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.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.