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.

Rumor: Raptors trying to trade up in draft for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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The Raptors have major problems in the playoffs annually.

Is a coaching change enough to fix them?

Toronto already fired Dwane Casey and promoted assistant Nick Nurse after a highly successful regular season. Perhaps, major roster turnover could follow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be a late lottery pick. The Raptors have no selections in this draft. So, acquiring one high enough to pick the Kentucky point guard would take plenty.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are stars. Toronto’s bench is stocked with solid young players. O.G. Anunoby is very promising.

So, the Raptors have pieces to move. The only question how much they’d package for a draft pick.

Toronto already has Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright at point guard. But Lowry is 32, and VanVleet will be a restricted free agent this summer. If they really believe in Gilgeous-Alexander, the Raptors should try to get him.

All that said, this is the time of year rumors – both credible and not – fly. So, it’s worth remaining skeptical while still considering the validity of what reputable reporters like Stein convey.

Luka Doncic, Donte DiVincenzo, Jerome Robinson among NBA draft invitees

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Of course DeAndre Ayton will attend Thursday’s NBA draft. The Suns will likely draft him No. 1 overall.

But what about more marginal first-round prospects?

The NBA’s draft invite list is an important tool in judging their stock. The league wants to avoid players sitting in agony until their names are called. So, the NBA works to invite only the prospects most likely to get picked high in the draft.

The full list of invited players (which the league notes is subject to change):

Luka Doncic will go high in the draft, and though how high is still uncertain, his inclusion on this list says nothing about his stock. It just speaks to whether we’ll see him Thursday night. His attendance will depend at least on when Real Madrid’s season ends, though the NBA is apparently confident enough to list him.

Jerome Robinson has climbed draft boards since the season ended. He must be impressing in workouts and interviews.

Donte DiVincenzo is a bit of a surprise selection, as he’s not widely viewed as a first-round lock. Perhaps, the league is looking to capitalize on his popularity stemming from a breakout NCAA tournament championship game.

This will only reinforce the idea Chandler Hutchinson received a promise. Otherwise, he’s a surprise invitee.

Among the top players not attending: Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Troy Brown (Oregon) and Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech). Though they could go higher than players listed here, that says something about Huerter’s Evans’, Browns’ and Okogie’s stock, too.

Report: Rudy Gay opting out of Spurs contract

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Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs, but he’s at their whims.

This doesn’t mean Rudy Gay will depart San Antonio, but he’s taking control of his future.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Gay’s option-year salary was $8,826,300.

I doubt Gay, who turns 32 this summer, will draw such a high starting salary on his next contract – though I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. He could likely get a multi-year deal with a higher total value.

Or he could chase a ring elsewhere.

Remember, Gay gave up money to leave the Kings last summer. No matter how much the Leonard situation should make us rethink the Spurs’ culture, San Antonio probably isn’t “basketball hell.” Still, the Spurs clearly don’t look as appealing as they once did, and Gay has shown how much he values team quality.

Gay is coming off a nice season, and San Antonio might try to re-sign him. Danny Green has a $10 million player option for next season, which will swing whether the Spurs have the flexibility for a bigger move this summer.

Report: LeBron James’ camp likes Collin Sexton

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In 2014, LeBron James tweeted his fondness for Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier. The Heat traded up to get Napier in the draft, but LeBron left for the Cavaliers that summer, anyway.

Could history repeat itself, this time in Cleveland?

LeBron has already talked up Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, but maybe LeBron and his camp want the Cavs to take a different point guard – Alabama’s Collin Sexton – with the No. 8 pick.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, via Jordan Zirm of ESPN Cleveland:

The Cavaliers should take the best prospect available. Worrying about what LeBron might want makes a mistake only more likely.

LeBron might stay in Cleveland, but as 2014 showed, it won’t be because of a draft pick. If he stays, it very well could be by opting into the final year of his contract. His player-option salary ($35,607,968) is slightly higher than his projected max salary as a free agent (about $35.35 million). If LeBron opts in, the best chance of keeping him long-term is building a better team around him.

That means taking the best prospect at No. 8 or trading the pick for someone who can help LeBron win now. If the top prospect is Sexton, that’s fine. But the Cavs are fare more likely to appease LeBron by getting the pick right in the long run rather than choosing the prospect he wants now.