Kurt Rambis says he was ‘shocked’ that Mike D’Antoni asked him to be an assistant coach with the Lakers

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The hiring of Kurt Rambis to be an assistant coach on Mike D’Antoni’s staff was interesting, to say the least.

In terms of the politics and constant speculation surrounding the Lakers, it made for some interesting conspiracy theories, considering that D’Antoni is largely believed to be a short-term solution, while Rambis has a long history with the team which includes being a lead assistant during the tenure of Phil Jackson.

If you were surprised by D’Antoni adding Rambis to his staff given all of the things that are in play, you weren’t the only one. Rambis himself said he definitely didn’t see this coming.

From Serena Winters of Lakers Nation:

“Mike D’Antoni came to me several weeks ago and asked if I’d be interested in the job,” Rambis said, in an interview with Lakers Nation. “Quite frankly, I was a little bit shocked about that, and for him, he said it was a no-brainer, and I jumped on it right away. I said, ‘This would be great, I think it would work out well for both of us.’”

Rambis continued by saying that, after their initial meeting, D’Antoni was convinced that after running it by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, it would be a “done deal.” Prior to meeting over lunch, Rambis couldn’t have imagined that D’Antoni would be asking him to join his coaching staff.

“We rekindled our friendship. We’ve known each other for several years going back in coaching circles. It was kind of an interesting conversation, I just had no idea that that’s the direction it was going to go.”

The wildest theory out there suggests that once the Lakers potentially reload in free agency next summer, that Phil Jackson would return to the bench for one last tour, with Rambis by his side easing that transition. Or, even that Rambis and Jackson would share the head coaching duties, given Jackson’s age and his preference to limit travel over the course of a grueling 82-game regular season schedule as much as possible.

All of that makes for great sports talk radio fodder, but what’s more likely is the fact that Rambis is the most qualified candidate left to fill out D’Antoni’s staff at this point — both due to his NBA coaching resume, as well as his relationship with the Lakers franchise.

The volatile situation the franchise is currently facing scared off guys like Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan, who took jobs with contenders this offseason instead of signing up to join the Lakers circus.

Rambis knows the family politics, and knows better than anyone the situation he’s stepping into there; credit D’Antoni for reaching out to him and adding a quality assistant coach to his bench.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.