Keith Smart

Sale of Kings means needed front office, coaching changes

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Whatever happened with the sale of the Kings, one thing was a lock — big front office changes and a coaching change were on the way.

Now that the deal is done and the Kings will be staying in Sacramento, don’t expect it to be long before you see changes — Geoff Petrie and Keith Smart out as coach. Everyone around the league knew they were lame ducks the second half of the season.

Sam Amick at the USA Today confirmed that, although he put it more kindly and suggested possible replacements (remember, new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is selling his minority interest in Golden State to buy the Kings).

If Kings coach Keith Smart is not retained as is expected, then Warriors assistant Michael Malone – a former assistant in Cleveland and New Orleans who sparked dramatic defensive improvement at each of his NBA stops and has interviewed for several head coaching vacancies – is expected to be a candidate.

Longtime Kings general manager Geoff Petrie is not expected to be retained either after the team’s 28-54 campaign, and one possible successor who would certainly bring name recognition was on hand on Thursday night. Warriors’ legend Chris Mullin, who called Game 6 as a television commentator for ESPN, was in the team’s front office from 2004 to 2009 and said he would be open to discussing the situation in Sacramento. He has met Ranadive several times but said they had not yet discussed the possibility.

Malone, along with Brian Shaw and Kelvin Sampson, is one of the hottest assistant coach names to move into the big chair. With the Warriors now out of the playoffs, look for him to have series of interviews, but he would be a good choice.

The Kings front office likely will become more advanced stats friendly, something we saw with the Warriors and in places such as Memphis. Almost all teams use them now, just to varying degrees, but look for the Kings to move up that curve.

There are some good pieces — DeMarcus Cousins, if you can get him focused, Isaiah Thomas, even Marcus Thornton — but there is a lot of work to be done. The team needed a new direction and energy, and they are about to get that.

Kobe Bryant with spin move around LeBron James (VIDEO)

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The game itself went about how you’d expect one between a title contender and a high lottery team to go — the Cavaliers 120-111 win over the Lakers was never really in doubt.

But the fans in Cleveland wanted to see some vintage Kobe Bryant, and they got it late when he spun around LeBron James and hit the reverse lay-up.

LeBron had 29 points on the night, and Kyrie Irving had 35. Kobe finished with 17 and got a standing ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Suns’ Markieff Morris, Archie Goodwin get in scuffle on the bench

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Just another magical day in the Valley of the Sun, where clearly Jeff Hornacek was the problem….

During an early timeout in the Suns’ game at Golden State, Markieff Morris tried to explain something to Archie Goodwin, who is seated. This conversation gets heated quickly, and teammates eventually have to step in and separate the two teammates.

The Suns have shopped Morris around as the trade deadline approaches, this isn’t going to help his value.

We should find out more about what happened after the game ends, although I’m sure both sides will play it down as “nothing.”

Kawhi Leonard drains game winner to beat Orlando (VIDEO)

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This is how much Gregg Popovich trusts Kawhi Leonard on offense now: Tie game with 13.3 seconds remaining, and the play design is a 1-4 flat isolation for Leonard. It’s the kind of play teams will call for LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Popovich just called it for Leonard.

And he was rewarded with a game-winning bucket.

Leonard finished with 29 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 21, and the Spurs head into the All-Star break with a 45-8 record, on pace to win 70 games this season. And that still would only get them a two seed.

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers shoulder dislocation, leaves game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had been back just six games after suffering a torn labrum in the preseason that required surgery. The Hornets had won four of those six, were playing improved defense, and looked like a potential playoff team in the East.

Now this.

He went straight to the locker room and did not return to the game (the Pacers got the win).

You can see the injury above. In a scramble for a loose ball, the Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi falls on MKG’s arm, dislocating his shoulder.

We don’t know the severity of all this and if MKG is going to miss time beyond this game. But it isn’t good.