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Both Raptors and Rockets have shown potential interest in hiring Ime Udoka for his coaching return – Basketball Insiders

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It seems we might have Ime Udoka courtside again very soon, as NBA teams are starting to pile up behind him to make his coaching return for the next campaign.

It has been reported lately that the Raptors and Rockets could be interested in the former Boston Celtics trainer, yet it still depends on how their current seasons finally play out. As Houston has no chances of making it to the playoffs, the Toronto squad is currently in standing 9th to qualify for the Play-in tournament.

Back in January, The Athletic’s Shams Charania was the first on the scene to report on the fact that Toronto is seriously considering letting go of coach Nick Nurse at the end of the current championship. Later it was NBA insider Steve Bulpett who mentioned that the Raptors administration had Udoka in mind as one of the main candidates to replace him.

So, yes, there is a long list of reports made by important journalists among the league who can clearly trace the link between both franchises and the former Celtics coach. However, as some believe Udoka’s return to the NBA is hard to imagine, other greats of the game have showed him support.

It wasn’t until San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich publicly showed some love to Ime after he was suspended for “violations of team policies”, that the press got serious about him coaching again. Let’s remember that the Spurs legend trained Udoka for three season in Texas, and also had him on his staff as an assistant for seven years.

“Ime was and is and always will be a great friend, and so you can imagine that I was deeply disappointed and hurt for him, for everybody involved,” he said Sunday, referencing Udoka’s polemic suspension. “It’s a difficult situation for him, and my hope is that he will bounce back and find a home.”

Take a look at this video to recap on what were the controversial reasons over why the former Boston boss was taken off his charge as head coach:

For now Houston seems to be more possible, as Stephen Silas is losing control of his squad

Even though Udoka isn’t their only candidate, as Houston has even considered hiring Toronto’s Nick Nurse, there is still lots to be settled before we can make any real assumptions. The truth is, it’s hard to imagine Stephen Silas coaching the Rockets any longer.

ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst recently revealed that the coach once cried out of frustration after a match because he felt that he couldn’t reach his players any longer. “Houston lost 18 of 19 games at one point and 11 straight games during another stretch,” the journalist said. “At one point, Silas broke down in tears because he felt he couldn’t reach his players.

“One of the team’s then veterans, Eric Gordon, said in January ‘there’s no improvement’ when summing up the state of the Rockets — not ideal for a young player trying to find positivity in early struggles.”

The Houston squad currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference with a depressing 18-58 record. As they’ve had no chance of entering the post-season, it’s no wonder they have started to look for a new coach already.



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Blake Griffin Announces Retirement After 15-Year NBA Career

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Six-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin announced his retirement from the NBA on Tuesday after a 15-year career. Griffin, 35, was selected No. 1 overall by the Los Angeles Clippers out of the University of Oklahoma in the 2009 draft.

During the 2009-10 preseason, Griffin suffered a season-ending left knee injury. Griffin came back the following season and won the 2010-11 Rookie of the Year Award and made the first of five straight All-Star appearances.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Clippers hold third-best odds to win the championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets.

The 6-foot-9 wing won the Slam Dunk Contest in 2011 after dunking over a parked car. Griffin was also selected to the All-NBA First Team after averaging 22.5 points, 3.8 assists, and career highs of 12.1 rebounds and 38 minutes per game.

The Oklahoma native repeatedly said in his Instagram post that he was “thankful” for his NBA career.

“The game of basketball has given me so much in life, and I wouldn’t change a thing. All of these experiences made my 14 years in the league truly unforgettable, and I can’t help but to just feel thankful,” Griffin said.

Blake Griffin finished third in MVP voting behind Kevin Durant, LeBron James in the 2013-14 season

In 765 career NBA games (692 starts), Griffin averaged 19 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 31.9 minutes per game while shooting 49.3% from the field, 32.8% from 3-point range, and 69.6% at the free throw line.

Griffin’s best NBA season was the 2013-14 campaign, when he averaged a career-high 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and career-best-tying 1.2 steals per game. He finished third in MVP voting behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

Additionally, Griffin played almost eight seasons (2010-18) with the Clippers, nearly four (2018-21) with the Detroit Pistons, about two (2021-22) with the Brooklyn Nets, and his last with the Boston Celtics in 2022-23.

The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Pistons during the 2017-18 season, just months after he signed a five-year, $171 million extension with the team.

After the Clippers drafted center DeAndre Jordan in 2008 and traded for Chris Paul in 2011, the team became title contenders with Griffin, making the era the most successful in franchise history.

Under then-coach Doc Rivers across seven seasons (2013-20), the Clippers went 356-208, winning 63.1% of their regular-season games — the fifth-best record in the NBA then and the best by any team without a conference finals appearance.

However, the Clippers still have yet to win a championship.



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Draymond Green hates the Play-in because ‘it’s the best thing’ the NBA created

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As the Warriors and Kings are getting ready for this Tuesday’s clash for a spot in the NBA Playoffs, Draymond Green gave his thoughts on the Play-in Tournament. Even though he’s not too happy with the fact that his team will have to fight their way into the postseason, he understands the positive impact that this new stage has made on the league’s competitiveness. 

The power forward shared what he thought about his team’s current state. “I hate the play-in, just so you all know. I absolutely hate it,” he said on this week’s episode of The Draymond Green Show. “It’s the best thing ever created. If you look at the play-in and what it’s done for basketball, it’s the best thing ever created.”

Golden State ended the 2023/24 season on a roll, but weren’t able to clinch a direct Playoff berth in a very contested Western Conference. However, with a 56.1 winning percentage, the Warriors became the best 10th-ranked team in NBA history.

The four-time champion went on to explain why he believes that Play-in stage was introduced to improve the level of competition and entertainment in the league, especially during the last month.

“Since the NBA has added the play-in, it’s taken the last month and a half of the season to a totally different level. Like, totally different,” Green expressed. “So, I hate the play-in. I especially hate being the 10 seed. But as much as I hate it, as a basketball player, as a basketball fan, this play-in is nuts, and you gotta love it.”

Just last season, as Sacramento made the Playoffs for the first time in 17 years, both squads faced each other in the first round but Golden State emerged victorious in a tight series. Now Mike Brown’s squad hopes to take revenge despite producing a much weaker campaign than they did last year.

“Well really, I’m happy with the way [the season] unfolded over the last couple of months,” Steve Kerr said after defeating Utah this weekend. “We were a little bit in disarray for a while early in the season, trying to find ourselves, and a lot of guys really stepped up not only on the court but off the court, in the locker room.”

The Warriors expect CP3 to become a leader with experience during their upcoming Play-in action

As Chris Paul just ended his 19th NBA season, he’s participated in 149 playoff contests throughout his career, wearing five different jerseys, although he’s never earned the league title.

Coach Kerr is well aware that his team possesses a lot of players with postseason experience, and he expects this will make the difference against a less mature Sacramento squad. Also, he doesn’t fear the Kings’ homecourt advantage as Golden State have a very strong road record this campaign.

“We should be a good road team,” he said after dispatching the Jazz on Sunday and closing regular season on a strong note. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have won championships – and veteran players like Chris, who are unfazed by the road.”

His teammate Draymond understands this will be a tight contest against Sacramento. “Us knowing them helps, but on the flip side they know us as well and that hurts,” he said. “Coaches are going to put a game plan together. Their coaches will put a great game plan together. Our coaches will put a great game plan together. But then you’ve got to go out there and play.”



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LaMelo Ball might consider wearing ankle braces to avoid future injuries

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Once a promising young star, LaMelo Ball has been limited to only 58 matches during the last two NBA campaigns due to ankle issues. The last time he played for Charlotte was back in January 26. This is why the point guard is again considering wearing protective braces to avoid future injuries. 

In other words, the 2022 All-Star is willing to leave vanity aside and do anything in his power to keep him healthy and on the court. “I’m going to see over the summer, try some stuff,” Ball said of the ankle braces. The player then added that if he can find something that feels good, then “we can go from there.”

Before the start of this season, Ball started wearing these braces in training during the summer, after three different ankle injuries took him away from the competition for long periods of time. This eventually resulted in surgery, and LaMelo insisted that he never found anything completely comfortable on his feet.

Now that the ankle is finally better, he’s concentrating on competing to his best and staying healthy throughout the summer. “My favorite thing to do is play basketball and to not be able to do it is just horrible,” the star said. “That fact that I got this summer (to be healthy), I’m going to take it and get it as strong I can to get out there and play.”

The 22-year-old is considered a sort of cornerstone for the Hornets, as he was doing great this season before he got injured again. The athlete, who signed a rookie max extension last offseason that will pay him up to $260 million over the next five years, was averaging 23.9 points, 8 assists and 5.1 rebounds per contest while shooting 36% from three-pointers.

The Charlotte administration is convinced that if they pair him up with Brandon Miller, who won three Rookie of the Month awards this season, they can finally make it to the playoffs after 8 years apart.

LaMelo is convinced that the Hornets have a great roster but “we just need everybody to be available to play,” which has been one of their biggest troubles in the past campaigns.

His teammates acknowledge that Ball takes the team to another level and needs to be on court as soon as possible

Nick Richards was the first to admit that the team isn’t the same without Ball on court. “He makes our team go,” said the Hornets center. “It’s really important for us to have him on the court.”

However, the 22-year-old isn’t the only star who has been sidelined due to injury this campaign. The Charlotte locker room also missed starting center Mark Williams and guard Cody Martin for long periods of time, while Gordon Hayward also struggled.

Now that the Hornets will have a new coach in town, as Steve Clifford is taking on a new administrative role, they hope the new energy around the squad brings better luck.

“LaMelo wants to be on the court,” said teammate Miles Bridges. “That’s what people think, that he doesn’t want to be on the court and just wants to wear his jewelry on the sideline. But he wants to be on the court and he wants to win. He knows how important he is to this organization and this is going to be a big summer for him.”



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