Kurt Helin

during the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 10, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Warriors defeated the Suns 112-104. 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.
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Report: Suns coaching search wide open; interim coach Earl Watson may be man to beat


The rumors have started: Thursday came the report that the Phoenix Suns have their eye on Villanova coach Jay Wright to take over the head job.

That’s probably true, in the “let’s reach out to him and see if there is any mutual interest/fit and go from there” kind of way (Wright has said he’s not interested, but don’t think he won’t leverage NBA interest into a larger contract). But the reality is the Suns’ coaching search is wide open, and the current front-runner — and player favorite — may be interim coach Earl Watson.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Many insiders believe Wright will stay with his roots and that he would be a pricey pursuit for a NBA team, perhaps helping his leverage at Villanova.

The Suns are preparing a coaching search, which could include current and former NBA coaches. Many also feel that Suns interim head coach Earl Watson is very much in the running to return at the helm.

Watson and GM Ryan McDonough have a good relationship, which is a good thing if you believe that McDonough is safe in his role.

The Suns should roll the dice on a top assistant with promise (there are more than a few out there). This is not a team/market/owner that will attract a Tom Thibodeau or Scott Brooks, but someone had to roll their dice on those guys the first time, and the Suns can be that kind of team. Maybe Earl Watson is that guy. But they need to think player development and a guy who can work with the GM in a holistic way.

We’ll see what they do once the season ends.

Report: Nerlens Noel sued for allegedly trashing rental home

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There’s a reason some landlords are hesitant to rent to college-age men. Because, well, have you ever seen the inside of a fraternity house?

Beware even if those renters are professional basketball players with plenty of cash.

Sixers big man Nerlens Noel is being sued for damaged by a former landlord — and by damages we mean a tornado may have done less damage than the lawsuit alleges. From TMZ ( hat tip CSNPhilly.com):

The 21-year-old Philadelphia 76ers star rented a 4,800 square foot home outside of Philly back in September 2014 — paying $54,000 for a 1 year lease. But he not only trashed the place and left weed throughout the home … he also allegedly threatened the owners after he moved out.

What exactly is alleged?

— “Splashed neon colored sports drinks (such as Gatorade) on the carpets throughout the home.”
— $30,000 in other damage to carpets
— Extreme water damage throughout the home
— Clogged toilets filled with cotton balls and feces
— Broken elevator
— $4,000 in damage to the stove
— damage to the fridge
— damage to the blinds
— damage to dishwasher
— torn window screens

Just as a homeowner, how do you do $4,000 damage to a stove? Use a sledgehammer? Must have been a heck of a stove.

The suit is asking for $75,000 in repairs, including getting rid of the tombstone with “RIP” spray painted on it that the owners allege was left by Noel. TMZ has pictures if you’re curious.

The Sixers’ response?

This sounds like something that gets settled quickly but not before it ends up costing far more in attorney fees than it should.

Agent says Ben Simmons will not play for Australia in Rio Olympics

,FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2015, file photo, LSU's Ben Simmons looks to pass against the College of Charleston during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.  As the Southeastern Conference heads  into league competition, it remains tough to figure which teams stand as defending champion Kentucky’s biggest competition. Simmons ranks second nationally in rebounding (13.0) and fourth in the SEC in scoring (19.3).  (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

The Australians are expected to send plenty of players we know to Rio as they chase a medal at the Olympics: Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum (if healthy), and Aron Baynes.

Just don’t expect Ben Simmons to be part of that group.

The projected top pick in the upcoming June draft (although he could fall to second) out of LSU would play key minutes in Rio — if not start — but his agent Rich Paul told Chris Broussard of ESPN the young star is not going to Brazil.

It’s probably the smart move, Simmons has a lot of work do to become NBA ready, particularly on his jumper. He can get some run at Summer League with whatever team drafts him, but those teams will want to get him to work on conditioning programs, reworking that jumper, and defensive positioning, not waiting for him to get back from Brazil.

Expect to see him in Tokyo in 2020. By then he will be trying to promote his brand, and hopefully be making his mark in the league.

Report: Don’t expect Pau Gasol back with Bulls next season


If you’ve been following the Bulls closely all season, this report isn’t a surprise so much as a confirmation.

While both sides are saying the polite things about wanting to talk to each other this summer, there is little chance that Pau Gasol will be back with the Chicago Bulls next season. Gasol can opt out of the last year of his contract and is expected to do just that. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has the latest report.

The Gasol issue was mostly about fit, specifically on the defensive end. Joakim Noah, for all his flaws and injuries, could still defend fairly well, but he was slow. He didn’t pair well with Gasol, and since Fred Hoiberg was going to start Gasol no matter what (so it seemed) that put Noah on the bench. Where he was unhappy — he also is likely gone as a free agent. A starting lineup of Nikola Mirotic and Noah, with Taj Gibson and Gasol off the bench, might have been the call. However, getting everyone to agree to that would have been the real miracle, and injuries would have made it difficult.

Even at age 36 (which he will be next season) there will be suitors for Gasol because he can put up numbers (although he might be better suited for a sixth man role at this point, something he doesn’t want).

Expect a radically different Bulls roster next season built around Jimmy Butler. That may mean Derrick Rose is on his way out as well, if the Bulls can find the right trade. Either way, expect major shakeups.

Patrick Ewing on Knicks coaching job: “This is a great fit for me”

Former New York Knicks player Patrick Ewing waves to fans during the first half of an NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Patrick Ewing is a big name. He’s also a long time NBA assistant coach who has yet to land a head coaching job. While a number of people he has worked for — including his current head coach Steve Clifford in Charlotte — have touted Ewing, some around the league have him typecast as a big man coach. Ewing is not a big self-promoter, which doesn’t help. Finally, there are rumors that has not had great interviews the couple times he did get a shot (but as anyone who has had a job interview knows, that can take some practice to get good at).

Ewing deserves a shot.

He’d love that shot with the New York Knicks if they make a change, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“You know, this is a great fit for me. I have my number up there (in the Garden rafters). I still live in the area,” Ewing said. “If I get an opportunity for an interview I’d be happy.”

The marketing department in Madison Square Garden would love Ewing to get the job.

However, Phil Jackson and the Knicks were not calling Ewing a couple of years ago when Derek Fisher was hired, and they likely will not call Ewing now. Why? Because he’s not a triangle guy. And Jackson appears wed to proving that the triangle can still thrive in today’s NBA (and prove he’s the smartest guy in the room doing so). That’s why Jackson seriously considering keeping Kurt Rambis in the job, and why you hear names like Brian Shaw getting recycled.

But Jackson needs to think out of his box (or triangle, as it were). Ewing deserves an interview and a serious look. And if not the Knicks, another team should take a long look.