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Derek Fisher says relationships with Phil Jackson, Lakers add ‘huge layers’ to his coaching decision

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Derek Fisher has been linked to the Knicks head coaching vacancy for weeks now, despite still being employed by the Oklahoma City Thunder and playing meaningful minutes for them throughout a run that just ended Saturday at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.

Now that the Thunder’s season is over, Fisher can more seriously contemplate the options that lay before him, which seem to include the Knicks job as well as one potentially with the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was too soon for Fisher to have made anything resembling a future career decision, but speaking to reporters at exit interviews on Sunday, he did admit that his prior relationships with Phil Jackson and the Lakers organization will make his eventual choice a complicated one, no matter the direction he goes.

From Royce Young of ESPN.com:

“There’s for sure huge layers added to [the decision],” Fisher said. “The personal relationship and professional relationship that I’ve had with Phil Jackson over the years, and being in the position that he’s in. And also, with the Lakers having an opening, it for sure adds layers to it. But like other important decisions in life, I don’t think you can be driven by what’s going on externally. You have to have an internal set of boundaries and just kind of a compass that you make decisions by. I’ll combine all those things as I try and make the best decision possible.”

On Friday, Jackson said Fisher is “a person that’s on my list of guys that could be very good candidate for this job.”

In the closing moments of Game 6, in which the Thunder were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs, Fisher took extra time to exit the floor, later saying he wanted to understand and appreciate the moment, knowing it could be his last on the floor in his 18-year career. After signing a one-year deal last July, Fisher announced via Instagram that this would be his final season, but has since wavered a bit, seeming to consider a return.

Fisher went on to discuss how he believes working in a front office or coaching from the sidelines would help him achieve his calling in life, which is helping others from a leadership position.

He’s always been a respected locker room presence and a calm leader on the floor who’s produced in the most pressure-packed situations, but coaching presents an entirely different set of challenges. Jason Kidd went directly from playing to being a head coach, and Fisher’s demeanor would seem to allow him to do the same — whether in New York with Phil Jackson immediately, or eventually somewhere else.

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.