Dan Feldman

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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

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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:

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

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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.

Report: Cavaliers waive Larry Sanders after he missed team bus

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After a heartwarming debut with the Cavaliers, they cut Larry Sanders only a month into his tenure.

Why?

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, via Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

Now Sanders is gone again after he struggled keeping up with responsibilities on and off the court. He missed the team bus from the hotel to the airport Tuesday in Miami, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic, the final blow to his time here after Sanders had previously struggled with punctuality.

“He didn’t have any kind of a setback relative to any of the demons he had or any of those things,” Cavs general manager David Griffin said. “He’s an NBA player. He’s kind of flaky. So sometimes you’re late. You’re this. You’re that. None of those things were incidents. But I have to take you in totality as a player and if I know you’re not going to play, then what I’m going to get is everything else. And if I didn’t even feel confident that he’d be a benefit to the group in practice, then it was hard for me to tell coaches, ‘This is a guy you’ve got to keep.’ So they had the conversation on the plane, what else can we do? And we talked about it and we landed and we talked to all the rest of our staff and made a decision.”

“I didn’t think it was going to take him so long to be contributing at least at practice,” Griffin said. “He was much further away than we thought. And by his own admission. He would tell you he was. He knew he was. I think that was a big part of it.”

There had been long questions of whether Sanders could handle an NBA lifestyle. If he couldn’t focus for a championship contender, in what environment would he thrive?

It’s been four years since his last quality season, and he’s 28.

This could end Sanders’ NBA career.