No. 1: Timberwolves to consider trading Love — While team president Flip Saunders’ first job is hiring a coach to replace replace Rick Adelman and Sam Mitchell has emerged as top candidate, it also seems the Timberwolves might finally be coming round to the reality that they’ll have to trade Kevin Love before he flees as a free agent in 2015. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the scoop:
Beyond the coaching search, the Wolves are under pressure to start considering trade scenarios for Love, who’s anxious to exercise his Early Termination Option (ETO) in the summer of 2015 and leave as a free agent, league sources said.
“For the first time, [Saunders] sounds like looking at deals for [Love] is an option,” one rival executive told Yahoo Sports.
The Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are among many teams determined to make hard runs at trades for Love, league sources said. Boston and Los Angeles plan to make high-lottery picks in the 2014 NBA Draft available in offers for Love, sources said.
No team is likely to trade for Love without an assurance that he’ll commit to a five-year, $100 million maximum contract extension. Despite a belief that Love prefers Los Angeles or New York as a potential destination, he’s open to deals in other markets where he can be part of an immediate contender, sources said.
Nevertheless, Saunders has made finding a coach to help convince Love to reconsider free agency as a top priority, but the bigger issue for the All-Star forward comes with a roster that hasn’t been talented enough to make the Western Conference playoffs.
No. 2: Brooks says Fisher a perfect fit to coach the Knicks — Though Thunder coach Scott Brooks hopes to have him around for two more rounds of the playoffs, he says veteran point guard Derek Fisher is a perfect fit in New York to help Phil Jackson repair the Knicks. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News spoke to Brooks and on the eve of the Western Conference finals as Fisher, Brooks and OKC prepare to tangle with the Spurs:
“Derek will make a great head coach,” Brooks told the Daily News on Saturday. “He’s smart, he knows the game and works hard. He’s also played for one of the greatest coaches in sports history . . . and I’m not talking about myself, by the way.”
Fisher, of course, played under Jackson in Los Angeles and has some of the same qualities that Jackson’s first choice, Steve Kerr, possesses. If Fisher happens to make the immediate jump from retired player to head coach, it would not be unprecedented. Jason Kidd was a rookie head coach with Brooklyn after retiring last spring following his one season with the Knicks.
Fisher, 39, is a candidate to become the next head coach of the Knicks along with Tyronn Lue, Luke Walton and Kurt Rambis. All have either played for or worked under Jackson. It is unclear if former Knick Mark Jackson, a sentimental choice for many Knick fans, is a candidate. Jackson was rehired by ABC/ESPN on Saturday but can get out of his deal to accept a head coaching job.
A person familiar with Phil Jackson’s thinking insists the new Knicks president will hire someone he’s either coached or worked with. According to Brooks, Fisher has not mentioned the possibility of coaching next season. In fact, Brooks claims that Fisher has not entirely closed the door on playing next season.
“In the role that he has, he’s done a great job for us this year,” Brooks said.
“I think it would make a lot of sense for Derek to coach in New York. But there’s no rush. If they wait a few more weeks they can talk to him. I don’t think Phil would talk to him now anyway because Phil has too much respect for the game and Derek. He knows how hard it is to accomplish what we’re trying to do here. But I hope they do speak at some point.”
No. 3: Sterling saga could mean a long and difficult offseason for Clippers — It was one thing to try to live with the controversial finish to Game 5. It was another to let Game 6 against the Thunder slip through their hands. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times notes that the real problems for the Clippers could just be starting. The NBA is trying to oust owner Donald Sterling as quickly as possible, but that may not be so easy and the whole affair hangs over the franchise:
When asked whether the Sterling debacle ultimately weighed his team down, Doc Rivers finally answered yes.
“I think a lot of stuff, yeah,” he said. “The playoffs are hard enough without any of this stuff, so….”
Then came Thursday’s fourth quarter, during which the Thunder charged out to a 10-point lead in the first six minutes, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook making their shots while the Clippers never seemed to get into their offense.
Paul committed two turnovers in the quarter, Griffin scored just two baskets in the quarter, and the exhausted team never found its flow.
The Clippers were not only outscored by six in the fourth quarter, but by 14 in the second half.
“I personally thought at halftime, we never got our energy back,” said Rivers. “We tried. That’s all you can do.”
Now it just gets harder. Donald Sterling’s lawyer Maxwell M. Blecher has reportedly sent a letter to the league vowing that Sterling would not pay his $2.5-million fine, a sign of the fight that awaits.
If the NBA thinks everyone understands the removal of Sterling could take months, the NBA is seriously misguided. The league’s players want Sterling gone before the start of next season. The Clippers players will be faced with enormous pressure to refuse to wear a Clippers uniform next season if Sterling is still in charge. Rivers will face the same pressure to remain as coach.
“I think I’m prepared for somewhat of a messy summer, mentally at least,” said Rivers. “I just think it’s going that way.”
On a night the Clippers finally succumbed, it was clear that Donald Sterling has not.
On a night the fight was valiantly lost, the fight was just beginning.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Tyler Ennis of Syracuse says forget out Dante Exum and Marcus Smart, because he’s the top point guard in the NBA draft class of 2014. … Kevin Johnson is taking charge of the NBPA search for a new leader. … The crop of new head coaching candidates has thinned out considerably with all the recent turnover.