Is Derek Fisher becoming front-runner for New York Knicks job?


When Steve Kerr chose Golden State — the smart move in terms of basketball, money and family — and I started thinking about a Plan B list for the Knicks, I thought Derek Fisher might well end up with it.

Fisher is a Phil Jackson guy. He is a big believer in culture in the locker room and organization. He is a leader. If someone such as Jason Kidd can make the leap, Fisher would be able to fit in that mold.

Now comes a report from Frank Isola at the New York Daily News suggesting people close to the team think Fisher is the front-runner.

Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who played under Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers, is emerging as a leading candidate to join Jackson in New York now that Jackson’s first choice, Steve Kerr, has agreed to terms with the Golden State Warriors. Fisher, of course, has zero head coaching experience, but Jackson believes that Fisher has the intelligence and work ethic to become successful if he happened to make the move from player to coach. Most recently, Jason Kidd went right from playing to being hired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets…

Jackson’s plan, according to a source, would be to assemble an experienced staff around Fisher that could potentially include Kurt Rambis and Bill Cartwright, two former NBA head coaches. Jackson thinks highly of Rambis, the longtime Lakers assistant, and there is a possibility that Rambis could be hired as a head coach.

There are a number of issues here. For one, Derek Fisher still has a day job as backup point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. That job is going to keep him very busy for at least another couple weeks as OKC takes on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. There is a real chance Fisher could be busy in the Finals through mid-June. That’s really dragging things out and shrinking the field if you don’t land Fisher.

Then there’s that whole “he’s never coached a day in his life and now we’re giving him a premier job in a tough market” thing. Or the “do you really want to bring in Kurt Rambis as an assistant after he butted heads with soon to be free agent Kevin Love” thing.

The Knicks will look at other guys, including there are renewed reports Jackson will see if he can pry Brian Shaw out of Denver. Not likely but Jackson will be casting a wider net in this second phase of the search.

All that said, Fisher makes way more sense than the clash of cultures that bringing in Mark Jackson would be to New York.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.