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Does former Wizard Jerry Stackhouse know the formula for landing a front office job?

Does former Wizard Jerry Stackhouse know the formula for landing a front office job?

Just the other day, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver didn't sound like he was sold on a "Rooney Rule" such as what the NFL has to ensure minority candidates are included the interview process.

This is what he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

In terms of specifically a Rooney Rule, to be honest, I’m not sure how effectively that works in the NFL. I do think we need to do more. I’m just not sure if it results in something that looks like a Rooney Rule or something more unique to the NBA.

Jerry Stackhouse, who has been an NBA assistant and led the Toronto Raptors' D-League affiliate to their first championship this year, already is thinking along those lines for himself.

"I don't mean for it to sound easy but this is kind of what I do. This is my life," said Stackhouse, who played 18 NBA seasons with eight different teams that inlcuded 2002-04 in Washington.

"Anything on the basketball court doesn't feel foreign to me at all, coaching, teaching, instruction. Knowing drill work with guys and getting out and playing still. I still enjoy that. I don't think there's enough us as far as African Americans in charge of budgets of teams, different things like that."

In the musical chairs that can be coaching and front-office roles, John Hammond left the Milwaukee Bucks to fill the GM role for the Orlando Magic; Travis Schlenk left the Golden State Warriors to take over as GM of the Atlanta Hawks. 

Just as the game on the court has changed with the emphasis on small ball and de-emphasis on true centers who play with their backs to the basket, front-office roles have shifted, too.

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The NBA has relied heavily on former players in key positions such as coaching, but more often front-office spots are going to younger people with backgrounds in analytics, many of whom are white, over people with playing experience. 

Like any statistic, the numbers can be misused. Misinterpret what they mean or over or undervalue them and they can make a good situation bad or a bad situation worse. But even before the 2016-17 season began, this was the tone of conversation from The Undefeated when addressing analytics in terms of race and NBA front-office positions.

The gist: Black people don't do analytics. A discussion worthy of being had about how and why the numbers are dwindling in NBA front offices but based on a conclusion that's not true. 

Just because a dozen guys in a barber shop don't know or care about it isn't a fair sample size no more than 50 "people" on Twitter feigning outrage over a topic makes that an accurate gauge of what actual readers care about. Analytics is as much of generational thing as it is a race thing. When I was talking via phone a few years ago to then-Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, who is white, played from 1976-86 and even acquired multiple Larry O'Brien trophies during his tenure, he couldn't have come across more dismissive about metrics. 

No, after a game is over, players in the locker room aren't debating points per 100 possessions, where they rank in pick-and-roll ballhandler efficiency or true shooting percentages. All of those discussions are held in front offices that see a cumulative tally over the course of time to determine what trends and combinations work or don't work with their coaching staffs. It's an inexact science but a necessary tool – or evil pending your view.

Analytics aren't going anywhere. Former players such as Stackhouse can still get in front of the line if they don't turn a blind eye toward it. If both worlds are bridged correctly, the numbers should back up what plays out on the court. Of course, that requires seeing the game through the correct lens, too, which is where Stackhouse's hands-on acumen would come into play.

"Maybe decide to step away for a minute (from coaching) and be able to get more of a foundation to be able to come to the table with more of that package. That's really intriguting to me as well," said Stackhouse, who was named D-League coach of the year after sitting on the Raptors' bench the previous season under Dwane Casey. "We have a lot more to offer than just within the 94 feet of basketball."

Stackhouse, 42, is confident about what he knows about the game but realizes he has more ground to cover to be prepared for that step.

"Most of these guys in the front office, I can go get what they've got. They can't go get what I have (in playing experience)," he said. "It's a love for this game. This is all I've known how to do since I was probably nine or 10 years old."

What the league can do is help train former players who want to learn how to do the job in 2017. And the players can't be dismissive of the process as unfair. Just as big men have had to adapt by shooting from and defending at the three-point arc, this challenge for some isn't that much different.

“I think ultimately where it will pan out is I think you need both. As I watched in the league it’s gone to all basketball experience and no analytics, and then you move to probably too much analytics, and right now as I look in the league we’re still striving to find that right balance," Silver told The Globe.

"I think the way we can help ensure that those candidates get a fair hearing, those candidates who aren’t steeped, who didn’t go to MIT, is to ensure they have the type of analytics training that is necessary.”

It doesn't have to be an either-or proposition. Both needs can be met but there is an adjustment period. 

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Wizards were reportedly unwilling to trade Bradley Beal in potential Jimmy Butler deal

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Wizards were reportedly unwilling to trade Bradley Beal in potential Jimmy Butler deal

A sluggish start and a handful of woefully inefficient defensive efforts had the Wizards looking for answers early into the 2018-19 NBA season.

But making a major trade was not something the Washington front office was willing to do. As the Jimmy Butler saga reached its climax in Minneapolis, the Timberwolves reportedly attempted to strike of a conversation with the Wizards regarding Bradley Beal.

The details, reported by Marc Stein in his latest New York Times newsletter (via ProBasketballTalk), are minimal, but it sounds like the Wizards quickly brushed the discussion aside as Beal has remained off-limits in their eyes.

Word is the Wolves did try to engage Washington — another team falling well short of expectations — in trade talks for the sharpshooting guard Bradley Beal. But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start. They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts. 

Otto Porter, like many of his teammates, started the season in the wrong direction. But trading Porter is a tricky situation, one the Wizards organization probably doesn't want to pursue given the contract he was signed to just over a year ago. Trying to trade John Wall would be even more difficult.

Ultimately, the Timberwolves dealt Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Wizards rattled off weekend wins over ht eHeat and Magic, and while not equal to making a blockbuster trade, it does show that the Wizards can make an internal fix to what ails them. 



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Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi react to new reality under Scott Brooks where minutes aren't guaranteed

Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi react to new reality under Scott Brooks where minutes aren't guaranteed

Through his first two seasons in Washington, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks was not known to make significant adjustments to his lineup. In his first season coaching the Wizards, 2016-17, he didn't really need to. They had the best season for the franchise, 49-33, since the 1970s.

Last year, the tweaks he made were largely by necessity. John Wall missed 41 games and he had to adjust.

What Brooks has been doing in recent games with his Wizards' rotation are something we haven't really seen before. First, he benched Ian Mahinmi for three games. Then, he sat Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. in the fourth quarter. 

Morris returned to play fourth quarter minutes on Monday in their win against the Magic, but Porter remained on the bench, sitting in the last seat on the end with a towel over his head, rising periodically to clap and cheer on his teammates.

Such is life for the Wizards right now. They are off to a 4-9 start, well below their standards, and Brooks is doing whatever he can to right the ship. So far, those decisions have paid off, as they have won two straight games for the first time this season.

"We weren't winning, so I had to make some changes," Brooks said.

Brooks, it appears, has reached a new point in his tenure with the Wizards. He is willing to sit key players in his rotation, and ones that happen to make a good deal of money. Porter is the highest-paid player on the team, carrying a salary of $26 million and Mahinmi is not far behind at $15.9 million.

As Brooks insists, it isn't quite as simple as him deciding to bench a player. It has much to do with the flow of the game and how he simply has more options at his disposal this year.

Instead of Morris and Porter, he has rolled with Austin Rivers and Jeff Green in the fourth quarter. Both Rivers and Green weren't on the team last season.

Rivers gives them more speed in a three-guard lineup and plays physical defense on the perimeter. Green has been shooting lights-out and is one of their most versatile players on both ends of the floor.

The added depth on the Wizards' roster has set in a new reality for Brooks. The players are beginning to understand that.

"We do have depth. That's the thing," Porter said. "We have so many good players that are interchangeable. We're just finding ways to win."

"It is definitely evolving into something different that I haven't seen before," Mahinmi said. "I remember a few years back, it was a defined first unit and second unit. If the second unit was going, he would let them run and let it ride. With this roster, we have even more flexibility than last year."

Porter played just 22 minutes against the Magic. He has been held to under 24 minutes in three straight games. The lack of playing time has crushed his numbers. He has just 21 total points in those three outings.

Mahinmi is averaging only 14.1 minutes per game this season, his fewest since 2010-11. And that number is skewed by the fact he started six games to begin the year with Dwight Howard nursing an injury.

The evolving rotation has required an adjustment for the players. Though it doesn't change how they prepare for games, they now understand that surprises can happen.

"He's made a whole lot of change from a game-to-game basis. I'm with [everyone else]. I'm seeing it has it goes," Mahinmi said. "[It's like] 'I guess I'm not playing tonight.' Just stay ready. That's part of being a professional."

Mahinmi says he and other players aren't owed an explanation from Brooks when he makes those changes. And he is quick to say it doesn't bother him.

"As long as we win, I'm happy," he said.