Report: Mark Jackson’s job as Warriors coach is safe

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Mark Jackson is finishing his first season as head coach of the Warriors, an inauspicious debut due largely to circumstances beyond his control.

The Warriors decided to go into full tank rebuilding mode at the trade deadline by dealing Monta Ellis for an injured Andrew Bogut, and are playing it safe by shutting down Stephen Curry and his recurring ankle problems for the rest of the season.

The lack of available talent on the roster should give Jackson a pass in his first season, and it will in all likelihood, reports Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times (via HoopsHype):

Admittedly, it sounds a little ridiculous. Who would fire a coach one year into a three-year contract – after they doomed his chances in his first year by trading away his best player.

But, for a team struggling to get 25 wins, nobody is 100 percent secure. Not to mention a couple headliner head coaches may become available, which might make the Warriors want to nab one while they can.

Nonetheless, I’ve assured by a couple team sources that Mark Jackson is safe – as safe as could be expected anyway. They won’t say that publicly – Joe Lacob, who would play the role of Donald Trump should Jackson be fired, offered only a no comment. Still, it’s understood among management that Jackson will be back and Golden State executives like the job he is doing. Someone high up will say as much at season’s end.

Common sense says Jackson will be back next season, even without this sourced report. Ownership isn’t going to want to pay him for two years to go away, even if a big name like Mike D’Antoni or Nate McMillan were to express interest. Or, if an even bigger name became available in the offseason — like Stan Van Gundy, perhaps — the team still would be hard-pressed to bite.

Watching from afar, it seems like Jackson has been just fine in his first season as an NBA head coach — not definitively good or bad in any situation specific enough to warrant effusive praise or criticism.

Average doesn’t often get it done, and it can sometimes get you fired, depending on expectations. Those, however, are as low as they’ve ever been in the Bay Area to end this lockout-shortened season, which is why we’ll likely see Jackson back for a second chance next year.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.