D’Antoni will coach Lakers Friday, understands fans aren’t happy

18 Comments

Politicians do this all the time — for their first interview after a big bit of news or awkward revelation, their first interview is with a friendly media outlet that is not going to pepper them with hard questions.

Mike D’Antoni’s first interview in Los Angeles came Tuesday morning — with Ryan Seacrest. Yes, American Idol Ryan Seacrest. He has a highly rated morning radio show in Los Angels on KIIS 102.7, a station where you can get your fill of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

So what did he say to calm down a Lakers nation that considers him the consolation prize after the Lakers cleverly were able to make it feel like D’Antoni is replacing Phil Jackson and not Mike Brown?

“I have some close friends who are Lakers fans and they were disappointed I got the job,” D’Antoni quipped.

Well played.

What did he say? We go to the bullet points.

• He will be in town Wednesday and will coach the team Friday night against the Suns. (Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the Lakers Tuesday night against the Spurs.)

• D’Antoni was “shocked” he got the job because like everyone else, “I was thinking that Phil would take the job but it’s a funny business.”

• He talked about being reunited with Steve Nash: “I’ve already left him once and that didn’t go so good. I’m not going to do that again.”

• He said what Lakers fans want to hear — this is a championship or bust team.

• D’Antoni said he has not spoken to Kobe Bryant yet but sang the praises of the Lakers star: “I’ve known Kobe forever, since he was 12 years old. He’s the greatest talent we have in the game.” (Remember that was Kobe was 12 and living in Italy with his father, D’Antoni was the best player in the Italian league and a big star.)

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

Getty Images
23 Comments

DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

Getty Images
3 Comments

Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.