Q: Can J.B. win this job? Leslie Alexander: Of course he can. If the team responds to him and we win, of course he can.
Q: What do you like about J.B. Bickerstaff? Leslie Alexander: We spoke to him, and we think he’s a good young coach with a lot of experience. He is on the defensive end, which we really need a lot of help on. We have a good offensive coordinator [Chris Finch], so at the same time we have both. J.B. has a good relationship with the players, which I think is very important. If they didn't know him, it would be tough in the adjustment process. Now it’s much quicker.
Sources say Bickerstaff, son of respected, long-time NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, will have an opportunity to earn the permanent job. Depending on whether the Rockets are able to right their season, there will be no shortage of other candidates.
That's interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff's job now, along with fixing Houston's no-effort defense and mending what league sources describe as conflicting priorities between the front office and the coaching staff. "Is this the first crack in the analytics revolution, where they start hanging the revolutionaries themselves?" a person in the coaching business asked Wednesday. "[The Rockets] still haven't figured out chemistry. They keep adding and adding, but none of it fits."
It's certainly not too late for the Rockets to turn things around, which was the impetus for what sources described as an agonizing decision to fire McHale, who agreed to a three-year extension less than a year ago. "I dare you to find a better person than Kevin McHale," said a coaching agent who doesn't even represent him.
As Morey made clear, Bickerstaff will have a legitimate chance to make his mark here. But if the losing continues, Morey's history of being aggressive is almost certain to continue and it remains possible that the Rockets could make another change. To that end, one interesting name is Scott Brooks.
The former Oklahoma City Thunder coach not only has a positive history with Harden, but a storied history with the Rockets from his playing days (he was the backup point guard on their 1994 championship team). But according to a person with knowledge of Brooks’ situation, it’s more likely that he will wait until the summer to see what’s next on the job front. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of Brooks’ situation.
Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been named interim head coach, and potential candidates to replace McHale, according to Wojnarowski, include Tom Thibodeau, Charlotte's Steve Clifford and Jeff Van Gundy, Stan's brother. "Well, he lives right there and he's been with them," Stan Van Gundy said. "They liked him for a while and then they didn't like him. It's the same ownership. I don't know if they like him again or what. Obviously, he'd be great, but I don't have any idea where that stands."
September 24, 2021 | 5:26 am EDT Update
Former EuroLeague center Tarik Black is back in the NBA. According to a tweet from the player’s agency Priority Sports, Black signed a contract with the Denver Nuggets to return to the league after spending the last three seasons in Europe.
Grizzlies PR: The @memgrizz today announced the team’s 2021 training camp roster. Memphis converted Yves Pons to a two-way contract and signed Shaq Buchanan and Sean McDermott. In addition, the Grizzlies waived Carsen Edwards and Daniel Oturu.
Kristaps Porzingis is entering his third full season with the Dallas Mavericks and is hoping for a fresh start under Jason Kidd after the team parted ways with Rick Carlisle. “I’ll say this: at the end of last year Porzingis wanted to be traded,” said Tim MacMahon on The Hoop Collective Podcast. “My understanding is he feels like he has a fresh start with the coaching change. He’s had the healthy offseason. He’s been able to work, not just on his game but on his body some more. That he’s coming back with a refreshed feel. “At the end of last year, he wasn’t going to come out and ask for a trade. He’s smart enough to understand the optics.”
“He’s already done that once,” replied Brian Windhorst. “But at the end of last year when he stood in the corner and checked the wind for an entire playoff series, he was hoping to be traded,” added MacMahon. “From what I gather, he’s coming back optimistic now.”
The team themselves have never addressed those reports, but during his customary preseason media availability, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka did push back on the sentiment of them nonetheless, disputing the premise of a question about whether keeping Talen Horton-Tucker or Caruso was “an either/or decision” for the team. “We made an aggressive attempt to re-sign Alex Caruso, and we made an aggressive attempt to keep Talen,” Pelinka said on Thursday. “That’s the thing with unrestricted free agency is that you can be in the mix, but players control the ultimate choice.”
“Alex was tremendous here as a championship player, and we’ll be forever grateful for his contributions and his growth,” Pelinka said. “Seeing him go from a G Leaguer, to a two-way (player), to an elite player was something we’ll always be proud of. But he had choices and he chose another team. We pursued him and wanted to keep him, same with Talen, and obviously came to a deal with Talen, and Alex moved on.”
The 6-9 James was listed as weighing 250 pounds last season. Entering his 19th season in the NBA and turning 37 in December, James felt he needed to make a change. “I think the thing that stands out is his fitness level, and he’s slimmed up,” Pelinka said on a videoconference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. “I think … we all know LeBron studies the greats and he adds things into his game and I think going into this stage of his career he’s made a decision to come back a little bit leaner and I think that’s going to translate in explosiveness and quickness.”