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Archive for the tag “Chicago Bulls”

Derek Fisher Is Out. Is Tom Thibodeau The Answer In New York?

(photo courtesy of Derrick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Derrick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

The New York Knicks are in Year Two of their rebuilding project. Derek Fisher was picked to preside over this project last season and it was evident they were trying to be as bad as possible once Carmelo Anthony went down to injury. The team tanked and ended up getting the third pick in the draft, which turned out to be forward Kristaps Porzingis (which many expected to be a project). The addition of Porzingis, the free agents the Knicks added and the return of Carmelo Anthony had some thinking the Knicks could make the playoffs. But the Knicks, even though they have shown improvement, don’t look like they will be making the playoffs again this season either. The Knicks are currently 23-31, good for 12th in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. And after starting 20-20, the team is now 23-31, including losing nine of their last ten games. Needless to say, the organization was not happy with the recent outcomes and the slow starts as well. So with that dissatisfaction, the Knicks made a move. New York fired head coach Derek Fisher on Monday, replacing him with interim head coach Kurt Rambis. And with that move, the Knicks move forward.

Fisher was following in the footsteps of Jason Kidd when he went from playing straight to being a head coach. With Phil as his mentor and the relationship they built when Phil coached Derek, there was some thought that the pairing would work well together. But apparently the relationship was not strong enough to overcome the recent struggles. It seemed like the team got off to a pretty good start and then inexplicably started inconsistent play. The intensity that was there before just was not the same. And it was not just noticeable to the fans of the team, but to the organization. But not only was the play not the same, neither was the coaching. There have been many questionable decisions that Fisher has made in terms of playing time, situational substitutions and timeout management that have made some cringe. Of course, he has never been a coach before at any level, so he is learning on the job. But even in knowing that, Fisher still seemed to not learn from some of the mistakes he was making. And with that, it became increasingly frustrating for some to watch their team consistently not make it happen when given the opportunities to do so. So with that happening, the Knicks had to make a move. The team’s future being led by Fisher was going nowhere fast. And now it seems like he may have been the coach that was sacrificed before any type of success happens for the Knicks again.

Kurt Rambis is the current replacement, but many feel the interim head coach is just holding the position for someone else. There has been one prominent name mentioned after Fisher was fired and that name is former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The long-time assistant coach in the NBA got his big break when becoming the head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 2010. Thibs, as he is called by many that played for him, was a solid coach in the NBA and got the most out of his players in the Chicago. But unfortunately, he and management in Chicago could not get along and he was released from his job there this past offseason. Some thought he would have gotten another NBA coaching job just as quick as he got fired, but that was not the case. Instead, Thibodeau took some time off and examined the coaching scene. And with the job opening coming up in New York, there has been some talk that Thibs is interested. There are reports out there that he has always wanted to be the head coach of the New York Knicks. And with who all is available out there, who is more qualified for the job than Thibodeau? He took the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year, was the fastest coach in NBA history to 100 victories and also was able to help the Bulls survive the loss of point guard Derrick Rose year after year and still have them be successful. Thibodeau is a tireless worker and has been known to get the best out of his teams. But how does he fit in New York?

Thibodeau has been known as a great defensive coach. He was the mastermind behind the defense in Boston during their resurgence with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back in 2007-2008. If he is hired as the coach of the Knicks, defense is one aspect that will be better. And for Carmelo Anthony, it will probably be the hardest he has been asked to work defensively. The Knicks and their effort on that end will not be compromised and Thibodeau will make sure of that. And with Porzingis there on the team, it will be scary how good a defender he could make the 7’3” rookie forward. But for as much as he could help the defense, Thibodeau would not help them offensively. For his entire time in Chicago, he was criticized time and time again about his offense. Even when he had Derrick Rose, the offense was deemed unimaginative and rudimentary by many. And the lack of diversity in the offense led to the Bulls being one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA for much of his time there in Chicago. With that knowledge being known, the Knicks would be an even uglier mess offensively with Thibodeau there as the head coach. The Knicks currently sit as one of the worst offenses in efficiency and points per game over the last two seasons. With a star player that isn’t exactly the picture of efficiency and Thibs not exactly known to have much movement in his offense, the Knicks would be an eyesore on the offensive end. And in this day and time in the NBA, you have to score to win. The days of Jeff Van Gundy having a physical defensive team win games in New York is over. Bringing Thibs there would be flashing back to that time in Knicks basketball with even less offensive talent.

The Knicks knew they had gone as far as they could with Fisher as the head coach. It was apparent when they lost nine of their last ten and the team looked like they had lost their direction. But in hiring the next head coach, Phil Jackson has to know this could be a job-defining move. If he hired Thibodeau, then he is hiring a fierce competitor as a head coach that will not allow anything but the best effort every night. But on the flipside, Thibs is not the guy to help them be better offensively. He may be a better head coach than Fisher, but he is not the guy to give them what they need. And imagine Thibodeau trying to run the Triangle offense in New York without really knowing it. If he has to do that, then you could really have an offensive mess on your hands.

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The General’s New Year’s Resolutions In Sports

(photo courtesy of Kelly L Cox/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Kelly L Cox/USA Today Sports)

A new year is upon us and like usual, there are many that have made New Year’s Resolutions. You see some of the usual ones that involve working out posted everywhere, but what if teams and professional athletes had resolutions and we all had access to them? No one knows if some of these professional athletes made some resolutions for the year, but if they were to make them, this is what they could have been. Without further ado, here are some New Year’s Resolutions the General has for some people, teams and players.

Chicago Bulls-Remember Who You Are

A lot was made of Jimmy Butler’s comments in regards to his coach, Fred Hoiberg, and him needing to coach them harder. But one other thing the star guard spoke about was the team needing to play harder like they have in previous seasons. And he could not have been more correct. The Bulls have no identity at all this season and the effort seems to not be there on both ends consistently. For them to even compete in the East, they need to get back to the basics. Of course there is a new coach there, but the same pieces remain. For their sake, they better hope some things get better soon for them.

Markieff Morris- More Patience and Composure

The talented forward for Phoenix has had an interesting season. He watched his twin brother get traded to Detroit this offseason and it has seemingly had an adverse effect on him. He wanted to leave and demonstrated so during the offseason but that cooled down once the season started. But even now, he has had temper tantrums like throwing a towel at the coach. And like any player that has issues with a coach, he has been in and out of the doghouse. One thing he may want to realize is he is not making himself look any better with these tantrums. Other teams are watching. And eventually the talent-trouble formula will not be in his favor. Get it together Mr. Morris. Of you could be calling it a career quicker than you want.

Los Angeles Lakers-Atone for your mistakes

The Los Angeles Lakers have been employing Byron Scott for almost three years now. And with this team as young as they are, it seems like Scott hasn’t got the memo to play the young players so they can get better. So since he seems to not get the memo, why not let him go now? Kobe is about to exit Byron. Lou Williams is not a starting point guard in the NBA. Larry Nance Jr is not a starter in the NBA. The Lakers’ brass needs to end this science experiment with Byron as head coach and do so as soon as possible.

Dwight Howard- Find out who you are

Dwight Howard has had the potential to be one of the best big men in the NBA for some time now. But he has never lived up to it. Instead, he has been known as an unhappy big man. Dwight has visions of himself being more involved in the offense in Houston just like he had in Los Angeles for his one year there. But in each situation, he has yet to realize that he is the not the focal point of his team. It was Kobe in LA and now it is Harden in Houston. He will not be the main weapon on this Houston team because he does not have a consistent offensive game. Maybe if he had that, he would have a gripe. But right now, Dwight may want to focus on just being a rebounder, dunker and defensive presence because that is what he is.

Cleveland Browns- Take control of your situation

The team seems to be in disarray yet again. There seems to be no direction there and the front office and management seem to be on two different pages. The talk has been that general manager Ray Farmer will be done after this last game. But with the Browns, you never know. This one reads like a soap opera, so maybe one day they will get some direction and move forward. But it all starts from ownership. Ownership here has never asserted itself and taken control of the situation. And this mess will continue if Haslam and company do not do so.

Detroit Lions- See things clearer

The Detroit Lions had a rough start to the season. They were 1-6 out of the gate and there were many disappointed fans of that team. But the team righted the ship and played well down the stretch after they fired their offensive coordinator and members of their front office. Some saw this optimism and have thought that it is time to give Jim Caldwell more time. Well, those that don’t want that better hope that does not happen. Detroit fans and ownership, don’t be fooled by the finish of that team up there. They still have a ton of issues there and keeping Caldwell is not going to help fix those issues at all.

Chip Kelly-Learn how to play well with others

Chip Kelly almost completed his third year of coaching the Philadelphia Eagles when the plug was pulled on him by the organization this week. Aside from some of the questionable moves he made as the general manager this season, it was his icy relationship with people around him that helped get him fired in Philly. He reportedly would not even speak to players in the building, often leaving them feeling uncomfortable. He more than likely will receive another shot at some point (at the college level or in the NFL). But in order for him to succeed, he has to learn to value the people around him. He apparently did not in Philly. If he is able to learn that along with other things, then he could be successful in his next go round.

San Francisco 49ers- Change your course

The team has had issues all season long. Of course most of those were linked to the departures of their head coach after the 2014 season and the loss of players to retirement. But even more than that, the team just seemed like it just could not get any form of consistency all year long. For them, the consistency needs to start with what direction they will be going in. This was obviously not what the 49ers expected and this was unacceptable in their eyes. The stability starts from the top and it will be interesting to see what they do to stabilize this team and get better.

Chicago Cubs-Seize the opportunity

The Chicago Cubs were a team that many expected to not be ready to achieve until the 2016 season. But they surprised everyone this past season and made it to the National League Championship Series. They lost the game, but they were ahead of schedule. And this offseason, they acquired a few pieces to help take them to the top. The thing that Cubs fans have been waiting on forever is a championship. And this year is their best chance to do it. The best thing for them to do is take advantage of this opportunity when it presents itself. If not, this chance could pass them by quickly.

Pete Rose and Major League Baseball-

Time and time again we hear about Pete Rose and whether or not he should be in the Hall Of Fame. Well, he was denied again and the argument ensued as to why he should or should not be in the Hall. Well, both sides need to come together and make this happen one way or the other. Rose has to come clean about everything and Major League Baseball has to value an all-time great before he passes away. At some point, Major League Baseball has to let him in. And while Major League Baseball is trying to take the moral ground, they may want to take a look at how they conveniently looked the other way during the Steriod era. I bet that would change some viewpoints there on all those taking that moral compass out involving Major League Baseball.

 

2015 has come to an end and 2016 is now upon us. And all of us have great dreams of making things happen in this new year. And some of us even made resolutions. Hopefully for these teams, players and people, they make some changes within themselves to make this year a great one for themselves.

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The Winds Of Change Are Blowing In Chicago

(photo courtesy of Rob Grabowski/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Rob Grabowski/USA Today Sports)

The Chicago Bulls have had a slow start to the season. There have been games where they have shown up, games where they have been missing in action and everything in between. The firing of Tom Thibodeau and hiring of Fred Hoiberg in his place was supposed to get the offense going. But instead of getting the offense going, the Bulls have seemingly been stunted on that end. They rank at the back end of the NBA in scoring, worse than they did last season. And on the defensive end, they are not giving the same effort they used to. Only one guy has been consistent throughout all their ups and down this season: guard Jimmy Butler. But if they are to pick it up, some things have to change. Jimmy Butler went public this week, criticizing coach Hoiberg and saying that he needed to be harder on everyone, including him. The win on Thursday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder is only is a temporary coat of makeup to cover the blemishes they have. The Bulls have no identity. It used to be that they played harder than anyone else and played stingy defense. But this year that cannot even be counted on and they have coasted in some games as well. In this situation, something has to change and change now.

In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls drafted power forward Bobby Portis. The young big man out of Arkansas can shoot the three, post up and he can handle the basketball. He seems to be a matchup nightmare for teams on a nightly basis. But because of the gluttony of big men the Bulls have (Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson), he cannot get any playing time. As a result, there have been many rumors floating around of shaking the Bulls’ roster up and trading at least one of these big men to free up time for Portis. But which one should it be? Each one of these players bring a different element to the team. And in different times, all of them have stepped up and helped get a win for the team. But standing at 16-12 is not what they imagined this year and something has to change. There will be plenty of people looking at acquiring Pau Gasol. The 36 year old is very skilled and has championship experience (won two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers). Taj is the grit and grime player for the Bulls. But the difference between he and Noah is Gibson can score when given the opportunity and has a better stroke. With Mirotic, the Bulls are still trying to figure it out. He has some good games, but he has some games where he is non-existent. And this staff is also trying to figure out whether they want to play him at the small forward or the power forward position. That leaves Noah, who is currently out with a shoulder injury, as the best possible odd man out.

Noah’s shoulder injury he has is not expected to be anything too series. The veteran center is supposed to be back in two weeks. And if he shows that he is healthy, he will draw some trade interest. The most attractive thing about him is that he is a guy that does not require the basketball to make an impact. He can be your secondary ball-handler, a defensive anchor and he will make all the hustle plays that a championship team needs. And to top it all off, he has a contract that is expiring at the end of the season. Whoever is to trade for him, they will essentially have the rest of the season to check him out. And if they don’t like what they see, then they can let him go and not have to be tied up to his contract. The Bulls would more than likely be looking for another wing player or potentially their point guard of the future in this deal also. Nothing is set in stone, but Noah is definitely dangling out there for someone to take. And for many, it is just a matter of “when” and not “if” when it comes to Noah leaving town.

The Bulls have been identified by two players for some time now: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. They both had some good and bad times, but the fact of the matter is their time is all but up in Chicago. Noah is a free agent this season and Rose will a free agent in 2017. The winds of change are blowing in the Windy City and Rose and Noah could be the next few to get swept out of town. But as far as this offseason, the change is definitely necessary because Bobby Portis is too skilled to be sitting on the bench not getting playing time. And Noah may be the guy that has to go that will clear way for him to get more playing time.

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Sorry Klay. Jimmy Butler Is The Best Shooting Guard In The NBA

(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Klay Thompson is living the life right now. He is part of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, has a max contract and the team is off to a 26-1 start. The way it seems right now, Thompson and the Warriors could possibly break the record for wins in a season, eclipsing the 72 wins the Chicago Bulls put up in the 1995-1996 season. After a slow start to the season, Klay is playing well and showing off that shooting stroke that has made him dangerous. His play combined with the Steph Curry makes them the most dangerous backcourt in the NBA. At a recent launch for his new basketball shoe, the KT1, Thompson was asked to name the best player at each position right now in the NBA. When it came to shooting guard, Thompson said he would name himself as the best shooting guard in the game. Thompson is supremely talented and can take over a game with his excellent offensive ability at any time. But in overall play, there has to be some question whether he is the best shooting guard in the game right now. Klay was exhibiting confidence when he said his answer and that can be commended. Who else would he name but himself? But unfortunately for him, his answer was incorrect. He is not the best shooting guard in the NBA right now. The guy that has that title resides in Chicago and his name is Jimmy Butler.

When Butler was drafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, no one can say with a straight face that they saw him becoming what he is now. Year after year, Butler got better and better until he had his breakout year last season, averaging 20 points per game. Jimmy parlayed that breakout season into a brand new 5 year max contract with the Bulls this past offseason and he is continuing to get better still after getting the money. He is averaging 21.5 points per game and seemingly has taken over as the leader of the Bulls team. He obviously is not the shooter that Thompson is from the field, but he is scoring more than Thompson is so far this season (Thompson is averaging 19.3 points per game this season). Thompson is playing alongside the best player in the NBA right now, so his shots are decidedly easier than the ones that Butler gets. Butler is the focal point of the Chicago offense and he still gets his points. And in the fourth quarters of games, the offense runs through him. That is a far cry from what it used to be in Chicago with Derrick Rose on the team. The Warriors are one of the top scoring teams in the NBA , so the pressure is not as tough on him to produce every single game. But the Bulls are one of the worse scoring teams in the NBA this season. They need Jimmy to show up each and every game. Of course the Bulls don’t have the record the Warriors do (Bulls are 15-11 right now), but Jimmy has been the main reason they are even in the running for making the playoffs. If he does not give them 21.5 points per game, then they would be in the running for the worst record in the NBA. If you take Klay off his team, the Warriors are still a very solid team.

The offensive end of the floor is only one side of the game. Thompson has become a better player on the defensive end over his time in the NBA. He can defend his position and was sometimes used to take on the best perimeter player on the opposing team. But even with his improvements defensively, he still does not have the versatility that Jimmy Butler has. Butler came into the NBA under head coach Tom Thibodeau, who preached defense. So naturally, Butler dug in on the defensive end and became a very good defender. Butler grew on that end while he was growing offensively and many now recognize him as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He is one of the rare players that can get it done offensively as the focal point and can guard the best perimeter defender on the opposing team. And it does not matter what position they play for him to guard them either. Butler is so versatile that he can guard point guards, shooting guards and even small forwards. He is one of the few shooting guards that can even match up with LeBron James. Thompson tried his hand at guarding him in the NBA Finals last season and got into foul trouble really quickly. But Butler at least can match him physically and can also make LeBron have to work harder to get his points. He is the superior defender to Thompson and it’s not even that close.

Thompson is confident in himself, but the reality is that he is not the best shooting guard in the NBA. When it comes to the total package, Jimmy Butler is a guy that you could put on any team and he would make a significant impact on both ends of the court. When it comes to Klay, he does benefit from playing with a great player in Steph Curry and a versatile defender in Draymond Green. No slight to Klay, but Butler is the best shooting guard in the NBA.

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The Bulls Are Following Jimmy Butler’s Lead

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Derrick Rose was once the toast of the city. He was the hometown boy making good and leading this Bulls team back to the top of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. But after leading the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, there has been a steady fall in his play. Of course injuries led to a good portion of that fall, but he just has not been able to reach the same level he was before. The team that he was once the leader of has become accustomed to playing without Rose while his various injuries have kept him on the sideline mostly during the past four seasons. One player that grew the most while Rose was injured was guard Jimmy Butler. The athletic swingman out of Marquette was seldom used in his first season. But as time has gone on, Butler has gotten better and better each year. Going into his contract season in 2014-2015, Butler took it up another notch. He averaged 20 points a game and was still the defensive stalwart that many were used to seeing. His play had him being mentioned as one of the top two-way players in the NBA. All while Butler was rising, Rose was still trying to get it figured out once again. He was making things happen on an inconsistent level. Sure, he had some games where he looked spectacular and then he had others where he looked like he was laboring. The toll of the injuries just looked like they had worn on his body.

Despite some delaying on their part, the Bulls made the decision that signing Jimmy Butler to a five-year max contract was in their best interest. And he has shown that last year was not a fluke. Despite a change in system (the Bulls fired defensive-minded coach Tom Thibodeau for more offensive-minded Fred Hoiberg), Butler is still putting up similar numbers to last year. Consequently, Rose is still being the inconsistent player that he has been over the past few year. The glimpses of what he used to be are still there. But so are the times where he looks like he is laboring on the court. There used to be a time when Rose was considered the leader of this team. The Bulls level of success would ride or die on the shoulders of the hometown kid. But as time as went on, the dynamic has changed. Gone are the times when the Bulls are depending on Rose so much that they falter when he is inconsistent. And just like those times have passed, so have Rose’s quiet leadership of the team. The change has been evident on the court all season: Jimmy Butler is now the leader of this team. Amazingly, no one really expected Jimmy to ever reach this level when he was drafted 30th in the 2011 NBA Draft. But through hard work and determination, he has made himself into the most indispensable player on this Bulls’ roster. And he has also become the guy the Bulls look to in the fourth quarter when closing out games. Gone are the days of leaning on Rose when the time comes to finish off a team.

Derrick Rose has not come into a new chapter in his career. He is still one the highest-paid player on this Bulls team, but he is not the guy that leads them anymore. Unfortunately injuries took away from what he once was. In preseason practice, he suffered a broken orbital bone in practice that caused him to miss the preseason. He did not miss any regular season games, as he returned opening night wearing a mask. The result of the orbital bone fracture is double vision that he continues to battle every game. He recently shed the mask, but admitted that the double-vision is still there. But even with the injury, Rose’s role with this team was going to change. Gone are the days when things began and ended with his offense. Now he has to co-exist with another playmaker in his backcourt in Butler. And even he has probably realized that Jimmy is the focal point of this team. For virtually his entire career since Simeon high school, Rose has been the guy with the ball in his hands. With his current situation in Chicago, Rose now has to learn how to pick his spots. He will not be bringing the ball up the court or initiating the offense as he once used to all the time. Some of those responsibilities now fall on the shoulders of Jimmy Butler. But one thing that Rose can do with Butler as the focal point is work on his movement without the basketball. That is one part of the game Rose has never really had to work on coming up. The ball always used to be in his hands. If he is able to work on things like that when the ball is not in his hands, then it will make him a better player.

It seems like yesterday when Rose was the man for the Bulls. Now that torch has been passed to Jimmy Butler. Butler is the one the Bulls follow. Rose is still an effective point guard, but the inconstancies and injuries have taken that time away. Now he has to accept that he will not be the focal point at all times. And if he is able to master that concept and pick his spots for this team, they will be better because of it.

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The Golden State Warriors Won The NBA Title On Their Terms

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their first title in 40 years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their first title in 40 years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The NBA Finals are over in six games and the Golden State Warriors are now the NBA champions. They outplayed and outsmarted the Cleveland Cavaliers as they have won their first championship in 40 years. The Warriors were led by Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, who had 50 points combined. And not to be outdone, Draymond Green rebounded from a tough stretch to start the series to post a triple-double in the finale. And just like that, they crushed all hope of the Cleveland Cavaliers as they were in total pretty much the entire game. When the Warriors won, it seemed like there was a sense of joy. No, not the joy from the people that hate LeBron James and want him to fail, but joy for a team that made it happen despite everyone counting them out. The Cavaliers were undermanned going into the Finals and had even more to overcome when Kyrie Irving was hurt in the first game of the series and did not play again. But that does not take away from the great accomplishments the Warriors had this season. And it is because of that, the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors will go down as one of the best teams in NBA history. Now some may say that it is crazy to say they are one of the best teams of all-time, but with all that they have done and the unconventional way they have done so, it is rightful to put them up there with teams like the 72 win Chicago Bulls.

Unlike the Chicago Bulls that season, the Warriors were not picked by many to win an NBA title. In fact, many thought the San Antonio Spurs would put it together again and make a run at repeating as a NBA champion for the first time. And when David Lee went down with a hamstring injury before the season and the Warriors put Draymond Green in the starting lineup, it was thought that their chances decreased even more in the eyes of some. There were many that said they were too small with Draymond at the power forward and that he would eventually get taken advantage of in the paint. Well, the opposite happened all season long. Going into a season where he could play himself into a big contract, Green became the ultimate mismatch on the offensive end of the court. He was only 6’7 (and many would argue that he isn’t even 6’7”), but he could finish inside because of his anticipation, touch and strength around the rim. But not only could he finish around the rim, but he could stretch the defense. Not many power forwards could take the rebound and dribble it up the court and hit open threes. Draymond could do that and more with his unique abilities. On the defensive end he more than held his own as well all year. He gave it his all each and every time he touched the court. And he also played bigger than many gave him credit for. He defended bigger players all year long and did not give up an inch, negating the supposed mismatch that he was put into on the defensive end. And in the NBA Finals, the lineup change the Warriors made put all those abilities on display. He was matched up against Tristian Thompson and Thompson was giving him problems on the defensive end on the boards. But as the series went on, Thompson was not as effective as he was on the glass. He still got his, but it was not at the clip it once was due to the effect of Green. And Green, to his credit, rebounded from a tough start to the series and became a huge piece to three straight wins and a title.

Another thing that made many not believe in this team is their style of play. The Warriors were criticized all year long because of the Style of the Splash Brothers (me included). There were times that many thought they took shots that were awful and depended too much on the three-pointer. They did shoot some bad shots, but they made a lot more of them than they missed. And it was because of that, their shooting opened up the paint more and more as the season went on. But the common misconception about this team is that they are just an outside shooting team. That could not be further from the truth. The Golden State Warriors were also a team that took the ball to the basket. For example, they used backcuts and dribble penetration to setup easy finishes for their big men all years. Countless times you would see Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut getting an easy dunk off of penetration from Steph Curry or Andre Iguodala. But that isn’t the only example of them attacking the rim. The growth of Klay Thompson as a playmaker and a rim attacker was something that has progressed over the years. In the beginning of his professional career, Klay was more of a shooter. He was a one-dimensional player that only played on the offensive side of the floor. But as his career as gone on, he has made more of a concerted effort to take the ball to the basket. His first progression was being able to shoot off the dribble. Once he got that down, he began to get deeper and deeper into the defense, even attacking the rim while working on using his height to his advantage defensively. Fast forward to now and Klay Thompson is considered by many the best two-way shooting guard in the NBA because of how he has completed his offensive game and picked it up tremendously over time with his defense. In the NBA Finals, the growth of the team and the style they played was shown to the entire country. They shot the three-pointer pretty well for the series. But even when they did not do so, they used backcuts and also dribble penetration to breakdown Cleveland’s defense. The constant movement and timely shooting from the Warriors eventually wore Cleveland down, as they could not keep up. And because of that, the Warriors are now celebrating the NBA Championship.

The Warriors started this season with a motto “Strength In Numbers”. As the season went on, many more people believed in them and they carried that on to the title. But what the Warriors exhibited to the world was more than about strength in numbers but mental strength in themselves. They believed in what they were doing and did not care what anyone else said about what they did. And it is because of that, they broke the mold on what exactly is needed to win a title. They did not have a guy to throw it inside to and get an easy bucket. They did not have the prototypical size, especially when they downsized their lineup. But what they did do is impose their will on any and everyone they faced on their way to the NBA title.

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The Orlando Magic Underwhelm With The Hire Of Scott Skiles As Their New Head Coach

Scott Skiles is now the head coach of the franchise he used to play for. But this may not be the best decision made for the team. (photo courtesy of www.wn.com)

Scott Skiles is now the head coach of the franchise he used to play for. But this may not be the best decision made for the team. (photo courtesy of http://www.wn.com)

The Orlando Magic started last season looking for progress from third-year coach Jacque Vaughn and his young team. Although they were young, they were a talented squad that some could see making it to the playoffs potentially if they were to reach their ultimate level. Unfortunately, the Magic were the same team they were last year and it seemed like no progress was made. So the organization decided to part ways with Vaughn halfway through the season. The team with so much talent just did not come together under Vaughn’s leadership. The season ended for them mercifully in April and then the search for a new coach began. There were names mentioned like former Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau as the next coach of the Magic. But for Orlando, they decided to not hire these coaches in favor of one of the franchise favorites. Scott Skiles was a hard-working player when he played in the NBA. He did not have any skills that were extraordinary, but he was a smart, heady player that left it all on the court. And he can famously be remembered for being an irritant to second-year center Shaquille O’Neal when they were in Orlando together as well as his record of 30 assists in one game in 1990. Well, Skiles will now be returning to where he had his best success as a player. Skiles was officially named the new head coach of the Orlando Magic on this past Friday. And with that, the new era of Magic basketball has begun. But how long will this era last is the question many have.

Skiles has been in the NBA a long time as a coach and has had a few stops. In Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee he helped make those teams better and he has a 51% winning percentage in the NBA as a coach. It is undeniable how much he squeezed out of those teams when many did not see the type of things he did. And with most of them, there was not much to work with. But the things that he accomplished with the teams he coached came with a price. Skiles was as demanding as a coach as he was a player. He was tough on players and sometimes overstepped his bounds as a coach. He knew tough love as a coach and some players needed that. But he never knew when to throttle it down on the sideline or at practice. The result of his propensity to continue to push his teams was him ultimately getting fired from two coaching jobs and him resigning from the Milwaukee job. The reason he was fired from two of his coaching jobs he was is because he wore on those teams. Eventually, the players tired of listening to him rant at them about things. His act wore thin and he was jettisoned. In Milwaukee, his resigning was due to him not being very fond of the ownership at the time and who can blame him? At that time ownership was very bad. But the team probably would have fired him there as well if he did not resign due to his abrasive coaching style. In the end, he is a guy that gets results but wears thin on people, including management. In the short-term, he can get some results. But in the long-term, he is not the answer for any team. He is merely a stopgap.

For Orlando, they had a chance to bring back a former player they loved, but they also had a chance to bring in someone that would make a difference in the long run. And by taking a look at Skiles and his coaching career, long-term is something that should never be attached to his name. The Magic have a ton of youth on their team and those players will need some tough love along with some encouragement along the way. Skiles has proven that he is incapable of the encouragement portion and would rather coach NBA players like he is their taskmaster. As time goes on, he will become the frustrating irritant that he was when he played with Shaq in Orlando. And that will eventually drive the Orlando players crazy. The NBA is a player’s league and very seldom do coaches win out over players. In a year or two, the Magic will go from just a young team to a team that could potentially make some noise in the East with guards Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo along with big man Nikola Vucevic. Skiles will drive them to success at first, but he will eventually become the one that drives them towards talking to management about getting rid of him. His burnout factor on his players will help usher in a coach that will benefit from what he is trying to build. Honestly, it is amazing that he continues to keep getting jobs despite everyone knowing his history on the sidelines. These young players don’t need a taskmaster like Skiles at the helm. They need a coach that can get the best out of them while knowing how to balance personalities on a team. There is a reason teams Skiles coaches take a drastic dip in his last year coaching them and it’s definitely not the players. Add Orlando to the list of teams that will tire of him eventually and jettison him.

This experiment is one that will not work for the Orlando Magic. They fired Jacque Vaughn and had a chance to bring in better coaches with more success. But instead they fumbled this coaching hire like they have fumbled this franchise for the last four years and hired a guy that has no business even being on a sideline as a head coach again. Congratulations on your head coaching job Scott Skiles. And good luck when you are fired in two or three years and have worn out your welcome.

Fred Hoiberg To The Chicago Bulls Could Have Great Results Or Bad Implications

Could Fred Hoiberg be the coach to get the Bulls over the hump? ( Photo courtesy of Charlie Neibergall)

Could Fred Hoiberg be the coach to get the Bulls over the hump? ( Photo courtesy of Charlie Neibergall)

The Chicago Bulls finally made a decision on what they were going to do with head coach Tom Thibodeau. The official press release was less than flattering in regards to their now departed coach and the organization had security escort Thibodeau out of the building. The success over the past five years was not as important as the way he and management bumped heads. And from all accounts, that was the reason the Bulls parted ways with the successful head coach. But Thibodeau will not be walking out empty-handed. The Bulls will be paying him the remaining $9 million he had left on his two-year contract. Chicago now moves forward and there are a few coach’s names that have been mentioned as potential replacements for Thibodeau. Names like Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry and currently ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy have been mentioned, but it seems as if one name has stood above the rest. Former NBA player and current Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has caught the attention of the Chicago Bulls. And according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the Bulls even had a five year, $25 million deal in place for Hoiberg to be head coach of the team before officially firing Thibodeau. The Bulls and Hoiberg have not said much, but Hoiberg will more than likely be the head coach in Chicago when the 2015-2016 season starts. With that being said, a new era of NBA basketball will begin in Chicago. But what can be expected under with him at the helm?

What Hoiberg brings to the table as the head coach of the Bulls will be something that creates some questions among basketball fans. There is some thought that he will be a good head coach in the NBA. He has a couple things going for him in regards to the Bulls head coaching job. Unlike Thibs, Hoiberg actually is good friends with some of the Bulls brass already. He is a former Bull actually and management holds him in high regard. Management has said that they seek a place where everyone works together as a team from management on down and it seems that they are comfortable working with Hoiberg because of his relationship with general manager Gar Foreman. But along with being friends with some in management in Chicago, Hoiberg is also a former front-office guy himself. He actually worked in the front office with the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading to Aimes, Iowa to coach his alma mater Iowa State. And even though he does not have prior coaching experience, he is used to making decisions on the professional level. And the last coach that came previously worked in an NBA front office and took a head coaching job with his next opportunity is doing pretty well in his own right. In fact, he has his team in the NBA Finals. His name is Steve Kerr. The Bulls may not get that type of success in Hoiberg, but they appear to be sold on what Hoiberg could potentially do for their team and organization.

But along with the good things that Hoiberg could bring, there is also a flipside to this equation. Hoiberg comes from Iowa State just like another former Chicago Bulls coach. Back in 1998, the Bulls hired Tim Floyd away from Iowa State. Floyd was stepping into an awful situation. He was receiving a Bulls team that had been dismantled after winning a third straight championship. With Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson as coach gone, the team was gutted and had no identity. But he wanted to coach the team and his friend, general manager Jerry Krause, was there to help him along, or so he thought. The team had been depleted and was a work in progress. But with that being said, usually a team shows some type of progress when trying to rebuild. Under Floyd it seemed like the team regressed each year. Ultimately, he was let go and there was no prettiness to it. He, like Thibodeau, did not get along with management in the end and was relieved of his duties. Hoiberg is not Floyd, but the same scenario is playing out with the relationship between Foreman and Hoiberg and the fact that he is also still the coach at Iowa State. The parallels are there and they could undoubtedly play out the same way for Hoiberg. Another issue has to be the health of Hoiberg. When he was playing in Minnesota, he had to call it a career after he had some heart issues. That is what led to him being in the front office with the Timberwolves. And recently, Hoiberg had open heart surgery for the second time. The clearance of his doctors is seemingly the only thing keeping him from accepting the head coaching job with the Bulls. This has to be something that weighs on the Bulls’ minds heavily going into the reported pact that they have. No matter how good or bad a coach he is, there could always be that thought in the back of management’s minds that he could end his coaching career at any point due to a reoccurring issue with his health. Hopefully the Bulls are smart enough to make provisions in his contract in regards to the health issues because there is always the possibility that his coaching stay in Chicago could be short.

In the end, the Thibs era is over and a new one will be started whether some fans like it or not. This could go good or bad depending on what you think about this situation. But Hoiberg is the guy that is up next for the Bulls head coaching position. And with his hire, there will potentially be some changes to the roster to suit what he wants. All eyes will be on Chicago going into next year because when a successful head coach is fired, there is always a watchful eye by NBA fans to see if they made the right decision.

A Closer Look At Jeff Van Gundy Potentially Coaching The New Orleans Pelicans

Jeff Van Gundy is on the list of coaches New Orleans is looking at to coach. So, what would he look like as the Pelicans coach? (photo courtesy of www.lakernation.com)

Jeff Van Gundy is on the list of coaches New Orleans is looking at to coach. So, what would he look like as the Pelicans coach? (photo courtesy of http://www.lakernation.com)

The New Orleans Pelicans are looking for a new head coach in the wake of their surprise firing of head coach Monty Williams. Many figured that he would get a chance to compete next season with a healthy roster coming off a playoff appearance. But that was not what New Orleans had in mind. The search for a new head coach has had a few interesting names mentioned. One of the most mentioned names out there has been former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The recently fired head man in Chicago and the front office have been at odds for a while now and their divorce was finally announced on Thursday. He will get an interview there in New Orleans if he wants one, but he is not the only coach they are checking out at this time. And with the draft quickly approaching, the Pelicans have to make a decision on a new head coach. With that in mind, the Pelicans have looked everywhere for the next head coach of their organization. Their search has led them to the broadcast booth to potentially bring in their new head coach. Former Rockets and Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy reportedly met with the Pelicans brass in regards to their head coaching position. Van Gundy is seemingly so intrigued by the idea of coaching budding superstar Anthony Davis that he is considering ending his hiatus from coaching. But what can you expect from Van Gundy should he step back into the coaching arena?

The New Orleans Pelicans are a young team with talent everywhere. But this season they had some health issues and that led to an inconsistent performance from them all season. But they were able to pull it together enough and get to the playoffs. While in the playoffs, the Pelicans had one of their glaring weaknesses exposed. The Warriors were going to the basket at will against the Pelicans, even with the presence of shot-blocker Anthony Davis. And as a result, the Warriors dispatched of the Pelicans rather easily in four games. Going forward, the Pelicans have to be tougher in the paint. They were one of the worst paint defending teams in the NBA and Van Gundy could be the perfect guy to change that for them. Throughout his coaching career, Van Gundy has had stout defenses. When he was in New York, he had a veteran team that was tough and physical. And with that team he made them a factor in the Eastern Conference virtual every year he was there. And when he went to Houston, he made them a tough team and also a team that could compete in the West. But unfortunately for him, injuries, mainly to Yao Ming, caused them to not achieve the heights they could have achieved. From Patrick Ewing to Yao Ming, Van Gundy always had a cornerstone inside that was able to be the backbone of his defense. And although Anthony Davis is not a center, he could definitely be the cornerstone of that defense. With New Orleans, Van Gundy would have a team that is as athletic as he has had, but also as inexperienced as he has had also. But the thing he would also have is a team that is younger than he had in New York and Houston that could run on teams as opposed to grinding it out on the offensive end. The possibilities of what Van Gundy could bring to this team would be endless on the defensive end and that could make this team a perennial playoff participant.

Van Gundy has had success everywhere he has been, but there has always been one criticism he has always had. The teams he had were always competitive and in every game, but the offenses he trotted out there were very hard on the eyes. Who can forget the grind-it-out teams he had in New York all those years? With those teams, it always seemed he could not squeak out 85-90 points consistently. And in the end, the lack of offense always ended up being the downfall of his teams. Not only was the lack of offense the biggest downfall of him, it was the biggest criticism that fans of his teams always had. With the Pelicans considering bringing him in, that could be something they have to look forward to. New Orleans already is an offense that has some issues as we saw in the playoffs. They didn’t know what to do down the stretch of games to win and they had some horrible possessions. By bringing in Van Gundy, it would almost guarantee their offense would lose what little bit of creativity that it had under former coach Monty Williams. New Orleans would be better defensively, but the offense would make the fans of the Pelicans boo uncontrollably and cry for offense. If Van Gundy is to be hired and bring in someone to run his offense, then he could potentially be ok. But Van Gundy changing his style of play this late in the game is like asking a person to take on a different personality than who they are. The fact is Van Gundy is a defensive guy with little to no offensive imagination. And that could spell doom for the Pelicans as Anthony Davis potentially enters the free agency after this season (provided he does not sign the extension the Pelicans are supposedly laying out for him).

There are plenty of candidates for this job and there is no certainty that Van Gundy will get this job. But if he does, the Pelicans would be rolling the dice that this new coaching hire would be enough to convince Anthony Davis that New Orleans is the place to achieve even higher levels of success. In the end, it will be interesting to see if he is able to morph this Pelicans team into a tough defensive unit, should he get the opportunity to coach them, while making a creative and effective offense in the process.

Three Reasons The Atlanta Hawks Are About To Be Eliminated From The Eastern Conference Finals

Jeff Teague is a part of an Atlanta team that is fading fast in the Eastern Conference Finals (photo courtesy of www.ajc.com)

Jeff Teague is a part of an Atlanta team that is fading fast in the Eastern Conference Finals (photo courtesy of http://www.ajc.com)

The Atlanta Hawks were the top seed heading into their series versus the Cleveland Cavaliers but it did not seem like it. The Hawks had struggled to win series against the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets before facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs, on the other hand, had an easy matchup versus the Boston Celtics and got a little push from the Chicago Bulls. And even without the services of Love since the first series, it seems like the Cavs have taken it to another level and have blown through the playoffs. Some expected a good battle between both teams. After all, Atlanta was nicknamed “Spurs East” due to their ball movement and their head coach, Mike Budenholzer, who was a longtime assistant in the Spurs organization. But there were others that looked at this team and were waiting on the Cavs to taken them apart like they did to the Celtics and Bulls. Well, at this point we are still waiting on any semblance of a series to show up. The Cavaliers have handled the Hawks pretty easily through the first three games on their way to a 3-0 series lead. It’s hard to believe that the #1 seed in the East could be getting swept so late in the postseason and so soundly. But there are three big reasons why this is happening to them and why Tuesday will more than likely be their last game in the playoffs.

Like was mentioned before, the Hawks are a team that moves the basketball a lot. The constant cutting, movement and passing has led to the Hawks being able to find high-percentage shots created by all the action going on offensively. And as a result, the Hawks averaged 102.5 points per game and were a difficult matchup for teams due to their multitude of players that can step away from the basket and shoot a three pointer. But in the playoffs, it seems as if the movement has gotten worse and worse. They had some ball movement versus the Nets and the Wizards, but it seems as if that motion has come to a halt. Part of that is the defense of Cleveland, which has been the best in the postseason. But the Atlanta Hawks have to take most of the blame in this one. They have become a stagnant offense in the playoffs and it seems like Budenholzer cannot get them out of their tailspin. Instead of the ball movement that was attributed to their offense, the Hawks have now become a more isolation-oriented offense. And with that type of style, the Hawks will never win, as evidence by this series. The best thing for them to do would be to stop looking at the matchups and where they may have the size advantage. By doing that, maybe it will bring some of the focus back to what made the Hawks so dangerous this season. Of course it will be a little bit harder for them to attempt to dig out of this hole, but it is something that would not be deemed impossible either.

Another thing that has helped them into their 3-0 is their lack of rebounding. The Hawks have not been considered a team that has been great rebounding this season. In fact, they were ranked in the bottom half of rebounding this season (ranked 28th in the NBA). Atlanta was successful in the regular season despite the lack of rebounding on both ends of the court. But as the postseason has gone on, they have definitely been exposed in the paint. They came into this series versus Cleveland ranked as the 11th worst rebounding team out of 16 teams. A successful playoff team should never be that low and when they are, they should know that it will catch up to them. Well it took a while, but the Cavaliers have been punishing the Hawks on the boards this series. As it stands before Game 4, the Hawks are a have been beat on the boards every game and are an astonishing -41 on the boards for the series. Tristian Thompson, LeBron James and Timofey Mozgov have been tearing it up on the boards while the Hawks have been missing shots and missing blockouts on the offensive end as well. As a result, the Cavaliers seem to get more shots each game and they also seem to be the tougher team. The Hawks never adjusted to the physicality of the Cavaliers and it is evident not only in the rebounding, but the games.

But the biggest reason the Hawks are down is they have no superstar or star guy that takes over when times get tough. Taking a look at the teams left in the playoffs, they all have a guy they can go to when the offense gets tough and stagnant. Steph Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston) and LeBron James (Cleveland) have been coming through for their respective teams and carrying them when it is evident their teams need someone to step up. All three of these guys make plays and can elevate the roles players around them to new levels of productivity. For the Hawks, they have some good players, but not one that can make other teams pay no matter what they do. It is commendable they have made it this far without one, but for the future, Atlanta will need that one guy to take over and make their offense go. Al Horford is a good post player, but he is not taking over when the going gets tough for them. All the Hawks have to do is look at their opponent to see how much a star player can help in tough times. The Cavaliers have been playing without Kevin Love since the Chicago Bulls series and have been missing Kyrie Irving the last two games. But despite those absences, the team still wins and it is all because of the LeBron James setting the table. He has not only scored when they needed it, but he has also made players like Matthew Dellavedova and veteran James Jones effective on the offensive end by setting the table for them. Having that star takeover has gotten them through the absences and the tough times and that is something a team trying to win a title needs. And unfortunately for Atlanta, they do not have that guy.

As it stands, it looks like the Hawks great season is going to go by the wayside in embarrassing fashion. They more than likely will lose the fourth game in this series and be going on vacation earlier than they though. But most of it is in their own doing. Sure, there have been some questionable calls and there may be some plays that bothered the Hawks and made tempers rise, but the Hawks cannot blame any of those on the execution of their offense and lack of rebounding. The star power search is up to the front office of their team. And even though there is one candidate in Jeff Teague that could be a star for them, he unfortunately has not reached the level they want him to just yet. The season has been a whirlwind for the Hawks, but the time has come for them to head to the offseason and the Cavs are going to take them there with a broom in hand.

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