Author: Dan Feldman

2015 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability

Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams expects Steve Kerr back in few days

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr took an indefinite leave of absence – which is pretty scary length to hear without knowing more.

But Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams provides reassurance about Kerr’s back troubles.

Adams, as transcribed by Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group:

“Quite frankly, he’s doing pretty well, but he’s having some headaches and some things like that that are dissipating slowly,” Adams told Sirius XM on Friday. “But I anticipate him back in the next few days, so I don’t think this is going to be a very long time period.”

The Warriors’ first preseason game is Monday in San Jose. It sounds like Kerr might relieve interim head coach Luke Walton by then.

If not, it’d be good experience for Walton. Kerr, if he’s on the fence, might wait an extra day for that reason.

Either way, Kerr should return well before the serious coaching begins.

51Q: How much will a roster that fits Stan Van Gundy boost the Pistons?

Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards
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Greg Monroe was the No. 7 pick. He has averaged 14.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in his career. When he became a free agent this summer, he signed a max contract with the Bucks – and his agent claims multiple teams offered a max deal.

Anthony Tolliver went undrafted. He has averaged 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in his career. When he became a free agent the previous summer, he signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Suns – and they wanted to dump him a few months later.

Monroe is better than Tolliver.

Nearly nobody would dispute that.

But when Pistons franchise player Andre Drummond played with Tolliver at power forward as opposed to Monroe, Detroit fared much better. Here are the ratings (offensive/defensive/net) for each combination:

  • Monroe-Drummond: 102.7/104.4/-1.7
  • Tolliver-Drummond: 110.3/105.3/+5.0

Essentially, the Pistons went from a middling offense to better than the league-best Clippers. That was more than enough to offset a slight defensive dip and make Detroit look more like a high-50-win team than the 32-win outfit they were.

This season, the Pistons – despite losing Monroe – have a chance to overcome that talent downgrade with a better-fitting roster.

President/coach Stan Van Gundy was brought in to maximize Drummond the same way he helped develop Dwight Howard with the Magic. In Orlando, that meant spreading the floor around Howard – especially playing Rashard Lewis at power forward.

But spacing didn’t come so easy in Van Gundy’s first year in Detroit. He jammed Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith into the starting front court before waiving Smith in December. Even then, Van Gundy had a difficult time using Monroe and Drummond together. It’s not the most natural pairing, but the talented players could have performed better together.

Now, that discussion is left to the past. Van Gundy has his players, including Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova, absorbed into cap space with the Pistons knowing Monroe would leave, is a legitimate NBA starting power forward with range outside the arc. No longer must Detroit rely on Tolliver when it wants to go small.

Tolliver will still play off the bench, and Marcus Morris – also acquired in a salary dump – could also see minutes as a stretch four. But Morris’ primary role will be starting at small forward, where he replaces stop gaps Caron Butler and Tayshaun Prince. The Pistons practically punted the position once they traded Kyle Singler at midseason. So, Morris is a fairly big upgrade.

Van Gundy also has Stanley Johnson, the No. 8 pick who has drawn rave reviews from his new coach. It seems inevitable he’ll overtake Morris for the starting job at some point.

And then there’s Reggie Jackson, hand-picked by Van Gundy as Detroit’s starting point guard. The Pistons rewarded Jackson this summer with the richest contract in team history.

They’re trying to find the right players around Drummond, and Van Gundy clearly thinks the formula starts with Jackson and a stretch four. Ilyasova is an upgrade at power forward, and Morris, Johnson Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks are good enough on the wing for now. Johnson will improve, and the Pistons will try again in free agency next summer after striking out this year and having to resort to salary dumps.

Other teams are more talented, but Van Gundy should know how to coach this one. Given his track record of success, that might be enough to push the Pistons into the playoffs.

Former Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey joining NBA as adviser

Senate Armed Services Hearing on Iran/JCPOA
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NEW YORK (AP) Gen. Martin Dempsey, the recently retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was appointed special adviser to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Friday.

Dempsey, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer the past four years, will participate in NBA functions and serve as chairman of the newly formed Jr. NBA Leadership Council. His position begins Jan. 1.

Silver called him “one of our country’s most respected leaders, as well as a brilliant strategist.”

“General Dempsey’s unwavering commitment to a life of service reflects the values that we strive to embody as an organization, and I am delighted he will continue his work with the league,” the commissioner said in a statement.

Dempsey worked closely with the NBA through the league’s Hoops for Troops program, which conducted basketball clinics and health seminars on military bases throughout the country. He said basketball has always been a favorite sport in his family and he’s “seen firsthand how it can bring people together.”

“After four decades of service in the United States armed forces, I look forward to working with the league to help improve communities and positively impact the children of civilian and military families,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey will take part in the NBA’s overseas exhibition games and its All-Star weekend, and participate in some league meetings. The leadership council he will chair will aid the NBA’s efforts to engage 5 million youth over the next two years through basketball organizations, live events and interactive experiences.

Dempsey joined U.S. men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, a fellow graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo in August on a leadership panel at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. He participated in other league and USA Basketball activities during his time as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, which ended late last month.