Phil Jackson would like to have a vodka with Mikhail Prokhorov


PJackson3.jpgLike sands through the hourglass, so goes the daily Phil Jackson speculation, reality be damned. I guess we have to dive in again today…

Phil Jackson has not had anyone reach out to him through back channels about coaching in Chicago or anywhere else next year. And he is not going to Chicago.

But new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov? His answer there (as reported by the New York Daily News) was vintage Phil.

“I’d like to have a vodka with him at some point. He seems like a very interesting young man,” Jackson told reporters before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals last night.

The pregame press conferences with Phil Jackson now seem to ritualistically include some discussion of his future plans. The questions range from the serious to the silly, but they are always there.
Tuesday night Jackson used that press conference to squash any slim hopes of him returning to Chicago, according to ESPN (which first reported the story he was contacted by the Bulls).

“I have no, at all, desire to go back to Chicago and coach the Bulls,” Jackson said.

Nets president Rod Thorn vehemently denied reports he has reached out to Jackson.

“I have not reached out to anybody about Phil Jackson through any back channels, front channels, side channels or any channels,” Thorn said yesterday — with a bit of a laugh.

The Nets are a great coaching opportunity — for someone that wants to build a team. Even taking Derrick Favors third (as our Rotoworld mock draft suggests) means a solid front line of Brook Lopez at center, Favors at the four, Devin Harris at point, with Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas Roberts still around. That’s a nice young core that just needs an elite free agent to become a real threat. Add in the insanely rich owner and the upcoming move to Brooklyn, and this job has a lot of potential/

But Phil Jackson is not about potential anymore. He is close to retirement, he does not want to build, and he wants rings. Now. If he is not going to Chicago, what other team looking for a coach is on the verge of contending immediately? You’ll be lucky to win 40 games with the Nets nex year

Jackson is serious when he says he has not thought seriously about his future plans. He suddenly has enough to worry him in Phoenix and he always waits until after the season to decide what to do about next year. But those closest to him say that he is happy right now in the lifestyle and situation he is in, and is not likely to make a change.

But what is the fun about speculating about that? So you can expect these stories to continue.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.