Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry works for a lead executive – David Griffin – who inherited, rather than chose, Gentry in the first place. Gentry has had just one winning season in five years in New Orleans, and the Pelicans particularly underwhelmed this season.
Connect the dots.
The worst-kept secret in the NBA is that Gentry’s time with the Pelicans won’t last much longer.
Executive VP David Griffin and Pelicans ownership have a decision to make with a year left on Gentry’s contract, sources said. Consider two relationships Griffin has back to his front-office days in Cleveland and Phoenix, respectively, if there’s a change in New Orleans: LA Clippers assistant Ty Lue and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, sources said.
Zion Williamson was transcendent at times this season. Brandon Ingram blossomed. Youngsters Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Jaxson Hayes showed flashes. Veterans Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors provided reliable depth and versatility.
But New Orleans was never quite as good as the sum of its parts.
Some of that falls on Gentry.
The Pelicans’ defense was often scrambled. An offensive-minded coach, Gentry hasn’t shown he can correct that issue. His lineup decisions rarely maximized the offense, either.
Lue and Kidd are unsurprising candidates. Lue had a great record working for Griffin with the Cavaliers (obligatory LeBron James mention), and Kidd is good at getting his name tied to job searches. Are Lue and Kidd the most likely coaches to replace Gentry? Maybe. Or maybe they’re just the first candidates to emerge publicly. This job search isn’t even officially underway.
But it could be soon.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Jimmy Butler returned from a foot injury and scored 19 points, Derrick Jones scored 18 off the Miami bench and the Heat kept T.J. Warren largely in check on the way to a 114-92 win over the Pacers on Monday night.
Miami moved a game ahead of Indiana in the race for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat (44-27) and Pacers (43-28) both have two games left, and sixth-place Philadelphia (42-28) ends its regular season with three games in four days starting Tuesday.
Tyler Herro scored 17 while Duncan Robinson and Jae Crowder each added 14 for Miami, which snapped a two-game slide. The Heat took control for good in the third quarter, blowing open what was a tie game with a 35-17 run.
Warren scored 12 for Indiana on 5 for 14 shooting in 29 minutes. He came into Monday averaging a bubble-leading 34.8 points per game on 61% shooting from the field, 56% from 3-point range, but never got rolling against Butler and the Heat.
The Heat own the tiebreakers over both Indiana and Philadelphia, so one more Miami victory would lock up a spot in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series that will start early next week.
The teams play again Friday in the seeding-game finale for both teams and could meet in the opening round of the playoffs that start next week — raising the possibility that Miami and Indiana could face off as many as nine times in a 10-game span.
It was the first meeting between the clubs since Jan. 8, a game in Indiana where Butler and Warren’s individual matchup stole the show.
What happened that night, in seven seconds of court time, has been talked about for seven months since. Warren grabbed Butler’s arm on a drive midway through the third quarter, and the reaction by each player resulted in double-technicals. Butler fouled Warren on the next possession, Warren taunted him with some clapping after the call and got ejected.
Butler blew kisses his way, Warren offered an obscene gesture in reply and both players got fined.
“It’s not about Jimmy and T.J.,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s about Miami and Indiana.”
Butler might have taken it personally anyway. He guarded Warren on 25 possessions Monday; Warren scored only two points on 1 for 3 shooting during those trips.
We’ve all been part of more virtual meetings — and happy hours — than we care to count. Now 14 NBA teams are going to be on another one — one that could help determine their fate.
The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held virtually on Aug. 20. Not a surprise, but Shams Charania of The Athletic reports it will soon be official.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 10, 2020
Teams will still “send” representatives to the lottery, but via Zoom rather than with a lucky charm in person.
This is considered a relatively weak draft, but, as always, there are players near the top who could help teams. The odds of landing the top pick for the eight teams in the lottery are:
1. Golden State Warriors (14%)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (14%)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (14%)
4. Atlanta Hawks (12.5%)
5. Detroit Pistons (10.5%)
6. New York Knicks (9%)
7. Chicago Bulls (7.5%)
8. Charlotte Hornets (6%)
Washington’s dreadful play in the NBA restart bubble — the Wizards are 0-6 — means it now has a worse record than both Charlotte and Chicago, but the lottery odds for those teams were locked in before the bubble.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points, and the Phoenix Suns rolled past the short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder 128-101 on Monday to remain perfect and improve to 6-0 in the restart and improve their playoff chances.
The Suns have surged in the Western Conference standings. They entered the day just 1 1/2 games behind eighth-place Memphis and a game behind ninth-place Portland in the race to qualify for a spot in the play-in series.
— 6-0 (@Suns) August 10, 2020
“We haven’t accomplished anything,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “That may sound like coach-speak, but we dug ourselves a hole with our record. We scrapped all year long and won some games, but it’s been an uphill battle.”
Williams appreciates the position the Suns are in.
“We’ve done a good job of getting to this point,” he said. “No one knew we were going to be here, but we’re here and we’re thankful for that.”
Phoenix center Deandre Ayton sat out the first quarter because he missed his coronavirus test on Sunday. He tested negative on Monday and was cleared. He started the second quarter.
“In an NBA season guys are going to make mistakes,” Williams said. “You have to be able to give people grace. It wasn’t intentional. Thankfully he was able to get tested early enough that he was able to come back and play, and the guys received him with open arms because we all understand we’re human.”
With Ayton out, Oklahoma City led 37-23 at the end of the first quarter. After Ayton entered the game, Phoenix dominated the rest of the way. He finished with 10 points and six rebounds in just over 17 minutes.
Oklahoma City was without four of its top five scorers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (bruised right calf), Danilo Gallinari (left ankle maintenance), Dennis Schroder (birth of child) and Steven Adams (bruised left leg) sat out. Reserve center Nerlens Noel (sprained right ankle) also did not play.
Rookie Darius Bazley had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.
The Suns rallied from 15 points down in the second quarter to take a 65-64 lead at halftime. Phoenix opened the second half on an 11-2 run and controlled the game from there.
“I thought their pressure disrupted us,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought we got a little bit stagnant. We made some pretty decent plays. We were able to get some open looks, but I thought there in the second quarter they turned up their defensive intensity and that probably took us out of some rhythm.”
How serious is it?
Joel Embiid is out for Tuesday’s game against the Suns with the left ankle injury he sustained in the first quarter Sunday vs. the Blazers. He’ll be undergoing treatment and evaluation at the team’s practice Monday night.
Brett Brown said he expected Embiid to play again before the playoffs, though characterized that view as “just one man’s opinion.”
Embiid can be dominant. With him, the 76ers still have a chance of advancing in the playoffs. It might even be easier to create space around Embiid – where Embiid can really feast – without Simmons (though the loss of the talented Simmons lowers Philadelphia’s ceiling).
However, the 76ers don’t deserve benefit of the doubt for setting accurate injury timelines, particularly with Embiid. There’s an element of “see it to believe it” here.