Kings sign undrafted Eric Moreland

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Pete D’Alessandro saw Eric Moreland play in an NBA arena and was intrigued.

Now, the Kings general manager is bringing Moreland to the NBA.

D’Alessandro kept an eye on Moreland – even when the big man was suspended for Oregon State’s first dozen games and declared for the NBA draft after his junior season despite low stock.

As expected, Moreland went undrafted. But he played for Sacramento’s summer-league team and impressed.

Kings team release:

The Sacramento Kings have signed Eric Moreland to a contract

It’s a three-year contract, likely at the minimum, and I’d be shocked if it’s fully guaranteed. Possibly, none of it is guaranteed.

D’Alessandro, via Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom:

We were impressed with him actually in the draft workout process. And even a couple years ago, I saw him play. I’m trying to remember one of the first times I saw him. I think it was in New York City at the Garden because I recall the game and he was always one of those guys that intrigued me. When he came into our draft workout, he played so hard and with such passion. And I feel like those energy guys, when they’re big and strong and long like he is – they bring something. They bring a dimension to the game I haven’t seen from our team.

Now look, he’s gonna be a rookie. We did a three-year deal with him. We’re hoping that he can last the entire deal and continue this long term. Our vision for him is for him to be an NBA player. And so we’re looking forward to developing him and seeing how this thing goes.

Moreland is a single-skill player at this point, and that skill is shot-blocking. The 6-foot-10, 218-pound forward-center blocked more shots than anyone else in Oregon State history, and he also led the Las Vegas summer league in blocks.

Now, his challenge is developing the rest of his game. It’s telling when the man who just signed him said, “Our vision for him is for him to be an NBA player.”

This contract makes Moreland an NBA player, but a lot of work remains for him to live up to it.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.