It’s official: Milwaukee Bucks hire Jason Kidd as coach

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We’ve talked about it for a couple days — and we’ve ripped both Jason Kidd and Bucks ownership for how it happened.

Now it’s done. It’s official — Kidd is the new coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, the team confirmed Tuesday morning.

And like just about everything else in the world of sports, a lot of how this went down will be forgotten or forgiven if Kidd wins games. But’s on him to actually coach well now.

“When you list the characteristics that make a successful head coach, you would include leadership, communication and a competitive drive,” said Bucks GM John Hammond in a released statement. “Jason used all of those traits to become a 10-time All-Star player in the NBA, and has now translated his on-court success to the bench. We welcome him to the Bucks organization and look forward to building a Championship-caliber team with him as our head coach.”

“Jason is a determined leader, a tough-minded competitor and a great teammate,” said Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. “We believe his focus, vision and intensity will help him work alongside John and David (Morway) to rebuild the Milwaukee Bucks as we aspire to achieve excellence over the next several years. We are excited that Jason will call Milwaukee his new home.”

It was Lasry who started all this along with Kidd. The two have a relationship dating back to when Lasry was a co-owner of the Nets and the pair had some financial dealings. Kidd talked to Lasry about Milwaukee then tried to use that as leverage to get a raise and more power (team president power) in Brooklyn — and the Nets called his bluff. “You want to leave free spending, major market Brooklyn for a rebuilding, development project in Milwaukee? Go for it.”

Lasry started this conversation and got well down the road with Kidd without telling the Bucks current coach Larry Drew or GM Hammond — both of them learned about it when the story broke in the media Saturday night. Not long after Hammond had to negotiate giving up two second round picks for a guy everyone around the league thinks wants his job. Kidd is always about the power plays.

Drew is gone, Kidd is now in. It is done — but it is not playing well in Milwaukee (if you are to believe fan polls in the local paper). Fans in that solid Midwestern town don’t see loyalty as a buzzword.

But this is American sports — winning cures all ills. (Well, almost all.) If Jason Kidd wins with the Bucks,if he  returns this historically proud franchise to lofty heights, how he got the job becomes a footnote.

Now he has to coach.

He did better at that than people give him credit for in Brooklyn, he kind of stumbled into the small ball lineups that worked once Brook Lopez went down, but he exploited them well. The Nets got to the second round in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and that was as much as anyone was going to do with that roster.

The Bucks are different. They are about player development and patience. The Bucks have good young talent — Jabari Parker, John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Larry Sanders — that needs to be nurtured, put in a system that gives them a chance to succeed.

The Bucks job is not about recruiting stars, it’s about building them. It’s on Kidd to do that now.

If he doesn’t he’ll find it hard to get another job and Lasry and the Bucks owners will find getting approval for some public financing for a new arena — already a tough mountain to climb before all this — will become Everest.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.