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Report: James Dolan blocking Phil Jackson from certain moves

Phil JacksonPhil Jackson took over the New York Knicks’ basketball operations department just over a month ago, and there could already be trouble in paradise. As expected, Jackson fired head coach Mike Woodson and most of his staff earlier this week. More moves are expected within the organization over the next several months. That is, if team owner James Dolan will allow them.

The NY Daily News reported on Tuesday that Jackson has already “clashed” with Dolan over personnel decisions. Dolan, who admitted last month that he is not a basketball expert, apparently disagrees with Jackson’s desire to remove certain employees and has told him to focus his efforts on building a winning team.

When Jackson signed a five-year, $60 million contract and became the highest-paid executive in the league, the assumption was that he would be given an opportunity to change the culture of the Knicks organization — not just the team’s roster.

As the Daily News noted, long-time assistant coach Herb Williams was one of the coaches fired on Monday. Shortly after, a report surfaced indicating the team would “encourage” its next head coach to bring Williams back. Considering Jackson decided to fire him along with Woodson, that makes little sense. Unless, of course, Dolan is the person responsible for the report.

“There are a lot of good people at the Garden and a lot of good people that travel with the team, but if Phil wants to start fresh why wouldn’t you allow him to do that?” a Knicks employee reportedly told the Daily News.

Earlier this week, ESPN New York’s Ian Begley reported that Jackson has been vocal about his disappointment with some of the Knicks’ players conditioning this past season. That has led to speculation that people within the team’s medical and training staff could lose their jobs, which could be one of the issues Jackson and Dolan are not seeing eye-to-eye with.

Jackson made it very clear that he would not have accepted the Knicks job without full control. We know Dolan has a history of vetoing decisions and not allowing the people he hires to work independently. Jackson is not going to allow himself to become just another Dolan employee.

Tim Donaghy: NBA has told refs to give Nets calls over Raptors

Tim-DonaghyFormer NBA referee Tim Donaghy has not officiated a professional basketball game since 2007, but he does not believe much has changed for the league since he was caught betting on games and ended up in prison. In fact, Donaghy thinks the Toronto Raptors will have to beat both the Brooklyn Nets and the officials if they want to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

During an interview with “The Jeff Blair Show” on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Tuesday, Donaghy spoke about how he believes the NBA has put the Raptors at a disadvantage.

“They’re not only going against the Brooklyn Nets but going against the league office,” Donaghy said. “They have a very talented team and have to be that much better than the Brooklyn Nets. I have picked Brooklyn to win the series with (Paul) Pierce, (Kevin) Garnett, Joe Johnson and even Jason Kidd. When you look at the coaches – the referees are going to be more active to talk and respond to (Kidd) over (Raptors coach) Dwane Casey.”

Not only does Donaghy believe the refs will have more dialogue with Kidd, he also said the league meets with its officials before each playoff game to go over what they want called and don’t want called. In this instance, Donaghy insists the guys in stripes have been told to give the Nets an advantage.

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Dwight Howard: I have to demand the ball

Dwight Howard RocketsDwight Howard was singing an alpha dog tune on Monday, a day after the Houston Rockets lost Game 1 of their first-round playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers 122-120 in overtime.

Howard scored 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but he was not satisfied with the performance and has some different strategic plans in mind for Game 2.

“We have to play inside out, play their bigs and make it a long night for those guys,” Howard said via the Houston Chronicle. “I have to demand the ball, get it and go to work.”

Not only does Howard think the team could benefit by playing inside-out and feeding him the ball inside, but he thinks that could force Portland to expend more energy trying to defend him. He thinks that could help slow down LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored a franchise-record 46 points while grabbing 18 rebounds.

“We have to go right back at him,” Howard said. “You have to make him play defense and make him use his energy on defense. Make him have to run around and guard.”

Game 2 is on Wednesday night. We imagine Howard will get his usual amount of touches, but this time Houston will come out victorious.

Kevin Garnett warns Raptors after Masai Ujiri says f— Brooklyn (Video)

Kevin GarnettKevin Garnett issued a warning to the Toronto Raptors cautioning them that they may have asked for something they really didn’t want.

At a rally on Saturday prior to Game 1 of the Raptors-Brooklyn Nets series, Toronto executive Masai Ujiri said “F— Brooklyn” when he was firing up the fans. The move may have backfired; not only did they lose Game 1, but Ujiri was fined by the league and now KG says the words will have Brooklyn’s fans even more fired up.

“It’s going to be a rowdy environment — like it should be — I don’t know if you can say ‘F Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn, so we’re about to see what it’s like,” Garnett said after the Nets’ Game 2 loss.

Game 3 in the best of seven series is on Friday. The Nets will have two straight home games for the fans to show how rowdy they are. Based on the way the first two games of the series went, we expect these two to be close, but would give the edge to the Nets. That homecourt advantage should help.

Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson reportedly got in fistfight before playoffs

Lance Stephenson Dwyane Wade

Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson got into an intense fistfight the day before the Indiana Pacers’ first playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks, according to a report.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the bomb late Tuesday night, reporting that Turner and Stephenson got into a brawl and Turner had to be pulled away by teammates during the team’s Friday practice before Game 1 Saturday.

Woj says Turner was cut from the fight. He also says Turner isn’t the first player to lose his temper with Stephenson in recent weeks, though no other fights have been reported.

The Pacers inexplicably lost to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 101-93 and looked pretty dreadful. Stephenson had 19 points and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes while Turner scored 9 points in 18 minutes. Indiana looked much more like the team that earned the top seed in the East during a 101-85 win in Game 2 on Monday.

A source told Woj that these types of fights are a regular occurrence, but they acknowledged that the timing was poor.

This really should not come as a surprise in the least. The Pacers began sliding towards the end of the season after a great start. Roy Hibbert called out his teammates for being selfish and then was reprimanded by coach Frank Vogel, but maybe he was just telling the truth.

It was obvious something has been wrong with the Pacers, and this finally explains things — they’re having chemistry problems. And bringing in Evan Turner was obviously a bad move.

Warren Sapp the latest to question Jadeveon Clowney’s work ethic

Jadeveon ClowneyThe debate continues to rage on over whether Jadeveon Clowney is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. There is no denying Clowney’s athleticism, but there have been plenty of questions about his work ethic. On Monday’s edition of “NFL Total Access,” former NFL players Warren Sapp and Heath Evans ripped Clowney’s decision to decline private workouts with teams before the draft.

“I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s tape and I don’t see a guy that’s playing the game with his hair on fire,” Sapp said. “If it’s my pick, I’m taking Teddy Bridgewater. I believe Teddy Bridgewater is that quarterback who gets it done.”

Bridgewater has tumbled down the draft boards with poor performances during the offseason, but that’s a debate for another day. Sapp and Evans both blasted Clowney for turning down NFL teams who are interested in jumpstarting his career.

“What else is he doing, not waking up?” Sapp said. “The next job you have is rushing the quarterback, young man, getting ready for the NFL. If you wake up every morning and you’re not prepared to go out and do the things you have to be either be an outside linebacker or pass rushing specialist, what else is there?

“You can blow your knee out walking your doggy. So why would you not work out for a team that has twenty million-plus dollars for you?”

Evans was just as harsh.

“There’s just so many little things about this kid that deter you from getting on his side,” he said. “This kid turns down private workouts? He says, ‘Well, I don’t want to get hurt.’ You should be training harder on the day that you’re not at a private workout than how hard they would work you on the private workout.”

Of course, Sapp had to throw in some crap about how he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who was happy to work out for NFL teams when they wanted him to, but both he and Evans have a point. You can understand Clowney not wanting to risk injury, but he must be working out anyway. Why not get a head start on working with NFL teams?

Report: Steve Kerr would prefer West Coast job over Knicks

Steve KerrSteve Kerr and Phil Jackson are already being touted as a perfect match. With Jackson now in charge of the Knicks’ basketball operations and Kerr looking to transition from the broadcast booth to coaching, there have already been reports indicating Jackson will offer New York’s vacant head coach position to his former player and Kerr will accept. It may not be that simple.

According to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, Kerr has his eye on several other potential coaching vacancies and would prefer to join a West Coast team if given the opportunity. Kerr lives in San Diego and his daughter attends college at the University of California at Berkeley. Beck believes that Jackson would hire Kerr if he wanted the job, but he’s not convinced that is the case.

As Pro Basketball Talk noted, there are several current and potential openings that would be closer to home for Kerr than coaching in New York. The Utah Jazz fired head coach Tyrone Corbin this week and the Los Angeles Lakers could be moving on from Mike D’Antoni. However, Kerr is being touted as a Jackson protege and the Lakers chose not to bring Jackson back, so that wouldn’t make much sense.

Mark Jackson is another coach who could be on his way out, despite the fact that he has led the Golden State Warriors to the playoffs and the franchise’s best record in 22 years this past season. Jackson has yet to receive a contract extension and has developed a reputation for being someone who is difficult to work with.

Phil Jackson is reportedly planning to talk to several coaching candidates for the Knicks, including college coaches Fred Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie. Ultimately, Kerr is still very much the favorite.