Reports: Vinny Del Negro “serious” contender to get Timberwolves job

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Vinny Del Negro interviews well. He can wow a front office with tales of how he will improve and develop the team. The stories about how he charmed Donald Sterling and his wife over dinner, securing the Clippers job (when the rest of management wanted to go another direction) should tell you all you need to know.

That fact also explains why he may be the next coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In what would be a body blow to a fan base that a year ago had such high hopes and now sees the team disintegrating, both Marc Stein of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports are reporting Del Negro is a leading candidate to be the next Minnesota coach. First we go to Stein at ESPN, who explains Del Negro may be moving past the expected favorite there Sam Mitchell.

Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that Del Negro, who is also being considered for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ job, was spotted last week interviewing with Wolves president and part-owner Flip Saunders and is firmly in the mix for the post after the collapse of Minnesota’s talks with Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger.

But sources say Mitchell is by no means a shoo-in to replace the retiring Rick Adelman, with Del Negro said to have made a strong impression on the Wolves in their talks to date.

If your first thought is, “no way Kevin Love stays in Minnesota if Del Negro is the coach” you are half right — Kevin Love isn’t staying in Minnesota no matter who GM Flip Saunders hires as coach. Hiring Del Negro is apparently about looking ahead, according to Wojnarowski.

https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/472074854339211264

Yes, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose had some success under Del Negro, but they’ve had much more under other coaches.

That’s the thing about Del Negro, his win totals are good enough that you can’t just dismiss him as someone with no idea what they are doing. What you can rip him for simplistic offenses, his vapid interviews, the insanely heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and most importantly his treatment of players. Rose and Paul did better with the next coaches they had because the systems gave them more options and pushed then to give up the ball a little rather than make all the decisions. Del Negro tore down the talented DeAndre Jordan to the point he was useless late in games, where Doc Rivers was able to build him up and put Jordan in positions to get Defensive Player of the Year votes. That’s just one of many examples.

We shouldn’t ignore the fact Del Negro’s teams have done well in the regular season — he has a career winning percentage of .533, his teams have never been below .500, and the last season he coached he won 56 games. But his teams are very beatable in the playoffs because of his systems. He left the Bulls and Clippers and those team got demonstrably better (to be fair, he was replaced by two of the best in Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers).

We will see how this plays out, but I honestly never thought we’d see Del Negro in the league again. Especially on a young team trying to build up and develop talent — he talks a good game but the evidence points to a different conclusion.

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.