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Former Rockets guard Kenny Smith, who is an NBA analyst with TNT and a candidate to become the next head coach of the Rockets, said he had “a great meeting” with team officials on Tuesday. Smith told FOX 26 Sports he met with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey for 2 1/2 to three hours at Alexander’s home in South Florida.
Jeff Hornacek and Kenny Smith interviewed for the Houston Rockets job today according to a source. More interviews are being planned with other candidates.
Calvin Watkins: The Houston Rockets, who are in the middle of a coaching search, have yet to present any of the candidates to star guard James Harden according to a source. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said they would talk to Harden during the coaching search and free agency process.
Mark Berman: NBA sources confirm the #Rockets are interviewing former Cavaliers Coach David Blatt today. First reported by @Marc Stein
Jonathan Feigen: Can confirm that David Blatt is meeting with Daryl Morey and Leslie Alexander today. Jeff Hornacek and Kenny Smith tomorrow.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt is interviewing Monday for the Houston Rockets' vacancy, according to league sources.
Sacramento has taken the pragmatic, plodding approach to its coaching search, the Kings’ list of known candidates in the double digits and very little clarity about who might be in the lead, but Joerger is clearly a person of great interest now. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Kings have made Joerger a top priority in their search and appear motivated to get a deal done. Joerger, who is attracted not only to the job itself but to the area, is deliberating it all in the wake of the Grizzlies move that caught him by surprise in timing alone. He is also receiving consideration from the Houston Rockets, and that interest - however strong - is mutual as well. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the fluid nature of the situation.
The Rockets have scheduled a meeting with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, a person with knowledge of the talks said on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the coaching search.
Sources tell ESPN.com that TNT's Kenny Smith, who like Cassell is a former Rockets player, could also land an interview. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander remains close to many players from the team's highly successful Clutch City era, which delivered two championships, and holds them in high esteem. "I've always said anything basketball is me," Smith said Wednesday night on TNT when asked by Charles Barkley if he would be interested in the Rockets job. "And this is basketball. I enjoy being here. This is me."
Calvin Watkins: Former Rockets guard and current Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell interviewed for the gig along with Rockets asst. coach Chris Finch.
Marc Stein: Can't speak to the NBA aspirations of either one, but sources say two college coaches who intrigue the Rockets are Shaka Smart and Bill Self
Among the NBA candidates with whom the Rockets are working to set up interviews are former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, league sources said. There could be 10-15 – perhaps even more – candidates interviewed in the process, league sources said.
That likely will be only the start. Morey disputed the depiction of the Rockets' chemistry problems, saying that they were no greater than is typical when teams play badly and that the chemistry was no worse this season than it was good with the same players last season. But anyone privy to all those team meetings could describe dysfunction that will have to be addressed. Next season's coach will have to demand or inspire that kind of change and likely will have to convince Morey, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and CEO Tad Brown that he can turn the Rockets into a team built to win in the postseason.
Mark Berman: Daryl Morey says #Rockets will conduct thorough search for head coach & JB Bickerstaff will be "under consideration" https://t.co/5127rksTSx
The Rockets, sources said, were optimistic as recently as Monday that Brooks would wait until their job is officially open before making any decisions. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy was the co-favorite with Brooks in Houston.
The Rockets, sources said, were optimistic as recently as Monday that Brooks would wait until their job is officially open before making any decisions. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy is the co-favorite with Brooks in Houston and, according to sources, he would be highly interested in returning to the Rockets if the job were to come open as expected.
Marc Stein: With Tom Thibodeau nearing final agreement on a Minnesota deal, Jeff Van Gundy remains Houston's top co-candidate alongside Scotty Brooks.
Jeff Van Gundy is at the top of the Houston Rockets’ list of potential candidates, league sources said. Jeff Van Gundy resigned as Rockets coach in 2007 after four seasons and still lives in Houston.
Alexander said he will evaluate the status of interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff once the season ends but praised the coach by saying, “he’s got a winning record (37-34) which is good from where he started with.”
Among the five interim jobs, the Knicks (Kurt Rambis), Timberwolves (Sam Mitchell) and Suns (Earl Watson) are expected to give the incumbents strong looks, sources say. Barring something unforeseen, Tony Brown in Brooklyn and J.B. Bickerstaff in Houston will be moving on.
The Houston situation is fascinating, as league sources say GM Daryl Morey and James Harden share an interest in Brooks, who is said to be hesitant due to uncertainty over whether Dwight Howard will, in fact, opt out and become a free agent. But the mere thought of Brooks reuniting with Harden could send shivers all the way to Oklahoma City. Will Kevin Durant see it as an opportunity to put most of the band back together? The missing piece, of course, would be lead guitarist Russell Westbrook, and you can't have a band without a lead guitarist. Still, there are enough pieces in place there to make you go, "Hmmm." A lot of interested parties will be watching.
Multiple league sources told CBS Sports that Harden pushed management to dump McHale, and has since angled for the Rockets to trade Howard. Rockets GM Daryl Morey delivered on the first demand, but was unable to find a suitable deal for Howard at the trade deadline this month.
"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."
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.”
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.
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.
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."
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August 5, 2021 | 11:03 am EDT Update

Ishmail Wainright to Toronto

Adrian Wojnarowski: Free agent F Ishmail Wainright has agreed to a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, his agents Deirunas Visockas and Jim Tanner of @Tandem Sports tell ESPN. Wainright has played in Europe since finishing his four-year career at Baylor in 2017, and has showed the ability to impact an NBA team with his defensive versatility.
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Two other names (Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal) might be slightly more alluring, but the one significant player nearly everyone expects to be on the move this summer is Simmons, as we’ve already documented ad infinitum since The Pass. The fit with Joel Embiid seems questionable at best and both Simmons and his team would probably be better off with a new arrangement.

Luka Doncic rips officiating after loss to France

Luka Doncic’s disappointment with Slovenia’s loss to France in the second Olympic Games semifinal was more than obvious in the finale with the Dallas Mavericks superstar also expressing his frustration on his way to the locker room. After the end of the game, Doncic was shouting “FIBA is probably happy” while walking through the media mixed zone per ’15min’. He was also reported to shout “FIBA happened” while Slovenia big man Ziga Dimec was being asked questions about the game.
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Slovenia had several complaints with the officiating and particularly with a play halfway through the fourth period and the score tied at 78 where Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot blocked Jaka Blazic’s layup attempt. Blazic protested that it was a goaltending violation and he received a technical foul.
“Probably one of the best blocks I’ve seen,” said France center Rudy Gobert — perhaps the best shot-blocker in the world these days. “Being able to grind for 40 minutes and win an Olympic game on that block, it’s just amazing. This is why you play the game. This is why you work hard, why you sacrifice time from your families, to come here and try to accomplish something and be part of those moments.”
August 5, 2021 | 10:25 am EDT Update
If Randle continues to play as well as he did this season, the Knicks will get him at a discount, even if he stays around to make $29.5 million in the last year of his deal, which is reportedly a player option. It also allows the Knicks to put more talent around him. They passed on retaining cap space for next summer with their deals this month and are already hovering around the expected cap number, according to Spotrac. They’ll also be able to offer RJ Barrett an extension after the 2021-22 season, which will kick in after the summer of 2023.