TNT held their annual NBA media luncheon today, which gave assembled media members the chance to ask TNT personalities Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Mike Fratello. PBT wasn’t in attendance, but SLAM Online’s Ben Osborne was.
Below is Osborne’s account of what happened when the conversation inevitably turned to the Heat — Barkley has been one of the most vocal critics of both LeBron James and “The Decision” all summer, and he didn’t shy away from giving his opinion on what the Heat now need to do:
Besides catching up with some of the other media types there, I participated by asking Levy if TNT was approached about airing “The Decision” (”No,” he said. “And we wouldn’t have been interested in something where we had to give up control like that.”), all of the guys if Erik Spoelstra was up to the challenge of leading the star-powered Heat (Kenny said definitely, but Charles thinks there’s a real question as to whether Spo’ will fell comfortable yelling at LeBron/Wade, etc.) and taking lots of notes in the hopes of getting a great soundbite.
Sure enough, Sir Charles delivered. Somewhat unprompted, as the lunch and conversation were winding down, he announced that in his opinion, “the Heat have to win two, probably three, championships, in the next five years to be a success. We have never had a situation like that in the NBA.”
Strong words from Barkley. And no, he wasn’t asked any questions about the Nike spot that came out today — in the comments of Osbourne’s post, he says that he wished he’d known about the ad so he could’ve asked Barkley about it. Knowing Barkley, he’ll probably have some thoughts about that ad sooner rather than later.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.