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Why bar is higher for Brooks with Wizards than Joerger with Kings

Why bar is higher for Brooks with Wizards than Joerger with Kings

Being an NBA coach isn’t fair. It never is. Frank Vogel and Dave Joerger were fired for reasons that don’t have as much to do with Xs and Os but whether or not they’re the right fit for their former teams.

Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird decided that Vogel, despite being 250-181 in five-plus seasons (58%) and getting the franchise to the conference finals in 2013 and ‘14, didn’t run the type of offense he wanted. Bird also believed that despite Paul George being the only true star on the roster that 45 wins and pushing the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors to seven games in a first-round series was not enough to warrant renewing Vogel’s contract.

Joerger endured a season in which he had 28 different players on the roster because of injuries and still led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 42-win season and a No. 7 seed. But Joerger and the front office clearly didn’t get along. He was hired on a four-year deal by the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Hirings and firings aren’t solely about wins and losses. It’s about relationships, including with players, and expectations by the coach’s bosses in the front office.

Clearly, Bird thought the product he witnessed on the floor didn’t deliver in terms of style of play. The Pacers won but they didn't look good in doing so. Believe it or not, when Phil Jackson reached a stalemate on a contract with the L.A. Lakers in 2011, a similar twisted logic was given. Nevermind that the triple-post offense, or Triangle, had led to five championships under Jackson but the Lakers' front office wanted to return to a more exciting brand of basketball from the Showtime days of Magic Johnson.  In Jackson's last season, the Lakers won 57 games. They haven't won more than 45 since then and are on their fifth coach.

The Wizards gave Randy Wittman a one-year deal after he’d taken over for Flip Saunders during 2011-12. In his first full season in 2012-13, Wittman led the Wizards to just 29 wins but they were a top 10 scoring defense which was a significant accomplishment for a losing team that proved they were moving in the right direction. By comparison, this year’s 30-win New Orleans Pelicans were 26th in scoring allowed, the 29-win Minnesota Timberwolves were 23rd and the 21-win Brooklyn Nets were 24th.

The Wizards were a franchise that was dysfunctional and required a locker-room house cleaning to right the ship. That defense-first philosophy led to 44- and 46-win seasons that resulted in playoff berths and advancing to the East semifinals in consecutive seasons.

This is why Wittman was granted a three-year deal (only the first two fully guaranteed) to determine if he could take them to the next level. This past season, 41-41 and no playoffs, proved he wasn’t able to transition into a revamped offense while maintaining the same defensive identity. He was bought out at $500,000 and Scott Brooks was given a five-year fully guaranteed deal worth $35 million.

The expectations for Brooks are much different. Whereas getting the Wizards into the playoffs and out of the first round was good enough to allow Wittman to hang on, Brooks is tasked with getting them to the conference finals at the very least.

With Joerger, he’s taking over the NBA’s most troubled franchise in Sacramento (at half the salary of Brooks) that hasn’t had a winning record since 2005-06. With All-Star DeMarcus Cousins they’ve never won more than 33 games in his six years. Just getting the Kings back to respectability with Wittman-like success will be more than good enough to get him a statue outside of their new arena.

With whomever Bird hires for the Pacers, that won’t be acceptable. Nor will it be enough to satisfy Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey as he searches to fill their vacancy.

The head coach has the most difficult job. He has to manage the wants and needs of his players and front office. At least in Joerger's case, he was fired upward. He earned $2 million per year in Memphis and now has doubled his money at $4 million per.

The downside, of course, is joining the circus that is Sacramento.


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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.