Warriors

NBA rumors: Rockets fire defensive coach after playoff loss to Warriors

NBA rumors: Rockets fire defensive coach after playoff loss to Warriors

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Saturday afternoon at 4:30, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Jeff Bzdelik no longer is an assistant coach with the Rockets.

The team fired its defensive coordinator Saturday, a source told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The move comes eight days after the Warriors ended the Rockets' season for the fourth time in the last five seasons, although it sounds like Bzdelik's exit was only a matter of time.

Bzdelik, who was the team's associate head coach in 2017-18, was credited with building one of the NBA's best defenses over the last couple of seasons. He retired in mid-September, just before training camp opened.

Houston got off to a terrible start, losing five of its first six games, and owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly led the recruiting efforts to bring Bzdelik back to the bench. The 65-year-old eventually returned full time on Nov. 23.

The Rockets boasted the second-best defensive rating in the NBA (105.3) over the final 25 games of the regular season. But against the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, the Rockets' rating slipped to 114.1 (which would have been the sixth-worst mark in the league during the regular season).

[RELATED: Morey's tweet proves Rockets GM still obsessed with Dubs]

Then again, Golden State has one of the best offenses in NBA history, so it's hard to blame Bzdelik for that.

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Rockets send absurd James Harden tweet after Giannis wins 2019 NBA MVP

Rockets send absurd James Harden tweet after Giannis wins 2019 NBA MVP

On the day the Raptors held their championship parade, the Golden State Warriors took out a full-page ad in the Toronto Star congratulating the franchise on its first NBA title.

Classy gesture by a classy organization.

You know which franchise isn't classy? The Houston Rockets.

Shortly after Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was voted the 2019 NBA MVP on Monday night, the Rockets’ official account sent a tweet that was an attempt to congratulate The Greek Freak. Really it was just a thread trying to make the case that James Harden should have won the award.

The voting had been tabulated and the award had been handed out, yet the Rockets still we’re trying to argue for their guy. They couldn't even get a simple congratulatory tweet right.

This seems par for the course coming from a franchise that cried for a "fair chance" during the second-round playoff series with the Warriors and sent a memo to the NBA claiming the refs cost them the NBA title in 2018.

Oh, and let's not forget about owner Tilman Fertitta's epic rant after the Rockets' Game 6 loss to the Warriors, in which he said his team should have cut the Warriors’ throats in Game 5 when Kevin Durant suffered a strained right calf.

[RELATED: CP3 refutes trade request rumors]

Considering how much losing the Rockets have done over the last few years, it's surprising they haven't figured out how to lose with class.

This should have been Giannis' night. Instead, the Rockets again tried to make it about themselves.

Warriors draft pick Alen Smailagic eager to prove he's ready for NBA

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USATSI

Warriors draft pick Alen Smailagic eager to prove he's ready for NBA

OAKLAND -- The Warriors have a timetable for the development of Alen Smailagic that seems reasonable for the 18-year-old rookie from Serbia.

Give him two years, and maybe he’ll be ready.

But if you bring that timetable to Smailagic, he pounces and swats it into the fourth row.

“I don’t think so, that it’s going to take me two or three or four years,” he said Monday after a news conference introducing the team’s rookies. “I think I’m going to do good this year. I already told them that I don’t want to just wear the jersey. I really want to play.”

He gets points for confidence. Smailagic (pronounced Smile-a-GEECH) sees the Warriors trying to fill a roster with a plethora of openings and visualizes himself pulling on his jersey, No. 6, and jogging onto the floor at Chase Center next October.

The Warriors, after all, could use a skilled 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward/center that plays hard and has a high basketball IQ. Smailagic flashed those assets last season, while playing 818 minutes, spread out over 47 games, for the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.

That that he accomplished that as the youngest player in G League history persuaded the NBA Warriors, fearing another team may come after their secret stash, to move up and use the first of two second-round picks (39th overall) to select him. Because Smailagic was 17 at the time of the 2018 NBA Draft, he was ineligible to be chosen. To play pro ball in America, the G League was his only option.

“They didn’t disrespect me because of my age,” Smailagic said of his experience in Santa Cruz. “They really wanted me to play and they reacted to me like I’m a professional.”

Though Smailagic was projected to go late in the second round, somewhere between pick Nos. 50 and 60, the Warriors heard enough from Santa Cruz coach Aaron Miles and general manager Kent Lacob that they didn’t want to risk losing him.

Indeed, there is a firm belief within the organization that he has considerable potential, perhaps enough to be a starter, if not a true impact player. That potential, however, is years away.

“He’s going to be a player in the league,” one Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday. “He can be really good if his body continues to mature. There is no question about his desire or his skill.

“But I think he’s a couple years away.”

If Smailagic can make the roster as a two-way player -- a distinct possibility -- that would be a triumph for someone much more uncertain about his command of English than his game, and whose previous experience was in the European junior leagues.

Smailagic, nicknamed Smiley for obvious reasons, says as he grew and gravitated toward basketball, he studied Warriors superstar Kevin Durant -- “He’s really tall and he can jump, he can dribble, he can shoot. He can do everything” -- and also Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica, another native of Serbia.

[RELATED: Warriors' Jordan Poole ready to capitalize on opportunity]

Asked if he cared to pattern himself after Durant or Bjelica or anyone else, Smailagic wasted no time replying.

“No. I didn’t have that kind of mindset, because I want to play how I play.”