VIDEO: Highlights from Monday’s games
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Curry uncertain for Game 3— The Golden State Warriors are undefeated in the playoffs, building a 2-0 first-round series lead against the Houston Rockets after last night’s 115-106 victory. The Warriors pulled off that feat as the reigning Kia MVP, Stephen Curry, sat out to rest a right ankle injury he suffered in Game 1. As the series shifts to Houston for Games 3 and 4, Golden State coach Steve Kerr remains uncertain if Curry will suit up for Game 3:
The Golden State Warriors took a 2-0 series lead over the Houston Rockets despite Stephen Curry’s absence Monday night, and coach Steve Kerr continued to say the priority is the reigning NBA MVP’s health as the team looks ahead to Game 3.
“We’ll see how he responds the next couple of days, and if he’s not right, obviously being up 2-0 does give us more cushion if we decide to sit him. But it will be based on his health, not the series score,” Kerr said.
Curry sat out Monday night’s 115-106 win because of a right ankle injury. He now has until Thursday night’s Game 3 in Houston to try to get healthy.
“I’d like to think if it were 1-1 and he was still not able to play, we wouldn’t play him,” Kerr said. “We’d never want to put winning ahead of a player’s career and his health. We’ve seen teams do that and paid for it. Players have paid for it in the past. So we want to make sure Steph is right and his [ankle] is fine and healthy.”
Curry took the court some 90 minutes before tipoff and went through his normal dribbling session before he started shooting. He put little pressure on the ankle while taking several shots and hit six 3-pointers in the corner.
He lined up to shoot a long jumper from the right wing but didn’t release the ball and hopped in apparent discomfort before throwing the ball in the air. He left the court at Oracle Arena moments later.
Curry, team physicians, Warriors owner Joe Lacob and Warriors general manager Bob Myers met in the training room after Curry’s exit. Lacob said Curry did not aggravate the ankle but simply wasn’t healthy enough to play.
Kerr said earlier in the day that he and Curry had a long chat.
“We will definitely err on the side of caution,” Kerr said. “If he’s not right, then he’s not going to play. It’s not worth risking turning this into a long-term issue.
“We had a good conversation before shootaround, and Steph is a very rational person. He’s easy to speak with, and we kind of went over the different scenarios. He understands we have, first of all, his best interests at heart — his career. We know that he had surgery on that ankle four years ago. He has a lot of basketball ahead of him. There’s plenty of cases in the past where people played through stuff, and it didn’t turn out so well — Grant Hill being the one that always jumps out at me — and whether that’s the same type of thing as this, I don’t really know. But I do know that we have to look after his health because the competitor that he is, he’s going to want to play.”
Shaun Livingston, who left Sunday’s practice with an illness, moved into the starting lineup in Curry’s place, and had 16 points and six assists.
“I think their small lineup is still unconventional,” interim Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff said before Monday’s game. “They still have guys that can shoot it and can score and guys that move well without the ball. I think their system doesn’t change. They’ll still play the same way. They’ll push it at you. They’ll still shoot a ton of 3s. They’ll continue to move. So you have to be prepared for that.
VIDEO: Warriors.com recaps Game 2
No. 2: Report: Thibodeau wants full control in next role — Former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau sat out all of 2015-16, even though his name was attached to just about any coaching vacancy that came about since he was dumped by the Bulls in the summer of 2015. Perhaps that first coaching gig in Chicago taught him some lessons off the court. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix are reporting that Thibodeau does want to coach again, but wants more control over personnel matters, too:
Tom Thibodeau is pursuing the Minnesota Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations and coaching job because of his determination to have full control of an organization, league sources told The Vertical.
Thibodeau wants to have final say on player personnel, organizational philosophy and hirings, league sources said, and that’s only available with the Minnesota opening now.
If he doesn’t end up with Minnesota, Thibodeau will still consider coaching jobs without full control, but his preference is clearly to have it, league sources said.
Thibodeau more determined in pursuit of the Minnesota job, league sources said. Minnesota ownership is completing its meetings with Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy on Monday and is expected to move quickly in making an offer, league sources said.
Thibodeau’s appetite for organizational power has been unmistakable to Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor in the process, league sources said.
Several teams with openings have interest in Thibodeau as a coach, including Washington and Houston, but those organizations aren’t offering full control, sources said. The Sacramento coaching job is open, but Thibodeau has no interest in the Kings’ organization, sources said.
Taylor is expected to be willing to pay a $7 million-a-year package to an elite candidate, comparable to Stan Van Gundy’s deal with Detroit, league sources said.
Thibodeau spent time this season traveling around the NBA and studying franchise models, San Antonio and Detroit among them. How Thibodeau handles power – and how he interacts with a GM that reports to him as president – is a source of intrigue and curiosity around the league.
Jeff Van Gundy is intrigued with the structure that his brother, Stan, employs in Detroit, but that hasn’t been a driving factor in his desire to return to coaching, league sources said. Jeff Van Gundy has been diligent in considering potential coaching situations in which he can have a strong working relationship and shared vision with a potential team’s current GM and owner, league sources said.
Jeff Van Gundy is at the top of the Houston Rockets’ list of potential candidates along with Thibodeau, league sources said. Jeff Van Gundy resigned as Rockets coach in 2007 after four seasons and still lives in Houston.
No. 3: Report: Jackson, Rambis to hold triangle tutorial meeting — You can question whether or not the triangle offense is an effective strategy in today’s pace-and-space, 3-and-D NBA. What you can’t question is the New York Knicks’ commitment to running that offense as long as its guru, Phil Jackson, is the president of the team. According to ESPN.com’s Ian Bagley, Jackson — and interim coach Kurt Rambis — will soon have an instructive session of sorts with some players on the Knicks about the offense:
Phil Jackson will meet with a few New York Knicks players to go over the club’s triangle offense this week, and interim head coach Kurt Rambis will join him, league sources confirmed.
In addition to being further evidence of Jackson’s commitment to the triangle offense, the workouts are significant because Rambis, a strong candidate for the Knicks’ head-coaching vacancy, will be in attendance.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Jackson confirmed that Rambis will be considered for the full-time job. The Knicks went 9-19 under Rambis, who took over for the fired Derek Fisher in early February.
Jackson said last week that he planned to talk to multiple candidates about the vacancy. In addition to Rambis, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton recently spoke to Jackson informally about the Knicks’ vacancy, sources say.
After the conversation, Jackson told people within the Knicks organization that he believed Walton would stay with the Warriors, a source told ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Jackson intimated on Thursday that he plans to reach out to several candidates before making a decision.
“People I probably know will be in the interview process,” Jackson said. “I will reach out to make connections to some people.”
Rambis, who worked under Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers, has intimate knowledge of the offense. Jackson recently complimented Rambis for the way the Knicks executed the offense during his tenure as interim coach.
“They had an immersion in the triangle,” Jackson said last week. “When Kurt started coaching the team, they started executing it with more structure. We saw some progress, but we have to make the next step.”
Hiring a coach is the first step in a pivotal offseason for Jackson. The Knicks are projected to have at least $18 million in free agency, and Jackson hopes to upgrade the roster after losing a combined 115 games the past two seasons.
Jackson said last week that rookie Kristaps Porzingis will be a draw in free agency.
“We’ve had so many people come up to us and say they want to play for a guy like KP, which is a nice thing to hear from various agents,” he said. “…. So we feel we have an attractive product here.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Dallas Mavericks bounce back in a big way in Game 2 … How Jonas Valanciunas saved the day for Toronto in Game 2 … The Houston Rockets are a bit worried about how all the flooding in Houston will affect them off the court … Count Kyle Korver as a big fan of new Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson … The all-time leader in 3-pointers made, Ray Allen, is pretty impressed by Stephen Curry‘s shooting … Elton Brand is pretty confident the Philadelphia 76ers are headed in the right direction …