Morning shootaround — June 2


VIDEO: Relive Stephen Curry’s top 10 assists from 2014-15

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Reports: Hoiberg headed to Bulls| All-time great shooters marvel at Curry’s shooting skill | LeBron says he’s playing at his best ever

No. 1: Reports: Hoiberg headed to Bulls; Has reached 5-year deal with Chicago — The worst kept secret in the NBA regarding who will replace Tom Thibodeau as coach of the Chicago Bulls will likely be fully out in the open today. According to multiple reports, the Bulls are set to formally introduce Iowa State coach (and former Bulls player) Fred Hoiberg as their next coach. ESPN.com has more on the move, which isn’t a done deal yet, but is close enough that Hoiberg is telling some at Iowa State he won’t be back for 2015-16:

Fred Hoiberg has informed several Iowa State players and staff members that he is leaving, a source told ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman.

Hoiberg is in negotiations with the Chicago Bulls for a five-year contract to become their new coach and was en route to Chicago to finalize the agreement, according to the source.

Although contract language is still being hammered out, multiple sources said the feeling from many within the Bulls organization is that the deal is all but complete.

On Monday night, the Bulls informed media that the team will make a “major announcement” Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.

Hoiberg has been mentioned as a successor to Tom Thibodeau for months, due to Hoiberg’s close friendship with Bulls general manager Gar Forman and several others in the team’s front office.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports Hoiberg has in fact already signed with the Bulls and has a five-year, $25 million deal with them:

Fred Hoiberg has signed a five-year contract worth nearly $25 million to coach the Chicago Bulls, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Chicago has a news conference set for Tuesday afternoon to introduce Hoiberg as coach.

Hoiberg’s contract is comparable to deals that Golden State’s Steve Kerr and New York Knicks’ Derek Fisher signed a year ago.

Hoiberg had been making $2.6 million a year at Iowa State.

Bulls management considered the partnership that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens had developed as a model for the Hoiberg hiring, league sources said. Stevens made the leap to the NBA from Butler University three years ago.

The Oklahoma City Thunder hired Florida coach Billy Donovan, agreeing to what sources say is a five-year, $30 million contract.

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No. 2: NBA’s all-time great shooters amazed by Curry’s feats — It has become a routine feat during Golden State Warriors games: NBA MVP Stephen Curry has the ball, puts on array of dazzling dribbling moves, pulls up from an unbelievable distance and swishes the shot. Curry’s form, accuracy and scoring acumen have many already calling him an all-time great shooter, but what do all-time great shooters themselves think of that claim. Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher caught up with Rick Barry, Kiki Vandeweghe, Chuck Person, Dana Barros and Steve Nash and none of them tried to refute that claim:

If there was a dissenter among the five, it was the ex-Warriors small forward Barry. He didn’t outright dismiss Curry’s claim to a mythic best-shooter-ever title, nor did he nominate someone else. He did raise some fair points—noting that the Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver has led the league in three-point shooting percentage the last two years and insisting “that there were probably a lot of” players in his era that were better mid-range shooters than Curry—but he took greatest exception to the all-encompassing aspect of the title.

“You can’t even do it because you can’t compare guys who played before the three-point line was introduced,” said Barry, a 12-time All-Star—four times in the ABA—who led the Warriors to their lone championship in 1975. His last NBA season, ’79-80, was the league’s first with a three-point line adopted from the ABA. “You can only pick from the modern era,” he said. “I had to learn how to shoot that shot.”

Nash, of course, achieved the statistical holy grail of 50-40-90 (50 percent or better from the field, 40 percent or better from three-point range and 90 percent of better on free throws) four times in five seasons and narrowly missed five in a row. Four is still twice as many as the next most, by Larry Bird, and only nine players in all have done it at least once while playing at least 55 games in a season.

Although Curry is not among them—he shot 48.7 overall, 44.3 on 3s and a league-leading 91.4 from the line—Vandeweghe ranks this season for Curry as the best overall shooting performance he’s ever seen when degree of difficulty and level of importance are included.

“Comparing year to year, people at their peak, I’ve never seen anyone better,” Vandeweghe said. “The difficulty of some of the shots he makes is incredible. He makes shots I wouldn’t even think of taking, and I took a lot of shots. He has a certain body and court awareness. He always knows where the basket is. His fundamentals are as good as anyone I’ve seen—Dell’s form is actually more textbook because his release point was higher—and no matter where he is, he can always get off a good shot.”

Nash has no problem conceding the title to Curry.

“The only pause I have is from fear of being ignorant,” he said. “Am I missing someone? Does he need to play longer or do it longer? Does he have to do it in the playoffs more years? But my first reaction is, ‘Why not?’ He’s as good as anyone I can think of on every level—pure shooting, array of shots, percentage, getting hot, plays to the end—he checks all the boxes.”

“He’s probably going to shoot a lower percentage than me his whole career because he’s going to take more shots and he should,” Nash said. “It’s just a difference in mentality. I would shoot a higher percentage than Steph because I was much more conservative. I would try to shoot as high a percentage as possible to save shots for my teammates and then shoot more in the fourth quarter. I had coaches tell me I was hurting our team at times by trying to set up my teammates, but I always thought I got it back by how I made them feel and incorporated them into the offensive scheme and the chemistry of the team. He’s capable of that, but he’s more inclined to score. There are things he can do that I can’t. He’s such a beautiful shooter with such an array of shots and such a quick release, you wouldn’t want to take that away from him at all.”

“Steph takes it to another level,” Nash said. “I was able to do it going left and right, and we can both do it at speed, but I was always trying to get to the three-point line. He can do it from deeper and, frankly, I never took a step-back. He has no trouble taking a step-back and making it. You add that to all the other shots. It could be a clincher in this game of deciding who’s the best.”

 

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No. 3: LeBron says he’s playing at ‘best I’ve ever been’ right now — LeBron James has had so many memorable seasons and playoff runs that at this point, it can be hard to pick which one was his “best”. The man himself, though, is resolute that the playoff run he and the Cleveland Cavaliers are enjoying is clearly his top effort yet and he made that clear yesterday. ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin has more:

Despite his impeccable past body of work, the 12-year veteran said Monday that he believes he is playing the best basketball of his career right now.

“I think if you put it all together, yeah,” James said. “If you put everything together as far as my mind, my body, my game. If you put everything in one bottle, this is probably the best I’ve been.”

James will play in his fifth straight NBA Finals when the Cleveland Cavaliers open up Game 1 on the road against the Golden State Warriors (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET, ABC) after leading the Cavs through the first three rounds of the playoffs averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He was even better in the conference finals, putting up 30.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists in a four-game sweep of Atlanta.

Cavs teammate Kevin Love was asked to put James’ current level of play in perspective at practice Sunday.

“I think it’s tough. Was he bouncier at one point? Physically, it’s tough to say,” Love said. “But as far as up here [mentally], I think he’s ahead of where he was. Being able to make everybody around him better, it’s a great quality. He doesn’t lack that at all. I think he’s truly done a phenomenal job with guys going down and helping others to play better.”

“They see me every day, and I happen to be alongside those guys and I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to help our team win,” James said of his team’s support. “It’s great to know when your teammates appreciate what you do and I just try to give it all back to them as best I can.”

While James said that he is personally playing the best ball of his life, he was reluctant to rank his overall postseason performance compared with others in his career until he sees how the Cavs finish things out against the Warriors.

“I don’t know, I’ve had some great playoff runs before,” James said. “I don’t know if this is the top right now, we’ll see in less than a month.”


VIDEO: LeBron James’ top 10 plays from the 2014-15 season

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Bulls fans, take note — great look at how Fred Hoiberg turned things around fast at Iowa State … Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut once lobbied for the team to try and sign undrafted prospect (and current Cleveland Cavaliers guard) Matthew Dellavedova … Former Utah Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko is reportedly retiring from pro basketball altogetherKevin Love says he has mended fences with Kelly Olynyk … New Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry specifically showed team officials how Anthony Davis was being underutilized … Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley is open to all options in free agency … Nothing personal, LeBron, but Shaquille O’Neal says he’d pick Kobe Bryant over you … The Sacramento Kings wanted to draft Elfrid Payton in the 2014 Draft, but got overruled by owner Vivek Ranadive on that notion … Anderson Varejao will definitely not be activated for The Finals … Congrats to Nick Young, who became engaged to longtime girlfriend Iggy Azalea last night

5 Comments

  1. NBAfan says:

    Can’t compare him to Korver sure shoots a higher 3pt % but he’s shooting much less and typically more catch-and-shoot, also less defensive pressure..
    Curry is a volume shooter, he takes much tougher contested shots and shooting those crazy off-dribble shots. Nash knows whats up, Curry just needs to keep this consistency going for few more years and there won’t be many doubters left!

  2. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Curry best shooter ever, he’s making a strong case, but Bird, Miller, Nash, Dirk, Kobe and a few other’s have been good. I got to agree with Lebron he’s playing his best ever, but he’s shooting his worse ever from the three point why he’s also averaging triple double numbers. Off the hook, and doing it with players who were playing horrible with there former teams, Lebron just brings out the best in his teammates, were ever he plays.

  3. Red says:

    Why are there so many news about the bulls? No one cares! please give us coverage about the upcoming finals.

  4. BIG-GAME-JAMES-23 says:

    LeBron is playing the best basketball right now from a mental standpoint. He is being a leader on the court, he seems more confident than he ever has in his career. On Miami, Wade was the big brother, it was Wade’s team, Wade had already won a championship, so LeBron was reliant on Wade to be the Leader. Now LeBron has taken on that role in Cleveland, everybody looks up to him and looks at him for guidance, and LeBron has taken on a a big brother / on-court coach role. I just can’t see the Cavs losing this year, not after how far they’ve come without Love and with an injured Kyrie. LeBron should never be considered an underdog in any series.

    Cavs in 6! ( a hard fought 6, will al games being pretty close)