Kurt Helin

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban: Hardest thing for owner to do is hire a coach


Mark Cuban gets asked about trends of news from other teams around the NBA because he’ll usually give us in the media an answer. Often a pretty good one.

So it shouldn’t be a shock he was asked about the Rockets’ choice to fire Kevin McHale last week. To Cuban’s credit, he didn’t use the opportunity to take another swipe at Houston GM Daryl Morey. Instead, he veered the answer into how hard it is to hire a good coach in the NBA. From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

“So I’ve said it before, the hardest thing for an NBA owner to do is hire a coach. The easiest thing to do is fire a coach. The reason it’s hard to hire a coach, coaches are great at date-face, they know exactly what your weaknesses are and they know exactly how to sell to those weaknesses, so it’s really difficult to pick it right and it’s 90 percent luck.”

Cuban recently signed his coach, Rick Carlisle, to a five-year extension.

“If the hardest thing to find is a good coach, you marry him, you put a ring on it,” Cuban said.

Cuban has found his guy.

Coaches do their research certainly know what to say and what an owner/GM wants to hear, and there are guys such ad Vinny Del Negro, who people around the league will tell you is a fantastic interview (and a genuinely nice guy). The hard part for any owner or front office is to see past that sit-down and understand if the guy with the great interview is a good fit with style with the GM’s vision for the team, and with the players in the room.

Even that may not be enough — McHale is a solid NBA coach who seemed to connect with this team last season and had them winning 56 games and reaching the conference finals, and then 11 games into the new season was kicked to the curb. He didn’t forget how to coach over the summer, but situations changed, James Harden showed up in less than ideal shape (by NBA standards) and the Rockets are off to a slow start. It hasn’t gotten any better under Bickerstaff (which isn’t a surprise).

Report: Raptors’ center Jonas Valanciunas out six weeks with fractured hand

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards- Game Three
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When center Jonas Valanciunas is on the court the Toronto Raptors shoot five percentage points higher from three, they assist on a higher percentage of their shots, Toronto’s defense is a little better, its offense is 6.1 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court. Most importantly the Raptors outscore opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions when he plays, but get outscored by 4.8 per 100 when he sits.

While there is a lot of noise in those early numbers, this much is clear — the Rockets are not the same without Valanciunas in the lineup, and according to an update from Yahoo’s Shams Charania he is going to be out a while.

Valanciunas is expected to miss approximately six weeks, league sources said.


Valanciunas averages 13.5 points and 9.8 rebounds a night, and he does it efficiently (a true shooting percentage of 60.6 percent). The Raptors don’t have anyone who can effectively replace him. Expect Bismack Biyombo to get more time, which will keep the Raptors playing good defense (he’s a better shot blocker), but their offense is going to take a hit without their Lithuanian big man in the paint.

Report/spin from Cleveland: Kyrie Irving “destroyed” LeBron 1-on-1

Iman Shumpert, Kyrie Irving

Take this with the entire box of Kosher salt you just picked up for cooking Thanksgiving dinner, because we have entered the “Cleveland Cavaliers Spin Zone.”

Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt said Saturday that Kyrie Irving was doing some 5-0 work and some 1-on-1 drills, making progress, but there was no timetable for his return. That wasn’t enough positive spin for someone in the Cavaliers organization, who leaked this to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Kyrie Irving played a set of modified 1-on-1 games against LeBron James after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ shootaround Saturday and “destroyed him,” a team source told ESPN.com.

They weren’t true games of 1-on-1 in the sense that only one dribble was allowed per possession, thus rendering James’ significant size advantage moot as he couldn’t simply back Irving down with his dribble and post him up. Games finished with the first player to score three baskets.

Getting hot from the outside with his shot helped Irving succeed, per the source.To be fair, James ultimately evened the set of games 2-2 before the pair finished for the afternoon, but Irving was, apparently, in the zone.

What kind of zone one can actually get in for a game with modified rules which favors guards who have quick first steps and outside shots pretty much the only option is up for debate, but apparently his jumper was falling during this afternoon practice.

Good for him, but don’t read much into it because the difference between a one-dribble-only, 1-on-1 practice game and an NBA game is the difference between dancing like Uma Thurman and dancing like Mark Madsen. Which is to say “destroyed” is not the word that one would use here, unless one were trying to spin things in a pro-Cavaliers way. Which clearly someone was.

That said, the Cavaliers are 10-3 this season, the top seed in the East, and they are doing it without two starters in Irving and Iman Shumpert. This team is going to get a lot better as the season wears on and they get healthy.

Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer ejected for bumping referee

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Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was heated. At the other end of the floor, Justin Holiday had driven the lane and got smacked in the face, and there was no call. Budenholzer was going to let the official hear about it.

But you can’t touch the referee — Budenholzer did and got tossed for it during the second quarter Hawks loss to the Cavaliers. You can see the bump (small though it was) in the video above, watch the left side of the frame after the :34 mark.

After the game, Budenholzer said this, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I was very close to him. That seems like that could be the reason why he threw me out after just a single technical. If there was any contact it would be totally unintentional. If there is contact, I’m sure that’s why he made the judgment call that he did.”

“I didn’t get a lot (of explanation on ejection) really. At the moment I tried to get more. I don’t know. He threw me out. That’s his prerogative. So, I’m sure we will learn more going forward.”

There likely will be a fine at least for Budenholzer on top of this. Usually contact with an official gets a suspension, but the infraction is so minor and incidental I’m not sure it’s warranted here. Then again, the NBA’s fine/suspension structure is as random as roulette, so who knows.



Davis’ big game in return lifts Pelicans over Spurs, 104-90

Anthony Davis, Danilo Gallinari
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 20 points and 18 rebounds in his return from a sore shoulder, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 104-90 on Friday night for their second victory of the season.

Ryan Anderson hit six 3-pointers and scored 30 points for the second straight game. Ish Smith had 17 points and 13 assists for New Orleans (2-11), which snapped a five-game skid.

Kawhi Leonard scored 22 for San Antonio, which lost for only the third time this season and had its six-game winning streak snapped. LaMarcus Aldridge left briefly in the first quarter after twisting his left ankle, but returned and finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Tim Duncan failed to grab a rebound for the first time in his NBA career, STATS confirmed. He scored six points in 19 minutes.

Eric Gordon scored 11 for New Orleans, including a 3-pointer that gave the Pelicans a 100-88 lead with 2:59 remaining.

Davis did not appear inhibited by the shoulder soreness that forced him out in the first quarter of New Orleans’ loss to Denver last Tuesday night. After missing Wednesday night’s loss at Oklahoma City, Davis returned in force, soaring for alley-oop dunks and a dramatic block of Aldridge’s mid-range jumper in the fourth quarter.

As he came down, Davis pounced on the loose ball, turned and hurled it off Aldridge’s legs before crashing into the first row of seats. The play resulted in possession for New Orleans, and Davis waved the crowd into a frenzy that seemed to carry his team to the finish.

San Antonio’s largest lead was 8-0 just more than 3 minutes in. The Pelicans rallied to take the lead for good with 2:50 left in the first quarter.

New Orleans led 48-41 at halftime and by as many as 10 in the third quarter.

Tony Parker, who scored 10 points, pulled the Spurs to 83-82 with a short fadeaway as he fell to the floor with 10:21 left. Smith responded with a pull-up jumper and, minutes later, fed an alley-oop lob to Davis. That made it 89-84, and the Pelicans gradually pulled away from there.


Spurs: Aldridge’s injury occurred in a collision with the Pelicans’ Alonzo Gee. Aldridge wound up playing approximately 32 minutes, all but about 6 of those coming after his injury. … G Manu Ginobili, who missed his second straight game and third in four because of tightness in his hip, is expected to return for San Antonio’s next game against Memphis, coach Gregg Popovich said. … Parker was assessed a technical foul in the fourth quarter for barking at officials moments after being fouled by Jrue Holiday.

Pelicans: C Omer Asik returned from a two-game absence caused by a stomach illness. He played 12 minutes, grabbing seven rebounds and scoring one point. … Holiday, who sat out Wednesday’s game as a precaution as he recovers from a right shin injury, started and played 24 minutes, finishing with nine points and seven assists.