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Sunday, May 29, 2011
McHale set for Rockets
HOUSTON — A person familiar with the situation says the Houston Rockets are close to hiring Kevin McHale as their new coach.
The person says the team is negotiating a contract with McHale. The person spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet complete.
McHale would take over for Rick Adelman, who left the team days after his fourth season in Houston.
McHale, a Hall of Fame player for the Boston Celtics, spent 15 years with the Timberwolves in his native Minnesota. He was let go in 2009 and has recently served as a TV analyst.
The 53-year-old McHale would become Houston's third coach since 2003, when Rudy Tomjanovich stepped down for health reasons. Jeff Van Gundy coached the team from 2003-07, taking the Rockets to three playoff appearances.
Houston has missed the playoffs the last two years as it dealt with injuries that have limited All-Star center Yao Ming to just five games since the 2008-09 season. That year, Houston reached the Western Conference semifinals, breaking a streak of seven consecutive first-round exits for the franchise.
Yao's contract expires this summer, but he has said he hopes to continue playing for the Rockets when he recovers from the stress fracture to his left ankle.
McHale's time as an executive in Minnesota was highlighted by drafting Kevin Garnett out of high school in 1995. Other moves and draft decisions didn't go over as well with fans and he began to draw criticism.
McHale's first coaching experience came when he took over the Wolves for the last 31 games of the 2005 season after he fired Flip Saunders. He went back to the front office after that before returning to the position in 2008 after Randy Wittman was fired.
He went 20-43 after taking over that season before the Timberwolves let him go.
McHale was the third overall pick in the 1980 draft, won three championships with the Celtics and was named one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time in 1996.
Pippen praises LeBron
CHICAGO — As if the Bulls losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals wasn't enough, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen has added to Chicago's pain by suggesting that LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan.
Pippen stirred the pot in an interview with ESPN radio on Friday morning, saying Jordan "is probably the greatest scorer to play the game" but James "may be the greatest player to ever play the game."
That set off an explosion on Twitter.
Pippen responded first by posting, "For all of you that don't know, I played the game you keep watching and cheering." He softened his stance later, writing: "Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday."
Jordan and Pippen won six championships with the Bulls in the 1990s. James moved a step closer to his first title when the Heat knocked out Chicago on Thursday, setting up a matchup with Dallas.
Revenge not the issue
DALLAS — Back in the NBA Finals, back to trying to beat the Miami Heat.
Pretty wild how things have worked out for the Dallas Mavericks, isn't it?
"It doesn't really matter that much to me," Dirk Nowitzki said Friday.
"No thought whatsoever," echoed Jason Terry.
Oh, well. So much for the story line of the 2011 Mavs seeking redemption for 2006. If the only two holdovers don't care, nobody else should.
The message Nowitzki and Terry are sending is this club is focused on beating whatever team the NBA playoff bracket throws their way.
They've already gone through LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the Lakers and Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
So, for their final act, they might as well get the team everyone's been talking about since last summer — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a Miami franchise that coincidentally was the club that got in Dallas' way five years ago