Cleveland's coaching catch-22

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Thumbnail image for James_Thumbsup.jpgThe Cavaliers are doing a little coaching tango with Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s legendary college coach. An offer is on the table, according to reports.

But Izzo’s no dummy — he’s not going to sign up for a rebuilding project in the NBA. He’s only making the leap if he has a shot at a title.

He’ll only come if LeBron James stays.

LeBron James may not stay if the Cavaliers can’t hire a quality coach.

And welcome to the Cleveland Catch-22.

No coach of any note is going to come to Cleveland unless he knows that LeBron James is inked. Not Izzo, not Phil Jackson (who isn’t coming anyway), not Jeff Van Gundy (who isn’t coming anyway), not anyone. Without LeBron the Cavaliers are going to rack up an awful lot of lottery ping-pong balls next year. It’s an entry level NBA coaching job in a mid-level market without LeBron.

LeBron wants to see a commitment to winning from the team. He wants a team that can contend around him. Part of that is the coach — he wants to see a quality coach brought in that can guide this team to the next level.

If it happens in Cleveland, it will have to be some kind of package deal with a top coach and LeBron. Likely all negotiated in back rooms by William Wesley. Because neither side would move for sure without the other.

Meanwhile the Bulls go out and get the sexiest assistant coach on the block, a big name in NBA circles if not to the average sports fan. But he fits what they want to do. He can build a defense in Chicago that can win titles. Chicago is doing what it thinks is best, with or without LeBron. They are an organization that knows what it wants to be.

That has to be pretty attractive to LeBron.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.

Aaron Gordon throws himself alley-oop off backboard (video)

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Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?

The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.

There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.