LeBron James working out with Hakeem Olajuwon

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Dwight Howard has done it the last two summers. Kobe Bryant has done it.

Now it is LeBron James’ turn.

LeBron has made the pilgrimage to Houston to work out with Hakeem Olajuwon, he told the Associated Press.

“I look at what he was able to do throughout his career,” James said. “Unbelievable talent. Multiple champion. Just to see how he was able to dominate in the low post, for me as an individual, I just try to look at some of the things I feel I need to get better at and hit home at it. Our team becomes better if I continue to get better and that’s what it’s about…

“Right now I’ve just been focusing on being a better player, working on my game every single day. Like I said, the Dallas Mavericks were a great team and they deserved to win that championship. I’ll just use that as motivation coming into this season.”

James is already a good post player, better than he gets credit for, and the Heat also use him on the block more than people think — 8.1 percent of his shots came on post ups last season and he shot 54 percent from the block.

Sebastian Pruiti does a fantastic breakdown of LeBron’s post game over at NBA Playbook. (He also says Dirk Nowitzki is the best post player in the game right now.)

On the left block, James posts a PPP of 1.011 (top 15% of all NBA players) and on the right block, James posts a PPP of 1.317 (top 4% of all NBA players). James’ size advantage tends to draw double teams, and when those doubles come, James is an accurate and willing passer. Out of the 75 kick outs when doubles came, James turned it over just 4 times.

What LeBron has not shown in the post is a lot of moves — he’s so big and strong he essentially bullies his way to a shot. He can just overpower or spin past a defender, and LeBron has a nice little fadeaway. But Olajuwon will teach him to widen that array and that will make him even more dangerous on the block.

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

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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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.