Kelvin Sampson, Dwight Howard

Report: Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson near deal to be University of Houston head coach


Rockets’ assistant coach Kelvin Sampson turned some heads last season when he guided the Rockets to a strong showing while Kevin McHale was away after the death of his daughter. That got his name in the mix when head coaching vacancies came up last summer, but nothing came together for him.

So Sampson apparently is heading back to college.

Sampson likely soon with ink a deal to become the head coach of the University of Houston, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

A deal is expected to be finalized in the near future, sources said. Sampson, 58, would leave his job with the Houston Rockets, where he serves as the top assistant coach, and take over the Cougars program once the agreement is finalized, sources said.

Sampson met with university officials twice in the past several days – including Saturday, sources said.

At least Sampson doesn’t have to move. Because moving sucks.

Sampson has a long but checkered history at the college level and his hiring is going to cause some controversey. He had success at Montana Tech which landed a job as an assistant at Washington State, where he took over a long dormant program and got them to the NCAA Tournament. That landed him a job at Oklahoma where he had a .719 winning percentage over a dozen seasons and took the Sooners to the NCAA Tournament all but one year, reaching the Final Four once.

That landed him the job at Indiana, but he was forced to resign from that job amid a recruiting scandal, which put sanctions on the university (he had recruiting issues at Oklahoma as well).

He has spent the past six seasons as an NBA assistant coach, first with the Bucks and now with the Rockets.

He returns to college taking over a once proud NCAA program — where Hall of Famer Guy Lewis coached Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and others. They have been less impressive lately, having gone 17-16 this past season and they were making a change.

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.