Tuesday night, O.J. Mayo is back.
The man has served his debt to the NBA, a 10 game suspension for testing positive for banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is over. He says he got it in his system by drinking an energy drink he bought at a convenience store. You can chose to believe that or not. Doesn’t really matter.
The big thing is — the Memphis Grizzlies have done just fine without Mayo, having gone 8-2 without him. Zach Randolph was putting up 20 and 14, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley both played well also. More importantly, in Mayo’s absence the Memphis bench developed improved and changed — now Mayo has to blend in with that, coach Lionel Hollins told the Commercial Appeal.
“The team is not static. It’s fluid. It’s changing constantly,” Hollins said. “He’ll be trying to find out where the team is and trying to catch up to that rhythm. It’s going to be difficult. The team has moved in a positive direction…”
The bench also developed a different identity in Mayo’s absence. The reserves have gone from deferring to Mayo for scoring to following veteran guard Tony Allen’s lead with gritty, defensive-minded play. The Grizzlies have also enjoyed more ball movement and an effective zone defense from their second unit.
Mayo’s name will continue to come up on the trade block for the next 10 days as well, so soon he may have to adjust to something else entirely. But for now, the new reality in Memphis is Mayo’s first test.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
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.