Kevin McHale considers himself in the running for the Bulls' coaching job

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The name ‘Kevin McHale’ can elicit a number of different reactions. Among Celtics fans (or simply low-post enthusiasts), the man is revered as an NBA legend of the highest order. One of the all-time greats, McHale was an instrumental part of three Celtics championships. Ask a die-hard Laker fan however, and the responses likely range from hatred to begrudging respect.

Then, ask one of the handful of Timberwolves fans left on the planet, and they’ll probably curse his name before sending you an invitation to attend a cult meeting in which they cast hexes on the man that botched roster move after roster move as the GM in Minnesota.

Those are the two sides of McHale that are well-understood and oft-discussed, but a third dimension of Kevin’s NBA persona remains largely undiscovered: his coaching ability. It’s a particularly relevant side of McHale that we’d be smart to understand, as Kevin “expects to be interviewed” for the Bulls’ head coaching job according to Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times.

McHale has coached 94 games in the NBA over two separate stints with the Wolves, but he was never actually given a team to call his own. In ’04-’05, McHale coached the team after Flip Saunders’ firing, and led a decent Wolves squad to a 19-12 record over the final 31 games. Then, in ’08-’09, McHale was sent in to relieve the magnificently awful Randy Wittman coached the team to a 4-15 record. McHale went 20-43 with the same roster, that included Al Jefferson, Kevin Love in his rookie year, and the incredible talents of pre-jumper Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, and the ghost of Mike Miller.

Not exactly jaw-dropping coaching records there, but respectable performances for an interim. Especially for an interim that had to coach a McHale-constructed team. The man has clearly shown that he can’t put a roster together, but I think he’s still a capable coach and teacher, particularly for a young team like the Bulls.

As Kevin notes in the Sun-Times piece, he’ll have some stiff competition; anyone would want the opportunity to coach Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and what looks to be a quality free agent acquisition. This could be a head coach’s opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that could be fantastic, so from McHale’s perspective, vying for the job is a no-brainer. The big question is whether or not Gar Forman and the Bulls can see past the poor managing resume to properly identify and appraise McHale’s coaching talent.

He may not be the best man for this job, but Kevin McHale is far better as a coach than his caricature suggests. He doesn’t guarantee success, but McHale deserves another shot as a head coach in the NBA.

Nets once thought they were trading for No. 2 overall pick, would have gotten Bulls’ second first-rounder

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A Wizards-Suns-Grizzlies trade just fell apart because the teams confused which Brooks was involved. Phoenix thought it was getting Dillon Brooks. Memphis thought it was sending MarShon Brooks.

But this isn’t the first time wires got crossed in trade discussions.

Former Nets executive Bobby Marks of ESPN:

The closest it’s ever happened – and this is a funny story – is that in 2006, we thought we getting the second overall pick in the draft from Chicago. And we were going to pick LaMarcus Aldridge. And it wound up being that Chicago was offering us their second first-round pick in the draft, which was pick 16. It turned into Rodney Carney. So, that’s the closest that we’ve ever come to backing out or a deal was agreed upon and going from there.

The Bulls might as well have sent the No. 2 to pick to the Nets. On draft night, Chicago dealt No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge to the Trail Blazers for No. 4 pick Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. The Bulls got more value from No. 16 pick Rodney Carney, trading up with the 76ers for No. 13 pick Thabo Sefolosha, who was a helpful role player in Chicago then flipped for a pick that became Taj Gibson. In that 2006 draft, the Nets picked Marcus Williams No. 22 and Josh Boone No. 23.

The big difference between this non-deal and the Brooks mishap: It didn’t reach the point active players were informed and details were leaked to the media. That’s harder to walk back and maybe part of the reason the Suns and Wizards still swapped Trevor Ariza for Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers after the Grizzlies pulled out.

Report: Trevor Ariza ‘checked out mentally’ with Suns

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Why did Trevor Ariza leave the Rockets, who came as close as anyone to beating the Kevin Durant-boosted Warriors in the playoffs, for the lowly Suns?

Money.

Ariza signed a one-year, $15 million contract with Phoenix last summer. That salary likely far surpasses what Ariza could have gotten elsewhere – especially Houston, where the Rockets are wary of the luxury tax.

Predictably, a veteran signing with bad team for a quick paycheck turned out poorly. The Suns traded Ariza to the Wizards essentially as soon as he became eligible to be dealt.

Duane Rankin of azcentral:

According to league sources, this was a “mutual” decision between Ariza and the Suns.

Ariza checked out mentally early in the season, according to sources. After practices would ended, he’d leave before everyone else, when that’s usually an opportunity to bond.

He’d break from the team huddle before his teammates and wasn’t engaged.

Signing Ariza to that contract was always part of a bad plan. He didn’t put the Suns over the top, and that money could have gone to a player with a future in Phoenix.

Sure, it would have been nice for Ariza to lead and mentor more. He could have served as a better example for the young Suns.

But it’s not easy to go from the peak of competition to a quickly lost season. Ariza’s misery was predictable and understandable.

It spread to the court, too. He’s having arguably the worst season of his career.

Washington hopes Ariza will play better there. He’s better cast as a glue guy on a good team.

However, it’s unclear whether Ariza will actually be rejuvenated by the Wizards, who’ve been stuck in their own turmoil. There’s also risk Ariza, 33, has declined due to age in ways that won’t simply reverse in a better environment.

At least he ends his depressing Phoenix chapter. This will be the lasting scene of his time there. Gina Mizell of The Athletic:

Devin Booker calls out Enes Kanter’s defense after Suns beat Knicks

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In a Knicks’ win over the Suns last January, Enes Kanter irritated Devin Booker into pushing him. The Phoenix guard got ejected then had to deal with Kanter’s online trash-talking afterward.

So, this retweet – following the Suns’ win over New York last night – was nearly a year in the making.

Booker:

There are two possible responses here. I’m not sure which is correct.

1. Booker shouldn’t criticize anyone else’s defense before looking in the mirror.

2. Kanter’s defense is so bad, even Booker is mocking it.

James Harden on double-stepback uncalled travel: ‘What do you want me to say? Tell on myself?’ (video)

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James Harden is difficult enough to defend when officiated correctly.

When he can get away with this? There’s nearly no stopping him. That was a big uncalled travel in the Rockets’ win over the Jazz last night.

Harden, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“What do you want me to say? Tell on myself?” Harden said.

Fair.

Unlike that call.