Dan Feldman

AP Photo/Morry Gash

2017 PBT Awards: Rookie of the Year


Kurt Helin

1. Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks

2. Joel Embiid, 76ers

3. Willy Hernangomez, Knicks

The vote on this comes down to one simple question: Is 31 games enough? Because undoubtedly Embiid was the best when he played, but he only played in 37.8 percent of his team’s games and he played nearly 1.200 fewer minutes than Brogdon. That’s not enough for me. I went with the Bucks’ rookie because he became a steady part of the rotation for a playoff team, making a bigger contribution than his peers. Also, no Dario Saric — he put up a lot of numbers for two months after Embiid went down because the Sixers needed someone to take shots, but he wasn’t terribly efficient and was more of a gunner.

Note: Helin has an official ballot this year.

Dan Feldman

1. Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks

2. Joel Embiid, 76ers

3. Dario Saric, 76ers

The question for me with these awards: Who contributed most to his team this season? Obviously, a player can’t contribute when he’s injured. So, did Joel Embiid contribute more in 31 games or Malcolm Brogdon in 75 games? It was close – extremely close. Embiid was so good when healthy and the rest of this rookie class was so weak, when he got hurt, I thought he’d deserve this award. But Brogdon had a big enough March to help lift Milwaukee into the playoffs that his steadier production overtook Embiid’s far-higher peaks.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks

2. Dario Saric, 76ers

3. Joel Embiid, 76ers

I was just like you at the beginning of this season, dear reader. I wanted to give Rookie of the Year to Joel Embiid even on a minutes restriction, and even if he started the season late. But, even if he was still the best player of this rookie class, I cannot in good conscience do that. So we turn to Milwaukee, a team with their own budding superstars who Malcolm Brogdon has had to work around. He gets the edge over Saric thanks to a playoff appearance, but mostly because I can’t trust the process much longer.

Report: Magic keeping coach Frank Vogel, even after firing GM

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The Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan.

Where does that leave coach Frank Vogel?

John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com:

Vogel just finished the first season of a four-year contract (that reportedly has a team option for the final year). The remaining money is certainly a factor.

So is the fact that Vogel is a good coach.

But this often doesn’t work. Orlando could be limited in its general-manager search, as potential candidates generally prefer to choose their own coach, and the best candidates will have leverage to demand it. Whomever the Magic hire will have to develop a working relationship with his coach on the fly, which shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In a year or two, Orlando might realize it wasted even more time by not resetting fully enough. As well as Vogel coaches, that possibility is too likely to put such a restraint on the new general manager.

The Magic should let their next GM decide for himself whether or not to keep Vogel. If Vogel is worth keeping, the new GM will see that.

2017 PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

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Kurt Helin

1. Mike D’Antoni, Rockets

2. Gregg Popovich, Spurs

3. Brad Stevens, Celtics

This was D’Antoni’s to lose from the middle of the season on, and he did nothing to give it away. However, leaving Scott Brooks and Eric Spoelstra off this list was difficult, Brooks, in particular, I believe deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround in Washington. That said, Popovich did an amazing job this season with a team that saw big changes (no Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol in) and Brad Stevens has built something impressive in Boston.

Note: Helin has an official ballot this year.

Dan Feldman

1. Mike D’Antoni, Rockets

2. Gregg Popovich, Spurs

3. Erik Spoelstra, Heat

I’m not totally certain Mike D’Antoni made the most coaching contributions to his team this season. It can be difficult to parse where coaching ends and playing begins. But he definitely the clearest coaching contributions. D’Antoni has beautifully implemented distinctive up-tempo spread attack with the Rockets, and they’re better for it.

Gregg Popovich might be the NBA’s best coach, but he shouldn’t win this award every year, because on teams stocked with returning veterans, he doesn’t need to utilize his full expertise every year. But to form so many offensive-minded players into an elite defense is a special coaching job.

I don’t understand how this Heat roster went 31-10 over any stretch this season. I sure don’t understand how they did it after a 10-31 start. Erik Spoelstra kept Miami focused and then built improvement.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Mike D’Antoni, Rockets

2. Steve Kerr, Warriors

3. Brad Stevens, Celtics

This race is all about how well coaches have been able to mix new stars into their teams. Both Kerr and Stevens have had to do that this season, and now that we’re post-LeBron in Miami, I think we as a league have a greater respect for how hard it is to plop a bunch of All-Stars onto a team and watch them win cohesively. But the star this year has been Mike D’Antoni, whose old system has been turned up to 11 with James Harden. It’s even quicker, and goes even heaver on the 3-point shot. Houston lost Dwight Howard but are the same record-wise without him. Give him the trophy.

Heat better in second half of season than any other team that ever missed playoffs

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra initially struggled to verbalize his feelings after Miami missed the playoffs.

Let’s try adding context.

The Heat went 11-30 in the first half of the season and 30-11 in the second half – the best second-half record ever by a team that missed the playoffs. By far.

The previous top mark came in 1999, when the Hornets closed 16-9 to finish 26-24 and one game of out of the postseason in the lockout-shortened season. The best second-half, playoff-less finish in a full season was by the Suns, who closed 26-15 in 1971,

Here are the top second-half records by teams that missed the playoffs:


Report: Rob Hennigan rejected DeMarcus Cousins trade that Magic assistant GM wanted to make

AP Photo/Gary McCullough

In mid-February, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report reported talks between the Magic and Kings involving DeMarcus Cousins, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier:

Multiple league sources say the Magic turned down the chance to deal Nikola Vucevic and either Evan Fournier or draft picks to the Kings for the contemptuous All-Star center earlier this season. Hennigan apparently was concerned about both his ability to re-sign Cousins this summer and building the franchise around yet another high-maintenance big man.

That report didn’t gain much traction, because the Kings kept insisting they wouldn’t trade Cousins. Of course, they dealt him to the Pelicans a few days later.

With the Magic firing general manager Rob Hennigan and assistant general manager Scott Perry today, that unearthed more information about Orlando-Sacramento trade talks.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

Sam Amick of USA Today:

The Pelicans taking a risk on Cousins made sense because their supporting cast around Anthony Davis was so crummy, there wasn’t much downside. The Magic’s lousy roster would have made a Cousins trade similarly logical.

Hennigan stuck with the “safe” route. Look where that got him.

Not trading for Cousins due to the fear of him walking in free agency next year is reasonable. Not trading for Cousins because he’s similar to Dwight Howard is not reasonable. Cousins should stand on his own merits.

Should Hennigan have made this trade? It’s impossible to say for certain without knowing all the particulars, but that his No. 2, Perry, found the terms acceptable is telling.