Tim Floyd: Bulls tried to hire me in 1989, 1996

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Bulls general manager Jerry Krause and coach Phil Jackson spent years at odds. Even as Chicago won championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998, Krause was eager to move onto the next era. By spring of 1997, it was publicly known Krause wanted Tim Floyd to succeed Jackson as coach.

Of course, Jackson lasted one more season – guiding Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to another title. That’s why we have “The Last Dance” documentary now.

Krause finally got his way and hired Floyd in 1998.

But Floyd could have gone to Chicago even earlier than that known 1997 dalliance. Twice.

In 1988-89, Floyd coached the University of New Orleans to a 19-11 record his first season there. New Orleans went 2-1 against Louisiana Tech, which had a player – Randy White* – Krause was scouting.

*The Bulls picked  Stacey King No. 6 in the 1989 NBA draft. White went No. 8 to the Mavericks.

Floyd on “Off The Bench:”

Jerry Krause came up to me at the end of that season – I had never met him – and told me, he said, “Look, I’m Jerry Krause of the Chicago Bulls, and I just want to let you know that you’re going to be our next head coach.”

Anyhow, he started calling me. It started out once a week from that point on and then it ended up, the last four or five years, it ended up being every day and sometimes twice a day. It would hour-long conversations.

In 1989, the following year, he wanted me to fly up to the Bulls’ training camp and wanted me to start running the triangle offense. And I said, “No, I’m not doing that. I’ve got no interest in doing that.” And so he just kept on and on and on.

Chicago fired Doug Collins in 1989. With Floyd resisting, Jackson got promoted from assistant coach to head coach.

Jackson proved be one of the greatest coaches of all time, helping Jordan and the Bulls to six titles. But Floyd still loomed.

In 1996, the Bulls won their fourth championship by beating the SuperSonics in the NBA Finals. Seattle had a center, Ervin Johnson, who played for Floyd at New Orleans. Krause wanted Floyd to meet Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. So, Krause arranged for Floyd – then at Iowa State – to fly to Seattle under the guise of just watching Johnson.

Floyd:

We’re walking around downtown, and he basically said, “Look, Krause wants Phil gone this year. He thinks that, Jerry, Pippen is breaking down, his back. He thinks that this team has run its course. He doesn’t want to overpay these players as they’re coming up on their contract years. He wants to move them before their contracts are up, 97-98, while we can still get value for them, and he can start to rebuild.

I told Jerry Reinsdorf that day walking around downtown, I said, “Jerry, I’m not sure Jerry Krause understands these guys are basically the Beatles and this is the most popular franchise of all time.” And I said, “If I’m you, I would not do this. And I would not do this maybe not even the following year.” I said, “Let it die its own natural death, because there are certain players and certain teams that you just don’t break up. And I think that these guys have earned the right to let it die its own death.”

Even after the 1996 title, the Bulls’ future remained uncertain. Reinsdorf and Krause called Floyd.

Floyd:

Jerry Reinsdorf said, “Tim, would you tell Jerry Krause what you told me in downtown Seattle about next year?” And I told Jerry Krause, and he said, “I can’t do it. You don’t understand. I don’t want to work with Phil again.” And so I said, “Well, why don’t you just do this? Why don’t you work downtown and let Phil work out at the other place. Y’all just stay the hell away from each other, because it’s working.”

Reinsdorf kept Jackson, and the Bulls won another title in 1998. Then, Reinsdorf got his way, hiring Floyd and dismantling the championship core in the offseason.

Floyd’s tenure was dismal. Chicago went 49-190 during his three-plus seasons. Though the roster was ill-equipped to win, Floyd didn’t positively distinguish himself.

But maybe he deserves a little credit in Bulls lore for staying out of the way and letting a dynasty unfold.

Report: Mutual interest in Cavaliers keeping Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson
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Tristan Thompson has played every one of his nine NBA seasons in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform.

There have been questions about where the free-agent big man will play his 10th season. The Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond to become their starting five, limiting both Thompson’s role and the money Cleveland would spend for the backup center role.

There is still “mutual interest” in a return, Cavs GM Koby Altman told Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“I think it’s fair to say there’s mutual interest for sure,” general manager Koby Altman said about the possibility of re-signing Thompson. “He’s been with this franchise his entire career since we drafted him. He’s won a championship here. Obviously, he means a lot to the players on the team right now, but it has to make sense. There are some events coming up — the draft, free agency — where we have to see if it makes sense for him. He’s earned the right to be an unrestricted free agent and explore opportunities at this point in his career. So, we’ll see.”

Tristan Thompson, 30, has battled nagging injuries in recent seasons but started most of the Cavaliers’ games before the shut down of the league last season, stayed healthy, and averaged 12 points and 10.1 rebounds a game playing 30 minutes a night.

How much of a market there will be for Thompson remains to be seen, especially in uncertain financial times around the league, but it will not be anywhere near the $18.5 million he made this season. He brings rebounding, defense, and a veteran presence to a team, but in general teams are not spending on the center spot right now, seeing that as a mercenary position where they can get a solid player at a cheap price. Thompson may have other suitors offering a larger role than Cleveland can, but the money is not likely to be much different.

Thompson’s camp asked for a trade at the deadline this past season (Cleveland couldn’t find a deal it liked), but when it comes time to decide this offseason he may want to stay with the organization he knows not a new one, if the money is the same. It’s going to be an interesting offseason for Thompson and the Cavaliers.

 

Bam Adebayo: “I played like s***… I’ll put that game on me.”

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The Miami Heat were one half of basketball away from the NBA Finals when a desperate Boston team cranked up its defensive intensity, started attacking the rim, and started playing at a level Miami didn’t match. The Celtics dominated the final 24 minutes of Game 5, forcing a Game 6 and keeping the Heat out of the Finals for now.

Bam Adebayo took the blame for the Heat loss. Via Manny Navarro of The Athletic.

“I played like s***. Bottom line: I can’t. I’ll put that game on me. It’s not my teammates’ fault. It’s not my coaches’ fault. It’s me. I missed too many shots I should have made… I wasn’t being the defensive anchor I should’ve been. I don’t think I was communicating fast enough. I feel like I was a step behind today. I wasn’t a difference-maker today. I didn’t get us into fast enough triggers. That’s on me.”

Game 5 was not Adebayo’s best outing: 13 points, eight rebounds, and Boston did a better job with its scheme pulling him away from the basket to defend smaller players on the perimeter, opening up the paint. Adebayo and the Heat as a whole struggled to slow the Celtics’ pick-and-roll actions, and Boston has figured out how to play against Miami’s zone (so the Heat have gone away from it).

“It’s not (Adebayo’s fault). It’s on everybody,” Jimmy Butler said after the game. “He does so much for us that it can feel like that at times but it’s definitely not on him. It’s on us as a whole. We all understand that because nobody was playing the way that we are supposed to play; the way that we have to play in order for us to win, nobody. And for him to say that, I respect it. I love him for it. But he can’t do it by himself. We’ve got to be there with him.”

Bam Adebayo was wearing a sleeve over his left arm, where he aggravated a wrist injury at the end of Game 4. Both Adebayo and coach Erik Spoelstra said that was nothing and not what led to his off night.

Miami needs a lot of things to go differently in Game 6: It needs to start hitting its threes again (19.4% from beyond the arc in Game 5, and below 30% from deep in each of the last three games). Miami has to take care of the ball and it has to get back in transition defense — Boston ran right past the Heat in the second half and got a lot of easy transition buckets. Mostly, however, it comes back to Miami shooters hitting more of their threes — the Heat halfcourt offense needs that.

The Game 5 loss was not on Adebayo. But he can be part of the solution.

Backs against the wall, Celtics play dominant half to beat Heat, force Game 6

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For Boston, it was the worst of halves, it was the best of halves. It was a half of foolishness, it was a half of wisdom. It was a half of tight play, it was a half of free-flowing offense. It was a half of despair, it was a half of renewed hope.

With its season on the line down 3-1, Boston came out tight in the first half of Game 5, with guys trying to do everything themselves, showing no patience, no ball movement, players gunning from three, and nobody in green was defending well. Boston shot 5-of-20 in the first quarter, and while things settled down Boston was lucky to be only down seven at the half.

Then a different Boston team came out in the second half — a team that was defending with intent, pushing the pace, and watching their best player, Jayson Tatum, attack to the tune of 17 third quarter points. At the end of the third, Brad Stevens told his team, “with all sincerity, that’s the first time I’ve seen Celtics basketball in the past few games” (via the ESPN mic’d up segment of the broadcast).

The Celtics pulled away in the fourth to win 121-108. The Heat still lead the series 3-2, with Game 6 coming on Sunday.

“We did not compete hard enough defensively and we paid the price for that,” Erik Spoelstra said of his Heat team.

“I thought we played with great tenacity defensively, and I think our offense followed suit,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the second-half turnaround.

That defense included much more ball pressure out high on Miami and it worked. The Heat shot 19.4% from three, that’s the third straight game under 30% from three for the Heat, but Tyler Herro wasn’t able to bail them out this time around.

For Boston, Tatum finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds, and his third quarter helped save the Boston season.

Boston needs that Tatum from the opening tip on Sunday, not after 24 minutes (as we have seen the last couple of games). Boston is a good team but it needs Tatum to play at an All-NBA level to look like a contender.

Jaylen Brown added 28 points for the Celtics, while Daniel Theis proved an important role with 15 points and 13 rebounds plus some critical defensive plays down the stretch.

Miami may have led at the half, but when Boston started playing better out of desperation the Heat had no answers.

“No one was playing the way we’re supposed to play, the way we have to play for us to win,” Butler said.

Miami got 23 points from Goran Dragic and 20 from Duncan Robinson, who was a big part of Miami’s strong first half.

Miami was up 3-1, and they have seen how little that lead has meant in the bubble.

“I don’t think those series have anything to do with this. Our guys are well aware,” Spoelstra said. “We have great respect for Boston. We’re not expecting it to be easy. You have to earn it.”

Kings keeping Luke Walton, plan to play faster next season

Kings coach Luke Walton
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Kings coach Luke Walton works for a general manager who didn’t hire him and an owner who has shown frustration with him.

But Walton will keep his job.

New Sacramento general Monte McNair, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Luke is going to be our coach next year, I’m really excited to work with him and I think we’re aligned in our vision and we’re going to start implementing it,” McNair said.

“This team showed some flashes last year,” McNair said. “I think De’Aaron is certainly a great young talent and I think his speed ability offensively to create really is going to be a huge catalyst for how coach Walton and I envision this team being up-tempo, creating the space to shoot threes and attack the rim.”

Walton has had four losing seasons in four years as a head coach between the Lakers and Kings. But this is how it works out for him.

A distressing aspect of Walton’s first season in Sacramento: The Kings played far slower than they did the previous season under Dave Joerger, who successfully implemented a fastbreak-heavy attack that particularly suited De'Aaron Fox.

Walton can coach that way. His Lakers teams typically played quickly. But Sacramento too often stagnated last season.

The Kings are still building around Fox. It’s on Walton to figure out how to maximize the point guard. For now.