Kurt Helin

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One

Monty Williams with classy interview after being fired


Every time I’ve been fired from a job, I’ve been a little salty afterwards. Not always a little.

Monty Williams was nothing but class.

He was fired Tuesday morning. Later that day WDSU News spoke with Williams at his home, and that is as classy an interview as you will ever see. I tip my cap, not sure I could have done that.

Here is Williams’ official statement:

“I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Benson and Mickey for this unique opportunity I’ve had. My focus today is to appreciate the great journey over the last few years to be the head coach of this team. New Orleans is a special city with very special fans. I appreciate all the support that my family has received from all the great people and organizations we have been affiliated with throughout the area over the years. I need to thank my coaches and players because we take pride in our accomplishments as a group in progressing in the right direction and making the playoffs through the challenges of a long season. I’ll always be grateful for the relationships and thankful that our players always gave everything we asked of them on the court. I only wish the best for this team to continue taking strides forward and providing success to this special city.”

Williams is very well respected around the league — he was on the Team USA coaching staff for a reason last summer — and he will land on his feet. He will have multiple teams looking for him to be a lead assistant next season, and he will get another shot in the big chair at some point.

This interview will be part of the reason.

Bulls’ Pau Gasol officially out for Game 5


As it has been for a couple games, the interior offense that Pau Gasol provides will be absent from the Chicago Bulls lineup.

His hamstring strain remains an issue that will keep him on the bench. This is not a surprise after he barely took part in shootaround, but coach Tom Thibodeau made it official pregame. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

This is not all bad for the Bulls — when Gasol was on the court this series the Bulls defense was -9.7 points per 100 possessions. He’s not a good matchup much of the time against the Cavaliers, but Thibodeau leaned on him.

If the Bulls play more Nikola Mirotic — particularly paired with Taj Gibson — they will be better off.

Gasol reportedly is improving and could be back before this series ends.

PBT Extra: Should John Wall play in Game 5?

John Wall

Like so many decisions in life, it’s risk vs. reward.

The rewards for the Wizards if John Wall can play are obvious. If he can be anywhere near his usual self they can certainly beat these Hawks, then they could challenge Chicago or Cleveland.

But the risk —what happens when he gets raked across the hand driving to the basket? How much worse can his five non-displaced fractures get?

That’s what Julie Donaldson and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. If I’m the Wizards, I’m not sure I do it, but it really depends on what the doctors say. We know Wall wants to play.

PBT Extra: Monty Williams is out in New Orleans, who replaces him?

San Antonio Spurs v New Orleans Pelicans

Maybe it’s not fair to Monty Williams.

The Pelicans got better each year he was there. They made the playoffs this year. He had a built a strong relationship with Anthony Davis and helped develop him into one of the NBA’s top players.

Yet Williams was fired on Tuesday.

If Williams is out, look for the Pelicans to go defense first — a team with Davis and Omer Asik in the paint shouldn’t be 22nd in the league in defensive efficiency.

Tom Thibodeau is the first name that comes up if you ask around the league, but the Pelicans would have to wait and see how things play out in Chicago. Then they would need to open up the checkbook. But this is the best fit (and the buzz is Thibs would be open to it, he developed a relationship with Davis on Team USA last summer).

If not, expect guys like Mike Malone and Scott Brooks to be among those who get a look.


John Wall dribbles with injured left hand, to see doctor, status for Game 5 unclear

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards - Game Three


John Wall desperately wants back on the court for the Wizards, who are tied up 2-2 with the Atlanta Hawks heading into a Game 5 Wednesday night. The Wizards desperately need him back after the Hawks started to sort of look like the old Hawks again in Game 4.

But Wall still has five non-displaced fractures in his left hand. Five. Do you want to roll out your franchise cornerstone player with five fractures in his hand?

Wall dribbled with that injured left hand at practice Tuesday and will now talk to a doctor, reports friend of this blog Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com.

“He’s moving in the right direction,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall. “The swelling is down again. Minimal swelling. He wanted to dribble the ball a little bit. Get the feel of it here. That’s kind of what he did today.”

By dribble Wittman means just that. No scrimmages or full practice participation; the Wizards watched film together and primarily held a walkthrough. Sporting a light bandage on his left hand, Wall was shooting free throws with his right hand with reporters present during the final minutes of practice….

Wittman said Wall will have the injury reexamined by a team doctor either Tuesday or Wednesday.

It’s got to be tempting for Washington to try and bring him back. They are tied with a beatable Hawks team, a squad they very well may beat with Wall. Beyond that will be a banged-up Cavaliers team or a Bulls team struggling to best a banged-up Cleveland team. The Wizards can see the path.

But you can be sure the first time Wall steps on the court in a playoff game and goes after a loose ball or drives the lane, that left hand is going to get smacked. Hard. And the question isn’t just pain tolerance for Wall, it’s how much worse can the injury get? Could some hard contact lead to a displacement, one that requires surgery? Something where recovery bleeds into next season? If you’re Washington, you can’t mess with the long-term future of your best player.

There are a lot of hard questions to answer for the Wizards in the next couple days.