Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s official: Mike Brown is your new Lakers coach

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UPDATE 6:19 pm: The Lakers have released an official statement on Mike Brown.

“In response to rampant speculation and reports about our head coaching position and Mike Brown, we’ve met with Mike and are very impressed with him. In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days.”

It will get done. Mike Brown is the man.

3:32 pm: Well Lakers fans, you have a coach who spits in a cup on the sidelines. Congrats!

Mike Brown has reached a deal to become the next head coach of the Lakers, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN. And he adds that Kobe Bryant, while he may have been surprised initially, is on board.

Deal is done. Mike Brown and Lakers agree to 4-year, $18.25 million deal. Team option for 4th year. Brown gets $2.5 mil if option not taken

Kobe on board with hiring of Brown, has great respect for him, according to sources. Lakers will announce Brown hiring this afternoon.

What else did you expect Kobe to say publicly? He wants to win, he has to back the coach. What really matters is how he buys in — and through words and actions gets the rest of the team to buy in — come training camp and next season.

Brown, the former Cavaliers coach for the last five years Mike Brown was there, steps in because he impressed Jim Buss (the son of owner Jerry Buss), the guy really making the calls now.

This is a radical change of style and a departure from what was, and what had worked for the Lakers, for years. That alone makes it a risky move, but moving away from the shadow of Jackson was something the Buss family wanted to do. (Well, except Jeanie.)

All Brown has to do is fill the shoes of Phil Jackson and appease a fan base that isn’t happy unless the Lakers win two NBA titles every season. Good luck with that. He comes in with the advantage of having coached in the media circus that followed LeBron James around, so he is used to coaching a team with distractions. And, Brown was an assistant with the Indiana Pacers when Ron Artest was there, so he already knows what he is getting into.

Brown led the Cavaliers to two 60-win seasons and the NBA finals one time. He is a defense-first coach and that is why this could work — where the Lakers collapsed in the playoffs was on the defensive end. Their rotations were almost non-existent and nobody “helped the helper.” The team just seemed lost on that end of the floor, and if Brown can bring a renewed committment on that end the Lakers will remain serious contenders.

But defense is not what concerns Lakers fans — it is Brown’s offense, which had the reputation of being LeBron-centric and boring. But what Brown did was play to the talent given him, which was not really a running group. And when your other offensive options are Delonte West and what’s left of Shaquille O’Neal, any good coach would run every possession through LeBron.

The Lakers can score whatever system with their talent. The question is, will they follow Brown into battle like they did Jackson?

Watch Kyle Lowry’s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler in USA win

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There were a lot of ugly things for Team USA in its exhibition win over Venezuela — the 4-of-25 shooting from three comes to mind. There was more, it was not a strong offensive performance from Team USA.

But like usual, we can overwhelm teams with athleticism, and that means wins and highlights. Like Kyle Lowry‘s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler.

Or DeMar DeRozan‘s late-game windmill dunk.

Kyrie Irving helps USA to ugly 80-45 win over Venezuela

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Kyrie Irving #10 of the United States Men's National Team looks to make a move with the ball against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, DeMarcus Cousins powered a dominant performance in the paint, and the United States pulled away from Venezuela for an ugly 80-45 exhibition victory Friday night.

Coming off three straight flashy victories in Las Vegas and California, the United States shot 42.4 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers in by far its worst offensive performance of its five-city tour in preparation for next week’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the Americans used their superior athleticism to limit Venezuela to 24 percent shooting and owned the interior with a 54-29 rebounding advantage.

Returning to Chicago for the first time with the U.S. national team, Bulls star Jimmy Butler was cheered every time he was announced at the United Center. He had four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes in his first start with Team USA.

Butler had one of the few electric plays for the U.S. when he ran out on the break and dunked Kyle Lowry‘s tip pass in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan also had a vicious dunk off a lob from Kevin Durant, and DeMar DeRozan drew chants of “USA! USA!” with a windmill jam in the final minutes.

Klay Thompson also scored 13 points, and Cousins finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Durant had nine points of 3-of-9 shooting.

John Cox scored 14 points for Venezuela, which will play the U.S. again on Aug. 8 in the Olympics.

Irving and company were greeted with a round of hearty cheers when they came out for pregame warmups. Fans lined the side of the court where the Americans had their layup line, and Anthony and Durant posed for pictures with a couple of eager boys.

Before Butler’s introduction drew the most applause of the night, former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau received a thunderous ovation when he was announced with the U.S. coaching staff. Thibodeau took a year off after he was fired by the Bulls in May 2015, and then was hired as Minnesota’s coach and president of basketball operations in April.

The star power also extended to the sideline near the U.S. bench, where former Olympians Scottie Pippen and Dwyane Wade watched the action attentively. Wade was joined by his wife, actress Gabriel Union, hours after he held his introductory press conference for his new contract with his hometown Bulls.

Pippen played on the 1992 Dream Team that rolled to gold in Barcelona, and also helped the U.S. win gold in 1996. Wade was on the Americans’ gold medal-winning teams at each of the last two Olympics.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.