Kurt Helin

Magic purchase NBA D-League team, relocates it to Florida


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)  —The Orlando Magic have purchased the NBA Developmental League’s Erie BayHawks and will relocate the team from Pennsylvania to Lakeland, Florida, beginning with the 2017-18 season.

The Magic and the NBA D-League announced the move Wednesday morning in Lakeland. With the purchase and relocation of the team, the Magic becomes the 17th NBA team to own and operate a NBA D-League franchise.

By moving the team 55 miles from downtown Orlando, the Magic will have greater flexibility in getting some of their younger players meaningful playing experience. Rookie center Stephen Zimmerman has spent limited time with the Erie BayHawks this season.

The NBA D-League team will play its 24 home games at The Lake Center and a future practice facility is being planned in Winter Haven, Florida.

David Fizdale, do you see a future in coaching for LeBron James? “No.”


LeBron James isn’t shy about his off-the-court goals — he wants to build his brand and his business empire, and eventually be a billionaire. He already runs with Warren Buffett (in the “having lunch” sense, the Oracle of Omaha doesn’t actually throw on a pair of LeBron 10 lows and get on the court). The grind of NBA coaching is not in his plans.

Which Grizzlies coach David Fizdale says is the right move.

Fizdale, who was the lead assistant coach during LeBron’s time winning rings in Miami, was asked by Dave McMenamin of ESPN if LeBron has a future as an NBA coach.

Although Fizdale considers James “a one-percentile guy when it comes to basketball intelligence,” he doesn’t anticipate the three-time champion following his career path and one day manning an NBA sideline with whiteboard in hand.

“No,” Fizdale said when asked about a potential future in coaching for James. “He would kill somebody. Perfection is like [his standard]. He wants perfection. I could see him actually owning his own team and doing something like that, but I think [as a coach], he would end up killing a player at some point because they wouldn’t live up to the expectations that he would set forth.”

James isn’t alone here. Great players rarely make great coaches (something true in all sports), and with the money players are making today they don’t need that time-consuming a second career if they don’t want it. Kobe Bryant scoffed at the idea of coaching when asked during his final season. On the NBA’s GM survey Chris Paul is consistently mentioned as the player who would make the best coach, but try to ask him about it and he says “no” before you can finish the question.

This phenomenon isn’t new. Jerry West is a Hall of Fame NBA player — he’s the damn Logo — and one of the greatest front office/GM/talent evaluators the league has ever seen. He was frustrated coaching. While his three Laker teams had a winning percentage of .589 and once reached the Western Conference Finals, West was frustrated. He — just like LeBron, Kobe, CP3 — is a perfectionist with impossibly high standards and coaching guys who just didn’t have the physical and mental abilities to live up to those standards drove him to distraction.

LeBron is never going to be an NBA coach.

But owner? I can see that happening.

Russell Westbrook kicked the ball out Damian Lillard’s hands, which started argument


Russell Westbrook can be feisty. And get under the skin of opposing players.

He was a little frustrated as his team was well behind Portland in what would eventually be a Blazers comfortable win, and in the middle of the second quarter he kicked the ball out of Damian Lillard‘s hands.

Terry Stotts had just called a timeout, so the play was dead, meaning no foul or delay of game was called, but Lillard took exception, and the two men had words. The referees escorted the teams to their benches for the timeout, and everyone moved on.

Note to Westbrook, you need to make those soccer passes with the inside of your foot. You just can’t be consistently accurate kicking with the toe.

Report: Timberwolves looking to trade for frontcourt help


Minnesota picked up its biggest win of the season Tuesday night,  going with its coach to his old stomping grounds in Chicago, where the Timberwolves showed the tenacity and grit they have lacked much of the season. They also played strong defense for three quarters, another nice change of pace.

That’s a nice step, but there are still roster issues with the Timberwolves, some of that along the front line. The Timberwolves have a foundational piece in Karl-Anthony Towns, and they recently re-signed Gorgui Dieng, and Tom Thibodeau seems to trust them — but when those bigs are paired on the court this season the Timberwolves have been outscored by two points per 100 possessions because they allow 110.4 points per 100 on defense.

Which has Thibodeau and the Timberwolves looking for front-court help via trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Truehoop Podcast with Rachel Nichols Tuesday.

The questions here are twofold. First, what is Minnesota offering? Let’s assume they are not going to surrender either Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, then what they have left are Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and Cole Aldrich. The Timberwolves also don’t have a first-round pick they can move before 2019, and by then that should be late first rounder with this team on the rise. That’s not much to entice other teams.

Second, who can they get? Expect them to call Sacramento — no, not for DeMarcus Cousins (he wouldn’t fit next to Towns, plus Cousins’ isn’t available anyway), but for maybe Kosta Koufos or Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings will be looking to deal, and those guys will be available. Of course, Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic are available, but neither of them helps on the defensive end (and the Timberwolves can score plenty). One interesting name that becomes available Wednesday: The Lakers’ Luol Deng. It’s a healthy contract to take on, but he had success in the Thibodeau system before, and the Lakers will listen.

Deals are tough to make, but know that the Timberwolves are frustrated and looking to do something to shake up a roster that has been slower to come around than expected.

Dirk Nowitzki admits injuries could force him to retire after this season

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Dirk Nowitzki has played in just five games this season due to a sore Achilles, and in the ones where he’s stepped on the court the future Hall of Famer hasn’t looked at all like himself. Currently, he remains sidelined with no timetable for his return.

At age 38, this has Nowitzki thinking about retirement. He admitted as much to the German magazine Sport Bildvia the Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Yahoo.

“If things don’t go so well and it hurts everywhere, it could be that 2017 will be the end,” the forward told German magazine Sport Bild.

“Actually, my plan is to complete the 20 years and play for Dallas until 2018.

“But just because I have signed a two-year contract doesn’t automatically mean that I will play for two years. It could happen next year.”

Dallas has already started to take a step to a post-Nowitzki world with the signing of Harrison Barnes last summer. Barnes told us in today’s PBT Podcast that Nowitzki is working with him on how to adjust to the plays run for him, and just adjusting to being a No. 1 scoring option.

This summer might be the one where Dallas stops trying to bring in veteran centers (the currently injured Andrew Bogut this year) and building its roster thinking they want to hang on to being a playoff team with Nowitzki longer. Dallas needs a bit of a rebuild, not a Philly style tanking but a down year and a couple of quality drafts. They may get that this year whether they are tanking or not, as they are tied for the worst record in the league.

But the league will not be quite the same without the efficient scoring German. There have been a lot of greats stepping away from the game recently, and he would add to that list.