It looks like the Rockets are making a number of changes to Mike D’Antoni’s staff, even beyond the exit of Jeff Bzdelik. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reports that on Friday assistant coaches Roy Rogers and Mitch Vanya, video coordinator John Cho, and player development assistant (and James Harden’s trainer) Irv Roland were told they won’t be back either.
The issue seems to be that the Rockets picked up the 2019-20 option on D’Antoni’s contract before this past season … but didn’t do that for the assistant coaches. So their contracts are up. D’Antoni has said he wants to coach three more seasons, and as such is looking for an extension from the Rockets so he doesn’t enter the season a lame duck. But he hasn’t gotten that extension yet.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein shares the hubbub that the Rockets — specifically franchisee Tilman Fertitta — might be trying to convince D’Antoni to resign of his own accord, despite Fertitta saying the coach would be back next season. If D’Antoni stays without an extension (the most likely scenario at this point), filling out his bench is going to be pretty hard considering most assistant coaches of quality want more than a 1-year commitment.
There are also subtle potential hints that perhaps Fertitta and Daryl Morey, who did get an extension this offseason, are at odds over D’Antoni, and this is Morey’s way of pushing through a change. Even if this is not true, in the absence of clarity sprouts rumor. And quietly dismissing four staffers a couple weeks after the disappointing season ended sure is some good fertilizer for those rumors to grow.
We won’t be able to list WNBA scores on a daily basis because we’ll be getting into offseason schedule soon, but DID YOU SEE THIS TEIARA MCCOWAN BUZZER-BEATING GAME-WINNING LAYUP IN HER FIRST WNBA GAME EVER?! Folks, hitting a game-winner in your rookie debut is pretty, pretty good. Especially considering it gave the Indiana Fever a 1-0 record. Last season, they started 0-10 and finished 6-28. Get Fever fever!
Phoenix Mercury at Seattle Storm, 3:30 ET, ABC
Bucks at Raptors, 8:30 ET, TNT
Toronto leads series 3-2 AAAAAAAHHH
This Raptors vs. Bucks joint on Saturday night is obviously the biggest game in Toronto franchise history as well as the biggest game in 18 years for Milwaukee (going back to Game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference finals). The arena in T-Dot is going to be something. Jurassic Park is going to be something. Drake is going to be something. As a lifelong* devotee to the Raptors and Raptor culture, I’m ready. Let’s go.
* Last week and half and sporadically over the previous three years.
Paul Flannery on the Raptors proving skeptics wrong. Me on what Kawhi Leonard has that Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t. Kristian Winfield says the Bucks blew it in Game 5.
Natalie Weiner on the WNBA at a high-stakes turning point. Matt Ellentuck predicts seven awesome things that will happen in the WNBA this season.
The NBA moved up the official start of free agency from midnight ET on July 1 to 6 p.m. ET on June 30. This is an outrage in that it destroys another fringe benefit of being on the West Coast.
Kevin Durant finally talked to the media. It seems like he’ll be out until Game 3 of the Finals. Anyone else kinda feel like the odds he returns to the Warriors are higher than we collectively believe?
Zach Lowe on how the Warriors reclaimed their dominant style.
Kristi Tolliver, a Wizards assistant, is back in action with the Mystics on Saturday. Here’s how she finds time to study NBA tape while leading her WNBA team.
The legend William C. Rhoden on what Masai Ujiri is accomplishing in growing basketball opportunities throughout Africa while also being maybe the best executive in the NBA.
In appreciation of the WNBA’s sneaker culture.
Good Howard Beck piece on what we make of a LeBron-less playoffs.
And finally: Drake is officially the heir to Spike Lee.
Be excellent to each other.