Author: Brett Pollakoff

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers

Steve Kerr believes Klay Thompson (concussion) will be ready for start of NBA Finals


Klay Thompson didn’t return to the Warriors’ series-clinching win over the Rockets after being kicked in the head by Trevor Ariza. But he was cleared to play at the time, which in hindsight is extremely troubling.

Thompson suffered concussion symptoms later that night, which included dizziness and vomiting. But he wasn’t officially diagnosed with the concussion until two days later.

Concussion symptoms often times take hours to appear, but the league doesn’t have any mandate against players returning to action after a blow to the head unless the symptoms are present and identifiable at the time.

That’s something which should probably be addressed. In the meantime, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr seems just as cavalier (no pun intended) about Thompson’s concussion as the team’s medical staff was the night it actually occurred.

From Ethan Strauss of

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is expected to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, according to coach Steve Kerr.

“He’s doing well,” Kerr said after practice Saturday at the team’s facility.

“I’m anticipating he’s going to be there.” …

Asked if he is preparing for Thompson’s absence, Kerr said he was planning only for Thompson to be in the lineup. Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers is Thursday.

“I expect him there,” Kerr repeated.

That seems like an incredibly irresponsible statement from Kerr, at least on the surface.

In order for Thompson to return to action, he must pass the league’s concussion protocol, which is fairly complicated to ensure a given player’s safety. From the NBA:

  • The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion — from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
  • With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
  • While the final return-to participation decision is to be made by the player’s team physician, the team physician must discuss the return-to-participation process and decision with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the Director of the NBA’s Concussion Program, prior to the player being cleared for full participation in NBA Basketball.
  • It’s important to note that there is no timeframe to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.

That last part is perhaps the most important, here, as we try to interpret Kerr’s remarks.

Unless Thompson had already advanced through multiple stages of the protocol before Kerr met with reporters, which is obviously highly unlikely, then Kerr should have little reason to make such a pronounced declaration.

The long-term health of the players should be at the forefront of the team’s concern. Kerr placing this expectation on Thompson to play, whether he’s ready or not, seems to go against what should be a common-sense approach.

Report: Fred Hoiberg already has a five-year deal in place to become Bulls next coach


When the Bulls formally announced the firing of Tom Thibodeau from the head coaching position, the front office claimed that they would “begin the process” of searching for a replacement the moment the press conference was finished.

“We’ll be looking for someone who’s a leader, who has great communication skills, who’s got an excellent knowledge of the game of basketball, someone that’s an open and creative learner,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said. “We’re not going to address specific names today. There won’t be updates. We’ll begin that process here tonight and into the weekend.”

As it turns out, they had a candidate in mind all along, so those statements were disingenuous, at best.

From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

According to a source, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg already has a deal in place to become the Bulls’ next head coach. The parameters of the deal were discussed while Thibodeau was still employed by the Bulls.

Hoiberg’s deal is believed to be in the $25 million range over five years. Hoiberg, who recently needed a second heart surgery, is merely waiting to be cleared by doctors before officially accepting the job.

The ties between Forman and Hoiberg go back several years.

From K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

It’s not like Bulls management and ownership don’t know Hoiberg, 42, well. He spent four seasons with the Bulls (1999-2003), played at Iowa State when general manager Gar Forman was an assistant to Tim Floyd his senior season and has guided his alma mater’s return to prominence with the front office scouting his teams — and him — along the way.

Forman even purchased Hoiberg’s home when Hoiberg left the Bulls to play for the Timberwolves.

Look, it’s fine for Forman to run the Bulls how he sees fit, and for the organization to make decisions that it believes are best for the long-term health of the franchise.

But can we not pretend like this was a wide-open candidacy?

Thibodeau wasn’t well-liked by his bosses, which was ultimately the reason for his demise. No one knows yet whether or not Hoiberg can be successful coaching at the NBA level, but if nothing else, he comes into the job with the likability piece already firmly in place.

Report: Pelicans have agreed to make Alvin Gentry their new head coach

Phoenix Suns v Boston Celtics

The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to make Golden State Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry their next head coach, according to reports from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

Gentry had interviewed twice for the position, and was up against stiff competition in Jeff Van Gundy, and perhaps a few others. He is well-qualified, however, and could potentially do wonders offensively with  lineup centered around Anthony Davis, who is arguably (already) one of the game’s top three players.

In addition to holding Steve Kerr’s hand in his first year as an NBA head coach this season, and helping the Warriors explode to become the 67-win juggernaut that made it to the NBA Finals, Gentry was the lead assistant on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Clippers a season ago, and transformed their offense into the league’s most efficient.

Gentry’s time as head coach of the Suns peaked in 2010, when Phoenix took the Lakers to six games in the Western Conference Finals. Gentry is a players’ coach, but one who isn’t afraid to get after his guys on the practice floor in order to achieve the desired results.

This is a solid move by the Pelicans to bring in a veteran of the coaching game, but one who is well-respected around the league and has a recent track record of success.

We discussed Gentry’s fit with the Pelicans and much more on this week’s podcast.

Report: Tom Thibodeau ‘hurt’ by Bulls’ statement on his firing

Tom Thibodeau

When the Bulls formally announced the firing of head coach Tom Thibodeau, the organization left little doubt as to its motives for making the change.

“While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions,” Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture.”

That sounded like it might leave a mark, and Thibodeau was reportedly hurt by the way the Bulls handled his departure.

From K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Several confidants of Thibodeau have encouraged him to take next season off, collect his Bulls salary and survey potential jobs for the 2016-17 season. According to three people who spoke to Thibodeau, Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s stinging statement on his firing hurt but otherwise he sounded buoyed and optimistic about his future.

One Thibodeau confidant even said he talked appreciatively about his five-year run in Chicago, a city in which he loved to coach with a roster he also admired.

There are only two current head coaching vacancies at the moment, and those are jobs with the Pelicans and the Nuggets.

Thibodeau has never been linked to the opening in Denver, and New Orleans has already interviewed several candidates, including Golden State assistant coach Alvin Gentry for a second time.

Money isn’t an issue for Thibodeau, because the Bulls will be paying him the $9 million that was still left on his contract when they decided to cut him loose. If the Pelicans job can’t be his (and he may not be all that interested in it anyway), then sitting out a season and waiting for more desirable opportunities to become available may be the best option.

Andrew Bogut takes veiled shot at Dwight Howard

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four

The Rockets and the Warriors had a somewhat chippy Western Conference Finals matchup, if not one that was overly-physical — at least in Andrew Bogut’s eyes.

Bogut and Dwight Howard had plenty of battles in the post, and Howard even got away with whacking Bogut in the face without being ejected or suspended.

Howard did end up earning a one-game suspension for the total number of flagrant foul points he amassed during the postseason, which prompted Bogut to take a veiled shot at Howard when he was asked about the physicality of the series against the Rockets the day the suspension was announced.

From Rusty Simmons of

On the day that Dwight Howard was suspended for a game without pay for collecting his fourth flagrant foul of the postseason, Andrew Bogut took a parting shot at the Houston center.

“There was some physicality there (with Houston), like any playoff series, but the Memphis series was more physical,” Bogut said after Friday’s practice. “This was more about ducking and weaving and getting out of the way of aired fists and elbows.”

There’s a clear difference between a physical battle where players put their bodies on the line to give their all for their team in an effort to win, and one in which guys are simply taking cheap shots whenever they get the chance.

Howard appeared to be doing the latter plenty against the Warriors, which makes it difficult to disagree with Bogut’s remarks.