Source says Thibodeau hiring won't influence James' decision

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Current Boston Celtics assistant coach and soon-to-be Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was the mastermind behind the defense that rendered LeBron James ineffective for long stretches of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Thibodeau is also represented by CAA, which gives him ties to LeBron’s representation as well as his mentor, the mysterious and powerful William Wesley. 
Despite all of that, Melissa Isaacson of ESPN Chicago is reporting that a few people “close to James” informed the Bulls that the hiring of Thibodeau would not impact LeBron’s decision regarding whether or not he will sign with the Bulls one way or another. According to the article, James has privately let it be known that he does not want to be part of coaching decisions for any team unless they involve “someone he really did not like.” 
Several outlets have noted that Thibodeau signed with the Bulls shortly after he agreed to be represented by CAA, but the Bulls organization is adamant that Thibodeau was one of their man targets from the very beginning of their coaching search. After the Celtics took a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls made plans to interview Thibodeau shortly after the series ended, but the Magic taking the series to six games threw a monkey wrench in those plans. The Bulls management team ended up having to rush to Los Angeles to interview Thibodeau, and made the decision to hire him shortly after that interview. 
It’s unclear whether or not Thibodeau is the kind of coach LeBron James would want to play for. Of all the coaches who will start new jobs next season, only Thibodeau has had recent success at the NBA level, and championship success at that. Thibodeau’s defensive schemes are ingenious, and he’s proven that over a decade of defensive success with the Celtics, Rockets, and Knicks. With Thibodeau building a defensive scheme around Joakim Noah and LeBron James running the offense, the Bulls could get scary good very fast. 
However, Thibodeau’s resume — defense-first former assistant with a championship team — reads a lot like the resume Mike Brown had before he was hired as the head coach of the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were perennial contenders under Brown, but he never did get them over the hump, and LeBron may be ready to play for a more offensive-oriented coach. 
The bottom line here is that while other top coaching candidates have been looking at potential college recruits or talking about basketball on TV, Tom Thibodeau has been coming up with defensive schemes that beat the Cavaliers, beat the Magic, and took one game from the Lakers in Los Angeles. He deserved a head coaching job regardless of whether or not him and LeBron hang out at the same parties. 

Rumor: Dell Demps out, Joe Dumars in with Pelicans?

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Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is on shaky ground.

What about New Orleans general manager Dell Demps?

A long-swirling rumor is getting renewed.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

A few league sources peg the New Orleans Pelicans as a team that is going to make sweeping changes once their season ends in eight games.

The Pelicans have long been rumored to be the next stop for former Piston’s executive Joe Dumars, who is a Shreveport, Louisiana native and has close ties to the ownership and leadership of the Pelicans and Saints organization.

League sources said recently that Dumars has been active in the NBA front office circles, scouting players and reconnecting to the process.

Demps has done a lousy job building a supporting cast around Davis. Part of the reason trading for the risky DeMarcus Cousins made so much sense: The Pelicans were so underwhelming, they wouldn’t be much worse off if Cousins destroyed their culture and/or bolted in 2018 free agency.

But it’s not too late to salvage Davis’ tenure in New Orleans. He’s locked up for three more seasons, and Cousins is an extremely talented No. 2.

Is Dumars the right man to bring it all together?

He masterfully built the Pistons into the 2004 NBA champions. He also played an integral role in the team’s downfall.

Another factor: There appears to be a mutual respect between Cousins and Dumars, who coveted the big man since he was coming out of Kentucky. That could help the Pelicans re-sign Cousins in 2018.

Dumars’ success should get him general-manager job interviews, but his more-recent failings demand tough questions. I’m unconvinced the Pelicans are scrutinizing Dumars enough, and they’d probably benefit from a more-thorough search.

But Dumars might be a fine hire. Dumping Demps would at least be step in the right direction.

Maryland star Melo Trimble declares for NBA draft

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Maryland guard Melo Trimble declared for last year’s NBA draft but withdrew.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Don Markus of The Baltimore Sun:

Trimble, less than three weeks removed from finishing his junior season with the team’s first-round loss to Xavier in the NCAA tournament, announced Wednesday he will make himself available for the NBA draft.

Unlike a year ago, when Trimble went through the pre-draft process without signing with an agent and then decided to return to school hours before the deadline, the 6-foot-3 point guard will forego his senior season.

“The deciding factor was that I felt there was nothing more I could do,” Trimble told the Baltimore Sun from the Stamp Student Union during a lunch break. “I felt like I did everything I could for the program. We went to the [NCAA] tournament three years in a row, and I had the same amount of points three years in a row. I felt that if I wanted to hopefully get to the next level, I had to leave at this time.

Trimble’s scouting report hasn’t changed much in the last year. He’s a scoring guard whose size (6-foot-3) will require him to play point guard in the next level, but he hasn’t shown the necessary distributing skills.

The biggest difference: He’s now 22, not 21.

Trimble had a superb college career, but at this point, his range is second round to undrafted.

DeMarcus Cousins answers first several Kings-related questions same way (video)

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DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.

Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.

Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.

Justin Verrier of ESPN:

Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.

Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.

Report: Sweet-shooting 7-footer Lauri Markkanen leaving Arizona for NBA draft

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Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.

That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.

Evan Daniels of Scout:

Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.

Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.

Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.

Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.

There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.

But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.