Posts Tagged ‘Nate McMillan’

Mavs’ Kaleb Canales a true trail blazer

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

Kaleb Canales (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

Kaleb Canales (Sam Forencich/NBAE)

If the name Kaleb Canales doesn’t ring a bell, it likely will soon. Think Erik Spoelstra. No one knew the two-time champion coach of the Miami Heat when he was living in the shadows of the franchise’s video room or as an assistant on the Heat bench.

Now everybody knows his name, as well as the fact that Spoelstra is the first Filipino-American to coach in the NBA.

Two seasons ago, Canales — born in Laredo, Texas and whose father is from Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas — became the first Mexican-American to lead an NBA team when he took over the Portland Trail Blazers as the interim coach for 23 games after the team fired Nate McMillan.

In the offseason, a month after his 34th birthday, Canales was one of two finalists to become the next coach of the Blazers. Despite the support of the players, the club passed on Canales’ youth for the experience of Terry Stotts, who had previously been a head coach and just celebrated winning the 2011 championship on Rick Carlisle‘s staff with the Dallas Mavericks.

Canales remained with the Blazers last season as a lead assistant and helped ease Stotts’ transition with his new players. When Mavericks assistant Jim O’Brien decided to step aside last summer, Carlisle hired Canales at Stotts’ recommendation.

The move ended a long relationship with a Blazers organization that gave him his shot and the tools to grow. But it also delivered Canales back to his home state, just a stone’s throw away from where his unique coaching ascension started on the ground floor as a student and then as a coach at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“So when I was in high school, I’m sure like every kid, I had a list of goals I made with a pen and pad — spiritual goals and professional goals and personal goals,” Canales said. “And one of my professional goals was to be a coach in the NBA. Obviously, when I told my friends that growing up in Laredo, it was like, ‘Yeah right,’ you know?”

What do those friends, most of whom live close enough to hop in their cars to come visit, say now?

“They all come to the games and ask me for tickets,” Canales laughed.

Paying his dues

How did a kid from Laredo, Texas, a heavily Hispanic-populated border city of a couple-hundred-thousand, make it to the NBA, and at such a young age? Those who know Canales say his boundless energy and enthusiasm, belief and perseverance paved the way.

“First of all, he has good spirit,” Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge said. “He’s always into it with energy and he’s wholeheartedly always giving 100 percent. I think he put everybody in a good position and we loved him.”

Like Spoelstra — and, actually, with a little help from him — Canales accepted an internship in 2004 with the Trail Blazers to work in their video room. It was unpaid, but it counted as credit toward the Master’s degree he earned online from Virginia Commonwealth University while coaching at UTA.

“I started doing a lot of research on how coaches were getting opportunities to coach,” Canales said. “I read Erik’s bio, I read a bunch of assistant coaches’ bios, I read John Loyer from Detroit; I saw video coordinator in their background. I knew that was something I could attack. I had some video experience at UTA. My first interview was with the Miami Heat. I know Erik last year [in an article], he was kind of nice because he said I wrote him a letter every week for a year. I think it was almost like every day for a year.”

Canales got an interview with the Heat and nailed it, but they politely told him they decided to hire from within. Impressed with him though, some phone calls were placed and Canales got an interview with, and then an offer from, the Blazers. He would quickly advance from unpaid intern to paid staffer as Portland’s video coordinator. Canales would pore over game film until his bleary, reddened eyes watered.

By the 2008-09 season he was promoted to assistant coach while keeping his duties as video coordinator. And by the next season he was out of the video room and fully immersed in player development as a full-fledged assistant. He was 30 years old.

“It started with Damon Stoudemire and Nick Van Exel for me and became LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy,” Canales said. “And it became Jerryd Bayless, it became Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard.”

From the start, he earned a reputation for having an insatiable appetite for work, practically living at the Blazers’ practice facility.

“He would watch film and work guys out, and at odd times of the night,” Aldridge said. “He wanted to make sure that if anybody came there at any time he would be there, so he would literally sleep at the practice court all the time. So if you came in at 12:30 [a.m.], he would be there. All basketball.

“When you ask him who is girlfriend is, he always says, ‘Spalding.'”

Learning from the best

Whatever free time comes his way, he typically spends it seeking out and studying other coaches. While still with the Blazers he made it a point to contact Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and attend summer workouts. He visited University of Oregon football practices before Chip Kelly left for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

“I love studying coaches because I love studying leadership,” Canales said. “Watching and studying the practices of coach Carroll or coach Kelly, you see the energy from them, you see how they interact with their players and then you see them playing on Sunday. I went to an OTA [Organized Team Activities] in the summer with the Seahawks. I said, ‘Coach, it feels like you have a game Sunday,’ how sharp they were.”

Not much has changed in Canales’ hundred-mile-an-hour approach in his first season with the Mavs, a team that has improved throughout the year and is in a dogfight for one of the final playoff berths in the Western Conference.

Giving back

Canales plans to return to Laredo for a couple of weeks during the summer to visit with his mother, Alicia, his father, Victor, and his sister, Chantall, all of whom have become accustomed to rearranging the calendar to fit Canales’ busy schedule.

“We celebrate all the holidays in the summer,”  Canales said. “It’s like July 9 and we’re celebrating Thanksgiving or something. We try to get creative with that, understanding that this is a passion. It’s definitely a lifestyle and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

When he’s in Laredo, Canales runs a basketball camp for kids. It’s there he shares his stories and encourages the young campers, almost all of whom share a similar cultural heritage, to dream big. Canales said empowering Hispanic kids is a responsibility he takes seriously.

“You can’t be afraid not only to dream, but to dream big,” Canales said he tells the kids. “It’s a big-time responsibility, and I hope that kids can see my blessings and then see through faith and hard work that they can achieve their dream. It’s something I want them to really believe in.”

Before too long, much like Spoelstra’s rise from anonymity in the video room to the spotlight of the Heat’s lead chair, Canales may soon find himself making history.

“Obviously, looking down the road, I would love to have that opportunity again one day,” Canales said of getting another shot at an interview. “But that’s not where my concern is right now. I understand how blessed and fortunate I am, and I don’t take that for granted.”

Throughout the month of March, the NBA is celebrating Latin heritage through its Noches Ene-be-a program. For more information, click here

Efficiently, Pacers Add Watson, McMillan





Some NBA teams hit free agency with smoke and lasers, going big and working on the egos of their targeted players in hopes of razzle-dazzling them to a heady decision.

Others demonstrate their artistry more like Grant Wood. Less fanfare, stoically efficient.

The Indiana Pacers are among the latter group, no muss, no fuss, rarely chewing their cabbage twice. Yet there they were on the first official day of free agency, addressing their areas of greatest need both on the court and on the side.

The Pacers’ top priority remains the same: re-signing power forward David West. He is the heart of that team, he is a throwback threat offensively whose simplicity in the post can be breathtaking and he is vital to Indiana’s ambitions this season of catching and passing the Miami Heat and any other Eastern Conference contenders.

West is one of the NBA’s true grown-ups, and the fact that he and agent Jeff Austin aren’t beating a bass drum of competing offers is just more evidence of the value he brings to that team. West and newly returned President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird nailed down a solid business deal for both sides two years ago – two years, $20 million in a bit of a show-us contract – and there is no reason to expect a different outcome (some different numbers, sure) this time around.

Meanwhile, Indiana reportedly reached an agreement with free-agent guard C.J. Watson to take over the backup point – and initials – role from D.J. Augustin. And former Seattle and Portland head coach Nate McMillan has been hired to slide into Brian Shaw‘s spot as the Pacers’ top assistant coach.

Swapping Watson in for Augustin, a move first reported by Hoopsworld.com’s Alex Kennedy, should be a low-cost upgrade, played out at equally low decibels. Watson, who spent 2012-13 in Brooklyn after two seasons in Chicago, plays with more emotion or expression than Augustin, but that’s fine for Indiana coach Frank Vogel if he sees more proficiency.

When the Pacers turned to Augustin in the wake of Darren Collison‘s trade departure last July, they welcomed having someone who wouldn’t be fighting the backup role that Collison disliked. Trouble was, Augustin wasn’t assertive enough – and he never seemed to find any rhythm off the bench. His shooting and floor direction dipped, contributing to the Pacers’ already shaky bench.

Watson arrives as a slightly feistier player, capable of playing both spots in the backcourt for variations alongside George Hill, and with a longer resume as a 3-point shooter (41.1 percent for the Nets last season). He reportedly would be signed for two years with the bi-annual salary cap exception (about $2 million yearly), with deals only official after July 10 when the moratorium period ends.

Indiana also has made a qualifying offer of about $4.1 million to backup forward Tyler Hansbrough, who didn’t progress as hoped. That too hurt the second unit, which on too many nights was like having retread tires on a $75,000 sports car. As longtime Pacers writer Conrad Brunner wrote on his EPSN 1070 blog:

While the Pacers can hope for a complete return by Danny Granger, who would either give the bench a much-needed scorer or push [Lance] Stephenson into the role, that alone would not solve the problem.

The Pacers’ bench ranked 29th in scoring (24.1), 30th in shooting (.393) and 26th in 3-point shooting (.329) in 2012-13.

“The moves will be to strengthen the bench,” said team President Larry Bird. “Our starters are pretty well set, especially if we can get Danny back. There’s still some uncertainty there. If he comes back, automatically our bench gets better. We’ve just got to get the other guys to play better or bring in some guys we think’s going to help us.

“For us to talk about beating the great teams in this league, you’ve got to have a stronger bench. Our bench didn’t produce last year the way we needed them to produce and we definitely have got to fix that one area.”

Finding another shooter in free agency, such as J.J. Redick, Chase Budinger or Marco Belinelli, could open up things for West, center Roy Hibbert and slashing Paul George too.

In the meantime, Indiana got some help on the bench with McMillan’s addition. In 12 seasons prior to sitting out 2012-13, the former SuperSonics guard posted a 478-452 record with five playoff appearances. Shaw was hired as Denver’s head coach and another Pacers assistant, Jim Boylen, recently joined San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich‘s staff.

Doc Rivers And The Clippers Courting?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The idea of Doc Rivers coaching an All-Star point guard and big man during the 2013-14 NBA season is a given, right?

But will it be Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett … or Chris Paul and Blake Griffin?

Bewildered and confused Boston Celtics fans have to be wondering what the future holds with reports that there could be mutual interest between the Celtics’ coach and the Clippers, per The Los Angeles Times and ESPN.com.

It’s a speculation party that is sure to leave Celtics fans with indigestion as they await the fate of their proud (but clearly rebuilding) team. Rivers left the door ajar at season’s end, saying that he wasn’t sure what was in store with Rondo (knee injury), Garnett (age) and Paul Pierce (age, final year of contract) all in the crosshairs during a huge summer.

The idea of Rivers forgoing the final three years and $21 million of his deal with the Celtics was sparked by a nugget from ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that indicated Rivers is contemplating a change.

While it wouldn’t be a complete shocker, it would confirm rumblings that began in May, when the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Knicks. Celtics boss Danny Ainge quieted that chatter early on, but the ensuing coaching carousel that has left the Clippers without a replacement for coach Vinny Del Negro has circled around to this possibility that Rivers could be a potential option, as ESPN.com‘s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne detail here:

Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that Rivers is highly intrigued by the idea of coaching the Clippers in the event that he and the Celtics part company after nine seasons together and one championship in 2008. Sources say the Clippers, meanwhile, would immediately vault Rivers to the top of their list if he became available as they continue a coaching search that, to this point, has focused on Brian Shaw, Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins.

The Los Angeles Times, citing several NBA executives, reported Wednesday that if Rivers decides he doesn’t want to coach in Boston anymore, the Clippers would be interested in him and he would become their No. 1 choice.

ESPN.com has also learned the Celtics and Clippers — in an offshoot of February’s Kevin Garnett-to-L.A. trade talks — discussed expanded trade scenarios that could have sent both Garnett and close friend Paul Pierce to the Clippers before the league’s Feb. 21 trade deadline.

Sources say those talks, before breaking down, were centered on Boston getting back both prized Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe and young center DeAndre Jordan and did not involve Clippers star forward Blake Griffin.

It is not yet known whether the Clippers intend to revive those trade discussions and pursue either Garnett or Pierce — or both — in conjunction with this month’s NBA draft. But one source familiar with the Clippers’ thinking told ESPN.com the club plans to be “very aggressive” and “shake every tree” in terms of upgrading the roster this offseason. Acquiring Garnett or Pierce — or both — would make Rivers even more of a natural coaching target for the Clippers.

If that’s not enough speculation for you, this all comes at a time when the Clippers are in the midst of interviewing Shaw, Scott, Hollins and Nate McMillan.

The Clippers also have to consider that whoever they select needs to be someone who will help them recruit Paul to stick around this summer in free agency. With rumors that Paul and Dwight Howard, this summer’s other marquee free agent prize, have been in contact about teaming up together in the future, the frenzy will kick into overdrive.

Rivers certainly has a history of coaching superstars in those sorts of situations and the respect that comes along with being a championship coach.

It should be noted that Rivers has been courted several times before during his decade-long tenure in Boston and in the end decided to stick with the Celtics. Orlando, where the Rivers family resides, tried to lure him back to Central Florida with an offer to run the Magic’s entire basketball operation. Rivers considered his options, but in the end decided that loyalty to his players and the Celtics outweighed whatever opportunities might have awaited him in Orlando.

It’s unclear right now whether or not he’ll have to make a similar decision about what to do with the Clippers, but that won’t stop the speculation from spreading.

Hawks’ Drew Left On Coaching Carousel





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Every time the music stops in this latest game of NBA coaching musical chairs, former Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew finds himself looking for a seat.

And yes, he is now officially a “former” Hawks coach as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s when the Hawks announced that they hired Mike Budenholzer, the longtime assistant to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, to take over Drew’s old job. Budenholzer joins Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix) and Steve Clifford (Charlotte) as assistants who move over to the first chair next season. And there are still several more big-name assistants — Indiana’s Brian Shaw is the biggest, and he is not being allowed to interview for other jobs during the Pacers’ run — who could be in line to move up.

There are still vacancies in Milwaukee, Detroit, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Los Angeles (Clippers) that need to be filled. Drew is a candidate in Milwaukee (he’ll interview for a second time this week) and is interested in the Clippers’ opening.

But as of this morning he’s still twisting in coaching no-man’s land after the Hawks filled his job without ever officially severing ties with the man who led them to three straight playoff appearances during his tenure. Drew was a Hawks assistant for six seasons before that, the final three of those culminating in playoff trips under then-coach (and now-Knicks coach) Mike Woodson.

Drew’s contract expires June 30 and he went into this process with a complete understanding of what Hawks GM Danny Ferry was doing. It’s not like someone snatched the rug from underneath him. Ferry is going for the complete franchise makeover, complete with 12 or 13 roster spots to fill in addition to Budenholzer and whatever staff he can put together.

Ferry made it clear that while he didn’t mind dancing with the coach he inherited last summer when he took over Atlanta’s basketball operations, he was going to keep an eye out for his own guy. His history with Budenholzer, both as a player and executive with the Spurs, was an obvious connection.

Drew understood that the chance of him returning to the job he did so well the past three seasons was slim at best. He fielded questions about his status all season, never once bristling at a process with an outcome that many of us saw coming the day Ferry was hired. All that said, it’s still bizarre for some to see a coach under contract, at least for another month, replaced by someone whose current job (at that time) required him to help prepare the Spurs for another long playoff run.

Bucks general manager John Hammond has to make the next move where Drew is concerned. His pool of candidates to take over in Milwaukee shrinks every time the music stops. Clifford and Budenholzer were reportedly on Hammond’s short list before being taken off of the market. And now Drew and Houston Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson are believed to be the finalists.

Drew has 128-102 record as a coach and those three playoff appearances in three seasons working in his favor … not that it served him very well in whatever attempt was made to keep his job with the Hawks. Sampson has history with the Bucks, having worked as an assistant under former coach Scott Skiles for three seasons.

Drew’s coaching experience is going head-to-head with Sampson’s connection and the trend of assistants being elevated to top jobs. How much longer Drew remains on the coaching carousel depends on the which set of factors carry more weight in Milwaukee and perhaps elsewhere.

The coaching vacancy landscape can change in an instant — just ask former Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. The Memphis Grizzlies have to decide what they’re going to do with Lionel Hollins, whose contract is up. He’ll be a hot candidate for several of these remaining openings if he and the Grizzlies decide to part ways.

That’s why if you are Drew, you want a seat now … before that music stops again.

Seattle’s Return To The NBA Getting Closer?


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It was one of those days where people remember precisely where they were when they got the news. Like assassinations, market crashes and so many other seismic world events, the day Seattle lost the SuperSonics — officially, July 2, 2008 — didn’t just come and go. It seared itself into the hearts and psyches of NBA fans in that Pacific Northwest city.

“It killed me, man,” former Sonics coach George Karl said Wednesday night. “I was in the Seattle area with my daughter, in Olympia. There were rumors and then it was over. It happened so quick.”

There had been promises, there had been worries, there had been political wrangling. When the clock ran out, all that remained were accusations, recriminations and, yes, tears. The reality was stark: Starbucks impresario Howard Schultz and his partner had sold the SuperSonics to an investment group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. Talks about a publicly financed arena broke down, and the Sonics were headed to Oklahoma and a new life as the eventual Thunder.

Forty-one years of NBA history was over. The source of some of the league’s biggest names and most entertaining teams — and the only Seattle franchise to claim a championship in major professional sports — was gone.

“Destroyed,” was the word chosen by Boston’s Jason Terry, who grew up in Seattle and starred at Frankin High, which is about 5 miles from the Sonics’ old haunt, Key Arena. “There [were] all kind of ‘Save the Sonics’ shirts, signs and blogs.”

As of Wednesday though — four years, six months and seven days since the moving vans rolled in — Seattle is as close as it’s been to getting the NBA back. Investor Chris Hansen was close to a deal to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to the Emerald City, according to multiple media outlets.

First reported by Yahoo! Sports, Hansen — who already has a deal to build a new arena, this time largely through corporate funding — was offering the Maloof family that owns the Kings more than $500 million. The team’s future in Sacramento has been shaky for several seasons because of squabbling over a new arena in the California capital, with possible destinations such as Orange County and Las Vegas mentioned in the past.

Seattle, via Hansen, has been an interested party from the start, though. According to Yahoo!, the Kings would be renamed the SuperSonics, begin play in time for the 2013-14 season and be based in KeyArena for two years while their new home is constructed.

Just how imminent the sale might be morphed through the day Wednesday; some reports out of Sacramento had the Maloofs reconsidering Hansen’s offer. Details of Hansen’s financing for the arena in Seattle’s “SoDo” section — south of downtown — still must be worked out. In October, he reached an agreement with local government to build the $490 million facility near the city’s other stadiums, Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field. An estimated $290 million would come from private investments, with $200 million in public financing repaid through rent, admission taxes and Hansen’s own sources, the Associated Press reported.

The NBA, meanwhile, has its own requirements for a franchise sale and relocation. For the former, an application for transfer must be filed, due diligence is performed on the people and finances involved and then the league’s Board of Governors votes, with 75 percent approval — 23 out of the current 30 teams — needed for new ownership.

For relocation, a team must apply by March 1 if it wants to move in time for the following season. The NBA’s relocation committee than has 120 days to study the proposal and make its report to the Board of Governors. When the owners vote, a simple majority — 16 of 30 — is needed for approval.

The NBA declined to comment on Monday’s news reports. It is believed that KeyArena, the Sonics’ home before their departure and the driving force in Schultz’s decision to sell, would be acceptable as a temporary home should the deal go through.

Hansen is a Seattle native and San Francisco resident who made his fortune working with Blue Ridge Capital and, since 2008, as managing partner of the Valiant Capital firm he founded. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department-store family are among his fellow investors in the NBA deal. (more…)

It’s Not Insanity To Credit Felton

HANG TIME, Texas — Nine months ago when Jeremy Lin was causing hysteria in New York, Raymond Felton was undergoing his own type of madness.

Things were intense, insufferable, intolerable for him in Portland as he chafed in coach Nate McMillan’s offense, got out of shape, discontented, discombobulated and had the most unsatisfying season of his NBA career.

That’s why it seemed hardly cause for celebration among Knicks fans last summer when the team surprised everyone by not matching Houston’s free agent offer to Lin and instead brought Felton back home to Madison Square Garden.

But now three weeks into the 2012-13 season, the role played by Felton in the — dare we say it, insanity? — of the Knicks’ blazing start cannot be underestimated.

While Carmelo Anthony deserves credit for be a ball-sharing leader, Jason Kidd for having a veteran’s hand on the rudder and Tyson Chandler for anchoring a solid defense, Felton has lifted his reputation out of mud and run the New York offense efficiently and effectively.

Sure, it was a decision that was about money. To match the contract offer Lin received from the Rockets would have cost the Knicks $45 million in the final season of the three-year deal when you factor in the luxury tax. Felton came for a total of $11 million for three years. But according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, he also came with something extra:

“What I bring to the game is just toughness,’’ Felton said. “That’s all. Just a guy whose going to bring it every night. You know what you’re going to get out of me every night. If I’m having a bad shooting night, you still know I’m going to play hard and get the job done in other ways.’’

Few fans wear Felton’s No. 2 jersey at the Garden, let alone in road cities, as was custom with Lin last winter. And Felton isn’t looking to trademark his “Duck’’ nickname — his whole family calls him that — anytime soon. In fact, Felton’s so humble, he didn’t have a Twitter account until this month. He has 11,112 followers — or 900,000 less than Lin.

“I think the first go-round he did in a Knick uniform has put him in a different light,’’ coach Mike Woodson said. “It’s a good feeling to come back and put it on again. He’s everything we asked as a point guard. He won in college and he’s had good years in the pros. We put the ball in his hands and trust [he] will make the right decisions.”

After being sent to Denver as part of the deal that brought Anthony to N.Y., Felton moved on to Portland last season in a marriage that was rocky from the start. His weight reportedly went up as high as 230 pounds and he was in and out of the Trail Blazers lineup as the starter at point guard and quickly became an object of scorn after another unsatisfying rebuilding season in Portland.

Now back with Knicks, he’s averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 assists per game, has his shooting back on track and is making a respectable 36.7 percent from behind the 3-point line. He’s also dialed in a connection with Chandler, tossing lob passes for dunks that has brought the Garden fans out of their seats, even if they aren’t experiencing a full-blown hysteria as they did over Lin. Just as important, he is a much better defender than Lin and that end of the court has been a calling card of the team’s quick start.

What’s more, Felton is back to being his old self, confident and willing to step up when needed. He popped in 25 points to go with his seven assists and outplayed Tony Parker in the fourth quarter in a statement win at San Antonio before the Knicks finally suffered their first loss of the season in seven games at Memphis on Friday night.

Never mind the old adage about not being able to go home again. Felton is way past that. Now he’s looking forward to a day-after-Thanksgiving matchup in Houston with Lin.

While it’s true that Felton’s return to the Knicks may not have caused a recurrent case of insanity, neither has it been inconsequential.

Lakers Need to Hire PJax … Again




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – They botched this one from the start, ignoring Phil Jackson‘s advice and passing over Brian Shaw for Mike Brown.

But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

The firing of Brown today, the third fastest ouster of a coach in league history and the first under five games in a season in some 40 years, was more than just an admission of guilt on the part of the powers that be at Lakers’ headquarters. It was the latest in a long list of slip-ups by a once proud franchise that seems to have lost its way here recently.

Two straight earlier-than-expected playoff exits (one in Jackson’s final season and one in Brown’s first) were followed up with the biggest player acquisition splash the league has seen since The Decision.

And yet, here we are, five games into what was supposed to be a championship season in Los Angeles, and the Lakers are reeling again. An organization that prides itself on being about titles first and foremost ignored the sound advice from the only coach they’ve had that’s won anything since the Showtime Lakers era ended.

Nearing the end of another era, the Kobe Bryant era, the Lakers are at a crossroads. Do they backtrack and scramble to replace Brown with Jackson, the one coach we know Bryant respects? Or do they roll the dice again on trying to replace Phil and the championship zen that comes along with him?

For all of the names you’ll hear tossed around as potential replacements for Brown — from Mike D’Antoni to Nate McMillan to Mike Krzyzewski to Jerry Sloan — Jackson, 67, is the only one that comes with the sort of track record that lends itself to dealing with not only Bryant but the championship expectations of Lakers die-hards and a city that doesn’t get excited for much else.

With Brown at the helm the Lakers were just trying to stay relevant in a Western Conference that had been overtaken by those young upstarts in Oklahoma City. They’d even fallen behind the rival Spurs in the pecking order the past two years, not to mention fending off their Staples Center and city rivals, the Clippers.

There’s a simple solution to all of this for the Lakers. And it’s the same solution they ignored last time. TNT’s David Aldridge is reporting that the Lakers are not seriously considering Jackson. But they should. They need to make the call and do whatever it takes to lure Jackson out of semi-retirement and get back to the business at hand.

If Kobe wants to give serious chase to title No. 6, and Dwight Howard and Steve Nash want to get their hands on No. 1, the best way to do it is with the man who helped guide Kobe to those first five.

Someone in Los Angeles needs to swallow some pride and hire Phil Jackson … again.

Rounding Up Usual (And Unusual) Suspects For Lakers Job

Considering how much of what the Los Angeles Lakers do is driven by entertainment, more than any of the other NBA teams, there’s a must-see moment waiting to happen as the team scouts for a replacement for Mike Brown, fired Friday as head coach after a disappointing 1-4 start.

The Buss family that owns the team ought to bring in Stan Van Gundy for an interview, then set up hidden cameras for the moment when it leaks to the players.

The list of “Who’s” was instantaneous Friday, compiled in pieces or in full on the Internet almost as swiftly as word of Brown’s firing spread. Here is a quickie list of candidates with HTB assessments of their pros and cons:
(more…)

Is Third Time (And Improved Defense) Charm For Blazers’ Stotts?





It’s a homecoming of sorts for Terry Stotts to take his Blazers into Dallas, the place where he spent the previous four seasons and was part of the Mavs’ championship in 2011. It will feel warm and familiar.

But it is also the place where Stotts’ view of the game took a transformation that could make him more successful in his third time around than in his previous two stints as coach at Atlanta (52-85, .380) and Milwaukee (63-83, .432).

More than anything else, coach Rick Carlisle is about defense.

“I think the background having been with Rick the last four years kind of opened my eyes to another approach to the game,” Stotts said. “Obviously, being with George (Karl) as long as I was, that was one view. To have a different perspective that was with Rick kind of expanded my horizons. (more…)

USA Basketball: Popovich, Rivers, And Four More Coaching Candidates

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – From 2006 through the London Olympics, the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team went 43-1 (62-1 if you count exhibitions) under coach Mike Krzyzewski. And Sunday’s gold-medal-game victory over Spain was its 36th straight win (50 if you count exhibitions) since losing to Greece in the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship.

So Krzyzewski, who has said that he’s done coaching the National Team, is going out on top, with two Olympic gold medals and one World Championship. The coach that replaces him has some big shoes to fill, as well as plenty of pressure to keep the U.S.A. on top of the basketball world.

Even if you’re a Duke hater, you have to respect what Krzyzewski has done over the last seven years. He’s a college coach, but managed to connect with and motivate five different squads of NBA stars. And after that ’06 loss to Greece, he clearly made it a priority to learn more about the international teams and players his team was facing.

While most fans and pundits focus on the 2016 Olympics in Rio, a new coach needs to be selected well before then. The U.S. will look to defend its World Championship at the renamed FIBA Basketball World Cup, which takes place from Aug. 31-Sept. 14, 2014 in Spain.

So who should USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo select as the next coach? Here are six candidates… (more…)