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Kentucky's kids suit Calipari; not kids in Kings' front office

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Kentucky's kids suit Calipari; not kids in Kings' front office

A lot of rumors will circulate about who will be the next coach of the Sacramento Kings, with the assumption that George Karl is a lame duck with is firing inevitable. But Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com pours cold water on the notion that John Wall's college coach is next in line.

According to Helin, who talked to a person with knowledge of the situation, the initial report about Kings owner Vivek Ranadive being prepared to make John Calipari a supposed offer that he can't refuse next summer is untrue.

Calipari is king at the University of Kentucky where he's competing for national championships every year. He had a failed bid in the NBA with the Nets, whom he coached from 1996-98, with a 72-112 record.

If Calipari were so inclined to return to the pros, it probably would be in a far more stable situation to rectify that failure rather than with Ranadive's troubled franchise in Sacramento where the star player DeMarcus Cousins has clashed with Karl. Cousins went to Kentucky, as did 2015 lottery pick Willie Cauley-Stein. 

But the ownership under Ranadive has been nothing short of a circus, with front-office novice Vlade Divac as a GM and vice president who has chided Karl publicly and clearly doesn't like him. The Kings also are 5-9.

Unless Ranadive were to offer Calipari a healthy ownership stake in the franchise there's no plausible reason why he -- or anyone of the coach's reputation or caliber -- should take such a job.

Ranadive, after all, told his previous coach Mike Malone, who was fired against the will of his players early last season for being 11-13 without an injured Cousins, to consider playing four players on defense vs. five while using a cherry-picker to get layups on the other end. The reason? It worked for Ranadive when coaching his daughter's middle-school basketball games.

Despite knowing this, Karl's hubris blinded him and he wanted this job. He desperately wanted to coach in the NBA again after getting fired by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 following a 57-win season and Coach of the Year honors.

He'd have been better off waiting because coaching gigs in the NBA come open routinely. The Kings have talent worth coaching, but it's about more than just on the floor. It's the support system, the "team" behind the scenes, which is why some places are more desirable to coach than others. Everyone realizes that this is a hired-to-be-fired position.

Ranadive is a brilliant businessman, a self-made software billionaire, but has yet to figure out his lane and how to stay in it when it comes to basketball. For him to tell a coach like Karl, who has been on NBA sidelines since 1984, played for Dean Smith and the North Carolina Tar Heels and then spent five years in the NBA as a player, how to do his job is insulting. That's like Karl telling Ranadive how to run his software businesses. 

Ranadive will keep striking out to find a credible coach if this continues unless that coach is a "yes" man which will immediately make him no longer credible. When your franchise is respected -- think the Oklahoma City Thunder when they lured Billy Donovan from the University of Florida -- you don't have to beg a coach to come. These Kings, however, will spend a lot of time on their knees.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards squeeze by Pistons 97-95: Five takeaways

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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