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James Jones: Suns won’t fire Igor Kokoskov during season

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In the last 30 years, just three NBA head coaches have been fired during their first season as a non-interim head coach – Randy Ayers with the 76ers in 2004, Gar Heard with the Wizards in 2000 and Jerry Tarkanian with the Spurs in 1992

Chatter emerged Suns coach Igor Kokoskov could become the fourth.

Will Phoenix keep Kokoskov the rest of the season?

Suns acting general manager James Jones, via Arizona Sports 98.7:

Yes. We’re committed to Igor, and we’re committed to finishing the season out on a high note. We have room for improvement. That’s the challenge across the organization for us to improve upstairs as well as downstairs, on the court, off the court. So we’re going to push it. But Igor, like I said, it’s a tough job, but he’s up to the challenge.

Our stance is we need to evaluate what we do periodically, but more importantly to finish the season strong.

We support Igor and the staff, and we’ll continue to work together to try to push this forward.

Kokoskov will retake the hot seat this offseason. The 12-50 Suns are terrible and didn’t plan to be. The general manager who hired Kokoskov, Ryan McDonough, was fired before the season even began.

Phoenix’s problems go way above Kokoskov. The roster is lacking.

Good coaches might struggle under these circumstances. Even if he’s not a good coach, Kokoskov will probably improve if he spends more time as a head coach.

But Kokoskov has failed to impress this season. The Suns are awful offensively and defensively. They’re sloppy and undisciplined. Their chemistry has been awful. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are getting fed up.

The absence of clear faults by Kokoskov is not alone reason to keep him, not at this level. He hasn’t set himself apart positively. It might be unfair for him to be judged in this awful situation, but it’s the one Phoenix has.

Kokoskov could still gain traction the rest of this season. Signs of development and cohesion would stand out. Jones is apparently giving the coach this limited opportunity to grow on the job.

After that, Kokoskov’s future with the Suns is up in the air, subject to whomever is running their front office this summer.

Report: Raptors could get OG Anunoby back during Finals

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The Toronto Raptors are headed to the 2019 NBA Finals, and they are going to need every player on their roster if they want a chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors.

Forward OG Anunoby has been out since early April after needing an emergency appendectomy. He has not played in the playoffs yet this season, but a new report says the Raptors may be hopeful he could return before the end of this final series.

Via Twitter:

Anunoby Is a useful second-year forward who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Toronto is going to have a hard time matching up with the Warriors defensively, whether Kevin Durant plays or not. Having Anunoby available would help Toronto be more switchable and more adept at taking on some of Golden State’s smaller lineups.

We don’t have a timetable for Anunoby’s potential return yet, but the way the Finals are spaced out (Game 1 is on Thursday, Game 2 is next Sunday) it could help get players healthy and ready.

That could be good news for Kawhi Leonard, who sat out several games this year simply to rest. Leonard has looked a little banged up through these playoffs, as has just about everyone else. The bad news for Toronto is that this time between games could also help the Warriors get Durant ready to play.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals is on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Canada.

Drake gave Nick Nurse another shoulder rub (VIDEO)

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People are already getting tired of Drake being a prominent figure in the storyline of the Toronto Raptors. They will have to just deal with it for now as Toronto is headed to the 2019 NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

That said, Drake is actually an ambassador for the Raptors. Some folks seem to forget that.

There was a dust-up during the Eastern Conference Finals about Drake having given Raptors coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub during Game 4. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer thought that fans shouldn’t be interacting with members of the coaching staff or players, but the Raptors didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

After the Raptors won on Saturday, Drake embraced Nurse yet again, playing off of the initial kerfuffle.

Via Twitter:

Get ready to see more Drake than you’ve ever wanted.

Watch Raptors fans celebrate Finals berth in streets of Toronto (VIDEO)

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The Toronto Raptors are headed to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 6 to send them home and push Toronto into the final series of the year against the Golden State Warriors.

Raptors fans, who have been perennially disappointed by teams who were just good enough, naturally found themselves celebrating in the streets of Ontario. Videos of cars honking and people walking through the avenues surfaced on social media, with the whole thing looking like a big party.

Via Twitter:

The Raptors aren’t the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but they did have the best player in the entire playoffs this season in Leonard. Coach Nick Nurse figured out a way to stop the Bucks by collapsing on Antetokounmpo, and Milwaukee’s shooters went cold at just the wrong time. The rest of the Raptors bench finally gave Leonard some support, and Toronto was able to mount a comeback in the series to push themselves into the NBA finals.

For that, both Toronto and the Raptors fans deserve to be overjoyed with what’s happening right now.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Toronto.

Bucks fans greet team, Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee airport (VIDEO)

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The Milwaukee Bucks season is over. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast couldn’t get things done in Game 6 on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors in Canada. Now it’s Kawhi Leonard who is heading to the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

This season was a magical one for Milwaukee, one in which they took the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and likely have the league’s MVP in Antetokounmpo.

As you might expect, Bucks fans are happy about that fact, and showed up to the Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport to greet their returning team.

Via Twitter:

It has to be nice for athletes to get this kind of treatment. Although some may want to just go home and languish in their defeat, the unwavering support of fanatics has to take the bite out of the sting, even if just a little bit.