Don’t buy the rumors Mike Brown’s job is in immediate danger

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The Lakers are a patient organization. One of their great strengths — along with insane revenue generation — is they don’t make rash moves, they wait until the odds are in their favor then the act decisively. They don’t panic. They don’t care what you write on an internet message board or what a talk radio host says.

So sorry Lakers fans, Mike Brown’s job is not in immediate danger. He’s going to get his chance.

There was a report at Hoopsworld recently about how “many within NBA circles believe” Brown is on his way out sooner rather than later. But that is the voices swirling around the outside of the organization, the kind of people often prone to knee-jerk reactions.

That’s not the Lakers. That’s not how they have operated under the Buss family.

If you talk to people around the Lakers organization the feeling is very different — Mike Brown is on solid footing right now.

Look what Jim Buss told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, referencing Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and still the ultimate power Jerry Buss.

“I’m a hundred percent behind Mike Brown. Mitch is. My dad is. We as a collective soul are behind him 100 percent.”

Collective Soul? Now I’m picturing Kupchak singing “Shine” and it’s a little disturbing.

But Ding emphasizes the point, saying the Lakers management doesn’t expect Brown to be Phil Jackson (who would have gotten a pass from fans for this start because his teams came together).

Jim Buss’ comments about Brown in our recent chat made clear that ownership’s view is that Brown’s gift is being “well prepared.” That’s not very exciting, and it’s certainly not particularly fascinating genius, but it’s how Brown was for his Lakers job interview, and it’s what he’s expected to be now.

“I felt that anybody who works that hard in preparation, if we give him the right players, he’ll figure out how to win,” Buss said.

That philosophy is up for debate. My two cents are that there are only a handful of truly elite NBA coaches that make a team better by walking in the door — Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Rick Adelman, etc… — and after that there are a lot of solid NBA coaches who can win a lot, maybe even a ring, if you give them the right talent. Brown is one of those guys to me. He works hard and with time savvy veteran players like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will figure it out. With or without a lot of input from Brown.

If the Lakers are still a hot mess as we get to the time you start actually doing you Christmas shopping — don’t tell me you start before Dec. 15, we know better — then the ground may shift. May. The Lakers have a couple year window with this group and they aren’t going to waste one. But if the Lakers make a change the more likely outcome is it happens after the season. Also know if it gets to that and the Lakers do decide to make a move, it will not be to a coach who will come in and dominate the franchise the way Jackson did. This is Jim Buss’ show now and the coach will work for and with him. You decide for yourself how someone like Jerry Sloan would fit in that dynamic.

But take your time, because the Lakers will. Mike Brown is not going anywhere, not in the short term.

Jayson Tatum guarantees Celtics will win 2019 NBA championship

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Friday morning, Jayson Tatum guaranteed the U.S. team would beat the World team in the Rising Stars game that night. The U.S. team won.

So, Tatum was asked Saturday morning whether he wanted to guarantee anything for that night. He guaranteed he’d win the Skills Challenge. He won.

So, then ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Tatum whether he wants to guarantee anything else. And he really let it ride.

Tatum:

We’re going to win the Finals this year. February 16th, mark it. Jayson Tatum says we’re going to win the Finals this year.

Obviously, Tatum wasn’t going to pick against Boston. But this wasn’t that. He could have easily avoided such a grand proclamation.

Instead, even if he were just caught up in the emotion of an All-Star Saturday Night victory and taking the interview especially seriously, Tatum put a little more attention and pressure on the Celtics.

I’m not convinced that’s what this team needs.

Kristaps Porzingis reportedly gave Knicks wish list of trade destinations: Nets, Clippers, Heat, Raptors

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Kristaps Porzingis will sign long-term with Dallas this summer, and Porzingis he was on the same page.

But he will be a free agent. Restricted, but a free agent, nonetheless.

Porzingis’ exit from the Knicks provided a clue about where he’d want to go if he explores leaving the Mavericks.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

The four teams Porzingis had on his wish list of trade destinations were the Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, according to two people with knowledge of the list who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Porzingis had little leverage to get to any of these teams. Because he’ll be a restricted free agent, the Knicks or any team acquiring him would retain immense team control over him.

The Nets and Clippers project to have cap space this summer. The Heat and Raptors don’t.

But even if Porzingis signs an offer sheet elsewhere, Dallas will will likely match it.

Still, Porzingis will become an unrestricted free agent someday – 2020 in the unlikely event he accepts his qualifying offer or a future year if he signs a multi-year deal this summer. It’s probably best to file away this list until then.

Kyrie Irving on video with Kevin Durant: ‘Me and one of my best friends talking’

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The Knicks opened double-max cap space for next summer. Kevin Durant‘s company is moving to a new office in New York. Kyrie Irving backed away from his commitment to re-sign with the Celtics.

Plenty of people were already connecting dots when this video emerged of Durant and Irving talking at the All-Star game (in which, not for nothing, they jelled).

Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops:

Irving, via MassLive (warning: language in the above video):

It’s just crazy. This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. It doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league even more by doing bulls— like that, of just putting fictitious things on what we’re talking about. It’s crazy.

It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting? Do you get that? Like, do you get that? And then I’m asked questions about it? That’s what disconnects me from all that s—.

That wasn’t a denial.

Still, it’s hard to believe Durant and Irving really discussed free agency in a hallway with so many people passing. There are far more discreet places to have that conversation.

Like a restaurant in Miami where they were spotted together:

I understand Irving’s exasperation with this, just as I understood Durant’s testiness over constant speculation. They should be allowed to spend time together as friends without it turning into a bigger deal.

But there is immense interest in where they play next year. People will continue to search for clues – some that prove insignificant, some that might prove significant – about the stars’ futures.

So, I’m at least glad Irving addressed this. It’s going to get discussed either way. Better for him to enter his perspective into the conversation.

Report: Hawks didn’t clear John Collins’ airplane dunk until shortly before dunk contest

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There were two memorable dunks in this year’s dunk contest:

The Hawks nearly stopped us from seeing that latter spectacle.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN on Saturday:

Now, there’s a little curve ball here. The last update that I had was that the Hawks hadn’t approved John Collins jumping over an airplane yet and that they were a little bit were worried that he was going to trip on it and injure himself.

After watching the dunk, I understand the Hawks’ reluctance. Collins broke the plane!

At least he seemingly emerged unscathed.