Report: Phil Jackson prefers Shaw to Fisher, it could be hard to get either

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For fairly obvious reasons, Phil Jackson would love to have a serious conversation with Brian Shaw about coaching the Knicks. Shaw spent years as Jackson’s right hand man with the Lakers, he both gets Jackson’s philosophy and is respected by players. Plus, Shaw has experience as a head coach.

The only problem is the whole “he is already under contract to coach the Denver Nuggets” thing. To get Shaw out of Denver would require picks to trade (you can’t trade a player for a coach, and Denver will want more than just cash) and the Knicks don’t have a first round pick they can trade until 2018.

With that door mostly closed Jackson is being patent in is coaching search and according to just about every source and report on the planet is waiting to speak with Derek Fisher about the job. The problem there is the whole “Fisher has a job as the backup point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder” thing. At least that job appears to be ending in a couple more games.

Jackson would prefer Shaw, reports the New York Post.

According to a source, Jackson, the Knicks president, prefers Shaw over Fisher, but the Nuggets would require the Knicks to pay compensation. That appears to be a bigger roadblock to getting Shaw out of his Denver contract than Shaw’s reluctance to come to New York. It’s unclear whether Jackson has formally asked the Nuggets for permission to speak to Shaw.

The source said Jackson hasn’t totally given up hope he somehow can pry Shaw from Denver, especially if the Fisher scenario falls through.

Shaw is a long, long shot at best. Denver likes him and even if Shaw wanted to leave for the bigger stage and the Nuggets were willing to talk the Knicks do not have the assets needed.

Problem is, Fisher may be difficult to get, too.

The Lakers are expected to contact Fisher as well about their open coaching vacancy. Then there is the rumor the Thunder are considering offering Fisher a one year contract as a player and with that let him take on some leadership/coaching responsibilities (the team would have to do this unofficially, under the CBA there can no longer be an official player/coach in the NBA).

All of which is to say Fisher will have options.

Some Knicks fans continue to push for Mark Jackson, but he and Phil Jackson would be an oil and water mix — very different philosophies about life and basketball (to a lesser degree on the later). Jackson wants one of his guys, someone he can mold and who subscribes to his philosophies of coaching.

Keep an eye on Tyronn Lue as someone who could get this job in the end.

Lakers, DeMarcus Cousins reportedly may talk new contract next summer

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Sunday, the Lakers waived DeMarcus Cousins to clear out a roster space for Markieff Morris. Cousins was signed last July to be the team’s starting center, but he tore his ACL in training and has not stepped on the court this season. It wasn’t personal, it was business, and under the terms of the CBA Cousins can continue his rehab in the Lakers’ practice facilities.

Cousins may be officially gone, but he could return next season to the Lakers, reports Joe Varden at The Athletic.

But the Lakers could re-sign him this summer, something both sides have expressed interest in pursuing, sources said.

This would be another one-year minimum contract deal, and it makes sense for both sides. Dwight Howard is a free agent and, after a resurgent (but not elite) season in Los Angeles, likely will get offers for more than the Lakers can pay him. JaVale McGee has a $4.2 million player option. Whatever McGee decides, the Lakers will be looking for another big man (and maybe two). Cousins could step right in.

What he can offer on the court coming off a torn Achilles and ACL remains to be seen, but the Lakers will not ask a lot of their centers. Cousins is a two-time All-NBA, four-time All-Star player who should still be able to give the Lakers some solid minutes in the paint.

The Lakers will keep their options open, but don’t be surprised if the two sides reunite.

Vanessa Bryant suing helicopter company after crash that killed Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant and Gianna Bryant
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Ever since Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash last month, we’ve been seeking answers about what went wrong during the flight piloted by Ara Zobayan. After all, Kobe Bryant had made helicopter rides such a normal part of his life.

Now, Vanessa Bryant – Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother – is suing the company that operated the helicopter for wrongful death.

Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times:

The complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleged that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.”

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit said.

Report: Ben Simmons back injury “isn’t a day-to-day thing”

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the back injury for Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons “isn’t a day-to-day thing”.

Simmons missed the Sixers first game following the All-Star break on Thursday. He then left Saturday’s game in Milwaukee after playing just 4:44.

Over the weekend, Philadelphia ruled Simmons out for Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks and said he would undergo further evaluation. Per Wojnarowski’s report, that evaluation is ongoing and a course of treatment is yet to be decided upon.

Expect Philadelphia to lean on Raul Neto, Alec Burks and Shake Milton as primary ballhandlers while Simmons is out. None possess the size and skill combination of Simmons, but all have had moments throughout their careers. Neto drew the start in place of Simmons on Thursday. Burks was acquired at the trade deadline to give the team much-needed bench depth. Milton has flashed at time in his second season, after beginning his NBA career on a Two-Way contract.

Philadelphia loses Simmons while in a battle with the Miami Heat for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The fifth-place 76ers are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the fourth seed, and two games ahead of the sixth-place Indiana Pacers.

Pacers: Jeremy Lamb suffers torn ACL, torn meniscus, fracture

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Kobe Bryant making two free throws after tearing his Achilles was one of the greatest moments of his legendary career.

On a day Bryant was honored, we learned Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb made a similarly gutsy pair of free throws during Indiana’s loss to the Raptors yesterday.

Pacers release:

During the second quarter of the Pacers game at Toronto on Sunday, Indiana Pacers forward Jeremy Lamb sustained a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, a torn lateral meniscus and a lateral femoral condylar fracture.

He will undergo surgery on a date to be determined. He will be out the remainder of the season. Any further updates will be provided after surgery.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb misses all of next season. This is just a devastating set of calamities.

At least Lamb has a guaranteed $10.5 million salary each of the next two seasons.

Indiana (sixth place, 33-24) will have an even tougher time winning a playoff series now. The Pacers could challenge in the first round, but they’ll almost certainly be significant underdogs.

They have depth at shooting guard, for what that’s worth. Victor Oladipo just returned. Justin Holiday is a solid reserve. Finding his lane at point guard, Malcolm Brogdon can move off the ball when T.J. McConnell or Aaron Holiday plays point guard.