New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers

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.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.