Amar’e Stoudemire endorses idea of Steve Kerr coaching Knicks

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Not that Knicks’ fans are ready to give much weight to what Amar’e Stoudemire has to say on anything…

But he is the one Knick player with some first hand experience dealing with Steve Kerr — your soon-to-be-your-Knicks coach Steve Kerr.

Stoudemire gave Kerr a thumbs up, he told ESPN’s Collin Cowherd, as transcribed by Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.

“I like Steve Kerr. For one, when he was a GM (in Phoenix, when Stoudemire was with the Suns) he was always preaching about winning and winning a title and that’s something that I adored about him,” Stoudemire said earlier this week on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio. “And then also, secondly, he has a formula to win; he’s been a winner in this league before. He wants to win. And he reminds me of somewhat of a player-coach that knows the game and knows what players go through as far as ups and downs throughout the year and that’s going to help him.”

Kerr is getting the job anyway, but nice that Stoudemire likes him.

With Kerr serving as Phil Jackson’s surrogate on the bench, the triangle offense will come to New York. Stoudemire thinks that is good for him.

“I think what he looks for in bigs are bigs that have multiple skills,” Stoudemire said. “You better shoot the ball from the outside, put the ball on the floor when need be, make great passes out of double-teams, sort of being a pressure-release guy. Versatile bigs are what I think he looks for and that’s what I am.”

Stoudemire’s right about the versatile bigs point. Whether he is one of them, and whether he can perform like that consistently at a high enough level, is up for debate. Stoudemire did have a bounce back season for the Knicks last year, but he’s not part of the future in Manhattan.

Know that Phil Jackson is going to shop Stoudemire, who is owed $23.4 million next season (the last year of the $100 million deal that brought him to New York, to lead the Mike D’Antoni offense back in the day). Jackson is going to reshape the roster and if he can free up that cap space, he will. It’s not likely — everyone will say “I’ll take that contract off your hands if you throw in Tim Hardaway Jr.” and then Jackson will laugh and hang up — but he will try.

If Stoudemire can prove a fit, and can prove he will stay healthy, he can maybe re-sign with the Knicks next summer for a couple million. But that outcome is about as likely as the Knicks finding a good trade partner for Stoudemire.

Depends on what Kerr thinks of him.

Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan finally buried the hatchet

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Deron Williams or Chris Paul? That was the conversation in the NBA just a decade ago, a conversation that now seems practically ridiculous. I never personally thought it was very close between the two, being an adamant Paul supporter. Now, CP3 is with the Houston Rockets and Williams is out of the league, despite Paul being just 200 days younger than the former Utah Jazz star (but having played more games).

Williams was part of a two-man attack, along with Carlos Boozer, that helped fuel the Jazz during the first decade of this century as they churned through the Western Conference. But Williams played just five-and-a-half seasons in Salt Lake City, traded after a blow-up with former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

Things were unsteady between the two during the 2010-11 season, and Sloan famously decided to retire after a game in February of 2011 in which the Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls. During halftime of that game, there was a disagreement between Sloan and Williams that apparently pushed the legendary head coach to his tipping point.

Sloan retired and Williams was traded on February 23rd.

Now, it appears that the two have at least made amends. In a story of appearing on UtahJazz.com, Williams recently went to Sloan’s house to talk about the divide between the two and what happened some seven years ago.

Via UtahJazz.com:

“He doesn’t forget a lot of things, instances where I pissed him off, things I did to upset him,” Williams said. “He definitely told me about that—and rightfully so. He was great about some other things. It was kind of typical Coach Sloan, really. If you know him, he’s never been one to shy away from telling you the truth and how he feels.”

“Eventually, I think Jerry came around,” [Jazz CEO Greg] Miller said. “He never really said, ‘Let’s put it behind us’ or anything, but maybe in Sloan speak he did.”

“Two strong men said what they needed to say, shook hands and are now moving forward,” [Jazz president Steve] Starks said.

Sloan, 76, is living with Parkinson’s and reportedly not in the best of health. It’s good to hear that Williams was remorseful about how he acted, and that the two great sportsmen were able to come together and at least see each other’s point of view as a sort of armistice.

Masai Ujiri on Kawhi Leonard: ‘He is happy. There is no maintenance with him’

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No doubt there are big expectations for the Toronto Raptors this year after trading franchise cornerstone DeMar DeRozan for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. Ever an enigma (and coming off of one of the worst-managed exits from a team in recent memory) Leonard has fans in Ontario biting their nails about whether he will return healthy this season, and happy for the next.

According to Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, Leonard is giving them every indication that he is ready to go heading into the 2018-19 NBA season. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Ujiri said that Leonard is happy.

Via Sportsnet:

“He is happy. From what everybody has told me he is healthy. He spends a lot of time with our coaches,” said Ujiri. “He went to L.A. to meet our guys out there. He will be here shortly.”

“He is just quiet … that’s his nature. We can’t all be the same kind of people. But he is as engaging as he would want to be and he’s very interesting. There is no maintenance with him. There’s nothing. It’s remarkable … His (focus) is on basketball which is what you want. He is a basketball junkie … once you just start to talk about basketball his eyes change.”

We have heard rumors that Leonard has purchased a home in Toronto instead of merely renting. We’ve also seen photos of Leonard happy and working out with players like Kobe Bryant, nearly even smiling. And Ujiri is doing his part here, trying to ease any sentiment around Leonard.

The PR machine is in sixth gear in Toronto, but you can’t really blame them. It’s the first good public relations move we’ve seen from Leonard’s enclave in more than a year, and it helps bolster the team if things go south.

Do I believe anything that is reported about Leonard anymore? No. Not after last season. Unfortunately, the issue with Leonard remains the fact that we will have to simply sit to wait and see what he chooses to do next year.

Raptors fans, who are dedicated and passionate, should be hoping that they finally make a Finals run this year. Just in case.

Report: 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith expected to return around Christmas

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76ers first-rounder Zhaire Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot last month, leaving plenty of uncertainty about when he’d return.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers expect injured rookie Zhaire Smith to be available to play in a game around Christmas, league sources say.

A rookie on a team with legitimate aspirations of deep-playoff advancement, Smith was already unlikely to crack Philadelphia’s rotation this season. All this lost developmental time makes it even less likely.

But the sooner Smith returns, the better for him and Philadelphia. The No. 16 pick impresses with his athleticism and motor, but he needs time to develop his perimeter skills.

Kevin Love launches “Love Fund” to bring more focus to mental health issues

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The NBA is not shying away from the issue of the mental health of its players.

In the wake of All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love coming forward about their mental health challenges, the league and the players’ union combined to tell players to speak out on the issue and take advantage of the services offered.

Kevin Love is doing more than just that, he has formed the Kevin Love Fund to help change the stigma around mental health issues. The fund has partners such as Headspace, with the focus being on prioritizing mental health awareness. He went on the Today Show on NBC to talk about it.

Love has become a leader and spokesman around the issue. Love came forward near the end of last season to talk about his battles with anxiety and depression. That opened the door for others around the NBA to step forward as well, such as Kelly Oubre and Paul Pierce.