NBA notebook: LeBron says play-in for playoffs is 'wack'

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LeBron James doesn't think the NBA playoffs should try to copy the do-or-die magic of the NCAA Tournament.

Asked about a rumored idea to add a play-in element for the bottom teams in the playoff race, James didn't mince words.

"That's wack. That's wack," James said to reporters at practice. "Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That's corny. That's corny. That's wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?"

The question stems from a report last month that there were behind-the-scenes discussions to add a play-in element, possibly one that would pit the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th place teams in a mini tourney.

--While the Kawhi Leonard saga drags on toward the end of the season, San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili is developing a feel for the situation.

And it isn't a good one for Spurs fans hoping to see the two-time All-Star back in uniform.

"He is not coming back," Ginobili told reporters. "For me, he's not coming back because it's not helping (to think Leonard is returning). We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he's not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn't be changing, at least until he is ready for the jungle."

--A former employee is suing the Atlanta Hawks, alleging the team discriminated against white employees and fired her when she complained.

Margo Kline, who worked for the NBA team for five years, filed the suit on Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. She alleges that Hawks external affairs director David Lee, who is black, promoted a culture of discrimination against white people, especially white women.

Kline, who is white, worked as a community development coordinator for five years before being fired in March 2017. She claims Lee was dismissive and exclusionary toward white employees and hired and promoted less qualified black employees. She said co-workers were told they risked their jobs by talking to Kline.

--Jeff Hornacek is probably coaching his last several games with the New York Knicks, according to the New York Times' Marc Stein.

Stein says it's likely new general manager Scott Perry will fire Hornacek, who has one year left on his deal, and hand-pick a new coach to lead the team next season. Hornacek is a holdover from Phil Jackson's days running the Knicks. Jackson and the Knicks parted ways over the summer after a disastrous three-season stretch.

One name that has popped up as a potential replacement is former Knicks point guard Mark Jackson. Stein also suggests former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, who has ties to new Knicks president Steve Mills, could be a candidate.

--Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton officially announced that he is declaring for the NBA draft.

The 7-foot-1 Ayton, who could be the No. 1 overall pick, made the announcement on his Twitter account: "I'm so blessed for the opportunity I had at Arizona, and I'm excited to announce I will be entering the 2018 NBA Draft!"

Ayton was named Pac-12 Player of the Year after averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. He shot 61.2 percent from the field, blocked 66 shots and recorded a school-record 24 double-doubles.

--Basketball legend Nancy Lieberman will take over as coach of the Power, the BIG3 league announced.

She'll be replacing former NBA great Clyde Drexler on the sideline, coaching a team of former NBA players Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson and Corey Maggette.

Lieberman, a Hall of Famer as a player, was an assistant coach for the NBA's Sacramento Kings from 2015-17. In 2009, she became the first woman to coach a men's professional sports team when she coached the D-League's Texas Legends.

--Brandon Jennings signed a second 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jennings played in in each of Milwaukee's four games since he signed his first 10-day contract on March 11, averaging 6.0 points, 5.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game.

In his first game on March 12 at Memphis, Jennings scored 16 points with 12 assists and eight rebounds. Jennings played in 291 total games with the Bucks in two previous stints -- 2009-10 and 2012-13 -- but began this season in China, playing for Shanxi Zhongyu.

--The Hawks signed rookie guard Jaylen Morris to a multiyear contract, the team announced.

The 22-year-old hasn't played since sustaining an ankle sprain March 11, but he did enough on a pair of 10-day contracts to earn a longer look with the team next season. Morris' second 10-day contract was set to expire on Wednesday.

The Molloy College product went undrafted in 2017 before joining the Hawks' G League Erie affiliate and averaging 12.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists while starting 39 games. He has averaged 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game in six contests with Atlanta.

--Field Level Media