Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens was a smart hire for Boston… if they really are rebuilding

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I like this hire. Boston made a smart move.

Brad Stevens was a coach on the rise, something a lot of people recognized around basketball. He used the principles of advanced statistics and a focus on defense to win at least 22 games a year at Butler and become one of the hottest coaches in the college game. As Dan Devine noted at Ball Don’t Lie, hiring a coach is a matter of balancing risk and reward and in this case there is the potential of a lot of reward without that much risk.

This could really work…

Providing Boston is fully committed to rebuilding.

The worst thing Boston can do is a pseudo rebuild where Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green and Brandon Bass make the Celtics decent — like six to 10 seed in the middle of the pack with some big contracts like Green and Gerald Wallace being an anchor on a total rebuild. That is how you get stuck in a rut in the middle of the conference.

If the Celtics are going to rebuild, they should go the Full Wiggins. If you’re going to be bad, be bad.

You can argue that at 27 and with plenty of skills, the Celtics should rebuild around Rondo. It could work, but to me he’s a No. 2 guy, a facilitator on a good team who makes guys better, but he still needs guys with boatloads of talent to set up. That’s what he was with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from 2008 to 2010. But he’s not a guy who can carry a team by himself ala Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.

If you rebuild with Rondo, you still need one of those guys. And with Rondo on the roster it’s harder to get him via the draft. With those big contracts on the books, it’s harder to get one via free agency.

Stevens is a young at age 36. That is younger than Jason Kidd, younger than Kevin Garnett, but also the same age as Pat Riley when he got his first job. He is well suited to coaching and helping grow a younger team.

The Celtics need to give him that younger team — meaning if they can find a good deal for Rajon Rondo, pull the trigger. Go young, sell some hope in Boston in a few years.

Because Stevens is a guy who might well be able to deliver on his promise, if you give him time and the right team.

Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures after hitting a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.

Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”

Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.

Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.

Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)

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On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.

Ooof.

LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.

Karl-Anthony Towns with nasty poster dunk on Dante Cunningham (VIDEO)

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Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.

While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.

Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.

Report: Come 2017, Knicks have real shot to land Russell Westbrook

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Russell Westbrook
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The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.

But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.

In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.

The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.

Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.

Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.

And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.