The one person that matters — Pat Riley — thinks Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did a good job this season. At least good enough to be back for a second season.
That hasn’t stopped people outside the team from speculating about Spoelstra’s future and what kind of job he did.
That includes Rick Barry, the NBA Hall of Famer who was on KHTK in Sacramento (via Sports Radio Interviews) and took a swipe at all the coaches LeBron has had, including Spoelstra. Barry was asked what LeBron needs to work on this summer.
“His shot, first and foremost, because I think that’s where it all comes down to. If you don’t have confidence in your shot, it destroys the rest of your game. … Then, little nuances, facing up, learning how to be the guy learning to use y0ur first dribble to go by instead of everything off the dribble … learning how to use screens probably, then of course the coach running more plays for him where he can run off double and triple staggered screens, learning to curl it properly, learning how to do the little things in the game which, unfortunately, have not been taught to him, which I don’t blame him for. I blame the people who have coached him over the years. To have a talent like this and to not maximize the full potential of this talent is inexcusable and reprehensible to me and the coaches who have had him should be ashamed of themselves.”
So… Barry wants to take the ball out of LeBron’s hands as a shot creator (and one of the best passers in the game) and use him like Ray Allen? You can decide for yourself if you think that is wise.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle came to Spoelstra’s defense — unsolicited — on Wednesday, according to ESPN Dallas.
“Listen, I would like to say one thing about Miami if I could,” Carlisle said. “I thought Erik Spoelstra had the toughest job in basketball with that team because of the way the team came together and because of the unbelievably high expectations…
“My hat’s off to Erik and the job he did,” Carlisle said. “It was extremely difficult, extremely trying. We went through a lot of difficult times before we got to our moment. Their time will definitely come.”
You can choose to go Carlisle — the guy who just coached his team to the NBA title — or Barry.
Anderson Varejao was spending the past couple days helping his nation prepare to host the 2016 Olympics in less than two weeks, including carrying the Olympic flame.
But now he is on his way back to the United States to have his chronically bad back examined. Again. From Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group.
The Warriors re-signed Varejao on a one-year, veteran minimum contract where he will make $980,431. He is expected to back up Zaza Pachulia at the five spot, although his run would have been limited (which is good, he’s not terribly effective anymore).
A variety of injuries — back, Achilles, wrist — have meant the most games Varejao has played in a season since the 2010-11 season is 65. Last season that number was 53, the final 22 of it with the Warriors.
If Varejao can’t go or is limited, the Warriors may look around at other options. But the pickings are slim at this point.
Hopefully, this does not develop into something chronic.
After a promising rookie season and an impressive Summer League in Orlando where he averaged 18.8 points per game, Thunder second year player Cameron Payne had surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot, the team announced Monday. Here it is from the Thunder’s press release.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Cameron Payne underwent a successful procedure today to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.
The team is optimistic he will be ready to go by the start of the season (there is usually a 6-8 week timetable), but Payne and the Thunder need to be patient here. The fifth metatarsal is the bone that runs from the base of the little toe up to the ankle on the foot. While surgery can repair it, healing can be slow because that is not an area of the foot with great natural blood flow. The Thunder were down this road before with Kevin Durant, he came back eight weeks after the surgery but ended up needing a couple more to get everything fixed and missed 55 games because of it.
Payne played well as a rookie and is expected to see a healthy bump in playing time next season as a scoring guard off the bench behind Russell Westbrook. He just needs to get right first.
Coaches who win rings often get a pay bump. Guys who break a 52-year championship drought deserve one.
That includes guys who only coached half a season — especially ones working on the same contract they had before taking the big job.
Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers just agreed to a healthy contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
That seems fair.
What Lue got that his predecessor David Blatt never could was real buy-in from LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers. Blatt came off as wanting to be the smartest guy in the room at all times — and don’t you dare discount his experiences coaching in Europe — while Lue was more humble and more direct. He didn’t get to put in everything he wanted, and the team didn’t play faster for him (statistically) as he wanted, but there was better chemistry.
This isn’t rocket science for Cleveland — if you have a coach that your franchise player backs, and said coach has proven he can win, you keep him.
Since the day after Kevin Durant said he was going to sign with Golden State — which came as a shock to a lot of people with the Thunder organization — there has been a sense from the Thunder and people close to it that they thought they could keep Russell Westbrook. That ultimately, he would prefer to stay. Few around the league were buying that, but OKC believed it.
Maybe it’s optimism. Maybe it’s reality. But the question isn’t about the 2016 season that starts in October; it’s the 2017 season. Does Westbrook want to stay with the Thunder long term and sign an extension to prove it? Or when he’s a free agent next summer does he want to at least listen to his other options? Because if it is the second option, even if Westbrook says he likely stays, well, the Thunder just went down that road and got burned. They have no choice but to move him. And he knows it. He just didn’t expect to have to make this decision now.
Westbrook doesn’t like the idea of being traded, reports Royce Young at ESPN.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, he doesn’t want to be traded. He wants to play next season with the Thunder. It’s the year after that which is in question. There’s a growing belief Westbrook will think heavily about an extension but will first weigh every angle before doing it.
That extension would put $9 million more in Westbrook’s pocket next season (because the Thunder are under the cap) and he would get raises off of that for three more seasons. It’s a good deal, what he would ultimately lose is one more guaranteed year on the end of his contract if he left the Thunder, two if he stayed.
The real question is: Does he want to be wooed as a free agent next summer?
If the answer is yes, the Thunder have no choice but to trade him — and other teams will have lowball offers unless he guarantees to re-sign where he is traded (no team is giving up many quality future assets to rent Westbrook).
If the answer is no, he should go the James Harden route and sign an extension.
Either way, the answer is coming this summer.