We have that and more in Wednesday’s NBA newsletter.
That so many NBA coaches who have been on hot seats in the recent past and who have been criticized for inflexibility have done such incredible jobs this season — names like Doc Rivers, Dwane Casey, Alvin Gentry — does not help the case of Stan Van Gundy. Like those others, SVG has had success in the past under a different paradigm. His preferred style has not necessarily kept up with the times. Parallel to that, the Pistons — not just a team he coaches, but a team he has constructed — have failed.
One wonders if this season will be Van Gundy’s last dance, or at the very least if he’ll be stripped of his front office power as Rivers was in L.A. SVG is under contract through 2019. If he goes out, you wonder how eager he’ll be to get back in. Remember, he stayed out of the league for two full years after being fired in Orlando. Remember also that his brother has had many opportunities to get back into the league since leaving Houston all those years ago but finds joy outside the grind. Stan could, too.
Whether Van Gundy ought to lose his job isn’t cut and dry. The Pistons have been good under his watch, but not frequently enough. Andre Drummond has become an All-Star under his watch, but there’s still a sense of unfulfilled potential there. SVG does not seem to have maximized other young talent. The draft record isn’t great. As mentioned, he doesn’t seem to have updated his philosophy to match new developments at the pro level. And worst of all, his players don’t really seem invested in his program.
All that said, he is an excellent quote and by all indications a well-balanced, good dude. Coaches can’t and shouldn’t be graded on just that, though.
Playoff Picture Update
Check out our playoff picture update after a long night of action. The Nuggets … yikes!
Scores Galore …
IND 101, PHI 98
MIN 116, WAS 111
OKC 119, ATL 107
TOR 116, BKN 102
DAL 110, NYK 97
LAC 112, CHI 106
CHA 115, NOP 119
ORL 72, SAS 108
DET 79, UTA 110
CLE 129, PHX 107
DEN 103, LAL 112
… And So Much More
The Awful Eight went 1-5 on Tuesday, with only the Mavericks picking up a win over the Knicks, who are desperate to turn this portion of the standings into the Gnarly Nine. (Seriously: New York is only a half-game ahead of Chicago. We’re going to need to rebrand this thing.) Dallas now has one more win than Brooklyn, which helps Cleveland a little bit. Anyone else notice that the Mavericks are winning more ever since Mark Cuban talked about (and got in trouble for talking about) tanking?
Speaking of tanking, here’s Paul Flannery with an NBA fan’s guide to the top prospects in the NCAA Tournament. The tournament tipped off Tuesday with a play-in game, but the Madness really begins on Thursday. Here are the top 50 players in the tournament.
Brackets, you say? We made a 68-player 1-on-1 bracket. My Final Four is Kyrie, Durant, LeBron, and Embiid. LeBron over Kyrie in the title game.
A photo-heavy Kevin Arnovitz joint about the Sixers’ seemingly amazing team chef.
So just how good are the Blazers?
The Warriors had such a good time at Stephen Curry’s birthday party — starring a dancing Steve Kerr and a live performance from, uh, PARAMORE — that the team canceled practice for Wednesday. Heroes.
Shout out to Gorgui Dieng.
Remember Nerlens Noel? He’s playing again. It’s clear he has some NBA skills, but lacks any sort of margin for error.
Kawhi Leonard will in fact not play on Thursday. Gregg Popovich says Kawhi hasn’t been cleared by his own medical team.
Is … is, uh … is Dirk Nowitzki hinting at retirement?
Julius Randle, now approaching restricted free agency, is the first product of the Lakers’ long rebuilding process. By the way, here’s the path for the Lakers to keep Randle and add two superstars in the offseason.
Kevin Love might be back next week.
Isaiah Thomas rubs Jamal Murray’s face in it.
On Jaylen Morris’ unlikely climb to the NBA.
Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking. One of his greatest, most noble aims was to help make complex science comprehensible to the masses. My generation and others continue to benefit from that legacy.
And finally: the Bulls giving away a free rebound is way more compelling than it ought to be.
Be excellent to each other.