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Lakers’ Walton: We Need Russell to Shoot When Open

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Following the game, coach Luke Walton offered constructive criticism of Russell’s performance, claiming the second-year point guard still needs to master the delicate balance of reading an NBA defense and deciding the proper time to shoot and pass out of pick-and-roll sets.

“He struggled a little bit early because he really is trying to do the right thing, do what we’re asking him,” Walton told reporters after the loss. “But at this level, there’s a fine line of doing what the coaches want and playing off feel. The guy has got a phenomenal feel for the game. So a lot of picks he was coming off, he was trying to play make even though he was open for the shot. So what we’re trying to tell him is, any time you’re open, shoot it. We want you to play make, we want you to get everyone involved from the point guard position. But when you’re coming off screens and you’re open, the best way to make that defense pay is to shoot. He’s one of the best shooters we have.”

Source: Jovan Buha of ESPN

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Sources: Mike Budenholzer Withdraws from Suns Head Coach Search

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Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Phoenix Suns head coaching job, league sources tell ESPN.

Sources: Among the coaching candidates the Suns are still considering: Interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale, Frank Vogel.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

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Sources: Lakers Expected to Pursue Kawhi Leonard in Offseason

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Former Lakers coach and star Byron Scott, for one, said this week that he believes the team has targeted this summer for a quick jump-start rebuild, suggesting that LA will wind up with both Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James this summer.

Around the league, front-office sources agree with at least half that assessment.

“I think they go in hard for Leonard once the season is over and once the dust settles in San Antonio,” one executive told Sporting News. “[Leonard] wants to go to LA. There probably won’t be public demands on that, but he has leverage. He is going to be a free agent [in 2019]. He’s an LA guy and he can just let teams know he won’t re-sign next year with anyone but the Lakers.”

Source: Sean Deveney of Sporting News

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Sources: Stan Van Gundy to Meet with Pistons Owner to Discuss Future

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Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy have set a meeting for next week to discuss Van Gundy’s future with the franchise, league sources told ESPN.

The two had initially planned to sit down late this week, but the meeting was pushed back, leaving the Pistons organization to await word on how, if at all, the franchise’s structure could be altered.

Most of Van Gundy’s front-office staff, including general manager Jeff Bower, are in the final year of their contracts and are operating without clarity on whether they’ll be employed beyond the spring.

The Pistons were 39-43 in an injury-plagued season that ended with Detroit missing the playoffs for the third time in four years under Van Gundy’s watch. Nevertheless, Van Gundy inherited a franchise stranded in the lottery with few assets on the roster. He is 152-176 with Detroit, where he was hired after eight seasons as head coach of Orlando and Miami.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

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