frank robinson

Kobe Bryant impressed by Frank Robinson at Drew League championship (VIDEO)

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The Drew League gained quite a bit of fame when the NBA’s top players took their talents to the Charles Drew Junior High School in Compton, Calif., during the 2011 NBA lockout.  The annual summer league doesn’t only host talented players during lockout years, however, as proven during Tuesday night’s league championship game featuring the “Kings of LA” being upset the eighth-seeded squad called Hank’s Blazers.

The Hank’s Blazers squad doesn’t have the recognizable names that most of the tournament’s teams had considering Los Angeles Clippers backup Ryan Hollins was flanked in the starting lineup by Frank Robinson, Malcolm Thomas, Kyle Gibson and 5-foot-6 point guard Horace Wormely. Their lack of name recognition didn’t preclude them from picking up a 104-99 victory over a team that featured NBA players  Amir Johnson and Dorrell Wright along with Wright’s younger brother Delon and former NBA players Jeff Adrien and Mike Taylor.

The eventual champions ended up going through a slew of talented players to get to that point in the tournament, knocking off Bobby Brown — his former college roommate and one of the most talented scorers currently outside of the NBA — along with a group of recognizable names that included former Connecticut Huskies star Marcus Williams, Jordan Hamilton, Taj Gibson, Brandon Bowman and Hassan Adams.

Tuesday night’s game typically wouldn’t have received much recognition on a national website, but when Kobe Bryant shows up somewhere and is impressed by the talent around him, it’s hard not to take notice … and judging by the video below, the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar was suitably impressed.

The most impressive player on the championship squad was Frank Robinson, a talented 6-foot-4 guard out of Cal State Fullerton who has managed a very good European career intermingled with an NBA training camp invite by the Atlanta Hawks along with NBA Summer League appearances with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors. The 29-year-old is currently weighing his options for the upcoming season, but his clutch 28-point, five-assist performance against NBA players likely gave him a few more teams to choose from — especially with Kobe giving his stamp of approval.

“I noticed that they were going under the pick-and-rolls to start the game so I decided to exploit that,” Robinson told Pro Basketball Talk on Wednesday. “I shot and made my first two three-pointers and, from that point on, the momentum of the game just carried me and my teammates.

“The fourth quarter got a little crazy, but I demanded the ball in the last two minutes and ended up scoring nine of my 28 points to finish the game — including a walk off three right in front of one of my favorite players, Kobe Bryant,” Robinson said of his end-of-game heroics. “I looked over my shoulder and saw that he was giving me the ‘monkey nuts’ gesture, which all players know that is the stamp of approval!”

With his time at the Drew complete, Robinson’s next step is focusing on his next stop. Whether it’s in Europe, China or an NBA training camp is anyone’s guess, but the veteran guard is ready for whatever life throws at him next.

“Its been a great summer for me, man, because I started working with shooting and skills development coach [and former Laker] Mike Penberthy and strength coach Jamaal Rashad since it was time for me to step up and change the direction of my career,” Robinson said. “I battled injuries starting in the second month of last season and, as you know, a ten month European season is no joke — especially when you’re not at 100 percent.

“Right now I feel the best I have felt in years and I’m ready to show what I can do at any level. My love of the game cannot be questioned and I know this season will be a great one wherever I end up.”

Larry Bird: Kevin McHale won’t coach Pacers

Larry Bird
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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1. Kevin McHale withdrew from the Kings’ coaching search.

2. The Pacers fired Frank Vogel.

Will McHale reunite with former Celtics teammate Larry Bird in Indiana?

“I would not do that to Kevin, have him to work for me,”Bird said at a press conference today. “That’s just not fair. I respect the man too much, and we’ve been through too many battles together to bring him in here and be my coach. I would love for him to be my coach, but it ain’t going to happen, because our relationship.”

It would have been compelling to watch Bird and McHale work together, but I’m not convinced McHale is the best coach available – though that’s not the only concern.

After all, Bird just ousted someone who might be a better coach than any replacement.

Frank Vogel out as Pacers coach

Larry Bird, Frank Vogel
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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After leaving Frank Vogel hanging for a few days – something he explicitly said he hoped to avoid – Pacers president Larry Bird finally ousted the coach.

“It’s time for a new voice around here,” Bird said at a press conference today. “Sometimes my job really sucks, and this is one of the toughest things I’ve done.”

Bird clarified that Vogel wasn’t fired, that his contract had expired and wasn’t being renewed.

Will there be a search now to replace Vogel? Kevin McHale has already been mentioned as a candidate, and he’d make sense. He played on Bird’s Celtics and learned an up-tempo system with the Rockets.

Vogel is now free to interview with the Rockets, and I think he’d be a home-run hire. Vogel’s defensive skills are badly needed in Houston, and perhaps the the Rockets’ institutional knowledge could fine-tune his offense.

Report: Rockets talking to Jeff Hornacek, Sam Cassell, Stephen Silas, Chris Finch

Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek directs his players in the second half of an NBA exhibition basketball game against the Houston Rockets Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Houston. The Rockets won 95-92. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
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There are the big names: Jeff Van Gundy, David Blatt, Mike D’Antoni and Frank Vogel.

There’s the catchy name: Kenny Smith.

And there’s the eliminated name: J.B. Bickerstaff.

Expect many more names in the Rockets’ coaching search.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Houston owner Les Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey met with Bickerstaff on Monday, as well as Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Houston assistant Chris Finch, league sources said.

Conversations with potential candidates are expected to include several prominent college coaches, sources said.

Among the NBA candidates with whom the Rockets are working to set up interviews are former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, league sources said. There could be 10-15 – perhaps even more – candidates interviewed in the process, league sources said.

Hornacek coached the Suns and looked pretty good doing so until this season, when he feuded with Markieff Morris, used too many strange lineups and saw the team quit on him. If he can explain this year’s troubles, he’d be a solid hire. But the Rockets have the best job available, so they can probably aim a little higher.

Cassell, like Smith, played for the Rockets. An intelligent player, Cassell has successfully transitioned to coaching, though I’m not sure he’s ready for a top job. He mentored John Wall with the Wizards before joining the Clippers. From afar, it’s just tough to judge his contributions to a loaded coaching staff in Los Angeles.

Stephen Silas broke into NBA coaching on his dad’s staffs with the Hornets (turned Pelicans) and Cavaliers. Paul Silas even let Stephen serve as head coach for games during the 2011-12 season. Between and after stints with his dad, Stephen has impressed at other stops around the league. Maybe someone who learned offense from Don Nelson and defense from Steve Clifford and gets along well with players would make a good head coach. The biggest question is how his rapport with players would translate to the head chair, but that’s a concern for any assistant.

Finch coached in Europe for more than a decade until the Rockets tabbed him to coach their D-League team. After a successful stint there, he moved to the bench in Houston. He’d be more of a daring hire at this point, but he could perhaps unite the Rockets’ front office and coaching staff better than anyone.

Reports: Kevin McHale withdraws from Kings coaching search, could join Pacers

Kevin McHale
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports wrote a few weeks ago about the Kings coaching search:

Kevin McHale is steadily gaining internal support, league sources told The Vertical. If Cousins truly is the future, the Kings have to hire a coach he will buy into, and McHale, a respected voice and one of the game’s all-time great post players, certainly seems like a good fit.

They won’t get him, of course

McHale indeed emerged as a candidate, and though it took him a little longer than other prominent former head coaches, McHale also came to the conclusion Mannix foresaw,

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This is part of the reason Sacramento talking to everybody. The Kings don’t know whom they can get.

An owner who has changed course too often in Vivek Ranadive, a general manager with too little experience in Vlade Divac, a top player who repeatedly feuds with coaches in DeMarcus Cousins – who’d want this job? Probably not someone who could get one of the NBA’s other 29 head-coaching gigs, and that might apply to McHale.

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

Frank Vogel is still twisting in the wind, but it seems unlikely the Pacers keep him.

There’d definitely be something intriguing about former Celtics teammates Larry Bird and Kevin McHale teaming up in Indiana. McHale’s experience with the Rockets could help him install an up-tempo offense, too.