Kurt Helin

Flip Saunders, Sam Mitchell

Minnesota owner says Sam Mitchell coach, Milt Newton GM for season

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Sam Mitchell deserved another shot as an NBA head coach at some point — he had done a good job building up the Raptors when he was north of the border before, he had paid his dues since.

But this is not how he wanted to get that chance.

With the passing of Flip Saunders on Sunday, Mitchell will coach the team for the season, and Milt Newton will take on an expanded role as general manager, owner Glen Taylor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Sometimes, positives can happen,” Taylor said. “In this particular case, let’s see what these people do, let’s see what their leadership is. Going through difficult times, maybe we’ll see people bloom into what they might not have been otherwise.”

 

The two of them are going to get a season to see if they can grow and develop this talented young roster. This is about the worst way possible to get a year-long job interview, but as Taylor said he wants to see what they can do.

Taylor said the team will wear a patch honoring Saunders on their uniform or warm-ups, although whether those will be approved by the league and in place for opening night remains to be seen. Before the Timberwolves home opener Sunday there will be some remembrance of Saunders, he added.

Newton said there were some brief discussions with the NBA about postponing Wednesday’s road opening for the Timberwolves, but the talks were never serious.

Mavs cut rookie Ndour to get roster set for regular season

Maurice Ndour
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DALLAS (AP) — The Mavericks have waived rookie forward Maurice Ndour to get their roster down to 15 for the regular season.

The 6-foot-9 Ndour signed with Dallas on July 22 and averaged 4.8 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 23 minutes per game in four preseason games. He was a target for the final cut Monday after missing the final three exhibition games with a stress reaction in his left leg.

The Mavericks went with experience in the frontcourt over the young Ndour, who averaged 16 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior last season at Ohio. Dallas kept a third center in JaVale McGee even though the eighth-year player won’t be ready for several weeks because of a leg injury.

Dallas opens at Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Report: Rick Carlisle, Dallas close to contract extension

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Rick Carlisle is as good an NBA tactician as there is. Look at it this way, in the annual GM survey this year, the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich was voted to make the best in-game adjustments and he got 37.9 percent of the vote, Carlisle was second at 31 percent.

Combine that with the facts he’s won a title and owner Mark Cuban is comfortable with him, and you understand why the Dallas Mavericks want to keep him around. The two sides are negotiating a contract extension for Carlisle, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that Carlisle and the Mavericks are nearing an agreement on a five-year extension that will extend Carlisle’s stay in Dallas well beyond a decade….

The coming season is the last on Carlisle’s second four-year contract with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. But the Mavs’ desire to keep him in place with another long-term deal has been an open secret around the league, with president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson memorably announcing in April that he and Mavs owner Mark Cuban regard Carlisle as “our Jerry Sloan.”

 

Expect this deal to get done relatively soon (although they have no timetable and no pressure, Carlisle isn’t looking to move on).

It also means that Carlisle will not be under any “win now” pressure this season with a Mavericks’ roster that could compete for one of the bottom playoff seeds in the West but has a lot of questions to answer. As usual, I expect he’ll get as much out of this roster as any coach could, but that may not be enough in the West.

Thabo Sefolosha makes it official, will sue NYPD over injuries

Thabo Sefolosha
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Last April, Hawks’ swingman Thabo Sefolosha had a late-night run-in with the New York Police Department outside a Chelsea Club on the night Chris Copeland was stabbed outside said club. Sefolosha was arrested for misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest — but in the process of the arrest suffered a broken leg that kept him out of the playoffs last season.

Rather than accept a “let’s just make this go away” plea deal Sefolosha fought the charges in court and won.

As expected, Sefolosha confirmed will now sue the City of New York and the NYPD over the injuries, something he confirmed to ESPN Monday.

In an interview Monday with ESPN’s Hannah Storm, Sefolosha said he hasn’t fully healed from the injuries, which also included severe ligament damage.

“There’s a lot of unknown about how this will affect me two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now,” Sefolosha said. “Also because I think it’s the right approach to put lights in a situation like this and to … fight back in a legal way and in a way that can empower, hopefully, more people.”

In his previously filed “notice of claim” (a precursor to a lawsuit against a municipality) he said he would ask for $50 million. What makes Sefolosha a dangerous defendant is that he is not just going to settle for some quick cash, he’s already wealthy, he’s doing this on principle.

However, to receive a large award he will need to show some permanent damage, and plays like this from the preseason are not going to help his cause.

In case you’re curious, Sefolosha and the Hawks will be back in New York to take on the Knicks this Thursday.

Russell Westbrook’s new “Powerstance” Mountain Dew ad is… powerful?

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You know Mountain Dew would love for this “powerstance” to be the next Tebowing. Or planking. Or owling. Or whatever comes after that.

Not sure about that, but Russell Westbrook is pretty awesome in this ad. And he would totally wear that suit.