Report: Jeff Van Gundy interested in Nets job, but won’t meet with team while interim coach is in place

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Jeff Van Gundy was an NBA head coach for 11 years with the Knicks and the Rockets, but hasn’t held that job title since the 2006-07 season.

It appears that may change as early as next year, but only if the Brooklyn Nets are willing to wait that long to secure Van Gundy’s services.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

While Jeff Van Gundy does have interest in the Brooklyn Nets‘ opening, he’ll be likely unwilling to meet with team officials while an interim coach is in place during the season, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Nets haven’t reached out to Van Gundy, but he’s well regarded on every level of the organization’s ownership and management charts.

Van Gundy has never met with an organization that had a coach in place as part of his personal code, and he has respect for P.J. Carlesimo’s status. It is likely that the Nets would have to wait until season’s end to meet with Van Gundy about the job.

After more than five years out of the league, Van Gundy is still widely regarded as an excellent coach. His playoff appearances in both New York and Houston are reminders of that, and especially during his time in New York, Van Gundy cemented himself as a more than legitimate leader at the NBA level.

The question in this case is, how long will the Nets be willing to wait to settle on a replacement for Avery Johnson?

P.J. Carlesimo has the interim job, but no one expects him to retain it for long, and certainly not beyond this season. If ownership is patient enough to play out the schedule without a long-term solution in place, then Van Gundy may very well end up with the job, if in fact he decides to leave the broadcasting booth for a return to the sidelines.

But it’s more than likely that Brooklyn would like to secure a permanent solution sooner rather than later, just to ensure that the team’s minimum goal of reaching the playoffs is secured this season. If that’s the case, Van Gundy will likely remain out of the picture, given his insistence on not talking to a team about its head coaching job while one of his peers is currently occupying that seat.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.