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Stan Van Gundy reverses course, says he’s open to coaching another team after Pistons fired him

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Shortly after the Pistons hired him, Stan Van Gundy said that would be his last NBA job.

But he didn’t want his Detroit tenure to end as quickly as it did.

So, four years later, Van Gundy is backing off his declaration that he wouldn’t coach elsewhere.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“If the right situation came along, I wouldn’t dismiss it,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not going out on the terms I would like.”

Van Gundy was highly successful with the Heat and Magic. He’s probably still good enough to coach in the NBA, especially when not also splitting his time as team president.

After getting fired in Orlando, Van Gundy waited three years to return to the sideline. He accepted the Pistons’ job only when they offered front-office control. He probably won’t get that anywhere again, but he’ll also likely remain choosy.

The Bucks and Raptors are good teams with vacancies. Van Gundy still has plenty of Florida ties, and the Magic are also looking. Would any of those jobs intrigue him?

Raptors (59-23) had one of best records ever for a team firing its coach

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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The Raptors firing Dwane Casey was both unsurprising and understandable.

There had been signs for days. Really, for years.

And maybe Toronto could use a shakeup after repeatedly faltering in the playoffs, including getting swept by LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the second round the last two years. It’s easier to change the coach than the players, especially with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas locked into expensive, multi-year contracts.

Nonetheless, it’s still shocking on a certain level to see a coach fired after guiding a team to a 59-23 season.

That’s the fifth-best record ever for a team that changed coaches after the season:

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It can murky whether a coach got fired or resigned.

But the 76ers (62-20) definitely fired Alex Hannum in 1968. The Cavaliers (61-21) definitely fired Mike Brown in 2010. The SuperSonics (61-21) definitely fired George Karl in 1998. The Pistons (59-23) definitely fired Flip Saunders in 2008.

They all had final-year records at least as good as Casey’s. Like Casey, most of them just didn’t advance far enough in the playoffs over multiple years.

The exception: Hannum, who lasted just two years in his second stint coaching the 76ers franchise (previously, the Syracuse Nationals). He won a championship in the first season then got fired after going 62-20 in the second.

So, it could be worse than the treatment Casey received.

Report: Hawks moving toward hiring 76ers Lloyd Pierce as head coach

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Hawks reportedly narrowed their coaching search to four assistants – the 76ers’ Lloyd Pierce, Trail Blazers’ Nate Tibbetts, Hornets’ Stephen Silas and Celtics’ Jay Larranaga.

Now, it appears Atlanta is closing in on one.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Philadelphia 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce met with Atlanta Hawks officials for a third time on Friday, emerging as the primary focus of the franchise’s head-coaching search, league sources told ESPN.

A formal offer is expected as soon as today, league sources said.

Pierce is experienced in player development, especially with the 76ers tanking the previous few years. The Hawks, as they just get started rebuilding, will need plenty of that.

Atlanta has John Collins, Taurean Prince, three first-round picks in the upcoming draft (the fourth slot in the lottery, No. 19 and No. 30), all its own future first-rounders and an extra top-10-protected selection from the Cavaliers. It’s a decent start, but the Hawks must draft well then groom that young talent.

They’re apparently counting on Pierce for the latter.

Report: Klay Thompson could sign contract extension this offseason, which would save Warriors many millions

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Klay Thompson wants to stay with the Warriors. More specifically, he wants to stay with the dominant Warriors who have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

So, Thompson might put his money where his mouth is this summer.

Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:

According to multiple sources, Thompson and the Warriors have already engaged in discussions regarding a contract extension.

Thompson is already under contract next season at $18,988,725.

The largest extension he could sign, starting July 1 through the following June 30, would be worth $102,083,386 over five years ($25,520,846 annually). He could earn far more if he makes an All-NBA team this season, but with James Harden, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Victor Oladipo, Stephen Curry and DeMar DeRozan at guard, that’s highly unlikely.

If Thompson let his current contract expire then re-signs with Golden State in 2019 free agency, his max projects to be about $188 million over five years (about $38 million annually). That’s about $86 million more overall and $12 million more annually than an extension this offseason.

By signing an extension this summer, he’d also forfeit the chance to earn a super-max contract as a 2019 free agent. That projects to be worth about $219 million over five years (about $44 million annually) – about $117 million more overall and $18 million more annually than an extension this offseason.

For what it’s worth, Thompson’s max with another team in 2019 free agency projects to be about $139 million over four years (about $35 million annually). So, he definitely has the leverage to get far more from Golden State than an extension this summer would allow.

Thompson signing an extension now would be a major gift to Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, following Durant taking his own discount last summer. Why would Thompson (and Durant, at least his salary reduction below his Non-Bird amount) so willingly grant this favor to these billionaires?

Golden State has Bird Rights for all its stars. It’d be costly to keep those four together, especially considering the luxury tax, but no Collective Bargaining Agreement rule will break up this team. Thompson could put the burden on ownership to pay up. His talent gives him leverage.

And Lacob and Guber might have the means. The Warriors’ revenue is through the roof, and they’re moving into a sparkling new arena in San Francisco.

But not only did the Warriors build a team of great players, they apparently found the great players willing to make major financial sacrifices. That’ll only infuriate the rest of the league even more.

Old Cavaliers vs. young Celtics a battle for the ages

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Neither the Cavaliers nor the Celtics were satisfied with the 2017 Eastern Conference finals.

Cleveland doesn’t want to just beat Boston but not be able to hang with the Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Celtics don’t want to try in vain to topple LeBron James.

So, both teams set out to change.

The Cavs traded star point guard Kyrie Irving, wound up with a messy locker room then made sweeping changes just before the trade deadline. In all the chaos, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is relying on his most-experienced players in the playoffs. Beyond, Cleveland is pinning its long-term hopes on the acquired-in-Irving-trade Nets’ first-round pick, which obviously isn’t contributing this postseason.

Boston acquired the stars it could, Gordon Hayward and Irving, without sacrificing its young core. When those stars got hurt, the Celtics gave greater responsibility to the young players – namely Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. Improbably, Boston won a couple playoff series.

So, the Cavaliers and Celtics meet again in the Eastern Conference finals – just with many new faces. Two-thirds of the players who played in last year’s series are no longer with the same team.

Amid the turnover, both teams have codified their position. The Cavaliers, trying to win now, are the oldest team in the postseason. The Celtics, with an eye toward the future, are the youngest.

This is the 14th time the oldest and youngest teams in the postseason have met in a series. The older team has gone 12-1.

Here’s each of those series with the teams’ average age* in parentheses:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (30.4) vs. Boston Celtics (24.8) in 2018 conference finals
  • Dallas Mavericks (31.6) beat Oklahoma City Thunder (23.8) in 2011 conference finals, 4-1
  • Indiana Pacers (31.2) beat Philadelphia 76ers (25.9) in 1999 conference semifinals, 4-0
  • Utah Jazz (29.5) beat Denver Nuggets (24.8) in 1994 conference semifinals, 4-3
  • Boston Celtics (29.5) beat Chicago Bulls (25.4) in 1987 first round, 3-0
  • Boston Celtics (29.3) beat Atlanta Hawks (25.1) in 1986 conference semifinals, 4-1
  • Washington Bullets (28.8) beat Atlanta Hawks (24.9) in 1979 conference semifinals, 4-3
  • Los Angeles Lakers (29.4) beat Milwaukee Bucks (25.9) in 1972 conference finals, 4-2
  • Boston Celtics (29.8) beat New York Knicks (24.6) in 1967 division semifinals, 3-1
  • Boston Celtics (28.7) beat Cincinnati Royals (26.5) in 1966 division semifinals, 3-2
  • Boston Celtics (28.7) beat Los Angeles Lakers (25.7) in 1965 NBA Finals, 4-1
  • Boston Celtics (28.4) beat San Francisco Warriors (25.5) in 1964 NBA Finals, 4-1
  • Minneapolis Lakers (25.9) beat Detroit Pistons (27.5) in 1959 division semifinals, 2-1
  • St. Louis Hawks (27.7) beat Minneapolis Lakers (25.4) in 1957 division finals, 3-0

*Weighted by minutes played in the postseason, holding each player’s age constant as of Feb. 1 of that season

The Cavaliers’ and Celtics’ exact average ages will fluctuate as they finish their playoff runs. But Cleveland is much older and Boston is much younger than any other remaining teams. The Cavs and Celtics are pretty locked into their spots.

If the 5.6-year average-age gap holds, it’d be the 10th-largest ever between teams meeting in a playoff series. Here’s every series featuring an average-age gap above five years:

  • Dallas Mavericks (31.6) beat Oklahoma City Thunder (23.8) in 2011 conference finals, 4-1
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (25.7) beat Dallas Mavericks (32.6) in 2012 first round, 4-0
  • Houston Rockets (32.7) beat Minnesota Timberwolves (25.9) in 1997 first round, 3-0
  • Dallas Mavericks (26.1) beat Utah Jazz (32.6) in 2001 first round, 3-2
  • Los Angeles Lakers (29.0) beat Oklahoma City Thunder (22.9) in 2010 first round, 4-2
  • Indiana Pacers (30.0) beat Cleveland Cavaliers (23.9) in 1998 first round, 3-1
  • Los Angeles Lakers (25.9) beat Seattle SuperSonics (31.6) in 1998 conference semifinals, 4-1
  • Boston Celtics (30.7) beat New York Knicks (25.1) in 1988 first round, 3-1
  • Miami Heat (31.1) beat Charlotte Hornets (25.5) in 2014 first round, 4-0
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (30.4) vs. Boston Celtics (24.8) in 2018 conference finals
  • Miami Heat (29.4) beat Chicago Bulls (23.9) in 2006 first round, 4-2
  • Brooklyn Nets (30.7) beat Toronto Raptors (25.2) in 2014 first round, 4-3
  • Boston Celtics (30.1) beat Philadelphia 76ers (24.7) in 2012 conference semifinals, 4-3
  • Indiana Pacers (31.2) beat Philadelphia 76ers (25.9) in 1999 conference semifinals, 4-0
  • Boston Celtics (29.8) beat New York Knicks (24.6) in 1967 division semifinals, 3-1
  • Chicago Bulls (30.8) beat Washington Bullets (25.7) in 1997 first round, 3-0
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (25.6) beat San Antonio Spurs (30.7) in 2016 conference semifinals, 4-2
  • Boston Celtics (28.9) beat Atlanta Hawks (23.8) in 2008 first round, 4-3

In those 17 series, the older team has gone 13-4.

It’s not as simple as experience winning out. Teams let themselves get old when they’re ready to win. They care more about a player’s current ability than his future potential.

That’s why the Cavs have traded for players like Kyle Korver (37) and George Hill (32) the last couple years. Cleveland wants to win now with LeBron.

The Celtics aren’t ready to accept that tradeoff. They want to win as much as they can while retaining long-term upside.

Eventually, LeBron’s dominance over the Eastern Conference will end. But the Cavaliers are committed to continuing it this year. The Celtics are more concerned with having next.

That shows in the teams ages, and it will probably show in the series.