Report: Timberwolves fire Kurt Rambis

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According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Minnesota Timberwolves have decided to fire head coach Kurt Rambis, but will not make the official announcement until after tomorrow’s draft:

Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn has decided to fire coach Kurt Rambis, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Kahn isn’t expected to announce the decision until after Thursday’s NBA draft, but he’s already begun collecting information on prospective replacements for Rambis, sources said…

Rambis has two years left on his original four-year contract. With the Timberwolves in the midst of a major rebuilding project, he went 32-132 as their coach, including a league-worst 17-65 this season.

Kahn told reporters he’d made the unusual request of asking Rambis to file a written report to him on changes Rambis would make if he returned as coach. He also said Rambis won’t attend the Timberwolves’ draft on Thursday night.

Kahn had wanted Rambis to become a better communicator with players. He also wanted him to design an offense away from the triangle and toward the open-court talents of rookie point guard Ricky Rubio. Rambis’ relationship with key young players, especially Kevin Love, had been frayed, at best.

As Wojnarowski mentions in the article, Rambis had two years left on his four-year contract. With Rambis as head coach, the Timberwolves went 32-132. As a player, Rambis was a hard-charging role player who attacked the glass with passion, and he won four championships as a player with the Lakers. After his playing career ended, Rambis served as the head coach of the Lakers in 1999, leading the team to a 24-13 regular-season record, and later served as a Laker assistant from 2002-2009.

It must be disappointing for Rambis that he’s getting his walking papers right as the Timberwolves appear ready to move out of their endless rebuilding stage and start trying to become a contending team again for the first time since the Garnett era, but it looks like Minnesota’s front office didn’t feel he was the right man for the job going forward.

 

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.