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NBA Swing: Coaching Moves, Finals Return, and Ja’s Suspension?

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Fired NBA Coaches Find New Homes 

 

With multiple teams having coaching spots available, several previously fired coaches found new roles. Former Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his 407 regular season games coaching the Raptors, Nurse led the team to a 237-170 record. He would also be one of the main driving forces in the Raptors winning the 2019 NBA Championship. Nurse was easily the most desired head coach, being linked to the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. During his press conference, Nurse noted his desire to coach 2023 NBA MVP Joel Embiid as a part of why he joined the Sixers. Nurse also suggested he would load manage Embiid, something that he did with Kawhi Leonard in 2019. There are still questions on if James Harden’s future, but Nurse remains hopeful that Harden will return to the team this offseason. 

 

One of the more shocking firings offseason, Monty Williams was fired after the Suns’ second-round exit. In a little over 300 games, Williams led the Suns to a 194-115 record and an NBA Finals appearance in 2021. After being fired, he was immediately linked to several teams. Further reports came out that the Detroit Pistons were interested in the former Suns coach. Earlier this week, the Piston inked Williams to a six-year, $78 million deal. With incentives, the deal could end up being worth over $100 million. This contract easily makes Williams the highest-paid NBA coach in NBA history. The Piston and former coach Dwane Casey parted ways after five seasons, with Casey moving to the front office. In a smart move by the Pistons’ front office, they signed Williams to a long-term deal, leading a team that’s still a bit away from becoming a playoff team. Coaching players including 2021 #1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, James Wiseman, and more young players, the Pistons hope to see similar development to the Suns following Williams’ arrival. 

 

The most recent coach signing, the Phoenix Suns hired Frank Vogel. This move was not seen by many in the NBA world. Names linked to the role included former Sixers coach Doc Rivers and Assistant Kevin Young. Rumors last week suggested that Young was going to become head coach before it was announced Vogel signed a five-year, $31 million deal Friday morning. Vogel last coached the Lakers from 2019-2022. He led Los Angeles to the 2020 NBA Championship, giving the Suns a championship pedigree as they look to remain in title contention for years to come. One big benefit for the Suns is the defense Vogel is known for, leading the Lakers and Indiana Pacers to number-one defenses. With a roster including Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, Vogel is inheriting a team with their eyes on the prize. 

 

Tyler Herro Returning Earlier than Expected?

 

In Finals news, the Miami Heat could be seeing a big return as earlier than expected. Sharpshooter Tyler Herro is rumored to return to the Heat, possibly in Game 2 on Sunday. Breaking his hand in Game 1 of the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks, Herro has missed Miami’s entire playoff run to this point. Herro was a big part of Miami’s regular season, with averages of 20.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.2 APG while shooting 37% from three. In Herro’s absence, multiple players have stepped up to fill his shooting and scoring. Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent turned from reliable bench players to stars during Miami’s legendary run to the playoffs. Duncan Robinson has stepped up as well, looking like the player many saw in the bubble during the 2020 playoffs. Herro was recently cleared for on-court activities, but Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has not given an exact answer about when he will return. It’s likely that Herro would return on the bench, with something that was not a problem for the former Sixth Man of the Year. Following Miami’s Game 1 loss to the Denver Nuggets, it’s clear they could use his shooting and scoring. The Heat shot 13-39 from three in Game 1, with Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Duncan Robinson shooting a combined 6-24. While Miami can’t be counted out in any situation, having Tyler Herro return will be an x-factor for the Heat.

 

Ja Morant’s Suspension?

 

One of the biggest stories outside of the NBA Finals is the future of Ja Morant. For the second time in three months, Morant has been caught with a gun on Instagram Live. The first time the young Grizzlies star was caught, he was suspended eight games by the league. He took another few games away from the team and went to a counseling program for a short time before returning to the court. Several weeks ago, Ja was caught for the second time and the speculation is that Ja will serve an extended suspension. Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about Ja prior to the NBA Draft Lottery, noting how shocked he was that this happened after the two previously spoke. Prior to Game 1 on Thursday night, Silver spoke about the situation again. The commissioner noted that the league uncovered more information about the situation during their investigation and will address the league’s decision following the NBA Finals. He also noted that announcing the league’s decision during the NBA Finals would not be fair to the players involved. This has NBA fans concerned and intrigued, with many assuming the worst in this situation. With Ja being suspended for the same action only three months ago and Silver noting this situation is about safety, there are rumors a suspension could range from 18 games (enough to miss out on award eligibility) to half a season to a full season. Whatever suspension is handed down, the suspension is guaranteed to send a message not only to Morant but to the rest of the league as well.

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