Nancy Lieberman: Kings might not have hired me if Becky Hammon didn’t win Summer League title


1. Becky Hammon coached the Spurs to the Las Vegas Summer League title.

2. The Kings hired Nancy Lieberman as the NBA’s second female full-time assistant coach.

Was that cause and effect?

Lieberman, via David Aldridge of

That said, if Becky doesn’t coach in the Summer League, and win, you and I might not be doing this interview, whether I’m qualified or not. And I know I’m qualified.

Sometimes it takes something no one was expecting to put the shine on where it needs to be. I don’t mind being Larry Doby (the second African-American player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, with the Cleveland Indians in July, 1947, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers), quite honestly. It was never about just Becky, and it never was about just me. If it was, then that’s a selfish act. Look at all the African-American players who played baseball after Jackie. That’s the true essence of success. For Branch Rickey, what he and Jackie did was profound. So what Pop and Becky did, whatever the timing, was profound. Now I have been afforded an opportunity to do what I love and what I’ve been groomed to do my whole life, and it opened up a lot of coaches’ eyes. I’m not going to say you’re going to see Noah’s Ark, with women, you know, coaching, coming, into the league. You have to earn the right, and the relationships are very, very important. Nobody gets hired by what it says on a resume. You get hired by the relationships, and proving that you have the wherewithal. I’m thrilled for her. Quite frankly, I’m thrilled for me.

I don’t think Lieberman is giving the Kings enough credit.

George Karl was considering adding her to his staff in February, long before Hammon won the Summer League Championship. Lieberman also spent time with the Kings in Las Vegas, again before anyone could have known San Antonio would capture the title.

Under owner Vivek Ranadivé, the Kings have frequently bucked convention. That has usually led to bad decisions – firing a coach 24 games into his second season while exceeding all reasonable expectations, crowdsourcing draft analysis, cherry-picking, hiring someone with no front-office experience to run the front office, etc. But it probably also led to hiring a female assistant coach.

Maybe the Kings needed to see Hammon with the Spurs before making the plunge. But I don’t think their decision to hire Lieberman hinged on something as trivial and fluky as a summer-league title.

PBT Extra: Bobby Portis punch adds to challenges for Bulls this season

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Nikola Mirotic will be out 4-6 weeks due to his concussion and fractured jaw.

Bobby Portis has been suspended for the first eight games of the season for causing those injuries to Mirotic with a punch at practice.

What does this mean for a Bulls locker room that was already going to have to deal with the weight of losing a lot of games.  I get into all these questions in this latest PBT Extra.

It’s going to be a long season in Chicago.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):


The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)


Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.