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|Igor Kokoskov is the first NBA head coach born and raised outside North America [url=http://www.officialsharks.com/authentic-adidas-mikkel-boedker-jersey]Mikkel Boedker Jersey[/url] , but he reminded everyone at his introductory news conference with the Phoenix Suns on Monday that he didn’t exactly just get off the plane.
”I don’t consider myself as a European coach,” he said. ”I’m an NBA coach.”
Kokoskov, 46, just finished his 18th season as an NBA assistant coach. He’s been with six different teams. Some played slow. Some played fast. He has been on the staffs of seven squads to reach the conference finals. This game is not new to him.
”As a coach, I’m not spoiled,” he said. ”I think your job is to build and create from what you have in front of you. I’m the kind of guy who loves my team. I love my guys and they can feel it.”
Kokoskov was named head coach of the Suns last week but, as an assistant with the Utah Jazz, he had to finish his work in the playoff series against the Houston Rockets before turning his attention to the desert.
He was an assistant with the Suns from 2008 to 2013 and became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony on the court at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena.
”We really, as a family, the Family Kokoskov, consider Phoenix as a home base,” he said. ”This is always home base.”
Although he certainly has paid the traditional dues as an NBA assistant, he knows he’ll also have the label ”foreign coach.”
Kokoskov praised the ”courage” of Suns owner Robert Sarver and the team’s management to hire a ”rookie coach, international coach, foreign coach.”
”I kind of carry some responsibilities because, if this fails, then American media and the public are going to say [url=http://www.officialblackhawksproshop.com/authentic-adidas-alex-debrincat-jersey]Alex DeBrincat Jersey[/url] , `See, they can’t coach. We’ve got to stick with our guys,”’ Kokoskov said.
But any ultimate judgment, he said, will come from what happens on the court.
”It’s all about winning,” Kokoskov said. ”It doesn’t really matter if you’re an international or American coach. All that matters is can you get it done and can you coach?”
He inherits a team that went 21-61, worst in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history. The Suns haven’t made the playoffs in eight seasons but do have the most ping pong balls in Tuesday night’s lottery to determine what team gets the No. 1 overall pick,
Still, Kokoskov said the Suns have ”a good solid foundation.”
”With a couple of guys maybe we’re going to add, obviously we are expecting a lot from the upcoming draft and free agency,” he said. ”That is something that we have a long summer to discuss, to talk, but the foundation is there.”
Kokoskov, who coached Slovenia to the EuroBasket 2017 championship, said he’s not wedded to any particular style of play, that it will depend on the talent at hand. When he was with the Suns, there was Steve Nash and it was a fast pace.
”I was fortunate to be part of a winning team and be part of the team with Steve Nash and Grant Hill and the rest of the guys [url=http://www.officialpenguinsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-evgeni-malkin-jersey]Youth Evgeni Malkin Jersey[/url] ,” he said, ”being part of the staff with Alvin Gentry.”
Kokoskov was there when the Suns advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2010.
But the years have not been kind to the once-vibrant franchise since Nash’s departure.
General manager Ryan McDonough has said the time is now to inject some more experienced talent into the current mix of youngsters, who are led by burgeoning star Devin Booker.
Kokoskov gets the task of trying to fulfill that ambition.
The team, he said, needs to be playing on television in June, and he wasn’t talking about its perennial appearance in the draft lottery.
”I think the city of Phoenix deserves that,” Kokoskov said. ”I think the fans that love basketball deserve that and we’ll do our best to bring this organization and team into that path. We want to be in June on TV.”
The NBA offseason has arrived, which means nothing will happen for the next four months other than a draft, three summer leagues, free agency, the creation of a new schedule, coaching hires, trades, roster reworkings and possibly movement toward letting high school graduates jump directly into the league again.
It all adds up to very little downtime.
There is no shortage of questions about what will happen this summer – leading off, of course, with yet another decision to be made by LeBron James about his future and where he’ll play next season as he resumes his quest for more championships.
Here are some non-James topics heading into the offseason:
The mystery of the 2017-18 NBA season is the mystery of the offseason as well. Leonard played in only nine games for the Spurs this season while dealing with a leg injury, the specifics of which are a closely guarded secret even by San Antonio’s notoriously tight-lipped standards. He could get a supermax deal [url=http://www.officialsabres.com/authentic-adidas-kyle-okposo-jersey]Kyle Okposo Jersey[/url] , he could get traded, he might still be hurt. But the Spurs – and the league – need answers, because he can change a lot of directions in a hurry.
The vacancies in Detroit and Toronto should be filled soon. The Pistons might be best-served to hire Dwane Casey, who led the Raptors to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season. This is a crucial hire for the Raptors, since whoever will be calling the shots next season will have a team that should be good enough to contend for the East title.
Arizona center Deandre Ayton will likely go No. 1 to Phoenix, which makes sense on a lot of levels. The intrigue really starts there. Does Vlade Divac use the No. 2 overall pick and bring Luka Doncic, the young Slovenian who has been talked about as a can’t-miss NBA star for some time, to Sacramento? What does Atlanta do at No. 3? Inevitably, someone will move up on draft night and that probably means an established player (or players) will be on the move.
The Supreme Court ruling already has bets on games being placed in Delaware, and more states will be following suit soon. Expect the NBA to continue pushing for 1 percent of the action, which the league says is needed in part to cover what will be its new costs as far as protecting the integrity of the game and the players. It’s also unclear if injury reports will have to be more specialized in a betting world. Wouldn’t bettors have liked knowing LeBron James had a badly injured – he says broken – hand in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals?
The NBA knows fans, players and coaches aren’t thrilled with the level of officiating in the league right now. This will absolutely be a big topic – maybe the primary topic – when the board of governors meet in Las Vegas next month. Also, there will be a challenge-flag-type item tinkered with during summer league games; it won’t be a red cloth like in the NFL, but the concept will be the same as the league studies whether something like that should be added.
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka should have about $62 million in cap space to go shopping with when free agency opens July 1 – including for James, meaning the Lakers could get transformed and become a playoff team again in a hurry. Expect them to use the No. 25 pick in the draft on a 3-point shooter, since no team can surround James with enough of those.
CHRIS PAUL AND PAUL GEORGE
Again [url=http://www.officialpredators.com/authentic-adidas-scott-hartnell-jersey]Scott Hartnell Jersey[/url] , like so many other topics, the futures of Chris Paul and Paul George will probably have some impact on whatever James decides to do this summer – or vice versa. Paul wants a max contract, and if his hamstring didn’t pop late in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals he and the Houston Rockets may very well have been in the NBA Finals. George seemed to be hinting that he could stay in Oklahoma City, but is a Los Angeles native. It seems likely that either, or both, would try to align with James – but how?
Yes, the Pelicans. West semifinalists this season, New Orleans needs to decide what it wants to do with DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. The Pelicans have already given coach Alvin Gentry an extension , and keeping either Cousins or Rondo – or both – to play alongside Anthony Davis might make New Orleans a sleeper pick in the West next season. Question is, will Cousins be full-go coming off his Achilles injury.
Dwyane Wade has been talking about retirement, and there’s been no indication yet if he’s anywhere near a decision. Miami is in a tough situation on the cash front – Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Goran Dragic and James Johnson will make nearly $78 million themselves next season – and the Heat wants to find a way to keep Wayne Ellington. What will Wade do? And if he stays, how much can the Heat pay him? Or do they make big trades and add some star power?
Two questions for the Knicks to figure out: Will they allow David Fizdale the time he needs to build the team he wants? And what will they do with Kristaps Porzingis this season? Give Fizdale time, and he’ll win in New York. But rushing Porzingis back off ACL surgery could be a most unnecessary risk for a team that isn’t going to contend next season anyway.
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