Doc Rivers rips Lakers for “embarrassing” Phil Jackson

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Generally a good rule of thumb is that if you’re the coach of the Boston Celtics you shouldn’t comment on the Lakers coaching search. It’s pretty much Mahmoud Ahmadinejad commenting on the U.S. Presidential election — nobody should care what he thinks.

But Doc Rivers spoke for a lot of Lakers fans when he commented on the firing of Mike Brown, the awkward dance with Phil Jackson then the hiring of Mike D’Antoni on Chris Russo’s radio program (SirusXM’s Mad Dog Radio) on Tuesday, as transcribed by the Los Angeles Times.

“I didn’t like the way it was done,” said Rivers. “I don’t think you embarrass anybody….

“Whether you like Phil or not, he’s won a lot of titles and I think he was owed more than that treatment, in my opinion, especially [from] that franchise,” continued Rivers.

He’s right. You can make the case that Mike D’Antoni was the right hire, but it’s how everything went down that was awkward.

The Lakers thought — and GM Mitch Kupchak confirmed — that they didn’t think Phil Jackson would want the job. Jackson had said the summer before at a lunch with Kupchak that he didn’t think he would coach again. So Jim Buss and the Lakers went to him, figured he’d say no, then they could tell fans “hey we tried, but here is D’Antoni and he rocks.” But Jackson surprised them by wanting the job and then Buss was forced to choose — and he was never a Phil Jackson guy. It ended poorly and he couldn’t come back to him now hat in hand. So Jim Buss made his call.

The difference is, Jerry Buss played chess in these situations. He was never perfect, but he had thought everything three moves ahead. He was prepared for eventualities. Jerry Buss wouldn’t have waited until five games in for an awkward in-season change. He wouldn’t have gone to Jackson at all if that’s not the guy he wanted.

And he wouldn’t have hung Jackson out to dry. Doc is right about how it turned out.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.