NBA AM: Is Jerry Sloan Right Coach For Bobcats?
Other than potentially emerging from next week’s draft lottery with the No. 1 overall pick there isn’t much to be excited about in Charlotte these days. The Bobcats are coming off the worst season, in terms of winning percentage, in the history of the NBA after finishing 7-59.
Shortly after the club’s offseason began it was confirmed veteran head coach Paul Silas wouldn’t be returning to the bench for the 2013 campaign and the announcement couldn’t have made it clearer the team is desperately in need of leadership, both on and off the court.
The Bobcats have reportedly interviewed Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone, former New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Memphis Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger over the past month attempting to fill their coaching vacancy.
One candidate who would like to throw their name into the mix is former Utah Jazz coach and Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan who left the league in early 2011, but has since been reenergized after removing himself from the day-to-day grind.
“I felt like I needed to get away from basketball,’’ Sloan told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida. “I worked  years [as a head coach]. It was time for me to move on and see what was going in the world. That’s been kind of interesting. But I still have that void of basketball.’’
Sloan has expressed interest in the Bobcats’ coaching vacancy and told Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune he has already spoken with team owner Michael Jordan and could interview with the team sometime this week. Sloan’s resume is impressive winning over 60 percent of his game during his twenty-six year tenure as a head coach. He also boasts 1,221 wins, only three losing seasons, 20 trips to the playoffs and two appearances in the NBA Finals (ironically losing to the Jordan led Chicago Bulls in both appearances).
But there are two big questions surrounding Sloan and his ability to make a return to the sidelines – specifically for the Bobcats.
For starters, Sloan turned 70 in March and Charlotte is in the midst of a lengthy rebuilding project in which the organization plans to build slowly from the ground up. Would he have enough patience to develop one of the youngest teams in the league at his age and after a distinguished career of leading winning teams?
“Obviously, you probably wouldn’t win [a championship] right off the bat,” Sloan said of the Bobcats opportunity to Luhm. “But sometimes it’s not all about starting on top.”
Secondly, there is the question of whether he’d still be able to relate to today’s players even though he left the game only 15 months ago.
If the Bobcats are truly serious about winning and Sloan can stomach a massive rebuilding project at his age then he should be given a hard look by the organization – especially with his coaching legacy already dwarfing the accomplishments of their current interview pool combined.
Will The New Orleans Hornets Re-Sign Marco Belinelli? The first order of business this offseason for the New Orleans Hornets is re-signing shooting guard Eric Gordon to a long term deal.
The team will likely issue Gordon a qualifying offer which will make him a restricted free agent this summer and give the franchise the right to match any contract offer for his services. Gordon is projected to demand top dollar as there are numerous teams with salary cap room in desperate need of additional scoring in their respective backcourts. One player whose future in New Orleans is synonymous with Gordon’s is fifth year shooting guard Marco Belinelli who will enter the summer as an unrestricted free agent.
Belinelli recently told Sportando he fully expects the Hornets to make him an offer once free agency opens in July.
“We have just finished a complicated season but very important for me because I will be free agent from July. I don’t know what will happen in the summer. I am without any answer. I expect New Orleans to make an offer to me but I am sure that other teams will try to sign me. I don’t know which team because the playoffs are still on and also the draft will be important with good names I am confident that my future will be again in the NBA.”
Belinelli has improved a great deal since entering the league during the 2008 season. His scoring specifically has increased each season since 2010 going from 7.1 to 10.5 and setting at a career high 11.8 this past season. Belinelli has firmly established himself as a double-digit point producer in the league and credits Hornets coach Monty Williams for his development.
“I cannot hide that [Williams] is an important coach for me,” Belinelli added. “I have developed a lot since I arrived in New Orleans. My relation with him is great since the first day we met.”
Belinelli also didn’t rule out the potential of returning to a bench role but says he’d only consider this option for a team in title contention.
“It would be ok for me to play less minutes but for a contender,” Belinelli said.
The Hornets currently have $36.6 million on the books for next season, which will give them around $22 million in salary cap room to improve their roster this summer.
Lakers Want Ramon Sessions Long Term? For the second straight season the Los Angeles Lakers were sent home packing in the second round of the playoffs.
As the team enters their offseason questions are swirling whether the team’s front office will blow the roster up in order to build around shooting guard Kobe Bryant for one last title run before his career concludes.
While the future of four-time All-Star forward Pau Gasol with the team is in serious doubt, point guard Ramon Sessions seemingly has plenty of job security entering the 2013 season.
“It was definitely clear leaving the meeting (with general manager Kupchak and head coach Mike Brown) that they wanted me back,” Sessions told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.
The Lakers acquired Sessions at the trade deadline in March from Cleveland. He averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists on 48 percent shooting for the team in 23 regular season appearances.
However, the fifth year guard struggled in the postseason recording just 9.7 points and 3.6 assists on 38 percent shooting in twelve contests. But it wasn’t just on the offensive end of the floor. In the Lakers’ second round loss to Oklahoma City, Sessions was unable to contain Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook who rollicked to an average of 25.6 points on 49 percent shooting from the field in the series.
Before the Lakers can pencil Sessions into their rotation for next season the guard will need to decide whether to exercise his player option, worth $4.6 million, to return in 2013 – which Sessions insists he’s still undecided on.
“Definitely hope to be here,” Sessions said. “Hopefully, everything works out.”
The Lakers are in luxury tax territory with $83.8 million already on the books for the 2013 season.
Quick Notes From Around The League
- Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw is expected to be a top candidate for multiple league head coaching vacancies, but has no plans to interview with teams before the season ends. “I’m just waiting until I’m done,” Shaw told Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. “I don’t want to be a distraction. Right now, the last thing I would want to do is take away from what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
- HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy reports that sources close to the situation say Hall of Famer Chris Mullin is in the mix for the Portland Trail Blazers vacant general manager position. Mullin served in Golden State’s front office from 2004-09.
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