Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical

  • How Kyle Lowry pulled the Raptors – and himself – from the brink

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 14 hrs ago

    TORONTO – LeBron James backed him down and backed him down and backed him down, delivering the framed portrait of Kyle Lowry's untidy, unconventional, unrelenting career: too small, too limited, too unworthy. Fourth quarter, Game 4 of these Eastern Conference finals, and James had been groomed to treat the likes of Lowry as though a playoff pest to be flicked away like lint.

    Only, Lowry kept coming and coming in the final minutes on Monday night, big shots and big passes, bigger steals and the biggest steel of all.

    "I've always been counted out," Lowry told The Vertical. " 'He's not this, and he's not that.' That's the life, the position, that I've always been in.

    "And here I am."

    Somehow, he's here. Lowry had been magnificent in this 105-99 victory over Cleveland – 35 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals – and it inspired Toronto's general manager to proclaim and protect the virtues of his two-time All-Star point guard.

    "Here I am."

  • NBA doesn't suspend Warriors' Draymond Green for kick to groin

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 22 hrs ago

    The NBA has decided not to suspend Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for kicking Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin.

    Green's foul – initially ruled a flagrant-1 during the game – was upgraded to a flagrant-2 after the league's investigation into the incident. Green also received a $25,000 fine.

    Green is eligible to play in Tuesday's Game 4. The Thunder lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

    Green kicked Adams as he went up for a shot in the second quarter of the Warriors' 133-105 loss to the Thunder in Game 3 on Sunday.

    "After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green’s foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said in a statement.

     "During a game, players – at times – flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul, but Green's actions in this case warranted an additional penalty."

  • Sources: Portland’s Nate Tibbetts to meet about Warriors’ top assistant job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts has emerged as a candidate for the Golden State Warriors’ top assistant-coaching job and will meet with Steve Kerr on Monday in Oklahoma City, league sources told The Vertical.

    Tibbetts and Charlotte assistant Stephen Silas are two of the serious candidates to replace new Lakers coach Luke Walton on the Warriors’ bench next season, league sources said.

    Tibbetts and Silas traveled to Oklahoma City to meet with Warriors officials on Monday night. Golden State had to expedite the hiring process or risk losing preferred candidates to other teams.

    Tibbetts interviewed for the Memphis Grizzlies’ head-coaching job this month. Silas is a finalist for the Houston Rockets head-coaching job.

    Tibbetts has been an assistant with the Blazers since 2013 under coach Terry Stotts. Before a two-year stop with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tibbetts was head coach of the NBA Development League’s Tulsa 66ers for two seasons, posting a 64-41 record with two playoff berths.

    Portland also was granted permission Sunday to talk to Silas about being its top assistant, league sources said.

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  • Sources: Stephen Silas to meet with Steve Kerr about Warriors' top assistant job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Stephen Silas is traveling to meet Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Monday in Oklahoma City, league sources told The Vertical.

    Golden State received Charlotte’s permission to discuss the Warriors’ top assistant coaching job with Silas, and the Warriors are moving quickly to secure him before the Houston Rockets can offer him their head-coaching job, league sources said.

    Portland was granted permission Sunday to talk to Silas about being the top assistant to Blazers coach Terry Stotts, league sources said.

    Suddenly, the pressure is growing on Houston to make a decision between Silas and Philadelphia 76ers associate head coach Mike D’Antoni for the Rockets’ job.

    The Rockets are seriously considering a coaching partnership that includes Silas and Lionel Hollins as associate head coach, league sources said. What had become a Houston process destined to hire D’Antoni has been transformed into a two-candidate race.

    Silas was an assistant for the Warriors from 2006-10 and built a strong working relationship with two-time MVP Stephen Curry.

    Alexander has taken a significant role in the coaching search and has long admired D’Antoni.

  • How Bismack Biyombo saved the Eastern Conference finals

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    TORONTO – All around, they were standing and screaming inside the Air Canada Centre, celebrating the vanquishing of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time in the Eastern Conference playoffs. When the Toronto Raptors turned to congratulate the most improbable savior of the season, they found him crumpled on the court, gasping for air. Finally, Bismack Biyombo had been brought to his knees, with the Cavaliers’ Dahntay Jones walking briskly from the scene of the crime.

    “He hit me in the nuts,” Biyombo told The Vertical late Saturday night.

    In the final seconds of a 99-84 Game 3 victory for the Raptors, the Cavaliers had punctuated a nauseating night of basketball with a retaliation for a flagrant foul on LeBron James, the Mutombo-style finger pointing, the rejections at the rim, and a historic night of muscle and sweat and chasing down missed shots. Biyombo was a menace, and changed the course of these Eastern Conference finals. “Our lion,” Kyle Lowry told The Vertical.

    “Thank you,” he said.

    “Go watch Tyson Chandler. Rebound. Block shots. Run. That’s your bread and butter. Listen, Biz, I don’t know if anyone’s throwing you the ball in the post.”

  • Sources: Warriors pursuing Stephen Silas for top assistant job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    As his head-coaching candidacy invites deeper inspection from the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors have joined in the pursuit of Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Stephen Silas, league sources told The Vertical.

    Golden State requested permission from Charlotte on Friday to discuss the Warriors’ top assistant-coaching job with Silas, league sources said. The request is considered a formality, and Silas will have the opportunity to talk to the Warriors soon. Golden State could no longer wait until the end of the playoffs to secure Luke Walton’s replacement because of Silas’ growing candidacy in Houston.

    Silas was an assistant for the Warriors from 2006-10 and built a strong working relationship with two-time MVP Stephen Curry.

    Houston is contemplating the pairing of Silas with ex-NBA head coach Lionel Hollins as his top assistant, league sources said. Philadelphia 76ers associate head coach Mike D’Antoni has been a frontrunner for the Rockets’ job, but Houston is taking time to measure a D’Antoni-Jeff Bzdelik partnership against a possible Silas-Hollins pairing.

    Alexander has taken a significant role in the coaching search and has long admired D’Antoni.

     

  • Sources: Rockets bring in Stephen Silas for second interview

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Only one coaching candidate stands between the Houston Rockets and the start of contract talks with frontrunner Mike D’Antoni, league sources told The Vertical: Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Stephen Silas.

    Silas has a second interview with the Rockets on Thursday and will meet with owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey, league sources said.

    Silas, 42, made a strong impression on Rockets officials in his first interview and has a growing reputation in the league.

    While this is considered an interview for the head-coaching job, Silas isn’t the top assistant in Charlotte, and the Rockets could make a play to hire Silas to join D’Antoni as his top assistant, sources said. Patrick Ewing is the associate head coach in Charlotte, so it is conceivable – if Houston doesn’t want to usurp D’Antoni in the process – that the Rockets make a run at Silas to be the team’s top assistant coach.

    Houston has explored different staff combinations for D’Antoni, who is the associate head coach with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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  • Sources: Jeff Van Gundy out of running for Rockets job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    After weeks of an uneasy dance, there will be no Jeff Van Gundy reunion with the Houston Rockets, league sources told The Vertical.

    Van Gundy had serious interest in the Rockets’ coaching opening, but the process ended Tuesday without the two sides ever sitting down to talk, league sources told The Vertical.

    Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Mike D’Antoni has emerged as a frontrunner in the process, and the Rockets have been gauging possible top assistant coaches for D’Antoni’s potential coaching staff, league sources said.

    Rockets general manager Daryl Morey didn’t want to drag Van Gundy through an extended process that included interviews with multiple candidates, and ultimately decided that the organization wanted a different kind of a coach, sources said.

    Van Gundy, 54, coached the Rockets for four years and had two 50-plus win seasons before leaving in 2007. He continues to keep his home in the city.

    There had been significant support within the Rockets’ front office for a reunion with Van Gundy, but it became apparent that owner Leslie Alexander was uncertain about restoring the partnership, league sources said.

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  • Vertical Podcast with Woj: Kenny Atkinson

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson joins Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Atkinson details the challenge of taking over the rebuilding Nets and the emotion of returning to his New York roots for his first head-coaching opportunity in the NBA. Atkinson discusses his long-winding road from Long Island to the University of Richmond to the old Continental Basketball Association to a decade and a half of playing in far-flung European cities and towns.

    Atkinson also discusses his career crossroads, leaving the New York Knicks bench to join the Atlanta Hawks, where his head-coaching candidacy started to take shape. Atkinson grew up one of eight boys in a competitive sports family, sharpening his survival instincts and learning the value of relentlessness and tenacity.

    1:12: The emotion of becoming an NBA head coach in his home state.

    3:33: Building his staff as a first-time head coach and reaching out to players.

    6:43: The importance of international players and creativity in the team’s future with a lack of draft picks.

    8:39: Atkinson’s reputation for player development helping to attract players in free agency.

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  • Sources: Magic interview Frank Vogel and Adrian Griffin for coaching job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    The Orlando Magic are moving quickly in the their head-coaching search, completing interviews with the franchise's two top targets: Frank Vogel and Adrian Griffin.

    Griffin met with Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan on Tuesday in New York, and Vogel met with Magic officials on Monday, league sources told The Vertical.

    Vogel has met with three teams – Memphis, New York and Orlando – and has a serious interest in the Magic job, league sources said.

    The Orlando Sentinel first reported the Griffin interview on Tuesday.

    Griffin is a popular choice among many of the Magic players, earning the locker room's respect as the top assistant on former coach Scott Skiles' staff this season. Griffin was previously an assistant under Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls. Griffin offers the Magic continuity, an important commodity considering this core of players have had three different head coaches (Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego and Skiles) in the past two seasons.

    Indiana parted ways with Vogel after five seasons that included four trips to the playoffs and two appearances in the Eastern Conference finals.