AP Photo/Aaron Gash

Rumor: Jason Kidd, Jabari Parker weren’t speaking when Bucks fired coach

6 Comments

I don’t trust Jason Kidd when he said Giannis Antetokounmpo offered to try to stop the Bucks from firing the coach.

Maybe Antetokounmpo said it just like that. But Kidd isn’t a reliable source for Antetokounmpo’s words, which – as Kidd relays – just so happen to flatter Kidd.

However, Kidd clearly connected with Antetokounmpo while coaching him, which was incredibly important. Kidd’s bonding with Antetokounmpo was the biggest point in the coach’s favor.

But Kidd apparently didn’t share such a close relationship with all his players.

Ryen Russillo:

Eric Nehm of ESPN Wisconsin:

All of this aligns with frustrations Parker has expressed with ESPN Wisconsin in the past about finger pointing and a lack of positive reinforcement from Kidd.

In short, Parker wasn’t the only Bucks player to express frustration with Kidd during his time in Milwaukee. He made some of his relationships with players incredibly difficult.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Parker dismissed those notions with a laugh and a shake of the head.

“With those reports, I take it that they are using me as a scapegoat,” Parker said at Menominee Nation Arena. “I’m not a threat right now, so they target me because I am an easy piece. With where my life is, I try to focus on myself. I have enough problems in trying to get back. That’s not me to put my energy to wish bad upon others.”

As far as his relationship with Kidd, Parker said the two talked every day, conversing “every time in the gym when I crossed paths with him.”

“He was my coach for four years and it’s always been a good relationship,” Parker said, mentioning that he was surprised to hear the news Monday. “Any coach in a head position, we’re going to have disagreements, but most importantly he helped me. That’s what I look at. I was saddened to hear the news because that’s the only guy I’ve known so far (as head coach). I reached out to him (Monday).”

Parker’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment, echoed Parker’s statements, saying the reports he had seen were not true.

“Were there times where there was frustration? Yeah,” Bartelstein said. “But that goes on with every team in every locker room at all times. Jason was tremendously supportive of Jabari in getting healthy and his rehab and encouraging him. I know Jabari greatly appreciated that.

“There was no rift between Jabari and Jason that had anything to do with this decision. This was just a decision that the Bucks organization made for whatever reasons they made it. It had nothing to do with Jabari, I can tell you that.”

I doubt the Bucks fired Kidd because of Parker. That seems like a straw man Bartelstein is beating down. Teams generally don’t fire coaches to appease a player who has accomplished as little and have as tenuous of a future as Parker, whose stock has dropped due to significant injuries.

What I find much more believable: Kidd’s overall relationships with his players contributed to his firing. Parker isn’t the root of contention, just an example of it.

Kidd’s rotations often changed suddenly and without apparent reason, giving stability-craving players opportunity to grumble. Kidd held old-school principles that sometimes suppressed players. For example, Parker was once pulled from the starting lineup for sharing details of a team meeting with the media.

Again, though, that’s just an example of what sounds like a larger issue that fits into the even bigger overall assessment of Kidd.

Rumor: Ime Udoka frontrunner to become Bulls new coach

David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jim Boylen is the coach of the Chicago Bulls. It’s still his job and he has the backing of the owner and old-guard part of the organization.

That is very likely not enough to keep him in the job much longer, especially with the Bulls now officially not among the 22 teams headed to Orlando to restart the NBA season. Most around the league expect it’s just a matter of time until Boylen is let go (he has a .317 winning percentage across two seasons), with the new management team led by Arturas Karnisovas expected to bring in their own guy. When Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley met with players, a few key ones ripped Boylen to management, a sign of the discord Karnisovas is trying to change within the organization.

Former player and current 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka may be the frontrunner, reports Jay Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sources have told the Sun-Times that 76ers assistant Ime Udoka is the front-runner to become the Bulls’ new coach, with Raptors assistant — and former Bulls assistant — Adrian Griffin also in the picture.

Udoka had a seven-year NBA playing career, plus he played in Spain, then after his playing days became an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Last offseason he jumped to the bench of the Philadelphia 76ers under Brett Brown (who came out of the Spurs coaching tree). Boylen is also a member of the Popovich coaching tree.

Teams not invited to Orlando are looking at conducting “mini-camp” style workouts and maybe having scrimmages/exhibitions against each other in August, so their players don’t go from March to December without playing in games. While the Bulls are not on a tight timeline to make a coaching decision, if they are bringing in someone new they would want that person in place before that summer training camp.

 

Kevin Durant confirms “My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all.”

Nets star Kevin Durant
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The betting odds on the seven seed Brooklyn Nets to win the NBA title dropped to 60-1, even with the Thunder and better than the Trail Blazers and others, all because some fans thought maybe Kevin Durant would return. That despite report after report that it was not happening.

Now Durant himself has shot down the idea, speaking to Mark Spears of The Undefeated at ESPN.

“It’s just best for me to wait,” Durant said. “I don’t think I’m ready to play that type of intensity right now in the next month. It gives me more time to get ready for next season and the rest of my career.

“My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all. We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season.”

His Nets teammate Kyrie Irving will not play in Orlando, either. Irving had shoulder surgery back in March and is still recovering from that.

Durant added in the interview he has fully recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive for the coronavirus back in March not long after the season was shut down.

Next season the Nets will enter as one of the favorites in the East. For the restart this season, however, they will be the seven seed in the East with a tough first-round matchup against Toronto, or maybe Boston.

 

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum commends Jody Allen for no vote

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum
Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Trail Blazers, owned by Jody Allen, cast the lone dissenting vote on the NBA’s plan to resume with 22 teams.

Why?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Portland guard CJ McCollum:

Damian Lillard expressed his concern: He wanted the Trail Blazers to have a real chance at making the playoffs. They got that.

Wojnarowski mentioned how lottery odds are calculated – relevant only if Portland misses the postseason and something current players tend not to dwell on.

This feels incongruous.

Was safety a concern? The risk of coronavirus is higher with 22 teams than 20. However, it’s higher with 20 teams than 16.

The Trail Blazers are 17th in the league. And nobody publicly mentioned health. Having just 20 teams – especially with a group stage – would’ve given Portland an easier path into the top 16. (It’s unclear how many teams would’ve made the playoffs with a group stage).

NBA commissioner Adam Silver wanted everyone to unite behind this plan. Even other owners who disagreed with the plan voted for it. But with the Trail Blazers’ no vote, Allen engendered greater support from her players. If nothing else, that has value.

Report: NBA eying in mid-July 2021 NBA Finals in advance of Olympics

Tokyo Olympics
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA plans to rush through the 2020 offseason and begin the 2020-21 season Dec. 1… just to rush through the 2020-21 season.

Frank Isola of The Athletic:

The NBA Finals normally begin 226 days after the regular-season opener with an 18-day window to play the best-of-seven series. So, based on a typical timeline, a Dec. 1 opener would mean the Finals would be held July 15 – Aug. 1., 2021.

The Tokyo Olympics are slated to begin July 23, 2021.

So, something must give.

It probably won’t be regular-season games. As much as the NBA would like its players to get exposure in the Olympics, owners will be extremely reluctant to surrender direct revenue. Likewise, the many NBA players not headed to the Olympics should share similar financial concerns.

More likely, the league will reduce the number of rest days during the 2020-21 season. That seems risky given the drastic disruptions already affecting conditioning entering the season.

It’s also possible players whose NBA teams advance deep enough in the playoffs just won’t be able to play in the Olympics (or Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, which are scheduled for June and July 2021).

Like with many things affected by coronavirus, there are no good answers – just hard decisions on what to compromise.