* * *
The Bulls fired coach Fred Hoiberg on Monday. What other team might be due for a shake-up? And what would that shake-up look like?
* * *
Steve Aschburner: New Orleans. By now, Washington’s woes are old news. Houston and Utah falling farther short of expectations than any other teams to this point suggests shake-ups there, yet their issues might best be solved internally. The Pelicans, meanwhile, have swooned of late, are playing through significant defensive issues and, as always, are burdened by the Anthony Davis clock. The vultures will be circling as the summer of 2020 approaches — that’s when the all-NBA big man can opt out of his contract — if New Orleans cannot generate real momentum toward championship contention. And with Jimmy Butler showing us how ugly things can get when a player still is a year away from free agency, New Orleans needs to tighten up defensively and seek outside help to demonstrate to Davis he can reach his goals right there.
Shaun Powell: Let’s just say the Washington Wizards can’t afford another month like November, for the sake of coach Scott Brooks … and a few rotational players … and, perhaps, GM Ernie Grunfeld. There’s too much talent on this team and too little depth in the Eastern Conference for the Wizards to collect Ls at the rate they’ve gotten them. Bradley Beal is always mentioned as trade bait, but I’d ship John Wall and his contract on the first plane out of Reagan National Airport if there’s a taker. A revamped Wizards team would keep losing and compete for a top pick in the 2019 draft.
John Schuhmann: Houston, Miami and Washington would be the usual suspects, though the Rockets’ desperation is more about adding to what they have than shaking things up. But, after a third loss by more than 30 points in the last week, it’s time to wonder how the Spurs transition into whatever’s next. They’ve never ranked worse than 11th defensively in the last 21 years (and have ranked in the top five in 17 of those 21), but they’ve been the league’s second worst defensive team this season. Their offense is built around two guys that take the most inefficient shots on the floor, they have one of the league’s oldest rosters, and it’s very likely that their 21-year playoff streak is coming to an end.
Sekou Smith: I hate that his name has to be included in the ongoing coaching rumor mill, but Scott Brooks will see his name remain in that mix until the Washington Wizards rise above the playoff chase cutoff line in the Eastern Conference. The situation in Washington will have to be addressed if things continue the way have so far. And unfortunately for Brooks, and coaches in sticky situations anywhere else, the coach is usually the first one to go (ask Tyronn Lue or Hoiberg). These shake-ups usually mean an assistant already on staff is elevated to the top spot, more often than not on an interim basis.
About Last Night: Legendary Lakers
Triple-doubles are rare enough. Even rarer is the air in which two teammates accomplish the feat on the same night.
That’s what happened in Charlotte on Saturday, where LeBron James (24 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) and Lonzo Ball (16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) each logged a triple-double in L.A.’s 128-100 rout over the Hornets.
The Laker duo becomes just the eighth set of teammates in NBA history to earn triple-doubles in the same game. Jason Kidd and Vince Carter were the most recent teammates to accomplish the feat, having done so on April 7, 2007. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson did it for the Lakers in 1982.
The complete list –
Lakers vs. Hornets, Dec. 2018: LeBron James (24 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists), Lonzo Ball (16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).
Nets vs. Wizards, April 2007: Vince Carter (46 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists), Jason Kidd (10 points, 16 rebounds, 18 assists).
Clippers vs. Bulls, Jan. 1989: Michael Jordan (41 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists), Scottie Pippen (15 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists))
Celtics vs. 76ers, March 1987: Larry Bird 17 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists), Robert Parrish (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).
Lakers vs. Pistons, Dec. 1982: Magic Johnson (26 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks).
SuperSonics vs. Rockets, March 1969: Lenny Wilkens (36 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists), Art Harris (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).
Pistons vs. Knicks. March 1964: Ray Scott (23 points, 20 rebounds, 11 assists), Donnie Butcher (19 points, 15 rebounds, 15 assists).
Royals vs. Warriors, Jan. 1962: Oscar Robertson (28 points, 14 rebounds, 16 assists), Bucky Buckhorn (19 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists)
Harden heating up
Speaking of triple-doubles, James Harden had himself one in Houston’s 105-97 win over Memphis. The reigning Kia MVP finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, marking the seventh time in his career he had logged triple-doubles in back-to-back games.
Houston’s all-time record when Harden rings up all those double figures: 31-7.
Devin Booker is back and maybe, just maybe, better times are ahead for the woebegone Phoenix Suns. The fourth-year guard led Phoenix to a 107-99 win over Minnesota, amassing 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
The victory gave Phoenix its first consecutive wins of the season — and their first such streak since Dec. 29, 2017.
Oh yeah, and it looks like they’ll be trading Trevor Ariza after all.
Get yourself a friend like…
Kyle Kuzma, who made sure LeBron didn’t resume play without addressing a flaw in his otherwise flawless beard.
Bulls Finnish strong
No Zach LaVine. Down 21 on the road. Normally those two factors would have made a Bulls loss a foregone conclusion.
Not this time. Lauri Markkanen spearheaded Chicago’s second-half comeback in which he and Kris Dunn (29 second-half points combined) nearly outscored the entire Spurs team (31) after halftime. In the end, it was the Bulls who wound up as unlikely victors at the Alamo.
Markkanen finished with 23 points, his second 20-point performance in nine days — with the Bulls winning both of those games.
A cappella only, please
Sorry, Lance, but no air guitars allowed while celebrating.
Grizzlies GM Wallace dubs failed trade ‘unfathomable’
Chris Wallace has been in the NBA since 1986. He’s seen and done a lot as a front office executive.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies’ general manager told reporters he hadn’t seen anything quite like the three-team trade between Memphis, Phoenix and Washington that ultimately fell through.
“What happened last night was unfathomable. I’ve never experienced this before,” Wallace told reporters.
The Grizzlies, Suns and Wizards had a deal in place that would have sent swingman Trevor Ariza to Washington, Kelly Oubre to Memphis and Austin Rivers to Phoenix. When reports differed as to whether the Suns were acquiring Dillon or MarShon Brooks from Memphis, however, the deal fell apart. Phoenix insisted on Dillon Brooks, while Memphis maintained it had intended to deal MarShon Brooks all along.
Neither team was willing to yield on its stated preference, leaving Phoenix and Washington to agree on a two-team trade the following day. Both Brooks, meanwhile, remain with the Grizzlies.
“That forced me to do something I’ve never done in 30-plus years working in this league with seven teams, is to drag two players out of a locker room and tell them they’ve been traded and then eventually have to come back and tell them, ‘Oh, no, you haven’t been traded,'” Wallace said.
“We ask a lot of these guys and we try to communicate with them at all times,” Wallace added. “We do not want them to know about trades from another party; we want to be the ones that tell them. We were forced to come in at that time and say something. That put us in a very difficult situation.”
James, Ball earn triple-doubles in same game
The meshing of LeBron James with the young Lakers now includes a significant milestone.
James and second-year guard Lonzo Ball each finished with a triple-double during the Lakers’ 128-100 rout at Charlotte on Saturday. The four-time Kia MVP finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists before sitting out the fourth quarter. Ball amassed 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists before exiting with 6:54 remaining.
The Laker duo becomes just the eighth set of teammates in NBA history to earn triple-doubles in the same game. Jason Kidd and Vince Carter are the most recent teammates to accomplish the feat, having done so on April 7, 2007. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson did it for the Lakers in 1982.
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