tightness most recently before the Thunder played in Miami during the second-to-last game of the regular season. He said at that time doctors had “not necessarily” given him a more specific diagnosis.

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The Atlanta Hawks have reached an agreement in principle with Lloyd Pierce to become the team’s new head coach. Pierce will be the 13th full-time head coach in team history.

“As we set out to find a new head coach for our team, it was critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program,” said Hawks General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations Travis Schlenk. “Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future.”

Pierce, 42, comes to the Hawks following five years as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, who finished this past season third in the Eastern Conference with a 52-30 mark and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

“We are excited to start a new chapter of Hawks Basketball with Lloyd as head coach of our team,” said Hawks’ Principal Owner and Chair of the Board of Directors Tony Ressler. “Each part of our organization, from our ownership group to basketball to business operations, is aligned, and we are all committed to building a first-class organization that is working to bring a championship to Atlanta.”

Pierce joined the Sixers after two seasons with Memphis, where he was Assistant Coach-Player Development, helping lead the Grizzlies to back-to-back playoff appearances and the Western Conference Finals in 2013.

“This is a day I’ve been working towards for a long time and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Pierce said. “I have great respect for Travis and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment in and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”

Pierce spent the 2010-11 season as an Assistant Coach with the Golden State Warriors after three years as Assistant Coach-Player Development with Cleveland (2007-10), where the Cavaliers made three playoff appearances and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009.

Prior to his NBA coaching career, Pierce was an Assistant Coach at his alma mater, Santa Clara University, from 2002-07. The San Jose, CA native played four seasons for the Broncos, where he teamed with two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash. Pierce graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management.

It’s always fun keeping track of Nick Young, both on and off the court. He’s a personality. Here’s the SF Chronicle with an update on his Warriors rotation role:

Like most NBA head coaches, Steve Kerr has shortened his bench in the playoffs. It came as little surprise when reserve guard Nick Young, one of the Warriors’ more inconsistent players, spent much of the first two rounds anchored to the sideline.

That may change in the Western Conference finals. After Golden State’s Game 5 win over the Pelicans in the second round Tuesday, Kerr went out of his way to mention that Young could be a factor against the Rockets.

“Nick Young played really well against Houston this year, and he’s a good matchup for them,” Kerr said. “I think every series is different, and you have to look at your opponent and figure out what you need to do to match up and to win some battles.”

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Raptors fire coach Dwane Casey

Despite finishing this regular season with the most wins in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors, recently swept 4-0 in the second round of the 2018 NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, fired head coach Dwane Casey today.

“After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very difficult but necessary step the franchise must take. As a team, we are constantly trying to grow and improve in order to get to the next level,” said Raptors President Masai Ujiri. “We celebrate everything Dwane has done for the organization, we thank him, and we wish him nothing but the best in future. He was instrumental in creating the identity and culture of who we are as a team, and we are so proud of that.”

According to the Canadian Press, “Casey was fired two days after winning the Michael H. Goldberg coach of the year award, which is handed out by the National Basketball Coaches Association. The Raptors’ historic season came after Ujiri called for a “culture reset” last off-season. Toronto revamped its offence to focus on three-point shooting and better ball movement, and focused on developing the bench, which became the envy of the league.”

Casey on June 21, 2011 became the eighth head coach in Raptors history. His record over seven seasons was 320-238 (.573), and those seasons include the only three 50-win seasons in franchise history. Under Casey, the Raptors won four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the postseason in a franchise record five consecutive seasons. He was the longest-tenured coach in team history and is the franchise’s all-time winningest coach.

In 2017-2018, the Raptors won a franchise record 59 games and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in team history.

Per the Toronto Sun, “Casey had defended himself on Wednesday amid speculation he would be ousted, saying he was “an easy target.” “I take it. I’m a big boy. I’ve been through it. I know where we started here, I know what we’ve accomplished, I know the basketball world how they feel about us and respect us and what we’re doing, so it’s part of the territory,” Casey said at the time.”

Fan reaction and discussion of this news is here.

Hawks waive forward Tyler Cavanaugh

The Atlanta Hawks have waived forward Tyler Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh played in 39 Hawks games during the 2017-18 season, starting once, and averaged 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per outing.

The Hawks originally signed Cavanaugh as a free agent on September 6, 2017. He was waived on October 13, 2017, then subsequently signed to a two-way contract on November 15, 2017. He then signed to a multi-year contract on December 18, 2017.

Rodney Hood messed up. But apologized. And apparently, it was accepted. And even laughed at, because the Cavs season has been wild and crazy, and as long as the squad keeps winning they’ll just push through it all. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:

Rodney Hood said when he apologized to his teammates Thursday for refusing to go into Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors with the Cavaliers up by 30, the reaction was laughter.

That’s because in a season marked by a contentious team meeting in which virtually no one was spared, coach Tyronn Lue’s leave of absence to address health issues, Kevin Love’s panic attacks, Isaiah Thomas’ criticism and a litany of injuries, lineups and rotations, Hood’s suggestion that Jose Calderon play ahead of him barely moved the needle.

“They were like, ‘Hood, that’s not really a distraction’ because of everything they’ve been through this year,” Hood said after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “They all [made] light of it, they understand, so it wasn’t anything, really.”

Lue turned to rookie Cedi Osman and left the struggling Hood out of the rotation as the Cavs finished off a sweep of the Raptors and earned their fourth consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals, which open Sunday in Boston.

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A look at the state of the Raptors

What do you do if you’re the Raptors? Clearly among the East’s best, yet still unable to past LeBron James’ Cavs in the playoffs. Though, barely anybody gets past LeBron’s Cavs. The best of the West, sometimes, but rarely anyone else. If you have a very good but not super-great thing, you don’t break it up, right? Here’s the Toronto Sun reviewing the state of the Raptors:

The Raptors limped to the finish line with a 9-6 record and only the 13th-best defence in the NBA in that span, after going 41-16 with the fourth-best defence prior to the lull. The dreary ending to the regular season included a pair of losses against Cleveland and one to Boston.

If you consider that too small of a sample size to prove these Raptors weren’t as good as we all thought they were based on their overall record, here’s more damning data, small sample size or not: Toronto went 9-11 against opponents ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency. Only Cleveland was less efficient on defence against those squads, proving once again that LeBron James sure can make up for a lot of issues.

They let James and the Cavs shoot a franchise playoff-best from the field in the closeout game and surrendered two of the highest-scoring performances by the Cavs in their post-season history. The brilliance of James accounts for much of that, but not all of it…

The NBA will hold its draft lottery on Tuesday and once again the Raptors will be absent from the proceedings. This year, the team won’t even be in the draft at all, barring a trade, thanks to earlier transactions.

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Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team has named James Borrego head coach. Borrego becomes the 11th head coach in franchise history.

“We are thrilled to have James join our franchise,” said Kupchak. “He brings a wealth of experience and a strong track record of player development from his time as a coach in San Antonio, New Orleans and Orlando. He has been a part of teams that have ascended to the highest levels of success in our league and understands what it takes to win in the NBA. James is considered one of the NBA’s most well-regarded assistant coaches and it’s great to have him as part of our team. I look forward to working with him in the years to come.”

Borrego, 40, joins the Hornets after spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs under Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native began his NBA career as an assistant video coordinator with San Antonio during the 2003-04 season. Borrego spent seven seasons with the Spurs, ascending to the role of assistant coach. In 2010, he left San Antonio for New Orleans where he served two seasons as an assistant coach (2010-12) under Monty Williams. Borrego then joined Jacque Vaughn’s staff with the Orlando Magic and served three seasons under Vaughn from 2012-15. Borrego gained his initial head coaching experience when he served as Orlando’s interim head coach for the final 30 games of the 2014-15 campaign after Vaughn was dismissed. He returned to the Spurs as an assistant coach in 2015.

“I’m very excited to serve as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets,” said Borrego. “I want to thank Michael Jordan, Mitch Kupchak and Buzz Peterson for this opportunity. I’m confident in the coaching foundation I’ve had the opportunity to develop during my time in San Antonio, Orlando and New Orleans, and I cannot wait to get to work in Charlotte.”

In his 15 seasons in the NBA, Borrego has been a part of staffs that have led teams to the playoffs 11 different times in his stints in San Antonio and New Orleans. As a member of the Spurs, Borrego has been a part of two NBA Championship teams (2005 and 2007) and has been to four Western Conference Finals.

Prior to his coaching experience in the NBA, Borrego served two seasons (2001-03) as an assistant coach at the University of San Diego, his alma mater. Additionally, Borrego played three seasons collegiately for the Toreros and was named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic Team as a senior in 2000-01.

Their No. 2 seed tells us the Celtics are exactly where they’re supposed to be. Reality is infinitely more rewarding.

On Wednesday night, the C’s booked passage to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year, and it wasn’t easy.

The Philadelphia 76ers took them to the final seconds, but Jayson Tatum’s layup with 22 seconds broke the night’s final tie before Marcus Smart intercepted the final desperation pass that secured Boston’s 114-112 victory.

WEEI.com

Brad Stevens inserted Brown into the starting lineup for Marcus Smart and it immediately paid off. Brown went 3-for-3 with six points and a block in the first three minutes of the game, helping Boston get out to an early 8-6 lead. The 76ers answered quickly, though, going on a 10-7 run, thanks to a strong start from Ben Simmons, to take a three-point lead with four minutes remaining in the opening frame.

With a minute left, Tatum drove down the lane and missed a layup, but Smart grabbed the rebound and put it back to tie the game. After a 76ers turnover, Smart shot a bullet pass to Tatum down low for two, giving the C’s a two-point lead with 18.8 seconds to play.

The Sixers fed the ball to Embiid on the ensuing possession, but he missed the shot and the ball went out of bounds to Boston. The Celtics closed it out at the free-throw line.

NESN.com

They were supposed to be the dependable and consistent forces in times like this. They were supposed to be the ones who could keep their cool in pressure situations. But on Wednesday night in Boston, in a win-or-go-home game, Redick, Belinelli, and Ilyasova were ineffective more often than not.

Redick hit a deep three with 3.8 seconds left to play, bringing the Sixers within one point of the Celtics, giving them a glimmer of hope at the end. But he missed two wide-open shots earlier in the fourth quarter that could have given the Sixers some breathing room.

One shot in particular, when the Sixers were leading by 109-107 with just over a minute to play, Redick found himself completely in the open, and it didn’t go down.

Phillynews.com

The Boston Celtics closed out the Eastern Conference semifinal, four games to one, with a 114-112 victory over the Sixers in Game 5 on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Boston will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals for the second straight year. Game 1 is expected to be 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

On this night, the Sixers couldn’t overcome their Achilles’ heels — turnovers and missed opportunities.

They committed 17 turnovers in the game and four in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid also missed an opportunity to knot the score with 12.5 seconds left. That forced the Sixers to put the Celtics on the foul line and they didn’t panic, making 3 of 4 down the stretch to win the game.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Paul George undergoes knee surgery

OKC Thunder forward Paul George underwent a left knee scope today, the team says.

George will likely be out of action six to eight weeks before returning to normal offseason activities.

In 79 games (all starts) this past NBA season, George had averages of 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.04 steals in 36.6 minutes per game. A five-time NBA All-Star, George hit a career-best 244 three-point field goals during the 2017-18 season, and became one of just five players (Larry Bird, Hersey Hawkins, Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry the others) in the past 30 years to average 20+ points on better than 40.0 percent three-point shooting to go along with 2+ steals.

The Sacramento Kings have expanded the role Peja Stojakovic will play with the team. His title is now Assistant General Manager, according to General Manager Vlade Divac.

In his new position, Stojakovic will help Divac in regard to front office responsibilities, and assist with management of player development, talent evaluation and oversight of the Stockton Kings, who are the team’s NBA G League affiliate.

“I am thrilled to announce that Peja will serve in this expanded role,” Divac said. “His experience as a player and basketball executive combined with his ability to develop players and assess talent is a valuable asset to the Kings.”

Stojakovic moves into this role after spending the past three seasons as a team executive, most recently as Vice President of Basketball and Team Development.

In addition to player development responsibilities, Peja assisted the front office in domestic and international scouting efforts and oversaw the team’s D-League affiliate.

Selected 14th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by Sacramento after playing six seasons overseas (four for Greek powerhouse POAK), the Serbian-born sharpshooter helped form a nucleus that would go on to participate in the postseason in each of his seven seasons in a Kings uniform. A three-time All-Star, his resume features back-to-back Three-Point Contest victories at All-Star Saturday night in 2002 and 2003. A 13-year NBA veteran, he accrued averages of 17.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 804 contests with the Kings (1998-2006), Indiana Pacers (2006), New Orleans Hornets (2006-2010), Toronto Raptors (2010-2011) and Dallas Mavericks (2011), where he won an NBA Championship.

Stojakovic continues to pace the Kings annals in several shooting categories, ranking first in franchise and Sacramento-era history in three-pointers made (1,070) and attempted (2,867). He retired from basketball in 2011 and returned to Sacramento in 2015 to serve as an executive in the front office. In honor of his accomplishments as a King, his No. 16 jersey hangs in the Golden 1 Center rafters.

David Fizdale and the Knicks came to a head coaching job agreement around a week or so ago, and the hiring became official a few days ago. Fizdale of course has head coaching experience, but spent years learning the ropes under Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. Naturally, Spo remains a Fizdale supporter. Here’s New York Newsday with more:

Fizdale, the new Knicks coach, spent eight years working for Spoelstra as an assistant or associate head coach. Fizdale was a part of the Heat teams that reached four straight NBA Finals and won two titles. But their relationship goes back 21 years when Spoelstra and Fizdale worked together in the Heat’s video department.

Spoelstra said Fizdale isn’t much different. He just has more money now, but the Knicks are richer to have him as their coach.

“You’re going to have an incredibly passionate coach and teacher and motivator,” Spoelstra said. “I think Fiz is one of the best basketball minds out there. He’s extremely creative. He’s got a terrific work ethic to match. He’s a versatile coach. He can show that he’s effective in all the different levels, player development, coaching, player management, Xs and Os, all of those things.

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The Hawks need a new head coach. They also could use some new guards, forwards and centers, but let’s not get into that right now. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on a candidate they clearly have interest in:

Lloyd Pierce said Tuesday night’s dinner meeting with Atlanta Hawks ownership here went well.

The informal meeting served as the 76ers assistant coach’s second interview with the Hawks for their vacant head coaching job. The Sixers were in town to face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Pierce, who will turn 42 on Friday, said he wasn’t sure where the Hawks stood in their hiring process, but he thinks he’s a good fit for the job.

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Draymond Green crashes Pelicans huddle

The Warriors have eliminated the Pelicans in five games. During Game 5 last night, GS forward Draymond Green successfully eavesdropped on a Pelicans huddle and mostly got away with it. Here’s the San Jose Mercury News reporting:

Draymond Green revealed a bit of his silly side on Tuesday.

In the first quarter of the Warriors’ 113-104 win over New Orleans, he took a break from jawing with Rajon Rondo and firing up his team to engage in some levity.

As Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry gave instructions to Rondo, Green walked over and joined their huddle — until a referee yanked him away.

“I saw the play,” Green said. “They were watching something of us. It was good.”

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Not a typical season for LeBron, Cavs

This was an unusual regular season for LeBron James and the Cavs, undergoing several rotation and roster changes, not winning as much as usual, finishing the regular season strong but still undergoing adjustments as the playoffs continue. The team’s first round series against the Pacers was tough, but the squad swept the Raptors in Round 2. For more on the Cavs, here’s the News Herald:

The Cavs battled through the regular season to finish 50-32. It was their worst record on a team with LeBron James on it since they finished 45-37 in 2007-08.

The struggles of the regular season followed them into the start of the playoffs. They needed a seventh game to eliminate the Indiana Pacers, needed overtime to beat Toronto in the first game of the semifinals and needed a buzzer beater by James to win Game 3.

The 35-point victory in Game 4 was more than just a stepping stone to the Eastern Conference finals against the winner of the Boston-Philadelphia series. It was a statement of how good the Cavaliers could be when George Hill, J.R Smith and Kevin Love get involved early in the offensive attack. Players are inspired to play better defense when they know they’ll be contributing on the offensive end…

The Cavaliers don’t return to practice until May 10. They’ll be working without knowing their next opponent if Philadelphia wins Game 5 in Boston on May 9.

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Timberwolves announce staff changes

Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden announced today the following people have been released from their duties: Player Development Coach Vince Legarza, Shooting Coach Peter Patton and Assistant Video Coordinator Wes Bohn.

The Timberwolves in their statement said they “would like to thank all of these individuals for their contributions to our organization and wish them well in their future endeavors.”

The Detroit Pistons announced today that Stan Van Gundy will not return as the team’s President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach. The search process for new basketball leadership, including a new head of Basketball Operations and a new Head Coach, will start immediately.

“We have decided that this change is necessary to take our basketball organization to the next level,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “This was a very difficult decision and we did not come to it lightly. I am grateful to Stan for everything he’s done for the Pistons and for the City of Detroit. He rebuilt the culture of our basketball team, re-instilled a winning attitude and work ethic, and took us to the playoffs two years ago. He went all-in from day one to positively impact this franchise and this community.

“But over the past two seasons our team has not progressed, and we decided that a change is necessary to regain our momentum,” Mr. Gores said, emphasizing that Mr. Van Gundy, who has a year remaining on his contract, wanted to return.

“Stan is a competitor and he wanted to finish the job,” Mr. Gores said. “He retooled a roster that we think can be very competitive in the East. I know he’s disappointed, and that he cares deeply about his players, his staff, this organization and this city. He’s also a professional who will make sure this is a seamless transition, and someone I hope will be a friend and adviser to me long after this transition is completed.

“I have nothing but respect and love for Stan. I think he is a great coach and a great man, and his presence and leadership helped move this franchise forward,” Mr. Gores said. “Although we did not get the success both of us wanted, his efforts and leadership have put the franchise in better shape today than when he came on board.”

According to the Detroit News, “Van Gundy was one of the last remaining figures to hold both roles as team president and coach and although Gores said he saw value in that synergy, it was one of the things that made assessing them difficult. Van Gundy had one year remaining on his five-year deal worth $35 million.”

Van Gundy, who was named president of basketball operations and head coach on May 14, 2014, tallied a regular-season record of 152-176 (.463) in four seasons with the Pistons. He posted a 44-38 (.536) regular-season record in 2015-16 and led the club to its first postseason appearance since the 2008-09 season. As president of basketball operations, Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower initiated the re-signing of Andre Drummond, selected first round draft picks Stanley Johnson, Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard and made notable trade acquisitions for Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley.

Fan reaction and discussion of this news is here

Courtney Lee is always worth listening to. He’s got a great perspective on all things basketball. Here’s New York Newsday reporting his opinion on David Fizdale, who will soon be named new head coach of the Knicks:

Courtney Lee didn’t play under David Fizdale in Memphis, but he looks forward to getting that chance with the Knicks.

Lee spent parts of three seasons in Memphis and remains close with some players there. He knows of the fallout that Fizdale had with center Marc Gasol that ultimately cost him his job this past season. But Lee also has heard nothing but good things about the Knicks’ new coach. Lee believes holding your best player accountable shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.

“I just know that he’s a great players’ coach,” Lee said during a phone interview Friday.

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Guarding James Harden is extremely difficult. He’s awesome in one-on-one situations. He can hit three-pointers in a defender’s face. And when he drives, the result is often an assist or free throws for Harden. Here’s Jazz backup guard Dante Exum discussing it, in the Houston Chronicle:

Though much has been made about Jazz reserve Dante Exum’s success when defending James Harden in Wednesday’s Game 2, Exum said it was about studying enough video to know what to expect and simply staying in front of Harden often enough to frustrate the Rockets’ star.

“It’s definitely about watching film and knowing his tendencies,” Exum said. “Everybody has tendencies and like to get to a certain place. He goes left and likes to step back. It’s just knowing when he’s doing that and what I can do to stop that.

“It’s just about me staying in front of him. I’m not going to get that charge call every time which you saw in the second half (of Game 2). As long as I stay in front of him, it’s just going to frustrate him. He’s used to getting by guys or stepping back and getting an open shot. As much as possible, I have to stay in front of him and remind him that I’m there.”

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