Florida center Patric Young is training for the 2014 NBA Draft at the IMG Academy. Basketball Insiders caught up with him to discuss his pre-draft training and get a look at his workouts.
Who Should Replace Mark Jackson?
The Golden State Warriors fired Mark Jackson today after months of speculation that they would part ways with the third-year head coach at season’s end. They were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend after a close seven-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers that they played without their starting center Andrew Bogut. Short of winning an NBA championship, though, it just didn’t seem like there was anything Jackson could do to save his job.
His dismissal has been met with a lot of public criticism of the Warriors front office, but this was truly a decision made due to what occurred behind the scenes. On the surface, Jackson deserved an extension/raise. He guided the team to back-to-back postseason appearances, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the early 90s, and had the complete and total support of the locker room. From Stephen Curry to Jermaine O’Neal, everyone backed Jackson.
The opposite was the case with the people in the front office who actually determined Jackson’s fate. According to reports, he butted heads with everyone from the team’s owner Joe Lacob to the highly respected Jerry West. Add in his conflicts with his own coaching staff and a high-profile extortion case last year, and Jackson’s off the court failures triumphed his on the court successes – in their eyes at least.
“It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” said General Manager Bob Myers. “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago. We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions. However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”
“Mark Jackson has had a big impact on the improvement of our team and the success that we’ve had over the last couple of years,” said Owner & CEO Joe Lacob. “Nonetheless, we must make some difficult decisions in our day-to-day operations of the club and this would certainly qualify as one of those examples. We wish Mark the best of luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his contributions over the last three years.”
The Warriors may never fully detail their exact reasoning for letting Jackson go, but because of how well he did under the public eye (121-109 in three seasons), it will always be perceived as a questionable move. It’s not unprecedented, though. Three other 50-win coaches were fired last season: Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies, Vinny Del Negro of the Los Angeles Clippers and George Karl of the Denver Nuggets. In order for the Warriors to come out of this looking good in the long run, they have to make the right hire to replace Jackson. The Clippers undoubtedly did so by replacing Del Negro with Doc Rivers, while the jury is still out on the Nuggets and Grizzlies’ decisions. The short list of candidates is already circulating, and in today’s NBA PM we rank them in the order they should be considered, starting at the bottom:
Kerr is already the heavy favorite to become the head coach of the New York Knicks, but with close ties to Lacob he could jump to the top of their list as well. When Lacob hired Jackson he hoped he was getting the next Doc Rivers. He could take the same gamble again with Kerr considering that it paid off in a lot of ways with Jackson. Kerr would be a risky hire, though, considering his lack of experience and the way that the Warriors players felt about Jackson. They’re going to be hard to win over, especially for a first timer like Kerr. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move. The Warriors need to hedge their bets a little better with more of a sure thing due to how popular Jackson was.
With the success of the Clippers this year and the experience he has as a head coach, Gentry has the credentials to justify giving the position to. His offensive philosophies are highly respected and effective, which bodes well for his potential to excel in Golden State. However, Gentry has been a head coach with four different teams now and only has one extensive postseason run under his belt. For a Warriors franchise that is looking to take the next step forward to contention, Gentry would be hard to embrace considering that he’s never experienced the heights they’re aspiring for. The 2009-10 season was the last time a team of his finished over .500.
Hoiberg has built Iowa State, his alma mater, into a national powerhouse largely based off of their perimeter play and a system that relies heavily on quality three-point shooting. Sounds like a good fit, doesn’t it? With more coaching experience than Kerr but a background as a former player as well, Hoiberg stands a better chance to earn the respect of the Warriors right away. The transition from coaching at the collegiate level to the NBA is a difficult one that many have failed at, but this a hire that would be easy to sell to their fan base. Hoiberg has his ideal job right now, though, so it’s going to take a lengthy commitment and high salary to pluck him away.
Ollie’s stock as a coach is hotter than it ever was as a player coming off of UConn’s run to a national championship. Like Hoiberg, though, he’s very comfortable at his alma mater. Initially they were hesitant to commit and trust him in replacing the great Jim Calhoun, but Ollie has proven to be the ideal replacement. They are currently in negotiations to double his salary. However, Ollie is still willing to listen to the Los Angeles Lakers, who reportedly have interest in him, and would likely be willing to give the Warriors the same courtesy considering they’re a more attractive opening right now. With a long playing history and a system that clearly utilizes quality guard play well, Ollie is another hire that could garner some excitement in the Bay Area.
Stan Van Gundy
Two years removed from his last head coaching stint, Van Gundy has had plenty of time to rest and recharge his batteries for what seems to be an inevitable return to the sidelines. His brother Jeff has stayed away far longer than anyone ever anticipated, though, and Stan does seem content with life away of coaching. He’s caught on as an analyst now and enjoys being able to spend more time with his family in Florida. Northern California is a long way from home, but the potential of this team could be too great for him to pass on like he has the other openings that have come his way over the last two years. No disrespect to Jackson, but Stan could be sold as a clear upgrade. He’s led a team to the NBA Finals before and was let go by the Miami HEAT in-season the year they won it all in 2006. He’s been where they want to go as a franchise, knows what it takes to get there and should easily be able to pick up where Jackson has left off.
Thibodeau has three years left on his current contract with the Chicago Bulls, yet the Warriors are the second team along with the Lakers that feel like there’s a good enough chance to get him out of his contract and consider requesting the right to speak to him about it. He does have a reputation of overworking his players, leading to them being out of gas in the playoffs, but few get the most out of their teams like he does. It’s hard to imagine many other coaches in the league being able to guide their team to back-to-back playoff appearances without their MVP and best player like he has. While he may come with a high price tag in terms of compensation the Bulls would demand to let him out of his contract, he brings the defensive philosophies this offensive juggernaut of a squad could need to become true contenders.
Honorable mentions: Lionel Hollins and George Karl – You can’t go wrong in hiring either one of these two proven, veteran head coaches. Hollins in particular brings similar defensive credentials to Thibodeau, but wouldn’t cost them any draft picks. Early reports from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and local beat writer Tim Kawakami indicate, though, that the above candidates are the ones gaining the most consideration at this early point in the process.
What Happens to Jackson: Another big question now is what happens to Mark Jackson? While he was wrongfully fired in the eyes of many, the Warriors did do him a favor by letting him go early enough in the offseason to where he can go after any of the other openings in the league. Here’s some quick thoughts on how Jackson would fit with every team that is looking for a new coach right now.
- Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers are currently doing their homework on a long list of candidates that Jackson will probably get added to. Given their misses on previous head coaching hires, though, it’s somewhat unlikely that they would be willing to take a chance on him given all of the off the court discord that happened in Golden State. They’re looking to hit a home run and bring in someone premiere free agents want to play for. Jackson may not run guys off like Mike D’Antoni did, but he doesn’t check every box they’re looking for in their next head coach.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – This is an intriguing fit for Jackson. The personnel certainly fits his system, although they are in desperate need of an overhaul defensively. That’s where hiring the right assistant coaches would come into play. Jackson’s players loved him and with their top player, Kevin Love, set to hit free agency, hiring a player’s coach like Jackson could help them keep one of the best players in their franchise’s history.
- Detroit Pistons – If Jackson is going to catch on with a team immediately, it seems like it’s either going to be here or in Minnesota. They have some logjams at certain positions and a point guard in Brandon Jennings who can be difficult to utilize properly at times; Jackson could go a long way in helping both of those issues. Problem is, they need a new general manager as well. It’s hard to gauge his chances at the job without knowing who is going to be calling the shots.
- Utah Jazz – There’s an outside chance that the Jazz could look at the improvements the Warriors made under Jackson and feel like he’s the right guy to guide their young team moving forward. If they could make similar strides over the next three seasons, they’d be very pleased. It’s early enough in the process to where Jackson can still get in the mix; no favorites have surfaced as of yet. However, based on some of the names being thrown around (Ettore Messina, Jim Boylen), they could be looking for someone who is a first-year head coach, not a second-chacne guy like Jackson.
- New York Knicks – This could probably be classified as Jackson’s, a Brooklyn Native, dream job. He campaigned for it when Mike D’Antoni was let go, but was unable to get it. His chances probably aren’t any better now while Phil Jackson calling the shots, unfortunately for him. Jackson is looking at guys who he is familiar with in order to see his triangle offense implemented. Mark would have to be willing to completely change his philosophies and adopt Phil’s, unlikely for someone who proved to be a very capable doing things his way over the last three years.
Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team
Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.
“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”
Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN
NBA PM: Patrick Beverley Set the Tone for Clippers in Season Opener
Patrick Beverley set the tone for the L.A. Clippers with his aggressive defense in their season opener.
“The LA Clippers are going to the Western Conference Finals. Guaranteed.”
That bold statement was made by Charles Barkley during TNT’s coverage of last night’s matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.
While Barkley may have had his hot take canon primed and in mid-season form, that should not overshadow the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers put together a strong showing in their first regular season game since the departure of Chris Paul.
Blake Griffin logged 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down three of his six three-point attempts. Griffin was aggressive and showed no hesitation on his jumper, which seemed to open up lanes for him to drive to the basket (where he is most effective). DeAndre Jordan was fantastic as well, contributing 14 points, 24 rebounds, one assist and one steal.
While the Clippers lost some significant contributors from last season, including J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford, the team had some returning and new players show that they are capable of filling the void.
Milos Teodosic was just 2-9 from the field, but knocked down two three-pointers and looked comfortable and effective running the team’s offense. Danilo Gallinarni shot just 3-13 from the field but looked healthy and spry, displaying the kind of mobility that is necessary to play the small forward position. His ability to act as a secondary playmaker wasn’t on full display, but there were moments where it was apparent that he could be a big help in generating open looks for his teammates. Lou Williams also looked good in his Clippers debut, scoring in a variety of ways off the bench and contributing six assists as well. Wesley Johnson continues to look confident and aggressive, a continuation from his preseason performances, and is starting to knock down the open shots his teammates are creating for him (which has been a problem for him in the past).
While the Clippers looked solid in their opening act without Paul, it should be noted that the Lakers are a young team overall and their defense has been a major problem for the last few seasons. While the Lakers have added some promising young talent over the offseason, like most young teams, they are going to struggle to slow down veteran teams with potent offenses. It would be a mistake to think the Clippers can replicate this sort of offensive performance every night, especially against the better defensive teams in the league. However, perhaps the most promising part of the Clippers’ season debut was the fact that they seemed to feed off of and embrace the gritty demeanor and style of play that Patrick Beverley brings to the court each and every night.
Last night’s game was the NBA debut for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who many predict will develop into a star player. Unfortunately for Ball, his opening night matchup came against Beverley, who earned a spot on the 2017 All-Defensive First Team. Beverley repeatedly guarded Ball past half court, pushed him around and did everything he could to throw him off of his game. He held Ball to three points, nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of action.
Beverley, like every NBA player, has heard the hype and noise surrounding Ball and his future in the league (most of it from his outspoken father, LaVar).
“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”
Beverley is one of the more aggressive defenders in the NBA and is known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents, so Lonzo may not face this level of intensity in every game. But based on Beverley’s comments, it’s clear that he expects other players around the league to defend Lonzo aggressively as well.
Snoop Dogg, the rapper and passionate Lakers fan, summed up the issue for Ball arguably better than anyone else has so far.
“His father put him in the lion’s den with pork chop drawers on,” said Snoop.
For his part, Lonzo complimented Beverley on his aggressive defense.
“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.”
Beverley set the tone for the Clippers, who looked crisp and confident throughout the game. Griffin’s three-point shot looks like it could finally be a reliable part of his offensive arsenal. Jordan was very active on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds (possibly inspired in part by his commitment to donate $100 per rebound this season to help the effort to rebuild his hometown of Houston after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey). The rest of the supporting cast played with the sort of cohesion and confidence that takes at least a few weeks into the season to develop. Again, the Clippers’ performance could have stemmed primarily from the Lakers’ shaky defense, but it was encouraging to see the team play with such force and confidence in the absence of Paul.
The Western Conference is extremely talented and deep, so it’s unlikely that the Clippers will make it to the Western Conference Finals as Barkley predicted. However, challenging for a spot in the playoffs and perhaps even doing some damage once there seems to be in the realm of possibility. This is especially the case considering how much of an impact Beverley had Thursday night, both defensively and in setting the tone for the rest of his new teammates.
Morris Bringing Leadership To Celtics
Marcus Morris chats with Basketball Insiders for a one-on-one exclusive.
Returning just one starter from last year’s top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics underwent wholesale changes this past offseason.
Gordon Hayward signed a super max contract. Danny Ainge pried Kyrie Irving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal. Jayson Tatum was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.
In early July, though, there was an under-the-radar trade executed that hasn’t been mentioned much. Surprisingly, Celtics guard Avery Bradley was sent to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, a heady wing with size and versatility to add to a revamped core of players.
Bradley was a mainstay with the franchise for seven years and played a vital role as a part of Brad Stevens’ system, but Boston decided to move in a different direction. As for the man they got in return, he’s thrilled to be there.
“It makes me feel good,” Morris told Basketball Insiders of Ainge dealing one of his best former players for him. “It makes you feel wanted.
“This is my first time since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been on a team with a bunch of guys that [are] All-Stars. With the maturity of the team being this high and having them high expectations on us, I’m excited to get the season going and see how far we can take this.”
The Detroit Pistons likely wanted to keep him, but the organization clearly felt Bradley’s skill set was too good to pass up. For Morris, he insisted there was no indication that his old team would send him away, but he hasn’t been bashful about talking up his new home.
“Had no idea that I was gonna be a Boston Celtic, but I’m ready for the challenge, you know?” Morris said. “I’m excited. Boston, being a Celtic—it’s something that growing up you don’t really see happening, but when it happens it’s an amazing thing.
“It’s like playing for the Patriots, you know what I mean? One of the most heralded teams and most heralded franchises, and Boston is one of those.”
Entering the seventh season of his career, Morris has remained a steady part of the league. During his time in Detroit, he started nearly every game for the Pistons and found a comfort zone that he believes will carry over in Boston.
“Just continue to be consistent, continue to build on my last past couple of years,” Morris said of his personal goals. “I really felt like I carved my spot in the NBA the last two years—averaging 14 a year and helping my team get to the playoffs one of those years, so I really think I’ve carved a niche in this league.”
The success has come thanks to his versatility and the NBA’s current direction pointing towards that type of game. All of a sudden, not having a defined position makes a player more valuable, something Morris is thankful for as he continues to bring a little bit of everything to the table.
“For guys like me, it’s great,” Morris said. “Coming into the league, I had this ‘tweener’ thing on my back and now it’s like [freaking] great to be a ‘tweener’ at this time. I’m actually happy that it’s switching to my position and guys that can do multiple things are being utilized more in this league.”
Putting the ball in the basket has come fairly easy for Morris, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 42.6 percent from the field over 159 games with Detroit. He’s able to stretch the floor and provide solid spacing offensively, and he envisions doing more than that for this Celtics group.
“And leadership,” Morris said. “I’m not too much of a vocal guy, but I’m a passionate guy on the court. I think that’ll rub off on guys. I love scoring. I love shooting the ball. But that’s not the only thing I do.
“I’ve been a tough defender around this league for the last past years and I’m really looking forward to hanging my hat on that again and just doing whatever it takes for my team to get to that next level.”
Stevens is aware of the impact Morris can bring in the locker room and on the floor. When he returns from a sore knee to make his debut for Boston, that’ll show through his play.
“He’s a guy that can stretch the floor at the four,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can guard two through four. He’s tough. He’s smart. He works the right way. We’ll be better with Marcus Morris for sure. The versatility is a very important part of what we want to be.
“Whether he is starting in a couple of weeks or whether he’s coming off the bench, at the end of the day he’s gonna be a critical, critical part of our team.”
While he’s waited to come back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence. With Hayward likely sidelined for the rest of the season, that success will have to be sustained. Morris is a big believer in this promising duo and sees how grounded they are to make that happen.
“They’re mature guys for their age,” Morris said. “Jaylen, I think he’s 20. He’s definitely a lot more mature than I thought. Jayson, too. He’s way more mature than your average 19-year-old.
“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. I think those guys, they’re ready for the challenge. They love the game. They always in the gym, so I think it’ll be easy for ‘em.”
Part of Morris’ role is guiding those two and the other younger pieces that Boston has as they try and establish themselves as professionals. He’s kind of a coach per se, which is somewhat fitting considering what he did this summer.
Most basketball fans are aware of “The Basketball Tournament” that takes nationwide. For those that aren’t, it’s a single-elimination competition between 64 teams in which the champion receives a $2 million prize. Morris was the head coach of Team FOE—standing for Family Over Everything.
Along with his fellow Kansas alums, including his brother Markieff and Thomas Robinson, Morris coached his team to the final game. Team FOE was in front most of the game but ultimately fell to Boeheim’s Army, a squad filled with former Syracuse Orangemen.
“I was on my way man,” Morris said of coming close. “I actually liked it. I’m a smart guy. Me and basketball stuff, I can put it together real well. I was kinda upset we lost in the fashion that we lost, but we’ll be back next year.
“I’m a smart player,” he said regarding a potential future on the sidelines. “I know the game really well. Coaching comes easy for some guys and I’m just one of those guys.”
You could hear “Coach Morris” down the line, but for now and for years to come, Marcus is focused on his first year with Boston. It’s a team that surely has the talent to be the top team in the East it’s pegged to be. Stevens is a basketball savant with great leadership.
Even without an All-Star like Hayward and a 0-2 start, the Celtics should still be a force to be reckoned with. There’s an even greater demand for them to achieve their potential, especially knowing eyes will be on them, but Morris welcomes the challenge.
“Man, it’s pressure on every team,” Morris said. “It ain’t like it’s just all on the Boston Celtics. It’s pressure on every team. What’s a game without pressure anyway?
“Pressure makes it the best thing. That’s what we need to do anyway. I enjoy the pressure. Me personally.”
Shouldering the load won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it, Morris will be swimming instead of sinking. When all is said and done, he shares the same aspirations as most players do—raising the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer.
“I want to the win the championship,” Morris said. “You put this type of team together to get to those positions. I’m looking to be playing in June and trying to get to a championship.”