Which available spot is most appealing to an out-of-work coach? Least?
Detroit’s Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight (by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE)
Steve Aschburner: Detroit. The core of young talent makes the Pistons an attractive job – Greg Monroe put up more double-doubles for Detroit than anyone since Grant Hill, Brandon Knight is so young he still has time to develop better point guard sensibilities and rookies Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond had solid inaugural seasons. Drummond might have been brought along too slowly, so there’s untapped potential right below the surface. The payroll is in good shape, too, with space this summer and guys like Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey entering the final years of their deals.
Fran Blinebury: Geez, it’s closing time at the bar and time to make your pick. Coaches win with the best players and so you’ve got to start there. The best players on the teams with openings were Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and Jrue Holiday in Philly. (I’m assuming we still are counting the Cavs in here in the 24 hours of Mike Brown‘s return.) Since the Sixers are such a mess and have to figure out what they’re going to do with Andrew Bynum, I’m leaning toward the Cavs as most appealing. Do you really have to ask about the worst? Charlotte is a black hole inside a smoking ruin wrapped up in a disaster. And Error Jordan is still calling the shots.
Jeff Caplan: Let’s answer the last part first: Charlotte. What a disaster. Hey, what coach would want that gig? There’s only been three coaches in the last three seasons. How’s that for security? Oh, and the collective talent … well, yeah. OK, so there’s a couple ways to look at the most appealing job. The first is that it got snapped up Tuesday with news that Mike Brown is headed back to Cleveland to coach Kyrie Irving and the Cavs’ kids. The other is that the most appealing job isn’t open, yet. Remember, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will make a decision on his return depending on his wife’s health. If he decides it’s best to walk away, then someone will walk into a very well-stocked cupboard. Similarly, Brooklyn will make a decision on interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. If he’s out, someone will get a team that’s maxed-out deep into the luxury tax, but comes with All-Star level players at point guard and center.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Most appealing of the jobs open at the moment, since others may be coming, is Cleveland (at least until Brown walks through the door). Getting the certainty of Kyrie Irving along with the real promise of a few others is a running start to success for a new guy. Least appealing: Charlotte. A brief moment of hope with Larry Brown has become year after year of instability.
John Schuhmann: I’m going to assume that we’re including Cleveland (and not the three or four additional jobs that may open up in the next few weeks) among our options, because it was available just a few hours ago. And then I’m going to answer Cleveland, because the Cavs have the star player. Every team and every coach wants a star to build around. Mike Brown had it in his first go-round in Cleveland, and he has it now. And this is a team he can improve right away by just getting them to play decent defense, just like he did previously. I also think that Detroit, with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, is pretty appealing. Least appealing? Charlotte, Charlotte and Charlotte.
Sekou Smith: Of the available openings today, the Detroit job shows the most immediate growth potential. You have a veteran general manager in Joe Dumars who remains in place and a young core that includes Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight (he will survive the highlight reel tumult of this season) as building blocks. The Pistons finished this season playing decent basketball under ousted coach Lawrence Frank, so there were signs of life from this group even at the finish of a season that was lottery-bound months ago. That speaks to the mettle of the players. They have to do sound work in the Draft and in free agency, but this a rebuild that is past the foundation process. As for the least appealing, well, there is always Charlotte.
Lang Whitaker: Most appealing has to be Cleveland — besides having Anderson Varejao under contract through 2015, you get Kyrie, and having an All-Star point guard already in the fold in the age of the point guard is a decided advantage. Also, seems like Dan Gilbert would be fun to work for, because you know he cares about winning. And I bet he sends out some fiery emails to his staff from time to time. For least appealing I’ll go with Charlotte. Consider that next season, in his third season in the NBA, Kemba Walker will be playing for his third coach. Doesn’t really seem like the organization is setting its guys up to be successful.
MIAMI –Brandon Jennings is fearless. The Milwaukee Bucks’ point guard always has been and probably always will be. And it’s hard not to admire that trait in him.
You don’t skip college for pro ball in Italy, declare yourself better than than international teen sensation Ricky Rubio and then back that claim up with four fantastic NBA seasons and have an ounce of fear in you.
But that fearlessness alone won’t be enough to propel the Bucks in their first round playoff series against the Miami Heat. They’ll need All-Star work out of Jennings and equal doses of fearlessness and spectacular play from the entire roster just to make this thing as interesting on the court as it has been in the build up to Game 1 here tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena. (On TNT, 7 p.m. ET)
Thursday night at the Wisconsin Sports Award ceremony, where he was picking up an award for his work in the community, Jennings uttered these famous words: ”I’m real confident. I’m sure everybody is writing us off but I see us winning the series in six.”
There is, however, recent evidence that a No. 8 can actually pull this off.
Two of the five instances in league history when a No. 1 seed has been upset by a No. 8 have come in the past two seasons. The Philadelphia 76ers did it last year against the Chicago Bulls, but only after Bulls All-Star Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game 1. And the Memphis Grizzlies stunned the San Antonio Spurs the year before that.
This Heat team, however, is a far superior outfit to either of those aforementioned upset victims. They won 66-games this season, including that monster 27-game win streak, and have been vetted like few other great teams when you consider all that has gone on with this Heat crew the past three seasons.
“We don’t feel we can be beat in a series,” Heat center Chris Bosh said. “We say that in the most humble manner possible. We’ve been humbled already. I think before, all those other teams [upset], they were either injured or just caught slipping or they were in a five-game series. We’re not in that predicament so it’s a little different.”
The Bucks also have to contend with a rested and hungry LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two stars who have welcomed all challenges since joining forces with Bosh here in Miami.
Jennings might very well have the advantage in his individual matchup against Mario Chalmers, though the ultra-confident Chalmers would love to argue that. And the Bucks have the same fighting chance any No. 8 seed does before the games actually begin. But it’s not like the Heat don’t see the challenge coming. They’ve been on guard for three years running now.
That would explain the reaction of Bosh, Wade and the rest of the Heat. They’ve seen and heard it all before (you remember the Indiana series from last year or the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals last year?). All that’s left is to play the games.
“We’ve been in every situation where it’s happened,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ve been up in a series and it’s happened. We’ve been down in a series and it’s happened. It’s happened, so what? [Sunday] night, bring it. That’s the only thing we can control.”
It’s going to take more than a healthy dose of bravado for the Bucks, or anyone else for that matter, to beat the Heat.
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
Bulls win, but bigs could be on minutes limit– As they’ve done all season, the Bulls continue to stay in the thick of the race for the No. 5 seed in the East — a spot that won’t be decided until likely the season’s final night. Last night’s easy win over the hapless Orlando Magic provided a good sign for the Bulls in that injured big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both got in some playing time after missing games with injuries. But K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Noah and Gibson could see a tight minutes limit come playoff time:
A season filled with uncertainty will close with this dose of clarity: The Bulls won’t know their first-round playoff opponent until Wednesday’s season finale.
That’s because the Bulls defeated the hapless Magic 102-84 on Monday night as both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson returned to test their recoveries from injury and coach Tom Thibodeau said it’s “a possibility” both players will be on minutes limits at the start of the posteason.
Noah, who had missed 12 of the previous 13 games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, finished with six points, five rebounds and four fouls in 14 minutes, 21 seconds off the bench. Gibson, who had missed 17 games recently in two separate bouts with a sprained MCL in his left knee, contributed 12 points and two blocks in 21:13.
“I knew there was a setback right away last time,” Noah said after his last attempt to return April 7 in Detroit. “I feel pretty good right now. I’m just happy my foot held up.”
Noah admitted his wind wasn’t “great” but vowed it would “get better quick.”
Gibson wore the large brace he said he disliked.
“The brace is real protective, but I just have to get used to it,” Gibson said. “It’s kind of heavy. But the knee felt great. The main thing I wanted to do was play some defense because our defense was really awful the last couple games.”
…”We have to be at our best in a short amount of time,” Thibodeau said. “We’re a well-rested team. The question I have is are we a sharp team? We have guys that haven’t played a lot of minutes lately that are going to be called upon to be at their best. The moment of truth will be here shortly.”
Lawson getting back to his old self — Shortly after their 15-game win streak ended, the Nuggets were dealt a serious blow to their hopes of a long playoff run when Ty Lawson went down with a foot injury on March 27. Although he missed just five games as he got better, the Nuggets were concerned how much their point guard could play and whether or not he’d be the game-changing playmaker they were used to. Last night’s win in Milwaukee went a long way in proving Lawson is speedily returning to form, though, writes Christopher Dempsyof The Denver Post:
With 14.2 seconds to go and down one at Milwaukee, a game the Nuggets had to have to lock up a top four spot in the Western Conference, Ty Lawson surveyed the court and lofted the ball to Wilson Chandler. Chandler handed the ball back off to Lawson who drove the lane, crossed over the defender, Monta Ellis, rose up and hit a shot that was arguably the most important jumper any Nugget has hit in the last three weeks.
Lawson is back.
His heel is not all the way healed, but that shot suggested his game is.
The degree of difficulty won’t go down as calculus level stuff. It was a 10-ish-foot jumper. But Lawson’s speed and quickness, which was in full display on the play, got him free for an open look. And in the process wiped away – or should have – any of the doubt about what he is and can be in the playoffs.
Initially, Karl said if Lawson could give 20-25 minutes when he returned that he could work with that. And yet Lawson, since returning late last week, has given him so much more.
His arc, since playing on April 12 has looked like this: 13 points; 12 points and 10 assists; and now 26 points and seven assists. After Sunday’s game against Portland, Karl was already gushing: “I couldn’t have asked for a better script these last two games,” he said of his point guard.
Tonight’s game should have erased any other doubts.
Lawson has averaged 17 points, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals in the three games he’s been back. He’s shot 56 percent from the field and 84 percent from the free throw line. Monday night’s game brought back another encouraging sign – his ability to get to the rim and draw fouls.
In the last two weeks there has been enough bad news for the Nuggets, who are just trying to get their roster to survive the remainder of the regular season to get to the playoffs. First, Lawson’s status was in doubt. Then Danilo Gallinari was lost for the season. Then Kenneth Faried went down and can only hope to be close to 100 percent for the start of the playoffs.
It was time for some good news.
Ty Lawson provided it. And with it, may have renewed at least some of the belief that these Nuggets are still headed for a healthy playoff run.
OKC wraps up No. 1 in West — It is easy to take for granted the success the Thunder have enjoyed all-so-quickly since moving from Seattle before the 2008-09 season. Although the first campaign in Oklahoma saw the Thunder go 23-59, since then it has been nothing but a steady climb for the youthful contenders. Last night, they achieved perhaps their greatest feat since the move, winning their 60th game and wrapping up the top spot in the West. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman has more on the Thunder’s rise to the top of the conference:
Not only did the Thunder clinch the top spot in the conference, but OKC also won for the 60th time this season, marking the first 60-win season in Oklahoma City’s brief basketball history.
“It’s shows that we’re improving every year,” said Thabo Sefolosha. “It’s a big number. There’s not a lot of teams that can do it, and to be part of that group and just to get to that number is big.”
With a win in the season finale Wednesday against Milwaukee, the Thunder can finish with a .744 winning percentage. Win or lose, though, the Thunder will have increased its winning percentage in each of its first five seasons, from .280 in 2008-09, to .610 in 2009-10, to .671 in 2010-11, to .712 last year. Even with a loss Wednesday, the Thunder would finish with a .732 winning percentage.
“It feels good, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said Kevin Durant of winning 60 games. “We’ve never done it here before so it’s new to us. But it feels good. It shows our progression as a franchise each and every year.”
Gores wants accountability for Dumars, Frank — We haven’t seen or heard much from Tom Gores since he took over ownership of the Pistons in 2011 from the Davidson family. While he has been mostly a quiet owner of the team, he has no doubt been unhappy with the fifth straight season of sub-.500 basketball, the youthful-but-mistake-prone efforts and the roster that is a bit of a mishmash of parts. Gores spoke to the media before the Pistons’ home finale against Philly and was none to pleased with his team, GM Joe Dumars and coach LawrenceFrank, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
Speaking with the news media briefly before Monday night’s home finale against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gores said he was serious when he said last season he expected to make the playoffs and is disappointed the franchise didn’t come close.
“I will say I expected better results,” Gores said. “I met with Joe and Lawrence (Sunday) and I let them know that. They’re great guys that know their business, but I’m here assessing everything. My job is to move this franchise forward.”
The Pistons moved to 29-52 on the season following Monday night’s 109-101 victory. The season concludes Wednesday at the Brooklyn Nets, and then the season postmortem will begin.
For Gores, it’s all about accountability. He plans to meet with both Frank and Dumars in the coming days. The Pistons are 54-93 under Frank in two seasons.
“I think both of them, including ownership, has to be accountable for the year,” Gores said. “We have to be accountable for the results of this year. We have a great core of young players, but we have to be accountable.”
“Now I’m very excited about what we have going,” Gores said. “We have a lot of (cap) room. We’ve set ourselves up financially, and basketball operations has set ourselves up, so I’m very excited about the future.
“But I’m not content about how we performed this year.”
Through a series of transactions the last 10 months, the Pistons will have roughly $25 million to spend this summer on free agency or trades. He said the Pistons “are prepared to spend.”
“It’s always important, but it’s magnified this year because we’ve really put ourselves in position to really make moves,” Gores said. We want to win a championship. We want to get into the playoffs and all of things.
“I tell you, Lawrence is a tremendous guy. I’ve gotten to know him over the last couple and he’s tremendous, but I really have to think about what the best thing is.”
Report: Bobcats name change a ways off — On Jan. 24, the New Orleans Hornets officially announced they would be changing their name, colors and logo to that of the Pelicans for next season. It was a move to closer bind the franchise to the New Orleans community and leaves the Hornets moniker, which dates to the franchise’s days in Charlotte, back in the NBA’s hands. Shortly thereafter, chatter (or buzz, if you will) began around the Web and the Charlotte community that the current team there — the Bobcats — should look to reclaim the nickname that was once theirs. A website called BringBackTheBuzz.com is spearheading the charge on the Internet, but the hopes of that group and others who want the Bobcats renamed for next season are looking unlikely. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has more on what it would take to change from the Bobcats to something else:
If the Charlotte Bobcats ask the NBA for a name change, it would be at least 18 months before such a request was implemented.
NBA commissioner-to-be Adam Silver met with the Observer and other print media outlets Monday during a visit to Charlotte. Much of his 20-minute interview addressed the possibility the Bobcats might switch their nickname to “Hornets” now that the New Orleans Hornets are switching to “Pelicans.”
The Bobcats have done some market research but have yet to make a request with the NBA. Silver said he is fine with whatever the Bobcats decide, but that the team’s deliberate approach is the right course.
Silver said this would be a “very expensive process for the team,” so it’s “a weighty process, not just what ‘X’ amount of fans say in an opinion poll.”
Rather, it’s about whether a rebranding would be lucrative enough to justify spending millions on new uniforms, logos and signage.
Since the NBA owns the name “Charlotte Hornets,” plus the teal-and-purple color scheme the team wore in Charlotte and New Orleans, Silver was asked how quickly a new brand could be implemented.
Even with all that working for it, a change from Bobcats to Hornets would take a minimum of 18 months, the deputy commissioner said.
Silver also was asked whether the Benson family, which owns the Pelicans, still controls the Hornets nickname. Silver replied that the Bobcats wouldn’t owe the Pelicans compensation if they took on that name.
ICYMI of the night: Derrick Williams might be the best player in the league at finishing off crazy alley-oops. Here’s another one to add to hisstockadeofsuchplays:
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: As our own Steve Aschburner wrote about before last night’s Knicks-Bulls tilt from Chicago, coach Tom Thibodeau has once again done an amazing job of keeping this Bulls team together all season long. Aside from the scotch-tape job he has done with Chicago’s lineups all season, Thibodeau apparently is the master when it comes to ending a foe’s opposing win streak. The Bulls already had Miami’s 27-game run on their kill list and last night, they added the Knicks 13-game run to it. Nate Robinson was at his best last night, dropping in 35 points and coming up with the hustle plays and backbreaking shots that are a hallmark of his game when he is on.
Parker, Popovich can’t agree on return date — Up until March 1 against the Sacramento Kings, Tony Parker was in the midst of an MVP-type season. But that night in San Antonio, Parker severely sprained his left ankle and missed 22 days before returning to play (and star) in an OT win over the Jazz. He looked just like his old self for a while, but then suffered a neck injury in a loss at Oklahoma City on April 4 and has been out of the lineup since. Parker is hoping to come back soon, but the exact date on that, according to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News, depends on who you ask:
On his way to the team bus after a loss to the Nuggets in which Gregg Popovich would not allow him to play Tony Parker, the Spurs’ All-Star point guard, made a promise he hopes the coach will allow him to keep on Friday night.
“I’m playing Friday,” Parker said without breaking stride as he focused on Friday’s game against the Kings at the AT&T Center.
For a team disheartened all the more by the pre-game news that forward Boris Diaw has been ruled out of action for two to three weeks with a sprained lower back (technically, a sprained lumbar facet), Parker’s vow was music to his teammates’ ears.
The Spurs leader in points scored and assists, the five-time All-Star hasn’t played since an April 4 game at Oklahoma City in which his most recent injury, a sore neck, resulted in his lowest output of the season: two points, on 1-for-6 shooting.
Parker will have to convince Popovich he is completely recovered from a variety of ailments if he wants to suit up against the Sacramento Kings Friday. The Spurs coach said he would re-visit the issue with Parker after a Friday morning shootaround.
“We’ll see how he feels,” Popovich said after Wednesday’s game in Denver.
In the wake of a published report saying the organization privately hopes Doug Collins doesn’t return next season as 76ers coach, his agent claims it will be Collins’ call.
“The relationship with Doug, me and Sixers management has been terrific,” said John Langel during a Thursday afternoon telephone conversation. “What they told me beyond this season and as recently as today and yesterday is how long Doug stays here is Doug’s decision.”
Langel denied rumblings that the story, which cited multiple unnamed NBA sources, in Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer originated from Collins’ camp.
Sixers spokesman Mike Preston said, “We are aware of the report and will not comment on a column loaded with innuendo and speculation.”
In October, Sixers majority owner Josh Harris announced the team had picked up a fourth-year option (for the 2013-14 season) on Collins’ contract. It is believed to be worth $4.5 million.
Sixers CEO Adam Aron has repeatedly — and as recently as last month — said management would like for Collins to coach the team beyond next season.
Harris is expected to meet with the media next Thursday, the day after the end of the regular season.
Report: Bulls likely to add Mirotic in 2014 — Back in the 2011 Draft, the Chicago Bulls pulled off a trade that day with the Houston Rockets to pick up Real Madrid star Nikola Mirotic. Since then, he’s been stashed overseas and is developing his game while Bulls fans salivate over the prospect of having a talent like Mirotic on the roster soon. Bulls fans should get their due soon, though, writes ESPNChicago.com, as the Bulls are poised to add Mirotic to the roster come 2014:
Chicago Bulls fans eager for Nikola Mirotic to join the team that drafted him with the 24th pick in 2011 will likely have to wait until the summer of 2014, general manager Gar Forman explained.
“You’re slotted in the first round, and I think the slot for No. 24 is $1.3 or $1.4 million,” Forman said Thursday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “Well, he makes a lot more money than that right now over at Real Madrid. So the way the CBA is written is after three years then you’re no longer slotted. Then you can use whether it’s exception room or cap room in order to pay a guy.
“So there’s no possibility this summer because next year will be his third year. But after next year, the summer of 2014, then we’ll be able to start some negotiations as far as a buyout possibly with Real Madrid or negotiate with him to come over here.”
The 6-10 forward has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki and Danilo Gallinari.
“He reminds me of Dirk and a little bit of Gallo, just a little bit,” said Memphis center Zach Randolph, who played against Mirotic in an exhibition game. “But I can see the Dirk comparisons. I can see why, definitely.”
Some thought Mirotic could play small forward, but Forman said he’ll be a power forward.
“We’re really, really excited about him,” Forman said. “We built a relationship with him, we’re in constant communication. John (Paxson) and I went up and saw him this fall when he played at Memphis and at Toronto in a couple NBA exhibitions, and we think the ceiling there is incredible.
“He’s probably a four, but he’s very, very skilled. He shoots it from 3, can handle it, good mobility. And he’s a tough, tough kid.”
Report: Stern my decide on Kings’ future — Originally, the Sacramento Kings’ future was to be decided at the April 18-19 Board of Governors meeting, but after groups from Sacramento and Seattle gave their presentations on April 3, that deadline was pushed back (as our David Aldridge reports). More developments have come along (as our Scott Howard-Cooper reports) and the future of the Kings remains very much in doubt. Sam Amick of USA Today, though, says that Commissioner David Stern could be the deciding vote in whether or not the Kings move or stay put:
When David Stern announced he would retire next February, his 30th anniversary as NBA commissioner, he likely thought he had seen it all.
But here he is, in the 11th hour of a tenure that has been historic and memorable in many ways, directing traffic in an unprecedented affair, this fight for the Kings between Sacramento and Seattle, that will leave a lasting note on his legacy. And with a week left before the Board of Governors meetings in New York, when a vote on the matter likely will take place, this much has become abundantly clear: Stern still wields considerable influence, and strong signs persist that he’s doing all he can to keep the team in Sacramento.
For all of Stern’s talk of playing a merely advisory role, the growing sentiment from all sides is the commissioner, who has always been clear about his distaste for relocation, is determined to avoid having a sixth team change cities on his watch. And he remains powerful enough to pull it off. The story line is sticky, of course, because of the way the league moved the Seattle SuperSonics to the Oklahoma City in 2008 and the widely held assumption that Stern was hellbent on returning the NBA to Seattle before he retired.
This is a good problem to have for Stern and his successor, deputy commissioner Adam Silver. They clearly are smitten with the potential global impact that could come with Sacramento’s lead investor, Indian software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, but might have a hard time denying Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his deep pockets. Rumors of expansion as the potential solution to satisfy both sides persist, but Stern has said consistently it is not an option at the moment. The reality remains that one city will go home unhappy.
Monroe, Drummond rising for Pistons — Detroit is in the midst of a fourth straight season of winning less than 40 percent of their games and have a 50-plus loss season for the third time in four seasons. But in the midst of a losing campaign and more rebuilding, the Pistons have found some hope in their frontcourt tandem of rookie big man Andre Drummond and second-year center Greg Monroe. Richard Hardy of HoopsWorld.com has more on the Pistons’ developing duo and the prospects for a brighter future in Detroit:
After selecting Andre Drummond in this year’s draft, the Detroit Pistons had a potential log-jam at the center position. Just two years earlier they had selected Greg Monroe. Both players have shown that they deserve to be starters in this league and rather trading one of them, the Pistons opted to move Monroe over to power forward, hoping that the two can player together.
“We’ve put Greg in a situation where he’s playing a different position than he’s used to,” Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank said. “He’s responded very positively and we just want him to continue to progress in these last 16 quarters of basketball.”
At 6’11 and 250 lbs, Monroe is deceptively quick. Frank believes that in time Monroe can thrive at the four, regardless of what teams throw at him.
“Greg’s ability, with his size and skill level, to put the ball on the floor and make decisions is critical,” Frank said. “His low-post game continues to expand and he’s continuing to gain more and more confidence in his 15-foot jump shot. Defensively, when you look at the last 10 to 12 games, he’s had some really good individual defensive challenges that he’s responded to.”
Although Drummond and Monroe are similar in size, Drummond insists that their games are radically different.
“I do all the dirty work,” Drummond said. “Greg is the fundamental guy. He has the ability to hit the jump shot and he can pass the ball really well. He does all the active stuff and I clean up around the rim. We complement each other and for me, the game is easier when he’s out there.”
Monroe has been impressed with what Drummond has been able to do in such a short amount of time in the NBA. Although he agrees with Drummond about them being different players, he also sees similarities in their games.
“Andre is someone who’s very comfortable around the rim,” Monroe said. “He can run the floor and he’s a better passer than people give him credit for. I think both of us are pretty unselfish and we both have a ton of room for growth moving forward.”
ICYMI of the night: Chris Anderson, formerly of the Nuggets, has just been getting victimized by his old teammates. The latest to slam on him? None other than Washington’s Nene … :
Who needs the Draft’s No. 1 pick the most? Who will use it best?
Last year’s No. 1, Anthony Davis (by Noah Graham/NBAE)
Steve Aschburner: Charlotte. Please, Charlotte. No team in The Association needs more help – on the court, at the turnstiles, for the boss’ legacy – than the Bobcats. Doesn’t matter how they spend it (Nerlens Noel, Marcus Smart, whomever), they need to pick high, they need to get it right, they need to get moving. As for which team would best utilize it, I’m thinking San Antonio, which aces the No. 1 pick every time it gets it.
Fran Blinebury: Oh, for sure the Bobcats need it the most. They’ve been living on the bottom so long they should be renamed “Flounders.” Of course, based on Michael Jordan‘s stewardship, they’ll be right back fishing for No. 1 again next season. Orlando probably deserves it after having Shaq and Dwight Howard walk out the door. But based on what’s already going on in Cleveland and the pieces that have already been put around Kyrie Irving, I believe the Cavs could take a big step forward with the No. 1 pick and make it more appealing for free agent LeBron James to return in 2014.
Jeff Caplan: We all know who needs the No. 1 pick. His initials are M and J. But do we trust the Charlotte Bobcats owner with the top pick? I’ve got a bridge to sell you … So who’d best utilize it? I’d like to see what Dell Demps and Monty Williams could deliver to the young and intriguing New Orleans Pelicans.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Needs it most? Probably Charlotte or Sacramento. The other teams with the best chance to get No. 1 either had relatively recent success or signs of forward movement in place. The Bobcats have struggled to gain traction and the Kings are rowing in circles. Who makes the best use of the pick? The GM that still has his job in two years. This Draft is filled with potential peril.
John Schuhmann: The answer to the first question is obviously the Bobcats, because they’re terrible on both ends of the floor and need help at every position, except maybe small forward (because I like the Kidd-Gilchrist/Taylor combination if they just get MKG a dedicated shooting coach). I think the Pistons would do well with the pick, though. They already have three young pieces with Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. If they keep Jose Calderon, use their cap space wisely, and add a top pick that’s ready to contribute, they could be ready to take the next step.
Sekou Smith: First we we have to identify exactly what the team with the No. 1 pick in the Draft would be getting their hands on with that top pick. And from what I saw during March Madness, there didn’t seem to be a program changer running through the college ranks. If Ben McLemore of Kansas is the man, then it would be fantastic to see what a couple of unusual lottery types could do with the No. 1 pick. The Dallas Mavericks need a young star to help bridge the gap between the Dirk Nowitzki era and whatever comes next. Sure, the Charlotte Bobcats are in much more dire straits than an outfit like the Mavericks. But after years of seeing what perennial lottery teams do with the top picks in the Draft, I’d love to see what the Mavericks could do with the No. 1 overall pick.
HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – It took longer than expected during this difficult season marred by an onslaught of injury and a family illness, but Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman reached 1,000 career wins Saturday night.
Adelman’s Minnesota Timberwolves got the job done at home, knocking off the Detroit Pistons, allowing the home crowd to join in the celebration. In attendance was Adelman’s wife, Mark Kay, who was hospitalized during the season with an illness that still has no definitive diagnosis. Adelman, 66, took time away from the team to care for her and he has contemplated retiring after the season to stay by her side.
For the moment, through a tumultuous season full of disappointment, Saturday’s victory provided a rare chance to smile and reflect on a tremendous coaching career. Adelman’s career record stands at 1,000-703 (.587). In his 22nd season, Adelman became the eighth coach to reach 1,000 career wins (joining Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown and George Karl) and he is the fifth-fastest to reach the milestone
“Glad we got it done tonight,” said Adelman, one of the game’s most innovative if also most understated coaches, said after the 107-101 victory. “It was tough game; they played well. Our guys hung in there and made some plays down the stretch to win the game. Like I said earlier, it’s a great group of players who stayed with us all year long and never stopped playing. They kept battling it through; the coaching staff too. It was good to get it here especially at home.”
Here’s Adelman in his own words, courtesy of The Wolves’ media relations department:
On moment with Mary Kay making everything worthwhile…
“She had to be part of it. I told her I was going to bring her down. She wasn’t very happy about that but she has been there all the years. When you go through a job like this in situations and you move and raise six kids and everything else; if it wasn’t for her I couldn’t have done it. So I’m really glad we did it here. It relieves a little bit of stress. Like I said to you before the game, I think it was in some ways when I look back, it was good for this group. We have had such a tough time that you are just trying to scrap wins out. When you have something like this that you are actually working for there is expectations; there is a little bit more pressure and I think that is good because this group we have to learn what that is all about. To be a good team that’s where the expectations are. It’s not just to win a game, it’s to keep going. I’m really happy with the way they have played the last week.”
On the list of coaching names he has joined…
“It’s special people. Some of the names up there, it’s incredible. I never ever expected to be with that group. But like I said before, I have had some really special situations and we were able to stay a couple of places for a long time, which doesn’t happen in this league very often. To get that many wins, there are good players involved and good coaches staffs involved and good organizations involved. It was special to get this.”
On it being more special to have his sons on his coaching staff…
“That was one of the big reasons why I came here. You always want to win, you always want to have good situations to give yourself a chance because it’s a tough job, but I learned in Houston when we lost Yao [Ming] and lost Tracy McGrady and a bunch of guys that busted our tails every night. It was a lot of fun coaching that group. When I looked at this group this year it’s the same thing. I think there is other ways to get enjoyment. Everybody talks about how you have to win; yeah that’s part of it, but to get around a group of guys you can coach you see them grow individually and as a team, that’s also part of it. And to have my two sons involved, yeah it’s special. That is a huge reason why this was an attractive situation to me. They just didn’t tell me about April before this year that it was so hard to win games in April. I think we have a really group. Like I said, they have really maintained this whole year.”
On where this milestone ranks…
“It’s way up there. Now that it’s done you think about all the years and everything else. It’s pretty special. This has been a difficult year. You have to give credit. You have to thank Glen, David and the whole organization for staying behind me because it was a tough situation. There was never a doubt that I was going to be able to do what I thought I needed to do because of their support.”
On the journey to get here and knowing son Ricky and Derrick weren’t born when he got his first victory…
“Well thanks a lot (laughs). I feel older. I feel older. There is a thousand wins that everybody keeps talking about but I don’t know how many losses too. [He's told 703] Yeah, okay thanks. I knew you would know. I didn’t know (laughs). It is something that you learn as you go on in this league. Like I said, great situations where you walk on the court and you know you have a great chance to win every night. This situation it was tough going out there every day. You learn that it’s a tough business. You have to learn to handle that as well as you do the wins. I think the players have to learn you can’t accept it. It’s part of your job and we got thrown a really tough curveball this year with everything that happened. Even last year at the end of the year. But again, I compliment them for staying with it and hopefully we can get some more before the season ends.”
MIAMI – All those texts, Tweets and subliminal messages from friends, family and fans were answered by the Miami Heat this time.
Sure, they trailed at halftime for the ninth straight game Friday night against a Detroit Pistons team still searching for its 24th win of the season. But that didn’t stop the Heat from cruising when it mattered most, at winning time, on their way to their 25th straight win, a somewhat methodical 103-89 disposal before an appreciative AmericanAirlines Arena crowd.
Instead of the heart attack finishes they’ve been delivering recently, Boston Monday night and then Wednesday in Cleveland, they simply ran away from the Pistons late in the third quarter and into the fourth. And it was a welcome sight for guys like Shane Battier, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Never mind the fact that they’re eight games from the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA record 33-game win streak, and all of the pressure that comes with chasing that mark. Sometimes you just want to take the edge off for family and friends whose emotions rise and fall with every double-digit deficit incurred and every heart-racing comeback.
“My parents, they’re great fans and a lot more emotional than I am about this than I am,” Battier said. “I told them ‘sorry, we’re working on playing better.’”
At least they could keep the TV on for the game against the Pistons. The win in Cleveland, when the Heat rallied from a 27-point deficit behind huge shots from Battier and James in particular, was too much.
“They didn’t turn the TV off but they were close,” Battier said. “They’re a little older so they were close to going to bed.”
Just finding ways to win games sounds reasonable enough for the Heat. But lost in the haze of their streak is the fact that they are taking the best shot the rest of the league has to give basically every night.
The Pistons came into the night on the complete opposite end of the standings spectrum, having lost nine straight games. But if you were one of the folks in town for the Ultra Music Festival and wandered into the arena by accident and watched the first half, you would have been hard-pressed to identify the team on the losing streak from the team on the second-best winning streak in NBA history.
“Everybody wants to win by 30 every night,” Wade said. “Sorry guys, it’s not possible.”
They aren’t crazy. They realize that they are in the midst of a stretch — against the Cavaliers, Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats (Sunday) and Orlando Magic (Monday) — where a team 50 games over .500 should have no trouble handling its business against the lottery crowd.
“Win the games we’re supposed to win,” Wade said. “Right now we’re playing teams that we are better than and we are winning games we’re supposed to win.”
That’s easy to do when you always have an advantage in the, as Wade put it, ”games within the game.” An 11-point deficit with James and Wade there to dig you out of it looks completely different when you are hoping that Jose Calderon and Greg Monroe rescue you.
Heat coach Erick Spoelstra isn’t overly concerned about the sluggish starts, but he is by no means dismissing them.
“It’s on the radar,” he said. “There’s no question about it. We need to put together complete games. Now it has been three games in a row where we haven’t gotten off to the energetic start that we’re looking for, so we’ll have an opportunity to get back to it on Sunday. But no excuses. We are not making excuses for ourselves.”
The Heat don’t have to make excuses for winning all the time, especially not with James dominating on both ends the way he did against the Pistons. He finished his night with 29 points, on 12-for-15 shooting from the floor, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
Catching and passing the Lakers is not one of the career milestones James had on his bucket list. So while he’s honored to be a part of a team chasing that historical ghost, he said he feels no pressure to pacify others who are caught up in the hype of what this team is doing right now. And that includes anyone texting after games about their blood pressure spiking at the end of games like the one in Cleveland.
“Right now we are taking each and every game as its own,” he said. “We need to prepare for the next one, which is Sunday. I am not going to sit here and downplay it and act like I don’t know what the record is. I know it’s 33. But we don’t get caught up and say, ‘okay, eight games until we get it.’ We just play our next game and see what happens.”
HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – How far can the Miami Heat take their streak? After Wednesday’s Comeback on the Cuyahoga, and looking at the rest of their schedule, it’s anybody’s guess.
Next up: The down-and-out Detroit Pistons visit AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami (Friday on NBA TV, pregame at 7 p.m.). The Pistons have won only eight road games all season.
Easy pickings, right?
Heat upcoming schedule
Well, ask the Denver Nuggets, winners of 31 out of 34 home games, just how easy it was to file away a Philly club Thursday night with a half-dozen road wins. No disrespect, Mr. Flacco, but that’s your Mile High Miracle.
To avoid handing over the mantle of longest active win streak to the Nuggets after they somehow made it 14 in a row Thursday, Miami will need to take care of business in a more focused fashion than a couple of nights ago in LeBron James‘ old gym.
The Heat (53-14) seek consecutive victory No. 25 Friday night, in their quest for the NBA record of 33 straight, against the malfunctioning Pistons, a squad that hasn’t won a game since late last month — nine consecutive losses.
Miami’s upcoming schedule is favorable enough that the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers record-holders should watch with bated breath. To finish out March, Miami plays just two teams with winning records. Still, both of them are on the road and neither Wednesday’s game at Chicago nor a March 31 date at San Antonio will be a walk in the park.
If Miami makes it to April unscathed, the streak will have reached 30 with only New York, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Milwaukee blocking the Heat from destiny.
But before chalking up their next three — vs. Detroit, vs. Charlotte, at Orlando — as automatic W’s, remember that it’s often the dog with the softest bark that bites the hardest.
The Heat’s 24-game win streak, the second-longest in NBA history, is split evenly among current playoff teams and non-playoff teams, and it’s the lottery-bound teams that have been the biggest pains. The Heat’s average margin of victory against playoff teams is 11.5 points compared to 10.3 on the other side. Only one playoff team has battled them to a finish of five points or less — Boston on Monday night, falling 105-103 after losing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Five non-playoff teams have lost by five, four, one, four and three points. The Magic, Monday’s opponent in Orlando, lost by a point at Miami for Heat win No. 16 on the streak. Not included in the above group is double-overtime loser Sacramento, which wound up down 12 at the final buzzer, 141-129, for Heat win No. 12.
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: Props to the Kings, who with their win last night over the Timberwolves have won three of their last four and are .500 in March. As nice as it is to see them playing better basketball, we’ve got to obviously go with the Sixers-Nuggets game this morning. Seemly only fitting that with the NCAA Tournament underway that a one-time NCAA hero, Corey Brewer, would be the man stepping up to keep Denver’s win streak in tact. His clutch 3-point shooting down the stretch and his uber-clutch three free throws that won the game for the Nuggets gave a semi-routine NBA game the feel of March Madness. And Brewer’s celebration after the Nuggets salted away the game was more than NCAA-worthy, too.
Iggy increases trust factor for Nuggets — In rolling up 14 straight wins to set a franchise record for consecutive NBA wins, the Nuggets have turned up their defense whether they are at home or on the road. That defensive acumen wasn’t apparent during the majority of last night’s game against Philly, but as the Nuggets pulled off a miraculous comeback, the defense (and some fortunate breaks) came through to keep Denver rolling. Benjaman Hochman of The Denver Post has more on that defensive focus and the play of Andre Iguodala, who has spearheaded the charge:
Why do the Nuggets win games they should lose? I can give you a lot of fancy stats about fast-break scoring and improvements in all facets of defense, but the incalculable intangible is that they’re among the league leaders in trust.
“We talk a lot about the word trust,” Nuggets coach George Karl said, “trusting each other, trusting the concepts, trusting the intensity. The word trust has been in our game plans a lot. And I have to trust them, they’ve earned that trust.”
Trust is most important on the defensive end. And for however fun it was watching Allen Iverson and Melo pour in 25-plus a night, there was little trust on defense. Heck, there was little defense. Iverson was so insignificant on defense that occasionally he literally wasn’t even looking at the play (as such, many around the Pepsi Center believe that Denver somehow winning 50 games in 2007-08 was one of the greatest accomplishments in franchise history).
Now, Denver has the opposite of A.I. in, well, A.I.
“I think there’s a confidence that comes with having an Andre (Iguodala) on your defensive end of the court,” Karl said. “And when you can take a major opposing player and kind of control him with one individual, then you don’t need a lot of concepts, you don’t need a lot of tricks and cover-ups and rotations. And for a young team, that’s good, because if we had to gimmick up the game, I don’t know if our young players have done that enough to feel comfortable with it.
“There are a lot of concepts that your partner is supporting you in. you must go and trust that he’s going to be ready for you. And you also have to trust that the weakside defense will support you, so your defensive assignments probably involve more trust.”
Millsap not thrilled over benching in Houston — The Jazz find themselves 1 1/2 games behind the Lakers for the No. 8 spot in the West, but of late, Utah has struggled. It is 3-7 in March and has lost six of its last eight games, with a mix of blowouts and heartbreakers sprinkled among the defeats. The latest knock came on Wednesday in Houston, where the Rockets won 100-93, but had a double-digit lead most of the night and had their way with the Jazz’s defense. Once the game started spiraling out of control, coach Ty Corbin pulled starters Paul Millsap and Mo Williams for a younger crew that staged a semi-comeback in the fourth quarter. Millsap, as one would expect, wasn’t too thrilled and talked to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Bill Oramabout riding the bench against the Rockets:
When Paul Millsap was benched for the entire fourth quarter of a game in late December, he was asked whether the coaching decision upset him.
“What you think?” he responded. “I’ll let you answer that.”
But after being benched for the final 14:47 of the Utah Jazz’s 100-93 loss at Houston on Wednesday, Millsap found himself faced with the same question at Thursday morning’s practice.
“It’s tough for me not to play at all, period,” he said. “I want to be on the court at all times.”
Starting point guard Mo Williams, who also did not play in the fourth quarter, said he was “absolutely” fine with the move.
Millsap, in the final season of a four-year contract with the Jazz, was left on the bench as Derrick Favors closed the game. Favors’ numbers — five points, three rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes — paled when compared with Millsap’s 16 points, four rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes. However, the burgeoning backup was part of a resurgent unit that cut a 26-point deficit to five against the Rockets. Favors was part of a group that included Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Marvin Williams that coach Tyrone Corbin praised for a defense that, while it made mistakes, “it wasn’t as many times as the group before.”
Millsap described himself as “positive by nature” but was clearly troubled by the reduced role. He is third on the team in minutes per game at 30.2, and has spent more time on the floor this season than every player with the exception of Jefferson.
But the second-round pick turned franchise cornerstone seemed Thursday resigned to a change.
“Obviously,” he said, “it’s going to be that way. So I got to live with it.”
Detroit’s Frank mindful of future — The Pistons sport the fourth-worst record in the league and have just 13 games left in what has been a disappointing season. Four players on the roster — Jose Calderon, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum and Corey Maggette — can become free agents this summer. Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said he’s well aware of the tenuous relationship some of the players have with the team heading into next season and, as he tells MLive.com’s David Mayo, nothing is guaranteed for next season:
“Eyes are always on you,” head coach Lawrence Frank said. ”No one’s going to write it off. No, no, this is how you evaluate. We’re evaluating our guys every single day. That’s how the league is.
Frank hasn’t been back on the job long. He returned this week from a six-game absence to attend to his wife Susan during and after a major surgery in New Jersey.
But his warnings of careers on the line extended beyond the eight players whose contracts will expire or can be terminated or bought out after this season.
“I look at it as a coach, the job, how we’re playing, that’s reflective of my performance. As a player, same thing,” Frank said.
The Pistons have plenty to spend in the summer trade and free-agency periods and cleaning up the roster usually is a an accompanying chore.
“To me, there are no guarantees,” Frank said. ”When you’ve won the amount of games that we’ve won, I don’t care who you are, no one should feel safe. Me as coach, player. … There shouldn’t be a player on the roster with a record like we are who thinks, ‘Oh, I’m here next year.’ Well, we only one ‘X’ amount of games.”
Magic unlikely to have Harrington this season — Veteran big man Al Harrington will always be a part of Orlando Magic lore as one of the players the team acquired in the Dwight Howard mega-deal of last summer. Since joining the Magic, Harrington has appeared in 10 games with Orlando but hasn’t played since March 15. Although Harrington is healthy, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn plans to run with his younger players down the stretch and Harrington, who still has three years left on his contract, will sit more. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has more:
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn intends to play his young big men — 20-year-old Tobias Harris, 22-year-old Kyle O’Quinn, 22-year-old Nik Vucevic and 23-year-old Andrew Nicholson — as much as possible in the Magic’s final 13 games.
And that won’t leave much, if any, time for Harrington, a 33-year-old veteran.
Harrington hasn’t played in Orlando’s last three games, including Wednesday night’s 106-94 loss to the New York Knicks.
“It’s really nothing to do with his knees,” Vaughn said.
“It’s a coach’s decision. I’ve talked to Al just about the remaining games that we have. He’s helped us in the wins at Philly and New Orleans. He’s proven that he can still play this game at a high level, and I’m going to give the opportunity to play to some of our young guys and give them some experience. I think he has experience at this game a little bit already.”
He probably doesn’t fit into the rebuilding franchise’s long-term plans.
Next season, he’s due to earn about $7.1 million, but only $3.55 million of that is guaranteed. In 2013-14, he’s due to earn $7.6 million, but only $3.8 million of that is guaranteed.
If the Magic were to waive him outright this summer, the team would be required to pay him the guaranteed portions of both seasons.
ICYMI of the night: The Bulls were never really in the game against the Blazers, but at least Nate Robinson provided this Dunk Contest-worthy jam last night …:
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.
Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.
The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.
Here are a few more moments that made us laugh, made us smarter, or made us shake our heads.
Under the weather, I crashed early on Wednesday. When I woke up Thursday morning, I had an e-mail telling me that we needed to include the blown call “of Trevor Ariza’s missed shot” in the next Air Check.
So I knew the call was wrong. I knew the shot didn’t go in. And when I pulled up the game on my iPad, I knew the final score. But when I watched the play, I thought, for a split second, that the ball went through the basket.
So yeah, it was a tough moment for Buckhantz. But if you read this interview with Sarah Kogod, you’ll understand that he had a bad angle. And we’ll take a mistake like that over some of the other nonsense we hear on League Pass from time to time.
2. Classic Tommy
Game: Chicago @ Boston, Feb. 13 Broadcast: Boston
Tommy Heinsohn is an unapologetic Celtics homer. Heck, he’s been a part of the Celtics organization for most of the last 57 years. And of course, Heinsohn can go a little over the top with his analysis of officials’ calls. This one is a perfect example.
He calls the official “terrible” and says that Avery Bradley “plays this perfect.” As the replay clearly shows that Bradley didn’t beat Nate Robinson to the sideline and fouled Robinson with his shoulder, Heinsohn gets louder. “PLAYS IT PERFECT!”
“You couldn’t have played it any better than Bradley played it.”
Not really. But that’s Tommy.
3. Donatas’ Never-Before-Seen Post Moves
Game: Dallas @ Houston, March 3 Broadcast: Houston
I’ve watched this play more than a dozen times and I’m still not sure I see a travel. It’s possible that Donatas Motiejunas‘ left foot was his original pivot foot, and then he switched it to the right. He gathers the ball and makes his move so quickly that it’s hard to tell. But that’s not really the point.
What’s hilarious is Matt Bullard‘s insinuation that referee David Jones, with his 23 years of NBA experience, has never seen a move like that before.
“That’s the problem with young players in this league,” Bullard says. “The officials have not seen their moves. I think D-Mo surprised not only the Mavericks’ defender, but also the official.”
It’s also kind of funny that this was the fourth possession of the game and we’re already getting into the complaints about the officiating.
Bullard does take back his complaint after seeing the replay and Clyde Drexler notes that, you know, officials are good at their jobs. But it’s the instinct to immediately complain about a call against your team that’s bothersome.
4. Actually, he’s from Brooklyn
Game: Oklahoma City @ Denver, Jan. 20 Broadcast: Denver
Scott Hastings‘ absurd homerism was noted in last week’s post. We should probably give him some time before a second mention, but this one was so ridiculous, it couldn’t wait. Hastings continues to feed conspiracy theorists and question the ethics of NBA officials with unsubstantiated comments.
Late in a close game, Ty Lawson gets his hand on a Russell Westbrook pass, and official Mark Lindsay says the ball went off of Kevin Durant. Then Hastings takes over.
“Scottie Brooks runs to his guy Zach Zarba and says, ‘Hey can you review this?’”
The officials indeed decide to review the call, because the best thing to do is make sure that the calls was right. And then Hastings chimes in one more time.
“Zach lives down around Tulsa or some place,” he says.