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Frank Vogel officially hired to be head coach of Lakers

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The Lakers got their guy… or at least the guy third on their list. Or fourth.

Monday night the Lakers made it official, hiring Frank Vogel as their new head coach.

“We are excited to add Frank Vogel as the next head coach of the Lakers,” Laker GM Rob Pelinka said in a statement.  “Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA Playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities we were looking for in a head coach – including, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work, and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards.”

“I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organization that I have long admired,” Vogel said in the press release (his official press conference is Monday). “I look forward to coaching such phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team.”

Vogel took a reported three-year contract — two fewer than first-time NBA coach John Beilein got in Cleveland — and agreed to take on Jason Kidd as his lead assistant. Tyronn Lue was offered that same contract but valued control and power more than the job itself and turned it down. Vogel did not.

That said, Vogel could succeed as the Lakers’ coach. He has a good Xs and Os mind and is respected in the coaching community. In a vacuum this is a solid, if unspectacular, hire. It also didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Vogel’s ultimate success will depend on several things, some beyond his control:

• How will LeBron James respond to this behind closed doors? Publicly he backed the hire on social media, but rumblings around the league suggest he was less than pleased. This was not his guy. That said, he’s going to buy in on some level — he wants to win, he’s still in legacy mode, he’s not getting traded — but will it stay that way when things get tough? He has long gravitated toward former players as his preference as a coach (Luke Walton is the exception) and now Kidd, a guy LeBron won a gold medal with during the 2008 Olympics, will be right there.

• More importantly, what kind of roster will Vogel have to coach? The real challenge for Pelinka — and Kurt Rambis, who has grown into a more significant role with the Lakers — is to land another star player then put good fitting role players around them. This needs to be a win-now team. It’s easy to say “this is the Lakers, they will get somebody” but when those somebodies have other options will they look at the Lakers management, and the expecations, and think that they like the other options better?

Vogel is seen as a good defensive coach who can be a bit simplistic with his offensive sets, although “give the ball to LeBron and get out of the way” is not the worst offensive strategy. Vogel coached the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals twice, both times losing to LeBron James’ Heat. Vogel struggled to coach a rebuilding team in Orlando, a squad Steve Clifford did much better with this season. That said, he’s a solid coach. If he gets a real chance.

The Lakers got their man… and their potential fall guy if this season doesn’t live up to the expectations, either.

Could NBA playoffs have 1-16 seeding?

NBA playoffs
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver likes the idea of 1-16 playoff seeding.

Could it finally happen this season?

Brian Windhorst on ESPN:

The more people I talk to, the more people in the league think that it’s going to end up being a playoffs-only scenario. And to spice it up, this is something I think Adam Silver is going to bring to the table.

There have two major impediments to this plan in normal years:

  • Travel
  • Eastern Conference owners

It seems likely the season will resume at only Disney World. A single site eliminates the travel concerns.

At least five Eastern Conference owners would have to vote for this format change. They typically want to protect their playoff slots and easier path to the NBA Finals rather than mixing with often-better Western Conference teams.

But if only some teams resume, owners of the finished teams would would be incentivized to support whatever draws the most revenue. If only playoff teams return, that would increase the pool of owners who wouldn’t be voting by self interest.

It helps that the top eight teams in each conference have the league’s 16 best records. So no teams would gain or lose a playoff berth unless more regular-season games are played (or a play-in tournament is held).

This might be the year for a 1-16 format. Just don’t expect it to continue into normal years.

If it happens without any more regular-season games, here’s how the bracket would look:

Rumor: Mike Budenholzer was close to taking Knicks job in 2018

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It’s the lure of the New York market, that a coach would consider passing on coaching Giannis Antetokounmpo and a team on the rise in Milwaukee to take the job.

In the summer of 2018, Mike Budenholzer was out in Atlanta and the best established name on the coaching market. At the time, it was known Coach Bud was the top choice of the Knicks, but he was reportedly close to taking the job, according to Ian Begley at SNY.TV.

Discussions between the Knicks and Budenholzer in the 2018 offseason advanced to a point where some people who would have come with Budenholzer to New York were talking about places to live in the city because they felt Budenholzer was close to taking the job, per SNY sources…

One official from an opposing team involved in searches at the time confirmed that coaching the Knicks intrigued Budenholzer. “Bud was definitely interested,” the team official said recently.

Budenholzer, however, chose Milwaukee, which had Antetokounmpo and a roster that was talented but needed a more modern offensive style and more focus. Budenholzer brought that and the team won 60 games last season, and is a title contender this season (if and when the NBA season restarts).

The Knicks hired David Fizdale, who lasted less than a season and a half before being let go. New team president Leon Rose now has to hire a new coach, and that will say a lot about the direction he wants to take the team.

He’d be lucky to find someone as good as Budenholzer.

Watch Tom Brady tell Charles Barkley to ‘take a suck of that’ after he holes fairway shot

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It was the highlight of an entertaining — if not always pretty — afternoon of live golf, raising money for charity.

Tampa Bay Bay Buccanneers quarterback Tom Brady (it’s so weird to type that) was on his fourth shot on the par-5 7th hole at the Medalist Golf Club. Brady had a rough front nine to that point, and commentator Charles Barkley decided to up the trash talk (as if Barkley should talk about someone else’s golf game).

“How many shots do you want? Come on, I’m going to give you some shots man, I want some of you,” Barkley said.

“Don’t worry, it ain’t over yet,” Brady countered as he walked up to his fourth shot, 130 yards from the pin. “I think you just made him mad, Chuck,” host Brian Anderson said. “No, he can take a joke,” Barkley replied. Then this happened.

Brady earned that trash talk.

It wasn’t the only great exchange between the two; they had some fun on an earlier on a par 3 when Barkley bet Brady couldn’t get it on the green.

Increasing buzz teams well out of playoffs will not come to Orlando for games

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The Golden State Warriors have been public about it, they expect their season to be over. Golden State is far from alone, multiple teams well out of the playoff picture have questioned the expense and risk-to-reward ratio of coming back to play a handful of regular season games without fans in Orlando.

More and more, the buzz has been the NBA league office sees things the same way. I am not the only reporter hearing this: Steve Popper of Newsday wrote a column saying there was no reason to invite all 30 teams to the bubble city and the USA Today’s well-connected Jeff Zillgett added this:

This is where we throw in the caveat: There are no hard-and-fast plans from the NBA yet and every option is still being considered. One lesson Adam Silver took from David Stern was not to make a decision until you have to, and Silver is going to absorb more information in the coming weeks — such as from the recent GM survey — before making his call.

That said, the league seems to be coalescing around a general plan, which includes camps starting in mid-June and games in mid-July in Orlando.

For the bottom three to five teams in each conference, there is little motivation to head to Orlando for the bubble. It’s an expense to the owner with no gate revenue coming in, teams want to protect their NBA Draft Lottery status, and the Warriors don’t want to risk injury to Stephen Curry — or the Timberwolves to Karl-Anthony Towns, or the Hawks to Trae Young — for a handful of meaningless games.

The league is considering a play-in tournament for the final seed or seeds in each conference (there are a few format options on the table, it was part of the GM survey). That would bring the top 10 or 12 seeds from each conference to the bubble, depending upon the format, and they would play a handful of games to determine which teams are in the playoffs (and face the top seeds).

Either way, that would leave the three or five teams with the worst records in each conference home. Which is the smart thing to do, there’s no reason to add risk to the bubble for a handful of meaningless games.