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What’s next for Brooklyn? Nobody knows, but expect something bold

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It was a foolish plan, but it was bold.

When Mikhail Prokhorov took over control of the Nets and they were ready to move to Brooklyn, he wanted to take over the New York market and promised a title within five seasons — then told GM Billy King to do whatever it took to put together a contender. It was brash, like Prokhorov himself. It was also shortsighted. In the NBA you can’t put together a title contender without at least one Top 10, franchise-changing player, and the Nets had zero of them. What’s more, to acquire the pieces that Prokhorov wanted in the short-term meant King would have to sacrifice the long-term. King made bad deals (and followed them up with bad deals, he made plenty of mistakes), all of which led to a troubled organization, but everything started with orders from on high.

The bill for those moves has come due, and Sunday it cost coach Lionel Hollins and King their jobs.

So what’s next in Brooklyn?

Nobody knows. But whoever lands in the GM and coaches chairs (and don’t be shocked if it’s one big name given a lot of power) know this — they will not be able to turn this around quickly.

The Nets will have tons of cap space next summer to throw at free agents, but they are going to have to settle for second-tier guys. Do you think Kevin Durant or Al Horford or Michael Conley or any of the other top free agents drawing multiple max offers will decide to step into this mess and try to be the savior? The New York market is still a draw, but remember last summer when Greg Monroe chose Milwaukee over New York because he liked how the organization was better positioned? That’s going to happen to the Nets this summer. There is no magic bullet for the Nets.

Why don’t the Nets just draft the franchise player they need to turn things around (like the Knicks across town)? Because the Nets don’t have their pick this season — the Celtics control it unprotected, part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deals King was pushed to make when the team moved to Brooklyn. In fact, the Nets don’t control their own first-round pick until 2019, all a result of King trying to do what Prokhorov wanted from the start. They are not rebuilding through the draft.

It’s going to be a slow process in Brooklyn, but expect Prokhorov to try to jump-start it with a big name. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News mentions the one that quickly started to buzz around the league again.

I expect overtures to be made. The question is would Calipari want to step into this? Slow rebuilds are not his thing. Might he just leverage the Nets for even more money in Kentucky, where he has built a powerhouse? It’s something to watch.

Bondy also mentions Danny Ferry, who brings baggage but certainly showed in Atlanta he knows how to build a team.

However, I’m not sure that’s a big enough splash. Not with Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and other splashy names for the New York market available. Thibodeau and Van Gundy — like Calipari — would want player control as well as being coach. Does Prokhorov want to bring in the CSKA Moscow president as GM, then let him pick the coach?

Whoever lands in the GM chair, will they try to trade guys like Joe Johnson (at the deadline) and Brook Lopez to get some picks and restock the roster? That would seem the smart play. A foundation needs to be laid before elite free agents will seriously consider coming to Brooklyn.

The challenge with prediction a direction for the Nets is there is no clear voice charting the path — there are a lot of different voices in Brooklyn suggesting a lot of different directions. Bondy reports that Brett Yormark is having a greater say in the organization (he’s a Calipari guy), as does Russian Dmitry Razumov. Who has Prokhorov’s ear?

In the interim, expect confusion out of Brooklyn, until Prokhorov decides to make his next bold strike.

Report: Philadelphia ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as next coach

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Philadelphia 76ers ownership (led by Josh Harris) reportedly has been very hands-on in picking the team’s new coach — even if that means a new direction for the roster. That hands-on style reportedly why ownership likes Elton Brand as GM and may balk at bringing in a big-name president of basketball operations — that person would want total control of basketball decisions. Right now, ownership is pulling a lot of those levers.

And ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as the next head coach in Philadelphia, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sources have been saying since last week that the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. They say he’s the guy the ownership group wants. One source even said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job.

The problem is that Brand is supposed to have a huge input on the hire. The ownership is only supposed to approve or deny Brand’s suggestion. Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Joel Embiid gave his blessing. In addition, there are reports that the Sixers will make trades if D’Antoni is hired. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.

With Billy Donovan taking over in Chicago, the list of top candidates for the Philadelphia job seems down to two: Tyronn Lue and Mike D’Antoni. Lue would be the conventional choice, a guy who would try to make it work with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Lue the idea would be making better use of the roster and style the 76ers have already built.

D’Antoni would be a radical change of direction — he is coming from a team that just started 6’7″ Robert Covington at center. The current 76ers roster would need changes to fit with D’Antoni’s freewheeling ways, and even then the coach would need to adapt what he wants to do. (No contract is untradeable, but moving the four-years, $147.2 million left on Harris’ deal, or the three years and $81 million on Horford’s contract, would require Philly to throw in a lot of sweeteners.)

D’Antoni would mean another change of direction in Philly, but that seems to be what ownership wants.

Bam Adebayo on injury: “I’m good,” expects to play in Game 5 Friday

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In the final minutes of Miami’s Game 4 win, while Tyler Hero was knocking down shots and Jimmy Butler was getting to the line, Miami‘s Bam Adebayo was dealing with an injury, walking around holding his wrist, his arm dragging. He had gotten tangled up with Daniel Theis under the basket and clearly injured something.

The questions raised post game were about what happened, how serious it was, and could Adebayo be out for Game 5 on Friday? There was nothing official from the team but it looks like he will play, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4, and his play is critical to Miami’s game plan against Boston. His ability to protect the rim at one end, then come out high to set screens and pull Theis out of the paint on the other end, is at the heart of what the Heat want to do in this series. If he is even slowed in Game 5 it is an advantage for Boston.

This time of year, and with the Heat one game away from the NBA Finals, no chance he sits if he can at all play.

LeBron James: Neighbor’s walls, not Breonna Taylor, got justice

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Louisville police officers were not charged with killing Breonna Taylor. However, former officer Brett Hankison was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly firing firing recklessly into nearby apartments during the incident.

That outcome left NBA players unsatisfied.

LeBron James:

The emotions LeBron – and many others – are feeling are completely understandable. This was a tragedy. Faced with an obvious injustice, it’s easy to demand the harshest-imaginable punishment. That didn’t come.

But it is not too late to address the injustices – which were always far larger than the officers at the scene returning fire – at play in Taylor’s death.

Tyler Herro carries Heat over Celtics in Game 4, within one game of NBA Finals

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If the Boston Celtics targeted Tyler Herro in the 2019 NBA Draft, they have more reason than ever to lament their near miss.

Herro scored 37 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 112-109 win over the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday. The 21-year-old rookie put Miami up 3-1 and himself in the record book.

The only other player so young to score so much in a playoff game? Magic Johnson, who had 42 points in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals at age 20.

The Heat will look to reach the NBA Finals in Game 5 Friday. Teams leading a best-of-seven series 3-1 have won 95% of the time.

Miami’s big concern: Bam Adebayo, who hurt his wrist late in the game. Adebayo (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals) played through the injury but appeared to be feeling it.

He and the Heat just kept grinding through everything, though.

Miami won despite shooting only 10-for-37 on 3-pointers (27%). Forget about make-or-miss league. The Heat willed themselves to victory with aggravating defense, hustle, rebounding… and, yes, big-time shot-making by Herro, who made 9-of-11 2-pointers and 5-of-10 3-pointers

The Celtics committed 19 turnovers – some forced by Miami, some self-inflicted. The Heat’s zone defense continues to make Boston uncomfortable, though Marcus Smart (10 points and 11 assists) found some success penetrating and kicking against it. Jaylen Brown (21 points and nine rebounds) knocked down some of those created looks.

After a scoreless first half, Jayson Tatum scored 28 points in the second half. Stephen Curry scored 33 second-half points after a scoreless first half in Game 6 against the Rockets last year. That’s the only time someone followed a scoreless first half with so many second-half points in the Basketball-Reference postseason database, which dates back to 1997.

But those successes weren’t sustained. Tatum (six), Smart (four) and Brown (four) all had too many turnovers.

This series is even by points scored. But Boston has been just a little too erratic, which is why Miami has the key 3-1 lead.