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PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

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Kurt Helin

1. Brad Stevens, Celtics

2. Dwane Casey, Raptors

3. Quin Snyder, Jazz

This was the most difficult decision in all of the individual awards, and it started with just trying to narrow it down to three. Gregg Popovich led a Spurs team essentially without Kawhi Leonard to 47 wins and the playoffs. Brett Brown has spent years building a culture in Philly and it paid off. Terry Stotts, Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan and Doc Rivers all deserve credit. For me, Brad Stevens taking a team that lost Gordon Hayward five minutes into the season, plus had to lean on a rookie (Jayson Tatum) and a second-year guy (Jaylen Brown), and they got the two seed and had the best defense in the NBA speaks to the amazing job he has done there. He just nudges out Casey and Snyder.

Dan Feldman

1. Dwane Casey, Raptors

2. Brad Stevens, Celtics

3. Quin Snyder, Jazz

The Raptors’ eight-game improvement from last season underrates the job Dwane Casey has done. Remember, they were in line to take a step back this season as their core aged and they shed depth. But Casey implemented a new and improved offensive system (even if he deserves some blame for the previous iso-heavy scheme), got the defense cranked up and developed and empowered a mostly young and definitely elite bench. Brad Stevens nearly overtook him with a strong closing kick as the Celtics’ injuries woes continued to pile up. Quin Snyder’s coaching chops were evident in how his players trusted him – trusted him when Gordon Hayward left for (seemingly) greener pastures, trusted him when he handed the keys to the offense to rookie Donovan Mitchell, trusted him when the team dug a big hole early, trusted him when he demanded unselfishness. Not much separated the three coaches on my ballot and three others who fell just short. Getting James Harden and Chris Paul to mesh isn’t as easy as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni made it look. Doc Rivers did his best coaching work since the Clippers hired him. Gregg Popovich kept Spurs humming, especially defensively, without Kawhi Leonard.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Mike D’Antoni, Rockets

2. Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers

3. Dwane Casey, Raptors

Mike D’Antoni did the impossible. He melded two players that had usage rates of 31% or more last season, then turned them into a one-two punch that essentially made it so Houston has a Hall of Fame point guard on the floor for 48 minutes a night. Plus the Rockets jumped 12 spots in defensive rating year-over-year. D’Antoni is one of the most important coaches in NBA history — first for the SSOL Suns and now in Houston — and he deserves it. Stotts gets second for realizing and openly, sternly motivating Jusuf Nurkic, one of the key cogs to that 13-game winning streak. Casey goes third for making the Raptors quietly scary for the first time, well, ever.

Devin Booker to play in Suns’ opener Wednesday

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Devin Booker — the Suns’ newly minted max contract player — had been working hard to recover from off-season hand surgery in time for the opening of the season (the original timeline after surgery had him missing the first week or two of the season).

Looks like he made it, according to coach Igor Kokoskov, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

Booker is young, 21, and hopefully he just healed quickly. There is no reason to rush Booker back here, the Suns need to approach this season with a long-term view, not thinking win now.

This is going to be an interesting young Suns team with Booker, rookie Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, and now with some veteran voices in Trevor Ariza and the newly added Jamal Crawford in the locker room. This team is not playoff bound in the West, but nightly they will be improved and not a pushover.

Portland, NBA community react to passing of Paul Allen

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For 30 years, Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers. In that time the team made the NBA Finals a couple of times, was a model of consistency making the playoffs 23 times, and providing a city unforgettable memories filled with some of the biggest personalities and best players in the game.

Allen passed away Monday, losing his battle to cancer. He was just 65 years old.

It has led to an outpouring from the entire NBA community, especially around Portland.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Russell Westbrook listed as out for season opener vs. Warriors

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No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.

This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).

The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.

Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.

Alvin Gentry: Pelicans wouldn’t trade Anthony Davis for anyone – ‘not even Beyonce’

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Pelicans star Anthony Davis said he’s the best player in the NBA.

His coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed then expanded.

Gentry:

If you don’t want to call him the best player, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody, then he is the most valuable guy. Not that we would ever consider that. Don’t you guys take some kind of spin and put it on top. There is no one in the league that we would trade him for. There is no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. If we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.

I’d trade Davis for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s also in the MVP race, even younger and locked up an extra season.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are better, older and locked up for longer than Davis. I’d probably trade Davis for LeBron or Curry, though not Harden.

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum are worse, younger but also locked up for longer than Davis. I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for any of them, though the additional team control makes it worth considering.

Really, Davis is already at the point – as few as two years from unrestricted free agency – trade speculation hits high gear. The possibility of him leaving New Orleans high and dry in 2020 is too great to ignore.

As far as Davis for Beyonce… I guess it depends on your priorities.