Author: Brett Pollakoff


Cavaliers owner shoots down rumor that David Blatt will be fired no matter how far team advances in playoffs


There have been plenty of indications throughout both the regular season and the playoffs that Cavaliers head coach David Blatt may not be the best fit, and may be gone once the season is finished.

LeBron James has publicly criticized Blatt more than once, and even worse, has come out and said that he’s overruled his coach’s decisions on more than one occasion.

Blatt almost blew a playoff game against the Bulls by not knowing his team was out of timeouts, and James’ ongoing remarks seem to be aimed at throwing his coach under the bus.

Many have speculated that Blatt may be replaced after this season, but the report that emerged on Friday got the attention of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — who publicly did what he could to shut it down.

From Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report:

Speaking on The Doug Gottlieb Show, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported that the Cavaliers will likely fire Blatt no matter how much further the team advances in the playoffs (via CBS Sports Radio’s Adam Klug).

Dan Gilbert:


What he should have said was, “crushed … for now.”

The reality is that no one knows at this stage whether or not Blatt will return next season. If Cleveland were to win the title, for example, even with LeBron overruling his head coach whenever he deems necessary, Blatt may be asked to stick around so as not to upset the championship dynamic.

But if Cleveland should fall short of its ultimate goal, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Blatt replaced.

Remember, he wasn’t hired to coach LeBron James and Kevin Love as part of a team that was expected to contend; initially, his job was to rebuild the franchise before LeBron ever committed to returning to the Cavaliers.

Report: Phil Jackson ‘not happy’ about Isiah Thomas’ return to work at MSG

Phil Jackson

Isiah Thomas was named president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty recently, in a move that immediately called into question Knicks owner James Dolan’s intentions.

Thomas, of course, was at one time both president and head coach of the Knicks, but was ousted from both positions in 2008 after a jury ruled that he sexually harassed a former team executive who was improperly fired for complaining about the unwanted advances.

There have been rumors that Dolan and Isiah have remained close, and that Thomas has consistently advised Dolan on basketball matters. While his current post only deals with the WNBA, Phil Jackson is reportedly less than pleased with the return of Thomas to the Madison Square Garden offices.

From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

James Dolan’s decision to bring Isiah Thomas back to Madison Square Garden does not sit well with Dolan’s highest paid basketball executive: Phil Jackson.

Jackson, according to a team source, has expressed concern over Thomas’ presence at the Garden, further fueling speculation over Jackson’s future with the Knicks and whether Thomas could be in line to eventually replace Jackson as Knicks president.

“He’s not happy about it but what can he do about it,” said one Garden official, who requested anonymity. “This is just the start of it.”

Jackson should be concerned, but his five-year, $60 million contract says that his worry should only go so far.

Phil was hired to turn the franchise around, and make it a formidable and consistent playoff contender. Year one of the rebuild was a predictable disaster, as Jackson jettisoned all valuable players in order to bottom out for a high lottery pick, while clearing as much cap space as possible at the same time.

Of course, if Jackson should falter in years two and three of his deal, the Knicks may look to go in another direction. Thomas has long been a friend and confidant of Dolan’s, so his moving back into his former role once Jackson eventually vacates it wouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but it would create all kinds of chaos and outrage among both fans of the Knicks, as well as the local media at large.

Joel Embiid sitting in on Sixers’ Draft Combine interviews

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Joel Embiid sat out the entire season after being selected third overall by the Sixers in the 2014 NBA Draft, but he remains an important part of the team’s plans to rebuild for the future.

If there was any doubt about this, then the team wouldn’t even consider allowing Embiid to take place in the activities at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago this week.

Embiid is there, along with head coach Brett Brown and GM Sam Hinkie. And he’s not just an idle bystander as the Sixers move through the talent evaluation process.

From John Gonzalez of

“I mean, really, this was his initiative,” Brown said. “He asked about it and we extended the invitation and he was all in. I think that for him to come here to Chicago and share in the selection and opinions of people that we may draft is an impressive quality that he has shown us. We get a workout in the morning. We a get lift in the morning. We’re going to a see a playoff game [Thursday night], the Cavaliers-Bulls game, let him take all that in. But I think to just digest this whole purpose in Chicago, something that he didn’t have an experience to look at last year, as well as help us grow the program that we’re trying to build, is a good thing.”

If Embiid’s initial intention was to simply accompany the Sixers’ contingent, his purpose on the trip quickly evolved. In addition to undergoing various tests and measurements, as well as 5-on-5 scrimmages, the prospects are also interviewed. Each team decides who sits in on those sessions. General managers and coaches are almost always in each private question-and-answer period, along with key player personnel staffers. The Sixers had all those people in their interviews, and one more: Embiid.

“I think it was fantastic,” Brown said. “For him to look across and see somebody on the hot seat and a fellow 20-year-old being grilled by coaches and management on all things related to basketball, family, outside interests, we give them a pen, they go to a board, they draw. All those types of things for him to see and share in some questions and go back and forth with people that he’s actually played against. I just think it’s healthy and I think it’s got to be accumulative effort that we’re putting out there where these guys have a say in the design and the growth of their own program.”

Some of the players at the combine said that Embiid being present and participating in the interviews helped make them feel more at ease. But no matter how it plays out, the Sixers are showing one of their young building blocks that his input matters, and that he’s a valued member of the franchise.

NBA: Paul Pierce’s late 3 vs. Hawks should have been waved off because of moving screen from Marcin Gortat

Paul Pierce

Near the very end of Game 5 between the Wizards and the Hawks, it appeared as though Paul Pierce had struck again.

Pierce had gotten free in the corner, and knocked down a three-pointer which gave his team a one-point lead with 8.3 seconds left.

Of course, the lead only held for one more possession, as Al Horford cleaned up a miss by Dennis Schröder to give the Hawks the victory, and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

A day later, the NBA says that Pierce’s shot shouldn’t have counted anyway, thanks to a moving screen by Marcin Gortat that the referees let go unnoticed.

From the league’s Last Two Minute report:

“Gortat (WAS) continues moving as he sets the screen on Millsap (ATL) without giving him the opportunity to stop and/or change direction.”

Looking at the replay, Gortat was clearly moving on the screen, so the league labeling this as an incorrect no-call is in fact correct in hindsight.

But just imagine if Atlanta didn’t score on the following possession, and the Wizards won on this play, with the league later admitting that the shot never should have counted in the first place.

Kyrie Irving leaves Game 6 with injury (VIDEO)

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving left in the second quarter of Game 6, after stepping on a teammate’s foot and appearing to tweak a previous left knee injury.

Irving had the knee re-wrapped in the locker room, and was reportedly probable to return. But as soon as he went out, the Cavaliers ended the half on a 23-9 run to take a 14-point lead into the halftime intermission.

Irving remained on the bench to start the second half. We’ll he if he ends up returning, should the Bulls be able to threaten significantly.