NBA Draft lottery
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Report: NBA Draft Lottery to be conducted virtually this year

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We’ve all been part of more virtual meetings — and happy hours — than we care to count. Now 14 NBA teams are going to be on another one — one that could help determine their fate.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held virtually on Aug. 20. Not a surprise, but Shams Charania of The Athletic reports it will soon be official.

Teams will still “send” representatives to the lottery, but via Zoom rather than with a lucky charm in person.

This is considered a relatively weak draft, but, as always, there are players near the top who could help teams. The odds of landing the top pick for the eight teams in the lottery are:

1. Golden State Warriors (14%)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (14%)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (14%)
4. Atlanta Hawks (12.5%)
5. Detroit Pistons (10.5%)
6. New York Knicks (9%)
7. Chicago Bulls (7.5%)
8. Charlotte Hornets (6%)

Washington’s dreadful play in the NBA restart bubble — the Wizards are 0-6 — means it now has a worse record than both Charlotte and Chicago, but the lottery odds for those teams were locked in before the bubble.


Report: NBA not bringing other eight teams to Disney World bubble

Knicks vs. Bulls
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The NBA bringing the “Delete Eight” teams to its Disney World bubble to train as other teams depart?

Like other plans for the Knicks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Hornets, Timberwolves and Warriors… it’s not happening.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The NBPA has no interest in that idea, sources said. It’s a non-starter. The inevitable solution for the eight teams left out of Orlando: The NBA and NBPA agreeing upon voluntary workouts in the team facilities, sources said.

The NBPA won’t agree to mandatory reporting for players on the eight teams outside of the restart but will eventually allow it on a voluntary level, sources said.

Bringing those other eight teams to the Disney World bubble was always a ridiculous idea. Why would the NBA jeopardize its highly profitable setup just so some lousy teams could train and maybe hold glorified scrimmages?

Voluntary team workouts are a reasonable allowance. Though it’s difficult to ensure players coming and going from a team facility won’t spread coronavirus, some players are playing basketball in groups, anyway. At their own facilities, teams can at least enforce protocols to increase safety. And players who’d rather be more careful wouldn’t be forced to participate.

There’s no reason to make anything mandatory. These eight teams’ seasons are over.

Training camps for ‘delete 8’ reportedly might happen inside Orlando bubble

delete 8 training camps
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Whether the eight teams not invited to the NBA restart will have training camps and get together for scrimmages depends on who you ask. There are some teams adamant they will be at a massive disadvantage if their young teams go nine months without playing competitive NBA basketball. The problem is bringing teams together creates coronavirus issues that are not easily eliminated.

Which led to an idea: Why not bring those eight teams into the Orlando bubble on the Walt Disney World Resort campus and let them practice/play there?

It’s being talked about as an option reports Sam Amick of The Athletic.

What if those eight teams joined the rest of their colleagues inside the Walt Disney World bubble for training after the eliminated teams departed? Sources say the NBA has been exploring that possibility for quite some time now, and that the idea was raised most recently on the aforementioned governors’ call. And in some ways, it makes perfect sense.

As NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has made clear all along, the union has been skeptical of any basketball setting that doesn’t match the Orlando approach in terms of precautions and protocol. But starting on Aug. 17, when six teams go home and the 16-team playoffs begin, space will be opening up inside this three-hotel, three-court, (seemingly) COVID-free community they have created.

More space will open up in the bubble as more teams are eliminated from the postseason, although some of those rooms were to be used by family of team staff still in the bubble. It’s a delicate balancing act for the league.

The eight teams in question are Golden State, Minnesota, Cleveland, Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Charlotte.

Putting together a second bubble for the “delete eight” was never likely to happen, it’s a logistical nightmare, and it’s expensive (but without the television money payoff of the actual bubble). There is some logic to inviting those eight teams to Orlando.

Whether it happens or not remains to be seen.

Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams

Bulls guard Coby White vs. Hawks
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The on-again, off-again idea of a second bubble? The on-again, off-again idea of the eight NBA teams not continuing at Disney World even scrimmaging or practicing?

It’s all looking unlikely.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.

“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.

Besides, are these eight teams watching the high level of play in the bubble? After a long layoff, teams look energetic and fresh. Long offseasons could give the eight eliminated teams an advantage next season.

Playing basketball safely amid the coronavirus pandemic is costly – both in terms of operational expenses and lifestyle sacrifices for participants. It’s worthwhile for the continuing 22 teams because the revenue being produced by the resumption.

That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.

I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.

Up then down, Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau trying to become rare coach who gets back on track

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Kobe Bryant pined for the Lakers to get him. The Pelicans organized their search around him. The Magic prepared a large offer. The Nets showed interest before even hiring a general manager. The Timberwolves proposed giving him front-office control. Even teams without an opening had interest.

Tom Thibodeau was the hottest coach on the market just a few years ago.

And no wonder.

Thibodeau was coming off an awesome run with the Bulls. He won Coach of the Year in his first season as a head coach. Despite superstar Derrick Rose missing significant time due to injury, Thibodeau guided Chicago to the playoffs all five of his seasons there. He won nearly 65% of his games – which ranked sixth all-time.* His exit from the Bulls was attributed to a rift with management far more than a reflection of his coaching ability.

*Minimum: 300 games. At the time, Thibodeau ranked behind only Phil Jackson, Billy Cunningham, Gregg Popovich, K.C. Jones and Red Auerbach.

Simply, Thibodeau was a coaching superstar and unrestricted free agent. He practically had the pick of the litter with coaching vacancies.

He chose Minnesota.

And then failed there.

The Timberwolves fired Thibodeau in his third season. Minnesota made the playoffs only once and won only one playoff game.

Won-loss record is far from a perfect measure of coaching ability. Player talent is such an important factor in record and often outside a coach’s control.

But coaches who win in their first job tend to have the power to be highly selective with their second job, to position themselves to win again. Fail in that second job, and it often reflects quite poorly on the coach.

In NBA history, 38 coaches had a winning record in their first job then a losing record in their second job. Just six of those coaches have produced a winning record in their third job.

Hired by the Knicks, Thibodeau will attempt to become the seventh.

Here’s every coach who had a winning record in his first job then losing record in his second job. Those who had winning records in their third jobs are in orange:

Coach First Second Third
Tom Thibodeau 2011-2015 CHI: 65% 2017-2019 MIN: 48% 2021-2021 NYK: ?
Frank Vogel 2011-2016 IND: 58% 2017-2018 ORL: 33% 2020-2020 LAL: 78%
Nate McMillan 2001-2005 SEA: 54% 2006-2012 POR: 50% 2017-2020 IND: 57%
Dave Joerger 2014-2016 MEM: 60% 2017-2019 SAC: 40%
Jason Kidd 2014-2014 BRK: 54% 2015-2018 MIL: 48%
Lionel Hollins 2009-2013 MEM: 56% 2015-2016 NJN: 40%
Maurice Cheeks 2002-2005 POR: 54% 2006-2009 PHI: 45% 2014-2014 DET: 42%
Larry Drew 2011-2013 ATL: 56% 2014-2014 MIL: 18%
Byron Scott 2001-2004 NJN: 52% 2005-2010 NOH: 48% 2011-2013 CLE: 28%
Avery Johnson 2005-2008 DAL: 73% 2011-2013 NJN: 34%
Alvin Gentry 1998-2000 DET: 50% 2001-2003 LAC: 40% 2009-2013 PHO: 52%
Scott Skiles 2000-2002 PHO: 59% 2003-2008 CHI: 49% 2009-2013 MIL: 47%
P.J. Carlesimo 1995-1997 POR: 56% 1998-2000 GSW: 29% 2008-2009 SEA/OKC: 22%
Isiah Thomas 2001-2003 IND: 53% 2007-2008 NYK: 34%
Brian Hill 1994-1997 ORL: 65% 1998-2000 VAN: 20% 2006-2007 ORL: 46%
Rick Adelman 1989-1994 POR: 65% 1996-1997 GSW: 40% 1999-2006 SAC: 63%
John Lucas 1993-1994 SAS: 66% 1995-1996 PHI: 26% 2002-2003 CLE: 30%
Dave Cowens 1997-1999 CHA: 61% 2001-2002 GSW: 24%
Mike Dunleavy 1991-1992 LAL: 62% 1993-1996 MIL: 33% 1998-2001 POR: 64%
Rick Pitino 1988-1989 NYK: 55% 1998-2001 BOS: 41%
Chris Ford 1991-1995 BOS: 54% 1997-1998 MIL: 42% 1999-2000 LAC: 21%
Jimmy Rodgers 1989-1990 BOS: 57% 1992-1993 MIN: 19%
Matt Guokas 1986-1988 PHI: 57% 1990-1993 ORL: 34%
Paul Westhead 1980-1982 LAL: 69% 1983-1983 CHI: 34% 1991-1992 DEN: 27%
Mike Schuler 1987-1989 POR: 60% 1991-1992 LAC: 41%
Willis Reed 1978-1979 NYK: 51% 1988-1989 NJN: 30%
Bill Russell 1967-1969 BOS: 66% 1974-1977 SEA: 49% 1988-1988 SAC: 29%
Jack Ramsay 1969-1972 PHI: 53% 1973-1976 BUF: 48% 1977-1986 POR: 55%
Jack McKinney 1980-1980 LAL: 71% 1981-1984 IND: 38% 1985-1985 KCK: 11%
Gene Shue 1967-1973 BAL: 53% 1974-1978 PHI: 47% 1979-1980 SDC: 48%
Larry Costello 1969-1977 MIL: 61% 1979-1979 CHI: 36%
Cotton Fitzsimmons 1971-1972 PHO: 59% 1973-1976 ATL: 44% 1978-1978 BUF: 33%
Butch van Breda Kolff 1968-1969 LAL: 65% 1970-1972 DET: 47% 1973-1973 PHO: 43%
Dolph Schayes 1964-1966 PHI: 54% 1971-1972 BUF: 27%
Harry Gallatin 1963-1965 STL: 58% 1965-1966 NYK: 40%
Al Cervi 1950-1957 SYR: 59% 1959-1959 PHW: 44%
John Kundla 1949-1957 MNL: 61% 1958-1959 MNL: 41%
Ken Loeffler 1947-1948 STB: 61% 1949-1949 PRO: 20% x

Seasons are listed by their ending year. Interim seasons count only if the coach was retained the following season.

Many of these coaches never got hired again – often for seemingly deserved reasons. Still, even of just the 19 coaches who got a third job, more than two-thirds had a losing record in that third job.

Two of the major exceptions are coaching right now – the Lakers’ Frank Vogel and Pacers’ Nate McMillan.

Vogel coached Indiana so well, Larry Bird firing him sparked plenty of outrage. With options, Vogel chose the Magic next because of their young core. But he took Orlando nowhere and got fired after two years. His market dried up… until the Lakers hired him last summer. Though Vogel is still in his first season in Los Angeles, he has looked darned capable in the tricky situation of coaching LeBron James.

After overachieving with the SuperSonics, McMillan earned a larger contract with the talented Trail Blazers. But Portland underwhelmed with McMillan and fired him. He resurfaced with the Pacers years later amid questions about whether his old-school style would work in the modern NBA. It does. McMillan has kept Indiana playing hard, defending effectively and winning amid roster turnover.

Maybe Thibodeau will continue to reverse the trend.

He was in over his head as team president with the Timberwolves, both in managing the roster and collaborating within the franchise. With that responsibility off his plate, he can get back to just coaching.

However, Thibodeau’s once-revolutionary defensive system has lost effectiveness as offenses have improved spacing in response. Really, Thibodeau deserves more credit for sparking the modern NBA as we know it. But, in the evolution, he has also lost a competitive advantage.

And Thibodeau must rely on the Knicks, led by new president Leon Rose, to form a winning roster. That’s no safe bet.

Because he failed in Minnesota, Thibodeau is about to learn a harsh reality: It’s even harder for a coach to win after losing than win after winning. The good-looking jobs just aren’t available to losing coaches. Losing coaches are stuck trying to rebuild their reputation with teams like the Knicks.

It’s a treacherous hill to climb when sliding the wrong way.