Nene, Gustavo Ayon

Wizards expected to have Nene return before the playoffs


The Wizards suffered what was perhaps a predictable loss on Saturday, facing a very tough Bulls team on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours before.

The loss had Washington wondering if things might have been different with Nene in the lineup, who played in the two previous meetings this season, both of which were Wizards victories.

It isn’t likely, but it remains possible that Washington could face Chicago in a first round playoff matchup. And fortunately, they’re expected to see Nene return from injury before the postseason begins.

From J. Michael of CSN Washington:

Forgotten in the topsy-turvy end to the Wizards’ season is that while they’ve fallen a spot to the No. 6 seed, they’ve gone 12-9 without Nene. He’s likely to return from a left knee ligament strain this week, and just in time. When asked if they’d missed his presence after being dominated by the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, no one denied it. It was too obvious. …

“Nene gives us another facilitator. Against a team like this you need another one,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “With John being one, Bradley can do some things off the dribble but Nene was another guy that can play like Noah does at the top with the ball in his hands, the passing and also the posting up that he does for us. That’s not an excuse why we lost.”

Nene has missed the last 21 games, and his presence will improve the offense in terms of having a low-post threat to help take some pressure off of John Wall and Bradley Beal, who do so much of the team’s scoring from the guard positions.

Nene has averaged 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and three assists in 30.1 minutes per game this season.

Report: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer urged Danny Ferry to resign

Danny Ferry, Mike Budenholzer
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When Danny Ferry’s racism scandal came to light, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer publicly supported his general manager. Budenholzer called the “African” remarks about Luol Deng “very much out of character” and said Ferry was trying to learn from his mistakes.

And while Budenholzer might not have done anything privately to contradict his public statements, his tone apparently differed with Ferry and then-owner Bruce Levenson last fall.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Budenholzer very much owed his job to Ferry. His former Spurs colleague had pleaded with Levenson that the Gregg Popovich assistant was the man for the position. Yet Budenholzer felt Ferry should resign, lest the Hawks be subsumed in disruption when training camp opened, and he made his wishes known in a heartfelt conversation with Ferry and Levenson at that time.

In some respect, Budenholzer was just doing his job as coaching – trying to maximize his teams chances of on-court success. Ferry didn’t resign. He took a leave of absence that lasted until he agreed to a buyout this summer. That was apparently enough to avoid a paralyzing distraction. The Hawks won 60 games and reached their first conference finals since moving to Atlanta.

Ferry’s departure also significantly benefitted Budenholzer personally. Budenholzer ran the Hawks’ front office during Ferry’s leave, and the new owners have installed him as the teams permanent president.

The only other four active coaches with personnel control experienced much more success before getting the dual president/coach title.

Gregg Popovich coached the Spurs to four championships and 11 playoff berths before they named him president in 2008. Doc Rivers won Coach of the Year with the Magic and then guided the Celtics to a title during his 14 seasons before the Clippers plucked him to run their franchise. Stan Van Gundy steered the Heat and Magic to the playoffs in all seven of his full seasons, including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with Orlando, before getting hired by the Pistons. Flip Saunders won more games than every other Timberwolves coach combined, is responsible for every playoff win in franchise history and made four trips to the conference finals (including thrice with the Pistons) over 16 total seasons before Minnesota gave him the huge role.

Budenholzer has been a head coach just two seasons, including a 38-44 debut year. He has done a good job, winning Coach of the Year last season, and he might make a good team president.

But he lacks the track record most coaches need to gain such status. Budenholzer, more than anything, was at the right place at the right time.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.