Getty Images

Tensions on rise between Zach LaVine, coach Jim Boylen after quick hook

6 Comments

It took just 3:27.

That’s how long into the game it was Friday night before Bulls coach Jim Boylen pulled Zach LaVine and sat him on the bench a while. Miami had raced out to a 13-0 lead in those three-and-a-half minutes, and Boylen was frustrated with LaVine’s defense citing “three egregious mistakes.” Here’s what the coach said postgame, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I thought he needed a break. I thought he needed to come in and think about it. I felt there were some defensive mistakes that didn’t need to be made,” Boylen said. “I thought he needed to come over and think about it for a minute. I’ve done that a couple times this year.”

LaVine did not take that well and felt singled out.

“I guess I was to blame for it. I’ve got pulled early before by him. I guess that’s just his thing to do,” LaVine said. “I have to take it in stride. What did he say I got pulled for?”

Told that Boylen used the phrase “three egregious defensive mistakes,” LaVine turned sarcastic.

“Zach LaVine got 13 points scored on him, I guess. Or was it the starting five? I don’t remember,” he said. “I thought I was trying to do my job out there. I can’t do anything about that. I just have to control what I can control. I can’t control my minutes.”

This is not the first time Boylen has pulled LaVine to send a message this season, and he has been public about the need for LaVine and Laurie Markkanen to be better if the Bulls are going to be better.

While Boylen and his old-school approach — the team actually had a factory-style time-clock to punch in for work during training camp — has the backing of owner Michael Reinsdorf and team management, there have been running tensions between him and some players since he took the job. Players can be okay with a coach who pushes them or runs longer practices if they respect him, but that respect is earned. Whether Boylen has that with the Bulls players remains a question.

For Bulls fans, this was a season the team was expected to take a step forward, to push for a playoff spot and not be 5-11, and certainly not to have a bottom five in the league offense. There are problems with this rebuild and management is going to have to take a step back and look at the big picture. And look at itself in the mirror.

 

Al Horford ($500K), C.J. McCollum ($170K) donate to coronavirus relief

76ers big Al Horford
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Al Horford (four-year, $97 million-$107 million contract with 76ers) and C.J. McCollum (three-year, $100 million extension with Trail Blazers) received big deals last offseason.

Now, both are stepping up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum will be donating $170,000 total to the communities of Portland, Oregon, and Canton, Ohio, for COVID-19 relief, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Area will receive a $70,000 donation and the Akron-Canton Food Bank will receive a donation of $100,000.

This is great.

Report: LaMelo Ball buys his Australian team

LaMelo Ball
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LaMelo Ball signed in Australia under the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program and built himself into a high-end draft pick. But he suffered a season-ending foot injury then left his team under criticism from Illawarra Hawks owner Simon Stratford.

What a powerful rebuttal.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Potential No. 1 NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, have purchased his Australian NBL team, the Illawarra Hawks, Jackson told ESPN on Thursday.

“When Melo wants to do stuff in the summertime, we’ll be there,” Jackson said. “We’ll take a tour with his family all over Australia, doing basketball camps and connecting with the youth. He wants to inspire the next generation.

“That’s how he was raised by his family. People have a perception of his father, but he has a heart of gold and it trickles down to his kids. His father didn’t take him on a traditional route. He started his own sneaker company, Big Baller Brand. We’ve always talked about ownership. Melo wants kids to think big, especially in times like this.”

This is a heck of a headline for an 18-year-old.

I’m curious about the details. What share of the franchise do Ball and Jackson now own? How much did it cost? Did they assume debt to complete the deal? How profitable are NBL teams, especially considering coronavirus-caused uncertainty?

But with Lonzo Ball‘s Pelicans season on hold and LaVar Ball losing influence, this at least puts the spotlight back on a Ball.

Report: 76ers happy with GM Elton Brand, who’s drawing Knicks interest

76ers owner Josh Harris and general manager Elton Brand
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Knicks are reportedly interested in hiring 76ers general manager Elton Brand.

In New York, Brand would work under new Knicks president Leon Rose. Brand holds the top position in Philadelphia’s front office. So, Brand would likely go to New York only if fired by the 76ers.

Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand’s leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

The 76ers are so pleased with Brand… someone said so without under the cloak of anonymity. If he wants to back Brand, 76ers owner Josh Harris can do so publicly. Otherwise, this is so weak.

Teams generally express support toward employees while the employees are still working for the team – whether or not the employees actually hold approval. A key way to tell whether the support is genuine? Check the source. Harris doesn’t want to look like a hypocrite. If he endorses Brand now then fires him soon, Harris would look silly. With this sourcing, nobody would get egg on his or her face if Brand gets ousted, because we don’t know the source.

I bet Brand does have good relationships with everyone. He has long connected well with others.

But his roster-building has fallen flat.

Inertia will probably keep him in his job. Philadelphia overachieving in the playoffs (whatever form they take) – certainly possible – would make that an easier call. It’s just difficult to build an affirmative case for Brand as a team’s lead executive.

Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

NBA playoffs
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told SI.com, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.