Charlotte Bobcats v Brooklyn Nets

Nets GM Billy King: “P.J. Carlesimo is our coach”


After the Brooklyn Nets fired Avery Johnson, we heard all the big names come up. Phil Jackson. Jeff Van Gundy. Jerry Sloan.

But according to Nets GM Billy King, he has “not contacted anybody” about the coaching position yet. While you would hope that King would be involved in the coaching search, considering he’s the GM and all, it is interesting that the Nets don’t appear to be in quite the same rush the Los Angeles Lakers were when they fired Mike Brown.

Here’s what King had to say about the coaching search:

King told Ian O’Connor during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Sunday morning that the team “supports” interim coach P.J. Carlesimo and will “re-evaluate” things moving forward, while deflecting questions about Jackson by repeatedly saying “P.J.’s our coach.”

“We’ve put our support behind (P.J.) and then we’ll look at things and evaluate it later,” King said. “I know people have been throwing lists together and things like that, but we have not contacted anybody. … We’ve made the move and now we’re going to let P.J. coach.”

Via Mike Mazzeo | ESPN New York

It’s hard to believe that the Nets haven’t already reached out to Phil Jackson and had a conversation. He’s arguably the greatest coach of all-time, and although Carlesimo may have paid his dues to earn another head coaching job, he’s still not quite Phil Jackson.

Throwing the public support in Carlesimo’s corner is the right thing to do in the meantime, however. We don’t know if the Nets are actually willing to give Carlesimo a fair shake, but it only seems prudent for the organization to give off the impression that they are.

Make no mistake about it — if the Nets get the inkling that one of the coaches on their wishlist is interested, they won’t hesitate to call. Carlesimo is their interim coach, and the Nets management and ownership support him in that capacity. But until you hear that first word removed from his official title, you better believe the Nets are searching for someone to occupy the chair Carlesimo is keeping warm.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.