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Who will be Raptors’ next coach? Mike Budenholzer? Jerry Stackhouse?

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Dwane Casey led a Raptors team that changed its offensive philosophy this season, won a franchise-record 59 games, and all that earned him the title of Coach of the Year as voted by his peers (and he could win the official NBA award, too).

Friday, Dwane Casey was fired by Toronto.

Beyond the questions of is this fair (no, but life isn’t fair) or is this the smart move comes another big one: Who will be the next coach of the Raptors?

When word of Casey’s impending doom started to circulate around the league a couple of days ago, the buzz was they would go with one of their top assistants, an internal candidate who brings change but not much disruption. However, not long after the firing, the name of former Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer came up. So here are the potential new head coaching candidates for Toronto.

• Mike Budenholzer. Let go by the Hawks and undone more by his unimpressive work as a GM than his coaching acumen. He may be at the top of Masai Ujiri’s wishlist, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is expected to get a close inspection for the Raptors opening, league sources said. Budenholzer met with Milwaukee on Tuesday, league sources said.

Budenholzer is an excellent tactician on both ends of the court — he’s going to be faster with in-game adjustments than Casey. Coach Bud is also a guy who can maximize talent and understands how to build and manage a culture. He would push Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, challenge them in new ways. No question he’d do a good job. Budenholzer also has options — the chance to coach the up-and-coming Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo is tempting (despite questions about ownership there). Or, Budenholzer could sit at home and collect paychecks from the Hawks for a year, spend more time with his family, watch a lot of Judge Judy and get away from it all for a season. We’ll see what Budenholzer decides.

• Nick Nurse. The lead assistant for Casey and the guy credited for re-shaping Toronto’s offensive attack this season, his name came up in a number of other job searches where teams were looking for elite assistants. He has been a head coach at the G-League level, which means he has some experience in the big chair.

• Rex Kalamian. Another of the Raptors’ highly-touted assistant coaches, he was the guy serving more as a defensive coordinator for Toronto this season (the Raptors had the fifth-ranked defense in the NBA during the regular season).

• Jerry Stackhouse. He’s been incredibly impressive as the head coach the past two seasons of the Raptors’ G-League team (the Raptors 905) winning one ring and making it to the Finals the other year. He’s been a strong player-development guy and has the respect of the players around the league.

• Steve Clifford or Stan Van Gundy. If Ujiri decides he wants to go outside the family for the next head coach, and he can’t land Budenholzer, then these guys are available. Clifford is a defensive-minded coach with a good reputation around the league and who led Charlotte to the playoffs. Stan Van Gundy has led a team to the Finals (Orlando) and can get a team to play smart, inside-out basketball. Both of these guys could be fits, but they seem long shots right now.

Rumor: Timberwolves bypassed Stephen Curry in draft because Minnesota is too cold for year-round golf

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Timberwolves general manager David Kahn infamously drafted two point guards – Ricky Rubio No. 5 and Jonny Flynn No. 6 – before the Warriors took Stephen Curry No. 7 in the 2009 draft.

Curry, as transcribed by Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“My guy David Kahn. I don’t know where he’s at right now,” Curry said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “I don’t know if that ever came out — there’s a story. Everybody knows how much I love golf — play it in my spare time and what not.

“I think the word on the street was that he didn’t draft me because in Minnesota it’s cold and I wouldn’t be able to play as much golf so I would have been miserable.”

A shocked Simmons asked Curry: “Is that true?”

“I hope it’s true because that’s hilarious (laughter),” Curry said. “That’s hilarious.”

If this is why Minnesota passed on Curry, it was a huge mistake. Better to take the best prospect available and hope for the best. Curry probably would have learned to appreciate Minnesota. There’s plenty of room to golf elsewhere in the offseason. Remember, Golden State was seen as a low-rung destination just a few years ago. Curry helped transform the franchise’s perception.

Mostly, though, I’m with Curry. This would be a hilarious story if true.

But that doesn’t mean we should just assume it’s accurate. Plenty of teams underestimated Curry, who looked like an undersized score-first guard when he entered the NBA. He just beat the odds and made everyone who passed on him look silly.

Orlando not getting 2023 All-Star game

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The next three NBA All-Star hosts are set:

  • 2019: Charlotte Hornets
  • 2020: Chicago Bulls
  • 2021: Indiana Pacers

Beyond that? The Orlando Magic want an All-Star game, but they apparently struck out with upcoming selections.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said Sunday the Magic put in a bid to host the 2023 All-Star Weekend and have been informed by league officials that another location will be selected for that year.

The league asked for bids for the 2022 and 2023 All-Star Weekends, but Martins said the Magic couldn’t bid for the 2022 game because a major convention will be held in Orlando that same weekend, leaving the city with too few hotel rooms to also host All-Star Weekend.

Orlando hosted All-Star games in 2012 and 1992. I bet one will return there soon enough. It’s a warm-weather city with the infrastructure to host.

It just won’t be within the next half decade.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer: ‘I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in’

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The Clippers will probably miss the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. But they’re also even further from landing a high draft pick. They’re in that middling position some teams find perilous.

But not Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times:

Ballmer also vowed that the Clippers won’t tank to get a better draft pick. “That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” he said. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

The 76ers missed the playoffs five straight seasons, but they emerged from that self-inflicted drought with two franchise cornerstones – Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons – and multiple other helpful pieces. The Process worked as intended.

But this is also why the NBA needn’t freak out about other teams replicating Sam Hinkie’s plan. Few have the stomach for it.

Ballmer doesn’t. The Clippers are trying to attract free agents. The better they are in the interim, the more credibility they’ll build.

Jordan Clarkson, Yao Ming keen observers at Asian Games basketball

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson watched from the bench, not quite able to make it to the Asian Games in time to play in the opening game for the Philippines.

Yao Ming was there, too, also keeping a close eye on the Philippines’ opening 96-59 win over Kazakhstan.

After getting a special exemption from the NBA to play for the Philippines in Jakarta, the US-born Clarkson should be ready to suit up for the next game against China. And that has the attention of ex-Houston Rockets and Chinese all-star center Yao.

Clarkson, one of three NBA players given an exemption by the league to play in Jakarta, said he had a frustrating time while his status for the tournament was being considered. The NBA also granted exemptions to Houston Rockets 7-foot-1 (2.17-meter) center Zhou Qi and Dallas Mavericks forward Ding Yanyuhang to play for China.

“We went back and forth so many times, saying I was going to play, then I wasn’t going to play,” the 6-5 (1.96-meter) Clarkson told Philippines’ reporters after Thursday’s game. “Now, being able to participate is awesome.

“I’m very excited to know that I’m finally getting to do this, being able to play … for the country. It’s definitely something that I’ve been looking forward to.”

Clarkson, who qualifies to play for the Philippines through his maternal grandmother, has four days to get familiar with “fun style of play.”

“I feel the support, the love all the time,” he said. “My grandma is real proud I’m able to do this now.”

The Philippines is playing a tournament for the first time since 10 players and two coaches were suspended following a wild brawl in a World Cup qualifier against Australia on July 2. Three Australian players were also suspended.

Video of the brawl was widely played around the world, with punches thrown, chairs tossed at players, and security needed to restore order.