Kurt Helin


It’s official: Scott Skiles hired as head coach of Orlando Magic


We told you it was coming, now it is official:

Scott Skiles is the next head coach of the Orlando Magic.

“Scott (Skiles) clearly distinguished himself as a tremendous fit,” Magic GM Rob Hennigan said in a released statement. “Our young roster will benefit greatly from Scott’s extensive head coaching experience and commitment to teaching smart, physical, unselfish basketball. We believe in Scott’s ability to establish a culture of winning habits and accountability that will help guide our team in a positive direction.”

“As we began our search, our internal discussions centered on finding a head coach with a solid resume of NBA head coaching experience, great leadership qualities, a motivating communication style, and someone with a strong strategic acumen,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “We feel Scott (Skiles) brings a balanced approach in all those qualities and we look forward, with great confidence, to him leading our young men in helping us reach our collective goal of sustainable success.”

Skiles, a former Magic player from 1989 through 1994, who had a 30-assist game with the team, has spent all or part of 13 seasons as a head coach, compiling a record of443-433 (.506) with Phoenix, Chicago, and Milwaukee.

Skiles the coach is a hard-driving, defense first coach who will improve the Magic on that end of the floor. Maybe enough to have them in the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference.

However, this is a young team — Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic, plus this this year’s No. 5 pick — and Skiles is not known as a player development guy. Nor a guy with creative lineups.

But he’s getting the chance in Orlando.

PBT Podcast: Talking Thibodeau/Bulls divorce; future for Rockets, Hawks

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two
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Tom Thibodeau has been fired in Chicago, and it’s a fascinating story — and the first topic on this latest PBT Podcast.

There’s certainly reasons to have issues with Thibodeau — the reports of some players being frustrated with him are true — but the Bulls were not exactly dignified in shoving him out the door.

Today we’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard . We break down where the Bulls might want to go (they want Fred Hoiberg) and whether the Pelicans want to hire Thibodeau now that he’s available.

After that, the discussion turns to the futures of the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks, now that they are out of the playoffs.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Warriors’ Klay Thompson officially diagnosed with concussion

Klay Thompson

According to his father (and NBA Champion) Mychael, Klay Thompson was throwing up and complained of dizziness after Game 5 on Tuesday — the one where Klay got kneed in the head by Trevor Ariza. I’m no doctor, but those are classic signs of a concussion.

Finally on Friday the Warriors admitted what everyone else seemed to know — Thompson has a concussion. Here is the official statement:

Following extensive examinations over the last two days, including Neurological tests earlier this morning — Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson has been diagnosed with a concussion. He will not return to the court until he is symptom-free and cleared under the NBA’s concussion protocol guidelines. He will be evaluated daily, and there is no timetable for his return.

This a day after his agent said Thompson did not have a concussion.

This has to be about Thompson’s best interests — there is no such thing as a “mild” concussion. Bruising your brain is serious. Fortunately, the NBA has a pretty extensive concussion protocol once there is an official diagnosis of a concussion.  Thompson will have to meet a neurological baseline on tests (established by tests he took when healthy) and do so during increasing levels of physical activity. This is all overseen by a league neurologist — it’s not the team doctors who will let him return to the court.

The good news for Thompson and the Warriors is the long break until Game 1 next Thursday. There is a reasonably good chance he will be cleared by then (based on the history of other players around the league).

The real question for the league going forward is the diagnosis of a concussion during games. Thompson never should have been cleared to return to the game in the first place, yet he was (and if he hadn’t had an ear laceration he likely would have been on the court). For one thing, concussion symptoms do not always manifest immediately, they can take time to show up. Also, this is diagnosed by team doctors — paid by the team — who are supposed to look out for the interest of the player but may not always see things through that prism (the NFL has had this issue).

The NBA needs to review this process going forward.

Three coaches who may replace Tom Thibodeau in Chicago


It was time.

But now the Bulls have to do better than the guy they had. That is not going to be easy.

Tom Thibodeau is one of the better, more successful coaches in the NBA. He’s also a hard-driving guy who physically and mentally wore out his charges, guys who did not want him back as the coach. Thibodeau changed the NBA game with his defense, but his offense was conventional, lagging far behind what innovative teams — Golden State, San Antonio — had done to counter his defenses. The blood was bad in Chicago, time for everyone to move on.

That doesn’t excuse the quiet smear job Bulls management has been doing to Thibodeau — up to and including his firing — but there’s a ring of truth to all of it.

Thibodeau will land on his feet somewhere. He’s sought after, and as a classic workaholic he incapable of taking a year off to backpack through Thailand. Or whatever.

Now what direction do the Bulls go?

Bulls GM Gar Forman tried to play his cards close to his vest Thursday at the press conference. (From PBT’s Sean Highkin, who was at the press conference.)

“I just don’t think we’re going to put ourselves in a box. I know that’s kind of an easy thing to say, but we’ve got certain criteria, some of which I’ve already said, but we’re not going to put ourselves in a box that it had to have been a head coach, an assistant, what level they’ve coached at. We’re really looking for the right fit. I went through some of those things that I talked about, obviously someone that could lead, someone that can communicate at a high level, has a great knowledge of the game. Obviously experience is a plus, as far as coaching is concerned. If they’ve been a head coach, even more so. But we’re not going to limit the search in any way.”

Sure. That is a PR crafted statement. The truth is they pretty much are limiting their serious search to these three guys:

1) Fred Hoiberg. The current Iowa State coach — and former 10-year NBA player and front office executive with Minnesota — has long been on the top of the Chicago Bulls list. He’s considered the most NBA-ready of the college coaches by GMs around the league, there will not be as much learning on the job as with most college coaches. The question is does he want to make the leap to the NBA right now? Hoiberg grew up in Ames, Iowa, the hometown of Iowa State. That’s where he played his college ball. He’s called the mayor there for a reason. Plus, he recently had a heart procedure — is deep-dish pizza and NBA hours/stress what he wants in his life right now?

2) Alvin Gentry. He’s sort of the anti-Thibodeau — a player-friendly coach whose strength is on the offensive end. He was the lead assistant in Golden State this year where his fingerprints are all over the Warriors’ prolific offense. The season before he was Doc Rivers’ lead assistant in charge of a Clippers’ offense that has been the most efficient in the league for a couple seasons. There is plenty of talent in Chicago — Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler (who will re-sign in Chicago), Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott, plus Mike Dunleavy. If the Bulls want to change course, this is the best call.

3) Adrian Griffin. The Bulls current lead assistant keeps the job in house but promotes a guy a lot of the league sees as an assistant ready for the move to the big chair. He’s a former NBA player who is credited with the development of guys like Jimmy Butler (who just one Most Improved Player). The guys in the locker room love him.  He’s not a bad choice, but he is Plan C — if Hoiberg and Gentry both pass on Chicago, Griffin’s phone will ring. 

Report: Kevin Love going to “look around” this summer as free agent; Celtics, Lakers, Rockets possible

Kevin Love

Kevin Love has denied that he is going to leave the Cavaliers this summer. Repeatedly.

That has not stopped the chatter around the league that he will consider leaving this summer — the volume of which have gone up since the emergence of Tristan Thompson replacing the injured Love these playoffs.

The most likely outcome is Love remaining a Cavalier and playing alongside LeBron James. However, the well-connected Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was on The Jason McIntyre Show on Yahoo Sports Radio and said expect Love to test the market. As transcribed at Sheridan Hoops:

“I think he’s going to look around,” Wojnarowski said. “I think he’s going to look closely at Boston. I think he’ll look at LA. I’m sure the Texas teams are going to try and get involved.

“If you remember, he really liked Kevin McHale in Minnesota,” Wojnarowski continued. “Would he fit potentially in Houston? It seems like every summer, they have the ability to go out and create a max slot, and they do this summer again. They know they have the option to do that.

“I think he’ll be in play. He could stay where he is, but there’s no question he’s going to look long and hard at what his options are.”

I expect Love will stay in Cleveland, at least for one more year.

The reason is simple: image. If he bolts Cleveland this summer (particularly to play for the rebuilding Lakers or Celtics) he will look like a guy who cares about his own numbers and being the focal point of a team more than he does winning and rings. The spin (outside the market he chooses) will be “Love couldn’t handle playing next to LeBron” and that he wouldn’t make the sacrifices needed to win. Fair or not, that’s how it will be spun.

Love is concerned about his image, and how the perception of him could impact his ability to get national endorsement deals (among other things). He knows how it would look if he left this summer.

If Love stays for a year or two — particularly if he wins a ring — then says he wants out, he can rightfully say he tried to make it work, but he’s not happy and is leaving. It will feel different than him having played just one year in Cleveland.

Or, maybe he stays next year, they win a title, and he doesn’t want to leave at all.

That’s what he’s said all along. It’s just that a lot of people around the league doubt his sincerity on that front.