Kurt Helin

Report: Most Cavaliers assistant coaches still without contracts for next season

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Usually, when a team wins a ring, coaches and front office staff get more than a replica ring — they get job security. Longer deals, usually for a little extra scratch. They’ve earned it.

But that’s not what’s going on in Cleveland, according to the very-well sourced Chris Haynes (formerly of Cleveland.com but headed to ESPN this year). He posted the information in a Facebook video.

Haynes said that four of Tyronn Lue’s assistants — Phil Handy, Damon Jones, Jim Boylan, and James Posey — don’t have contracts and worked Summer League without pay. While the team did pick up the contract option of Larry Drew, that was a deal from when he was third down the bench, now he’s the associate head coach.

Lue is very frustrated, according to Haynes. He says that things have gotten to the “point of hostility.” Technically those coaches are free agents who could jump at other jobs. Lue was taken care of with an extension, but his lieutenants have been left hanging for months.

Lue should be pissed. When you win, you take care of people. That apparently has not happened. It doesn’t put the Cavs front office in a good light.

The issue likely will get taken care of in the next couple of weeks, and when training camp opens everyone will say all the right things about it not being and issue and this being behind them. It is a matter which by the start of the season should long be forgotten.

But it’s an odd way to begin the defense of a title.

51 Questions: How will Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler coexist?

Associated Press
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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:

How will Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler coexist?

Usually, when a team adds a player the caliber of Dwyane Wade — three titles, Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star — the first thought is “good move.” This is a guy who averaged 19 points a game last season, is dangerous with the ball in his hands, cuts well off the ball, and showed in the playoffs that he can still dial it up for a stretch and take over games.

But when the Bulls brought him in, along with Rajon Rondo, the reaction around the league looked more like Seth and Amy saying “Really!?!”

The Bulls had finally made the right move — they traded Derrick Rose, let Joakim Noah walk, and moved on from the teams crafted for the Tom Thibodeau era. The Bulls were Jimmy Butler’s team, and they could go out and get players that fit the up-tempo, selflessly share-the-ball style Fred Hoiberg wants to play.

Which is why Wade and Rondo had people saying “really?”

How is this anything but treading water? Given the chance to rebuild and think strategically, the Bulls front office went for a quick fix move that isn’t really a fix.

It’s fair to ask how Rondo, Wade, and Butler can coexist on a playoff team?

Butler, Wade, and Rondo are three guys who work best with the ball in their hands slashing to the rim. Three guys doing the same thing is defendable. Plus, NBA rules still allow just one ball on the court at a time.

Even more concerning, in a league where every team is clamoring for more shooting, more floor spacing, the Bulls core guys now are not dangerous threats from three. Rondo, Wade, and Butler combined to make 133 three-pointers last season — an aging Kobe Bryant made that many by himself (in just 66 games). C.J. Miles made more by himself. Rondo was the most accurate of the three at 36.5 percent, and if he lines up beyond the arc this season, opponents will give him the shot.

It’s not hard to imagine a defensive strategy against the Bulls: Pack the paint, clog driving lanes, go under picks, and if anyone except Nikola Mirotic wants to shoot the three don’t run them off the line.

And we haven’t even gotten to the defensive end of the court. Rondo and Wade are not near their vintage selves on that end, key contributors like Mirotic and Doug McDermott struggle to get stops, and Robin Lopez is solid as a backstop but can only clean up so many messes.

All that said, we may be overestimating the issues with the Bulls. Somewhat. Maybe.

If the Bulls can do what Fred Hoiberg wants and get out and run — get offense before the defense sets — the slashing skills of Wade/Butler/Rondo can be put to good use. Have them slash, have Moritic and McDermott run to the arc, and you have a fairly dangerous offense.

The problem is last year’s Bulls were not built for that, and in this “rebuild” I’m not sure the Gar/Pax front office solved that problem. The Bulls didn’t get much more athletic.

The Bulls have talent on the roster — Butler spent his summer winning a gold medal in Rio, Wade can still get a team buckets, and there is depth with Lopez, Mirotic (who should have a big season), Taj Gibson (unless he’s traded), Tony Snell, McDermott, Bobby Portis, and rookie Denzel Valentine (maybe the player most ready to step in and contribute in the last draft).

The good news for the Bulls is in the NBA, talent wins out most nights.

If Hoiberg can stagger the minutes of his three big names and get more shooting on the floor, if he can find some balanced lineups, the Bulls are going to put up points. We also forget, Wade is a crafty player off the ball who makes smart cuts and will get some buckets that way. There is potential.

There are also many questions. Can player-friendly Hoiberg get enough buy in with his system? Is there a system that Rondo hasn’t pushed back against? Will Rondo stat hunt at the expense of the team? Will the ball move, or will it stick when Wade or Rondo get it and decide to pound it and survey the floor for five-plus seconds? Will set defenses just play back, take away driving lanes, and force the Bulls’ three big names to shoot jumpers? How healthy will Wade’s knees stay, and how what will the Bulls’ Wade maintenance program look like? If the Bulls are scoring, can they get enough stops for it to matter?

Rondo, Wade, and Butler can coexist — these are three competitive guys, two of whom have rings and one who is willing to learn — but not in a “this team can put a scare in the Cavaliers” kind of way. More in a “with those three guys the Bulls could beat out enough of the Miami/Atlanta/Charlotte/Washington kind of teams to make the playoffs” kind of way. Maybe. If the Bulls come together for Hoiberg.

But is that the way that Gar/Pax wanted to rebuild around Butler? Really!?!

 

 

Grizzlies’ new coach David Fizdale didn’t want to take over rebuilding team

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Most coaches take over a team that struggled the season (or seasons) before, often because said team didn’t have much talent on the roster. These are rebuilding projects that are going to take years, and likely involve more losing (although ideally with a few more wins each year).

Not David Fizdale. He has been a hot assistant coach expected to step into the big chair somewhere for years and he finally is getting his chance in Memphis. That would be the Grizzlies with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Chandler Parsons. A team that made the playoffs last season (despite Gasol being injured the second half of the season) and won 50 or more games the three seasons before that.

Fizdale wanted it this way, he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

“That was the only way I wanted it, to be honest with you,” Fizdale said. “I didn’t want to take over a restart. I’m not afraid to coach guys. But I am going to coach them to win and I am going to hold them to a high standard. I was OK with that. If I don’t have any other strength, I’m pretty good at building relationships. I don’t know if people were looking at that Memphis job the way it should have been looked at. A lot of guys in my situation very rarely get a situation with this many proven players.

“I saw an opportunity to take a team from being good to great. If I could have any situation, that was the one I wanted.”

Fizdale takes over for Dave Joerger, who was ready to move on (and is taking over a rebuilding project in Sacramento). But Joerger also can coach. Fizdale has his work cut out for him to lift this team up from good to great (Gasol and Parsons staying healthy would help).

But for a guy that came out of Miami, where that was the job up until a couple of years ago, maybe this is the best fit. It’s just good to see Fizdale — a guy who didn’t play in the league, a guy who earned his way up from the video room — get a chance. Him doing well might clear the way for other guys in those shoes.

Another report that no, the Cavaliers have no intention of trading Kevin Love

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One would think that winning a title would mean a summer off from blockbuster, time to blow up this roster rumors.

Not for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Despite the forces of logic and repeated denials, there have been rumors floating all summer about the Cavaliers trading Kevin Love. Those rumors are unfounded. Another report along those lines has surfaced via Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Once again, there are some silly trade rumors. I’ve been told since the middle of last season the Cavs have no intention of trading Love. And the same is true after the title.

Had the Cavs collapsed in the playoffs, certainly a trade of Love or almost anyone not named LeBron James would have been possible. But the goal for General Manager David Griffin has been to “bring back the band,” as he’s called it several times. Love is not going anywhere as the training camp looms late in September.

Yes, Love had his struggles matching up with the Warriors in the Finals. However, he was out there on the court in key moments — and was making huge defensive plays.

This is a guy who averaged 16 points and 9.9 rebounds a game, plus stretches the floor with his shooting and is a gifted passer. Trade Love and the Cavaliers do not get equal value back. They get worse. They just won an NBA title, so why exactly would they do this? The GM wants to keep the core together, and it’s hard to blame him.

Logic has little to do with trade rumors, but this one is particularly ill-conceived. Hopefully it dies soon.

Stephen Curry says he doesn’t need to change his game with Durant on board

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There is going to be an adjustment period as Kevin Durant works to fit in with the Golden State Warriors. They know it. With all the roster changes Golden State had to make to get Durant — goodbye Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli — this is like putting a new team together.

But Stephen Curry doesn’t believe he is going to have to change his game to fit Durant in, as he told Darren Rovell of ESPN.

After Durant signed with the Warriors, Thompson insisted that he wasn’t changing his game to accommodate the team’s newest addition. Curry says he won’t either, which won’t be a surprise to Durant.

“It won’t change at all,” Curry said. “That’s the reason KD joined — knowing we weren’t going to sacrifice anything, that we all have to be ourselves to make things work. There will be some adjustments when it comes to the in-game flow and how we work together, but for us to be who we’re supposed to be, we all have to kind of elevate ourselves.”

Define change your game.

Curry is right in that he’s still going to be a playmaker with the ball in his hands, shoot threes, and the Warriors will work to keep the same style of play.

But there will be sacrifices. Durant is a playmaker too, he will have the ball in his hands at critical points as well. There will be fewer shots and fewer points for Curry, as well as for Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. You can define that as a sacrifice and not changing his game, but it’s certainly going to be an adjustment.

All those adjustments could mean a slower than expected start for the Warriors. However, the team that figures things out and plays after the All-Star break will be fierce.