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JJ Redick explains why he was upset at coverage of Markelle Fultz last year

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JJ Redick famously lashed out at reporters last season for covering seemingly every moment of 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz’s workout routine last season. The Philadelphia 76ers guard chided reporters for zeroing in on a player who was just 19 years old at the time, and who was clearly going through some sort of odd mental block with his shooting form.

During Zach Lowe’s podcast on Thursday, Redick elaborated on his emotions at that time, saying that he felt it was out of line for media to continually publish updates on Fultz during practices.

Redick’s response comes at around 35:00 during Lowe’s podcast:

You have a responsibility to cover the story, I get it … There’s a tension to it. I think whatt made me angry that day, and it had been festering, was the way in which people were physically covering him with the cell phones.

That was like our third practice leading up to the trade deadline, and I think the trade deadline had just passed, so we had three practices in the span of that weak. Every time we’d finish practice, or finish shootaround, and the doors would open for the media … you’d see this mad rush to get prime footage location. Everyone would get their cellphones out and they’d start recording him … doing who the fuck knows. Dribbling a basketball, shooting a free throw … mundane things. We, by that point, had seen months of him shooting.

On that particular day, Bryan Colangelo had a press conference … and they all came in with body language like they were vultures preying over a dying, decaying body. The kid was 19, he’s clearly going through something. I got angry … basically cussed them out.

He was my rookie so I guess I was protective but also empathetic. Whatever he was going through, physically or mentally, as an athlete we’ve all been there. There’s varying degrees of extremes to that but we’ve been there.

Lowe: There were also people in your organization who were saying, ‘Why is he out there when the media is coming in?’

Redick: That was his choice. Markelle is an adult, he wanted to be out there.

As an athlete, Redick’s disposition is understandable. He is going to be loyal to his teammates, and have more empathy for the athlete’s side of things. But the line of morality for journalists doesn’t necessitate shielding legal adults who are struggling to perform on a basketball court. That was the duty of the 76ers, if anything. Readers seemed to eventually tire of hearing about Fultz and his issues, although local editors in Philadelphia probably saw less of that.

Redick doesn’t have the experience or training to decide what is newsworthy and when. That is up to editors and journalists covering teams. The real burden lay with the Sixers when it came to Fultz last season. Teams close practices to the media all the time, and the reality is it isn’t natural for media to attend one-on-one workouts for individual players. Media access for those types of things are decided by front office.

The 76ers decided not to (or could not) dissuade Fultz from being in front of the media during the time they were allowed into the practice facility. That’s on Fultz, and the Sixers. Fultz made an adult decision to allow the media to cover him during a vulnerable time. That’s probably not what Redick wanted — and my personal opinion is to concur — but that’s what happened.

The Sixers could have just as easily kept him away, and had private sessions with Fultz until he returned to some kind of form becoming of an NBA player. Videoing the No. 1 overall pick from a $1 billion sports franchise was not just within the realm of journalistic morality, it was necessary from a duty of coverage standpoint, particularly for local outlets in Philly.

Redick can feel the way he feels. He has that right. Journalists cover what they do, with years of training to dictate how to do it. They don’t have to agree. For Sixers fans, the hope is that trainer Drew Hanlen really has fixed Fultz’s jumper, so we can put this story to bed.

I’ll agree with Redick on one point: the whole story is quite tired.

Report: Despite rumor to contrary, Suns would draft Zion Williamson over Ja Morant with No. 1 pick

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The rumor the Suns might draft Ja Morant over Zion Williamson with the No. 1 pick? It was never that believable.

Now comes concrete reporting to the contrary.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

The Suns need a point guard and clearly like Morant. But Williamson is the far-superior prospect. That’s the good reason to take Williamson. There are even bad reasons, too – like Williamson’s marketability.

Remember, there’s only a 14% chance Phoenix gets the No. 1 pick. So, this probably won’t matter.

But good for the Suns settling this quickly. The rumor only made them look bad (which might have been part of the point of people spreading it). James Jones’ regime has hit at least a tolerable level of credibility.

Report: Lakers offered to retain Luke Walton as coach after Magic Johnson resigned

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Johnson clearly intended to fire Lakers coach Luke Walton. Then, Johnson stunningly resigned as Lakers president.

Still, the Lakers and Walton “mutually agreed to part ways,” as team described it.

Most people figure Walton got fired, but had his departure put into kinder terms. But maybe it wasn’t that simple.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

sources say Walton was given the chance to stay on as head coach in a subsequent meeting that included owner Jeanie Buss. But Walton, who was already aware that Buss had given Johnson the full authority to fire him and who had long harbored concerns about general manager Rob Pelinka’s style, was ready to head for the exits himself.

Why is this leaking now? Walton is being sued for sexual assault. The Lakers say they didn’t know about the alleged incident while employing him. Kelli Tennant claims it occurred while Walton was still a Warriors assistant coach, and it didn’t become public until after he left Los Angeles. That the Lakers invited him to return supports their claim (or opens the door for them to look far worse if it turns out they did know).

From a basketball standpoint, it’s unclear under what terms Walton could have returned. Perhaps, the Lakers would have required him to change his coaching staff and/or schemes. It might not have been as simple as Walton continuing on the job as he was doing it previously.

Even if he stayed, Walton would have been on the hot seat. His record was underwhelming, and LeBron James‘ camp reportedly wanted him gone.

He found a soft landing spot with the Kings. The security of the Sacramento job might have been more appealing than continuing with the Lakers.

Also add Walton to the list of people concerned about Pelinka. For better or worse, the Lakers appear to be going forward with Pelinka in charge, anyway.

Igor Kokoskov joins unfortunate ranks of head coaches fired after first NBA season

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Igor Kokoskov worked 18 years as an NBA assistant coach. The Serbia native worked tirelessly to convince teams he was more than just a mentor for European players. Finally, the Suns hired him as their head coach.

“It’s a dream job,” Kokoskov beamed. “And it’s a special day for me.”

Less than a year later, Phoenix fired him.

What a tough business.

The Suns gave Kokoskov a roster ill-equipped to win. They were comically thin at point guard. They had one of the NBA’s least-experienced teams. Even rising star Devin Booker still has significant flaws that inhibit his ability to win. Veterans like Trevor Ariza and Tyson Chandler appeared apathetic in Phoenix.

And now Kokoskov will pay the price for the Suns’ 19-win season.

His time as an NBA head coach is over already, and he might not get another opportunity. Kokoskov is the first coach to get fired after his first season as an NBA head coach since Mike Dunlap with Charlotte in 2013.

Here’s every coach to get fired after only one season, or less, of his first head-coaching job since the NBA-ABA merger. Interim seasons count only if the coach was retained the following year.

Season Tm Coach W L Future jobs
2018-19 PHO Igor Kokoskov 19 63
2012-13 CHA Mike Dunlap 21 61
2010-11 GSW Keith Smart 36 46 SAC
2008-09 DET Michael Curry 39 43
2007-08 CHA Sam Vincent 32 50
2003-04 PHI Randy Ayers 21 31
2003-04 TOR Kevin O’Neill 33 49
2000-01 WAS Leonard Hamilton 19 63
1999-00 WAS Gar Heard 14 30
1999 DEN Mike D’Antoni 14 36 PHO, NYK, LAL, HOU
1997-98 DEN Bill Hanzlik 11 71
1996-97 PHI Johnny Davis 22 60 ORL
1995-96 TOR Brendan Malone 21 61
1993-94 DAL Quinn Buckner 13 69
1992-93 SAS Jerry Tarkanian 9 11
1987-88 PHO John Wetzel 28 54
1983-84 SAS Morris McHone 11 20
1980-81 CLE Bill Musselman 25 46 MIN
1979-80 LAL Jack McKinney 10 4 IND, KCK
1977-78 SEA Bob Hopkins 5 17
1976-77 BUF Tates Locke 16 30

Of the 21 coaches fired in or following their first season as an NBA head coach, only five – Keith Smart, Mike D’Antoni, Johnny Davis, Bill Musselman and Jack McKinney – got another head-coaching job. Kokoskov faces long odds.

At least he got to finish the season. Phoenix had a late 5-2 stretch that included wins over the Bucks and Warriors. That could be a selling point for Kokoskov.

Randy Ayers (2003-04 76ers), Gar Heard (1999-00 Wizards), Jerry Tarkanian (1992-93 Spurs), Morris McHone (1983-84 Spurs), Bill Musselman (1980-81 Cavaliers), Bob Hopkins (1977-78 Seattle SuperSonics) and Tates Locke (1976-77 Buffalo Braves) all got fired during their first seasons as NBA head coaches. Jack McKinney (1979-80 Lakers) lost his job due to a bicycle crash during the season, and Los Angeles officially fired him after the season to keep Paul Westhead, who guided the team to a title in McKinney’s absence.

The Suns weren’t necessarily wrong to fire Kokoskov. Under his watch, they were sloppy and undisciplined and had chemistry problems – areas where the head coach usually gets credit or blame. General manager James Jones deserves a chance to hire his own coach.

Kokoskov might be a good coach. Even if he’s not, he could grow into one.

But he didn’t do enough to secure his job, as tall as that task might have been.

The above list is filled with coaches who had awful records. McKinney is the only one with a winning record, and his situation was complicated by the bike crash. Michael Curry (2008-09 Pistons) is only first-time head coach to take his team to the playoffs and still get fired since the merger, but Detroit had a losing record and got swept in the first round.

In many ways, it’s unfortunate Kokoskov didn’t get a better chance to prove himself. His job security took a major hit when the Suns fired the general manager, Ryan McDonough, who hired Kokoskov before the coach’s first season even began. Kokoskov survived rumors of a potential firing in February, but that was clearly only a stay of execution.

The Suns’ problems go way above the head coach, and Kokoskov’s experience in Phoenix could dissuade potential candidates from replacing him.

But there are only 30 NBA head-coaching jobs. Except for the most-coveted candidates, many coaches would rush to take this job.

As precarious as it can be.

Blake Griffin joined in on the “refs you suck” chant in Detroit

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The Pistons didn’t get swept by the Bucks because of the officiating, but the calls did frustrate Detroit and their fans throughout the series. (Good luck finding a fan base that doesn’t believe the officials have it in for them.)

During the Pistons’ Game 4 loss, frustrated fans started a “refs you suck” chant that reverberated throughout the arena. Blake Griffin got in on the act, quietly joining in with the chants.

Griffin continued to express his frustration with how the game was officiated from the podium after the game.

Griffin missed the first two games of the series, then tried to play through a knee issue the last two, wearing a bulky brace the entire time. Griffin made plays and the Pistons looked better, but it was never going to be enough. When his pain caught up with him and Griffin was taken out of the game in the fourth, Pistons fans gave him a standing ovation.