HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Don’t take our word for it — one of the greatest coaches of all time thinks Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ranks among the best of the best.
Larry Brown (above) speaks glowingly about the job Popovich has done throughout his career. And much like NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, we think this season has been one of Pop’s best ever (not that he cares what we or anyone else in the media thinks). Good enough to edge reigning Coach of The Year Tom Thibodeau for the honor this season.
There were a number of strong candidates in addition to Popovich and Thibodeau. Frank Vogel guided the Pacers to a top three seed in the Eastern Conference. Doc Rivers revived the Celtics from an early season funk and finished with the Atlantic Division title. Scott Brooks has led Oklahoma City to the top of the Western Conference heap, a hair behind Pop’s Spurs. And you know we couldn’t forget our guy Lionel Hollins and the job he did with the Hang Time Grizzlies this season.
And those are just the guys who made the final cut.
The Wolves brass worked for weeks to get Adelman to come in for more than a phone interview. If he wants the job, and they can agree on a salary, the job is probably his.
The salary would probably have to be around $5 million per year.
Adelman joins Don Nelson and Sam Mitchell, likely, as the team’s top candidates. The 65-year-old Adelman has taken time off during his career, and the thought is he might want to take another year off to spend time with his family.
Adelman’s career record is 945-616 in 20 seasons with Portland, Golden State, Sacramento and Houston. He favors an up-tempo style, which is said to be what the Wolves seek.
The list of candidates linked to the job is extensive.
In addition to Adelman, Nelson and Mitchell, names like Larry Brown, Terry Porter, Mike Woodson and Bernie Bickerstaff were all mentioned as possible replacements for Rambis. Of this group, only Woodson has landed elsewhere. He has already signed a contract to join Mike D’Antoni‘s staff in New York.
If Adelman is the choice, the Timberwolves have every right to be excited. He would improve the situation in Minnesota the minute he walks through the door.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This one sounds too good to be true.
As if the Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t done everything in David Kahn‘s powers to make themselves the most interesting non-playoff team in the league this summer, now comes word that their seemingly never-ending coaching search has taken yet another sharp turn toward yet another Hall of Famer.
After interviewing Rick Adelman and Don Nelson over the weekend, the Timberwolves intend to interview Larry Brown and possibly one or two others in this first phase to replace fired coach Kurt Rambis.
When the Wolves will interview Brown, who has coached teams to both NBA and NCAA titles, is uncertain because of a recent death in his family, according to a league source with knowledge of the team’s search.
If they do, they will have interviewed two coaches among the top six all time in NBA career victories. Nelson is No. 1 with 1,335. Brown is No. 6 with 1,098.
The Wolves so far have interviewed Bernie Bickerstaff, Terry Porter, Mike Woodson, Adelman and Nelson. Add Brown to that list and four of those candidates are age 65 or older, a sign team President David Kahn is looking for experience and track record for such a young team.
Brown, 70, has coached nine NBA teams and was fired by Charlotte 28 games into last season. He would appear to be a long shot for the job, because he’s not the kind of coach with fast-break basketball in his bones and is known for being impatient with young players. He also often wants to trade much of the roster after taking a new job.
But there is a connection here: He and Kahn have known each other since the late 1970s, when Brown coached UCLA and Kahn was a student-newspaper reporter there, and Kahn considers Brown one of his mentors.
We’d be lying if we said we’re anything other than completely intrigued by the idea of Brown and Kahn rekindling their working relationship, albeit with a much different dynamic now with Kahn as the boss.
As infuriating as it can be watching the Timberwolves operate sometimes, we have to admit that Kahn keeps things extremely interesting.
Now if he can just make a decision on his next coach a little faster than he did in firing his Rambis …
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Spend 20 minutes talking basketball with Lawrence Frank and I promise you, it’s impossible not to be both impressed with his knowledge of the game and won over by his straight-shooter personality.
Spend the same amount of time with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson and I guarantee you’d come away feeling the same way. When the Detroit Pistons’ coaching search came down to Frank and Woodson as their final two candidates, there was no way they could lose, right?
Try telling that to Pistons fans (I’m Michigan born and bred, so I’ve got more than a few Pistons diehards dangling from the family tree), who from what we could gather didn’t seem particularly enthused about any of the options they were presented.
Still, for a franchise in need of a strong personality in that head coach’s chair, after several years of misses, Frank offers offer the qualities needed to deal with a young roster that needs shaping.
His selection over Woodson, an offer is coming soon as first reported by Yahoo! Sports, signals more than just an apparent shift in philosophy — the Pistons’ last three coaches have all had some connection to the organization, either player or assistant coach, prior to taking over the top bench job. It’s also a sign of the influence the new ownership group is placing in the hands of Dave Checketts, hired as a consultant by new owner Tom Gores to advise and assist alongside Pistons president Joe Dumars.
Franchises wish the process was as simple the brain trust coming together and choosing between two worthy candidates that also happen to be ideal fits.
But we all know that the only thing tougher than lucking into a transcendent talent at the top of a draft is finding the right coach for the right team at just the right time.
Ten years is not only an eternity, it’s an annoyance in the City That Never Waits. Trains, cabs, Yankee championships … they all run on time. And then there’s a Knicks playoff victory, which goes counter to what New York is all about, which has the feel of an Eddy Curry full-court sprint.
It’s been a decade, for the most part, since Madison Square Garden had any reason to cheer in springtime. That’s another reason why New York deserves your sympathy, if the injury to Chauncey Billups and two blown games to the Celtics weren’t enough. The famous old building will throb with anticipation Friday night, hoping the Knicks have learned the hard way how to close out a playoff game by now, but mostly hoping 10 years of deflation is about to end, to be replaced by elation.
With the Knicks trying to avoid an 0-3 deficit in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics , and the possibility of playing with a limited Amar’e Stoudemire (back) and without Chauncey Billups (knee), Anthony will step onto the Madison Square Garden court for Friday night’s Game 3 with the desperation of a franchise on his shoulders and the focus directly on him.
“Without them two guys, I think me, personally, I have to step up and do it all to try and win,” the four-time All-Star said Thursday.
Anthony couldn’t have done much more — other than perhaps taking the last shot rather than passing to Jared Jeffries on that infamous final possession — to help the Knicks win Game 2 in Boston on Tuesday. His 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists was an all-time performance, but it still resulted in a loss.
And though some criticized his decision to pass rather than shoot — after he was criticized for shooting rather than passing on the final possession of Game 1 — others chastised Anthony for how he seemed satisfied in defeat. He even used the word “fun” to describe the game. Gasp! Kobe Bryant never would have talked like that.
“I’m not Kobe , though,” Anthony replied with his ubiquitous Cheshire cat grin in place. “I ain’t Kobe , man.”
Few talk about the Bobcats, and judging from attendance figures in Charlotte, few watch them as well. But if you look now, these ‘Cats are giving us reason to jabber.
Interim coach Paul Silas has turned around this crew, which is 8-5 since the Larry Brown‘s (forced) resignation. Michael Jordan‘s squad is seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race and its modest two-game winning streak includes an impressive victory at Chicago earlier this week.
That the Bobcats are even in this position is impressive enough after the Brown meltdown. Silas is holding players accountable and they’ve responded by playing with passion and energy again, and that’s often all you need to get one of the lower playoff seeds in the East.
It won’t be easy in the months ahead. Not only are Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace going to be the subject of plenty of trade speculation going into the Feb. 24 deadline, but the Bobcats are without Tyrus Thomas for eight weeks after knee surgery.
Jackson's trying to guide his team through one more campaign. (Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images)
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Since the Boston Celtics won eight straight titles between 1959 and 1966, only two teams have made it to the NBA Finals in four straight years: The Los Angeles Lakers from 1982-85, and the Celtics from 1984-87.
This year’s Lakers want to be the first team to pull off the feat in 24 years. And what seemed like a sure thing back in October looks to be far from it these days. First, the Lakers have two challengers in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, who are stronger than we thought they’d be.
If this is indeed the final finale for Jackson, the real last one, it has gotten off to an interesting start. The Lakers are 23-10 and comfortably ahead in the Pacific Division, but they were hammered on national television by the Miami Heat on Christmas Day and are not intimidating anyone these days.
In no particular order, Bryant is taking too many shots, Pau Gasol is not taking enough, Ron Artest is his erratic self, Derek Fisher is sometimes ineffective, and Andrew Bynum is still trying to put chronic injury issues behind him. The Lakers are aging. Their competitors are better, deeper and hungrier.
Some of the same issues converged on the Lakers the past two seasons, but Jackson coaxed and coached, Bryant bullied teammates into shape and brushed past opponents, and gold confetti ultimately dropped from the Staples Center rafters.
And although there are few doubts that the Lakers are capable of raising the level of their play, this season could be different from the previous two. Dallas and San Antonio are deeper and have added length, and Oklahoma City continues its ascension.
Tayshaun Prince has run the gamut with Larry Brown. In two short, memorable and highly-lucrative years in Detroit, Prince experienced the best and worst of what the nomadic teacher had to offer.
Brown not only made good team better, he turned the Pistons into champions in 2004. He also turned his back on a potential mini-dynasty a year later and made what turned out to be a disastrous move to New York.
Wednesday’s abrupt decision by Brown and Michael Jordan to part ways in Charlotte sent shock waves throughout the league. (Here’s a sampling of that Brown reaction gathered by NBA.com’s talented staple of correspondents. Included is advice Tyson Chandler once sought about Brown from Prince.)
One of those correspondents, Holly MacKenziein Toronto, caught up with Prince after Detroit beat the Raptors. McKenzie asked Prince if he was surprised by Brown’s unexpected end in Charlotte.
“Yes and no,” Prince said. “I say yes because when things are going tough, Larry usually works through them and tries to make the best out of them. Secondly, I had heard some of his comments the last week or so about the guys not understanding him or listening and might need a new voice in the locker room, those types of things.
“It’s definitely unfortunate because he’s one of those coaches where if you really understand, get to understand him and what he’s trying to get accomplished things will work out for the best. It’s been unfortunate for them. [Brown] and the rest of that staff is a great staff. He’s been unbelievable in his coaching experience and what he’s taught players around the league and what he’s done for the organizations around the NBA, so it’s definitely surprising.”
The Pistons surprised the basketball world in the 2004 Finals, beating the beefed-up Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton in five stunning games. Detroit reached the Finals the next season, falling in a gut-wrenching seven-game series to San Antonio and former Brown assistant Gregg Popovich.
Prince said Brown squeezed everything he could out of those Piston teams.
“Every time we had tough times with him, he always used to say that the result at the end was going to be great if we just keep working, keep doing what we need to do,” Prince said. “There were plenty of times where we had practices and we were frustrated with him, we were trying to understand him and he just kept telling us, kept telling us, kept telling us, ‘You know what, do as I say and I’ll lead you in the right direction, you’ve just got to stay with me. The minute you get off of that course, things are not going to go right.’ We stayed on the course and eventually we had two great years with him.”
The Bobcats made the franchise’s first-ever playoff trip with Brown at the helm last season. The wandering coach took eight of the nine pro teams he coached to the postseason, a record that likely won’t be broken because, let’s face it, is anyone going to get that many jobs again?
“We had a good team before he came and he made us great,” Prince said. “Then all of the bad teams he had he made them better. This situation, obviously [the Bobcats] got off to a rough start, but I just really feel like if they stuck with it and really understand what he was trying to accomplish that they would have ended on a good note. Everything happens for a reason.”
Prince knows as well as anyone that Brown’s demanding and unflinching ways can wear on people, even in a relatively short amount of time. Prince, though, said Brown has too much to offer basketball to just walk away.
“Whether he wants to get a president, GM job, something like that or keep coaching,” Prince said, “he has to do something because he means so much to the game.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The first questions tweeted to me after the news broke that Larry Brown was stepping down as coach of the Charlotte Bobcats was, “When is Michael Jordan going to take over?”
How about never?
Don’t do it Mike. Stay right where you are as majority owner and face of the franchise. Don’t wade into the mess that is trying to coach your team right now.
You will hear all sorts of names as replacements for Brown — everything from Paul Silas to Mike Brown to Patrick Ewing and Darrell Walker — *** UPDATE … Silas was named interim coach at 6:27 p.m. *** but if the Bobcats want a coach well versed in trying to turn around a program under a specific set of financial guidelines, their first call should be to former Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
Like Silas and Brown, Woodson’s a good coach without a job in the league right now. He also has a firm grasp on the Southeast Division, having coached in the division the past six seasons. And what the Bobcats need right now is a coach. Not a name, an icon, a politican or a personality to sell. They are a team in desperate need of being grabbed by the collar and dragged back into the realm of playoff basketball, where they frolicked last season with an inspired Brown running the show.
Larry Brown did the honorable thing, stepping down before this Bobcats team melted all the way down. A 9-19 start quickly eroded all of the good will from that playoff run last season. So this afternoon’s announcement from Jordan that it was a mutual meeting of the minds that let to Brown stepping down in his third season at the helm should have surprised no one.
The only mystery now is whether or not Jordan will surprise us with Brown’s permanent replacement … unless he already has his man in Silas.