Report: Nuggets hire Brian Shaw as next coach

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Brian Shaw has finally landed a head coaching job.

And it’s a good one — he’s taking over the 57-win Denver Nuggets.

This was first reported by the Denver Post. It was confirmed by Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports who got the word from Shaw himself.

This is a quality hire by Denver — a young coach that the players will respect to go with a young team on the rise. You never know how it will go when a coach gets his first shot in the big chair, but this seems as good a fit as can be. Shaw replaces a good coach in George Karl, who was the NBA Coach of the Year this past season, but one that had trouble getting the Nuggets to advance deep in the playoffs (although injury had something to do with that this year).

Shaw beat out the guy Memphis fired in Lionel Hollins and Spurs assistant Brett Brown for the job.

Shaw was drafted out of UC Santa Barbara to the Larry Bird era Boston Celtics, but his playing days are best remembered picking up rings with the Kobe/Shaq Lakers. When his playing days ended he joined Phil Jackson’s coaching staff and picked up rings as the Kobe/Gasol Lakers won titles. When Jackson retired the Lakers players wanted Shaw to take over, but management wanted to go another direction (which has gone oh so smoothly). After that Shaw has been an assistant to Frank Vogel in Indiana, where the Pacers have developed into a force.

It’s a heck of a resume, but it took a long time for Shaw to land a head coaching job (there rumors are he did not interview well, at least not at first).

Now he’s got the job at the head of a good young team. The Nuggets have Ty Lawson running the point, a great stretch four in Danilo Gallinari (when he gets back from knee surgery a couple months into next season), the enigmatic JaVale McGee and quality energy guy Kenneth Faried.

The big question personnel is will the addition of Shaw and the money offered be enough to keep Andre Iguodala with the Nuggets. Also, Geoge Karl got in trouble for leaning on veterans like Andre Miller when the management wanted to develop youngsters like Evan Fournier.

The Nuggets are a good offensive team, Shaw doesn’t need to tinker much on that end and has said he will not run the triangle in Denver (doesn’t really fit the personnel at all). What matters is he needs to improve the defense, which was solid but not great at 11th in the NBA last season in points allowed per possession this past season. Improve the defense (around McGee?) and the Nuggets become a real threat.

Shaw will relate well to the players. He is not wed to the triangle offense, he will go with what works (although you can expect a few triangle sets in there). Expect the Nuggets to stay up-tempo and fun. Expect them to stay good.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.