This morning's headlines:
- Iverson backing LeBron for MVP
- Kerr expects to coach 'all year' going forward
- Stevens sees infinite lineup options with Hayward
- Reports: Clippers hire new assistant GM
Iverson picking James to win Kia MVP in 2018 -- Allen Iverson's run to the NBA MVP award in 2001 was one of several high points for him in a banner season that included his Philadelphia 76ers reaching The NBA Finals. Now retired and playing in the Big3 League, Iverson was recently asked who he'd pick for Kia MVP in the coming season and Iverson threw his votes behind Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. CavsNation.com has more:
With just over 50 days remaining until the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson has already determined that Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is his favorite to win the league’s MVP award.
“Give me one name, off the top of your head, who you think is going to be the MVP in 2018,” a reporter from balldontstop.com asked Iverson at a recent Big 3 League event.
“It can always be LeBron,” Iverson replied without hesitation.
“Who do you got, though, based off of everything that has happened this offseason?,” the reporter asked, probing for more information.
“I’ma go with LeBron, regardless,” Iverson replied with a stare. “I go with LeBron, and then it’s everybody else. But it’s so many great players, man — no disrespect to none of those young guys. It’s some bad little dudes that’s ride’n out, but you know, LeBron is always at the forefront.”
Kerr expects to coach 'all year' in 2017-18 -- Chronic headaches have been a health issue for Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr virtually ever since he had back surgery a few years ago. He missed the first half of the 2015-16 season because of the headaches and, last postseason, missed 11 playoff games, including Game 1 of The 2017 Finals. In an interview with Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, Kerr says he isn't necessarily feeling better ... but also that he doesn't plan to miss games in the coming season:
For the past two years he has experienced chronic headaches in the wake of back surgery, and he laughs less often. But it’s still there.
The headaches caused him to sit out the first half of the 2015-16 season, and last season he stepped away from coaching for 11 games during the playoffs. While talking and lunching, he occasionally twists his neck, a sign of his still-present discomfort. This is not Kerr’s favorite topic, but: How’s his health?
“It’s all right, it’s all right,” Kerr, 51, says with a shrug. “I’d love to say that I’m all better, but not the case. I’m feeling better, having a good summer, relaxing. But it’s just been an ongoing thing now for two years.”
So there’s improvement?
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve definitely gotten better, I’ve made some improvement. But I still feel like there’s improvement to make.”
How confident is he that he’ll be able to coach all season?
“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”
He says that getting back to the demands and pressures of the job when training camp opens won’t be a problem.
“No, I don’t look at it that way,” Kerr says. “I enjoy what I do; I don’t look at it like a grind and pressure. I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym.”
Doctors are not able to tell Kerr when or if his headaches will stop. Talking about it doesn’t help, so he says, simply, “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I love being part of something special. In a perfect world, I will get some relief from the pain I’ve felt, so I can enjoy it more.
No coach ever stops coaching, even in the offseason. Kerr says he spends at minimum a couple of hours a day on Warriors business.
“I’m on the phone, talking to (general manager) Bob Myers, talking to our coaches and to different people. Writing down thoughts, putting together plans for our coaching retreat (before training camp). It might be just something that pops into my head, where I just stop and write something down. But I’m not Jon Gruden (famous workaholic), I’m not waking up at five in the morning and going to the film room (laugh).”
Kerr and Myers have formed a tight friendship, a brotherhood. They brainstorm daily.
“We talk about players, talk about roles,” Kerr says, leaning back in his chair and resting an elbow on the railing. The table affords a view of the Del Mar race track and the Pacific Ocean surf. Easy place to relax. “We talked a lot about Nick Young and (Omri) Casspi before we signed those guys. Talked a lot about our center position. Bob and I talk every day, kind of the first thing in the morning we check in with each other, usually talk for a half hour. We’re really close. He just got back from a great vacation, in Italy.”
To outsiders, Myers can seem obsessed with his job, but Kerr sees another side — an intense competitor who has a very clear world perspective.
“He’s right there with (Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich and (former NBA coach) Phil Jackson, in terms of people who are at a really high level in the NBA but who just get it, who understand what makes people tick. I think that’s one of the reasons we (the Warriors) have the culture that we do, is that Bob and I kind of see things in a similar fashion.”
Kerr says his experience as player taught him that it’s important for players to get away from the game, especially after a long playoff run, and the Warriors have made three consecutive runs to the Finals.
“That’s a long, long haul,” he says. The toll on the players is “more emotional than physical. You kind of get used to flying around and staying in hotels and all that. But the two-month grind of the playoffs, where you’re having to get up for every game, and then relive that game for a couple days, and get picked apart, and the stress that goes with that. Do that over and over and over again, it wears you out.”
Stevens embraces infinite lineup options with Hayward in fold -- There's little doubt the Boston Celtics got a lot better in the offseason by snagging the market's plum free-agent in Gordon Hayward. Much has been written already about how Hayward's varied skill set will be a boon for the Celtics. As for Celtics coach Brad Stevens, he recently talked with Chris Mannix on his podcast on The Vertical about just how many lineup options there are now for Boston. Jared Weiss of CelticsBlog.com has more on what Stevens envisions in 2017-18:
There has been heavy roster turnover this year, but now essentially half the roster consists of wings who can play major minutes. Stevens envisions all his wings – or frankly, all his players – to be able to fit in at least three positions in a variety of options. The goal is to shape shift to conquer every variety of team that exists in the NBA. While most of them are heading towards lineups that range from small to smaller, Stevens values his wings maintaining the upper hand by being big while matching the speed, athleticism, and skill.
“We think that those guys are both really good players that can play together and do so with other guys that may be in that ‘position of small forward,’” Stevens said. “I can see many lineups that we’ll play that will have Hayward-Crowder-Marcus Morris. Hayward-Crowder-Jaylen Brown. Hayward-Crowder- Tatum.
“There’s so many people we can mix and match with now from a versatility standpoint, what people would generally call those two, three, four spots. I’m really excited about it. Those guys will not only get along great because they both love the game, they both love to compete, but I think they’ll play really well together.”
The Hayward signing was the most logical move out of the three, going beyond the Stevens connection and the fact that the caveats were renouncing their free agents and then slightly downgrading from Avery Bradley to Marcus Morris. Hayward fits their program to perfection, being the prototype of the Stevens system.
“I think we felt like, as you’re looking at him, that he’s a great fit for how we play on both ends of the floor,” Stevens said of Hayward. “We want to continue to get more versatile. As you look across the league, the ability to guard teams when they go “small” – it’s not really small when you consider Lebron at the four or Durant at the four or those guys shifting down a position, they still have the same siuze as the guys at those spots. They’re just super skilled and super fast. So you have to be able to put your best foot forward and be as flexible as you can when you’re putting a team together.
“The nice part from Gordon’s standpoint is he can play as your primary ballhandler, but he can also play at the wing. He hasn’t slipped to the four a lot, but we’ve got some guys in his size range and strength range that will all play together, whatever position you call them.”
Hayward and Stevens have plenty of work to do to integrate him into the team and adapt the system to maximize his abilities. But that work is still to come for the most part.
“We’ve done that some, but I think these are more passing conversations right now,” Stevens said. “It’s a long year. When he gets here for good, we’ll sit down and have even more of those conversations. He’s a pro. He knows how to prepare himself. He’s done a good job of preparing himself over the course of the last few years. And certainly, with what limited things we’re able to do with guys in the offseason, he knows that he can call and ask any questions, whether it be training, whether it be strength conditioning, whether it be on the floor whatever the case may be.”
Reports: Clippers hire new assistant GM -- In this space yesterday, we brought you news of the Clippers offering Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Michael Winger their GM position. The Clippers were also on the market for an assistant GM and have someone who has accepted the job: former Cavs executive Trent Redden. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times has more:
Continuing to reshape their front office, the Clippers have hired Trent Redden as an assistant general manager, according to an NBA official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Redden had been the senior vice president of basketball operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers before he was fired along with general manager David Griffin.
Redden filled one of the two assistant GM positions that came open when Gerald Madkins left to join the New York Knicks and Gary Sacks left to pursue other interests.
Redden is the latest executive to join the Clippers, who have offered their general manager job to Mike Winger from Oklahoma City. Winger, who is expected to take the job, would replace Dave Wohl, who has become a consultant for the Clippers.
They will report to Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ executive vice president of basketball operations.
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