George Karl confirms he wants to return to coaching (he wants the Laker to call)

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He’s a coach with 25 years experience in the NBA and a .599 winning percentage. His teams have gone to the playoffs all but three of those 25 seasons, once all the way to the Finals. His teams play an up-tempo, entertaining style of basketball.

George Karl is available and why his name is slow to come up in some coaching searches around the NBA is a little confusing. He’s not the guy to call if you’re a bad team looking to develop young players, but if you’ve got a more veteran squad and want to win, he should be on your short list — the guy won the Coach of the Year award just before Denver fired him.

Karl wants back on the bench, something he said while interviewed on the NBA channel on SiriusXM, as transcribed by ESPN.

Current ESPN analyst George Karl confirmed Thursday that he’s interested in a return to coaching after saying in an interview on SiriusXM Radio earlier in the day that he’d “like to get back in the gym.”

“I’m enjoying my role at ESPN,” Karl said in a statement. “I’d be interested in the right coaching opportunity, but I respect the coaching profession too much to become a distraction to the process.”

Karl is not a fit for every NBA job that is open. Detroit, for example, would be a bit awkward.

But what about Minnesota? Or the Los Angeles Lakers? With L.A. there are natural ties, Karl pointed out.

“Mitch Kupchak [Lakers general manager] and I were roommates in college and Mitch has been a very good friend of mine for years,” Karl said on “Off The Dribble” on SiriusXM. “Have I talked to Mitch in the last couple of weeks? No, I haven’t.”

We will see if Karl lands anywhere, I’m not sure he’s a great fit for the Lakers (not bad, better than the last guy, but not great).

But his name should come up more than it does. The guy can flat out coach.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.