Kevin McHale considers himself in the running for the Bulls' coaching job

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The name ‘Kevin McHale’ can elicit a number of different reactions. Among Celtics fans (or simply low-post enthusiasts), the man is revered as an NBA legend of the highest order. One of the all-time greats, McHale was an instrumental part of three Celtics championships. Ask a die-hard Laker fan however, and the responses likely range from hatred to begrudging respect.

Then, ask one of the handful of Timberwolves fans left on the planet, and they’ll probably curse his name before sending you an invitation to attend a cult meeting in which they cast hexes on the man that botched roster move after roster move as the GM in Minnesota.

Those are the two sides of McHale that are well-understood and oft-discussed, but a third dimension of Kevin’s NBA persona remains largely undiscovered: his coaching ability. It’s a particularly relevant side of McHale that we’d be smart to understand, as Kevin “expects to be interviewed” for the Bulls’ head coaching job according to Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times.

McHale has coached 94 games in the NBA over two separate stints with the Wolves, but he was never actually given a team to call his own. In ’04-’05, McHale coached the team after Flip Saunders’ firing, and led a decent Wolves squad to a 19-12 record over the final 31 games. Then, in ’08-’09, McHale was sent in to relieve the magnificently awful Randy Wittman coached the team to a 4-15 record. McHale went 20-43 with the same roster, that included Al Jefferson, Kevin Love in his rookie year, and the incredible talents of pre-jumper Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, and the ghost of Mike Miller.

Not exactly jaw-dropping coaching records there, but respectable performances for an interim. Especially for an interim that had to coach a McHale-constructed team. The man has clearly shown that he can’t put a roster together, but I think he’s still a capable coach and teacher, particularly for a young team like the Bulls.

As Kevin notes in the Sun-Times piece, he’ll have some stiff competition; anyone would want the opportunity to coach Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and what looks to be a quality free agent acquisition. This could be a head coach’s opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that could be fantastic, so from McHale’s perspective, vying for the job is a no-brainer. The big question is whether or not Gar Forman and the Bulls can see past the poor managing resume to properly identify and appraise McHale’s coaching talent.

He may not be the best man for this job, but Kevin McHale is far better as a coach than his caricature suggests. He doesn’t guarantee success, but McHale deserves another shot as a head coach in the NBA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.

Report: Mexico City could host NBA’s 31st minor-league team

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.

Jonathan Givony of  ESPN:

The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.

Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.

A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.

Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.

Lonzo Ball on his shot: “I feel like they’re going to fall. Just have to keep shooting.”

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Lonzo Ball‘s shooting woes this season have been well chronicled. Maybe even beaten to death — but when your father is a hype man, and Magic Johnson says you’re the “face of the franchise” it invites a whole new level of scrutiny. Doesn’t matter if it’s fair, it’s reality.

Rather than a cold recitation of the numbers, a look at Ball’s shot chart for the season says a 1,000 words worth.

Ball has admitted frustration but has said throughout he expects things to turn. He reiterated that in an interview on the Mason and Ireland Show on ESPN LA Radio. He likes the looks he’s getting, thinks they will start to go down. (Hat tip Lakers’ Nation.)

“I’m just missing shots. I definitely like the looks I’m getting. Most of them are wide open, people are going under screens. I feel like they’re going to fall. Just have to keep shooting and shooting with confidence.”

Ball is right. He is shooting 28.2 percent on shots where the defender is 4-6 feet away (22.9 percent from three on those), and 21.3 percent when the defender is 6 or more feet away (19.1 percent from three).

Those shots may start to fall — Luke Walton has preached the same thing to Ball, just keep shooting and it will come around. Right now Ball is in his own head about this, maybe guiding the shots rather than just firing away, but the Lakers aren’t going to rebuild his shot mid-season. He should just keep shooting.

Maybe of more concern is that 42.5 percent in the restricted area — if he isn’t a decent scoring threat on drives, it will hamper his entire passing game. He’s a rookie, he needs time to adjust to the speed, length, and physicality of the NBA, it’s far too early to say what he is and isn’t yet. But those finishing numbers are ones to watch.

Kevin Durant says “I plan on playing” against Thunder Wednesday

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After Kevin Durant missed the Warriors’ last game with a sprained ankle, there was some question about whether he would play on his latest return to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Doubt no more, he will play. Like we all expected.

Durant has a ring now and says he wants to move on from the drama surrounding his departure from Oklahoma City, but you can be sure plenty of Thunder fans don’t feel that way. KD will again have boos rained down on him all game.

This is obviously a very different Thunder team than the one Durant left, with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. While the Thunder have stumbled and blown leads (in six of their nine losses OKC had double-digit leads) this is a team with a lot of potential, as Durant discussed.