Report: Nets will try to talk to Phil Jackson ‘in the next few days’

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Nets GM Billy King can say that P.J. Carlesimo is the team’s head coach all he wants.

We all know the expectations are a little out of control in Brooklyn, and with the firing of Avery Johnson taking place earlier this week, the team will be looking to get a big-name coach on the payroll sooner rather than later.

There isn’t a bigger name out there at this point than Phil Jackson, but plenty of questions surround him in terms of whether he truly wants to return to coaching, as well as whether or not he’d be able to achieve the desired level of success, especially given the talent available on the roster as currently constructed.

That won’t stop the team’s billionaire owner from trying, of course.

In an interview with Sarah Kustok of YES, Howard Beck of the New York Times reported (via NetsDaily) that he expects Mikhail Prokhorov to be in contact with Jackson in the next few days.

We have heard pretty definitively thatPhil Jackson is number 1 as he should be, as you’d expect he would be on the list. What we don’t really know is timing. Will they hire Phil Jackson sometime this season? Would that be the goal? Do they want PJ to finish out the season and then go through a coaching search? How quickly do they want to move?

I think they will try to talk to Phil Jackson as soon as they can sometime in the next few days when Mikhail Prokhorov comes back from his new years eve partying. I think they’ll look to have that conversation.

While the conversation may take place, it’s tough to envision Phil taking over this Nets squad mid-season.

That being said, if the ultimatum (i.e., specific demand of a potential offer) was such that it was the mandate, it may end up happening. But Jackson would likely be forthcoming that he, like the rest of us, doesn’t view this Nets team as a legitimate title contender at this point, so he’d attempt to set the expectations at an appropriate point for the rest of this season.

As for what that level is, exactly, only ownership can decide. But realistically, it shouldn’t be higher than a trip to the second round of the playoffs at best, and a simple berth to the postseason at worst.

Missing the playoffs entirely, especially in the watered-down Eastern Conference, would be a bit of a disaster. That’s why Avery Johnson was dismissed, and if a more long-term solution at head coach is to be hired to replace Carlesimo’s interim status mid-season, that person will need to be firmly on board with the reality that the playoff train in Brooklyn must reach its final destination, and show measurable progress along the way as the season progresses.

Kevin Durant’s brother says Instagram comment wasn’t about star leaving Warriors this summer

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Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.

Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.

In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.

Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”

Rob Perez of The Action Network:

My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.

Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.

Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.

The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.

Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.

Perez:

If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.

Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.

Report: Tom Thibodeau raised asking price for Jimmy Butler after infamous practice

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After sitting out while awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.

Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.

Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.

If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.

The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.

How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.

But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?

It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.

Russell Westbrook sneak-snacking steals show on NBA’s opening night

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NBA’s opening night was quite tame. The Celtics and Warriors won as expected, neither the 76ers nor Thunder mounting much of a challenge.

That allowed Russell Westbrookout with an injury — to have the most fun moment when he looked around deviously, turned to his side and ate something.

What did did Westbrook eat? Was he not supposed to be eating? Did he not want to share? Big questions remain unanswered surrounding this important incident.

Joel Embiid on 76ers-Celtics: ‘This is not a rivalry … They always kick our ass’

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The 76ers-Celtics rivalry is being renewed.

But it’s not there yet, according to Philadelphia center Joel Embiid.

The 76ers are 3-19 against Boston since drafting Embiid, and though that includes multiple tanking years, Philadelphia hasn’t fared much better since getting good. The 76ers went 2-7 against the Celtics last season, including 1-4 in their second-round playoff series. Philadephia followed that with a season-opening loss to the Celtics last night.

Embiid, via Matt Haughton of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“JJ (Redick) mentioned it earlier, this is not a rivalry,” Embiid said to reporters after the Sixers’ 105-87 season-opening loss to the Boston Celtics (see observations). “I don’t know our record against them but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass.”

I appreciate Embiid’s directness. We can all see the problem. There’s no point denying it.

The subtext is Embiid’s motivation to change this status quo, and a lot of it does fall in Embiid. Al Horford has given him fits. Even Aron Baynes worked him at times last night. Embiid is talented and far younger than those two. He’ll eventually get there.

In the meantime, he’s not mincing words.