The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
It took the Los Angeles Lakers less than a week to fire Byron Scott and pick his replacement, as the organization announced on Friday that Luke Walton will become the team’s next head coach. While the Lakers are rather familiar with Walton from the nine years he spent as a player for the team, this past season was just his second year of experience as an assistant coach. Of course both years were spent on the bench of the elite Golden State Warriors, and with Steve Kerr missing the first half of this season recovering from back surgery, Walton looked like the NBA’s next great head coach, leading his team to a 39-4 record. Bill Reitman takes a deeper dive into Walton’s candidacy in this CBS Sports column.
It’s likely that a sprained MCL has never been watched as closely as Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s. CSN Bay Area’s Monte Pool reported Friday that the likely repeat-MVP is hopeful to return to action quicker than the (minimum) two week diagnosis he was given earlier this week. In fairness, the source of Curry’s optimism is his own positive outlook, not any doctor’s reports, so this report seemingly should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, it’s good to see the NBA scoring champ supporting the power of positivity, as he gave Pool some good insight into how he’s feeling.
Speaking of the Warriors, their next playoff opponent was decided Friday night when the Portland Trail Blazers closed out their series with the depleted Los Angeles Clippers. While you’re all familiar with the high-octane Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and Most Improved Player of the Year Award winner C.J. McCollum, Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney points out how big man Mason Plumlee made a huge difference for the team in its first-round win. The middle Plumlee brother had a bit of a coming out party over the last two weeks, averaging 8 points, 13.2 rebounds and an impressive 5.7 assists in the series.
Maybe the day after they allowed the Miami Heat to force a Game 7 on their home court isn’t the best day to prop up the Charlotte Hornets, but this season was/is an overwhelming success for the organization regardless of how the playoffs play out. While the sixth-seeded Hornets are hoping to upset the Heat on Sunday to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the team’s future looks like it’s in good hands, as head coach Steve Clifford has really turned things around for the franchise over the last couple of years. After years of looking like one of the worst owners in the league, Adrian Wojnarowski writes about how Michael Jordan’s gotten the team on the right track.
Despite falling short in the playoffs this season, there’s no doubt that the Boston Celtics are one of the NBA’s fastest-rising franchises. After a couple of gutsy performances back in Boston to tie their series with the Atlanta Hawks at two games apiece, the Celtics fell short in Games 5 and 6, but still have plenty of reasons to keep their heads held high. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg takes a look at where the Celtics currently stand, and why they have so much to be excited for over the next few seasons.