The NBA’s Rookie Transition Program garnered headlines last week when Minnesota Timberwolves’ lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad was sent home and, eventually, was threatened with being sent to the NBA Development League if he didn’t start to shape up. Washington Wizards’ second-round pick had a much different experience at the RTP, however — though he’s heard most of the information a time or two already.
Rice Jr. spent this past season playing with the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers where, on multiple occasions throughout the season, players are required to attend Team Awareness Meetings that help them transition to a life of playing professional basketball. That wasn’t the first time he’d heard the information presented last week either, though, because his father — a 15-year NBA veteran and three-time All-Star — had already been hammering responsibility, finances and the dangers of drugs into his son from an early age.
The younger Rice was still able to find new knowledge at last week’s program, though, telling the Washington Post’s Michael Lee that it helped to hear about how other players faced adversity with their role.
“The thing that stuck out to me was when we got to talk to some of the players and hear some of their biggest challenges, how they went through facing them and that kind of stuff,” Rice said. “For example, not playing that much. Jarrett Jack was there. Jerry Stackhouse was there and he was mentioning, whatever your role, whether minimum or large. I think that was the biggest thing that stuck out to me. Because as they said, some people in the league have never had to take a backseat, have never had to worry about not getting significant minutes and I was like, ‘I already been through that.’ ”
Rice could have trouble just finding a role in Washington this year considering his experience in the D-League had him playing as a sort-of stretch-four in new Toronto Raptors’ assistant Nick Nurse’s offense. Once he finds a position — which will likely be the small forward — fellow rookie Otto Porter, along with Trevor Ariza, Chris Singleton and Martell Webster, will all likely be ahead of him on the Wizards’ depth chart to begin the season.
The younger Rice likely isn’t going to find the success his father did during his career, but it’s nice to see that he seems ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.