Bickerstaff knows how it goes for young coaches – never mind young African-American ones. Assistants traditionally get bad teams, with bad odds for staying power. “Let’s face it,” Bickerstaff told Yahoo, “first-time assistant coaches normally don’t walk into jobs with two perennial All-Stars on a team that just got bounced in the Western finals. Normally, they get a job in the middle of a year, playing for lottery balls. I’m fortunate, very fortunate. You don’t win without talent, but your talent has to have purpose.”
"J.B. is a young, smart coach who is strong defensively and strong with player relationships," Morey told ESPN.com. "He's forward-thinking but has experience for many years in the NBA as well. So he's grounded."
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 20, 2021 | 8:16 am EDT Update
UNICS Kazan announced the signing of former Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo. The 33-year-old veteran will make his european debut in VTB League and the EuroLeague this season, signing a one-year deal with the club. Mayo has 573 NBA games under his belt, with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.0 steal per contest.
“Shabazz Napier underwent a comprehensive examination. He has a rather serious injury to the ligaments of the right ankle joint. On the positive side, I can say that there is no fracture and, therefore, there is no need for surgery, of the minuses, the recovery time is still unknown. We have all the necessary conditions to get him back on the floor quickly. All is needed is the support of the fans,” general manager Alexander Tserkovny said. Napier moved to Europe after six years in the NBA and showed promise in front of the season. In the first VTB SuperCup game, against UNICS, he banked in 33 points on 8-11 shooting including 6-8 from deep. He also dished out four assists during the 30 minutes on the floor.
Organizers of a planned museum about basketball great Larry Bird in Terre Haute are starting to assemble thousands of items ahead of its expected opening next year. The museum will be part of the new Terre Haute Convention Center, which remains under construction with an anticipated completion date of March 2022. It will include items donated by Bird and others from his career with the Boston Celtics, Indiana State University and the U.S. Olympic team. The site for work on cataloging the memorabilia is being modified for security and should be ready within weeks, the Tribune-Star reported.
September 20, 2021 | 4:09 am EDT Update
According to a league source, projections indicate that a $171 million salary cap is possible, assuming no cap smoothing, by 2025. Should the NBPA instead agree to cap smoothing, it’s likely the league will still see annual increases to the extent of $15 million, according to source.
The NBA also has a $1.5 billion streaming deal with Chinese-based company Tencent Holdings. “I think everyone expects that so long as the public is demonstrating through ratings that they are watching the NBA, you can probably expect increases there as well,” said former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson. “I would think the NBA is going to look for significant increases.”
Brother Pau Gasol recently spoke with Spanish newspaper Marca, and the topic of Marc’s future came up. “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides. I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.“