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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Steve Kerr Would Be a Smart Hire

Sunday afternoon, Peter Botte of the New York Daily News reported that Turner Sports analyst Steve Kerr met with Phil Jackson Friday night to discuss the Knicks head coaching vacancy. Of course, this is hardly a surprise. Kerr has long been thought of as the favorite for the job. Jackson has said that Kerr would’ve been his choice to coach, had he become the president of the new Seattle Supersonics. Now that he holds that title with the Knicks, Kerr is again his coach of choice.

Kerr has expressed a desire to get into coaching and has a good relationship with the master of zen. He’s articulate, intelligent and spends lots of time around the game calling not only NBA games, but March Madness as well. He even writes from time to time. But while Kerr is generally regarded as a smart basketball man, his hire would not be met with universal applause among the fan base. The former sharpshooting guard is not unfamiliar with day-to-day operations of an NBA franchise, thanks to his three years in Phoenix, but he has no prior coaching experience.

However, there is a recent precedent for coaches without any previous experience being successful. The Warriors took Mark Jackson off ESPN and gave him their head gig in 2011. While he’s come under scrutiny this year for his unimaginative offense and unwillingness to stagger his lineups, he’s also led the Warriors to their fifth 50-win campaign in franchise history and has a .526 winning percentage over three seasons. In Brooklyn, Jason Kidd has overcome a poor start to the season and led the Nets to the playoffs.

Last year, super-smart friend-of-the-blog Jared Dubin noted at Grantland that first time head coaches are slightly more successful than retread coaches. Retreads do better initially, but over time the first year coaches on average have a higher winning percentage. Of course, each situation is different and no two coaches are the same, but it’s clear that the Knicks don’t need to bring an experienced coach in order to be successful.

Kerr’s inexperience will also be less of a factor because of who works above him. Jackson spoke last week about him and Kerr sharing similar coaching philosophies. They have a good relationship and it can be anticipated that Jackson will be hands on in helping out his new coach. Jackson has said he won’t force his new coach to run the triangle, but he does believe in system basketball. Kerr’s experience playing under Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Cotton Fitzsimmons and Lute Olson won’t automatically make him a good coach, but it can’t hurt either. He is sure to have picked up a few things here and there that will be useful to him.

As general manager in Phoenix, Kerr generally did a good job in talent evaluation. His Shaquille O’Neal experiment failed miserably, as did his drafting of Earl Clark 14th overall (Once a Knick, Always a Knick!), but he did draft Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic. He also traded Boris Diaw and Raja Bell for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley. That move might seem insignificant now, but it worked out well for Phoenix. Both players were key contributors to the Suns improbable run to the Western Conference Finals in 2009. If hired by the Knicks, Kerr won’t have final say on personnel, but it’s encouraging to see that he’s had success in that department in the past.

Because he’s never coached before, Kerr’s coaching style and schematic philosophies are relatively unknown. Listening to him call a game on TNT doesn’t tell you much. However, Kerr was on the Below the Rim podcast with Brian Windhorst in early-March and gave some insight into his coaching philosophies.

When asked about Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek, Kerr likened himself to his former teammate.

“I think Jeff and I are a lot alike personality wise.” Kerr said. “I think I would have a similar demeanor to him on the sidelines and I think I see the game in a similar way.”

Windhorst noted how the NBA has shifted to a more offensive game with a greater emphasis on up-tempo play. He asked Kerr whether he’d have his teams playing up-tempo.

“I don’t think I would be seven seconds or less. I love watching the Pacers play. Maybe I’m in the minority.” Kerr said. “I like size. I like teams that can put two bigs on the floor and defend the paint and still stretch the floor offensively and put a good attack on the court at that end.”

It’s not surprising that Kerr isn’t a SSOL guy. In 2008, he and Mike D’Antoni clashed over philosophical differences. Ultimately, the situation resulted in D’Antoni leaving and joining the Knicks.

“I don’t believe in four guards and a big.” Kerr said. “I still believe in playing two bigs, but if you can have the type of versatility where you can accomplish both, I think everyone still wants to push the ball.”

For Kerr, the most important part of any offense is ball movement.

“But the biggest thing is ball movement on offense; forcing the defense to react and respond. I just hate isolation basketball. And so as a coach I would absolutely demand a lot of ball movement and spacing.” he said. “It’s why I love watching Dallas play and San Antonio and Portland. Those teams just flow and there’s a beauty to the game and that’s what I would aspire to as a coach.”

In hearing Kerr talk like this, you see where him and Jackson agree philosophically. The triangle is a system based around ball movement and having multiple players who can play in the post. It’s also an offense that emphasizes pushing the tempo. Jackson’s Laker teams of the 2000s played at an average pace of 95.21 possessions a game. That’s not blistering fast, but it certainly isn’t slow. It’s encouraging to hear Kerr talk about floor spacing. With defenses evolving schematically and players more athletic than ever, spacing the floor is monumentally important to any successful NBA offense. Of course, being around the game as much as he is, Kerr should understand this as well as anyone.

Even if Carmelo Anthony re-signs, the Knicks aren’t going to compete for a championship next season. In that regard, they’re well suited for a more inexperienced coach. Because Kerr has never coached before, there will be an adjustment period. That is especially true if he’s implementing the triangle; which is complex and takes a while to fully implement. However, assuming ownership doesn’t muck things up, Jackson will likely demonstrate patience with his new coach. He rebuilt the Lakers in the mid-2000s. He understands that building a championship team is a process. Jackson may be able to accelerate that process in the summer of 2015, but until then his hands are pretty much tied.

If the Knicks were right on the cusp of contending, the conversation would be different. But as is, the Knicks are a team that can afford to, and probably should, bring in a younger, inexperienced coach. And as Brooklyn did with Kidd, Jackson will likely surround his new coach with experienced assistants.

While Kerr was the general manager in Phoenix, Bill Cartwright was an assistant under both Terry Porter and Alvin Gentry. Cartrwright’s name is one that has been thrown out there in the Knicks coaching search. Of course, Cartwright was one of Jackson’s guys in Chicago. Whether Kerr and Cartwright have a close relationship is unknown, but the fact that they’ve at least been part of the same organization before is noteworthy. You get the feel that Kerr and Jackson just have great synergy, something that has obviously been missing in the Knick organization for a long time. There will be skepticism surrounding his hire, if it comes to fruition, but that’s true of nearly all coaches. He’s got a good relationship with Jackson and he’s a smart guy; he’s a good fit for the Knicks. And in Kerr’s own words, he “hates” isolation basketball. Even the biggest skeptics have to like that.

54 comments on “Steve Kerr Would Be a Smart Hire

  1. Farfa

    Yes, yes, yes. Nothing not to like in this post.

    Kerr won’t take us to the promised land by himself, but I bet he can do wonders for this organization.

  2. Nick C.

    Good post. Fleshes out some angles and insights on Kerr beyond the TNT announcer, played for Phil and Pop, Phoenix GM-Shaq disaster.

  3. Mike Kurylo

    Yeah, this is a great post. When faced with the unknown, it’s good to grab as much evidence as possible. Ironically with Mark Jackson everything pointed to failure (poor NBA defense as a player, poor ability to analyze games, dumb boxing metaphors), so it’ll be interesting to see how Kerr would fare in the NBA.

    Something I have to wonder out loud, why aren’t NBA teams scouring the world for good coaches? Surely there’s a coach in Europe (Obradovic?) that would be a great hire for a team thinking outside the box. Sure there are reasons a move like this could fail, but the upside is that you could have the next great NBA coach. Imagine how much value that could be to a good team to have a Popovich on the sidelines. Heck imagine if the Knicks had a coach of that caliber the last 2 years? Is this any more risky than hiring the next Budenholzer or Boylan? What am I missing?

  4. Farfa

    Heck imagine if the Knicks had a coach of that caliber the last 2 years? Is this any more risky than hiring the next Budenholzer or Boylan? What am I missing?

    I guess it’s just a case of “American exceptionalism” on display. I have seen firsthand the work of one of the finest coaches in the world (Ettore Messina, who was even an assistant on the Lakers bench three seasons ago, and helped develop the Ginobili you know now when Manu played here in Bologna) and there is no reason he couldn’t be a successful hire for NBA franchises.

    Just a caveat: I really doubt he (or Obradovic, or Pianigiani, or Ivanovic, or Ivkovic) would be a good hire for the Knicks now. At this point, there’s too much pressure to handle, and I’m not sure a foreign coach would get the benefit of the doubt if things wouldn’t work in his favor the first three months.

    Also, Budenholzer was never really a risk. He worked for Popovich for 17 years!

  5. Nick C.

    I don’t mean to be condescending but how fluent in English would a coach need to be? Over in MLB we have Carlos Beltran in calling for interpreters like the Japanese players have. I know we have European posters here, and cycling, Olympic sports interviews with Europeans can usually be done painlessly in English so perhaps the language barrier is in my imagination.

  6. Farfa

    Look at European rosters, they are full of players from all around the world… down here the coaches already speak in fluent English (maybe simplifying things a little so that a Spaniard, two Serbians, a Greek and a Swede can understand). I don’t think that would be a major barrier.

  7. hoolahoop

    I’d rather have Doc Rivers be Dolan’s new Isiah than PJ and Co.
    Point being that new opportunities always show up unexpectedly.

  8. Mike Kurylo

    I think “don’t fucking switch” is universally understood.

    Also unlike Americans, many Europeans actually learn a second (or third or fourth…) language, not just “it’s my fourth year in Italian and I can’t even put together a sentence, but I’ll still end up with a C so I can graduate.” Not every coach speaks English, but given the number of Americans playing abroad (combined with the above fact) I would bet there are a handful of good coaches that do and could make a difference in the NBA.

  9. Frank

    I think the culture of European basketball would not fly well over here — far more inmates running the ship here than in Europe.

    Messina was an assistant coach with the Lakers a few years back. D’Antoni was obviously a coach in Europe for years. So it’s not like it hasn’t happened.

    What I’m happiest about is that we seem very very unlikely to hire a retread. Phil is thinking outside the box, and I love that.

    And re: isolation ball – I’m sure no one hates an iso-fest more than the deadeye spot-up shooter who’s open and doesn’t get the ball…

  10. george from brooklyn

    Dear Taylor, Excellent piece ! This first year will be about ‘who” from a player perspective and a “culture” vantage point, than “who’s ” coaching. I believe that Jackson’s message is abundantly clear, “the culture here is not advantageous to winning, so it will change”. Kerr will, perhaps to fans dismay, have a year to get his coaching “legs”, while Jackson reworks the roster. I would not be surprised if Carmelo is not a part of this franchise going forward, despite what I think will be a heavy Dolan push-back. If Kerr or Phil decide, he’s not the guy, I think Derek Fisher would be an excellent #2 choice.

  11. Mike Kurylo

    I think the culture of European basketball would not fly well over here — far more inmates running the ship here than in Europe.

    I don’t know if that’s necessarily the problem. Seems to me a good coach that wins get accepted. Think D’Antoni in Phoenix. He seemed pretty awful in communicating things to players and his system was thought to be a novelty. But as long as he won games the players were happy. Ergo winning cures all.

    And if I worked for someone that resembled a kids toy who obviously was telling me and my team to do things that I knew was wrong and harmful to the company, yeah I’d slack off and look like a malcontent too. And if the media picked up on that, it would seem like the problem is me. Maybe the NBA’s coaching problem isn’t the players being hard to coach because they’re trained to be prima-donnas, but rather they see so many stupid coaches and are disillusioned at the system.

  12. Farfa

    Maybe the NBA’s coaching problem isn’t the players being hard to coach because they’re trained to be prima-donnas, but rather they see so many stupid coaches and are disillusioned at the system.

    You hit the nail in the head. The coaching “problem” stems from the same seeds that gave birth to many failed GM tenures: for a long, long period of time, connections and friendships were basic criteria in many front offices to find guys. That meant that there were too many “stupid” coaches who got around on the basis that they had “been there, done that” as players, and got their backs covered.

    We got so outraged here at KB all year with Woody’s shenanigans exactly for that motive. Players tuned him out because they perceived him to be… not so smart, but he stayed in his place thanks to his CAA connections. In the ’90s that happened a lot more.

  13. Frank

    Winning cures all, but what’s the saying again? Adversity doesn’t build character, it shows character? All teams will go through adversity eventually unless you’re Greg Popovich. We’ve seen with D’Antoni that he might be a smart guy but when things go downhill he cannot keep the ship from capsizing.

    Popovich and Phil and others are great because they are able to get players to believe. Now I’m sure you’ll say they always win, so of course everyone believes — but then of course there’s the chicken or the egg — do they win because they believe or do they believe because they win? Probably a bit of both.

  14. KnickfaninNJ

    Uh oh. Several quotes from Kerr that sound dangerously close to “the East is big, man…”

    I know what you mean, but I think there is room for Kerr’s philosophy without being Woodsonesque. After all, most of the title contenders this year don’t play small ball most of the time.

  15. stratomatic

    I think almost every coach in the NBA (including D’Antoni) would rather play with 2 big men. The problem is that there are very few skilled big men out there that are productive on both ends of the floor. Rather than play inferior players, modern coaches have tended to sacrifice interior defense and rebounding for better spacing and skill by putting the better all around player on the floor. That sometimes means playing an “Amare” or Bosh” type player at C and a skilled player with 3 point range at the PF. I’m sure D’Antoni would love to play Noah/Love or Noah/Dirk etc… together. He settled for Amare and Shawn Marion on the Suns because that’s what he had. In NY had had so little to work with he had Lee in the Amare role and played Wilson Chandler in the Marion role. I think he was fine with Chandler at C running P&Rs, but things didn’t work out because he had a certain star player that didn’t want to fit into his general style of moving the ball, running, and allowing the PG to dictate the action. Let’s hope the new coach has better luck getting his players away from isolation play because he at least seems smart enough enough to understand how bad it is in most instances.

  16. hoolahoop

    “But the biggest thing is ball movement on offense; forcing the defense to react and respond. I just hate isolation basketball. And so as a coach I would absolutely demand a lot of ball movement and spacing.” Kerr said.

    This is what I’ve been saying over and over again since the Melo trade.
    From Melo’s perspective, those words are likely very concerning, if not outright discouraging. I don’t think he’s a big believer in any system that doesn’t just hand him the ball to shoot as much as he wants.

    And from PJ and Kerr’s perspective, as much as they appreciate what an enormous scoring talent Melo is, they must be somewhat concerned whether he will fit their basketball philosophy.

  17. Frank

    From Melo’s perspective, those words are likely very concerning, if not outright discouraging. I don’t think he’s a big believer in any system that doesn’t just hand him the ball to shoot as much as he wants.

    You could easily have said the same thing about Kobe and MJ before Phil Jackson came. In fact, everyone did say the same thing.

  18. domiknick

    This is what I’ve been saying over and over again since the Melo trade.
    From Melo’s perspective, those words are likely very concerning, if not outright discouraging. I don’t think he’s a big believer in any system that doesn’t just hand him the ball to shoot as much as he wants.

    This strikes me as true too…until I think about Melo’s time with the Olympic team. In that “system” he not only cooperated, but from what I remember was quite successful. Now whether he’s willing to buy into a system only when he feels he has teammates with comparable talent-level is another thing. I’m sure it’s easier to buy into any system when the other players running it with you are Lebron & Co. versus Ray Felton & Co.

  19. swiftandabundant

    @20. True, people did say those things. Kobe, however, was only in his 3rd (?) season when Phil came to The Lakers. For Kobe it was more something people said about him later in that championship team’s run and after Phil left before he came back. And MJ was averaging like 32 points a game and The Bulls had gotten to the ECF without Phil.

    This will be different bc Phil is taking over The Knicks (maybe with Melo) when they are at the bottom, not when they are one step away from being a championship team. Its gonna require more patience and “buying in” from Melo. I honestly won’t have animosity towards him if he leaves for this reason. Its gonna be at least one season before we reload with another star or two and then you gotta figure its the year after that the team can really compete as it usually takes a season with new players to gel.

  20. hoolahoop

    You could easily have said the same thing about Kobe and MJ before Phil Jackson came. In fact, everyone did say the same thing.

    And even more to your point, Kobe and MJ didn’t seem to hold back much from taking their shots. On the other hand, I also think they were more willing passers than Melo, though he’s made some strides in that direction.

  21. hoolahoop

    This strikes me as true too…until I think about Melo’s time with the Olympic team. In that “system” he not only cooperated, but from what I remember was quite successful.

    Even on the All-star and Olympic teams, Melo was a gunner. In fact, pretty much, that’s all he was. A lot of spot up shooting. In a one, or several, game exhibition, against inferior teams that they’re beating, it doesn’t present a big problem. But, if it was an 82 game season, and they weren’t winning consistently, you can bet there’d be some fireworks in the locker room if Melo was going 10 for 24 night after night.

  22. Z-man

    Nice post!

    So, re;: Sterling, my take is that the NBA can’t directly take the franchise from him. However, they could cripple the viability of the franchise as follows:
    1) a hefty fine, in the tens of millions, based on the projected potential cost in lost revenue of the scandal, plus punitive damages
    2) All contracts signed by the organization and a second party become binding for the team, but give the other party the option to terminate as of the end of this season, starting with players and coaches. In other words, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have the option of becoming unrestricted FAs this off-season.
    3) Clips lose all retained draft picks for the next 5 years.
    4) Clips will not play on national TV for the next 5 years.
    5) The Clipper uniform or trademark will not appear in any NBA commercial for the next 5 years.

    All sanctions would be immediately rescinded if ownership is transferred prior to 5 years.
    4)

  23. lavor postell

    I really have no words for the whole Donald Sterling thing because the guy is a fucking asshole and this is finally a comeuppance for a guy who’s spent a lot of his life screwing over minorities. In addition to what Z-Man proposed as sanctions if the NBA added a clause so that the Clippers would not receive their share of national media contracts and revenues and it instead would be split among the rest of the teams. Once you cease to make the franchise a profitable enterprise it will affect Sterling. In soccer where racism is extremely prevalent, teams will forfeit a certain amount of seats for their next home game and in repeated instances may have to play in front of a completely empty stadium. How about limiting ticket sales to 1,000 per home game?

    It’s really irritating because this fucking clown is dominating the headlines when in reality all we should be talking about is an incredible first round that’s exceeded everybody’s expectations. It’s really commendable to me how Doc Rivers and the Clippers players have handled this situation and I hope that they receive support from Clippers fans and fans around the league.

  24. Kahnzy

    It’s really commendable to me how Doc Rivers and the Clippers players have handled this situation and I hope that they receive support from Clippers fans and fans around the league.

    I agree. I really like the Clippers team (ever since their 22pt 4th quarter rally against the Grizzlies in the 2012 first round), and even though I was already aware of what a douche nozzle Sterling is, I was still rooting for them. But now that this has been so front and center the past week, I’m personally finding it difficult to continue rooting for them. It’s hard to separate the team I like from the pile of shit that makes money from their success. On the one hand, I want to see them win, but on the other hand I don’t want to watch Donald Sterling get richer from an extended postseason run.

  25. stratomatic

    No one will probably agree with me, but I’d estimate it’s at least 25% that Sterling is in the early stages of dementia. It’s one thing for a wealthy man to pay for sex. It’s another thing when you are 81 and start giving away millions of dollars in gifts to some young woman you are calling your girlfriend. His wife is supposedly suing this young women to get the gifts back. That in itself might imply something is amiss because I can’t imagine she has much of a case unless there is something medically wrong with him. He also said on the tape he doesn’t care who she screws as long as she doesn’t show up with them in public. IMO that means he’s either on the other side of Alzheimer’s mountain or he doesn’t mind being an idiot as long as he’s not an idiot in public. The whole thing is too crazy for me to believe he’s a rational and mentally healthy guy.

    Trying to push certain minorities out of your apartments because you perceive it to be an economic advantage is scummy behavior, but it’s rational. None of this story is rational – at least what we know so far.

  26. Donnie Walsh

    Did Doc River’s really not know Sterling was a racist? A simple google search would have elicited such quotes as: “black tenants smell and attract vermin” and “Hispanics just drink, smoke, and hang around the building”.

  27. d-mar

    @29 well, Sterling is definitely a bigot, but I’m pretty sure those quotes came from a business partner, not him.

  28. stratomatic

    Did Doc River’s really not know Sterling was a racist? A simple google search would have elicited such quotes as: “black tenants smell and attract vermin” and “Hispanics just drink, smoke, and hang around the building”.

    Of course he knew it. I’d be willing to bet he also knows a lot of 80 year old black men and women that hate white people and call them all kinds of names (some may be his relatives).

    Privately, you accept that there are still people in the world that hate others based on their skin color or ethnic background and that people of former generations are less likely to have moved past their ignorance, experiences, and backgrounds. So you do what’s in your best interests. You take a great job. But when the crap hits the fan you express shock, outrage etc… and try to push the progress along faster.

  29. lavor postell

    Mike Scott is working the Pacers right now. 5-5 from three and 6-6 from the field for 17 points.

  30. d-mar

    I really thought that the Pacers would eventually get their shit together and at least find a way to get by Atlanta, but now I’m not so sure.

    Can you imagine them getting booed off of their home floor? Might be one of the all time low points for the franchise.

  31. johnlocke

    Re: sterling, the only thing worse than a racist is a rich, powerful one. There’s a long article back from 2009 depicting all his despicable racist and misogynistic behavior over the years. What this case shows is the power of video / audio to drive a story, drive the media and shape public opinion. Now sponsors are pulling out of the clippers org, the writing is on the wall for him bc greenbacks are now at risk for the owners…. In the end he’s still a billionaire but the players shouldn’t be forced to have to play for him

  32. dtrickey

    Excellent article. I always enjoy listening to Steve Kerr on telecasts, and it’s obvious he’s forgotten more about the game that what we will probably ever know. I wasn’t so warm on the idea of getting a rookie head coach with no coaching experience, but the article has got me liking the idea. I think the fact that Phil could essentially play a mentor role could be a huge advantage, especially given their familiarity and similar game philosophies. My only issue would be how does Kerr handle the big egos and can he keep players accountable. That’s where I see someone with more experience being a more suitable candidate. Watch this space I guess.

  33. DRed

    When we won as an 8 seed it was a strike year and we were better than our record. When Denver beat the sonics it was a shorter series and Mutombo went nuts. This is just a tremendous collapse.

  34. Kahnzy

    Really glad I’m not a Pacer fan tonight. Down 30 midway through the 3rd (haven given up 80! already), this team is imploding.

  35. Will the Thrill

    I am glad that I despised Hibbert already. I don’t think anyone is going to Hibbert’s bitch for a long time. Except for Hibbert himself.

  36. yellowboy90

    Why isn’t Carrol and Scott in for Antic and Mack? Antic is not that good and Hibbert is not even playing let Millsap guard West and Scott guard Cope.

  37. lavor postell

    I think Antic is in for some misguided reason to “protect the paint”. Unfortunately he’s defending David West who he has to respect out to like 18-20 feet. Budenholzer is really puzzling me with his rotations since they got up 30.

  38. johnno

    How bizarre is it that Hibbert, Mahinmi and Antic played a total of 48 minutes tonight and combined to score one point, grab 4 rebounds and block one shot?

  39. Kahnzy

    The Pacers just pulled a Knick. Fell behind by a huge amount, but then mount a tremendous rally that has you believing they’ll pull it off, only to come up short. They just dug themselves too deep a hole. Also, this one game has not changed the fact that Budenholzer is a very good coach despite the odd rotations in the 2nd half.

  40. lavor postell

    The funniest thing about this “comeback” the Pacers made is that you know Vogel isn’t playing that lineup again in the next game unless they get down 30 again. Also Stephenson epically failing on an uncontested layup and then absolutely bricking 2 free throws was very satisfying.

  41. BigBlueAL

    In 1999 the Knicks as the 8th seed were 27-23 which over an 82 game season is 44 wins so they werent exactly a bad 8th seed (the exact same roster won 50 games the next season over 82 games). Plus the Heat as the 1 seed were only 6 games ahead of the Knicks in the standings so that wasnt a typical 1 vs 8 matchup.

  42. Dudley

    About Cope…
    It appears the Free Cope movement might have a renaissance. While he shot against the Hawks tonight a pedestrian 2-7 (2-6 from 3), he had +17 and 3 blocks in 20 minutes. That +17 tied for 2nd in the game with Mike Scott (of the Hawks).

    I think with Hibbert stinking up the house. It could be that the Pacers will try this small lineup like at times the Knicks did last year at the end of the season (at times Copeland was the 5). I’m loving it. Thought it was sort of a waste that Cope signed with the Pacers then just was placed on the bench like end of bench. What a waste. He’s a legitimate starter in this league, and I am glad he might be able to prove that again.

  43. Kahnzy

    He’s a legitimate starter in this league, and I am glad he might be able to prove that again.

    I don’t know if I’d go that far. Don’t get me wrong, I miss me some Cope, but he’s no “legitimate starter.” Legitimate scorer off the bench for 15min a night? Totally. He’s to the Pacers what Cole Aldrich was to us this season: a useful bench player that really should have been getting 10-15 min a night.

  44. Donnie Walsh

    Why isn’t Carrol and Scott in for Antic and Mack?

    Remember, the Hawks spent the better part of March and April in full on tank mode. It’s not that easy to just turn it off!

  45. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, in the history of #1 seeds upsetting #8 seeds, this would probably be the second-most embarrassing upset of all-time.

    The Knicks are the least embarrassing, as that was a weird season and the Heat knew very well that the Knicks were not a bad team, hence them trying to avoid the Knicks at the end of the season.

    The Spurs and the Grizzlies were embarrassing, but the Grizzlies did win 46 games, which is no joke.

    #2 on the list is tricky. The Sonics and Nuggets had a bigger win disparity than the Hawks and Pacers (which is astonishing, since the Pacers were under .500) and they were also the first #8 seed to lose in the first round, so that’s extra points for embarrassment. However, I think that the short series is enough to give them a break from being the second-most embarrassing upset, as who is to say that Seattle wouldn’t have won the last two games if that series had gone 7? That was the whole point of going to seven game series, to prevent fluky results in the first round.

    So with that in mind, I think that the Pacers losing to the Hawks would be the second-most embarrassing first round upset in NBA history.

    The most embarrassing upset, though, still belongs to the 2007 Dallas Mavericks, who won 67 games (thus having the largest win disparity between them and the team they lost to) plus the League MVP on their team and still lost to the #8 seeded Warriors.

    The Pacers can take some solace in knowing that three of those four teams went on to an NBA Finals within four years of them being upset. Having the talent to get to #1 in your conference is typically a better sign of the quality of your team than losing in the first round one year.

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