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.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.