Dwight Jaynes: While two candidates have been widely kn…

Dwight Jaynes: While two candidates have been widely known as finalists for the Trail Blazers’ coaching job, NBA sources confirm they are not the only finalists. And knowing Neil Olshey, there may be a secret candidate out there who will surprise us all by getting the job.

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Allen wanted the list to include women candidates, and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon will interview for the job, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about candidates. The Blazers also received permission to speak with South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley.
But as this process begins, and with so many believing the quality of this hire will impact the organization’s future with franchise centerpiece Damian Lillard, there’s a counter-intuitive name to add to the conversation whose coaching profile likely eclipses any of the forthcoming candidates: Brooklyn assistant coach Mike D’Antoni. A source with knowledge of D’Antoni’s situation said he has serious interest in the Portland position, though it remains to be seen if it will be reciprocated.
Olshey is widely known to be very interested in Chauncey Billups, the five-time All-Star, championship point guard and former Finals MVP who is currently serving as a Clippers assistant coach under Ty Lue. But if prior head coaching experience becomes a priority in the process, no one can compare to D’Antoni on that front. The 70-year-old who has long been known as a point guard whisperer is 20th all time in wins (672) and has a .560 winning percentage in the regular season.
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July 27, 2021 | 3:09 pm EDT Update
Nets general manager Sean Marks has every intention of extending all of the Big Three this summer, with free agency officially tipping off Monday at 6 p.m. The question now is, are those three stars – Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving – all on the same page about staying in Brooklyn for the long haul? And with all three of them max players and money not the big factor, what goes into the decision? “(You) like being in that environment, first of all. You enjoy playing the game, that’s the most important thing. I think we all three enjoy playing with each other,” Durant said when asked by the Post after Team USA practice on Tuesday morning. “But that’s a personal thing, and guys are different. I’m sure when the time is right I’m sure we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves.”
The Big Three can all become free agents after the 2021-22 season. But they can also ink long-term extensions this summer that would keep them in Brooklyn through the 2025-26 campaign. Durant – who’ll lead Team USA vs. Iran at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday – was asked by the Post what he specifically would look for in making his call. “Just being in a great environment and being around teammates that enjoy the game,” said Durant. “Keep growing individually. That’s the most important thing; how we’re growing individually. Definitely how we come together as a team. I enjoy seeing my teammates get better; I enjoy getting better and have an environment that encourages that every single day.”
So while Cunningham may share traits with Magic and Bird, the view of him as a can’t-miss prospect is much easier to process because of current-day players like Jokic—and, in particular, Luka Doncic. In broad strokes, Cunningham and Doncic may well be geminis of a very specific playmaking archetype. It’s rare to see perimeter players leverage their size, strength, and stride to create space in the way that both players seem innately aware and capable of. “As prospects, I do think Cade has a pretty similar baseline in terms of the vision and the way he sees the court, the way he processes how everyone is moving,” Zaucha said.
One watches Cunningham expecting a beeline to the right decision; one watches Doncic expecting the seas to magically part, showing another way. But the stylistic difference may not have much effect on substance. “I wonder if there really is a gap in their creativity—the way they manipulate defenders, especially—or if it’s some sort of aesthetic bias at play,” Zaucha said. “Because Luka loves to make those creative decisions, and then sell it with a behind-the-back pass or some wild delivery that the defense doesn’t expect. Whereas I think Cade—from a decision-making perspective, I think Cade solves problems in creative ways, he just doesn’t always make them look creative.”