Rumor: Sam Mitchell moves back to the front of the line for Minnesota coaching job

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The bizarre Dave Joerger situation has come to an end. The hands-on Memphis owner (who wanted to take on one of his players in a one-on-one game for charity) and wanted to fire a coach he hadn’t ever really spoken to since he was hired more than a year before, a coach who was told to go ahead and talk to Minnesota, that owner now thinks said coach is great and everything is just swell. Nothing to see here, move alon. The coach is staying in the land of great barbecue. (Well, there’s that pesky little detail of needing to find a GM to be the boss of said coach, but sure everything is swell.)

So, where does that leave Minnesota?

With Joerger out it looks like Sam Mitchell is the guy at the front of the line, speculates Sid Hartman at the Star Tribune.

With the news coming Sunday that Dave Joerger and the Grizzlies had patched up their relationship and he would remain the Memphis head coach, the new favorite for the Wolves coaching position has to be Sam Mitchell….

It’s surprising that a Memphis team that had gutted its front office would bring Joerger back, but reports are that the Grizzlies wanted to swap first-round picks in this year’s draft and get a second-round pick in order to let Joerger leave, which was far too steep a price for the Wolves.

So look now for Saunders to target his former player and a well-respected voice in the NBA in Mitchell.

Put me in the camp that think the issue of compensation — Minnesota didn’t want to give up anything for a coach Memphis wanted to fire — stalled back-channel conversations, which led Griz owner Robert Pera to call Joerger and that changed his mind on the coach. So stability is the word of the day in Memphis.

Mitchell would be a good hire for Minnesota. Not a “Kevin Love is changing his mind and wants to stay now” kind of hire, but then again that kind of hire never existed. This would a good hire. Mitchell is a quality coach who can guide this roster though some choppy waters ahead. There is a lot of change coming to Minnesota’s roster in the next year, the only question is now well they maneuver through the transition.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.