David Vanterpool is a surprise ‘serious candidate’ in Sixers’ coaching search

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David Vanterpool is far from a recognizable name to the casual NBA fan. That could be changing soon, however, because the Portland Trail Blazers’ assistant has emerged as a “serious candidate” to replace Doug Collins as the Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach.

Vanterpool has just one season of NBA coaching experience under his belt, but he made enough of an impression with the development of Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard to earn an interview for the Sixers’ coaching vacancy. And, following that interview on Monday, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that he did well enough in the process that he’s now being lumped in with current assistant Michael Curry — along with San Antonio Spurs assistant Brett Brown and Boston Celtics’ assistant Jay Larranaga — as a top candidate to take over the reigns of the rebuilding squad.

The 40-year-old seems to fit the same mold as Larranaga and Brown as lesser-known NBA assistant coaches with solid international coaching experience and reputations for developing players. Like Larranaga, Vanterpool ended a solid basketball playing career in Europe — with Euroleague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, no less — before moving onto an assistant coaching role upon retirement. He also spent time serving as a pro scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder before moving back to coaching with the Blazers this past season.

Vanterpool’s candidacy among his peers, though, seems to be interesting. Looking at the roster of assistant coaches Terry Stotts has assembled on the Blazers’ bench  — Vanterpool, Jay Triano, Nate Tibbetts, Kim Hughes and Dale Osbourne — the Sixers’ head coaching candidate is likely the least familiar to insiders that keep tabs on such things as NBA assistant coaches. In fact, it would seem that the 36-year-old Tibbetts would be the more likely candidate having cut his teeth in the NBA Development League before taking on assistant roles with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers before being hired by the Blazers this past summer.

Nevertheless, Vanterpool’s an intriguing candidate for the Sixers job … and is likely worth keeping an eye on going forward, even if he’s passed over in Philadelphia.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)