Mike Brown already preaching defense to Lakers

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Mike Brown’s first press conference as the Lakers head coach — and that’s official now, he signed the contract Tuesday — was really pretty uneventful. A lot of coach-speak.

A lot of things about family, about him defining the culture and holding people accountable, about this still being Kobe’s team, about Brown trying to be himself and not Phil Jackson. All the things you’d expect him to say. He said it with the Buss family (except for Jeanie) sitting in the front row.

But there were a few things that became clear.

One is that is already reaching out and trying to sell this veteran team. He has already spoken with Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, and has tried to reach Andrew Bynum. Most importantly he has spoken to Kobe Bryant.

“I’ve talked to Kobe by phone a few times, by text and we’ve also already met in person at length,” Brown said. They talked philosophy and family, Brown said.

That philosophy starts with defense. Brown’s philosophy should fit well with the Lakers big men can do – shrink the floor and defend the paint, don’t give up middle drives and contest everything.

On offense Brown said he wants to harken back to what was done when he was an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio when they had Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Those twin towers worked well together and Brown thinks some of that will work here. He said there will even be some triangle sets.

But there will be some changes. Brown wants to push the pace, then in the half court work inside out with good ball reversals. Those are things the Lakers have done within the triangle when they were playing well, but too often got away from.

That pace and spacing the floor may mean some roster changes. The Lakers need a real point guard, they can’t hide Derek Fisher as the triangle initiator anymore. They need better athletes and shooters.

But that is down the line. Right now he is still busy selling himself and his philosophy to his new team. That’s the first step, building those relationships is what really matters long term for his and the team’s success.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.