Mike Dunlap fired as Bobcats coach after one season

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The Charlotte Bobcats were not going to win a lot of games this season if Red Auerbach and John Wooden rose from the dead to co-coach the team. There just wasn’t enough talent.

But Mike Dunlap in his one year could not seem to reach what players he did have to the satisfaction of ownership and the team has fired him after one season, it announced Tuesday.

“Rich Cho and I conducted our season-ending review and met with coach Dunlap to reflect on this season. As an organization, it was decided that we needed to make a change with the head coach position,” president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said in a released statement. “We want to thank Mike for his contribution and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Dunlap was an off-the-radar hire, he had been an assistant at St. John’s University the season before. It was hoped he would connect with the young players, but that didn’t pan out.

The Bobcats went 21-61 last season, the second worst record in the NBA. Remember they got off to a fast 7-5 start, but after that fell apart. While it was a mess, at least that was an improvement over 2012, when they won seven of 66 games, the lowest winning percentage in NBA history (.106).

As for replacements, again look for the Bobcats to go with a young coach. You may think working for Michael Jordan is a draw, but for a coach with options the things that are draws are franchises willing to pay top dollar (the Bobcats are small market and not big spenders) and those with a lot of young talent (strike two for Charlotte). Stan Van Gundy isn’t walking through that door. What they do have are some nice young players (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for one), more than $20 million in cap space and another top 5 draft pick this year. Charlotte is a multi-year rebuilding project and the Bobcats are better off with a young coach who seems to connect with his players even while they struggle. Jacque Vaughn did that in Orlando, for example — they only won 20 games but that team played hard for Vaughn.

Report: NBA referees will live-tweet Warriors, Sixers games next week

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The one rule of Twitter is something that NBA officials are apparently willing to sidestep. That rule?

Never tweet.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, NBA referees will tweet from their official Twitter account during NBA games this season and hold back-and-forth conversations with fans about calls during games.

It seems like something that would immediately go wrong, but officials have done this before. They held Twitter conversations during last season’s Finals and they apparently feel as though they went well enough to do this sort of thing again.

Via ESPN:

This season, the NBA league office has agreed to work in collaboration with the referee union on this project. As part of the deal, the tweeting referees will have access to the league’s replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey, just like the officials who are on duty that evening, so they can have all the angles available to answer questions.

The union and the NBA plan a series of these games over the next few months, including some playoff games.

You will be able to tweet at @OfficialNBARefs or use #RefWatchParty during Monday’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers, or Wednesday’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers.

It’ll be interesting to monitor this thing and see where it goes. Even the most inane opinions can be shot down by the twittersphere so watching actual NBA referees try to defend themselves against the hordes could get wild.

Raptors’ Pascal Siakam beats Suns with incredible drive at the buzzer

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Pascal Siakam has been an important part of the Toronto Raptors organization for a couple of seasons now. Siakam has been a target in requested trades with the Raptors, but general manager Masai Ujiri wants to hang on to the burgeoning Cameroonian forward.

That’s probably wise.

As time wound down in Thursday night’s game between the Raptors and Phoenix Suns, Siakam found himself with the ball at the top of the arc and the game on the line. Siakam had Mikal Bridges isolated up top, and wound up going to his left to score the game-winning shot as time expired.

Via Twitter:

Siakam finished the game with just 10 points but grabbed 12 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.

Raptors are now just a half-game back of the Milwaukee Bucks with a record of 34-13.

Raptors promo Kawhi Leonard for ASG with faux-vintage action figure commercial

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The Toronto Raptors have been pushing Kawhi Leonard for the All-Star Game since 2018. The angle the team has decided to take is with Leonard being a “man of action” as opposed to a man of words.

Teams come up with some pretty good ideas about how to promote their star players for the All-Star Game. The Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum did the Vote for Pedro dance from “Napoleon Dynamite” to ask people to vote for buddy Damian Lillard.

The Raptors took a shot at a viral video of their own this week by releasing a fake 1990s-style action figure commercial for Leonard.

The result was pretty good:

At least with a Kawhi Leonard action figure you wouldn’t need to have a speaker and a button that plays catch phrases on it.

Reports: Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. could look to reconcile differences

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Things might not be over between Dennis Smith Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks.

The sophomore guard and the Mavericks have apparently been on the outs with each other as the season approaches the midway point. It was rumored that Smith was on the trading block, and that several teams were interested in his services.

But reports on Thursday surfaced saying Dallas and Smith could be heading for a reconciliation, and that conversations between the two sides have been positive as of late.

Via Twitter and ESPN:

The Mavs have shopped Smith, 21, throughout the season but haven’t received any offers that have tempted them to pull the trigger on trading a player whom the Dallas front office still believes has potential to develop into a star, sources said.

“Plan A is still to fix this,” a team source told ESPN.

Smith has not been that good this season, but his advanced numbers suggest that he is on a slow rise upward. It perhaps isn’t the jump Mavericks fans were looking for in the second season for a Top 10 pick, but if they can salvage their relationship it’s probably best for both sides at this juncture.