George Karl

Denver may have used laptop in a time out… so what?

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In the playoffs, sometimes people — teams, fans, media — can focus and become obsessed about the little things, the meaningless things, and not the things that really matter.

For example, if the Lakers want to talk about why they lost Game 5 to Denver they can talk about Andrew Bynum’s defensive rotations (or lack thereof). Or the fact that without guys like Steve Blake and Matt Barnes knocking down threes the Nuggets defense doesn’t get punished for the doubles and collapses on Bynum and Pau Gasol. Then Kobe just tries to take over.

The Lakers coaches were frustrated with all that, but the Lakers also were fuming about Denver using a laptop during a timeout. From Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times (via Ball Don’t Lie).

The Lakers were privately seething after seeing the Nuggets use a laptop computer in their huddle during a 20-second timeout with 19.9 seconds left to play.

The computer apparently belonged to an assistant coach sitting behind the bench with it. NBA rules forbid the use of such devices in the huddle, which won’t change the final score but can carry a hefty fine of up to $250,000.

As Dan Devine points out at BDL, at the moment in question the Lakers were down 99-96, so the Nuggets staff might have looked up scouting information on a last-second Lakers play. I’m not sure why you need a computer to tell you Kobe Bryant is going to take an isolation three, but to each his own.

Is using a laptop on the bench really against the rules? Denver’s GM reached out to the league to calm the waters. Yahoo asked for the details and was told that what Denver did was not against NBA rules. George Karl talked at his press avilability about a memo that seemed to say a laptop with scouting information could be kept near the bench so long as information isn’t taken from them while the game is in progress.

My question: Why is this even a big deal? Not sure how many teams really do this, but so what?

Why shouldn’t a team be able to pull out an iPad during a timeout loaded with the opposing team’s most common end-of-game sets then have a coach show that to the players? That is not cheating, that is scouting. That is using technology to make sure your players are properly prepared for what the opposing team is likely to run. Why is having that video on in the locker room before the game okay but having it on an iPad on the bench not?

To me, as the advanced statistical revolution marches on in the NBA the challenge is to impart the information gathered to the players in a way they can use. It’s one thing to say Tyson Chandler shoots 67.2 percent when he gets the ball back as a roll man after setting the pick and that he tries to find a direct line to the basket, it’s another to show a loop of what Chander does successfully as a player to his defender (and the team) and let them adjust. Most people are visual learners — to see it as numbers is one thing, to see it in action is another.

I don’t see the problem with a team using this technology on the bench or during breaks. I don’t have an issue with bringing technology into the game.

And while it didn’t impact this game anyway, the Lakers should be worried about why they really lost and not laptops.

Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry: “it’s not an injury”

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In the age of social media and spin, the idea of a nuanced answer — where there is some truth to a statement, but it is not the only reason for something — gets drowned out.

For example, let’s take the case of Stephen Curry‘s below-par performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder (he was 6-of-20 shooting with six turnovers in Game 4 and is 5-of-21 from three in the last two games). A report came out Wednesday morning saying Curry was only 70 percent following his knee surgery, which first led to a lot of silly “excuses” comments on Twitter. This led to Steve Kerr denying the injury, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s a radical idea: Curry’s struggles are a combination of things.

Yes, the improved, athletic, and lengthy Thunder defense is giving Curry problems. They are meeting him out high, often doubling off the pick-and-roll, and when that pick is set by Draymond Green Kevin Durant and his length is doing a great job of blowing that play up. Also, it is clear the physical exertion of guarding Russell Westbrook is wearing Curry down.

But also, he has lacked the explosiveness we saw lift him to a second consecutive MVP during the season. He’s had great quarters — the fourth and OT in Game 4 vs. Portland, and the second quarter of Game 2 vs. OKC — but he has not been the consistent force we are used to seeing.

Welcome to the playoffs, where if someone is a little bit off that gets exploited by the other team.

That is what is going on, the rest is just spin.

Frank Vogel says it would be “inaccurate” to say he begged for his job with Pacers

TORONTO, ON - MAY 01:  Head Coach Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on in the first half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 01, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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This is all moot now. Frank Vogel has landed on his feet with a promising young Orlando team; Nate McMillan slid up a chair to take over the head coaching job in Indiana (which is an odd hire if Larry Bird wants the Pacers to play faster). But…

Frank Vogel wants you to know he did not beg for his job.

At the post-firing press conference of Pacers’ coach Larry Bird, he said that Vogel basically begged for his job. Vogel, speaking on ESPN Indianapolis Radio’s Dan Dakich Show Tuesday, via the Indianapolis Star:

Larry’s going to speak his mind. A lot of people talked to me about it who didn’t like that and it’s probably an inaccurate perception that I was begging him to stay. … I fully respect Larry and the process. He knew it was going to be an unpopular move but he did what he had to do.

“I felt like we were on the verge of some big things. We stood toe-to-toe with a 56-win team. I told my team after the series that were poised … I felt like I was going to be able to do that with this group. That was my only mention to Larry.”

Again, this is all moot.

The reality is Vogel was never Bird’s guy, Bird wanted the Pacers to play faster than they did last season (11th in the NBA in pace), and Bird thought it time for a change. He’s the team president, it’s his call.

But did Bird make the Pacers better with this move? Begging discussion aside, that is the question to which he must answer.

Kobe Bryant texts Draymond Green, says making history is not easy

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The Golden State Warriors made history — they won 73 games, more than any team in NBA history.

But they are on the verge of being remembered like the 2007 Patriots.

The Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder for a variety of reasons — the Thunder defense has been exceptional, Russell Westbrook is a beast, for whatever reason Stephen Curry is not playing like MVP Stephen Curry — but there is another key one:

Draymond Green has played like crap the last couple games.

Kobe Bryant, who relates to Green’s drive and intensity, texted him a message according to Sportando:

That reflects Kobe’s world view.

It may be very different from the Warriors’ reality — even if Curry and Green were back to playing at their peak, it very well might be a coin toss with this Thunder team playing at their peak. The struggles of those two — Green has turned the ball over, missed shots, and missed defensive rotations for two games — have a lot to do with the quality of play of that Thunder defense.

But if the Warriors can come back and win the series (and the title), it will add to their legend.

Report: Grizzlies offer David Fizdale head coaching job

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This is a quality hire, a respected long-time NBA assistant who has deserved a shot in the big chair.

But is he an upgrade over Dave Joerger?

Apparently the Grizzlies are betting that Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale is the man they need. From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Casual fans may not know his name, but this could be a good hire for Memphis. Fizdale is an assistant coach with a quality franchise who has paid his dues and deserves a chance. For example, in Miami Fizdale had won the trust and respect of a team full of players that had won rings. He was a guy they leaned on. As an example, Fizdale worked hard with LeBron James on developing a post game; he was the guy LeBron trusted.

But how will he deal with an aging roster that lacks shooting? The Memphis job is a good one, but it has its challenges.