NBA Power Rankings: Is there a real threat out there to the Lakers?


The NBA is being ravaged by the coronavirus — six games postponed since Sunday — and it is keeping teams from finding and maintaining their rhythm. Results are a little all over the map — unless you play the Lakers. They are on top for a reason, and LeBron is clowning the league.

Lakers small icon 1. Lakers (9-3 Last Week No. 1). Here’s the scary thing for the rest of the league: The Lakers haven’t come close to playing their best basketball yet. They have shown flashes, L.A. will put together a strong third or fourth quarter to take control of a game, but they are picking their spots right now (a very LeBron James regular season thing to do). Injuries have pushed Talen Horton-Tucker into the rotation and his play — particularly 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting against Houston – is going to force Frank Vogel to find him more regular minutes.

Bucks small icon 2. Bucks (7-4, LW 3). Milwaukee has the best offense in the NBA so far this season — 118.9 net rating — and while of course Giannis Antetokounmpo is a big part of that, it’s Khris Middleton having his best season that is a huge boost. He’s averaging a a career best 22.5 points per game while shooting 49.2% from three (67.8 true shooting percentage) with career best assist and rebound rates. Interesting tests coming up next week against Brooklyn and the L.A. Lakers.

Celtics small icon 3. Celtics (7-3, LW 8). They had won six of seven before the team was laid low by COVID-19 (three straight games postponed). Whenever the Celtics return to action, they could have Kemba Walker back in action, adding a third high-level playmaker to the offensive mix. Boston’s strong start is in part due to it being an incredible clutch team so far this season, with everyone making plays at the end of games — including Payton Pritchard.

Clippers small icon4. Clippers (7-4, LW 6). Los Angeles is winning games, but there are causes for concern almost everywhere you look. The team’s defense remains bottom five in the league, mostly due to a dreadful bench unit on that end (actually, the bench has been bad on both ends). Lou Williams looks lost at points without Montrezl Harrell as a pick-and-roll partner (although he bounced back with 21 points against Chicago). Kawhi Leonard is getting to the rim less than ever (14.7% of his shots are in the restricted area, a career-low), and he is settling for more 10-22 foot jumpers, which he’s not hitting at the same rate as years past. All that will eventually catch up with Los Angeles if things don’t change.

Suns small icon 5. Suns (7-4 LW 4). Phoenix is the latest team to be hit by the coronavirus, with their game against the Hawks postponed (the Suns played the Wizards, who have had players with the disease). Phoenix’s defense has started to slip a little the past couple of weeks and it has led to some ugly losses, one to Detroit and another to Washington. Yes, Devin Booker is the guy at the top of the scouting report on the Suns’ offense, but it’s the balance Chris Paul brings to the offense, with six players averaging double-digits a night in scoring — including Cameron Johnson and Dario Saric off the bench — that makes it difficult to slow down Phoenix.

Sixers small icon 6. 76ers (8-4 LW 2). It’s been a rough week in Philly with the coronavirus, but the league was right to fine the Sixers after their shorthanded loss to Denver — you can’t lobby the league to call the game off claiming COVID-19 issues, then throw guys who have not been on one injury report (Ben Simmons) onto the unable to play list just before the game and whine about not having enough players. Philadelphia had lost three in a row until Joel Embiid took over against Miami and got a win Tuesday (they face each other again in a couple of days).

Blazers small icon 7. Trail Blazers (6-4, LW 20). Winners of three in a row, who cares if it happened in a soft part of the schedule and took some CJ McCollum heroics to knock off Toronto? The Blazers are beating the teams they have to beat. One concern is the pairing of Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony off the bench and what that means for the Portland defense, but after Tuesday’s win coach Terry Stotts defended that choice saying, “The last four or five games they’ve been a net positive. There’s been a lot of conversation about that. I think Enes and Melo have played really well together the last five games.”

Pacers small icon 8. Pacers (7-4, LW 5). Myles Turner has talked openly about wanting to be Defensive Player of the Year, and while he may not get that hardware, this year he is putting up an eye-popping stat: Four blocked shots a game. Turner has 12 more blocked shots total this season than Rudy Gobert, who is second in the league. The Pacers’ defense is 4.1 points per 100 possessions better when Turner is on the court. All of that is going to get him noticed. Indiana’s loss to Sacramento Tuesday was the start of a five-game road trip through the West.

Jazz small icon 9. Jazz (7-4 LW 11). A few years back, Utah was a team that generated a lot of its offense with player and ball movement — they were a system team. Not any more. No team has assisted on fewer two-point shot attempts, and they are bottom-10 in three point assists (in particular corner threes). The ball isn’t moving the way it once did. Bojan Bogdanovic in particular is struggling, shooting 39.3% on twos this season. Sad to see Joe Ingles consecutive games streak end at 384.

Mavericks small icon 10. Mavericks (5-4, LW 13). Dallas has won three in a row and seems to be finding its stride on the offensive end — and now Kristaps Porzingis is back, too. Luka Doncic has missed the pick-and-pop threat that KP provides, and while there will be a minutes limit and rust early, this is a boost for Dallas. That said, the Mavs are very shorthanded now after being crushed by the coronavirus: Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and Josh Richardson are all out Wednesday and could miss more time beyond that.

Nets small icon 11. Nets (6-6, LW 10). Brooklyn went three games without either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving (who is still out and has caught the league office’s attention), and that’s when Caris LeVert stepped up. He averaged 31 points and nine rebounds a game in the three games both Durant and Irving missed. He was respectively efficient in those games as well. After this start to the season, Brooklyn may be willing to push more into the pot to get a James Harden trade done.

Hornets small icon 12. Hornets (6-5, LW 24). LaMelo Ball is rightfully grabbing headlines — he is now the youngest player in NBA history with a triple-double. Ball still has rookie moments, but he is farther along the development curve than most pundits expected (*raises hand*). Considering Devonte’ Graham struggles on offense, how much longer before LaMelo starts? What Graham brings that Ball doesn’t is strong defense — Charlotte’s Top-10 defense is a key reason for the team has had a run of wins the past couple of weeks.

Nuggets small icon 13. Nuggets (5-6 LW 18). After stumbling out of the gate this season, the Nuggets won 5-of-6 against a soft part of the schedule to right the ship (that changed with Tuesday’s loss to Brooklyn). The biggest difference is the defense that could not buy a stop at the start of the season but has been top three in the league over the past seven games. Nikola Jokic is still averaging a triple-double for the season — 24.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 10.4 assists a game — and playing at an MVP level. Michael Porter Jr. was supposed to return last week but saw his quarantine time extended.

Warriors small icon 14. Warriors (6-5, LW 17). That the Warriors beat the Clippers when Stephen Curry went supernova is impressive, but that’s hard to sustain. More impressive was the win against Toronto when Curry shot 2-of-16 and the team still found a way. The Warriors have gone 6-3 since their nationally televised losses in the season’s first two games, and the return of Draymond Green as a floor general goes a long way to explaining the change (when he’s paired with Curry, the offense just flows).

Spurs small icon 15. Spurs (6-5, LW 19). Did you really think the Spurs were going to fade away? They are always competitive, and they have won four-of-five, including beating both Los Angeles teams. DeMar DeRozan is racking up a career-high seven assists a game in more of a playmaker role, plus he is taking and making more threes than we have seen from him in recent years (39.1% shooting from deep on 2.6 attempts a game). San Antonio has a stretch of games coming up against other teams they will be battling for playoff spots/seeds: Two against Houston, then Portland, Golden State, and Dallas.

Hawks small icon 16. Hawks (5-5 LW 7). Before bouncing back against shorthanded Philadelphia on Monday, Atlanta had lost four in a row and was dealing with internal tension: big man John Collins (in a contract year, so he wants to put up numbers) expressed frustration with an offense that always ran through Trae Young. Thing is, the Young-centric offense was working and the Hawks need it to be elite to help cover up a defense that is middle-of-the-pack on a good day.

Heat small icon 17. Heat (4-5 LW 16). Miami was just starting to find its footing this season — by starting Kelly Olynyk, the offense took off that way — then the team was smacked hard by the coronavirus and had to play against the 76ers Tuesday without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, or Goran Dragic. They showed real fight, taking the game to overtime, but it’s going to be tough to get wins without everyone on board. Miami still feels like a team that can be a threat at the top of the East, but they need to get healthy and everyone back on the court first.

Magic small icon 18. Magic (6-5 LW 9). Losing Markelle Fultz for the season is a huge blow to their offense — he was one of the league leaders in drives per game, he was creating opportunities for himself and others (not at an elite level, but he has proven to be a solid rotation point guard). Now rookie Cole Anthony is thrust into a starting role he is not ready for — he is shooting 31.5% this season overall, 18.2% from three, and there were questions coming into the season if his athleticism would be enough at this level. Anthony is thrown into the fire now.

Thunder small icon 19. Thunder (5-5, LW 26). New coach Mark Daigneault has got the Thunder playing defense — 11th best net rating in the league so far — which is covering up for OKC’s third-worst offense in the league so far. That Thunder defense has been chasing opponents off the three-point arc (fourth fewest attempts against in the league) and is aided by teams shooting just 33.2% against them so far (that number likely goes up as the season goes along). The Thunder won 4-of-5 on the road but against a soft part of the schedule, that’s about to change, including playing the Lakers Wednesday.

Grizzlies small icon 20. Grizzlies (4-6, LW 27). This team has been a respectable 3-4 since Ja Morant went down, and the reason is they have the best defense in the NBA over those seven games (stats via Cleaning the Glass, so garbage time is removed). Give Taylor Jenkins and his crew credit for competing hard every night; they played the Lakers well in a couple of games (but lost both because, well, the Lakers) and then beat Brooklyn and Cleveland. Jenkins and the front office there are building a culture, they just need to get Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. healthy.

Pelicans small icon 21. Pelicans (4-5, LW 14). New Orleans still has a top-five defense, but the offense costs them wins. The concern going into the season was the Pelicans didn’t have enough shooting and the fact they are a league-worst 32.2% from deep this season — on the ninth-fewest attempts per game — seems to bear that out. Having the third-highest turnover rate in the league doesn’t help. The Pelicans have dropped three in a row and things are not getting easier: They are heading out on a six-game West Coast road swing that starts with the two Los Angeles teams.

Rockets small icon 22. Rockets (3-6 LW 21). James Harden made it clear he wants out of Houston, and the sooner the better (Brooklyn could be the landing spot). John Wall fired back at Harden after the Rockets got their doors blown off by the Lakers for a second straight game: “When you have certain guys in the mix who don’t want to buy in, all as one, it’s going to be hard to do anything special, to do anything good as a basketball team… We can’t dwell down on it because it’s only been nine games. Come on man, you want to jump off a cliff after nine games?”

Knicks small icon 23. Knicks (5-6, LW 15). While Julius Randle and, of late, Austin Rivers have been grabbing the headlines in New York, second-year player R.J. Barrett has shown some improvement, particularly as part of the Knicks team defense. Barrett continues to be a very inefficient shooter — 16 points a game but a dreadful 43.3 true shooting percentage — although his rebounding and passing have improved some. Defensively, the Knicks have been 10 points per 100 possession better with Barrett on the court this season, and while there is a lot of noise in that stat, he has looked better on that end after being coach by Tom Thibodeau.

Cavaliers small icon 24. Cavaliers (5-7, LW 12). Cleveland has struggled as injuries have robbed them of their entire backcourt rotation of starters Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, and behind them Matthew Dellavedova or Dante Exum. Andre Drummond has been pushed into more of a playmaking role, and while that has been hit-and-miss, he has his highest assist rate of his career and is making plays (he found rookie Isaac Okoro on a cut to seal a recent win). Drummond’s defense in the paint is also the Cavs’ anchor, they have the second-best defense in the NBA.

Kings small icon 25. Kings (5-6, LW 23). Buddy Hield got his wish during the offseason: A massive new contract (four years, $86 million) and his spot back in the starting rotation. He’s done nothing with it. Hield’s scoring is down, his three-point shooting is down (still 35,8%, but for his career he shoots over 40%), his 50.9 true shooting percentage is well below both the league average and what he did last season (56.6%), he’s a smaller part of the offense now, his assist rate has dropped, and the Kings have been 11.7 points per 100 possessions better when he is off the court this season.

Wizards small icon 26. Wizards (3-8 LW 25).Bradley Beal knows what’s wrong with the Wizards: “Honestly, I don’t know. I mean, I do know, it’s our defense. But I don’t know why it’s our defense. At this point, we can’t guard a parked car.” Beal is leading the league in scoring at 34.9 points per game, but when he sits the Wizards offense drops by more than 16 points per 100 possessions. That offense is going to take a hit with Thomas Bryant out for the season. It moves Robin Lopez into the starting rotation, which is not good for the offense but may help the defense some.

Raptors small icon 27. Raptors (2-8, LW 28). The Raptors are better than this ranking — Pascal Siakam had two shots at a game-winner this week, both just missed — but they are simply not winning games. Toronto’s offense is starting to click, but the defense is ranked 26th in the league over their last seven games — it’s a 180 from earlier in the season when the defense was elite but the offense was lost. The bottom line is they are struggling in close games and digging themselves a hole to start the season.

Bulls small icon 28. Bulls (4-7, LW 22). The Bulls have posed an interesting question as they swing through the West: How good can they be with an all-offense backcourt? Zach LaVine is averaging 27.7 points a game and has seen his assists tick up in recent weeks as he takes on more playmaking. Coby White is on a scoring spree of late, he had three games in a row with at least 21 points a night (until he ran into the Los Angeles teams, which showed him way down). The problem is that the White/LaVine backcourt is a defensive disaster that teams can prey on. Lauri Markkanen (when he gets healthy) is not going to solve that problem, and that leaves Wendell Carter Jr. trying to clean everything up. The Bulls have some long-term decisions to make.

Pistons small icon 29. Pistons (2-8 LW 29). The Pistons had bet on rookie Killian Hayes taking his lumps but growing this season, unfortunately one of those lumps is an injury that is going to cost the 6’5″ point guard out of France considerable time. He was struggling to find his way in the NBA early, the change of speed moves and midrange jumper Hayes relied on in France are tougher to make work in the NBA, and he struggled averaging 4.6 points a game on 27.7% shooting. Without getting on the court, that learning curve just gets longer.

30. Timberwolves (3-7, LW 30). Karl-Anthony Towns is back and none-to-soon — the Timberwolves were 0-6 with him out, having lost every game by an average of 20 points a night. Towns scored 25 with 13 boards in his return, but the Timberwolves lost that one anyway (they did get a split of a set with the Spurs the next night, without Towns). The difference in that win was having Josh Okogie healthy and back on defense, and D'Angelo Russell being more aggressive attacking the paint. Minnesota needs all of that now with Towns in the lineup.

Heat play their game — hit 3s, grind, own fourth — to even series with Nuggets


DENVER — It was a recipe familiar to Heat fans (and one that kept Bucks and Celtics fans up at night):

The Heat hit their 3-pointers at a seemingly unsustainable rate, 17-of-35 (48.6%). They got physical on defense and mucked up the Nuggets’ offense for stretches. Nikola Jokić was a scorer (41 points) but the Heat didn’t let him get the ball moving, allowing just four assists. The Heat were relentless and took advantage of their opponents’ undisciplined plays. The Heat owned the fourth with 36 points (to the Nuggets’ 25).

It was the recipe that got Miami to the NBA Finals and it won them Game 2 in Denver, 111-108. The NBA Finals are now tied 1-1, heading to Miami for Game 3 on Wednesday.

That familiar recipe included Miami’s role players stepping up as they have all postseason. Gabe Vincent scored 23 with 4-of-6 from 3, Max Strus started hot and finished with 14 points and six assists, and Duncan Robinson came off the bench for a hot start to the fourth quarter and scored 10 points that helped change the game.

Their stars made plays too, both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo scored 21. Butler had nine assists, Adebayo nine rebounds, and both made critical defensive plays. Everyone on the Heat stepped up when they had to.

“First, It’s part of our DNA for one, everyone on this team has been knocked down, we’ve faced adversity and gotten up again,” Vincent said when ask how the Heat keep having these kinds of games. “Second, we have a lot of experience in these close games.”

While Heat culture makes a good story, this is ultimately about the 3-point shooting — the Heat shot better than 50% from 3 in three of their four wins over the Celtics, and they have been having games like this all postseason. This was a game they shot their way to a win with those 17 threes. The Heat had 11 shots in the restricted area in Game 2, half of their regular season average — they just hit their jumpers.

For the Nuggets, it was about the mental and effort lapses they avoided in Game 1 that caught them in Game 2. The Nuggets played with the arrogance of a team that believes it’s the better one in the series and can flip the switch.

“Let’s talk about effort. This is NBA Finals, we are talking about effort; that’s a huge concern of mine,” a fuming Nuggets coach Michael Malone said postgame. “You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game 1 when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. Tonight, the starting lineup to start the game, it was 10-2 Miami. Start of the third quarter, they scored 11 points in two minutes and 10 seconds. We had guys out there that were just, whether feeling sorry for themselves for not making shots or thinking they can just turn it on or off, this is not the preseason, this is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals. That to me is really, really perplexing, disappointing.

“I asked the team, I asked them, ‘you guys tell me why they lost.’ And they knew the answer. Miami came in here and outworked us, and we were by far our least disciplined game of these 16 or 17 playoff games, whatever it is now. So many breakdowns. They exploited every one of our breakdowns and scored.”

The Heat got what they wanted from the opening tip. On offense Max Strus was hitting — 4-of-7 from 3 in the first quarter alone — but it wasn’t just him. Heat midrange shots that clanged out in Game 1 dropped through the net Sunday. More importantly, having Butler start the game defensively on Jamal Murray along with Adebayo on Jokić slowed the Nuggets’ go-to pick-and-roll. Miami got the lead all the way to 11 as they pulled the game into the mud they needed to win.

However, in the final five minutes of the quarter the Nuggets started to find their legs and their offense — all thanks to their bench.

Christian Braun made two hustling defensive plays in a row, the second turning into a Jeff Green breakaway (where Haywood Highsmith fouled him). Then a Bruce Brown 3. Then a Jeff Green 3. Then a Murray 3. Then an Aaron Gordon 3. It was a Rocky Mountain avalanche of 3-pointers and the Nuggets started to pull away.

Denver’s run stretched out to 29-8 and the Nuggets led by as many as 15. However, as the teams returned to their starting lineups, the Heat got their groove back — Strus, Gabe Vincent and Butler were all in double digits in the first half. More telling, Kevin Love (inserted into the starting lineup for Game 2) was +15 and Strus +10 as all the Heat starters were in the positive. On the other end, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was -14, highlighting a rough night that eventually led to him fouling out.

Their bench had Nuggets were up 57-51, and it helped they won the non-Jokić minutes at the start of the second quarter by 14.

The start of the second half again saw the Heat increasing their defensive pressure, doing better in transition, and doubling Jokić in a way that bothered him. This slowed the Nuggets down and had them getting into their offense late, and it was back to a slow, grinding, Heat style of game.

That kept most of the third quarter tight, but in the final minutes of the half — when Bam Adebayo went to the bench — Jokić made plays, he finished with 18 points in the third alone, and the Heat entered the fourth ahead 83-75.

Then the relentless Heat made their run, with Robinson going on a personal 7-2 streak that grows into a 13-2 Heat run that puts them up by three.

From there, the Heat did their thing — they hit threes and played intense defense. The Nuggets didn’t match that energy until they tried to flip the switch in the final couple of minutes. They almost got it, Murray had a 3 to tie the game at the buzzer that bounced off the rim.

But the Nuggets lost the game much earlier.

Edwards, Brunson, Reaves reportedly among commitments to play for USA at World Cup

2023 NBA Playoffs - Cleveland Cavaliers v New York Knicks
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Steve Kerr will be coaching a roster filled with some of the most engaging young stars of the NBA at the World Cup this summer.

Names are starting to leak out of who has accepted invitations to play for USA Basketball this August and September, and it feels like a who’s who of the best young players in the league: Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Haliburton, Mikal Bridges, Austin Reaves and Bobby Portis.

This is just the start of the roster, but it is a young and athletic group that can shoot, move the ball and play at pace — deep wells of athleticism have long been one of the USA’s biggest strengths in international competitions.

The World Cup will feature 32 teams around the globe in an almost three-week competition. The USA is in Group C with Greece and Giannis Antetokounmpo (assuming he plays), New Zealand (Steven Adams, if he plays) and Jordan.

The USA will be coached in this World Cup by Kerr, Erik Spoelstra of Miami, Tyronn Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers and Mark Few of Gonzaga. The USA will meet for a camp in Las Vegas and play Puerto Rico there as a tuneup before heading to Abu Dhabi and eventually on to the World Cup in the Philippines. The World Cup starts Aug. 25 and continues through Sept. 10, and the U.S. will play all of its games in Manila.

The World Cup is the primary qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics (the USA does not automatically qualify as the reigning gold medalist). USA Basketball President Grant Hill has said that playing in the World Cup is not a prerequisite for playing in the Olympics.

Phil Knight says he still wants to buy Trail Blazers, still waiting for team to be available

Phil Knight Legacy Tournament - Mens Championship: Duke v Purdue
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Phil Knight — not a man known for his patience — is waiting.

The Nike founder still wants the chance to buy the Portland Trail Blazers to ensure they stay in Portland, reports Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal. However, the team remains unavailable. More than a year ago Knight and Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky reportedly offered more than $2 billion to buy the Trail Blazers. Jody Allen, who currently runs the team on behalf of her late brother Paul Allen’s estate, said there is no plan to sell the team right now, and it could be years.

Knight continues to try and buy the team, the Journal reports.

So Knight and Smolinisky tried again, according to a person familiar with their plans. On numerous occasions, including earlier this year, they made it clear to Jody Allen that they still wanted to make a deal. They indicated that they realized the price had gone up and that they were willing to pay more than their initial offer, this person said. Again, Knight’s calls to Jody Allen were diverted to Kolde [Bert Kolde is the Executive Vice President of Sports Strategy at Vulcan Inc., which owns the Blazers and Seahawks], and nothing came of the brief discussions.

A few months ago, Smolinisky even sent a handwritten letter to Jody Allen seeking common ground and saying he and Knight would love to discuss the Blazers with her, according to a person familiar with the matter. In response, Smolinisky received an email from someone replying on Jody Allen’s behalf with a familiar message: Paul Allen’s sports teams aren’t on the market.

Paul Allen died of cancer in 2018 and some reports say his will requires the Trail Blazers — as well as the NFL’s Seahawks — must be sold within 10 years of that date, with the money from the sales going to a variety of charitable causes. We are halfway into that window.

In the case of the Trail Blazers, it would be wise to wait until the new national broadcast rights deal — which is expected to double, at least, the league’s television revenue — is locked in, raising the franchise value. Values have already gone up, with the Phoenix Suns being valued at $4 billion when Mat Ishbia bought them last December.

In the short term, the Trail Blazers and their fans are focused on the NBA Draft, where they have the No. 3 pick but are reportedly open to trading that for the right veteran to put next to Damian Lillard.

Coaching updates from around NBA: Stotts to Bucks, Young paid to stay with Suns

2021 NBA Playoffs - Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets
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In the 24 hours since the last time we put together a list of coaching updates from around the NBA a lot of things transpired, some expected, some not.

Here’s an update on the NBA coaching carousel.

• As was rumored to be coming, former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts will join Adrian Griffin’s staff with the Milwaukee Bucks. This is a smart hire, putting an experienced coach known for creative offense next to the rookie coach on a contending team. With the Bucks getting older and more expensive quickly — 35-year-old Brook Lopez is a free agent this summer — the Bucks don’t have time for a rookie coach to figure things out on the job.

• Kevin Young will stay in Phoenix on Frank Vogel’s staff after new owner Mat Ishbia made him the highest-paid assistant in the league at $2 million a year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Devin Booker reportedly backed Young to get the head coaching job, although how hard Booker pushed is up for debate. Keeping Young on staff — likely in an offensive coordinator role — next to the defensive-minded Vogel could be a good fit.

• Former Hornets coach James Borrego was in the mix for several jobs but has settled in New Orleans, where he will be on Willie Green’s staff. This team is stacked with offensive talent — Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum — if they can just stay on the court.

• There is now just one head coaching vacancy open around the league, the Toronto Raptors, and they are entering the final interview stages, reports Josh Lewenberg of TSN. Among the finalists for the job are Kings assistant coach Jordi Fernandez and highly-respected European coach Sergio Scariolo (the head coach of the Spanish national team and Virtus Bologna of the Italian league).

• The makeover of the Celtics coaching staff could go even deeper than expected because Ben Sullivan, Mike Moser and Garrett Jackson are all leaving Boston to join Ime Udoka‘s staff in Houston, reports Michael Scotto of Hoopshype.

• Former Pacers player Shayne Whittington is now a part of Rick Carlisle’s coaching staff in Indiana.