Cavs' dilemma: Deal or no deal? (cont.)
Arenas' waiting game
The Wizards aren't ready to admit it, but there's a good chance Gilbert Arenas won't play this season. Arenas declined an interview request Wednesday, saying he didn't want to talk again until he returns, but watching him shoot around before the Wizards' game in New York told the story. Dressed in black Adidas sweats and a long-sleeved T-shirt, Arenas fired up dozens of stationary jump shots but made no movements that involved cutting or putting any significant stress on his thrice surgically repaired left knee. The workout affirmed Arenas' statements earlier this week to The Washington Times that he was "not even close" to returning.
While Wizards forward Caron Butler said he does not expect Arenas to return this season, interim coach Ed Tapscott did not rule it out.
"I leave that question to the medical people and the team GM," Tapscott said. "I coach the guys I have in practice. For me to speculate on that doesn't really help the situation. I've been told he is making progress. With a very talented and very gifted player, you want to make sure you get it right. That's their focus."
Silas seeks another coaching opportunity
Paul Silas wants to coach in the NBA again.
"I'd definitely be interested in getting back in," said Silas, who hasn't coached since being fired by Cleveland in March 2005. "I'm certainly looking for an opportunity where I could be successful, but I look at any coaching job as a challenge."
Since leaving Cleveland, Silas has been heavily involved with Adidas Nations, a grassroots basketball program that works with the world's top 18-and-under players.
"We work with kids on pro sets and pro defenses," Silas said. "We're trying to bridge the gap for when they get into the league."
While many experienced NBA coaches have been recycled and unproven ones hired and fired, the 65-year-old Silas has been inexplicably ignored. His only official interview for a head-coaching position in the last four years came with the Bobcats in 2007.
"I'm not really surprised I haven't had many interviews," said Silas. "[Coaching] goes in cycles. In the last few years, teams have been looking at assistant coaches or new guys. Now, it looks like they might be looking for experience."
Silas has that in spades. A 16-year NBA veteran, Silas won two championships with Boston and a third with Seattle. He reached the playoffs four times in nine full seasons as a coach.
Silas said he would be interested in the Washington job if the Wizards don't bring back Tapscott. Silas and Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld were both Knicks assistants under Stu Jackson in the 1980s.
Nets' Lopez a quick study
Nets rookie center Brook Lopez has been opening eyes with his recent play, including a 31-point, 13-rebound effort Monday against Oklahoma City. The 7-foot, 260-pound Lopez has seven double-doubles this season and is averaging 10.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
"He has a great willingness to learn," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He has worked a lot with [assistant coaches] Brian Hill and Roy Rogers, watching film and working on his game. He has huge potential for growth."
Said an Eastern Conference assistant coach: "I like his frame and how he uses it, especially offensively. I think he knows his game, his limits and his role -- it's uncanny how some people 10 years into the league still don't know their role. He doesn't seem to make any rookie mistakes. He seems to be very under control. I love how defensively he's always in the right position. ... He may not be a star, but he's a guy you can build around, a solid center for the next 10 years."
Three for the show
The recent success of relatively unknown NFL coaches got me thinking: What if the NBA went a similar route? If the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh, the Miami Dolphins' Tony Sparano and the Atlanta Falcons' Mike Smith can lead teams to the playoffs, why can't an NBA team take a chance on a hardworking assistant coach who lacks the pedigree of a recycled veteran, the hype of a top lieutenant or the cachet of a big-name college coach? Along those lines, here are three coaches who seem to fit that description.
John Kuester, Cleveland: The Cavs' top assistant and de facto offensive coordinator has a significant voice in team huddles and a wealth of experience. In 1983, Kuester became the youngest coach in Division I history when he succeeded Rick Pitino at Boston University. Kuester, 53, also had a less than stellar stint as coach at George Washington (five losing seasons) before moving to the NBA, where has has been an assistant since 1990, working under Larry Brown, Brian Hill and Mike Brown, among others.
Lester Conner, Indiana: Conner has been linked to college jobs in the past, but after 11 seasons as an assistant coach with Boston, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Indiana, he deserves to be mentioned as a potential NBA head-coaching candidate. Jim O'Brien's right-hand man in three of those stops, Conner's strength has been his work with young players.
Tim Grgurich, Denver: OK, Grgurich is well-respected in NBA circles. Every summer young players flock to his camp in Las Vegas, and he is regarded as a superior individual-workout coach. But Grgurich, who was a head coach at Pittsburgh and UNLV, is rarely mentioned as an NBA coaching candidate. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he rarely speaks to the media and prefers to keep a low profile -- Nuggets coach George Karl practically had to order him to sit on the bench this season, as Grgurich prefers a seat behind it -- but someone with Grgurich's obvious skills should be brought in for an interview. If he passes, fine. But a guy that good deserves to be wooed as much as a glitzy college boss.