Harden and the Rockets have been a divorce waiting to happen for some time now, and that couldn’t be made clearer now. After Sunday night’s game, a 120-102 blowout loss to Los Angeles, Harden’s desires for a trade were reinforced, The Athletic understands. Privately, Harden knows the team as currently constructed can’t defeat the Lakers in a seven-game series, a reality that only further cements desires for a move elsewhere, sources said. With the Lakers being the reigning champions and the standard for a contender right now, Harden wants to maximize the window he still has, a source said. Brooklyn still remains atop his wish list, sources said, though other contenders still remain.
May 21, 2022 | 6:32 am EDT Update
The Lakers may be willing to take that leap of faith because Ham spent two years with the organization. His personality isn’t easily forgotten. Ham brings a lot of energy to a gym. He’s arguably the best fit for the locker room, with veterans like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and possibly Russell Westbrook in need of a coach they can relate to and respect. “He’s the guy LeBron wants,” a competing source said. It will be up to Ham to spell out his basketball vision, in general and in context to the Lakers’ roster makeup. He could be the hire if he can sell that side to the team’s front office.
Stotts may be the opposite of Vogel, a high-level defensive coach with a limited offensive repertoire. If Stotts is the hire, the Lakers should pair him with a high-level lead defensive assistant. Some sources wondered if Stotts would struggle, like Vogel, to command the locker room’s respect, although he worked well with Lillard for a long stretch.
He also has a reputation for being a bit headstrong or rigid in personality. He’s going to demand respect, but he’s going to need to clarify precisely why he and the Nets divorced in-season. Is he the right coach for star players with strong personalities like James? Atkinson may have the most outside-the-box style of the three finalists. Per a competing source, he’s similar to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, willing to experiment with unconventional strategies to win by whatever means necessary.
Donatas Urbonas: Vasilije Micic on the possibility to go to the NBA next season: “I’m in a situation where I have two more years of the contract no matter what happens. But of course, I like to look at all kinds of challenges. If this option comes out, I would be ready to risk.”
The Warriors came back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. The Warriors now have a 2-0 advantage in the series. The first two quarters of the game were owned by the Mavericks. They hit 15 3-pointers in the first half, setting a new franchise record for 3s made in a playoff half. Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson became the second pair of starting guards to each score 20 points in the first half of a playoff game in the past 25 seasons. “I told them that if we developed some poise in the second half, the game would come to us,” Kerr said. “But I thought we were so scattered in the first half. Maybe emotionally more so than anything. Dallas came out and just punched us. We felt confident that if we [got poised], they wouldn’t make 15 3s in the second half.”
On defense, Looney held the Mavericks to 1-of-11 shooting from the field as the primary defender, including holding Doncic to 0-of-3. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. Looney is accustomed to being switched onto guards like Doncic. During the Warriors’ dynastic runs, he was switched onto James Harden when Golden State faced Houston multiple times during the postseason. “I take kind of the same approach,” Looney said. “I’m just a little bit more battle-tested. That was my first time playing on a big stage like this. I don’t know if even my teammates had the most faith in me, but they put me out there and I handled it pretty well.
Clutch Points: The Golden State Warriors are 14-1 in playoff series under Steve Kerr when they take a 2-0 lead. Their lone series loss came vs. the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/f4Yq6h6zoN