LeBron James had a ton of praise for Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo when asked about the NCAA title game. “Listen, that kid, he was on fire,” James said Tuesday. “But he did it in an all (around way). First of all, he made himself a lot of money. That’s the first thing I thought. Obviously, I’m not with the whole college thing so I don’t care about that. He made himself a lot of money last night and not because of the way he was shooting, but he was doing it all. He was getting into the lane, and-1s. Backdoors. Lobs. Verticality with Matthews at the peak, showing his athleticism. And then when the game started to kind of get (close) when Michigan cut it to 12, boom, he hits another backbreaker. Michigan kind of gets it to 10, boom, he shows up again. Man, listen, at the end of the day, Villanova was the best team in college basketball this year and when the National Player of the Year is on the sideline with four fouls for the majority of the second half and you’re still winning? That lets you know how great of a team you are. So, Donte, obviously he was great. The kid (Mikal) Bridges, he was shooting the heck out of the ball. That one kid, No. 4, I call him ‘Baby Millsap,’ (Eric) Paschall, I call him Baby Millsap. Listen, he’s a matchup problem. But the best team won and I’m actually happy they won a little bit because we don’t really speak that other team’s name around here. But I do feel, I feel for the kids though.”
January 18, 2019 | 9:16 am EST Update
The Kings continue to explore adding a rangier small forward, but they need to be wary of throwing major assets and cap room at what could end up an incremental move. (The bet here is that they do proceed with caution, in part because the Wizards have shown little appetite for dealing Otto Porter anywhere for a return heavy on future assets and cap flexibility, sources say.
Musselman won’t make excuses for his time in Sacramento. “That was the one time I felt as a coach I failed,” Musselman said. But it was a turbulent time in his life. He was going through a divorce. His kids lived 90 minutes away, with their mother. He’d finish practices and spend hours in traffic to spend time with his children. The stress, he says, was overwhelming. In the preseason, Musselman was arrested for DUI.
So why hasn’t the NBA noticed? Ask around and you get a variety of vague answers. In the NBA, Musselman had a reputation of being tough to deal with. In Golden State, he clashed with management over his preference to play veterans over younger players. “He’s a very straightforward guy,” St. Jean said. “There’s no debate about his basketball knowledge. The basketball stuff, he checks all the boxes. But you have to feel comfortable with him.”
Who knows if the NBA will ever come calling again? Orlando had internal discussions about Musselman during its coaching search last summer, league sources told SI.com. Musselman is 54, but still coaches with the zeal of a man decades younger. “I see the same personality, I see the same love and thirst for the game,” St. Jean said. “The passion on the sideline, it’s there. Players can tell, too. They know where you are in terms of your knowledge, your passion. He had it a long time ago, and he’s still got it.”
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January 18, 2019 | 8:38 am EST Update
“Not sure he has played his last game as a (Maverick),” one team source said. “But we will see.” Still, the Mavericks wants Smith back on their own terms, and Carlisle doesn’t plan on budging. There’s no indication – one way or another – what Smith plans to do.
Personality-wise, Carlisle loves Smith, but they’re less of a match on the basketball court. Certainly, Smith is seasons away from being an effective true point guard, although it’s plausible there’s another productive role that could be created in the meantime for the ridiculously explosive athlete with a knack for scoring. As of Thursday, it’s still unclear if Carlisle has even spoken to Smith, saying Tuesday that he had only spoken to his agent, Glenn Schwartzman, and expected Smith to play moving forward if healthy.
Within an hour of the first media report, a team executive told me no trade was likely from the team’s discussions that day. Dallas is adamant that any trade rumors did not come from within, and there are only two other options: a potential trade partner – Phoenix and Orlando, among others – seeking public pressure, or Smith’s camp.