Report: Jason Kidd is Bucks’ de facto general manager

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When the Bucks hired Jason Kidd as head coach before last season, speculation immediately turned to whether he’d take control of the front office. After all, he had just attempted a power play to become the Nets’ president.

But the Bucks insisted they hired him only as coach.

With Kidd out due to hip surgery, that claim is getting revisited.

Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj:

Jason Kidd has left the team for apparently six weeks to two months to have hip surgery. A lot of people around the league and people I talked to in the aftermath of this wonder, given Kidd’s penchant in the past to bail on things when they get difficult – could this be the beginning of Kidd’s escape hatch to maybe just moving up to a full-time role in the front office, whether he finishes up coaching this year and then tries to move up next year?

He goes to Milwaukee with the title of head coach, but since the day Jason has arrived there, he’s been in charge of personnel. That’s not a secret.

Drafts Rashad Vaughn when I know that the front office there would’ve liked Bobby Portis

They’re in the process of identifying some potential GM-in-waiting candidates to eventually work with John Hammond and Jason Kidd.

How do long do they entrust Jason Kidd with the future of this organization. Will they allow him here just to move into a complete front-office and maybe hire his own coach?

John Hammond is the Bucks’ official general manager, and they extended his contract through next season. That wouldn’t preclude a change, though. And it sounds as if, regardless of Kidd’s title, Milwaukee wants Hammond to groom his replacement.

As for Kidd, the Bucks have a shaky record of transactions since hiring him. Trading Brandon Knight at last season’s trade deadline wasn’t necessary a mistake, but I’d rather have the top-three-protected Lakers pick that went to the 76ers in the three-way deal than Michael-Carter Williams. A first-round pick was a massive overpay for Greivis Vasquez on an expiring contract, and Milwaukee also included a second-rounder in the trade with the Raptors. Dumping Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova made sense if Kidd was willing to get younger and take a possible step back in the short term, but his reliance on Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo suggests otherwise. Even smaller moves – like waiving the younger Nate Wolters to sign over-the-hill Kenyon Martin, a former Kidd teammate – look suspect.

And there’s drafting Rashad Vaughn over Bobby Portis with the No. 17 pick last year. Vaughn is represented by Jeff Schwartz – the agent who came under fire for counting both Kidd and players as clients. While Portis is pushing for more playing time in a crowded Bulls frontcourt, Vaughn is struggling to find his footing (though it’s far too early to cast final judgments on the rookies).

Kidd’s relationship with Schwartz also has positives for the Bucks. Another Schwartz client, Khris Middleton, surprisingly re-sign for less than a max contract with the Bucks. Add Kidd luring David Falk client Greg Monroe to Milwaukee, and it appears Kidd deserves credit for successfully selling his vision to free agents.

Still, Kidd’s connection to Schwartz should concern the organization (not to mention Schwartz clients – why did Middleton accept less than the max so quickly?). In addition to Vaughn, Schwartz represents current Bucks Carter-Williams, Bayless and Tyler Ennis.

But whatever reservations Bucks owners – including Kidd’s friend, Marc Lasry – had about empowering Kidd, it appears they’ve already gotten past them.

James Harden on Russell Westbrook pairing: ‘We’ll figure it out’

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There has been some doubt that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be able to fit together with the Houston Rockets the season. Both players have matured quite a bit since their time together in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, and now there are real questions about Westbrook’s ability to fit next to just about anyone.

Like Westbrook, Harden is a ball-dominant guard, and we still don’t know the long-term plan for Coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston has real championship hopes, but they could also look much different in a year or two.

Still, Harden and Westbrook have known each other since they were 10 years old. They grew up together in Los Angeles, and are at least very good friends. To that end, Harden says that he believes they will be able to figure it out even if the first year together has bumps along the way.

Via GQ:

It’s like, yo, we’ll figure it out. Everything isn’t necessarily going to be smooth at first, there are going to be ups and downs, and that’s part of an 82-game season. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ve caught a rhythm and everybody is on the same page going into the playoffs. That’s all you can ask for.

That’s a pretty reasonable outlook to have at this juncture. The NBA is constantly changing, and it’s possible that these two guys could have such a personal connection that their on-court conflicts end up being negligible.

It’s another new era in Houston as they try to capitalize on the Golden State Warriors’ injury issues.

Draymond Green says he wants to play for Team USA in 2020 Olympics

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Several big-name players did not play for the United States during the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. The team led by Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart did not medal, and on Sunday it was Spain that took home the gold over Argentina.

But that might not be the case for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

According to Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors star is looking to add his services to Team USA for that Olympics run.

Via NBC Bay Area:

“I do hope to play, and I think a lot of guys will want to play,” Green said Thursday on CNBC’s ‘Power Money.’ “The schedule this year was a little treacherous with the games that was in America, and also the travel to Australia, which is why I think a lot of guys dropped out. You know, a long ways to China. It was just a lot, and it also leads right into the season. Those guys will be coming back in the next couple days and we’ll be two weeks away from training camp.”

“I think you’ll see a lot of guys participating next year in the Olympics,” Green continued, “and I hope to be one of those 12 guys.”

Marc Stein also noted this week that Green’s team made Stephen Curry would also be expected to volunteer his services for the Olympics. Curry has not yet played for Team USA during an Olympic tournaments.

It seems like it’s harder and harder to compel players to play in national team events. It may be good for branding to play internationally, but so many teams and sponsors have international tours in the off-season that players may consider national team duty a duplication of services.

The Olympics mean more than the World Cup in this country, but the real test of whether stars sign up for Team USA next year will be about what happens in the NBA season.

Mavericks will have Dirk Nowitzki logo on court this season (PHOTO)

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Many teams had decided to get nostalgic this season. The Portland Trail Blazers have a special 50th anniversary court, the Denver Nuggets have some cool new jerseys, and the Memphis Grizzlies are kicking it back to their days in Vancouver.

But the Dallas Mavericks are winding the clock back to just last year.

It appears that Dallas will have a Dirk Nowitzki-shaped logo on their court next season. The logo looks like a watermark in the shape of Nowitzki’s famous one-legged fadeaway.

Via Twitter:

It looks like Mavericks players are already having fun at the expense of Nowitzki, and this is a great tribute that Dallas fans are sure to love.

Marc Gasol completes historic double, Spain wins World Cup

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BEIJING (AP) — Marc Gasol looked to the sky as confetti fell, some sticking to his massive shoulders, and then cradled and kissed the giant golden chalice that goes to the World Cup champions.

He’s getting good at hoisting trophies.

Gasol got to bask in a championship celebration for the second time in three months — and this time, he did it for his country. Tournament MVP Ricky Rubio scored 20 points, Sergio Llull added 15 and Spain won the World Cup for the second time by topping Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

“We weren’t the most talented team,” Rubio said. “We weren’t the bigger team. Put anything you want, but we were the team with the biggest heart and we showed it tonight and we showed it during the whole tournament.”

Gasol scored 14 for the winners, who never trailed and added this crown to the one it claimed in 2006. And for him, 2019 will go down as a year the likes of which few others have enjoyed.

The Toronto Raptors center becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year, joining Lamar Odom — who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in 2010. Gasol also became the 19th to win either an NBA or WNBA crown along with a gold medal, either of the Olympic or World Cup variety, in the same year.

The first 18 all did it for the U.S.

This time, Vamos España!

“NBA champion and a World Cup champion as well,” Gasol said. “What can I say? How does it sound to you? I feel very fortunate to be in this position and be able to play this game and help these guys be part of history of Spanish basketball.”

Llull and Rudy Fernandez — the team captain, the one who initially got to accept the Naismith Trophy — went to cut down the nets shortly after the final buzzer. Gasol carried the game ball to the gold-medal ceremony, and Spanish fans wept in the stands during the national anthem.

Gabriel Deck scored 24 points for Argentina (8-1), which got off to a slow start and played uphill the rest of the way. Luis Scola was held to eight points, shooting 1 for 10 from the floor.

“We’re sad right now. We’re very sad,” Scola said. “But I feel confident, in hours, we’ll be able to look back and be very proud. They just played better than us. They were better. They deserved to win. They were the better team in the game and the tournament.”

Spain led 43-31 at intermission, after putting together a 14-2 run to open the game and a 17-1 run later in the half.

“This is basketball,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “If you play better than the other team, you win the game. And Spain was the best team today.”

Scola, even at 39 years old still Argentina’s best player throughout the tournament, didn’t get on the scoresheet until he made a pair of free throws with 2:57 left in the third quarter. But they only cut the Spain lead to 19, and by then the Argentinian fans who stood, sang and chanted for much of the game were relatively quiet.

The day belonged to Spain.

And the year belongs to Gasol.

“It’s unbelievable,” Gasol said.