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Amar’e Stoudemire latest big name to sign up for Big3 second season

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Last summer when I wrote about the inaugural season of the Big3, the consensus of players and the league management was that if they proved this thing was real, the second season would see bigger names come on board. Build it and they will come.

“In a lot of ways, it was definitely a ‘show me’ year,” Ice Cube told NBC Sports last summer. “Some people actually told us they would wait to see how we did this year before they would want to be a part of it. We knew trying to introduce something this new would have people kind of taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Now big names are jumping in, and the latest is former Sun and Knick Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be the three-way co-captain of Tri-State alongside Jermaine O’Neal and Nate Robinson, the league announced Wednesday.

Robinson is one of the other big names to jump in, along with Baron Davis, Ron Artest, Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis, Carlos Boozer and Drew Gooden. Even Greg Oden is going to make a run at it.

The Big3 is a barnstorming tour hitting one city a week with former NBA players going 3-on-3 in half-court. The refs let the game get more physical than the NBA, there are some gimmicks (the four-point shot spot) but the product was good. With an off-season to refine it and the broadcast, it should come back as an entertaining package. It’s a good fix for hoops junkies in the off-season, and Stoudemire and the star power just add to that.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

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.