Memphis holds advantage in courting restricted free agent Marc Gasol

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At this stage in the lockout and the negotiations within, it’s impossible for any free agent player to address their situation with certainty. That much is guaranteed by the fact that no explicit communication can go on between player and team at the present juncture; any indications given at this point convey only intent or interest, and until a new CBA is christened, there will be nothing in the way of actual contract negotiations and agreement.

Still, there is value in knowing the desired outcome of various NBA free-agents-to-be, even if it’s only on a stay-or-go binary. Case in point: Memphis’ Marc Gasol, a restricted free agent who plays a highly coveted position and is coming off of yet another promising season. The Grizzlies would retain the right to match any offer thrown Gasol’s way by virtue of his restricted status, but his own preferences do play a role in the free agent process, Memphis’ decision making, and in a nutshell, Gasol’s entire short-term basketball future. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commerial Appeal (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog):

“I grew up in Memphis. I feel like it’s my home,” Gasol said in a telephone interview before amassing 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks during Spain’s 98-85 title win in Kaunas, Lithuania.

“They always say it’s a business and there are bad sides to the business. We have to wait until it plays out. But I’m looking forward to something good happening.”

As far as media hints go, “looking forward to something good happening,” is about as vague as it gets. Still, the fact that Gasol — though nominally a Spaniard — considers Memphis his home is not altogether insignificant. There’s no binding contract. There’s not even a verbal agreement in place. But Gasol made a home for himself in Memphis long before he played for the Grizzlies, and the fact that fact will make some impact on his free agent courtship. Whether it affects the final dollar value of a possible re-up with the Grizz or merely hedges on his interest in a possible relocation remains to be seen, but there’s no way this tidbit doesn’t work in Memphis’ favor.

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.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.