Russell Westbrook, Scott Brooks Talk Impact of Kevin Durant Injury on PG’s Role

The Oklahoma City Thunder are Russell Westbrook‘s team now. Kevin Durant‘s Jones fracture in his right foot is expected to keep him out no less than six weeks, leaving Westbrook with the temporary keys to his own kingdom.

So, what does this all mean for the polarizing point guard’s role? Not all that much, according to Thunder head coach Scott Brooks and the man himself.     

“It’s not about me. It’s about our team. I can’t win games by myself. I can’t do anything by myself,” Westbrook told ESPN.com’s Royce Young on Monday. “I kind of want to take the attention off me and put it more on the team. Everybody keeps asking what I’m going to do and how I’m going to change. I think it’s more about our team and what we can do.”

Durant, the reigning NBA MVP, was diagnosed with the foot fracture Saturday. He is still considering a course of treatment—mostly related to whether or not he has surgery—but similar injuries have kept players out between six and eight weeks in the past, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement.

Without Durant, who has led the NBA in scoring four of the past five years, much of the scoring burden is expected to be placed on Westbrook. 

The situation runs parallel to the one Durant was placed in last season, when Westbrook missed most of the first half while recovering from multiple knee surgeries. Durant responded to his co-star’s absence with an offensive tour de force, most memorably averaging 35.9 points per game in the month of January. Westbrook’s absence in many ways allowed Durant to take that final leap and knock LeBron James off the MVP perch he’s owned for most of the last half-decade.

But where some believe Westbrook’s injury unleashed Durant, the verb takes an entirely different connotation with the enigmatic guard.

Westbrook, himself a three-time All-Star and one of the NBA’s 10 best players, is also one of its most highly critiqued. His shot selection ranges from free-wheeling to utterly befuddling, his whirling dervish playmaking from captivating and awe-inspiring to cringe-worthy. As John Schuhmann of NBA.com pointed out on Twitter, Westbrook shot 35 times in the 41 minutes he played without Durant last season. 

A possibly months-long Durant absence left some wondering if Westbrook would succumb to his worst impulses. While we’re still a little more than two weeks away from the Thunder’s season-opening tilt with the Portland Trail Blazers to see their plan in action, Brooks and Westbrook have gone out of their way to downplay the latter’s responsibility. 

“We’re not asking Russell to be a 35-point scorer,” Brooks said, per Young. “Obviously, he’s going to be a scorer because he can, and he does that at a high level. There will be games he might have 20, there will be games he’ll have 30, but there will also be some games where he has 15. He just has to continue to lead like he has been and that’s good enough.

“Everybody has to step up. It’s not one guy. You’re not going to replace Kevin with one guy. It’s the team getting better as a group is what I’m looking to replace him with.”

Words aren’t the only reason for optimism, either. Grantland’s Zach Lowe made the astute point Monday that lineups featuring Westbrook without Durant outscored their opponents by 9.5 points per 100 possessions in 2012-13. That would have been nearly a point and a half better than the Spurs’ rate from last season, per NBA.com.

The point being: Russell Westbrook can play. His and Durant’s constant pairing was more about Brooks’ desire to keep them together than an indictment on Westbrook.

The Thunder are going to be worse without Durant, but to pretend they’ll be some unmitigated disaster ignores the remaining talent on the roster. In Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City still has two of the league’s 20 best players and a supporting cast that held water without Westbrook last season.

Plus, Westbrook’s role is going to change. Public bluster or not, Westbrook will be blowing away his career scoring average by the time Durant returns.

He’s the only player in Oklahoma City’s projected starting lineup—assuming Brooks replaces Durant with a wing over Reggie Jackson—who can create an open look for himself. Westbrook, Durant and Jackson were the only three regular rotation players who were assisted on less than 60 percent of their field goals, per NBA.com.

Broken possessions are going to be a way of life without Durant. In most of those cases, it’ll be up to Westbrook or Jackson to use their off-the-dribble skills to make something happen. If Westbrook’s role truly doesn’t change—if, say, he’s averaging numbers right along with his career averages—then the Thunder are in trouble.

Oklahoma City needs Westbrook and Brooks to say the things they are now. In reality, they’ll need Westbrook to step up the way Durant did in his stead a year ago.

 

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Byron Scott on Julius Randle: ‘I thought he was lost’

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle had 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists in his debut at Staples Center in a 120-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. Lakers coach Byron Scott thought the team’s seventh overall pick looked “lost” on the court. “I thought he was lost, in the first half especially,” Scott said, per ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I thought in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter he was better, but I thought in the first half the game was way too fast for him. “He’s a 19-year-old playing against a good team like that and moves the ball the way they move and have 4s that are agile and athletic like he is? Yeah, I pretty much expected that.” Kobe Bryant said he’s been working with Randle on getting him acclimated to playing in the NBA. “He’s getting his feet wet,” Bryant said. “He’s still getting used to the NBA game and the speed of the game. The biggest thing for me is to see him trust his jump shot bec

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Why Byron Scott Is the Perfect First Coach for Jordan Clarkson

An NBA rookie’s first head coach can make him or break him. For Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers, the hope is that Byron Scott will be the perfect teacher, counselor, disciplinarian and giver of confidence.

Clarkson—the team’s No. 46 pick this season—is a combo guard with great speed, athleticism and ball-handling skills. The Lakers are currently in their second week of training camp, but the rookie has been working out for months at the team’s El Segundo practice facility.

In mid-September, Clarkson was interviewed by Mike Trudell for Lakers.com and said, “Coach is doing a great job, coming in the gym and working with me.”

It shows a level of personal attention that not all head coaches offer. But for Scott, it’s part of a long-established pattern.

A three-time NBA champion as a shooting guard for the Showtime-era Lakers, Scott transitioned his success to the sidelines, taking the New Jersey Nets to the Finals twice, earning Coach of the Year with the New Orleans Hornets and as a guy generally regarded as a player’s coach.

Developing a couple of high-profile rookies—Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving—helped Scott earn that reputation. 

The mentoring habit started earlier than that, however.

For his final season as a player, Scott was brought back by the Lakers in order to mentor a willful and precocious rookie named Kobe Bryant.

Eighteen years later, the two are still close and working together once again.

This same type of lasting relationship can now be formed between Scott and Clarkson—a player with a self-admitted chip on his shoulder. This summer at the team’s practice facility, the brand new rookie said, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

I feel like I was one of the better point guards in the draft, maybe the best. But falling out of the first round and being selected in the round. It’s not about the number being drafted. It’s about the fit. That’s where I get my chip from.

That type of confidence is often evident when a player first comes into the league—before the challenges of learning new systems and a different level of competition, before injuries and a grueling schedule, before sitting on the bench and wondering why, and before getting chopped down to size and lost in the NBA shuffle.

In today’s game, coaches are under inordinate pressure to win and win now, riding a carousel that stops ever more frequently. They rarely have the luxury or job security to invest time in the kind of extensive development that will pay off at some point down the line.

Scott, however, does put in the extra effort. And, his teachings are more than X’s and O’s. Heading into his fourth season in the league, Paul spoke with Keith Peneguy of The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune about Scott: “Coach is my guy. He’s more than just my coach. He’s my friend, my mentor, somebody that I look up to and somebody I have the ultimate respect for.”

Paul is arguably the top point guard in the NBA right now, and he learned from a coach who was once a guard who learned from Magic Johnson. These cyclical storylines are found time and again in sports.

Bryant, the aging superstar who learned as a rookie from Scott, is now taking on a mentorship role with younger players, including Clarkson, who has matched up with him in scrimmages throughout training camp.

The young guard spoke about the process recently, per Lakers.com, “I’m being a sponge right now, soaking as much information as I can. Shoot, it just keeps getting better.”

In turn, Bryant offered praise and encouragement during training camp, per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

I like Jordan.  I think that was a steal of a pick. I’m surprised he slipped in the draft. Great pace, great feel for the game. He grasps concepts really well. He can shoot the deep ball. He has a really good floater and can get to the rim.

Scott was hired by the Lakers this summer as a familiar face from the past and tasked with the job of righting the ship after three disappointing seasons under two different head coaches: Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni. The new coach inherited a roster made up of aging stars, former draft busts and unproven prospects.

His solution has been to go back to fundamental concepts, like defense and accountability, and adopting a championship mindset even if nobody else in their right mind would expect that kind of result from this team.

Clarkson’s game has a lot to do with blow-by speed, great handles and the ability to get to the rim at will. During the Lakers’ five Summer League games in Las Vegas, the second-rounder set out to prove a point—outscoring all his teammates as well as nine of the top 10 picks to appear in action—the exception being Joel Embiid, who was recuperating from foot surgery.

In training camp, however, Scott is trying to teach his young charge about discipline and defensive principles, and about playing off the ball and taking open shots rather than contested ones.

There are points at which the lessons seem to leave an impression, with Clarkson telling Trudell, “I know I’m gonna have to come here in and play defense for sure. Coach Scott holds his hat on that, so that’s what I’m gonna try to bring it on the first day, on the defensive end. Everything else will come along if I do that.”

But during the team’s first preseason game, the rookie reverted to his natural instincts and went into gunner mode, lofting up 13 shot attempts in 27 minutes and making only three of those. On a more positive note, he got to the line often, had five rebounds and scrambled after loose balls on the floor.

After the game, Byron was asked how Clarkson did and responded via Lakers.com video:

Not bad, not bad. I think he took some ill-advised shots, a couple of quick shots, so we’ve got to do a better job of understanding, what’s a good shot and what’s not. But, for his first game, on the defensive end, I think he did a decent job as well. I was happy with it.

Scott is a tough, old-school coach, but he’s also a patient one. Even when Clarkson was jacking up rim-clankers, he was allowed to remain on the floor. In time, he found his rhythm. The leash is longer during the preseason, of course, but that’s what training camp is supposed to be about—learning opportunities rather than knee-jerk punishments.

During the team’s second preseason game, against the Golden State Warriors, Clarkson again was a bit hyperkinetic before leaving the game due to a left calf strain. Such is life in the NBA.

Tigers don’t generally change their stripes. Bryant, Paul and Irving all came into the league with certain ingrained instincts and styles. But they have also grown as players, and Scott deserves credit for his part in that.

This season, Clarkson will get a chance to play meaningful minutes and develop his game. He won’t be expected to save a franchise, nor will he be treated as an afterthought. He will learn the game of professional basketball the right way.

Thirty-one years after his own rookie season, an old guard will be guiding a new one. This could be a memorable journey for Clarkson, and it begins with a perfect first coach in Scott.

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Lakers’ Byron Scott: Julius Randle needs to improve conditioning

Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott is pleased rookie Julius Randle had 10 points with eight rebounds in their preseason opener. But Scott wants the seventh overall pick to improve conditioning. “He’s got to do a better job of setting screens,” said Scott, via the Los Angeles Times.  “He’s got to do a better job of getting up and down the floor.  He does that in spurts. “The biggest thing with him right now is that he has to get in better shape.  He’s in good shape but he has to get in great shape.” Scott wants his Lakers team to be one of the best=conditioned teams in the NBA. “When you’re not in great shape and you get tired, you lose focus, it’s that simple,” said Scott.  “It’s just a matter of getting him in great shape.” The Lakers host the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on Thursday night. The post Lakers’ Byron Scott: Julius Randle needs to improve conditioning appeared first on Sports Glory.

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Lakers News: Latest Comments from Wesley Johnson, Byron Scott and More

Playing out of position can stagnate a player’s career. Los Angeles Lakers small forward Wesley Person did that for much of the 2013-14 season.

Johnson can’t completely attribute his partially disappointing NBA career to being moved from his natural position, but last year’s stint in Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball lineup didn’t help him gain any momentum.

After being taken No. 4 overall in the 2010 NBA draft, Johnson has yet to average double figures in scoring, but he is making some strides.

New head coach Byron Scott says Johnson’s days of playing power forward are over, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

“He aint playing power forward anymore,” Scott said. “He has everything that he needs to be a very good player in this league. It’s just a matter of me pulling it all out of him. I think this year he’s going to surprise some people and have a good year.”

Johnson agreed that playing against the bigger, stronger forwards in the league was tough. 

“I’m back on the wing again. I get to guard the 3s (small forwards), mix it up with the 2s (shooting guards). It was crazy. I was guarding Blake and banging with Z-Bo (Randolph). That aint me. Get me on the wing. I’m very glad to be back.”

Johnson is only 27 years old. He is in the physical prime of his life, and through four years in the NBA, he has gained valuable experience in his time with three different franchises.

Despite spending too much time near the paint last season, Johnson averaged career highs in all but one major statistical category. Thus, there’s reason for optimism heading into the 2014-15 season.

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2010–11 Minnesota 79 63 26.2 .397 .356 .696 3.0 1.9 .7 .7 9.0
2011–12 Minnesota 65 64 22.6 .398 .314 .706 2.7 .9 .5 .7 6.0
2012–13 Phoenix 50 21 19.1 .407 .323 .771 2.5 .7 .4 .4 8.0
2013–14 Los Angeles 79 62 28.4 .425 .369 .792 4.4 1.6 1.1 1.0 9.1
Career   273 210 24.7 .408 .346 .739 3.3 1.3 .7 .7 8.1

The Lakers’ roster and current situation offer a great opportunity for Johnson to make a big impact. The team is in a rebuilding stage, and the player who will more than likely be ahead of Johnson in the rotation has the game of a sixth man.

According to the team’s depth chart on ESPN.com, Johnson is listed as the backup small forward behind Nick Young. Swaggy P might be best served coming off the bench to provide instant offense. That could give Johnson an inroad to more minutes and perhaps even a starting role.

Johnson could also see time as Kobe Bryant‘s backup at the 2-guard position. 

Playing solid defense will be the key to extended playing time for Johnson. If he can prove himself to be a better-than-average defender, Scott will find minutes for him.

Last season, Johnson averaged 1.1 steals per game in 28 minutes of action. His length and agility give him the tools to be a presence in the team’s perimeter defense. Don’t be surprised to see Johnson have another career year and gain some votes for Most Improved Player.

 

Stats per Basketball-Reference.com

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Byron Scott: Kobe wouldn’t make a good coach

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott has the tough task of getting his team back to playoffs after missing out last season, and a healthy Kobe Bryant is where it all begins.
Scott is impressed with Kobe’s progress:
“I’m expecting him to play 82 games and play well,” Scott said, via USA TODAY Sports. “To be honest with you, he’s a guy who’s going to still probably average 23, 24 points (per game). Our biggest thing is making sure he stays healthy.”
Bryant, who’s contract with the Lakers ends in 2015-16, is now 36 and no spring chicken as they say. Retirement could likely be on horizon.
After his career on the court, would Kobe consider being a coach?
Scott thinks it’s probably a bad idea.
“He’s too tough,” Scott said Tuesday, via Yahoo! Sports. “He would probably be a whole lot more demanding than Pat Riley, myself and guys like that. It would be tough. Plus, he would expect guys to play like him, to have that type of passion that he has for the game. And to have the love for

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Byron Scott explains why Kobe wouldn’t make a good coach

After a disappointing 2013 season, the Los Angeles Lakers are back with a new head coach and identity. But the players and coaching staff still have a lot of work ahead of them in order to return to a contender once again. The challenge for new HC Byron Scott lies in how to work alongside the “other” coach—ex-teammate Kobe Bryant. Bryant had actually done a better job “coaching” the team over the past few seasons than both Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni could manage, and it’ll be interesting to see how he and Scott jell in their new relationship. Scott recently touched on an intriguing topic, and weighed in about the possibility of Bryant coaching when he retires.

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Where Does OKC Thunder Turn If Scott Brooks Can’t Get Job Done This Season?

If the Oklahoma City Thunder decide that head coach Scott Brooks isn’t the man who can lead them to a championship, who should they look to replace him with?

Since taking over as head coach during the 2008-09 season, Brooks has compiled a regular-season record of 293-170 (63.3 percent). In the playoffs, his mark is 39-34 (53.4 percent). He’s finished under .500 once and has led the Thunder to the postseason every year for the past five seasons. He’s been to the Western Conference Finals twice, including a trip to the Finals during the 2011-12 season.  

Despite all of that, Brooks is one of a handful of coaches that are on the hot seat this season, according to BasketballInsiders.com’s Steve Kyler:

There is no question that the Thunder are on the clock, especially with star forward Kevin Durant inching closer to free agency in the summer of 2016. The Thunder have preached a message of continuity and instituted a strong development program, and that has paid dividends in OKC, but failing to reach the NBA Finals again before Durant’s free agency could spell disaster for the Thunder as the outside voices creep into the discussion and try to lure Durant out of OKC.

If Brooks were to get fired, Oklahoma City would become arguably the most attractive coaching destination in the league. With Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and a slew of young prospects, the right guy could turn the Thunder into a dynasty. However, if things don’t work out with Brooks, what should general manager Sam Presti look for in his next coach?

While the current coaching fad has been to hire players fresh out of retirement or the next hot assistant, the Thunder need someone a bit more seasoned. He should have considerable postseason experience and be able to bring the best out of this talented roster. Most importantly, he should be someone respected enough to keep Durant and Westbrook from considering playing elsewhere when their contracts are up. 

Here are a few candidates that would fit those requirements.

 

Mark Jackson

Prior to Mark Jackson’s arrival as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors in 2011, the team had made the postseason just once during the previous 17 seasons. In three years, Jackson led the W’s to the playoffs twice.

During the last two seasons, the Warriors were a combined 98-66. Jackson helped transform them from an NBA laughingstock to an exciting young squad that was solid at both ends of the court. Jackson’s teams were in the top 12 of both offensive and defensive ratings the past two seasons. 

Still, those numbers couldn’t spare Jackson from the firing squad this past season. According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Jackson’s dismissal was less about the team’s inability to make deep postseason runs and more about personal conflicts:

Jackson clashed constantly with management and struggled to manage his coaching staff during his Warriors tenure. Jackson’s lack of interest in game preparation and reluctance to practice despite a mostly young and gifted roster played a part in management’s reluctance to commit long term to him, league sources said.

While Jackson’s personality and lax practice habits are certainly red flags, the hope here is that Jackson would learn from his mistakes in his second coaching stint. As much as he battled with the front office and his fellow assistants, his players seemed to adore him.

Point guard Stephen Curry, during a promotional event for the upcoming NBA 2K15 video game, called Jackson’s firing “hard to deal with.”

As an NBA point guard for 17 years, Jackson’s vast experience would come in handy developing one of the league’s most explosive floor generals, Russell Westbrook. His commitment to excellence on offense and defense would be great for a team with the NBA’s best scorer in Kevin Durant and one of its best shot-blockers in Serge Ibaka

Jackson’s coaching legacy shouldn’t end with the fatal flaws he made with Golden State. Very few young coaches hit the ground running the minute they are handed a clipboard. Doc Rivers had to fail with the Orlando Magic before becoming an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics.

However, Jackson’s ability to take the Thunder to a higher level would be dependent on him raising his game as well. Unlike in Golden State, he would be inheriting a team with a mandate to win now. The feuding with coaches and sub-par training habits aren’t going to fly in Oklahoma City.  

He would need to bring his uptempo style to a team that was built to run. With a stronger commitment to the game, Jackson could find redemption on his way to an NBA championship.

 

Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy hasn’t manned an NBA sideline since the 2006-07 season with the Houston Rockets, but his name seems to pop up every year when there’s a coaching vacancy. Earlier this offseason, his name was linked to the Memphis Grizzlies, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.  

Van Gundy has spent the last seven years as an analyst for ESPN. Even in the booth, Van Gundy’s love for the game shows through in his opinionated style. Every time he’s on the mic, you get the feeling that he wants to come back to coaching.

Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, in a May appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, suggested that his brother is waiting for a good spot to come along: 

“I was only going to take a great job and I think Jeff’s the same way. If the right situation came around, where he really felt aligned with ownership, I think he would do it.” 

The chance to take over one of the NBA’s elite sure seems like the “right situation.” He would take over a group with far more talent than any of his teams with the Rockets or the New York Knicks. During his 11 years coaching both squads, Van Gundy missed the playoffs just twice. 

During the 1998-99 season, he famously led the eighth-seeded Knicks to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Tim Duncan’s Spurs in five games. He has a career record of 430-318 in the regular season (57.5 percent) and 44-44 in the playoffs (50 percent). 

Van Gundy would be an intriguing choice for the Thunder. Throughout his career, his forte has been a commitment to defense and preparation. His teams in New York and Houston didn’t rate very high offensively though. 

It would be interesting to see what Van Gundy could bring out of Durant and Westbrook defensively. Together, they could carry an offense with their ability to score from anywhere. Imagine how great both would be if Van Gundy could sharpen their skills on the other end of the court as well. 

Van Gundy also built his teams around strong big men, which was a testament to his defensive approach. He had Patrick Ewing and Marcus Camby on the Knicks. On the Rockets, he had Yao Ming. In Oklahoma City, he’d have to build around wing players like he did with Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston in New York. 

What truly makes Van Gundy a solid candidate is the reputation he built with those he coached in the past. His former players talk about him with the utmost respect and have fond memories of their time together (h/t Moke Hamilton of BasketballInsiders.com). 

I loved playing for him. There was no situation that I have faced in a game that I wasn’t prepared for,” said Shane Battier, who played under JVG in Houston. “Our teams were always prepared, always played hard and if you wanted a winning culture, he was your guy.”

Hamilton also added this:

That’s a sentiment that all of Van Gundy’s former players would agree with, even those who he had a tough time motivating, including, at times, the aforementioned (Tracy) McGrady. The same can be said about Steve Francis. Francis and Van Gundy had a major falling out in Houston immediately prior to Francis’ trade to the Orlando Magic back in June 2004, but Francis is on record as saying that he never doubted that the changes that Van Gundy requested of him were all done in the name of winning.

After a long time away from coaching, the key to Van Gundy’s success in today’s NBA will be his ability to adapt. In Oklahoma City, he’d have the best one-two punch in basketball in Durant and Westbrook, as well as the big man he typically covets in Ibaka

Together, the mixture of Van Gundy’s defensive teachings and the bevy of scorers on the roster should combine for one of the most balanced teams in the league. 

 

George Karl

If Brooks’ job were to become available, the search for the Thunder’s new leader should begin and end with George Karl. During his last 21 seasons as a head coach, Karl’s teams have never finished below .500. The last time he had a losing season was when he coached the Golden State Warriors…during the 1987-88 season.  

When we last saw Karl, he was leading the Denver Nuggets to a franchise-best 57 wins en route to earning the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year award. Despite that, the team still fired Karl after the season because of a contract dispute.

Karl has the sixth-most wins of any coach in NBA history with 1,131 wins. His career winning percentage is 59.9 percent. If there’s a knock on Karl’s illustrious career, it’s that his playoff record is 80-105 (43.5 percent). 

Still, throughout his career, Karl has been the brains behind some fantastic teams. He coached the Seattle SuperSonics from 1991-1998 with Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton leading the way. During the 1995-96 season, Karl led the Sonics to the NBA Finals before falling to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in six games. 

From there, he coached the Milwaukee Bucks for five seasons, molding such rising talents as Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson. He was one win away from his second Finals appearance in 2000-01, when he lost the Eastern Conference Finals to Allen Iverson‘s Philadelphia 76ers in seven games.

The last nine years of Karl’s coaching career came in Denver. During his tenure, he presided over the likes of Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Ty Lawson and other young stars. For the most part, those Nuggets teams struggled to get out of the first round. The lone exception came in 2008-09, when the team made the Western Conference Finals and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

After a year away from the game, Karl is interested in returning to coaching, per ESPN.com.

I’d be interested in the right coaching opportunity, but I respect the coaching profession too much to become a distraction to the process,” Karl said. “I would love the opportunity to probably talk to people, when they think I’m a person they should be talking to.”

Karl is 63 years old and not far removed from a battle with cancer. While his desire to coach again is understandable, there’s the issue of: for how long? His time with the Nuggets was the longest he’s ever spent with any one team and, at this point in his career, he’s more of a short-term fix than a long-term solution.

Still, with his history of winning and guiding young players, he’d be the perfect coaching upgrade for the Thunder. Even if Oklahoma City only got a handful of seasons out of Karl, they could feel safe knowing they have a respected veteran with a long track record of success at the helm.

One potential problem that could arise is Karl’s desire to play more proven players over developing young talent. He was criticized by the front office during his final season in Denver for not playing the team’s younger players, which was a claim he disputed in an interview with The Denver Post‘s Benjamin Hochman following Karl’s firing.   

We won 57 games and are in a great place. Continuity, consistency, togetherness all are so much more valuable than what they have on their priority list of playing JaVale McGee or the young players. And first of all, it shouldn’t be that I didn’t play young players. It’s I didn’t play young players enough, because we played a lot of young players—Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, Evan Fournier at the end of the year, Ty Lawson. And, I never had a meeting where there was disappointment, in that part of it, voiced to me. I heard through whispers. I’m sorry that 57 wins doesn’t make you happy.

Regardless of which side you believe, Karl’s hesitance to play someone like McGee shouldn’t tarnish his record with young players, nor should it give the Thunder a reason to steer clear of him. Karl’s time developing legendary talents like Payton, Allen and Anthony should speak for itself. 

If Karl is ready to come back and Oklahoma City has a spot for him, he should be the Thunder’s guy. 

As for Brooks, this is a make-or-break season for him. His reluctance for change as well as his commitment to declining veterans such as Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha have been his downfall in the past. 

The Thunder have a roster capable of winning a championship. Durant and Westbrook are top 10 players. Ibaka continues to get better. Reggie Jackson is playing for a new contract. The team has depth now with Steven Adams, Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow. There are no more excuses. 

The clock is ticking for Brooks. With plenty of qualified candidates ready to take his spot, he will either adapt or become a casualty. 

(All statistics courtesy of BasketballReference.com, unless noted otherwise. 

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Analyzing new Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott

Among the many dramatic storylines that dominated the NBA offseason was the search for the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The position was freed up when former coach Mike D’Antoni resigned, having had an abysmal tenure with a franchise-worst 27-55 record in the 2013-14 season and a 67-85 record overall. The position remained vacant throughout the summer, even as the Lakers revamped the roster, adding new players and resigning others. Rumors of the Lakers talking to the likes of Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson spread throughout the Internet. In late June, word came out that former Showtime Lakers guard-turned-NBA head coach Byron Scott had emerged as the favorite. After multiple interviews, Scott was hired on July 28, 2014.
Byron Scott is an accomplished NBA coach who now must take on the task of restoring the Lakers as a contender.
To many Lakers fans, this hire was accepted with mixed emotions. Scott has had success as an NBA head coach, inc

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Byron Scott reveals Lakers coaching staff additions

The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t made an official announcement, but head coach Byron Scott has detailed the coaching staff he will be bringing to the sidelines this season with the Lakers. His coaching staff will include his son Thomas Scott, Larry Lewis, Paul Pressey, Mark Madsen and Jim Eyen, reports the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina. Medina also notes that there is one spot remaining on the bench, and Scott confirmed he has met with Igor Kokoskov, as previously reported:

“I’ve talked to a couple of guys, one in particular that is from overseas,” Scott said. “That is not definitive. But I have met with him.”

Thomas Scott’s role with the team will be as a player development coach. He previously worked under his father as video coordinator and player development coach with the New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers, while also landing assistant coaching positions in the D-league. Lewis will remain on the Lakers’ player development s…

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