Report: Lakers leaning toward keeping Mike D’Antoni

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Kobe Bryant reportedly wanted Mike D’Antoni fired. Pau Gasol and D’Antoni have had their run-ins. As have Chris Kaman and D’Antoni.

Oh, and the Lakers stink. At 25-49, they’re on pace for their worst record in 54 years.

Momentum appears to be squarely against D’Antoni – though not necessarily in the Lakers’ front office.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

D’Antoni has one more guaranteed season left on his Lakers contract, and the club is leaning toward retaining him despite some privately disgruntled players and massive public disdain. It’s not clear which way the Lakers will go with him.

The first sentence is very useful information. The second sentence is a pretty major qualifier. It sounds as if the Lakers are somewhere in the vicinity of 55-45 for keeping D’Antoni – hardly odds that justify betting big money on D’Antoni’s return.

There is no doubt D’Antoni, the 2004-05 Coach of the Year, was a great coach. His high-tempo Suns won 62, 54, 61 and 55 games between 2004-05 and 2007-08.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, D’Antoni should be tickled. Since D’Antoni’s peak Phoenix offenses took the league by storm, other teams are playing faster and shooting more 3-pointers

D’Antoni was ahead of his time, which leads to the question… How good a coach is D’Antoni now?

Maybe his schematic advantage has slipped since other coaches have caught onto the value of playing quickly and shooting 3s. That leaves D’Antoni to set himself apart by continuously innovating and better teach his schemes.

But it seems D’Antoni’s message is already wearing thin in Los Angeles – though thanks to the coach’s agent, Kaman is talking a much softer tone now – and players don’t tend to listen better with more time.

The factor most working in D’Antoni’s favor: The Lakers might settle for one more rebuilding year next season – getting younger and avoiding the luxury tax (and delaying repeater penalties) before a loaded 2015 free agent class that includes Kevin Love. If they do that, they as might as well keep D’Antoni rather than paying two coaches. Plus, they’ll be better positioned to hire a new coach a year later when the team is better.

I doubt that plan would sit well with Kobe, who wants to contend immediately. So, if the Lakers keep D’Antoni due to rebuilding, it could cause a rift between the coach and the team’s biggest star.

In other words, the Lakers are weighing paying an extra few million for coaching and the odds of internal combustion. Not a fun choice, but it would at least be understandable why they’d keep D’Antoni.

Raptors hire Spurs video coordinator, who just happens to be Kawhi Leonard friend

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Jeremy Castleberry played his high school ball in Riverside, California, on the same team as Kawhi Leonard. When Leonard went on to San Diego State for college, Castleberry went too and was a walk-on for that team.

When the Spurs drafted Leonard, it was not long before Castleberry was a video coordinator and on the staff in San Antonio. Now Leonard is a Raptor so… you know what’s coming. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN explained it well.

The Toronto Raptors are hiring San Antonio Spurs staffer Jeremy Castleberry — a close friend of Kawhi Leonard — to a position on their coaching staff, league sources told ESPN.

Castleberry has worked with Leonard as a Spurs staffer and played with Leonard in high school and at San Diego State, where he was a walk-on.

Is this alone going to keep Leonard a Raptor next summer when he’s a free agent? No. But this is how the game is played — make the star player you’re recruiting feel comfortable, wanted, a key part of everything. Bringing in a friend to a new city for him fits right into that plan.

The smart money is still on Leonard bolting next summer to go to Los Angeles, but if the Raptors are able to change his mind — ala Paul George — it will not be one big thing but a thousand little ones. And a lot of wins. But hiring Castleberry is a start.

Brandon Jennings signs to play in Russia next season

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Brandon Jennings has just never been the same since his 2015 torn Achilles. He hasn’t shot over 40 percent from the floor for a season since then, he hasn’t moved well defensivly, and he had a PER of 19.3 the season it was torn and it’s never been above 13.7 for a season since then. In the past couple of seasons he has played in the G-League and China, and he played 14 games at the end of the season for the Bucks last campaign.

This summer, there were no offers. He is now headed to Russia, according to multiple reports, including EuroHoops.net. He will play for Zenit St Petersburg.

He’s only 28 years old, there is time for him find a way to make his game fit into the NBA landscape again. He’s just not there yet, and maybe the opportunity in Russia will lead him there. If not, he’s still getting paid to play at a high level.

Some owners reportedly want access to mental health files of players

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If you read one thing NBA related today, it should be the first installment of Jackie MacMullan’s brilliant series at ESPN on the mental health of players and staffs in the NBA, and how the league is handling it. MacMullan not only got Kevin Love and Paul Pierce to open up about their challenges, but she also got into the challenges the league faces in confronting this issue head-on.

One such challenge: Owners wanting access to players mental health “files.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, players union executive director Michelle Roberts and their respective teams are reportedly working on a new mental health policy for the league. Privacy is going to be a big part of that. From MacMullan:

Yet there remain many obstacles to confront, chief among them the stigma attached to mental health that prompts many players to suffer in silence. The union also insists that mental health treatment be confidential, but some NBA owners, who in some cases are paying their players hundreds of millions of dollars, want access to the files of their “investments.” That is not, however, the league’s position. “The NBA fully supports protecting the confidentiality of players’ mental health information and, accordingly, committed to the players association that any mental health program we undertake would do so,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass says.

Confidentiality, says Love, has to be non-negotiable. Without it, he says, he never would have become comfortable enough to announce from that All-Star dais that he was seeking treatment.

Those files must be private. This is different from a torn knee ligament or sprained ankle (and on those we have HIPPA laws for good reason). For one, this is something more unpredictable in treating. Second, it comes back to the stigma of mental health issues and how the information about them might be used.

That stigma still exists, both in society and the NBA — McMullan gets into the players and their wives talking behind Love’s back All-Star weekend, and the players currently seeking treatment who do not want it public. The “real men don’t talk about this” mentality is everywhere, but it has fertile ground in professional sports locker rooms where players see themselves as invincible.

That mentality, that stigma will be the hardest thing to change in altering the culture of mental health issues in the NBA. There are no easy answers here. Does anyone think the owners who want access to those files wouldn’t use against the player in negotiations (never underestimate an owner’s effort to gain leverage)?

The players’ union will not allow that in whatever the framework is for the leagues’ new mental health policy. Nor should they.

Love, DeMar DeRozan, Royce White and others broke barriers stepping forward into the spotlight to discuss their challenges. But there are a lot of barriers still up, and a lot of work for both the NBA and society to do on this front. And privacy must be part of that.

Rebuilding Hawks add depth by signing Daniel Hamilton, Alex Poythress.

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ATLANTA (AP) — The rebuilding Atlanta Hawks have added depth by signing guard-forward Daniel Hamilton and forward Alex Poythress.

Poythress was signed to a two-way contract, so the former Kentucky player will split his time with the Hawks’ G League Erie team.

Hamilton is on a fully guaranteed one-year contract after impressing the Hawks playing for the Thunder Summer League team. He averaged 2 points in six games with Oklahoma City last season while on a two-way contract with the Thunder. He spent most of the season with the G League Oklahoma City Blue.

Poythress averaged 1 point in 25 games with Indiana last season. He began the season on a two-way contract.