Free agent Aaron Brooks expects to return to Phoenix

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Damn lockout.

Right now we should be up to our necks in free agent signings, rumors of signings and the fun that can be player movement in the off-season. Instead we’re talking if Nate Robinson can play NFL cornerback. Which is about as likely as the Celtics landing Dwight Howard.

Point guard Aaron Brooks would be one of those free agents. Although he expects to stay put in Phoenix, he told Hoopsworld.

“All signs point to me going back to Phoenix,” Brooks said. “I had a good time. I like the organization and it’s a great city. I would love to continue playing in Phoenix. I would love stay with this team. This summer, I’m going to get more comfortable with the guys. I want to get to know everyone a little bit better and then hopefully we have a better season than we did last year.”

At first, Brooks had trouble adjusting to the midseason change of scenery, but he began fitting in toward the end of the season.

“All of the guys there are cool, but it was awkward for me because I’ve never been in that position,” Brooks said. “I’ve never switched teams in the middle of the season, but they did a good job of making me feel comfortable while I was there. It was just different being thrown into a situation like that.”

In Phoenix, Brooks can be the backup for Steve Nash until he is traded or retires. (My guess is they get serious about moving him in the next year, although the lockout clouds when.) He needs to get healthy, if that happens he could return to being the explosive, quick guard who would work well in the Suns system (and give Nash more time on the bench, which he could use).

But Brooks may have options. Good ones. We’ll see as soon as they get around to solving the lockout and we can talk free agency.

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.