A new owner often means a new front office is not far behind. The Milwaukee Bucks, after a disappointing season, have new owners.
Flowing from those two facts the buzz around the league has been that GM John Hammond’s seat was getting warm. He might not be gone immediately, but things would have to change to keep his job. Hand in hand with those rumors came the talk that the Bucks needed a sure thing with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft and while Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum all may have higher ceilings, Jabari Parker was the guy who could walk in the door right now and give you quality minutes. He can score at an NBA level tonight. His ceiling as a player is up for debate but he has the highest floor of any of the top four or five picks — people trust he will be good.
So the Bucks are going to play it safe and take Parker… not so fast with that, reports Sean Deveney at the Sporting News.
Bogus, one source said. “(Exum) is a real option for them, because of the size and the upside,” the source said. “Nobody there is approaching this like, ‘I need to save my job.’ You don’t do that in a draft. In free agency, that is a different story. But no one is going to save their job in the draft. If Exum is as good as they think he will be, they’d pull the trigger.”
There are a lot of draft smoke screens right now (look at the varied reports on Joel Embiid’s back) and you’re wise to not take every rumor to heart.
In this case, Exum has guys that love him and guys that are more in the Marcus Smart camp. The guys that are in the Exum camp tend to LOVE his potential…
But still two would be a shock. On virtually every scout’s board Embiid, Wiggins and Parker are the top three in whatever order, then you get into Exum, Smart and the rest. It would be a real surprise to see the Bucks reach up and take Exum at the two slot.
The real upshot here is you may not want to ink Parker in at the second slot.
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.