As with all things Donald Sterling, we start with this cautionary note: Take everything he and his people say with a grain of salt. Actually, a five-pound bag of the stuff. The smart move is to assume everything is a stalling tactic or an effort to somehow gain some measure of control over what is going on.
But on the day Sterling has to answer the NBA’s charges against him in the league’s effort to force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, his attorney dropped this, via NBC’s Los Angeles.
While there has been buzz that with all the big names involved in the bidding the price was going to get north of $1.5 billion and up to $2 billion, this is still an eye-popping number.
Again, if I were cynical I would say this was an effort from Sterling’s attorney to slow the league’s process down and maintain control as his wife Shelly tries to sell the team. The old dazzle them with big numbers trick.
Actually, I am cynical about this, I think that is what is going on.
I also know the league is not slowing down its effort.
In the wake of the fallout from a leaked recording of Donald Sterling saying very prejudiced things — and sponsors pulling out as a result — the NBA started the process to remove him as owner of the Clippers. The league presented formal charges against Sterling last week and through their constitutional process — something Sterling and his wife agreed to and signed off on more than once — he has until Tuesday midnight to respond.
On June 3 there will be a Board of Governors meeting (the other 29 owners) where Sterling and his attorney can make their case, and the league will present its case. After that, if three quarters of the owners vote to remove Sterling he is gone, as is any other owner of the team — in this case his wife Shelly Sterling. At that point the league would take control of the franchise and sell the team through a blind bid process (Sterling would get the money from that sale, minus any fines and league expenses).
The league is not slowing down. No matter how much money Sterling’s attorney says is being offered — the league would get that same offer when it sold the team.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach — with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be their top target — but it won’t be J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as the team’s interim coach since they fired Kevin McHale in November. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bickerstaff has informed Rockets management that he’s no longer in consideration for the job:
After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Tuesday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials that he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.
Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.
After the Rockets’ disappointing season and disastrous playoff performance — where they lost in five not-very-competitive games to a Stephen Curry-less Warriors —it makes sense that Bickerstaff would rather get a fresh start as an assistant somewhere else, where he could build up his credentials and be a more highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the future. He isn’t a big name, so he likely wouldn’t be able to command as much money as the Rockets’ head coach as a more established figure would be. Given the Rockets’ uncertain future with Dwight Howard almost certain to opt out and not a lot of long-term pieces around James Harden, it’s not the most stable job in the world.