Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

The Milwaukee Bucks made it official Thursday, naming Mike Budenholzer as their next head coach.

The news first broke Wednesday, hours after it was reported that the former Atlanta Hawks bench boss had breakfast with franchise players Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

Budenholzer will sign a four-year contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“His leadership, basketball intellect, championship-level experience and communication skills make him the right fit to take our team to the next level,” Bucks GM Jon Horst said.

Budenholzer coached the Hawks for five seasons, racking up a 213-197 record. He was largely credited with Atlanta’s East-best 60-22 record in 2014-15, taking a mostly veteran team to the conference finals.

A Gregg Popovich disciple, Budenholzer was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 1996-2013.

Following three underachieving seasons under Jason Kidd, the Bucks represent a coveted opportunity, with Antetokounmpo under contract until 2021.

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A new city has emerged as a possible site for NBA expansion.

One league executive told SEC Network’s Jarrett Sutton that Kansas City will inevitably be awarded a franchise, as it’s viewed as the NBA’s most valuable market for league expansion, alongside Seattle.

The Kings called Kansas City home from 1972 to 1985 before moving on to Sacramento. The city has an arena which opened in 2007 that can hold approximately 19,000 people. It’s currently going unused.

Meanwhile, conversations of an eventual return to Seattle do seem realistic, as the city is preparing an arena that is awaiting a franchise to fill the seats.

Seattle previously hosted the SuperSonics from 1967 to 2008. The franchise was relocated to Oklahoma City due to a lack of funding for a new stadium.

A move into Mexico City has also gained traction over the last year, with the NBA expected to place a G League franchise south of the border. It’s possible it will be used as a tester to gauge the plausibility of big-league expansion.

For the second straight offseason, the Toronto Raptors are at a crossroads, trying to figure out how to move forward after being swept out of the postseason by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Last year’s playoff humbling inspired a dramatic stylistic pivot but scant change on the personnel front. The latter, however, was reportedly not for lack of trying. Word is the Raptors “quietly explored their DeMar DeRozan trade options last summer,” according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

DeRozan obviously wound up staying put, and subsequently submitted arguably his best NBA season. Although he sacrificed some scoring and playing time, DeRozan filled out his game with an increased emphasis on 3-point shooting and playmaking. He averaged 23 points, 3.9 rebounds, and a career-high 5.2 assists, while posting a career-best 55.5 true shooting percentage.

Given that the Raptors’ front office has already indicated that this summer will be different and that the status quo won’t cut it, it stands to reason that the team may shop DeRozan once again. But, given DeRozan’s onerous contract, and the way his season ended – he averaged 16.8 points and 2.8 assists on 47.3 percent true shooting in the Cavs series – the trade market for him may once again be too tepid for the Raptors to wade into.

ESPN Films is collaborating with Netflix on a 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, the network announced Tuesday.

The series, titled “The Last Dance,” has secured Jordan’s participation, and will feature interviews with him and “other key figures from the Bulls’ championship teams, as well as dozens of other luminaries from basketball and beyond.”

Directed by Jason Hehir, who also helmed sports docs like “The Fab Five” and “Andre the Giant,” the series will feature never-before-seen footage from the Bulls’ 1997-98 championship season, the last year Jordan played in Chicago.

It’s scheduled to air in 2019.

Masai Ujiri had a difficult decision to make after yet another disappointing playoff exit by his Toronto Raptors: Would the team part ways with longtime – and widely respected – head coach Dwane Casey after seven seasons?

With Casey’s dismissal Friday morning, Ujiri finally played his hand. That doesn’t mean it was an easy choice for the team president.

“I hope coach Casey gets Coach of the Year,” a downbeat Ujiri told the press at Friday’s post-firing press conference. “He deserves it.”

Casey piloted the Raptors to a franchise-best 59-23 record in the regular season and their fifth straight playoff appearance, matching the team’s total postseason trips in the 18 years prior to Casey’s arrival in 2011.

“What an unbelievable human being,” Ujiri said of Casey. “It made this the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. (General manager) Bobby Webster and I went to speak to him. I never met anyone that classy in my life.

“I can I honestly say that I don’t know if I’ll work with a better person.”

 

Enes Kanter may have a future in professional wrestling.

During a Twitter Q&A session Tuesday, the New York Knicks center was asked if he would consider joining WWE once his basketball playing career is over.

“Yes, I do really consider joining the WWE,” Kanter said. “It’s my favorite sport after basketball and I’ve been watching it since I was in college and I love it. And of course, my favorite (WWE star) is Undertaker. It’s going to be awesome, but I think I’m too far away from that right now. Maybe in 10 years.”

If Kanter does decide to pursue a WWE career, he’ll have Paul Heyman in his corner. Heyman, the advocate for WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, told TMZ Sports in February that he’s eyeing Kanter as a prospective client.

 

It was NBA Finals or bust for the Toronto Raptors, and, well, they’re busted.

A day after the top-seeded Raptors were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliersin a clean 4-0 sweep, Kyle Lowry expressed disappointment over his team falling well short of its target.

“It’s a wasted year for me,” the veteran point guard said Tuesday in his end-of-season press conference, dismissing the significance of Toronto finishing with a franchise-high 59 wins and an unprecedented No. 1 seed.

“We felt like we could possibly make the NBA Finals,” Lowry explained. “That was our goal. It’s always been a real goal for us, but this year, that was the only thing that matters.”

For the third consecutive year, LeBron James ended Toronto’s postseason run, having defeated the Raptors in six games in the 2016 East finals and in another four-game semifinal sweep last year. Altogether, James has amassed 10 straight playoff wins over the Canadian franchise.

“We’ve lost to them three years in a row now. That guy (LeBron) is pretty good, he’s really good,” Lowry continued. “At the end of the day, I always say, ‘To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,’ and we’ve continuously failed against the team that made the Finals the last three years.”

Despite the unfortunate ending to a record-breaking season, the 32-year-old All-Star offered some encouragement, saying he feels fresh both mentally and physically and has so much more to give, with the latest loss only serving as motivation to continue getting better.

The team’s emotional leader is also optimistic about the development of talented young players like OG AnunobyJakob Poeltl, and Pascal Siakam, as well as the club’s continuity – though that could change from a coaching standpoint, with Dwane Casey’s job reportedly in jeopardy.

Fresh off signing a three-year deal worth $90 million, Lowry averaged 16.2 points, 6.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 32.2 minutes during the regular season.