Report: Yao Ming to retire

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Yao Ming, a player who was both one of the better all-around centers to ever play the game and a true ambassador of the sport — but leaves us all wondering what could have been — plans to announce his retirement.

Yao, who had played just five games the past season due to injuries, has realized he can’t recover enough to play again, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

Yao, who missed all but five games of the 2010-11 season, hasn’t been able to fully recover from a tendon strain in his left leg. The veteran center informed the Rockets, the league office in New York, and NBA China of his decision to leave the game within the past 48 hours, sources said.

From a stretch of 2004 to 2007 he was the best center on the planet (if you are thinking of arguing Dwight Howard’s case, go check their head-to-head numbers).  In the 2006-07 season he was the focus of the Houston Rockets offense (when on the floor 33 percent of the Rockets played ended with a Yao shot, foul or turnover), scoring 25 points a game and grabbing 9.4 boards. He had great moves around the basket, amazing footwork, but at 7’6” he also 48 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet out, and 44 percent from 16 feet out to the arc that season — you had to respect the jumper. He was also a gifted passer as a big man. He was a complete player.

He was an eight-time All-Star (in part due to a huge online vote from China, one which make him an All-Star last season even when injured and out for the season).

Then a series of injuries did in his career.

He will be remembered as one of the first true global ambassadors of the sport, brining the NBA to China. There could not have been a better person for the job, a thoughtful and kind giant that was loved and respected around the globe.

He will be missed.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.