18th Annual ESPY Awards - Show

Karl being out in Denver shakes up coaching hire carousel

15 Comments

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.

Former NBA player Von Wafer takes to Twitter to beg for one more NBA chance

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 7
Leave a comment

Von Wafer was the quintessential gunner without a conscious during his six NBA seasons. He never saw a shot he didn’t like.His propensity to shoot rather than make the right basketball play is why he bounced around the league for six seasons. Well, that and his locker room fights and throwing of chairs and the like.

Wafer looks back on that and winces.

And he went to Twitter to beg for another chance, despite not having been in the league since 2012. The message came after a tweet showing part of his last workout.

Wafer is now 31 and last set foot on an NBA court in 2012, having played in China, Russia, Puerto Rico, and the D-League since them. We’ll politely call his comeback attempt a longshot.

But a guy who can shoot the rock asking for one more chance? We know there will be worse and stranger camp invites.

(Hat tip Ball Don’t Lie).

 

Report: If Durant/Curry relationship goes south, teams will try to poach Stephen Curry. Well, duh.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07: Kevin Durant speaks to the media during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

There are a handful of true game-changing players in the NBA. Not max players, there are a chunk of those, we’re talking “you can build a contender around him” guys. Kevin Durant is one, and he is headed to Golden State.

Stephen Curry is another. And he is a free agent next summer. So many teams — including one contender — are ready if the Durant/Curry relationship goes south, reports Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.

B/R EXCLUSIVE: A contender is planning to poach Steph Curry from Dubs if chemistry with Durant turns 'poisonous'

A video posted by Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) on

Well, duh.

Again, there are not many Curry level players; teams should have a “what if” plan. Including contenders.

That is very different than saying Curry is going to leave the Warriors — nobody around the league sees that as likely. Nobody expects a “poisonous” Durant/Curry relationship. Everyone expects Curry to re-sign for the max with the Warriors. The man just recruited Durant, now he’s going to bolt?

But like a Boy Scout, a team is always prepared. So they should have that plan, just don’t count on it for a primary option.

Kings GM Vlade Divac on Rudy Gay’s communication complaints: ‘He has my number’

Vlade Divac
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
8 Comments

Rudy Gay complained about how the Kings are handling the trade rumors swirling around him.

Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:

“He has my number,” Divac told CSN California. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything.”

“Look, I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing,” Divac said. “Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”

I suppose Divac can take that tack. He’s obviously not obligated to provide Gay regular updates.

But the Kings already have a reputation for putting their players in bleak positions. This doesn’t help.

Even if Divac feels calling Gay is going out of his way, so what? The alternative — Gay either coming to training camp unhappy or spreading word of Sacramento’s mistreatment of players to his new teammates after a trade — is far worse.

It’s not enough for Divac to just wait for Gay to call him — especially because Divac might not be as reliable with the phone as he thinks.

Union to fund health insurance for retired NBA players

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23:  Professional basketball player Chris Paul commentates during the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational Charity Bowling Tournament presented by GoBowling.com at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live on February 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association)
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association
3 Comments

The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.

Today, the union announced a formal plan.

NBPA release:

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.

“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”

The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:

  • Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;

  • Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;

  • Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;

  • Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.

  • The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.

This is a good thing.

It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)

But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.