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Grizzlies interview Patrick Ewing for head-coaching vacancy

Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Patrick Ewing has interviewed for the head-coach opening with the Memphis Grizzlies, a source confirmed Friday to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Ewing, the legendary Hall of Fame center, met with the Grizzlies on Thursday. CBS Sports reported the news earlier via Twitter.

The Sacramento Kings reportedly also interviewed Ewing this week before hiring Dave Joerger, who was fired last week by the Grizzlies after three seasons as their coach.
Sources close to the situation confirmed to ESPN that a divide between Joerger and the Grizzlies’ front office had been growing for some time.

Ewing has been an assistant for four teams over the past 13 seasons and has spent the past three seasons as an associate head coach for Charlotte, which lost to the Miami Heat in seven games in their first-round playoff series.

Before this week, Ewing had interviewed for just two head-coaching positions. He turned down an opportunity to coach the Knicks’ D-League team in 2012.

The Grizzlies stumbled into the playoffs after ending the regular season with a 3-14 stretch to finish 42-40 as the No. 7 seed in the West. They were then swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.

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Mark Cuban criticizes refs during game vs. Warriors via Twitter

Mark Cuban has been famously outspoken with criticism of officiating during his tenure as owner of the Dallas Mavericks, but his real-time ripping of a referee Friday night was a first for him.

Cuban fired off a critical tweet after Mavs center Salah Mejri was called for a travel in the second quarter of a 128-120 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Cuban, who did not travel with the Mavs on the four-game road trip, followed up with a tweet that criticized the NBA’s referee management team.

Cuban, who has paid seven figures worth of fines from the NBA office for criticizing officiating over the years, also tweeted several times on the topic after the Mavs’ loss Wednesday to the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Joe Johnson signs with Miami Heat after clearing waivers

The Miami Heat have signed former All-Star guard Joe Johnson.

Heat owner Micky Arison announced the news on Twitter
Several playoff teams pursued Johnson, but the Heat clearly moved to the front of his wish list.

Johnson cleared waivers Saturday at 5 p.m. ET after negotiating a contract buyout with the Brooklyn Nets. Sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks were the other finalists on Johnson’s list, but all signs pointed to Johnson choosing Miami.

“To put somebody on the floor that can shoot the ball, can score in different areas of the floor and make plays, just adds to what we’re trying to do,” Dwyane Wade said after Miam’s 101-89 loss in Boston. “Joe is a friend of mine. I tried to do my best to paint the picture that this is a good place to be, and the decision from there is his. Make sure he sees my name in his inbox a lot.”

Johnson averaged 11.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists for the Nets this season on 40.6 percent shooting overall and 37.1 percent from 3-point range.Before negotiating a buyout with the Nets, the 34-year-old Johnson was making $24.9 million this season in the final year of a mammoth six-year, $124 million deal that was the league’s largest at the time when he signed it in 2010.

Miami has two available roster spots after making trades last week that moved its payroll back under the league’s punitive luxury tax line.

By shedding what essentially were the original salaries for Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, the Heat are in position to avoid the dreaded repeater tax status that would drastically hinder their ability to execute sign-and-trade deals and would also make it far more expensive to sign free agents.Although there are complicated alternatives within the league’s rules, signing Johnson prior to March 10 — or adding any player who shakes free after being bought from a current team by Tuesday — could throw the Heat back above the luxury tax line.

For that reason, Heat president Pat Riley acknowledged being in a bit of a dilemma when he met with reporters late Thursday. By waiting several days as part of a loophole to maintain future flexibility, the Heat would miss out on adding a player such as Johnson. By adding help now in a player such as Johnson, it would provide a major boost to an injury-ravaged roster that is fighting to remain in position for one of the top four playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat still aren’t certain if leading scorer Chris Bosh will return this season as he continues to seek treatment options for an undisclosed medical condition that has sidelined him since Feb. 9. Reserve guard Tyler Johnson underwent shoulder surgery earlier this season, and Miami announced Friday that backup point guard Beno Udrih had season-ending foot surgery.

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Stephen Curry breaks NBA record for most 3-pointers in a season

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry entered the record books twice on Saturday night, breaking the NBA single-season mark for 3-pointers and tying the mark for most 3-pointers in a game in a 121-118 overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Curry held the previous single-season record of 286, which he set last season, and now has the three highest single-season totals in NBA history. He has 288 3-pointers so far this season.

“I never would have thought at this point in the season I would be closing in on 300 and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve always tried to push the envelope and keep getting better, but a lot has to go right to get to this point.”

Curry made 12 of his 16 3-point attempts against the Thunder, tying the mark for most 3s in a game held by Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall.

Curry rolled his ankle at 10:29 in the third quarter and missed five minutes to have it retaped. After re-entering the game, he scored 31 of his 46 points in 18:18 of action, shooting 9-of-15 from the floor, including 8-of-11 from 3-point range.
“It was a little nerve-racking,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I was OK. I had to get it retaped. It was painful.”

His final 3-pointer was especially dramatic, a 32-foot shot that broke a 118-118 tie with 0.6 seconds left in overtime to give Golden State the win.

Curry’s incredible flurry had NBA stars, past and present, buzzing on social media.Curry is shooting 50 percent (11-of-22) on shots from 30 feet and beyond this season, easily the best percentage of any player with at least five attempts. His 11 makes from that distance are the most this season; no other player has more than two, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Curry also became the first player in NBA history to make at least 10 3-pointers in consecutive games. He made 10 of 15 attempts Thursday against the Orlando Magic.

The Warriors are 53-5 after the victory and one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls’ 1995-96 pace toward a record 72 wins.

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Clippers get Jeff Green in deal with Grizzlies

The Los Angeles Clippers have acquired forward Jeff Green from the Memphis Grizzlies for Lance Stephenson and a future first-round draft pick, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Marc Stein.

The draft pick, sources say, is a heavily protected 2019 first-rounder but ensures that Memphis acquires an asset for Green, who can become a free agent in July.

Green gives Los Angeles another potential floor-spacer for the playoff drive.
The trade, sources said, was submitted by the teams to the league just before the 3 p.m. deadline.

The Clippers had been a target of speculation this month, with some wondering whether they would keep their nucleus of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan together. After Griffin was involved in a fight with a staffer and suspended, his name came up in trade rumors, but it appears the Clippers opted to complement their core rather than blow it up.

Stephenson is averaging 4.7 points per game this season, his first with the Clippers. Green is averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

The trade was Memphis’ second this week with an emphasis on the future. The Grizzlies also acquired four future second-round picks as part of Tuesday’s three-team swap with Charlotte and Miami that landed swingman Courtney Lee with the Hornets.

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Gilbert Arenas Asks Lakers For 10-Day Contract To See Kobe’s Last Game Courtside

Gilbert Arenas has more than enough money to live off that he never has to pick up a basketball again but apparently that money couldn’t get him a courtside ticket to watch Kobe Bryant’s last game so he’s willing to get back on the court to do so.

The NBA player turned Instagram comedian took to his account and proposed a deal to the Los Angeles Lakers; sign him to a 10-day contract, specifically April 3rd-13th so he can be courtside to watch Kobe’s last game.

He doesn’t want just any bench seat though; he joked on a few of the Lakers players including Metta World Peace, Nick Young and Roy Hibbert about not wanting their seat or not wanting to sit next to them.

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Russell Westbrook wins second straight All-Star Game MVP award

For the second straight year, Russell Westbrook took home NBA All-Star Game MVP honors in the Western Conference’s record-setting 196-173 win over the East on Sunday night.
In an edition that toppled last year’s mark for total points, the Oklahoma City Thunder guard poured in a team-high 31 points and filled up the rest of the stat sheet with eight rebounds and five assists and steals apiece in only 22 minutes.

Westbrook told ESPN’s Sage Steele after the game that he was surprised to win the award.

“I was honestly surprised I won it again,” Westbrook said. “I was very surprised to have my name called.

“I’m happy and blessed to be in the game again and for the opportunity.”

Westbrook garnered six of a possible 12 MVP votes, with Indiana Pacers forward Paul George and Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant — playing in his 18th and final All-Star Game — each taking two. Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry each earned one. All of Westbrook’s votes came from media voters, while both of Bryant’s votes originated from the Twitter fan vote, of which there were three.

George scored a game-high 41 points, burying nine 3-pointers, and fell two points shy of breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star record of 42 points.

In last year’s 163-158 West win in New York, Westbrook registered 41 points as a reserve and set an All-Star Game record for points in a half by scoring 27 in the first half.

Westbrook is the first player in All-Star Game history to win outright back-to-back MVP awards. He joins Bob Pettit as the only players in All-Star Game history to win twice in a row, but Pettit won the award in 1958 and shared it with Elgin Baylor in 1959.

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Klay Thompson burns nets, Curry on way to 3-point contest crown

TORONTO — Klay Thompson did what few teams have done this season.

He beat Stephen Curry.

The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest title was passed along from one “Splash Brother” to another, as Thompson beat his Golden State Warriors teammate and the defending champion with a dazzling display on NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Thompson finished the final round with 27 points, four more than Curry managed as, once again, the title came down to the two Golden State sharpshooters.
“We love to shoot against each other,” Thompson said. “You know, I’ve never been on a team with someone who shoots it better than me, so it’s a privilege to work with him every day. He makes me that much better.”

Phoenix’s Devin Booker was third, with 16 points in the final round. He beat the Rockets’ James Harden and J.J. Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers to get out of the first round, while the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, Trail Blazers’ C.J. McCollum and Bucks’ Khris Middleton were eliminated early.

As many had expected, it came down to Curry and Thompson.

Curry shot before Thompson in the final round, making his first seven shots and putting up 23 points — which, to that point, was the best score of the night. Shooters got one point for making a conventional 3-pointer and two points for using a multicolored “money ball.”

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to make shots,” Curry said. “Just like in a game.”

So the pressure was on Thompson, and he delivered.
Here’s how good Thompson was in the finals: He had two different streaks of eight consecutive makes. Thompson was 19-for-25 in the final round and 18-for-25 in the first, putting him at 74 percent on the night.

That’s what it took to beat Curry, who set the NBA single-season record with 286 3-pointers last season and is on pace to obliterate that mark this season. He’s already at 245, and the Warriors have 30 games remaining.

Really, the only title Curry probably wants to defend is his NBA championship anyway. He and Thompson have helped the Warriors get off to a 48-4 start this season, making them the heavy favorites to repeat.

“Back-to-back years for the ‘Splash Brothers,'” Thompson said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Curry, the reigning NBA MVP, put together the second-longest streak of made triples in 3-point contest history with 13, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Meanwhile, Karl-Anthony Towns proved that the big men are back at NBA All-Star Weekend. The Minnesota Timberwolves rookie center beat Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, further validating the evolution of the big man from a plodding post player to a playmaking force.
In the first year that frontcourt players were allowed to compete against the guards in the event that puts a premium on ballhandling, passing and perimeter shooting, Towns beat Golden State’s Draymond Green and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins in the big men side of the bracket before edging Thomas in the finals.

“I’m glad I was able to help the bigs come out with this trophy,” said Towns, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft. “This is bigger than me. This is for all the bigs out there, with the game changing the way it is, to show that bigs can stand up with guards and skill-wise.”
It has been four years since the NBA decided to eliminate the center position on the All-Star ballot in response to the dearth of talent at the position and the evolution of the game from post-centric offenses to pace and space.

With his ability to handle the ball, shoot the 3 and make the extra pass, Towns is the epitome of the improving big man. But heading into the competition, there were doubts that the big fellas could keep up with the small fries. Even Towns’ teammate, point guard Ricky Rubio, joked last week that he had no chance.

“I like proving people wrong, so I’m glad I was able to make a lot of people wrong,” Towns said. “I was able to make critics wrong, Vegas wrong, Ricky Rubio wrong. So I’m just so ecstatic right now.”

The course required players to weave through some obstacles, throw a pass through a target, dribble the length of the court for a layup and then make a 3-pointer.

After Towns hoisted the trophy, Green, Davis and Cousins joined him on the podium to celebrate.

It has already been a banner weekend for the young Wolves. Zach LaVine won the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest in addition to MVP of the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night in a game that also featured Canadian star Andrew Wiggins scoring 29 points.

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David Blatt fired as Cavaliers coach; Tyronn Lue to take over team

David Blatt’s second NBA season seemed to be going better than his first. Now, it’s over.

Blatt was fired Friday by the title-chasing Cleveland Cavaliers and replaced by top assistant Tyronn Lue, according to general manager David Griffin.

Blatt had guided Cleveland to the NBA Finals last year, and the Cavs had the Eastern Conference’s best record (30-11) midway through this season, but in discussing the coaching change during a news conference late Friday afternoon, Griffin cited “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.””What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, a collective will,” Griffin said. “Elite teams always have that, and you see it everywhere. To be truly elite, we have to buy into a set of values and principles that we believe in. That becomes our identity.”

While acknowledging his 24 years spent working in the NBA in varying capacities, Griffin said of the Cavaliers: “I have never seen a locker room not be as connected after wins as they need to be. We’ve only been galvanized when expectations were not high.”

Griffin confirmed that Lue, who was a top candidate for the job in 2014 when it went to Blatt, will not have an interim tag and will be the full-time coach. Lue agreed to a deal that will pay him $3 million prorated this season and $3 million next season, with a team option for a third year at $3.5 million with a buyout, a source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

“I am more than confident that he has the pulse of our team and that he can generate the buy-in required to start to refine the habits and culture that we’ve yet to build,” Griffin said.
Griffin did meet with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who supported the move to fire his third coach in four seasons.

“Over the course of my business career I have learned that sometimes the hardest thing to do is also the right thing to do,” Gilbert said.

Blatt thanked the Cavaliers in a statement released by his agency earlier Friday.

“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Blatt said in the statement. “I’d like to thank (owner) Dan Gilbert and David Griffin for giving me this opportunity and am honored to have worked with an amazing group of players from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love through our entire roster. I’d also like to express my extreme gratitude to my coaching staff. I am indebted to them for their professionalism, hard work, loyalty and friendship. I am proud of what we have accomplished since I have been the Head Coach and wish the Cavaliers nothing but the best this season and beyond.”NBA coaching sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein that Blatt is intent on coaching in the league again as opposed to immediately returning to the European game, where he was one of the most successful coaches in its history.

James, meanwhile, was informed of the team’s decision to fire Blatt on Friday, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Although James’ fondness for Lue and his desire to be coached by a former player were well-known throughout Cleveland’s organization, James was not directly consulted Friday on the Cavs’ decision to fire Blatt, sources said.

Griffin confirmed that the decision was his alone.

“I didn’t talk to any of the players before this decision,” Griffin said. “It’s really critical to me for everybody to understand this is my decision. This is our basketball staff’s decision. … I’m not taking a poll.”

A team source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Blatt’s firing means “everyone is in the crosshairs right now.”

A source also told McMenamin that Lue was a natural choice for the position because his influence within the Cavs was already pronounced from his assistant position. Lue was the highest-paid assistant coach in the league.

“I think it was pretty evident,” the source said. “All the guys went to him for everything anyway.”

A former assistant coach with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, Lue played 11 seasons in the NBA after being a first-round pick of the Denver Nuggets. Griffin noted the history of great coaches whom Lue played under, including Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Van Gundy.Rivers said he had mixed emotions about the Cavs’ moves.

“Blatt’s a heck of a coach and is doing a heck of a job,” he said. “He had the most scrutinized job that you could possibly have. I think the reward for coaching LeBron is you get scrutinized. It really is. It’s hard. You have a great record, the best in the East, and you get fired for it. Unfortunately, being in this as long as I’ve been in it, you see it all the time. It’s happened to me. It’s tough. I’m happy for Ty, but not this way. It’s the life of a coach in it and the guy on the sideline like I am. It’s a tough one.”

The Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle, president of the NBA Coaches Association, said Blatt’s firing made him “embarrassed for our league.”

Blatt’s firing comes one day after he became defensive before a win over the Clippers. He was bothered by criticism he and the team received after their 34-point loss to the Warriors on Monday.

“I hear a lot of far-reaching conclusions, and personally, I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do about it because I’m not the one that’s saying or doing those things,” Blatt said. “I think this team has done pretty well dealing with the adversity that we’ve had. I think this team is in pretty good position, although people choose to overlook that, which I don’t think is fair.”

Even though Cleveland started the season without Irving and Iman Shumpert for the first two months because of injuries and had Timofey Mozgov (knee) and James (back) at less than 100 percent coming out of training camp, Blatt’s second campaign was going better than his first, when he struggled to adapt to the NBA game after his stint in Europe.

However, there was an apparent disconnect between Blatt and his players.

Sources told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that many Cavs players, especially the veterans, felt that Blatt was in over his head as coach and questioned whether he knew the league well enough to lead them to a championship.

Blatt leaves the Cavaliers, his first NBA coaching job, with an 83-40 record. His .675 winning percentage was the best of any coach in franchise history. Cleveland lost to Golden State in the NBA Finals in Blatt’s first season and James’ return to the Cavs.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Blatt is the first head coach since conferences began in 1970-71 to be fired when his team has the best record in its conference. But Griffin said the move was based on “measuring more than wins and losses.”

“This is not an indictment of David Blatt as a coach,” Griffin said of the firing. “And it’s not to say that Ty Lue is a better basketball coach. He’s a better basketball coach for this team today.”

Lue will make his debut as Cavaliers coach Saturday when Cleveland hosts the Chicago Bulls (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

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Sources: Nets have strong interest in Tom Thibodeau as coach

The Brooklyn Nets have strong interest in former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in their search for a new coach, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets, while in the early stages of a search for both a new lead executive and a new coach in the wake of ousting general manager Billy King and Lionel Hollins, are likely to pursue Thibodeau once they can secure a successor to King.
ESPN.com reported Wednesday that Bryan Colangelo, the former Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns general manager, has emerged as a serious candidate for King’s position. Another prominent name mentioned in recent days for the GM vacancy is former Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry.

The Nets also have been linked strongly to Kentucky coach John Calipari, largely because of Calipari’s strong ties to Brooklyn CEO Brett Yormark, but there is a growing sense in league circles that team owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to hire established NBA names with considerable experience in the league.

Because of that, the appeal of Thibodeau is obvious. As perhaps the most accomplished coach available, Thibodeau posted a record of 255-139 (.647) during his five seasons in Chicago. The Bulls made the playoffs in all five of those seasons, advancing as far as the Eastern Conference finals. Thibodeau was fired after the Bulls were eliminated in the East semis last season.

Tony Brown is currently serving as the Nets’ interim coach.

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