All eyes are on the huge Game 7 between the Heat and the Celtics Saturday night, but the rest of the league isn’t quiet either. Here’s a roundup of the latest news from the NBA:
- Stan Van Gundy defended Erik Spoelstra pretty vehemently on the Dan LeBatard Show in Miami yesterday. In response to Chris Broussard of ESPN saying Spoelstra is in over his head, Van Gundy said “My first thought is that Chris Broussard has no knowledge of coaching and wouldn’t know it if he saw it. I’d like to get some specifics from Chris on what he thinks coaching is … and what’s not happening.” Van Gundy added, on the coaching matchup between Spoelstra and Doc Rivers, “Erik hasn’t won, so people go into the series assuming there’s a great coaching advantage, which there is not. And because they have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, it’s on Erik.” If Spoelstra and the Heat win tonight, they’ll move on to face Scott Brooks, another coach who hasn’t won a championship, and the Thunder. Van Gundy commented on that potential coaching matchup as well: “To me, that’s what it’s all about. Once you’ve won a championship, then you’re immune to any criticism. You cannot make a bad coaching move. Anything you do is fine. And it’s something else. Until you win a championship, then it’s the coach’s fault. So if Scott Brooks now wins a championship this year, which he very well could do obviously, then all of the sudden he’ll be immune from all that criticism.”
- Chris Bosh wasn’t expecting to start tonight, according to an AP report. But after playing 28 minutes in the Heat’s crucial Game 6 win, expect him to get a lot of time. Erik Spoelstra will announce his lineup later tonight, closer to game time.
- From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, we’ve got the news that Larry Bird plans to make Kevin Pritchard the new Pacers GM. Pritchard, the Pacers director of player personnel, has long been a Bird favorite. This means the end of David Morway’s time as GM in Indiana. Yannis Koutropis at HoopsWorld writes: “Pritchard and Bird’s relationship dates back to their playing days. Pritchard played with the Boston Celtics for a short stint during Bird’s final season in 1991-1992. They teamed back up last year as Bird brought Pritchard in to work with Morway, a former player agent who never formed the same type of bond with Bird. It was very clear almost instantly that Pritchard had no interest in trying to work with Morway. Despite Morway’s best efforts to work together cohesively, Pritchard consistently went behind his back to Bird and owner Herb Simon in attempts to cut him out of the picture according to sources. Pritchard was the catalyst behind the George Hill and Leandro Barbosa trades.”
- Shane Battier’s trying to “get one for Duke,” says Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida: “Talked to Shane Battier about Duke curse of having few NBA champions & he said, “I’m looking to get one for Duke.” The only Duke alums with NBA title rings are Jeff Mullins with 1975 Warriors and Danny Ferry with 2003 Spurs. Neither started. Battier is currently starting for Miami so he could become first Duke alum who started a Finals game to have won a title. “That’s a good carrot for me,” Battier said with a laugh. “
- The choice for Tim Duncan when his contract expires July 1 is going to come down to retirement or a “workable deal” to stay with the Spurs, writes Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation. Duncan, McDonald says, “isn’t playing anywhere else” and it’s going to come down to whether he wants to put himself through another NBA season or “eat red meat and play Call of Duty.”
- Pretty much everyone thinks Anthony Davis is going #1 to the Hornets in the draft. But Thomas Robinson isn’t conceding that. “If you want to check the stats, then I’d be the number one pick, easily. If that’s what you want to do,” Robinson said to Michael Lee of the Washington Post. In our Mock Draft 2.0, Robinson is going #5 to the Kings, but he’s also an option for his hometown Wizards at #3. “It would be great to go back home and to hold my city down. To be back where it all started would be great for my family. I wouldn’t have to move my family around a lot,” he says.
- Some quick draft hits from Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: Dion Waiters may have struck a deal with a lottery team, as he didn’t stick around long after the weights and measures section of the combine. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is working out for the Bobcats sometime next week, and the Raptors reportedly really like Austin Rivers. Take that for what it’s worth.
- The Bulls worked out Harrison Barnes, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. This is particularly interesting because Barnes is projected as a top ten pick, and the Bulls would need to trade up to get him. Keep an eye on this.
- Brian Hamilton, also from the Tribune, says Jared Sullinger is okay with being called a sleeper, but after the combine, he might be on a lot of teams’ radars. Sullinger’s standing vertical reach came in at 8’11, just one inch lower than Anthony Davis’.
- From Jorge Sierra at HoopsHype: A nice list of how much money each GM has spent in the last five years, and what they’ve gotten out of it.
- The NBA’s already counted out the Celtics, as evidenced by “Beat the Heat” shirts advertised for sale in the NBA store with the Thunder logo on them.
Dan Malone just completed his sophomore year at University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is spending the summer in Baltimore, where he covers the Single-A minor-league baseball team the Aberdeen IronBirds for OriolesHangout.com. He will be blogging for SheridanHoops this summer.