NBA PM: Kahn Looking for Speed?
“League sources” have told The Star-Tribune‘s Jerry Zgoda that former Rockets, Blazers, Warriors and Kings coach Rick Adelman will be the fourth candidate to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Former Bobcats head coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff reportedly interviewed on Friday. Interestingly enough, his son J.B. was an assistant with the Wolves, but was recently hired in Houston to serve under new Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
Another veteran coach, Don Nelson, is also in the hunt and is expected to interview sometime next week.
The inclusions of Nelson and Adelman suggest two things: Timberwolves general manager David Kahn is looking for an experienced coach (not that Bickerstaff isn’t experienced) and he wants to push the tempo. Minnesota lead the league by averaging 99.2 possessions per game in 2010-2011, but ranked only 24th in offensive efficiency. Meanwhile, Adelman’s Rockets ranked seventh in possessions per game (also known as “pace”) but still managed to rank sixth in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions). Nelson’s Warriors led the NBA in pace in 2008-2009 at a blistering 101 possessions per game and they still finished the year ranking 10th in offensive efficiency.
The Timberwolves are already fast. Now, apparently, Kahn is looking for a coach who can utilize that speed and translate it into more efficiency.
Terry Porter and Mike Woodson, who are both known primarily as defensive coaches, are also in the mix.
Earlier this week Chris Paul told Jimmy Smith of The New Orleans Times-Picayune that his options to play overseas are “open” and confidently added “there’s ways to get insured” against any injuries. But just when it seems every NBA star is paddling to Europe, sources have told ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard that LeBron James will be keeping his talents in South Beach “for now.” (I know, that line is getting old)
So where does that leave us? Deron Williams has made his intentions clear by signing a lucrative deal with Istanbul’s Besiktas and Kobe Bryant continues to flirt with the Turkish league as well. Of course, FIBA can still decide that “out” clauses , which would be used in the event the NBA lockout ends, are illegal. Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney writes that FIBA has until next Friday to decide if Williams’ deal is kosher or not.
But even as the basketball world waits to see if NBA players will flood Europe and Asia until the labor situation is settled stateside, one agent told Broussard that up to “80 percent of players in the league are pursuing, considering, or open to the idea of playing overseas.”
Broussard writes that this unnamed agent sees big deals (“as much as $1 million per month”) and “favorable” merchandising deals could keep many players in the black financially.
“If there’s no agreement in place by September, all of my players will be playing overseas,” the agent told Broussard. “The players’ preference is to be in training camp, playing in the NBA. But if the league puts them in the position where they have to go elsewhere to play, then they’re going to pursue those opportunities.”
Broussard listed Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Bryant and Howard as “superstars” who could consider playing abroad.
Realistically, we won’t know how serious players are about playing overseas until FIBA rules on Williams’ contract with Besiktas—and even then the migration will play out incrementally. The closer we get to September, and the more money the players burn through, the more likely it is to see an exodus.
But from the perspective of Turkish fans, it would be hard to follow a team’s run to prominence, only to see Williams return to the NBA once the owners and the union agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. FIBA has to ask, is any party harmed by NBA players spending the lockout in Europe, Asia and South American?
More From Broussard
Broussard punctuated his piece with some bad news on the lockout. One owner reportedly told some associates that he’s doubtful there will be an All-Star Game this season, which Broussard points out means there will be a 50-game season or no season at all.
Meanwhile another agent told Broussard that there will likely be an 82-game season or the season will be missed entirely.
Anyone looking for a silver lining in this work stoppage had better not hold their breath. Unlike the NFL—which seems to be wrapping up its lockout—the NBA’s situation is perfect for a long, vicious dispute. For starters, the NBA players, most experts would say, have a stronger union than the NFL’s, which makes it harder for the owners to push their agenda. Meanwhile, the NBA owners claim to be operating at a deficit, and whether or not that is actually true, they can reinforce that assertion by patiently waiting out the players. After all, if the owners are losing money, the lockout should theoretically be saving them cash.
However, there are a few motivating factors that could help expedite this process. Unless the players do cash in overseas, they’re going to start missing paychecks and that’s a big deal for someone who is in his physical prime. Meanwhile the owners—and by extension, the players—risk losing fan interest to the NHL, European soccer and college basketball, which is should be wildly entertaining in 2011-2012. Everyone is being patient now, but if fans start turning their attention to hockey, collegiate hoops and soccer, the NBA players and owners would be wise to get a deal done ASAP.
Bird, Magic Join Jordan in NBA 2K12
Last season makers of the popular video game NBA 2K decided to pay for the privilege of including the legendary Michael Jordan both on the cover of the game, and in the game itself. Users were given the chance to play as or against Jordan’s Bulls in matchups with some of his most-famous rivals.
This season, two of those rivals—Larry Bird and Magic Johnson—will join Jordan on the cover and the screen.
“Bringing Michael Jordan to the virtual hardwood last year was a huge success for NBA 2K11; however, we didn’t want to stop there,” vice president of marketing for 2K Sports Jason Argent said in an official release. “We’re bringing ‘His Airness’ back to the NBA 3K franchise as part of a multi-year extended partnership, along with two other legendary icons—Larry Bird and Magic Johnson—for a special cover athlete collection representing the NBA’s greatest heroes.”
According to the release, there will be limited edition covers featuring all three players with each of their respective teams.
The decision to focus the content as well as the marketing of the game on historical players rather than current ones could have something to do with the lockout. Nobody knows where any NBA stars will be when the game hits shelves on October 4, so it’s not a bad idea to market three basketball icons. After all, the work stoppage can’t touch fans’ fond memories of Bird, Magic and Michael.
NBA Returning to Key Arena?
The Associated Press is reporting that Seattle’s Key Arena will be the site for Saturday’s H206 Charity Basketball Classic, which means actual NBA players (in this case, Seattle natives Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes and Martell Webster) will play in a high-profile game within the city limits for the first time since the Sonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.
“We want to showcase the talent that came from our own backyard and say ‘Look at what we produced,” organizer Tavio Hobson told the AP.
“I think there is a void that exists,” Hobson continued. “We’re happy to have a successful men’s basketball team at [Washington], Division I at Seattle U. We’re happy at the fact we have a world championship WNBA team. Those are things we’re excited about. But it’s like we have this meal and we left one of the courses out… The community as a whole does miss having professional basketball team here.”
The game will feature a “League” team that includes Brandon Jennings and Michael Beasley while players like Sacramento draft pick Isaiah Thomas, Marvin Williams and Aaron Brooks will fill out the Seattle team’s roster.