Kurt Helin

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 2, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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.

Phoenix Suns make Earl Watson permanent full-time coach


Earl Watson — the Phoenix Suns’ interim coach — gets to keep his job.

Watson was the guy the players wanted and was considered the front-runner, and now multiple reports have him keeping his job. Jude LaCava of Fox 10 in Phoenix was first with the story.

It has since been confirmed by the Suns.

“Earl did a very good job with our team last season after taking over as interim head coach during a challenging time for the organization,” Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said in a statement. “Earl’s natural leadership qualities and his ability to connect with and motivate our players have stood out throughout his time here in Phoenix. We are excited to see what he can do with a healthy roster after having a full offseason to prepare.”

Watson is getting a three-season deal in the big chair, according to multiple reports.

Watson was just 9-24 after taking over mid-season for the fired Jeff Hornacek, but GM Ryan McDonough liked working with Watson and saw real potential. This was a roster that saw turmoil this season — the trading of Marcus Morris, which made his brother Markeiff Morris unhappy, and the two point guard experiment that never clicked — and Watson seemed to settle it down. That is why the players pushed for his return.

Now we’ll see what kind of roster he has to work with around Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler (all of whom are on longer contracts).

Mavericks’ JaVale McGee trolls Thunder after loss. Because he can.

Dallas Mavericks center JaVale McGee sits on the bench during the closing minutes of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 112-83. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Associated Press

Dallas Mavericks big man JaVale McGee had a quality seat for his team’s dramatic win over the Thunder and Steven Adamsjust-too-late putback attempt (McGee was a DNP-CD). ,

After the game, McGee went to the “crying Jordan” meme to rub a little salt in Oklahoma City’s wounds.

Early in Game 3 Thursday we’re going to see if this and Charlie Villanueva’s antics are just tugging on Superman’s cape.

Derrick Rose keeps underdog mentality heading into wild offseason in Chicago

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 07:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during a game against the Miami Heat  at American Airlines Arena on April 7, 2016 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.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Can the Chicago Bulls become Jimmy Butler‘s team if Derrick Rose is still on it?

That question — and the evolution of the team’s roster to fit the style Fred Hoiberg wants to play — promise to make this an interesting and tumultuous offseason in Chicago.

Rose doesn’t want to talk about any of that. He never does. All he would say in an interview with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune is that he will work to get better for next season, and he’ll deal with free agency in the summer of 2017 when his contract is up.

“I’ll think about that when that time comes,” Rose said. “As far as right now, the only thing I can think about is this offseason. I’ve had that mentality ever since my injuries. I learned to deal with reality and live in the moment. I feel I’m doing all I can for this team, myself and my family. And that’s all I can control right now….

“I sometimes feel people forget I’ve endured three surgeries, three rehabs. But even when I was younger, I always had the underdog mentality. People always would put people in front of me. I always had to fight my way to the top.

“In this league, having the success that I had so early and then having the injuries that I had, it kind of put me in the same place. I’m familiar with it. It’s not foreign ground. I’ve been here before and there’s nothing but hard work to get back to the top.”

Rose played 66 games this past season — more than in the three previous seasons combined — and overcame an orbital eye fracture to average 16.4 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 47.9 percent (below the league average) while adding 4.7 assists a night. His shooting numbers were a lot better after the All-Star break, with the facial injury healed and his legs under him he averaged 17.1 points a game and shot 37 percent from three.

He’s still a quality player, but he’s not a franchise player anymore. Three knee surgeries robbed him of the explosive athleticism that set him apart and made him an MVP, a max salary guy that was a fan favorite around the league. Now he’s a good player, not great. The question is fit. Of course, it was hard for anyone in Chicago to find a steady role or fit this season.

The Bulls are expected to see if there is a trade market for him this off-season, but at $21.3 million it will be tough to find a taker even if it is the final year of his contract (and other teams are flush with cap space). Rose likely remains a Bull.

Expect Rose to keep his head down and keep working. (Although, if he does get moved it will be interesting to see what he says on his way out the door.)

Quote of the Day: LeBron is not playing against Stans

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: at the United Center on April 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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“It’s not about me vs. Stan (Van Gundy), me vs. Stanley (Johnson) or me vs. any other Stan.”

LeBron James, talking about the Cavaliers’ first-round series with the Pistons, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Just to be clear, it’s also not about LeBron vs. Stan Lee, Stan Musial, Stan Marsh from South Park, Stan Wawrinka, Stan Laurel, Stan Kubrick, Stan Getz, Stan from the Eminem song, or the Stanley Cup.

Giannis Antetokounmpo talks loving Milwaukee, popularity in Greece

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 25:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks carries the ball against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter at TD Garden on February 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s a good time to be Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jason Kidd and the Bucks found an on-the-court role for him as a point-forward where he thrived at the end of the season. Also, he is eligible for a contract extension to his rookie deal this summer, and that is going to get him PAID — he is a clear max extension player and with that his salary in 2017-18 will jump to roughly $25 million a season (depending on the final salary cap numbers).

Antetokounmpo is not looking to get out of Milwaukee, saying at his exit interview he hoped to play 20 years for the same team like Kobe. He echoed the same sentiment to Jared Zwerling in an interview on the NBPA site.

“I love it, especially I’m not such an outgoing guy. Living here, it makes me more focused with basketball and my family—the two most important things in my life. I love to be here in Milwaukee—a really respectful, a really quiet city, not flashy, not fancy. A lot of fans approach me every day and give me words of wisdom.”

A lot of fans approach players in New York too, but far less rarely with words of wisdom.

Antetokounmpo said he plans to spend this summer working out with his basketball playing brothers — Thanasis (who played in the D-League for the Westchester Knicks and played two games for the Knicks themselves this season) and Kostas (who just finished high school and will play college ball next season).

“This is a really important summer for me, Thanasis and Kostas. We’re going to have our own training camps in Greece, Milwaukee and L.A.—just step away a little bit from everybody and just focus. When [our youngest brother], Alex, is done with school, he’s going to join us.”

The players are famous in Greece, which has had a good national team program for years. It’s something they are still adjusting, too.

“Last summer was pretty crazy. Me and Thanasis were just hanging out at our apartment and tweeted like five hours before that we’re going to be there to just play basketball. I thought there would be like 20, 30 guys, but like 2, 3,000 people came. And camera crews from every Greek channel came.”

The one key takeaway from the article — which you should read — is that Antetokounmpo is grounded. He has his family close, and that’s what matters to him. That and basketball. There’s always a risk giving a max extension to a young player, wondering if and how that kind of money may change him (in terms of focus or work ethic). The Bucks should have no such concerns.

Now they just need to build the right kind of team around them.