Karl being out in Denver shakes up coaching hire carousel

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Of the 16 teams that made the NBA playoffs, it appears six of them will be changing coaches this season. That includes one of the final four (Memphis, unless there is a change of heart and they re-sign Hollins). If Memphis does make a change, that will be 11 teams total making a move, tying a league record for one offseason.

With George Karl being told his services are no longer needed in Denver the game of musical chairs for where coaches might land just got very, very interesting. Here is a quick breakdown of where things stand with teams and how Karl may or may not fit in.

• Los Angeles Clippers: This, on paper, seems the best fit for Karl if he wants to coach again this year. And you have to think team management will call him. Karl likes up-tempo teams, he would have a real floor general and he’s had success with good power forwards before. The Clippers management is putting together a short list that is reported to include Pacers lead assistant Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins of Memphis (the Grizzlies have gotten permission to speak with him). However, the owner Donald Sterling makes the final decision on the Clippers coach after he personally meets with each coach over a dinner. So, there is some unpredictability to how it all turns out.

• Memphis Grizzlies: There is still a chance Hollins returns here — he wants to and he was at a team draft workout of young players Wednesday. But the talks are dormant and all the buzz is they are going another, more stats-friendly direction. Assistant coach Dave Joerger is considered the guy most likely to get the job — to maintain continuity — but Karl has good relationships in the Memphis front office so it could happen. Marc Stein said the idea of a “Hollins for Karl trade” is not out of the realm of possibility.

• Denver Nuggets: This is a very attractive job — a 57-win team with a young roster that should improve. This search process has just started, but Shaw seems a good fit here — good young coach with good young team that needs to learn how to win (something Shaw has been around and understands as a player and coach). They are reportedly interested in Hollins.

• Brooklyn Nets: They reportedly are targeting Shaw — it could become a race to see who can offer him the best contract first. They also are expected to speak to Hollins. This is a big-paying, big market job. It also comes with an owner who is putting on pressure to win a title and a roster that in reality is fourth or fifth best in the East (and with contracts that are hard to move).

• Philadelphia 76ers: New GM Sam Hinkie is early on in his coaching search process, but you’d have to think he’d give Karl a call.

• Detroit Pistons: This is down to Maurice Cheeks and Nate McMillan. No word yet on which way management is leaning, but if McMillan is not taken he could be in the mix for the Clippers and other jobs as well.

Are Bulls and Dwyane Wade moving toward a buyout?

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About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.

Have the two sides progressed since?

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.

Expected by whom?

People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?

Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?

For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.

A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.

LeBron James’ camp already shooting down leaving-Cavaliers rumor

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LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers

Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.

New Orleans Saints fire Pelicans’ team physician

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The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.

Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.

But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.

Mike Triplett of ESPN:

The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion

Suri is a Pelicans team physician.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.

Rumor: LeBron James ‘100 percent’ leaving Cavaliers next summer

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Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.

But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.

So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.

But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.

Sheridan:

Of course, the denials came quickly.

There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.

It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.

But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.

Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.

Neither possibility should be discounted.