Report: New Kings owner eyes Mike Malone as coach

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Golden State’s Mike Malone has been in the group with Brian Shaw and Mike Budenholzer the past few years — top assistant coaches that get interviews but have yet to land in the big chair.

That could be about to change for Malone — it’s a good thing when the owner wants you.

And the new owner of the Kings wants him, reports Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea.com on Sulia.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob used what he learned as a Celtics’ minority partner to shape his new team. Vivek Ranadive, former Warriors minority owner and now presumptive Kings primary owner, apparently is doing the same, beginning with putting Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone on his list of candidates to be the Kings’ next head coach, a source said.

Malone also is said to be in the mix for the Los Angeles Clippers job, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. Why? Because Chris Paul likes him, of course. Malone was the lead assistant for Monty Williams in New Orleans Chris Paul’s last year there and he really liked playing for him.

But it will come down to owners, which may give the Kings an advantage. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is personally involved in the coaching search for his team (he hired Vinny Del Negro after being charmed by him even though management wanted someone else). He realizes the Clippers are on the verge of contention and while maybe the untested Malone can get them there he seems to be thinking veteran coach (think Nate McMillan).

In the Kings case, the owner knows and apparently likes Malone. The Kings have some potential — if you can get the best out of DeMarcus Cousins nightly — but that is a project where Malone can learn some on the job because the team is rebuilding still. Don’t be shocked if other names like Brian Shaw come into the mix in Sacramento as Ranadive tries to replicate the kind of turnaround in Sacramento that Lacob had with Golden State.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.