Posted on: November 18, 2011 10:42 am

Doc Rivers misses his guys

By Matt Moore 

Doc Rivers was considering hanging it up, being with his family, going to a lot of Duke games, and taking it easy. But instead, he came back, immediately after the Celtics lost to the Heat in the playoffs, returning for another stretch with Boston to make one last run with the core. 

Or not.

Rivers isn't locked out, but his players are. He's a general without his troops, and it's been difficult for him to deal with it, especially considering how close Rivers is to this particular group of guys. From the Boston Herald: 
"It’s like I was telling Danny Ainge,” he said. “The blessing of this is that I’m nowhere near ready to not do this. I miss it. So there’s some good things to this too.”

The lack of contact with his players is probably the oddest aspect of the NBA lockout for Rivers, as evidenced by his chance encounter with Ray Allen during a recent golf tournament in Florida. Player and coach, walking in opposite directions, shook hands and kept moving.

“That was strange, really strange,” he said. “We walked by each other, so you could shake hands, but you couldn’t say much to each other. Just the way it is, but I miss it. I miss being around them – all of them."
via BostonHerald.com - Blogs: Celtics Insider» Blog Archive » Rivers anxious to return from the lockout vacuum.

The lockout is ridiculous from any angle, and this is another. Two people who won a championship together, who would bleed for one another can't talk at a golf tournament. This, my friends, is sheer idiocy.

But it's how it is. And if this thing plays out like it looks it will at this particular moment in time, Rivers may miss out on his last opportunity to make a run with this group of guys he believes in so much.

The damage of the lockout goes so much deeper than just owner and player money.  
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 2, 2011 11:27 am

Report: Knicks to interview Woodson for defense

By Matt Moore

The Knicks have decided to hire a defensive specialist as an assistant coach to see if he can manage to stop the bleeding of the Knicks' defense while they keep the parry and thrust of the offense going with Mike D'Antoni's work. The plan is to have a "defensive coordinator" type guy on staff to provide insight into that end so that D'Antoni can do what he does best, focus on socring tons of points. The Knicks are taking interviews, and it looks like former Hawks head coach Mike Woodson is on the list, via the New York Post

Woodson would be an excellent fit at the position. He knows how to coach both stars and role players, he's a former player, he was drafted by the Knicks and he can balance a line between discipline and support. The Knicks would do well to hire Woodson. 

At the same time, there's only so much an asssistant coach can do. What the Knicks really need is better personnel, particularly at the rim. Trading Timofey Mozgov in the Melo trade was particularly harmful. Yes, he's most known for getting dunked on by Blake Griffin and has a long way to go in every area of his game, but Mozgov showed a willingness to attack defensively at the rim, the Knicks' softest spot. Woodson can improve the talent he's got, but he can't make miracles. Maybe most interesting is what he can do with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the two biggest minute guys on the Knicks and two guys who need to improve their defense immediately. 

Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:20 am

Is the Magic's offense flawed?

By Matt Moore

This is not a new subject. Since the Magic came into relevance in 2009 with their blistering 3-point barrage to make the NBA Finals, pepole have been questioning their offensive philosophy. The basics go somethings like this: 

  • People think that shooting the 3-pointer is not an effective way to run an offense because it relies on long-range jump shots and eventually, those aren't going to fall and what are you going to do then?
  • The response, then, is that you should drive more, because that creates high-percentage opportunities, which are around the rim, or at least forces the defense to react to that threat, allowing easier pull-up and spot-up jumpers. 
  • In order to do that, you have to have the personnel which can create off the dribble, attacking the rim. There are a lot of questions about whether the Magic have that kind of system. If they don't, it's wondered if that's the case because of the system they've designed. 
But here's the rub: the Magic's offense has actually been really efficient the plast few years. So what happened last year? Talking to the Orlando Sentinel, who he apparentl is not a big fan of, Stan Van Gundy says it was just one of those years. He also thinks you can't magically force your personnel to drive if they're not good at it. From the Sentinel
“Especially from an offensive standpoint, this is a personnel driven league,” Van Gundy continued. “You do with what you have. We get it from our media all the time and our fans. We’ll have those nights, 2-for-23 from three. They say you gotta drive the ball more. Who? Who? That’s my question. Who? Who’s going to drive the ball? That’s not who we have. If I had a different team, there are a lot of guys in the league that I wouldn’t shoot threes with. We have who we have and we’re going to build our system around it.”
via Stan Van Gundy defends Orlando Magic’s style of play – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.

Van Gundy's right that they have who they have and they should build their system around it. Unfortunately, their personnel wasn't well fit for anything last season, which is why they ended up out of the first round. The 3-point shot didn't just abandon them, it snuck out in the middle of the night and took the cat.

But there needs to be a priority to change that personnel and bring in someone who can create off the dribble. Additionally, the Magic offense became so dependent on the 3-pointer last year that it abandoned what had made that approach so successful in 2009, the extra pass. The Magic took whatever was the first 3-pointer available last season as opposed to pushing that extra pass to the player who has time to spot up.

Orlando needs a lot of work to re-open the window. That starts with getting a perimeter playmaker who's more than just a spot-up shooter.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:18 am
This entry has been removed by the administrator.

Post Deleted by Administrator

This message has been removed by the administrator.

Posted on: July 12, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 12:51 pm

Timberwolves finally, mercifully fire Rambis

Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has confirmed reports from from Yahoo! Sports that Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis, after months speculation, was finally fired today by Wolves management.  

The Wrath of Kahn: Rambis fired
Rambis' release follows months of not only needless speculation and waiting as Rambis waited for the axe to fall, but downright embarassing treatment of the former Laker. Ken Berger detailed how GM David Kahn has treated Rambis since deciding to fire him months ago, including demanding a written report from Rambis reviewing his job performance.  There were reports Rambis was to be fired after the draft in June, but even before that, Rambis was not even included in pre-draft workout planning or consulted with during the workouts. Berger reported as early as March 11th that Rambis could be headed for the chopping block. 

Whether it was an effort to convince Rambis to step down to avoid paying him the remainder of his contract, or simple old-fashioned incompetence, the way this has been handled is embarrassing for Glen Taylor, David Kahn, the Wolves organziation, and the NBA. It's a borderline case for a lawsuit, considering the disrespectul treatment of Rambis whose only real crime was trying to run a flawed system that hasn't succeeded in the past 30 years without Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan involved, and being saddled with one of the most questionable general managers in the league.

Kahn drafted two point guards, then hired a coach whose system minimizes the role of the point guard. The Triangle would emphasize Kevin Love's strengths if used right. Naturally, Love was buried until he finally forced his way out, despite reports that neither Kahn nor Rambis thought much of Love. It was a failed regime from the get-go. Now Rambis stands as the fall guy for the mistakes of the organization as they try and move forward.

Reports surfaced earlier this month that the Wolves were actually actively bringing in coaching candidates for interviews. Most recently, Bernie Bickerstaff, a veteran front office man and assistant last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, was brought in to interview for a job with Rambis still technically in the position.  

So ends the Rambis era in Minnesota.

The Kahn era continues.
Posted on: June 7, 2011 9:34 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 9:39 pm

Mark Jackson promises culture change in Warriors

Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- Mama, there goes that regime change.

Mark Jackson took over duties as head coach of the Golden State Warriors Tuesday and immediately made it clear that the most important element of his planned changes for the team lies in their culture.

"The culture's got to change," Jackson said,"and I'm excited about changing the culture."

The Warriors for years have been the prototypical "fast and loose" team. Marked by exciting transition basketball that inevitably leads to weaknesses on the defensive end. The Warriors were sixth in pace last season, and 26th in defensive efficiency. The two are considered to be strongly related. Jackson, though, said that there will not be a move away from transition basketball with him as head coach.

"Absolutely not," Jackson said. "We will push the basketball. We will look for opportunities in transition. But we will not just push it just to be pushing."

Jackson tied in that culture change with the idea that folds into the offensive approach, something which has not been in effect in previous years with an "any look will do" scheme during the Don Nelson years. The rookie head coach said players will have to perfrom defensively.

"You're not going to have a license to shoot when you're not getting it done on the other end. They will be held accountable, and there will be a price to pay. I'm of the mindset that the only way to win in this league and to win big is play defensively."

Jackson enters a team that has a big draft coming up and will be looking to make moves to change the personnel to a more defensive approach. But with only a few weeks between his hiring and the draft, will Jackson have an impact on the draft at all?

With all that said, Jackson clearly feels that this team isn't just set to challenge in the future, but to win now.

"When you look at their talent level, this is a team that is certainly capable of making the playoffs and making a run."

You can put it in bold letters," Jackson said in his trademark speaking style, "I fully expect for the Golden State Warriors to be a playoff team next year. If I did not expect that, I would not have taken the job. And I won't minimize it by just being a playoff team. We're looking to turn the Bay Area upside-down."
Posted on: June 3, 2011 3:15 pm

Rambis has no clue what's going on with his job

Posted by Matt Moore

You ever hear how people talk about getting fired and how they "never saw it coming?" As if there's something better about seeing your own demise coming from miles away and being helpless to stop it. Well, if you think that's true, check in with Kurt Rambis on how it's going.

Rambis has reportedly been on the way out for a while.  But no one's told him anything. David Kahn hasn't told him either way. So barring a clear reason not to, Rambis showed up in Minnesota for the team's workouts of draft prospects. This despite not knowing if he'll be the one drafting a player or coaching him next season. Rambis elected to speak to reporters at the event, and it turns out that he has no clue about his job situation. which is nice. From The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
It has been more than six weeks since the team's season ended and he still doesn't know if he'll be back as coach.

When asked if he thinks the situation is being handled appropriately, he said, "It's not how I would handle it, no...I think everybody has reasons for why they conduct their business in the way they want to conduct their business. If you're asking me if that's what I'd do, no. That's not how I would handle things, but everybody's different."

He said he and boss David Kahn have had "minor conversations" since the season's end. He also said he expects they will have to have an in-depth conversation about the past season and the future but there's no plans to do that now.
via Kurt Rambis speaks! | StarTribune.com.

 Rambis also said "I'm still the coach, until something happens." 

That's just a terrible situation to be in. Kahn should let him know either way. If the lockout is a factor, let him know that. If he wants a change, make it. But forcing someone to work under these conditions is just bad business. It's not how you manage people. It's not how you get the best from your organization. And it's not how you lead a team forward.

Then again, what else is new?

Get excited for what you're walking into, Ricky Rubio
Posted on: May 27, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 9:26 pm

Rockets offer McHale 3-year coaching deal

Rockets to hire Kevin McHale as new head coach.

Posted by Matt Moore

Yahoo! Sports reports and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirms the Houston Rockets have reached an agreement with Kevin McHale for the former Celtics great to become their next head coach. The report states the organization feels he can connect with their younger players and his career as a player will create a hunger for a championship. 

The Rockets-Celtics connections are pretty strong, with GM Daryl Morey having worked in Boston before taking the reins in Houston. Unfortunately, all this glosses over McHale's disastrous campaign in Minnesota, which featured multiple stints as head coach and a rocky if not terrible run as a general manager. Rockets fans will have significant questions about the hire, and the most optimistic response so far is one of "Well, I guess it's okay."

It also means yet another position for which Dwane Casey has been passed over, though the Mavericks assistant's current obligations may have something to do with that.

Update 2:23 p.m.: Yahoo! reports it's a three-year deal, with a team option for a fourth.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com