Report: Kidd “strong frontrunner” for Nets job; Stan Van Gundy not sold on move

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When it was first floated that Jason Kidd could step right off the floor into the role of head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, there was a whole lot of “are you sure about that?” Stan Van Gundy still feels that way (we’ll get to that later).

But the Nets are apparently getting very serious — the words “serious frontrunner” were used by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Nets ownership has told league associates that it wants a “fresh face,” as coach, and the hiring of Kidd would give them a star quality that comes with significant risk for a franchise with a mandate to compete for championships in the short term.

The Nets had long been rumored to be interested in Brian Shaw and they are going ahead with that interview, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Kidd just retired last week from the Knicks after a Hall of Fame 19-year NBA career. He won a title as part of the 2011 Dalas Mavericks.

Stan Van Gundy isn’t sold on the idea of Kidd stepping off the court into the coaching ranks. SVG was on the Amani & Eytan show on NBC Sports Radio and was no fan of this move.

“There are so many people out there who have great experience in coaching,” Van Gundy said. “To go for a guy who has never coached anywhere at any level to me is mind boggling. And, if you decide to do that as a front office guy, your job will be on the line and should be on the line if it doesn’t work out.”

Thing is, ownership seems to be driving this, so who is going to take the fall?

Three quick thoughts from me.

1) If you really wanted Shaw and you knew you had competition from the Clippers (and maybe Nuggets) to get his services, wouldn’t creating demand for the job to force him to make a quicker decision be the smart play? I’m not saying that’s what is happening, Wojnarowski knows his stuff here, I’m just saying there is some logic there.

2) The ability of Kidd to pull a Mark Jackson — go from no coaching experience to winning — will be all about the assistant coaches. Mark Jackson had Mike Malone (who the Kings just hired away) and the very respected Darren Erman, among others. Kidd’s staff is going to be built around Lawrence Frank, which is a good call. But Frank has been a head coach, he doesn’t want to do all the work and get none of the credit.

3) Kidd has had his share of off-the-court indiscretions over the course of his career, including a DWI accident last year (a charge he fought). When you are a star player those are swept under the rug because your talent is not easily replaced. That is not the case as coach. It’s long hours and a lifestyle change and he should know that and needs to be ready to commit to it.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.