Reports: Bulls getting closer to firing Tom Thibodeau

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There are so many agendas at play and so many leaks in the Tom Thibodeau/Chicago Bulls feud that any kernels of truth are hard to spot in the cesspool of spin.

We know the relationship between the Bulls’ front office,and Tom Thibodeau’s is bad — like headed for divorce bad. The Bulls want to ease their pain in letting him go, by finding a team that might want to hire him and getting them fork over some draft-pick compensation. Nobody wants to play that game. The Magic are serious about Scott Skiles (ownership loves him) and the Pelicans’ GM Dell Demps is leaning Alvin Gentry. Which led to the rumors the Bulls were willing to hold on to Thibodeau until all the jobs were filled then fire him. Just out of spite. Which makes little sense because then the Bulls then have to pay his salary (there is an off-set in his contract, if another team hires him the Bulls save that money). Plus, the Bulls miss out on hiring some potentially good coaches snatched up by other teams.

If the Bulls want out, they are just likely going to have to fire him — and they are leaning that way reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

The Chicago Bulls are giving increasing consideration to firing coach Tom Thibodeau and absorbing the corresponding financial hit, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the prospect of Chicago simply terminating its highly successful but often contentious relationship with Thibodeau, as the days pass, is growing in likelihood, even with nearly $9 million left on the coach’s contract over the next two seasons.

That seems more likely than the other alternative, proposed by Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

While the belief among knowledgeable people in the coaching business has grown that Thibodeau could actually wind up coaching the Bulls next season, ESPN reported Wednesday that the team’s front office is increasingly considering the surest way to prevent that from happening: firing him.

My sense is the Bulls thought they could land a draft pick as compensation — even a second rounder — and that someone would hire Thibs so the Bulls didn’t have to pay as much (if anything). But nobody around the league is going to help them out.

If the Bulls want him gone, they just have to pull the trigger on the firing. Otherwise, bring him back. Either way, they are reaching the time to act.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.