Doc Rivers and 76ers a high-profile match

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Rick Carlisle attended his own firing press conference in 2003. After taking the Pistons from the lottery to consecutive 50-win seasons, Carlisle sat next to Pistons lead executive Joe Dumars and addressed the media.

“If you think he’s going to bring in a stiff behind me, you’re nuts,” Carlisle said. “He’s going to bring in a big-time guy.”

Dumars did. Detroit hired coaching legend Larry Brown, who had just guided the 76ers to 48 wins. The Pistons won the championship in Brown’s first season.

The 76ers and Doc Rivers hope to repeat that success in the latest union between a winning team and winning coach.

Philadelphia just had a highly disappointing season. The 76ers went 43-30 and made the playoffs.

Rivers just had a highly disappointing season. The Clippers went 49-23 and advanced as far they ever have in the playoffs.

As far as disappointments go, these aren’t so bad.

This is just the seventh time a team with a winning record the prior season hired a new coach with a winning elsewhere the full prior season:

Year Coach Prior team New team
2020 Doc Rivers L.A. Clippers (49-23) Philadelphia 76ers (43-30)
2013 Doc Rivers Boston Celtics (41-40) Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)
2003 Rick Carlisle Detroit Pistons (50-32) Indiana Pacers (48-34)
2003 Larry Brown Philadelphia 76ers (48-34) Detroit Pistons (50-32)
1993 Lenny Wilkens Cleveland Cavaliers (54-28) Atlanta Hawks (43-39)
1983 Stan Albeck San Antonio Spurs (53-29) New Jersey Nets (49-33)
1960 Paul Seymour Syracuse Nationals (45-30) St. Louis Hawks (46-29)

These hires all drew plenty of fanfare at the time, but the outcomes are mixed:

  • This is Rivers’ second time on the list. Whether he succeeded or failed with the Clippers is in the eye of the beholder.
  • In 2003, Carlisle landed with the Pacers, who had just won 48 games and made the playoffs for the fifth straight season. He helped turn Indiana into a championship contender. But the Pacers’ title hopes came undone with the Malice at the Palace, and the team gradually declined until firing Carlisle in 2007.
  • Even Brown had his tenure with the Pistons end in a sour note just two years after getting hired. His flirting with other teams during the 2005 playoffs really bothered owner Bill Davidson.
  • After helping build the Cavaliers into an Eastern Conference contender that just couldn’t get past Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Wilkens resigned to take the Hawks job. Wilkens helped turn Atlanta into a playoff mainstay, advancing to the second round more often than not – but never further – during his seven-year tenure.
  • The Nets sent major compensation – money and draft picks – to the Spurs to hire Stan Albeck in 1983. Two slightly above-average seasons later, Albeck left for Chicago.
  • Paul Seymour was the Syracuse Nationals’ player-coach until the 1959-60 season. After retiring as a player, Seymour got hired by the St. Louis Hawks. He took themto the 1961 NBA Finals – but lost his job amid controversy during his second season.

What would qualify as success between Rivers and the 76ers?

Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and an expensive supporting cast create lofty expectations. At the very least, Rivers showed with the Celtics he could help a team reach those ambitions.

This isn’t necessarily quite championship or bust.

But it’s understandable why there’s so much title talk with Rivers in Philadelphia.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.