Report: If Nuggets fire Brian Shaw, Mike D’Antoni would be replacement candidate


Five teams have played at least seven games decided by 20 or more points this season – the Mavericks (7-1 in such games), Clippers (7-0) and Cavaliers (5-2) because they’re good and the Hornets (1-6) because they’re bad.

And the Nuggets (4-3) because… I don’t know what they are.

Denver, 13-20, might be the NBA’s most bipolar team. The Nuggets beat the Suns by 25, Pacers by 21, Pelicans by 20 and Heat by 20 and lost to the Wizards by 30, Hornets by 28 and Kings by 22. The roster is full of talented players, but probably not talented enough to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

It’s the type of team where coaching comes into question, and Brian Shaw has drawn his share of scrutiny. Of course, it matters only what management thinks, but a payroll that ranks 11th in the league suggests the higher ups had higher expectations.

Shaw is a second-year head coach, and he could just need a little more time to figure out how to optimize this team’s talent. This is also the same franchise that fired George Karl after he won Coach of the Year.

This is a long way of saying I don’t know Shaw’s job security, but if the Nuggets make a change…

Raj Sharan of ESPN Denver:

according to two NBA sources, the name to keep an eye on in the unlikely event the Nuggets move away from Shaw would be Mike D’Antoni.

D’Antoni could be a really good fit in Denver, where his up-tempo system would combine with the thin mountain air to give opponents fits. He actually coached the Nuggets once before, the 1999 lockout-shortened season. Denver went 14-36 and fired him after the season. But that was well before he perfected his offensive scheme with the Suns.

A few Nuggets – Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov – were playing well for Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks before being traded to Denver for Carmelo Anthony. Kenneth Faried would also fare well in a high-octane attack (not that the Nuggets play slowly now), and it would be a tremendous opportunity for Ty Lawson to run D’Antoni’s offense.

Denver rode out a slow start with Shaw, and after a hot streak, the Nuggets are seemingly finding equilibrium. It’s telling that they stuck with Shaw during the low points, but it’s also telling that someone is circulating the name of a potential replacement.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.