NEWS OF THE MORNING
Curry ‘doubtful’ for Game 4 — With a win tonight in Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers (10:30 ET, TNT), Golden State will be one win away from a Western Conference finals berth. They’ve made most of their progress in the playoffs without superstar Stephen Curry as he tries to recover from a knee injury suffered in the first round vs. Houston. To win Game 4 tonight, they’ll more than likely have to do so without Curry, whom coach Steve Kerr says is unlikely to play tonight, writes Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com:
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Sunday characterized the status of point guard Stephen Curry as doubtful for Game 4 versus the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
“I would just say he’s doubtful for tomorrow but slowly and surely making progress,” Kerr said.
Curry hasn’t suited up for action since he sprained his right MCL when he slipped on a damp spot of the floor in a win over the Houston Rockets in Game 4 in the first round. Although Curry said earlier last week that he hoped he could play in Game 3 of this series, the Warriors have exercised caution with him and eased him into on-court drills.
During Sunday’s practice, he took part in some 3-on-3 action, in which he was guarded by Warriors reserve wing Ian Clark, as well as a variety of skills exercises.
“He looked about like he looked yesterday, in terms of movement,” Kerr said. “Conditioning is going to be an issue, but hopefully he can get more and more work in, and we’ll see how he comes up tomorrow, in terms of a night of sleep coming off the workout.”
“The trainers would have to tell me he’s good to go,” Kerr said. “Steph would have to say he’s good to go. And then we would have to figure out a plan from there.
“You trust the medical staff in terms of, ‘Is there potential for more damage?’ Then you trust the player with how he’s feeling. Steph has been, even when he’s lobbied like in the Houston series when he hurt his ankle, he would lobby and then admit, ‘No, it’s probably not right.’ I know I’d get a truthful answer from Steph. He’s not going to try to be a hero, and we’ll make the reasonable decision based on all the information.”
Curry will go through the team’s shootaround Monday morning, after which his status will be reevaluated.
No. 2: Horford mum on future with Hawks — Since being taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2008 Draft, Al Horford has known no other NBA team than the Atlanta Hawks. The four-time All-Star has had his share of high moments with the team, but the offeseason has begun for him, now that Atlanta was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Horford is an unrestricted free agent this summer and stands to get a decent payday, whether that takes place in Atlanta or elsewhere. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Horford and gauged his thoughts on the future:
Al Horford was not ready to think about his future.
Not minutes after the Hawks were swept from the NBA playoffs by the Cavaliers for the second straight year. However, the longest-tenured Hawks player will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The center will be coveted on the open market. The Hawks have the cap space to sign the veteran to a maximum five-year deal. Those are all issues to be worked out in the coming months.
Although he may have played his last game in a Hawks uniform, on Sunday night Horford just wanted to think about one more team meeting. The Hawks will have exit interviews and locker clean out on Monday.
“I’m not thinking about that,” Horford said. “We just had a tough loss. My main priority tomorrow is to meet with the team and the coaches one last time (for the season) and go from there and figure out how we can be a better group.”
“I’ve set up here with my family. We all live here. We live here in the summer. We live here year-round. I’m very grateful for all the people here. They have taken me in from the very first day, even though I was a Gator. They loved me. I really love the city.”
No. 3: Green guarantees Game 4 win for Warriors — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green isn’t one to shy away from talking on the court. Nor is he one to shy away from playing big in big games. So as Game 4 of Warriors vs. Blazers approaches tonight (10:30 ET, TNT), Green is ready to atone for the Warriors’ loss in Game 3 and more or less guaranteed Golden State will win tonight, writes Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Ninety games into their season, starting four days before Halloween and now stretching past Mother’s Day, the Warriors still haven’t lost consecutive games.
This remarkable run faces another stiff challenge Monday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. Win and the Warriors could close out the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night in Oakland. Lose and the series will be all square.
Draymond Green essentially promised a Warriors victory, nonchalantly saying after Saturday’s loss in Game 3, “We’ll be better, I’ll be better, and we’ll win.” Green simmers after any defeat, which helps explain why these Warriors still haven’t endured a two-game losing streak.
Head coach Steve Kerr has suggested his entire team becomes angry after a loss, and this anger usually translates to an improved performance in the next game.
Said center Andrew Bogut of the problems in Game 3: “There were some glaring issues we had, basically related to energy and effort. We’ll fix that pretty easily.”
No. 4: Kings closing in on new coach; Report: Second meeting with Joerger planned — The Sacramento Kings had a long list of potential coaches to fill the void created when they fired George Karl. From Jeff Hornacek to Lionel Hollins and beyond, the Kings have shown interest or interviewed several candidates, including former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger (who was fired by Memphis over the weekend). According to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, the Kings are closing in on their finalists for the job:
The Kings interviewed former Memphis coach Dave Joerger on Sunday and will now move on to compiling their list of finalists for their head coaching vacancy on Monday.
Joerger, who was fired on Saturday, has emerged as a top candidate but the Kings maintain they plan to come up with two or three finalists on Monday and meet with them again this week, according to league sources.
The NBA scouting combine is in Chicago this week and that is where the Kings would meet with candidates with the hopes of making a decision on a coach by the end of the week.
Reports had the Kings progressing in talks on a contract with Joerger, but sources said the Kings still want to meet with other candidates again this week, and that message has been relayed to candidates.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the Kings plan to have a second interview with Joerger sometime today as they narrow their wish list:
A second round of talks between Dave Joerger and the Sacramento Kings has been scheduled for Monday, after substantive discussions on Sunday about the Kings’ coaching vacancy, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that Joerger and Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac held lengthy and productive meetings on Mother’s Day in Sacramento, in the wake of Joerger’s abrupt dismissal by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Although one source cautioned that “nothing is done until it’s done,” another source close to the talks said the sides are working toward a four-year deal valued in the $16 million range that, barring any snags, is likely to include a team option for the fourth year.
The Kings, sources say, had become increasingly intrigued by the idea of hiring Joerger away from the Grizzlies over the past week and had sought permission to talk to him, which was among the factors that prompted Memphis to cut ties with him suddenly and make Joerger a coaching free agent.
Before Sunday’s talks with Joerger, Divac interviewed NBA coaching veterans Sam Mitchell, Vinny Del Negro, Mike Woodson, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan, as well as veteran assistant coaches Patrick Ewing and Elston Turner and current Sacramento assistant Corliss Williamson — all part of what Sacramento had always planned to be a broad, deliberate search.
The Kings had also lined up an interview with former NBA assistant coach Henry Bibby, and they had received permission to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant coaches Ettore Messina and James Borrego for the job when the Spurs have a suitable break in their playoff schedule. But it was not immediately clear if those interviews would remain on the schedule given the serious nature of the Joerger talks.
ESPN.com reported last week that former Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale has withdrawn his name from consideration after engaging the Kings in “exploratory discussions.”
No. 5: Report: Grizzlies reach out to Vogel — The Memphis Grizzlies are coach-less after they fired Dave Joerger on Saturday morning. Frank Vogel is out of a job after the Indiana Pacers let him go last week. None of those parties in either story will be inactive for long as Joerger is already drawing interest from the Sacramento Kings for their vacancy and Vogel is one of several coaches the Grizzlies have contacted about their opening. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical has more:
The Memphis Grizzlies have begun making contact with several head-coaching candidates, as well as the representatives of Frank Vogel, league sources told The Vertical.
The preliminary stages of Memphis’ search to replace Dave Joerger include Vogel – the formerIndiana Pacers coach – who used the weekend to decompress after losing his job on Thursday, league sources said.
Vogel plans to start evaluating head-coaching opportunities early this week, league sources said.
Memphis has started reaching out to teams to obtain permission to interview candidates, and league sources told The Vertical that part of the franchise’s working list of coaches includes former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina, Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing, Portland assistant Nate Tibbets and Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale, league sources said.
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace and assistant general manager Ed Stefanski are planning to start meeting with candidates at the Chicago predraft camp this week, league sources said.