Kurt Helin

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson congratulates Warriors, doesn’t mention three pointers

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Knicks’ Grand Poobah Phil Jackson did the classy thing Thursday, congratulating the Golden State Warriors on winning the NBA championship.

Steve Kerr is of course mentioned because he was a player for Jackson back with the Chicago Bulls back in the Jordan era.

Of course, the Warriors won the title with a historic playoff barrage of three-point shots, which should answer Jackson’s last question.

(For the record, Jackson’s point was that that you needed penetration to open up the three, you shouldn’t just gun from the arc. Which is, of course, correct. But to suggest that’s what analytics calls for shows a shallow grasp of the concepts. The point is to value the three because of the benefits it provides. The best teams in the playoffs like the Warriors and Rockets (and the Spurs a year ago, and the Heat before that) don’t hunt threes, they value them and make them a priority, but they fit in with what are basic basketball principles. I think Jackson realizes that, but he can be a cranky old man at times.)

Draymond Green celebrates title with one massive bottle of champagne

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If you’ve put up a triple-double in an NBA championship deciding game, you deserve to celebrate with a 15-litre bottle of champagne.

So you go, Draymond Green.

David Lee and Festus Ezeli also were in on this, I mean you can’t expect Green to finish that by himself.

This may be becoming a thing, Dirk Nowitzki was doing this back in 2011.

(Hat tip to the fantastic Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie.)

Report: Clippers are “exploring” going after Paul Pierce. If he opts out.

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
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The Clippers feel they need some roster upgrades — at the three and in terms of depth — if they are going to take the final step to compete for an NBA title with the core of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan. (They need to keep Jordan this summer, too.)

Team president Doc Rivers added Lance Stephenson via trade, but it’s bad news if Stephenson is starting. The Clips want to land another starting three this summer.

Like maybe Paul Pierce? That long-standing rumor still has legs, as reported most recently by Arash Markazi of ESPN.

One of the options the Clippers are exploring, according to sources, is Paul Pierce, who could sign a mini-midlevel exception of $3.37 million for up to three years if he declines his $5.5 million player option with Washington. Players don’t normally turn down money but it’s essentially a $1 million difference this season for Pierce, 37, to return home and be reunited with Rivers, who was his coach in Boston for nine seasons, including the 2007-08 championship.

The Clippers are also exploring trade options for Jamal Crawford, according to sources, and one possibility is trading Crawford and C.J. Wilcox, the team’s 2014 first round pick, to the Denver Nuggets for Wilson Chandler. The Clippers inquired about Chandler last season but nothing materialized.

Denver certainly is trying to shake up its roster and Chandler is a name that has been rumored to be on the move.

But the Pierce rumor has had long legs. He reportedly wanted to come to Los Angeles last summer, but Rivers used his full mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes — who was just shipped out in the Stephenson deal. Will Doc Rivers get a do-over on last summer’s mistake?

Pierce may choose not to leave Washington — he liked the young team, and in the East it is an easier path to the Finals than in the deep West.

But if he bolts, he may head back to his home in L.A., for one more run at a ring with his favorite coach.

Does LeBron James respect David Blatt? Actions suggest no, but Blatt says he’ll be back.

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four
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In Europe, the coach of the basketball team has all the power (much like college coaches here in the United States).

In the NBA, the power rests with star players.

In Cleveland, all of it rests with LeBron James — and he used that power to disrespect head coach David Blatt. Oh, verbally LeBron often supported his coach. But actions speak louder than words, and there were obvious and public instances of LeBron disrespecting his coach over the course of the season and through the playoffs.

That included in the Finals, as detailed by Marc Stein of ESPN.

LeBron essentially calling timeouts and making substitutions. LeBron openly barking at Blatt after decisions he didn’t like. LeBron huddling frequently with Lue and so often looking at anyone other than Blatt.

There was LeBron, in one instance I witnessed from right behind the bench, shaking his head vociferously in protest after one play Blatt drew up in the third quarter of Game 5, amounting to the loudest nonverbal scolding you could imagine. Which forced Blatt, in front of his whole team, to wipe the board clean and draw up something else.

That stirred up new “would Blatt be back?” talk. Chris Haynes asked Blatt that question.

I expect he will be. LeBron could have him fired if he wanted, and Tyronn Lue is his guy, but it is not LeBron’s style to get that kind of blood on his hands. And if Blatt is fired, it is all about LeBron.

LeBron may have decided he can live with Blatt at the helm. There is support for Blatt in the organization.

Blatt is a highly respected offensive mind and was hired to help build up a young team and get them to play selfless ball (ala Golden State). Then LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland. That changed the dynamic (from rebuilding to contender) and the power structure in one move. Blatt struggled to adapt to that, still trying to put in an offense that LeBron, Kyrie Irving and other players didn’t like.

And Blatt made his share of mistakes (he doesn’t like to be called a rookie coach, but he had a lot to learn about how the NBA game worked). There was the famed almost timeout call, or having LeBron as the in-bounder on a late-game out of bounds play (something LeBron overruled).

But if LeBron disrespects his coach and his teammates see it, that door swings wide open. And it’s hard to get players to buy in if the star isn’t on board.

Expect Blatt to be back on the Cavaliers sideline next season. But just don’t equate that with respect from LeBron.

Hornets GM on draft day trades around league: Expect a “decent amount of movement”

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It’s not just the Knicks considering moving the No. 4 pick, or Denver looking to move Ty Lawson for a pick (and you can get Kenneth Faried too, if you want).

There’s a sense around the league that when on NBA Draft night in one week (June 25), there could be a lot of trades and player movement taking place. We’ve heard that before — both before the draft and the trade deadline — only to have the status quo reign, but the sense is there will be movement this time.

It’s not just me hearing this around the league, here is what Charlotte Hornets GM Rich Cho said at a press conference Thursday (thanks to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer).

Teams are talking right now, but it is mostly a feeling out process at this point.

Cho has already been busy, sending Lance Stephenson to the Clippers for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes. Barnes is expected to walk as a free agent, but the Hornets are looking to add shooting this summer and Hawes should be able to provide that (despite his down season in Los Angeles).

This year’s draft night could be very interesting. A lot of it could start with Latvian big man KristapsPorzingis, who a number of scouts and some GMs are very high on. If he falls past the Sixers with the No. 3pick and the Knicks are willing to move their No. 4 pick… you get the idea. But no matter how that plays out (lots of buzz Sixers GM Hinkie likes Porzingis), expect trades and some interesting moves on draft night.