Andris Biedrins is having the worst season of his career. Just 18 months after he signed a new, six-year contract with the team where they paid him to be a building block.
Tuesday night and then again Wednesday a frustrated Warriors Coach Don Nelson unloaded on Biedrins.
“He’s not the same player this year as the last couple — or the same player that got him the big contract,” Nellie said. “Whatever that is, he’s got to get the passion back. I can’t do that.”
“He doesn’t really have an inside game that you could go to. When I’ve tried to go to it to get his confidence up, he hasn’t delivered. His shot’s not there. There’s a way to be involved in a screen and role, and there’s a way to hide and not be involved. I think he chooses to hide at this point. We’re trying to demand that he get the ball and do things with it and be aggressive.”
Nelson traced it all back to free throw shooting — Biedrins has horrific mechanics on his shot and is hitting 13 percent of his free throws.
“I think it has to do with his free-throw shooting (being tentative on offense to avoid going to the line). I told him today that if I were him, I would be wanting to shoot free throws so I’m not the all-time worst (single-season) free-throw shooter in the history of the NBA. If he could get to the free-throw line and even make five or six out of 10, at least it would be an improvement. I would be looking to get fouled, and I think he’s looking not to get fouled.”
Nelson is right. Criticize Nelson for his lack of passion if you want, for his rotations or even his style of play. That doesn’t mean he is wrong here.
Biedrins averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds a game last year. Last year he averaged 8.6 shots per game and got six of those right at the rim for dunks or layups. This season Biedrins is at the rim 2.7 times again. He shies away.
And that is all something Biedrins has got to want to change. Right now he doesn’t seem to care.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach — with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be their top target — but it won’t be J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as the team’s interim coach since they fired Kevin McHale in November. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bickerstaff has informed Rockets management that he’s no longer in consideration for the job:
After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Tuesday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials that he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.
Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.
After the Rockets’ disappointing season and disastrous playoff performance — where they lost in five not-very-competitive games to a Stephen Curry-less Warriors —it makes sense that Bickerstaff would rather get a fresh start as an assistant somewhere else, where he could build up his credentials and be a more highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the future. He isn’t a big name, so he likely wouldn’t be able to command as much money as the Rockets’ head coach as a more established figure would be. Given the Rockets’ uncertain future with Dwight Howard almost certain to opt out and not a lot of long-term pieces around James Harden, it’s not the most stable job in the world.