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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Alex Abrines undergoes surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Alex Abrines has undergone surgery to fix a sports hernia. The procedure was performed by Dr. William Meyers of the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, Pa.

In the 2017-18 NBA season, Abrines played in 75 games (eight starts) for the Thunder, averaging 4.7 points per outing while shooting .380 percent from three-point range (84-221 3FGs) to go along with 1.5 rebounds in 15.1 minutes.

Abrines will likely miss around six weeks before he returns to regular offseason activities.

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to terms with Igor Kokoškov (kuh-KOS-kov) to become the team’s new head coach, making him the first head coach born and raised outside North America in NBA history. Kokoškov will begin his duties as Suns head coach following the conclusion of the Utah Jazz season.

“We are thrilled to bring Valley resident Igor Kokoškov back to Arizona as head coach of the Phoenix Suns,” said General Manager Ryan McDonough. “Igor has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brings a wealth of high level coaching experience to our club. He was one of the first non-American born assistant coaches at both the NCAA and NBA levels and his most recent head coaching stint includes leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title, which was the first European title in the history of the country. Igor’s teams have always had a player development focus, a creative style of play and a track record of success.”

Kokoškov, 46, will be the 19th head coach in franchise history. He is currently in his third season as an assistant coach with the Jazz and 18th season overall as an NBA assistant coach since becoming the first non-American assistant coach in league history in 2000. Kokoškov has helped the Jazz reach the Western Conference Semifinals in each of the past two seasons as the team’s lead assistant coach.

According to the Arizona Republic, “Kokoskov, 46, has many of the qualities General Manager Ryan McDonough is looking for in his next coach. He’s had success as a head coach – albeit not in the NBA – having led Slovenia to the EuroBasket 2017 championship. One of the star players on that team: Guard Luka Doncic, who could be the Suns’ choice if they get the No. 1 pick in the draft. He’s had extensive NBA coaching experience; in addition to his five years as an assistant with the Suns, Kokoskov also worked for the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and the Jazz.”

Kokoškov previously worked with the Suns as an assistant coach from 2008-2013 and was on the bench for the team’s 2010 Western Conference Finals run. In addition to his time as an assistant with the Jazz and the Suns, he has been an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic (2015), Cleveland Cavaliers (2013-14), Detroit Pistons (2003-2008) and Los Angeles Clippers (2000-2003). Kokoškov has been on the coaching staff of seven teams to reach the Conference Finals, two teams to reach the NBA Finals and won an NBA title as an assistant coach with the Pistons in 2004, becoming the first non-American assistant to be an NBA Champion.

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Kokoškov is an accomplished international coach on top of his extensive NBA experience. As head coach of the Slovenian national team from 2016-2017, Kokoškov guided the nation to a gold-medal finish and perfect 9-0 record at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 as Slovenia captured its first-ever European Championship. He also was head coach of the Georgian national team from 2008-2015, qualifying for EuroBasket three times which Georgia had never accomplished previously.

In 1999, Kokoškov became the first European coach to hold a full-time position with an NCAA Division I basketball program as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri under Quin Snyder, whose coaching staff Kokoškov has been a member of with the Jazz for the past three seasons.

The Celtics have a 1-0 second round playoff series lead against the Sixers. Game 2 is Thursday in Boston. The Celtics were quite impressive in Game 1, getting huge performances from Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and a guy by the name of Terry Rozier. The team won’t have Kyrie Irving in these playoffs, but they do hope to get shooting guard Jaylen Brown back soon. They’re being careful, though. Here’s the Boston Herald:

The Celtics continue to practice extreme caution with Jaylen Brown, who tested his strained hamstring during a workout before Wednesday’s practice.

Though Brown will check his leg again during tomorrow morning’s shootaround, he continues to be listed as doubtful for Game 2 tomorrow night against Philadelphia.

And the reason, especially with a balky hamstring, is clear. Brad Stevens doesn’t want his star two guard risking re-injury while chasing the likes of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli – all very active wing players in their own ways.

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Thunder will keep coach Billy Donovan

The Thunder have a huge upcoming summer. Both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony could stay or go. The team also needs to decide what’s best, and who makes a proper fit around Russell Westbrook. One thing they have already decided is, they do have the right coach for the job. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Billy Donovan, who is 150-96 in three seasons as the Thunder’s head coach, will return for a fourth, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said Wednesday at his postseason news conference.

Presti’s hope is that Donovan, who’s faced significant roster turnover in his first two offseasons with OKC, will “be able to work with the same core of a team that has a baseline that we’ve established.”

In his hourlong meeting with the media, Presti said the organization is “disappointed” with the 2017-18 season, which ended with loss in six games to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

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Kevin Durant buys Malibu mansion

I bought pizza today. You probably bought something recently as well. Well, Kevin Durant made a cute little purchase of his own in April, reports the LA Times:

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors has shelled out $12.05 million for his own slice of beachfront in Malibu.

Set on a privately gated street, the multilevel contemporary home was originally built in 1976 and extensively remodeled five years ago. Features include open-concept living and dining rooms, wide-plank French oak floors and vaulted ceilings — a likely must-have for the 6-foot-10 basketball player.

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