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The Latest On Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry has undergone another surgery on his broken left hand, Scott Cacciola of the New York Times reports. The latest surgery is to remove the pins that were inserted in his hand during the first procedure earlier this year.

Curry is still expected to be re-evaluated in February. There were whispers that Curry would not play again this season. The Warriors have refuted such reports and Curry told the media last that month that he “definitely” expected to play again during the 2019/20 season.

“I definitely expect to be ready to play — I don’t know when … I’m excited that the rest of the season isn’t lost,” Curry said. The Warriors are 4-19 on the season, so even if Curry returns, it’s not a given that he plays the rest of the year. The team may be better off resting the point guard and gearing up for a 2020/21 campaign where he and Klay Thompson are both expected to be healthy.

Mike Miller To Become Knicks’ Interim Coach

In the wake of David Fizdale’s firing, the Knicks have made a decision on who will lead the team for the remainder of the season. Mike Miller will be promoted to interim coach, as Shams Charania of The Athletic relays on Twitter.

[RELATED: Knicks fire head coach David Fizdale]

Miller (not to be confused with former NBA player Mike Miller) was the G League Coach of the Year back in the 2017/18 season. He spent four seasons leading the Westchester Knicks before being promoted to the NBA’s bench as an assistant on Fizdale’s staff. Miller has 60 games left in the season to make his mark on the Knicks.

Charania also reports that former NBA player Keith Bogans will become an assistant on Miller’s staff. Bogans had been on the team’s coaching staff in Westchester.

Knicks Fire Head Coach David Fizdale

After starting the season with a record of 4-18, the Knicks have fired coach David Fizdale, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. The team also fired assistant coach Keith Smart.

New York had another embarrassing loss on Thursday at home vs. the Nuggets, falling 129-92 to Denver and becoming only the seventh team in NBA history to lose back-to-back games by 35 points or more. Fizdale labeled the team’s effort “sickening” after the game, and was also asked by the media if the Knicks’ struggles would fall on him.

“I don’t care about all of that, I don’t even think about that really,” Fizdale said.

Back when he took the gig in 2018, Fizdale chose New York over other offers, such as positions in Charlotte, Phoenix, and Atlanta, Wojnarowski adds. Perhaps another franchise would have been more patient with Fizdale, but nevertheless, the coach finishes his New York stint with a record of 21-83.

According to Wojnarowski, Fizdale’s .202 winning percentage is the fifth-worst mark for a head coach with a single team (minimum 100 games) over the last 30 years.

Fizdale has appeared to be on the hot seat for much of the season, particularly after a November 10 postgame press conference in which executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry publicly discussed their disappointment in the club’s slow start to the season.

Fizdale becomes the first head coach to be fired during the 2019/20 NBA season, and will be replaced in the interim by Mike Miller (not the former NBA player), as we detail in a separate story.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Back-To-Backs For Zion Williamson

The Pelicans plan to be very careful with injured rookie Zion Williamson when he’s ready to start playing, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said Williamson’s condition will be closely monitored and he won’t be used in back-to-back situations.

“He very likely will not be asked to take the pounding of back-to-backs initially,” Griffin said in an appearance on the team’s TV broadcast. “There will be a sort of ramp-up for him to getting back to where you would call him full strength, but he’s certainly going to be playing, and we’re trying to win basketball games. And quite frankly, we’ve done a horrible job of that.”

New Orleans is off to a 6-16 start without Williamson, who continues to recover from a meniscus injury he suffered in the preseason. He was originally projected to miss six to eight weeks, and while the team expects him back soon, he won’t meet that timetable. He has progressed to the point that he can handle some basketball activity, such as light walk-throughs and spot shooting.

Williamson was spectacular in the preseason, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per night and shooting 71.4% from the field. He suffered the injury in an October 13 game and underwent surgery eight days later.

Griffin is confident that the organization is making the right decision by allowing its star rookie to take his recovery slowly.

“Where we may be failing in terms of the short term, I’m very confident that we’re succeeding over the breadth of what we’re trying to do, which is build a sustainable winner,” he said. “And we’re well on our way to that, despite the current record.”

Report: John Beilein’s Coaching Style Is Alienating Players

Cavaliers players are rebelling against new coach John Beilein and believe he’s running the team like he’s still in college, according to Joe Vardon and Shams Charania of The Athletic. Some players have already tuned out Beilein and are seeking guidance from lead assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, the authors add.

“Guys drowned out his voice, and when guys start searching for the next in line for help, I believe you’ve lost them,” one player said anonymously.

“Our assistants are definitely more prepared for the NBA,” another claimed.

The 66-year-old Beilein is floundering in his first professional season after more than a quarter century as a successful college coach. The Cavs have dropped four straight games and 10 of their last 11, falling to 5-15 overall. They are coming off a 33-point loss to Pistons on Tuesday, which was followed by a Wednesday film session where both sides expressed their frustrations over what has gone wrong, according to sources.

Player grievances include “nitpicking” over fundamentals, “harping” during long film studies and Beilein’s alleged failure to understand the NBA game. Sources tell Vardon and Charania that the complaints run through the entire team and aren’t limited to any demographic.

The Cavaliers hired Beilein in May after interviewing nearly a dozen other candidates. He was given a five-year contract and was surrounded by a few experienced assistants. In addition to Bickerstaff, who has prior head coaching experience with the Rockets and Grizzlies, Cleveland brought in Andrew Lang and Dan Geriot, along with Lindsay Gottlieb, who is also in her first NBA season after serving as head coach at California-Berkley.

Beilein was chosen after a face-to-face meeting with team chairman Dan Gilbert because of his history of developing young players, who make up the core of the roster in the second year of a rebuilding project. With seven veterans on the final year of their contracts, there may be a lot of turnover by February’s trade deadline, which could give Beilein a fresh chance to gain the confidence of his team.

Otto Porter Jr. Will Miss At Least Two More Weeks

An MRI conducted Wednesday on Otto Porter Jr..’s injured left foot revealed “continued bone edema,” the Bulls announced in a press release. His condition will be reassessed in two weeks.

The team plans for Porter to eventually resume non-impact activities and targeted therapy. He is being evaluated by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Bob Anderson, who K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes also performed surgery on Denzel Valentine‘s ankle (Twitter link).

Porter hasn’t played since leaving the November 6 game in Atlanta with a bruised foot. He has appeared in just nine games in his first full season with the team.

Porter provided a boost to Chicago’s offense last season after being acquired in a February trade, averaging a career-best 17.5 points in 15 games. His scoring average is down to 11.2 PPG so far this year and his shooting percentage has fallen from 47.9% to 43.2%.

Celtics Expect Gordon Hayward Back By Christmas

The Celtics believe Gordon Hayward will back on the court before their Christmas matchup with Toronto, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Coach Brad Stevens offered the updated prognosis for Hayward, who has been sidelined since November 9 with a fractured bone in his left hand.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a radio interview yesterday that Hayward remains ahead of schedule in his rehab and could return to practice by Saturday, relays Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. The veteran forward was originally projected to be sidelined for about six weeks.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get too excited about it, but I think he’s progressing really well,” Ainge said in an appearance on  98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”

Hayward began conditioning, non-contact and shooting drills last week and consulted with his doctors Monday on FaceTime, Hartwell adds. He has also been working out with the team’s assistant coaches.

Hayward appeared to regain his All-Star form early this season after being fully recovered from a severe ankle injury suffered on opening night of the 2017/18 campaign. He was averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists through eight games.

Pistons Notes: Mykhailiuk, Jackson, Doumbouya, Wood

Svi Mykhailiuk is taking advantage of the opportunity that the Pistons‘ early-season injuries have provided, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Mykhailiuk was touted as an elite shooter coming out of Kansas last year, but he didn’t see much playing time as a rookie. He averaged 10.8 minutes in 39 games with the Lakers, then only appeared in three games after a midseason trade to Detroit.

That has changed in the early part of this season, as Mykhailiuk is seeing 17.4 minutes per night and even made his first career start. He is showing signs of his offensive potential, averaging 5.7 PPG and shooting a sizzling .448 from 3-point range.

“He’s in the gym every single day working on his game,” teammate Langston Galloway said. “In there early before everybody gets there. It’s been great to see. He’s working on coming off pick and rolls and knocking down shots. That’s what we need from him. Hope to see that the rest of the year.”

There’s more this morning from Detroit:

  • The eventual return of Reggie Jackson from a stress reaction in his lower back will cause a domino effect for the rotation, Langlois adds in the same story. The Pistons announced Wednesday that Jackson will be sidelined for a few more weeks, but when he does come back the team could be fully healthy for the first time all season. Jackson figures to reclaim the starting point guard role, pushing Bruce Brown into the wing rotation along with Galloway, Tony Snell, Luke Kennard and Mykhailiuk. With coach Dwane Casey using a 10-man rotation, at least one of them should expect a decline in minutes.
  • Casey is taking a typically cautious approach with first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya, observes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Doumbouya has been relegated to the G League for most of the season and is averaging just 2.8 minutes per night in four NBA games. The 18-year-old has played professionally in France and is excelling in Grand Rapids, but Casey wants to give him a gradual adjustment to the NBA. Beard suggests it’s the same approach he took in Toronto with Pascal Siakam and others, though Siakam did start 38 games as a rookie.
  • Christian Wood has been a nice addition to the frontcourt since being claimed off waivers in July, but he was almost in Detroit even sooner, tweets Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who states that the Pistons considered signing Wood to a two-way contract in 2018.

David Fizdale May Be Running Out Of Time

The Knicks may be out of patience with coach David Fizdale after their latest embarrassing loss, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.

Fizdale’s team was run out of Madison Square Garden early last night, trailing by as many as 43 points before losing by 37. That followed a 44-point loss Monday in Milwaukee and dropped New York’s record to 4-18, the worst in the Eastern Conference.

“I don’t care about all that,” Fizdale said after the game when asked about his future. “I don’t even think about that, really. I think about the next team we’re playing, I think about the guys in the locker room and how I can help them. At the end of the day, that’s all I care about.”

Knicks fans responded with loud boos to the latest effort, and a few “Fire Fizdale” chants were heard throughout the evening. None of the promise was evident from this summer when the team added seven veteran free agents, and any hope of a quick turnaround is distant memory.

Popper notes that the fans could have targeted their anger in a number of directions, from owner James Dolan to the management team of president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to the on-court talent, who seem worn down by the continuous losing.

Taj Gibson, one of the veterans who signed this summer, came to Fizdale’s defense.

“You’ve got to continue to keep fighting, continue to keep pushing, because nobody in this league is going to feel sorry for you,” he said. “Fiz is doing a good job preaching and keeping guys in tune, but at the same time we have to do a better job, including myself. He can’t keep taking the bullets for us. We have to step up. We have to grow. We have to mature and mature quickly.”

Teammate Marcus Morris declined to comment on Fizdale’s future, responding to an inquiry with, “Next question.”

The path for Knicks won’t get any easier. They face a four-game road trip next week and still have the Pacers, Heat, Bucks and Nets left on their December schedule. Fizdale’s 21-83 record since taking over in New York could get even worse — if he keeps his job.

“I’m still coaching this team. I’m still pushing them,” he told reporters. “I’m still preparing them. We had a hell of a practice before this game, it was just a disappointing output.”

Community Shootaround: Knicks Chaos

Tonight, the Knicks suffered their second consecutive blowout defeat (and eighth straight loss overall), falling 129-92 to the Nuggets. Head coach David Fizdale‘s job appears to be in jeopardy.

In a postgame presser, Fizdale called the loss “sickening,” according to the New York Post’s Stefan Bondy. Soon after the loss, USA Today’s Chris Iseman and Newsday’s Steve Popper both commented on Fizdale’s increasingly shaky vocational security in separate pieces. Fizdale’s record as the Knicks’ head coach is 21-83.

But how much blame should really be allocated to Fizdale for the team’s lackluster 4-18 start to this 2019/20 season? Rookie RJ Barrett and second-year big man Mitchell Robinson have flashed significant promise under his tutelage. Fizdale remains respected across the league thanks to his time as an assistant coach on Erik Spoelstra‘s championship-winning Heat staff.

This summer, the Knicks whiffed on adding future Hall of Famers Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who opted to join New York’s crosstown rivals, the upstart Nets. Instead, the team issued a public apology and signed four replacement-level power forwards to exorbitant-but-short contracts, by the front office twosome of Scott Perry and Steve Mills. Yes, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis can play some center, and yes, Marcus Morris can log some time as a small forward, but ultimately, all three players are best served at the four, as is their fellow free agent addition Julius Randle.

Perry and Mills also traded All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis in a package to the Mavericks for disappointing point guard Dennis Smith Jr., a few middling months of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, and an underwhelming pair of future first-round picks that ought to be well clear of the lottery.

Owner James Dolan has stirred the pot plenty himself, rotating through a seemingly endless series of coaches (12, and counting) and front office heads (nine) since taking over the team in 1999. There’s no need to get into the bevy of on- and off-court disasters logged by Dolan and his Knicks associates in the intervening 20 years, but let’s just say… it’s not pretty.

Ultimately, the buck stops with Dolan. His conduct as Knicks owner has led to Durant noting that the Knicks have lost their cache in a recent interview with Hot 97’s Ebro Darden. “I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players [to view the Knicks the same way] who, in their lifetime, don’t remember the Knicks being good,” Durant told Darden.

The onus for the league’s first $4 billion team losing its sheen falls squarely at Dolan’s feet, in this writer’s opinion. Coaches and front office management may come and go, but until Dolan sells his team, basketball in the Mecca will remain a mess.

What do you think? Who should bear the brunt of the blame for this lost season — the players, Fizdale, management, or Dolan? Or just all of the above?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in!

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