Author: Dan Feldman

Dwyane Wade stuffs Terrence Jones at rim (video)

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Dwyane Wade is one of the best shot-blocking guards of all-time.

The star led NBA guards in blocks in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. He has more seasons with more than one block per game this millennium than the rest of the league’s guards combined. He has been a terror for opponents.

He also still has it at age 34, as Terrence Jones learned the hard way tonight.

Stan Van Gundy: ‘Hard to see’ Jodie Meeks contributing to Pistons this season

Jodie Meeks
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
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Jodie Meeks hasn’t played since suffering a Jones fracture in the Pistons’ second game. The pessimistic end of the initial timetable had him returning just after the All-Star break.

But…

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Following a Monday morning appointment with surgeon Dr. Martin O’Malley to assess his progress, Meeks learned that the foot hasn’t healed properly.

“We’re backing off until March 1; for practical matters, it’s really hard to see him being able to get back and make much of a contribution this year,” Van Gundy said. “The first day he would be able to start ramping it up would be early March. He’d need a couple weeks to ramp it up and then you’re down to the last month of the season by the time he’s ready to go.

The Pistons badly want to make the playoffs after six years away. At 26-23 and seventh in the Eastern Conference, they’re in decent shape.

But they could use a spot-up outside specialist – like Meeks.

Starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ranks second in the NBA at 37.4 minutes per game. His stamina is impressive, but that’s asking a lot. Backup Stanley Johnson is better suited as a forward, a position he also plays. Rookie Darrun Hilliard doesn’t look ready for a rotation role, though he has gotten occasional minutes in reserve.

The Pistons probably won’t relinquish high-end future assets, like a first-round pick, but this news could make them more aggressive at the trade deadline. If they can’t count on Meeks, they could seek another shooting guard.

If Detroit doesn’t acquire one, Meeks – even if the odds appear against it now – could still get a chance to crack the rotation late in the season. There’s just a need for someone like him.

After next-questioning query about Sam Mitchell, Kevin Garnett endorses Timberwolves coach

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 17:  Kevin Garnett #21 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on November 17, 2015 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — As the losses keep piling up for the young Minnesota Timberwolves and the scrutiny increases on interim coach Sam Mitchell, franchise star Kevin Garnett is throwing his support behind his longtime friend.

Garnett approached reporters at shootaround before the Timberwolves played the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday night and offered his endorsement of Mitchell as the right coach to lead the building process around 20-year-olds Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

“I feel real good about the progression of this team since Day 1 and I think it needs to be said and needs to be understood that I’m endorsing Sam Mitchell and our coaching staff and this organization,” Garnett said. “More importantly, I’m excited about our future. I’m excited about our young players.

“I feel like we’re getting better. These last probably 10, 15 games, we’ve gotten better. You see it. And I think that needs to be said. I think you all need to understand we’re supportive around here.”

The Timberwolves were the early surprise of the league thanks to an 8-8 start that included two victories over Atlanta and road wins at Miami and Chicago. But they are 6-27 since then, a worse mark during that span than the Philadelphia 76ers.

Garnett has missed five straight games with a leg injury.

Mitchell, who assumed the position of head coach when Flip Saunders died suddenly just days before the season opener, has dealt with criticism for the lack of winning and constantly preached patience for the process.

Garnett was asked about Mitchell’s ability to lead the team 10 days ago, but declined to answer. He often swipes aside questions he perceives as negative in nature, but his unwillingness to publicly back the man he has called a friend since he was a rookie in 1995 didn’t help the coach’s cause.

Garnett removed all ambiguity about his feelings on Tuesday.

“I want you guys to understand that not only do I endorse Sam Mitchell, but the other players do, too,” Garnett said. “We believe not only in him, but the system and what we’re trying to do here. I think everybody needs to understand that. The transformation and what we’re trying to do here is build something for the future and these are the first steps of that.”

The Associated Press reported last week that nearly half of the roster privately had some concerns about Mitchell’s offensive system and his lack of personal accountability in the team’s struggles. Owner Glen Taylor told The AP that he is remaining patient and would wait until the end of the season before evaluating Mitchell’s job performance.

The Wolves have played a more up-tempo style in the last two weeks and have done a better job of sharing the ball, though it has yet to translate into wins. Garnett said the ball movement and energy he sees from the team during games and practices leads him to believe that Mitchell has them on the right path.

“That means players are understanding not only the system that’s in place, but they’re understanding ball movement and sharing the ball. That alone forms chemistry,” Garnett said. “Guys give themselves on defense. Talking.

“We’re communicating with each other on and off the court. We’ve been doing a lot of hanging. We did movies one day, we did turkey burgers another day. Those are the things that build character and build chemistry throughout the team and those are the things of which I speak.”

LeBron James on why he’ll never coach: ‘I’ll get blamed for every little thing’

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt pats LeBron James on the chest at the end of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia. James’ calculating image wasn’t helped when the Cavaliers stunningly fired Blatt on Friday, Jan. 22, despite Blatt leading the team to the NBA Finals last season and an Eastern Conference-best 30-11 record this season. James has played for three coaches during his two stints in Cleveland,  (AP Photo/Michael Perez, File)
AP Photo/Michael Perez
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The Suns went 13-35 – and fired Jeff Hornacek.

The Cavaliers went 31-11 – and fired David Blatt.

No matter what goes wrong, coaches usually get blamed in the NBA. That’s why LeBron James says he won’t join the profession after retiring as a player.

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“Man, I couldn’t be a head coach,” James said to cleveland.com upon learning about Phoenix’s situation.” Boy, I’ll get blamed for every little thing. Can you imagine that? Please.”

That’s rich, considering the role LeBron played in Blatt getting blamed for every little thing.

NBA coaches have it so hard, because they’re rarely the most important employee in an organization. That’s usually the star player, who wields great power to affect a coach. LeBron used his to frequently take passive-aggressive shots at Blatt, making it easier for his teammates to become disenchanted with Blatt.

LeBron is right that he attracts more attention. But that’s mostly because he had been the world’s best player for so long and continues to play at a high level. As a coach, his stature would likely shrink. Coaches, even former stars, just don’t remain as marketable.

And that likely contributes to LeBron’s resistance to coaching. He’s earning max salaries every year, and his business interests are vast. Coaching is too small time for him.

He wants to become an owner – which, not for nothing, offers more insulation from criticism.

GM Ryan McDonough: Suns stopped responding to Jeff Hornacek

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, right, answers a questions as general manager Ryan McDonough, left, watches at a news conference during an NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
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PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough says coach Jeff Hornacek was fired because the players weren’t responding to him.

Now the job has gone on an interim basis to Earl Watson, who at 36 becomes the youngest coach in the NBA.

McDonough says the team has not played with maximum effort the past few weeks.

He says he and Watson spoke to the players before Tuesday morning’s shootaround and told them that more is expected of them, regardless of what they think of the team’s talent level.

To provide help on what would have been an extremely inexperienced coaching staff, the Suns have hired Bob Hill as an assistant. Hill is a former head coach of the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs.

Phoenix has lost 19 of 21 games.