Dan Feldman

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 22:  Scott Skiles of the Orlando Magic points during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center on January 22, 2016 in Orlando, 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.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Scott Skiles: ‘I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team’

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Scott Skiles resigned as Magic coach.

As Orlando guard Evan Fournier said:

Magic release:

Scott Skiles has resigned as head coach of the Orlando Magic, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

“After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team,” said Skiles. “Therefore, effective immediately, I resign my position as head coach of the Orlando Magic. I realize this type of decision can cause much speculation. The reality though is in the first sentence. It is simple and true. Any other rumors are pure conjecture.”

“I sincerely apologize for any unintended consequences that may adversely affect anyone associated with this decision,” Skiles continued. “The Magic are a world-class organization that employs world-class people. I wish them nothing but great success. I will always be thankful, especially to the DeVos family, for the opportunity.”

“While we understand it was a challenging season, we reluctantly have accepted Scott’s (Skiles) resignation,” said Hennigan. “We appreciate Scott instilling a culture of accountability and certainly wish him and his family well.”

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

Skiles is notoriously headstrong. He’s the type to suddenly resign rather than compromise.

Elfrid Payton lost his starting job for a few games in March. Before reinserting Payton into the starting lineup, Skiles warned, via Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s imperative that we get away from just playing guys regardless of what they do. That’s a terrible mistake, in my opinion. I don’t think that’s how guys develop properly,” Skiles said.

The Magic also traded Tobias Harris and Channing Frye before the deadline essentially for cap space, taking away two of Skiles’ key players. I wouldn’t be surprised if Skiles – who, like most coaches, is focused on winning as quickly as possible – didn’t like those moves, either.

Scott Skiles resigns as Magic coach

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31: Scott Skiles the head coach of the Orlando Magic gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  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.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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The Magic hired Scott Skiles before this season, and he guided Orlando to an underwhelming – though not unexpected – 35-47 record.

Magic:

Um, what?

The Magic’s front office has been notoriously demanding. It was possible to see a season that fell short of the playoffs leaving the brass unsatisfied.

But this comes so far out of left field, I wonder what else is going on here – especially with Skiles resigning, not the team firing him.

Adam Silver leaves Stephen Curry hanging in MVP trophy presentation (video)

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 11:  Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, gives the MVP Award to Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors before their game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.  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.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Stephen Curry became the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.

Apparently, that didn’t earn him a handshake from NBA commissioner Adam Silver during the trophy presentation.

You’re on Riley Curry’s watch list now, Adam.

Damian Lillard: Trail Blazers are just 1-2 when playing ‘really well’ against Warriors

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 7: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket on Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on May 7, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. The Blazers won 120-108. 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.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
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Another missed opportunity has left the Portland Trail Blazers with no margin for error in their quest to overtake the Golden State Warriors.

They’ll now need to be virtually perfect with Stephen Curry back and having rediscovered his shooting touch.

Curry’s heroic return has the Warriors a win away from a second consecutive trip to the Western Conference finals when they return home for Wednesday night’s Game 5.

Playing for the first time since spraining his right knee in Game 4 of Golden State’s opening-round series with Houston, Curry shook off a rusty start to take over the final stages of Monday’s Game 4. Hours before officially earning his second straight league MVP in a first-ever unanimous vote, the sharpshooter scored an NBA-record 17 points in overtime to rally the Warriors to a 132-125 victory for a 3-1 series lead.

Curry missed his first nine 3-point attempts and was 6 of 18 from the field through three quarters, but he went 10 of 14 thereafter to finish with 40 points in 38 minutes.

“I figured he’d find his stroke and make a few shots, but that was crazy,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Once he got going, he didn’t look tired.”

Curry’s performance helped turn around a series that appeared to be shifting in the Trail Blazers’ favor following Saturday’s 120-108 Game 3 win and a sizzling start to Monday’s matchup. Portland led 16-2 when Curry entered with 5:58 left in the first quarter and owned a 71-59 advantage early in the third before the Warriors began to mount their comeback.

The Blazers also couldn’t close out Game 2 in Oakland, where they were outscored 34-12 in the fourth quarter in a 110-99 defeat.

“We played really well in Game 3 and got the win, Game 2 we played really well and we let that one slip away and then (Monday) we played really well again,” guard Damian Lillard said. “They’re a championship team. We competed with them. We’re right there, we were one or two stops from winning the game. We let another one get away.”

Lillard couldn’t duplicate a brilliant 40-point effort in Game 3. Though he finished with 36 points, the star guard was 9 of 30 from the floor after Saturday’s 8-of-13 display from 3-point range.

The near-misses have put Portland in a precarious spot. The Blazers will need to win twice at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors are 44-2 this season including the playoffs and have won six straight over Portland. Golden State also has yet to lose back-to-back games during its record-setting campaign.

“If I don’t think they’re done, I don’t know who else is going to think it,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We’re going home with a 3-1 lead. I trust our team to come out ready to go and close this series out. We did what we needed to do; we came on the road and got one win.”

Curry, who will receive his MVP award before the game, presents another obstacle to a Portland team that’s also had difficulty containing Klay Thompson and Green. Thompson is averaging 30.5 points for the series and hit three 3s during a momentum-shifting 19-5 run during the third quarter of Game 4. Green compiled 21 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks on Monday and is averaging 24.5 points and 11.3 rebounds in the series.

Only nine teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series, though Houston did so against the Los Angeles Clippers in last year’s West semifinals. Portland did win four straight over the Clippers in the opening round after losing the first two.

“The important thing for right now is that we’ve played better in every game, which is improvement, obviously,” coach Terry Stotts said. “Just like in the Clippers series, we played better as the series went along. Same thing here.”

Report: Dwight Howard tops Mavericks’ free-agent wish list

Dwight Howard
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Dwight Howard has been linked to several teams: Bucks, Knicks, Magic, Hawks, Trail Blazers and Hornets.

But will anyone highly covet him in free agency?

Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram:

At the top of the Mavericks’ wish list this year is Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard

This runs somewhat counter to a report that Dallas doesn’t intend to pay Howard near the max – though the notions obviously aren’t mutually exclusive. Still, in this free-agent environment, it will probably take near a max starting salary to lure Howard. If the Mavericks aren’t willing to offer that, do they really put him atop their wish list?

Price was out ahead on Dirk Nowitzki opting out, even though the veteran forward publicly said he’d opt in. That should buy Price the benefit of the doubt on this.

Howard would be a nice fit in Dallas, which is trying to maximize Nowitzki’s final years. So, Howard being on the wrong side of 30 isn’t the problem it’d be other places. He’d upgrade the Mavericks’ rim protection – important next to Nowitzki – and benefit from the Nowitzki-induced floor spacing Rick Carlisle schemes up.

The center hodgepodge of Zaza Pachulia, Salah Mejri, David Lee and JaVale McGee did a fine job this season, but the position is ripe for upgrade. Pachulia and Lee will be free agents, too.

Dallas projects to have about $20 million in cap space, which might not be enough for Howard – but other players could be moved/on the move. That’s not too much to ask if Howard is the team’s top priority.