Breaking: Steve Kerr to Golden State

TNT’s David Aldridge has reported that Steve Kerr has turned down the Knicks head coaching offer, and has accepted the same role with Golden State. This comes as somewhat of a shock, as it has been widely speculated for weeks that it was only a matter of time that Kerr would join ex-coach Phil Jackson with the Knicks. Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the deal is for 5 years and $25 million.

In terms of just basketball, this is a no-brainer decision for Kerr. Golden State has a younger, more talented roster, and additionally Kerr can remain close to home on the west coast. I wonder how difficult it may have been to turn down the Zen master and Madison Square Garden, but it was reported that the Knicks were unwilling to offer 5 years, which was likely the deciding factor. The next move for the Knicks remains to be seen, but I’ll take a stab in the dark and predict Jim Cleamons or Derek Fisher. Of course Phil could coach the team himself, but that seems unlikely given his advanced age and health problems in recent years.

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Is Stan Van Gundy a good hire for Detroit?

Yesterday the Detroit Pistons signed former Heat and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to a 5 year, $35 million deal as President and Head Coach. Van Gundy was away from coaching for a year after his ouster from the Orlando Magic. Was this a good move for Detroit?

On a coaching level, I think it was. SVG has a habit of rubbing some of his guys the wrong way (Shaq and Dwight aren’t his biggest fans), and he ran his mouth to the media entirely too much at the end of his stay in Orlando regarding his relationship with Dwight. Despite some of his flaws, Van Gundy can coach. He led the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals in 2005 (and probably would have made it to the finals had Dwyane Wade not cracked his ribs), and never got the chance to coach the 2006 championship team after he left the team “for family reasons.” He then lead the Magic to a surprise trip to the Finals in 2009 with Dwight Howard and a bunch of shooters. Unless he forgot how to coach in the last year, I think he should be fine.

The part that worries me is the President of Operations part. I would be very hesitant to hand over control of Operations to someone with no experience in that capacity, especially with a mess of a roster. Van Gundy will have his work cut out for him. Early reports indicate that Van Gundy will likely bring in former Magic GM Otis Smith to reunite with him in his new home. I think that’s a good idea, familiarity is a good thing. This roster isn’t devoid of talent, with quality young pieces like Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. SVG should be great for Drummond’s development, as his tough style often helps maximize his talent.

The bottom line is this franchise has lost its way for a while, and change was necessary. Bringing in a smart, established vet like Stan Van Gundy should help bring legitimacy to a franchise that lost it under Joe Dumars. For those reasons, I think this was a good hire.

Who wouldn’t want to coach a guy with crazy untapped potential like this?:

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Stan Van Gundy to the Pistons, what next for Golden State?

Update: Steve Kerr has decided to spurn the Knicks and take the head coaching job with the Warriors, per TNT’s David Aldridge. I now know what happens when you assume things.

After firing Mark Jackson, the Warriors have missed out on reportedly their two top coaching candidates, Steve Kerr (presumptive, but Kerr is reportedly working out final details with the Knicks) and Stan Van Gundy. After Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported Golden State’s interest in Van Gundy all day Tuesday, the former Magic and Heat head coach has taken a job with the Detroit Pistons as both President and Head Coach. The question now is where the Warriors go from here.

Firing Jackson to begin with seemed like a questionable decision, and it seems even more so now that we know they didn’t have much of a concrete plan. Steve Kerr was always tied to new Knicks President Phil Jackson, and they weren’t willing to offer Van Gundy anything more than the head coaching title. My guess would be that they go a different route, and try to draw a big name college coach to the Bay area. Kevin Ollie, Tom Izzo, and Fred Hoiberg are the names most commonly mentioned in hiring rumors, and each make sense. The Warriors have a talented roster, so while it may be risky to bring in a coach new to the NBA, I think any of those coaches would certainly fit the bill. One problem for the Warriors is convincing any of these coaches that their job is more attractive than the situations those coaches would be leaving. Ollie is fresh off a national championship at his alma mater UConn, Izzo has been well entrenched at Michigan State as an assistant or head coach since 1983, and Hoiberg, The Mayor, is in the midst of reviving his own alma mater Iowa State into a powerhouse. The other main problem is the Lakers lurking in the shadows looking for their own head coach. Despite coming off a couple mediocre seasons, the Lakers job is still a glamorous one that usually includes a hefty salary.

Alternately, the Warriors could elect to hire a retread veteran coach. Lionel Hollins, George Karl, and Avery Johnson are viable candidates currently out of work. Hollins did a nice job instilling a tough defensive culture in Memphis, Karl is a very accomplished coach who could fit well with the Warriors personnel, and Johnson was last seen getting fired from Brooklyn. My personal choice of those three would be Karl, who many moons ago led Seattle to the Finals where they met Michael Jordan, had success in Milwaukee, won a Coach of the Year award in Denver, is an offensive coach, and loves to let his team chuck up three pointers.

Of course the Warriors could decide to go a completely different route, and throw us all for a loop. These are just my top candidates should they decide to hire either a college coach or a veteran ex-coach. This Warriors job is an attractive job on paper, and I’m sure they will settle on a quality head coach. If that coach will perform better than Mark Jackson did remains to be seen, but there are plenty of different options to choose from.

 

What the hell happened yesterday?

Yesterday’s Mother’s Day NBA schedule featured two games that were each wild in their own way, and kind of left me scratching my head as to how the hell they ended how they ended.

The first game happened out west at the Staples Center, with the Clippers pulling off a stunning upset over the Thunder, winning 101-99. That was the kind of game that can turn a series around. There is a world of difference between being down 3-1 and being tied at 2-2, and the Clippers are now right back in it. This despite all the noise coming from their lunatic soon-to-be former owner. The Clippers trailed by as much as 16 with 9 minutes to go, and trailed by 12 with under 8 to go before the Clippers began their run. It started with Chris Paul’s personal 6-0 run, as he continued to show anyone crazy enough to doubt him that he is still the league’s best point guard. From there the Thunder struggled to score for the most part, with Chris Paul amazingly guarding Kevin Durant, forcing him into tough isolation possessions. Blake Griffin’s three point play with 1:50 remaining was one of the two biggest plays of the game for me, as it tied the game, along with Jamal Crawford’s clutch 3 (what else is new) with 1:23 to go. Darren Collison was also terrific in the fourth, scoring 12 points and using his speed in the open court. The Thunder don’t seem to have much of a plan in terms of late game execution on offense, so the crunch time edge will continue to go to the Clippers with Chris Paul’s ability to create off the dribble. Check out this gif of CP3 and DeAndre Jordan connecting on a nice alley oop:

The second game of the day was even weirder to me. The Wizards dropped a crucial game 4 to Indiana 95-92, now heading back to Indy down 3-1. This was a golden opportunity for the Wizards to get right back into this series, but they let it slip away. The opening quarter ended with the Pacers up 27-26, with the game staying mostly in the half court, which favors the Pacers dramatically. It wasn’t until the Wizards’ old guys checked in that Washington went on their run. The AARP club of Andre Miller, Drew Gooden, and Al Harrington played terrific all night, and looked like they could run away with it after outscoring Indiana 29-11 in the second quarter. But Paul George was the difference as he played his best game so far this postseason, with 39 points and 12 rebounds on 7-10 shooting from the 3 point line. Something is just plain wrong with Roy Hibbert, as he has trouble putting up consecutive quality quarters and repeatedly got blocked in the pain by smaller defenders. Also Lance Stephenson is one of the most erratic players I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t want him within a mile of my team, especially after he nearly blew the game with a late, bone headed turnover. Watching this game, you could see Indiana hanging around but all of a sudden they had a lead and you weren’t quite sure how they got there. I’m still far from convinced by this Pacers team, but once again they got it together just enough to survive and move closer to the Easter Conference Finals. John Wall’s awesome, buzzer beating layup to end the first half here for your viewing pleasure:

Both games yesterday were entertaining and sort of befuddling. The Thunder seemed to lose any semblance of a plan in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards managed to squander a vital game on their home court. Both series seem to be heading in different directions, with the Pacers likely to close things out in 5 (though I wouldn’t bet anything on it), and the series out west seems destined to be a 7 game classic. What do you think?

Featured Image Photo Credit: http://galleries.nba.com/gallery/Gamer_Action%3A_May_11

Biggest NBA winner of the NFL Draft?

Well that would be a certain point guard who plays for Brooklyn. Deron Williams, who I should note is signed for the maximum 5 years $100 million, played for 37 minutes in last night’s Game 2 in Miami. He and I scored the same number of points. ZERO. All I can really say is D-Will is very fortunate that the game conflicted with the NFL Draft, because he would be, and should be, getting crucified in headlines today. Here’s a look at last night’s ratings:

We all know the NFL is King when it comes to TV viewership, and all anyone is talking about today is the draft. But seriously, 0 points? Brooklyn’s leading scorer last night was Mirza Teletovic with 20. Mirza can certainly score, but if he is leading your team in scoring you probably won’t win a series against Miami. The Nets need D-Will to play like an All-Star, but he has continually looked like a shell of his former self. I would guess injuries are largely to blame, as Williams has suffered from ankle problems for the last couple of years, but he just can’t contribute at a high level with any kind of consistency. Kyle Lowry severely outplayed D-Will in the opening round series vs. Toronto, but point guard is not a position of strength for the Heat and he should be exploiting that every single game. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like those days might be behind him. A good player, sure, but not a hundred-million-dollar-face-of-the-franchise star anymore. This is not to blame all of the Net’s struggles on one player, which would be unfair, but with that contract comes expectations that far exceed this kind of performance. If some Brooklyn home cooking can’t energize this Nets team and force a long series, the NFL Draft won’t be there so save D-Will this summer.

 

Did the Pacers get their swagger back?

For the last three or so months, it feels like we’ve been watching this Pacers team slowly fall apart, like watching a house of cards shake and wobble, waiting for the inevitable collapse. After a torrid 40-12 start to the season, the Pacers played to a 16-14 record after the All-star break, solid but clearly not the same.

Surely as the top seeded team in the East they should have breezed through the Atlanta Hawks right? The Hawks did everything they could possibly do to surrender that last spot to the Knicks, who politely declined. Hawks GM Danny Ferry even said “We’re not focused on trying to be the eighth seed in the playoffs because that’s not our goal.” Yet somehow the Pacers, who forgot how to play team basketball as if the Monstars came and sucked away all their talent, allowed the Hawks to make it a 7 game series, before the Pacers finally put them away.

This second round series vs. Washington will not be any easier. After the Wizards took game one in Indianapolis, there was a media firestorm around the Pacers, specifically on Center Roy Hibbert, and deservedly so. I mean seriously, how is it possible to be a 7’2 all-star center and contribute ZERO points and rebounds in 18 minutes with 5 fouls? This after scoring 37 TOTAL points in a 7 game series. You’d have to try to play that badly, and Hibbert has been doing it for weeks (since he called his teammates out for being selfish). But last night the unexpected happened, and Hibbert was terrific. Twenty-eight points on 10-13 shooting, including 5 early points that set Twitter sarcastically abuzz. The young Wizards held on tight, only to lose after David West’s late free throws and Hibbert’s game-sealing rebound.

So are the Pacers back? Have they righted the ship in time to take down these feisty Wizards? It’s too early to tell, as the Pacers simply could not lose Game 2 at home, and head to what will surely be a raucous crowd in DC. What last night did prove, however, is that the Pacers will only go as far as their big man takes them. If these Pacers want to combat the youth and athleticism of the Wizards, they need to pound the ball inside over and over again. Whatever the Pacers did to spark some life back into Hibbert, they need to keep doing it. Their season depends on it.

Update: Guess this is how they did it http://deadspin.com/a-fishing-trip-fixed-roy-hibbert-1573442701/all?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow