Joe Lacob

Why did Warrior fans boo?

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The timing was uncomfortable for everyone — it was supposed to be a night about Chris Mullin. One of the legends of the Golden State Warriors, the Hall of Fame player and former team GM, getting his number retired.

But instead, it will be known as the night Warriors fans unloaded on team co-owner Joe Lacob, booing him mercilessly.

Why? It’s complex. The trade of Monta Ellis — the popular scoring two-guard — for the oft-injured Andrew Bogut was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That move was not generally popular in the Bay Area.

But it’s more than just that. Ray Ratto put it this way at CSNBayArea.com.

Now (Lacob) gets the picture. Nobody escapes while the team is not winning. Nobody gets a pass for good intentions. Six playoff appearances in 36 years, and one in 18, shout far louder than a public relations gesture triggered by a generous spirit.

It really but it comes back to this:

Golden State fans have been some of the most passionate in the league for decades and have suffered through decades of Chris Cohen ownership that would have been the worst in the league had Donald Sterling not lapped the field. They have made the playoffs once in the last 18 seasons and thrown the towel in on this one.

The sins of the father have come to the son. Lacob may have worked to change the Warriors culture since he and Peter Guber bought the team — that includes reconnecting with Mullin, being more accessible to fans, trying to make the team more defense oriented, bringing in Marc Jackson — but until the Warriors actually start winning and showing the changes are working it will not matter.

There is a sense Lacob talks a good game but cannot walk the walk.

Eric Freeman, a Bay Area resident who has followed the Warriors for years, summed the feelings up well at Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie.

The Ellis trade was certainly a factor in the uproar, but it exists in a context that explains the boos much better. For one thing, Lacob’s reaction to the trade has been questionable at best, with him already referring to it as a “transcendent deal that is going to change everything” and comparing it to the Celtics’ trade for Kevin Garnett in 2007. Every other reaction to the trade has been considerably more measured, with those in favor looking at it as one step in a long process and the detractors, like me, viewing it as exchanging one form of mediocrity for another. Either way, Lacob’s rationale for the deal is ludicrous, a response that either proves he has little knowledge of the sport or suggests he thinks very little of his fan base.

Simply put, there’s a growing feeling among the fan base that Lacob is more about talk than results. In little more than a year, he has promised the playoffs, only to steer the team towards tanking for draft position; suggested that real fans buy season tickets; hired a head coach with no experience at any level of the sport beyond an impressive playing career; talked up Klay Thompson as a Rookie of the Year candidate before he’d played a preseason game; and told anyone who’ll listen that everything is going fine. On top of that, he supported the lockout (which, whether with merit or not, robbed fans of games and led to a bizarre season). So, when Lacob took the stage at a ceremony honoring a player he had no involvement with whatsoever, the whole moment seemed a little off. If he had a better sense of Warriors’ fans outlook on the team, he might have stayed away entirely and cheered Mullin along with everyone else.

Does that excuse the Warriors fans ruining Chris Mullin’s moment? No. The timing for expressing their displeasure was poor.

But Lacob took the microphone AFTER Mullin spoke. That’s bad form. And if he didn’t know before he knows now that he has a passionate fan base, but one that expects a lot more than just platitudes. They want change. They want to see real change.

Larry Bird: Kevin McHale won’t coach Pacers

Larry Bird
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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1. Kevin McHale withdrew from the Kings’ coaching search.

2. The Pacers fired Frank Vogel.

Will McHale reunite with former Celtics teammate Larry Bird in Indiana?

“I would not do that to Kevin, have him to work for me,”Bird said at a press conference today. “That’s just not fair. I respect the man too much, and we’ve been through too many battles together to bring him in here and be my coach. I would love for him to be my coach, but it ain’t going to happen, because our relationship.”

It would have been compelling to watch Bird and McHale work together, but I’m not convinced McHale is the best coach available – though that’s not the only concern.

After all, Bird just ousted someone who might be a better coach than any replacement.

Frank Vogel out as Pacers coach

Larry Bird, Frank Vogel
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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After leaving Frank Vogel hanging for a few days – something he explicitly said he hoped to avoid – Pacers president Larry Bird finally ousted the coach.

“It’s time for a new voice around here,” Bird said at a press conference today. “Sometimes my job really sucks, and this is one of the toughest things I’ve done.”

Bird clarified that Vogel wasn’t fired, that his contract had expired and wasn’t being renewed.

Will there be a search now to replace Vogel? Kevin McHale has already been mentioned as a candidate, and he’d make sense. He played on Bird’s Celtics and learned an up-tempo system with the Rockets.

Vogel is now free to interview with the Rockets, and I think he’d be a home-run hire. Vogel’s defensive skills are badly needed in Houston, and perhaps the the Rockets’ institutional knowledge could fine-tune his offense.

Report: Rockets talking to Jeff Hornacek, Sam Cassell, Stephen Silas, Chris Finch

Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek directs his players in the second half of an NBA exhibition basketball game against the Houston Rockets Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Houston. The Rockets won 95-92. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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There are the big names: Jeff Van Gundy, David Blatt, Mike D’Antoni and Frank Vogel.

There’s the catchy name: Kenny Smith.

And there’s the eliminated name: J.B. Bickerstaff.

Expect many more names in the Rockets’ coaching search.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Houston owner Les Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey met with Bickerstaff on Monday, as well as Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Houston assistant Chris Finch, league sources said.

Conversations with potential candidates are expected to include several prominent college coaches, sources said.

Among the NBA candidates with whom the Rockets are working to set up interviews are former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, league sources said. There could be 10-15 – perhaps even more – candidates interviewed in the process, league sources said.

Hornacek coached the Suns and looked pretty good doing so until this season, when he feuded with Markieff Morris, used too many strange lineups and saw the team quit on him. If he can explain this year’s troubles, he’d be a solid hire. But the Rockets have the best job available, so they can probably aim a little higher.

Cassell, like Smith, played for the Rockets. An intelligent player, Cassell has successfully transitioned to coaching, though I’m not sure he’s ready for a top job. He mentored John Wall with the Wizards before joining the Clippers. From afar, it’s just tough to judge his contributions to a loaded coaching staff in Los Angeles.

Stephen Silas broke into NBA coaching on his dad’s staffs with the Hornets (turned Pelicans) and Cavaliers. Paul Silas even let Stephen serve as head coach for games during the 2011-12 season. Between and after stints with his dad, Stephen has impressed at other stops around the league. Maybe someone who learned offense from Don Nelson and defense from Steve Clifford and gets along well with players would make a good head coach. The biggest question is how his rapport with players would translate to the head chair, but that’s a concern for any assistant.

Finch coached in Europe for more than a decade until the Rockets tabbed him to coach their D-League team. After a successful stint there, he moved to the bench in Houston. He’d be more of a daring hire at this point, but he could perhaps unite the Rockets’ front office and coaching staff better than anyone.

Reports: Kevin McHale withdraws from Kings coaching search, could join Pacers

Kevin McHale
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports wrote a few weeks ago about the Kings coaching search:

Kevin McHale is steadily gaining internal support, league sources told The Vertical. If Cousins truly is the future, the Kings have to hire a coach he will buy into, and McHale, a respected voice and one of the game’s all-time great post players, certainly seems like a good fit.

They won’t get him, of course

McHale indeed emerged as a candidate, and though it took him a little longer than other prominent former head coaches, McHale also came to the conclusion Mannix foresaw,

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This is part of the reason Sacramento talking to everybody. The Kings don’t know whom they can get.

An owner who has changed course too often in Vivek Ranadive, a general manager with too little experience in Vlade Divac, a top player who repeatedly feuds with coaches in DeMarcus Cousins – who’d want this job? Probably not someone who could get one of the NBA’s other 29 head-coaching gigs, and that might apply to McHale.

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

Frank Vogel is still twisting in the wind, but it seems unlikely the Pacers keep him.

There’d definitely be something intriguing about former Celtics teammates Larry Bird and Kevin McHale teaming up in Indiana. McHale’s experience with the Rockets could help him install an up-tempo offense, too.