Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets

Report: If Nets don’t turn around, Kidd likely gone by All-Star Game

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The Nets first mistake was hiring a coach with no experience — a guy who was going to need a learning curve — and putting him in charge of a veteran team with a one-year (two at best) title window. There was no margin for error.

Yet everything has gone wrong. It started with injuries — Deron Williams through training camp into the start of the season, now Brook Lopez for the rest of the season — and has spiraled thanks to the 27th ranked defense in the NBA.

It’s a mess. The Nets are 9-19 heading into the weekend and it’s hard to see how Jason Kidd is going to pull them out of it.

Which could cost him his job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Here’s the question management is grappling with: Does Brooklyn start unloading its star players and stay the course with the coach, or unload the coach and let someone else coach these star players?

The loss of center Brook Lopez doesn’t deliver Kidd the guarantee of surviving his first season as coach. Whatever the dismal Atlantic Division standings say about the Nets trailing first place by only three games, Kidd won’t reach the All-Star break without restoring order to his team.

The report says that as things have gotten worse Kidd has isolated himself in the organization, away from management and the players. That’s not good.

Struggling teams need a lot of structure and very defined roles for players, which helps them turn things around and start to gain confidence. That isn’t happening in Brooklyn, Wojnarowski reports.

More than once, sources said, players have stood in the locker room and told Kidd they don’t understand their roles, that there’s confusion about their principles. When the Nets players keep insisting they don’t have a team identity, they’re offering code words for Kidd’s inability to give them clear structure, organization and vision.

The report gets into Lawrence Frank being let go, I’m not going to beat that dead horse again. Suffice to say, with Frank gone Kidd doesn’t have a scapegoat anymore.

The bottom line is the bottom line — Mikhail Prokhorov is paying $190 million for this team and he isn’t getting the contender he wanted. He’s not even getting a playoff team as of right now. If you’re spending that kind of money, you want your money’s worth.

If you’re not getting it, you demand changes. That should worry Kidd.

That said, if Kidd is fired GM Billy King and Prokhorov’s ownership group need to step to the podium at the press conference and accept the responsibility for the mistakes they made with this hire and roster construction. We’ll see if they would be willing to do that.

Report: Patrick Beverley to drop from All-Star Saturday Skills Challenge title

Patrick Beverley
Associated Press
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Last season, the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley won the NBA All-Star Saturday skills challenge because of his jump shot. In head-to-head battles with the Hawks’ Jeff Teague and the Bucks (now a Sun) Brandon Knight, Beverley fell behind on the passing part of the competition but made up the ground by knocking down his jump shot at the end.

He was set to come to Toronto to defend his skills title but has been forced to back out due to injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

After tweaking his ankle Wednesday night in a loss to Portland, Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will not travel to Toronto to defend his skills competition title at All-Star Weekend, league sources told The Vertical.

Beverley wants to rest the ankle over the All-Star break for the Rockets’ final push to make the Western Conference playoffs.

This has yet to be confirmed by the NBA, nor has a replacement been named, but no doubt Woj is accurate on this. No player would risk further injury for a skills competition.

The Rockets have lost six-of-eight, and with the loss to the Blazers Wednesday night have fallen out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. They will need all their players healthy, including Beverley, but they will also need a lot more than that to climb back in the race — they need to start playing defense, they need to stop becoming disinterested for large stretches of the game, and they need someone in that locker room to step up and be a serious leader of men.

Report: LeBron James might not play for Team USA in 2016 Olympics because Kobe Bryant won’t

Kobe Bryant (L) and team mate Lebron James of the U.S. sit on the bench during the game against France during their men's Group A basketball match at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Basketball arena July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar
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LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.

How much?

Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.

James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.

I don’t buy this.

Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.

Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?

I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.

I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?

LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.

The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.

I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.

Did the Clippers reenact Paul Pierce being stabbed during pregame introductions? (video)

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The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.

Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.