Dan Feldman

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Sam Mitchell 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)

Sam Mitchell knocks Glen Taylor, Tom Thibodeau, Scott Layden for Timberwolves’ firing process


Sam Mitchell was so bothered by how the Timberwolves fired him, he said it upset Kevin Garnett – a real BS move.

If you’re upset, don’t put it on someone else. Speak for yourself and let Garnett speak for himself.

Well, Mitchell is speaking for himself now.

And he’s being clear about his issues with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, new president/coach Tom Thibodeau and new general manager Scott Layden.

Mitchell, via Darren Wolfson (nicknamed Doogie) of ESPN 1500:

I’ve known Glen Taylor a long time, and I have had the utmost respect for him. And my whole thing, Doogie, was, whether you thought I earned the job or not, that’s fine. That’s a decision that he has to make. But I felt like after 13 years of being in the organization, after being the captain, after having been the guy that was whenever there was things going on and they needed players to do things, being that go-to guy – I thought I always carried myself and conducted myself when I was in the Wolves uniform as a coach or a player. And after 13 years and being knowing Mr. Taylor for about 10 or 11, to be treated that way, that just did something to me.

It just left a bad taste in my mouth, and Doogie, to be honest with you, it’s something that I don’t know where to place it emotionally or mentally. It’s just tough, man. I don’t know where – still to this day, I don’t think about it or dwell on it, because I understand that the NBA is not fair, that life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people all the time, and good things happen for bad people all the time. I’m about to turn 53, and I understand that. But I’ve always held Glen Taylor in high regard. And just to be treated that way – a 30-second phone call – it just didn’t sit well with me. It’s something I don’t understand, and I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out, where do I place this?

Because, again, it would not have been easy to sit down with me and have that conversation. But I think after the years in the organization, that’s the least that you could have done for me.

Another thing: I’ve known Tom Thibodeau. Look, another disheartening thing is – and, again, I understand the NBA. Somebody offers you the job – someone offers my best friend who may be a assistant coach the job and you have the job, they’re going to take the job. They have to take the job, because there’s only 30. I understand that, Doogie. And I mean, once the decision is made not to hire you, then I’m OK with a friend of mine or someone I know getting the job. Because at the end of the day, it’s not like they’re doing anything behind your back to take your job. No one can take your job in the NBA. Either the owner doesn’t think you did a good enough job to retain you or, for whatever reason, they replace you. So, I understand that. It’s a big-boy league.

But even with Tom – all the years I’ve been knowing Tom and with Bill Musselman actually having helped Tom get on the staff as a player with the Wolves when I played for them because of my connection with Bill Musselman – the fact that he never called me saying a word to me, never sent me a message, never sent me a text. And that the new general manager Scott called me a month and a half later.

A month and a half later. So, at that point, why are you even calling me?

So, again, the way things were handled in Minnesota, I was totally shocked. I had always given the organization credit for how they treated people in the past and being a first-class organization. But to be treated that way after 13 years, I think I have a right to feel a certain way about it.

And again, not bitter. Not angry. I’m happy. I’m moving on with my life and doing other things, and I’m happy. But Minnesota was home for me for a long time. I had a lot of good friends there, and I just never thought I would be treated that way on my way out the door. But, again, that’s life and it is what it is, and you get better for it.

It was so disrespectful  to even call me a month and a half later. I think when I realized it was him, I was hanging up the phone as he was talking. There was nothing really much to say. A month and a half later – you think a month and a half later, you think I haven’t read the tea leaves and understand what is going on? Especially, a month and a half before that, I talked to Glen Taylor. So, what was there to call me about?

I’m proud of the job I did there, and I always will be proud of it. I’m disappointed in how I was treated. Always disappointed that you weren’t retained and given an opportunity to keep the job, but I understand the business. A lot better coaches than I am have been let go and not retained. So, I understand that.

But in the manner in which it was done, I felt like because of the years I’ve been there, that it could’ve been handled better. But, again, that’s how they chose to handle it.

And Wayne Embry used to tell me this all the time. It’s not what people do to you that’s important. It’s how you handle and bounce back what was done to you. So, that’s the thing that I keep focused on. That’s what I think about. And again, like I said, I’m happy with my life, and I’m happy with the direction that it’s going in.

Keep in mind that Mitchell was asked about this. He answered. I take him at his word that he’s not letting his disagreements with the Timberwolves overtake his life. You can answer questions about a topic when asked without having that topic consume you otherwise.

Should Taylor have fired Mitchell in person? Maybe. Speaking from experience, it’s not fun to report to work just to get fired. It’s a waste of time. Likewise, someone might not want his or her boss showing up to his or her house to fire him. That leaves a phone call. More importantly, it’s up to Taylor. Firing someone in person can be uncomfortable. By being rich enough to own the team, Taylor has given himself the ability to fire people however is most comfortable to him. Mitchell, as he says, just has to deal with that whether he likes it or not.

I’m not sure what Mitchell wanted to hear from Thibodeau for the same reason Mitchell hung up Layden. It’s not easy to hear from your replacement. What’s there to say? Even if he wanted to call, Thibodeau would have had a hard time not sounding as if he’s rubbing the job change in Mitchell’s face.

So, I think Mitchell’s dissatisfaction with Thibodeau and Layden is unfair, but Mitchell is entitled to feel that way. Mitchell’s issue with Taylor seems more reasonable, but again – as Mitchell stated himself – he can’t do anything about it.

With all three – Taylor, Thibodeau and Layden – I’m just not convinced Mitchell would be any more pleased today with more direct communication. Getting fired sucks, no matter how it happens.

51Q: Can Kristaps Porzingis keep up with rapidly rising expectations?

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19:  Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks celebrates his three point shot in the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on February 19, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. 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 Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. Between now and the start of the NBA season we will tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season (we’re taking some weekends off). Today:

Can Kristaps Porzingis keep up with rapidly rising expectations?

Four Knicks starters have played in a combined 39 playoff series.

Yet New York’s most valuable player has never reached the postseason.

The Knicks are mollifying 32-year-old Carmelo Anthony by building on his timeline. In came battle-tested Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah this offseason.

That means 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis must keep up.

Porzingis is no longer a rookie, no longer the reigning No. 4 pick who drew boos and tears on draft night, no longer a player who seemed so unready that Anthony reportedly felt “betrayed” by New York drafting him (though Anthony denied that).

Porzingis is a budding star on a self-described super team/contender. That comes with major expectations.

Can Porzingis meet them?

Re-do the 2015 draft, and Porzingis goes No. 2 behind Karl-Anthony Towns. The Knicks are thrilled they got him at No. 4.

At 7-foot-3, Porzingis can run the floor and shoot 3-pointers. He blocks shots at the rim with his length and hops. His frequent putback dunks reveal his athleticism and basketball intelligence.

There’s no shortage of reasons to be excited about Porzingis’ future.

His present? Even though he was far more NBA ready than expected, there are a couple warts. His outside shot was up and down throughout the season. He’s not strong enough to battle bulkier players in the post.

Those are minor issues for most teams that draft No. 4 then follow it with a 32-50 season. But the Knicks aren’t on the usual timeline.

They’re trying to accelerate their ascent before it’s too late for Anthony. The most-telling example: Giving 31-year-old Joakim Noah a four-year, $72.59 million contract. Porzingis’ best NBA position will eventually be center, if it isn’t already. Now, Noah has that spot locked up for the next four years at a price that will limit New York’s ability to add help at other positions.

Simply, the Knicks aren’t building around Porzingis – a result of the massive age gap between him and Anthony. They’re asking Porzingis to develop quickly, and New York fans have high hopes for their unicorn.

Those are massive expectations, internally and externally.

Porzingis has the talent to meet them. But it might take time this team and this market aren’t willing to give.

Fairly or not, it’s on Porzingis to step up.

Brandon Armstrong recreates Tracy McGrady’s 13 points in 35 seconds (video)


In case the above has you hungry for the real thing:

Shane Larkin says he doesn’t regret opting out of Nets contract despite landing in Spain

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 22:  Shane Larkin #0 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts after missing a shot against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at the Barclays Center on March 22, 2016 in New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Shane Larkin opted out of a contract with the Nets that paid him $1.5 last season and would’ve duplicated that salary this year. Instead of landing in the NBA with a raise, he signed in Spain.

Larkin, in a Q&A with Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype:

You saw a lot of guys opting out of their contract in free agency and it went well for most of them. You did the same, didn’t go so well for you. Any regret?

SL: Not really. The situation in Baskonia is a better situation than Brooklyn knowing that they wanted to go in a different direction. I could have possibly been in a bad situation with the guards they drafted perhaps playing in front of me because the new management might want to see them play. That situation wasn’t ideal. I don’t feel any regret about my decision. Obviously, it’s not all about the money, but I’m playing for more money this year than I did last year and I’m playing in a good situation where I’m going to have a lot of people watching me play and seeing my improvement. I’ll play in a competition where there’s a bunch of talented players. I think there’s 10 guys that were in the Euroleague that signed NBA deals this summer.

Even if Larkin’s base salary is higher – his claim – it’s hard to believe he’ll come out ahead financially. He won’t receive a shortfall check. He won’t earn a year of service, which leads to a higher minimum salary and better healthcare in retirement.

There’s a reason Larkin changed agents during free agency.

As Larkin said, money isn’t everything. But that’s often something said by people who screw up their finances.

Raptors extend president Masai Ujiri’s contract

Masai Ujiri, Dwane Casey
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Galit Rodan

Masai Ujiri’s three years with the Raptors have been the best in franchise history – 48, 49 and 56 wins and Toronto’s deepest playoff run. Part of that is a strong-than-realized roster Ujiri inherited from Bryan Colangelo, but Ujiri has guided the Raptors forward.

So, they want him to stay a while. Like most moves involving Ujiri, Toronto succeeded.

Raptors release:

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have signed President Masai Ujiri to a multi-year contract extension and promoted Jeff Weltman to general manager and Bobby Webster to assistant general manager/vice-president basketball strategy. Ujiri will continue to oversee basketball operations as president of the club.

Ujiri re-signed Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan amid heavy outside interest, lured DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph to Toronto and absolutely fleeced the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani trade. That résumé earned him this extension.

Sorry, Knicks.