Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Frustrated Alvin Gentry goes off. For him.

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A full slate of games around the NBA, not many upsets but at least one very upset coach. Here is what you need to know from around the league.

1) Frustrated Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry: “We are not a good team.” If you were a Pelicans fan, the last few weeks you could talk yourself into “maybe, maybe they could come back and make the playoffs.” They had played a little better, other teams were banged up, so maybe if New Orleans got on a little run. Then Wednesday night happened. The night after playing double overtime, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle decided to rest four starters Wednesday. Didn’t matter. The Mavericks still took control of the game in the third quarter and thanks to a dozen points from Raymond Felton in the fourth quarter (22 on the night) Dallas won 100-91.

That set Alvin Gentry off. Well, as much as the player-friendly coach is going to go off in front of the media. But he was ticked.

More, from the Times-Picayune:

“I don’t really know, to be honest with you. I wish I had answers. I don’t have answers, but we’re going to come up with answers. It’s not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to anybody for us to come out and have that kind of effort. It really isn’t. And when I say ‘us’ I mean all of us: coaches, players, everybody. It’s just not good. I’m really disappointed in the way we approached the game. We tried time and time again to say that it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is not playing. Usually in these kinds of situations, guys try to step it up anyway because they are trying to earn extra minutes. And we didn’t react. I wish I knew, but I don’t.”

The Pelicans started the season looking like a M*A*S*H* unit and never have gotten right, their offense has been pedestrian on the season and down from a year ago (when it was top 10). But last summer Gentry gave a lot of lip service to improving the defense, he brought in a defensive-minded assistant to lead that charge, and the Pelicans are worse defensively than a year ago. This team is worse. Certainly the blame starts with Dell Demps and the roster he put together (conventional wisdom around the league is his job is in danger). No doubt starting this summer there needs to be a roster overhaul. But Gentry is far from blameless here — he has put in his philosophy of ignoring the offensive glass (something Anthony Davis does well) to get back in transition defense and be better set on that end, and it hasn’t mattered. The Pelican defense is still a sieve. There needs to be some real soul-searching in New Orleans this offseason.

2) C.J. McCollum sits out Blazers game because of “clerical error.”
It is fairly common with teams for the team trainer to handle the official roster — the trainer has the final say on if a guy can or can’t play due to injury, so he fills out the roster sheet in consultation with the coach. Then the coach signs it, and away we go. Except the Blazers messed up and accidentally listed C.J. McCollum as inactive when he was set to play. That’s the sheet they turned in. Once the mistake was realized the Blazers tried to correct it, but Doc Rivers would not let them off the hook (and I’m okay with that, this isn’t U8 soccer where everybody plays nice).

The Clippers went on to a comfortable 109-98 win. Would Los Angeles have won if McCollum played? Probably. But the question is moot, the Blazers turned in the form saying their second best player was out and they had to live with the consequences.

3) Kyrie Irving is all the way back, watch what he does to Nene.
We told you the other day Kyrie Irving was all the way back, but if you need further proof we submit this:

4) Tweet of the night: Boris Diaw is awesome. From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

5) LeBron James can still get do nasty things. Lest you thought the Cavs were all Kyrie right now, LeBron had 34 and owned the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Knicks reportedly had players-only meeting before David Fizdale was fired

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New York had lost eight in a row, blowing big leads in a couple of those games. The last two games the Knicks were listless — a 44-point crushing by the Sixers, then a 37-point thrashing by the Nuggets — and looked like a team that had given up.

Friday morning, team veterans — led by Marcus Morris — called a players-only meeting before practice to talk about the need for the players to not roll over and play harder. Particularly with coach David Fizdale’s job on the line. That meeting was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Fizdale then ran the team practice.

One meeting and one practice was not going to stop the inevitable, Fizdale was fired later on Friday. The Knicks have made that official and assistant coach Mike Miller will take over as the interim head coach.

Sometimes there is a boost of energy teams get from a coaching change, but in the case of the Knicks it may well be a dead cat bounce. That is unless the veterans really do take charge and start pushing this roster.

While Fizdale certainly deserves blame for the lack of identity on offense and defense from the Knicks, I’m not a believer that an NBA coach is fully responsible for his team’s motivation. These are professionals getting paid millions of dollars, it shouldn’t take a rah-rah speech from a guy in a tie to get them focused and ready to do their job. It’s on the players. Motivation is always part of a coach’s job, and with a young team keeping the players on task certainly is part of the coach’s responsibility, but at the NBA level a coach should have to worry less about firing his guys up on a nightly basis.

Knicks make it official: David Fizdale fired, assistant Mike Miller promoted to head coach

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UPDATE: The Knicks have made all the reporting official.

As had been expected, David Fizdale is out as the Knicks head coach after an ugly 4-18 start to the season. This was a case where Fizdale was given an “Island of Misfit Toys” roster to work with that was never going to be good, but he also didn’t do much with it. New York had no identity on either side of the ball. The Knicks have lost eight straight, the last two by at least 37 points, and the team was simply lackadaisical in its effort recently.

Who will coach the Knicks next season depends on the answer to another question: Are team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry safe, or are they on their way out, too?

In the short term, New York promoted Mike Miller into the big chair, and bring up Keith Bogans from the G-League coaching staff to round out the roster, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Miller spent four years as the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate, and was the G-League Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He was eventually promoted to the Knicks bench.

Don’t expect a major shake-up in the Knicks’ offensive and defensive systems, or with the rotations, at least in the short term. There just are not a lot of practice days built into the NBA schedule to allow a mid-season replacement to overhaul everything. Plus, with this roster, there’s only so much a human being can do.

Fizdale signed a four-year, $22 million guaranteed contract with the Knicks, meaning for the rest of this season and all of next one he can sit on a Miami beach and collect James Dolan’s money. Not a bad life.

 

As was expected, Stephen Curry reportedly has second wrist surgery to remove pins

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This was both expected and right on schedule.

Stephen Curry said almost a month ago that he was going to need a second surgery to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure back on Nov. 1. Curry suffered a fractured hand back on Oct. 30 when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him, and in the first surgery pins were inserted to stabilize the bone through the healing process.

That second surgery has taken place, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

This has been confirmed by Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Curry has said he fully expects to play this season, although it wouldn’t be until the end of what is a lost cause campaign for Golden State. For now, Curry is focused on recovery.

“[Managing the]swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly,” Curry said last time he spoke to the media.

Without Curry or Klay Thompson yet this season (plus, of course, Kevin Durant on crutches in Brooklyn), and D'Angelo Russell missing a chunk of time as well due to injury, the Warriors have struggled to a 4-19 record with a bottom-five offense and defense.

The hope for the Warriors is to get Curry and Thompson back by next summer and working out, they get a high draft pick, make a couple other moves around the edges, get Draymond Green healthy, and this team is a threat again. This season it’s more like the Warriors are taking a season off to find themselves and travel the world.

Report: Knicks fire David Fizdale

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The Knicks started 2-8.

Then, it got worse.

Knicks owner James Dolan ordered president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to address the media after a loss. Mills and Perry spoke before coach David Fizdale, a break in decorum that ignited speculation about Fizdale getting fired.

Then, it got worse.

New York lost six straight.

Then, it got worse.

After a 44-point loss to the Bucks, Fizdale said the Knicks entered the game not believing they even could win. They followed that with a 37-point home loss to the Nuggets yesterday that Fizdale called “sickening.”

Finally, with New York 4-18 and on an eight-game losing streak, the Knicks are making a major change.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This was inevitable. Mills wanted Fizdale gone and knows how to navigate Madison Square Garden politics.

The season was already a lost cause, and it’s likely to remain a mess. Keith Smart, who previously coached the Warriors and Kings, was the only other member of the staff with NBA non-interim head-coaching experience.

The big question: Will Mills and Perry survive?

They gave Fizdale a lacking roster and outsized expectations. Nearly any coach would have been doomed to fail in this situation.

To be fair, Fizdale provided no evidence he deserved to be an exception. The Knicks lacked identity under his guidance, and development of younger players was uneven.

But the problems go way above Fizdale, starting with Dolan.

At least we’ll always have this Fizdale quote comparing the Knicks to slipping in ice, dog poop and pee.