Who’s next on the Brooklyn hot seat? Here’s a list of recycled coaches they may call.

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It may be a while before we know who will be the next coach for the Brooklyn Nets in the wake of Avery Johnson’s sudden firing on Thursday. As in 2013. Sam Amick of USA Today reports the Nets don’t plan to really jump start the coaching search until after the first of the year.

Whichever coach takes over the Brooklyn Nets next had better like the roster as it is now because they are pretty much locked into it for a few years. Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and even the hustling Gerald Wallace would be hard to trade with their deals. And nobody wants to trade Deron Williams, they just need a coach who can get through to him (and shake him out of his shooting slump.

And he better like pressure, because Johnson’s firing shows this is not a patient ownership — Mikhail Prokhorov wants to win now. They want the expectations high.

So, who is it going to be?

You can bet on an experienced coach and ideally a big name to fit in with the Brooklyn market. Someone who can get this roster to play better defense (good luck) and find an offensive identity.

Here are the big names that are out there:

• Phil Jackson. You can bet they will make the call and Prokhorov can write a large check to entice him, but his agent told David Aldridge of TNT he is not interested in the job at this time. Jackson seemed serious about the Lakers job less than two months ago, but that was a franchise he was comfortable with and players like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol who already knew his triangle offensive system. The Nets roster isn’t nearly as talented as the Lakers and as a former Knick the Nets don’t hold the same allure. Jackson isn’t itching to come back to coach, it has to be a perfect situation for him to walk into a contender, and this isn’t it. This team isn’t that good.

• Stan Van Gundy. This should be their first call and the guy on top of the list. But it may not matter, Van Gundy has no interest reports the Orlando Sentinel. Brooklyn should call anyway. Why? Because his system in Orlando can fit in Brooklyn even if the Nets lost out in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes — a good offensive center in the middle (Lopez), a point guard who can penetrate and run the pick-and-roll (Williams) and guys who can knock down threes and just generally make shots (Johnson, to start with). More importantly, Van Gundy gets his players to defend. Finally, and most importantly, with some locker room turmoil Brooklyn needs a coach who can stand up to a star player like Williams and tell him how it is. Van Gundy can and would do that.

• Nate McMillan. This would be another good hire, a guy players respect that deserves another chance. He would bring a slowed-down, grind-it-out style that worked with Brandon Roy and could work with Williams and the Nets. It may not be “showtime” fun, but it has worked and gotten a lot of wins. He has a relationship with Williams from Team USA where McMillan was an assistant coach the past Olympics.

• Jeff Van Gundy. They may call to see if there is interest, but do you think he’s leaving the comforts of the broadcast booth and lifestyle to coach this roster? He will just give them Stan’s number.

• Jerry Sloan. Oh, this would provide some real entertainment. Terrible idea for the Nets, but great for bloggers everywhere. Sloan and Williams had issues in Utah, but now Williams is pining for the days of the flex offense. That would come in and Sloan would not put up with the selfish attitude that seems to have come over the team. He’s not young and he might not want to deal with the New York media, but man this would be entertaining.

• Larry Brown. While it seems like a longshot, Brown would jump at it and he is an old friend of GM Billy King. Still, don’t bet on it.

• Mike Brown. No, that’s not happening. And as Mike Brown is still getting fat checks from the Lakers while watching his son play high school ball, he’s probably good with that.

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.

Clippers win likely playoff preview 108-95 over Jazz

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jamal Crawford scored 28 points off the bench, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 108-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight year.

The Clippers trail the Jazz by a half-game in their race for the No. 4 playoff seed in the West. The teams are likely to face in the first round of the postseason.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, and reserve Joe Johnson added 17 points. The Jazz have dropped four of five.

Utah rallied in the third, putting together a 20-6 spurt to trim Los Angeles’ lead to 72-70 heading into the final period. Gobert had nine points and Johnson scored seven during the run that included 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

Chris Paul and Crawford both got technicals while the Clippers struggled to score and defend.

But Los Angeles turned things around in the fourth, scoring the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Crawford had 17 points in the quarter, scoring six in a row to push the Clippers’ lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line for the game.

The Clippers grabbed control early on, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter while building a 15-point lead.

The Jazz got within seven to start the second before the Clippers restored their 15-point margin and eventually led 49-41 at halftime.

Utah’s top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, struggled. Hayward, who averages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill, who averages 17.1, had nine points while shooting 4 of 11.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Gobert was coming off a career-high 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Knicks on Tuesday. … G Sheldon Mack missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. … F/C Derrick Favors remains out with a left knee bone contusion.

Clippers: Their six-year playoff run is the longest in franchise history. … They have won 18 of 20 against the Jazz dating to Feb. 1, 2012. … They won the season series 3-1.

 

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Sixers’ Joel Embiid officially has knee surgery, expected to be back on court in summer

Associated Press
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“The… follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid‘s left knee appears to reveal… the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan.”

When Philadelphia’s chief medical director Dr. Jonathan Glashow said that in a statement announcing Joel Embiid was being shut down for the season, the chance of knee surgery to clean up that meniscus was possible. Friday it became a reality, the team announced.

CSNPhilly.com had the details.

The team expects Embiid to resume basketball activities during this summer, according to Sixers director of performance research and development Dr. David T. Martin. Embiid will begin his rehab in Los Angeles with specialists and Sixers medical and training staff members.

“The overall status of Joel’s lateral meniscus and his cartilage is very good,” surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D., who performed the surgery, said in a statement. “Today’s procedure focused on removing a small portion of the meniscus that was responsible for his symptoms.

“The recovery program that has been established targets Joel transitioning back to full weight-bearing in approximately two weeks, at which point a conservative approach to his rehabilitation will be introduced.”

After Embiid missed two seasons with foot issues, there is a tendency to lump everything together and call him injury prone. This, however, was a minor surgery with a relatively short recovery period, even as the Sixers bring him along slowly. There is reason for concern, but this shouldn’t be an issue by next training camp.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions. He’s still likely a top three finisher in Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing in just 31 games.