Royce White makes preseason debut for Sixers

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The Royce White saga entered a new chapter on Friday, when the troubled former first round draft pick of the Rockets made his debut for the Sixers.

Although it was only the preseason, it marked the first time White had played NBA minutes this year (he did play in the preseason last year). He struggled in Houston during his rookie season not only with a debilitating anxiety disorder that comes with it a well-documented fear of flying, but also with the organization on how he should be handled.

White eventually played 16 games in the D-League, and averaged 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 25.6 minutes per contest. Not amazing numbers at that level by any stretch, but it was a start. The same could be said for White’s Sixers debut, although his performance there was far below average.

From Jason Wolf of USA Today:

White (6-8, 260) finished with five points, three rebounds and five personal fouls in just less than 10 minutes on the court. The power forward picked up his first four fouls in less than three minutes in the first quarter, two while trying to set picks.

“I was happy to be out there,” White said. “I didn’t think I played well. I’m still not making plays that are routine for me … but it’s just a feel thing, getting a feel back.”

If nothing else, White was honest in his self-assessment.

Put simply, White was mostly brutal in his 9:40 on the court. In addition to the ridiculous number of fouls in such a short span, he ran around largely without purpose, and the four shots he missed out of his six attempts were wildly inaccurate, without even the slightest chance of falling through the net.

The bright side for White is that he isn’t deluding himself about how much he needs to improve, so with some hard work he may be able to reach the potential that GM Sam Hinkie sees in him. It’s also worth noting that given the roster construction and lack of expectations to win this season, if White is ever going to find success at the NBA level, Philadelphia and the patience they’ll have with him this season is undoubtedly the place.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.