Kundla was praised for his ability to adjust to the ebb and flow of a game.

“I was lucky to have Mikan, Pollard, Mikkelsen, all the different ball players. Every one of them was a team man,” Kundla said in 2014. “I didn’t have to motivate these players. They wanted to win.”

In 11 seasons as the Lakers coach, Kundla guided the team to the playoffs 10 times with five division titles. The Lakers again reached the NBA Finals in his final season, but lost to Red Auerbach’s Celtics in four games.

Kundla was born in Star Junction, Penn., but grew up in Minneapolis. Prior to coaching the Lakers, he spent one season leading the basketball program for the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Instead of moving with the Lakers to Los Angeles, Kundla stayed in the Twin Cities and took over the University of Minnesota basketball program in 1959. Kundla was a standout basketball player for the Gophers and coached his alma mater for nine seasons, but had just three winning seasons and failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

Remembered as a humble coach with an attention to detail, Kundla was praised for his ability to adjust to the ebb and flow of a game. He coached through the widening of the court and the implementation of the shot clock.

Both questioned the overall effort and commitment level. Wade gave a few more clues than Butler as to the targets:

Given those statements, let’s try to do some sleuthing as to who’s getting the heat.

If young guys are to blame, then you’d have to eliminate veterans Rajon Rondo (30), Taj Gibson (31) and Robin Lopez (28). That still leaves a lot of suspects, because the rest of the Bulls’ roster is young.rangers_569-115x115

MLB trade rumors: Cardinals, Orioles, Braves among teams with potential breaking-point series this week

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is looming, and we’re at the point of the season where a couple of wins or losses can determine whether teams are buyers or sellers.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the series that start Monday that will have the biggest impact on the “buy or sell?” crowd.

Date: July 16

Analysis (Rivera): Well, it’s about time. You could have picked a couple panhandlers off the streets of Washington D.C. and they would have helped the Nats bullpen. Instead, Washington gets two quality arms to help solidify a glaring issue. Good move for Washington, as they’re probably looking World Series or bust this season.

Yankees get 1B help
Players involved: 1B Garrett Cooper (to Yankees); P Tyler Webb (to Brewers)

Joey Votto, Reds
Question: What do you think of all the home runs this year?
Answer: “I think that, as the season moves along and you start seeing some 30s and 40s and 50s from guys that you wouldn’t expect from, that’s when you start having conversations like, ‘What the heck is really going on?’ When there’s 15s and 25s, it doesn’t really hit home. But once we’re deep in the season and so-and-so has 45 home runs or so-and-so just hit their 30th, you’ll scratch your head and say ‘Alright, we’ll take it.’”

Michael Fulmer, Tigers
Question: Is the baseball juiced?
Answer: “Going right at it, huh? … There’s multiple sides to that. Obviously, we have some guys that believe that’s the main thing. Reports have come out, blah blah blah. We read them. As pitchers, we always try to (think) there’s always a reason the ball gets out of the yard. broncos_130

LeBron James’ ascent one of three reasons why Cavs are coasting

By the time the Eastern Conference finals begin next week, the Cavaliers will have to pry themselves out of their hammocks, put down their glasses of sweet tea and get back to work. They will have been on-duty just eight times in the previous 31 days, the kind of schedule usually reserved for surgeons and French mail carriers.

In the 26 games after the trade, Jokic averaged 1.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists more in 3.5 additional minutes. He became the centerpiece in what was the league’s second-best offense by adjusted efficiency rating after the All-Star break.

With a core so young, this team is already becoming his, something almost no one saw that coming from a player who was viewed much differently in the NBA Draft than high picks like the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns were.

“They were top picks, and he was the 41st pick (in 2014),” Miller said. “Us being in Denver doesn’t help, Minnesota doesn’t help Karl, but Philadelphia is a pretty big market, they love basketball. Eyes aren’t on guys when they’re the 41st pick. He had a lot to prove.”

Before the media surrounded Jokic after his sixth triple-double of the season, Miller dapped him up and told him to call him later as he headed to the first team bus. It’s an improbable friendship between two men a generation apart.

Obviously, no one could match Isaiah Thomas’s magic Tuesday, but here’s a shout out to Wizards guard John Wall (40 points, 13 assists). Without Wall, Washington probably doesn’t force the Celtics into overtime.

Draymond Green is still the premium Swiss army knife of the Golden State Warriors, doing everything it takes to win. He scored 17 points, corraled eight rebounds, handed out six assists and had a couple of blocks and steals in the Warriors’ easy win in the Western Conference semifinals opener against the Jazz.


the consensus has been that the Bulls would rush to let Rondo go this offseason

The Bulls are not so certain. It was five months ago that Rondo was suspended for a game by the team following an incident in which he threw a towel at assistant coach Jim Boylan during a game. He was subsequently benched for five games in late December and early January. The Bulls were considering waiving Rondo then, but kept him around in case an opportunity to trade him arose.

Despite that, the consensus has been that the Bulls would rush to let Rondo go this offseason. But that was before Rondo pulled himself together in the final month of the season and played like the point guard the Bulls they thought they were getting. He averaged 12.0 points, 8.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds in his final 13 games (he missed three games with a back injury), shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 48.7 percent from the 3-point line.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has done a tremendous job throughout the season of configuring his lineups and designing sets that create scoring opportunities for Thomas, even with opposing teams knowing he is the No. 1 option. In the fourth quarter of Game 2, Stevens used Al Horford as a screener to give Thomas a couple open off-the-catch looks. One benefit of using a small-ball lineup (aside from the spacing provided by multiple shooters) is having ball handlers like Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier on the floor. In the following play, Rozier played point, allowing Thomas to flare off the Horford screen for a wide open 3-pointer.

Rozier also handled point responsibilities on a key Thomas 3 with 2:30 left in regulation. Horford faked a ball screen for Rozier before leaking out to hit Thomas’ defender, John Wall. Marcin Gortat, who was guarding Horford, is so far out helping on a ball screen that doesn’t exist he has no time to recover back to Thomas. Shot up, too late.

Chauncey Billups says he’ll decide on Cavs’ front office post in ‘next few days’

Chauncey Billups skipped the debut of the Big3 basketball league last week to focus on another league — the NBA — as he mulled a reported offer to become the Cavaliers’ president of basketball operations.

Miami is also in the free agency race for Hayward, and displayed a banner of him on Saturday outside American Airlines Arena. Hayward was photoshopped into a Heat jersey.

Stevens recruited and coached Hayward while at Butler, where they took a trip to the 2010 NCAA title game. Hayward left for the NBA that summer, and Stevens left college basketball to take the Celtics position three years later.

Stevens personally picked up Hayward and his wife from the airport Saturday night, according to the Celtics.

Hayward was given a tour of Fenway on his visit, where he saw the message. He was also shown a video of Boston teams’ achievements to show him what it would be like to add to the city’s historic sports moments.

Hayward was named an All-Star for the first time in his career this past season, and deservedly so. He averaged career-highs in points (21.9) and rebounds (5.4) while guarding at a high level as part of Utah’s elite defense.

The connection to the Celtics is obvious with Hayward’s former college coach Brad Stevens at the helm, but the Heat will reportedly make Hayward a top priority as Pat Riley attempts to build up a team that just barely missed the playoffs. This would be a huge loss for the Jazz, so expect them to do whatever it takes to keep Hayward on board.lightning_292

NBA Finals 2017: Cavs appear ready to change up rotation to save series

The Cavaliers may be poised to pull out all the stops Friday night during Game 4, as they try to save the series.

Cleveland is in a seemingly inescapable 3-0 hole after blowing Game 3 of the NBA Finals at home Wednesday night. Now, they will have to win four straight games against the mighty Warriors to reclaim the trophy.

“I always say I want to handle [sports decisions] like my parents did: It was always open and up to me to make that decision,” Nowitzki said. “I think the only thing, the only sport I don’t want them to play is football. And I know we all love our football here, but that’s a little rough for me with the head injuries. I know it’s a little soft, but that’s something I probably won’t allow.”

Oddly, Nowitzki said he also wouldn’t push his kids to take up basketball. Instead he hopes they take a liking to tennis.

“I do want to start them out early with tennis, see if they like it, because to me it’s a great sport: You can start it young, you can play when you’re old and it’s great for the footwork. I think that’s something we’re going to start with them,” he said.

As long as they don’t inherit daddy Dirk’s soccer skills the little Nowitzkis should be just fine.

The Cavs scored the most points in any individual quarter in NBA Finals history in the first. Curry, Thompson, Green and Iguodala all have two fouls. Cleveland shot 14 of 22 as a team from the free-throw line. That was a bizarre quarter all the way around.

The Texans keep being a quarterback away from contending for the Super Bowl

Hoyer was OBriens choice. Much like Osweiler, by all accounts, was OBriens guy this year. That resulted in three interceptions and eight total by the two quarterbacks in two postseason exit’s.

The Texans keep being a quarterback away from contending for the Super Bowl. OBrien has won the division two years in a row and finished the regular season 9-7 all three years he’s been in Houston. The Texans play in a weak division just like the Patriots, by the way which shouldnt hurt.

And each year theyve hit the playoffs looking a little scary, like something of a threat but with half of the team scaring absolutely no one.

The Seahawks have patched together a line and crossed their fingers all year. Wilsons blind side is protected by George Fant, whose tale of being a converted basketball player is entertaining, but not always helpful. The rest of the line has been shuffled and replaced and reworked over and over.

Their big investment was one they made just this year, with first-round pick Germain Ifedi, drafted as a tackle and now playing guard.

Those kind of position changes, especially with players drafted low or signed from elsewhere, have worked in other places at other times. It hasnt worked at all in Seattle.

That’s inexcusable, especially with a franchise quarterback entering his prime years this was Wilsons fifth season, and he’s 28 and enough skill position talent to complement him. Theyre still uncovering potential stars out of nowhere, the latest being acrobatic wide receiver Paul Richardson. They’re still a 10-win, division-champion team. steelers_040

Ben McAdoo takes responsibility for hole Odell Beckham Jr. punched in Lambeau wall

Ben McAdoo has Odell Beckham Jr.’s back, at least somewhat, following another emotional outburst from the Giants receiver.

There’s a hole in the wall at Lambeau Field. We take full responsibility. I take full responsibility, McAdoo told reporters Monday, via MMQB.

Yeah, that hole it came from Beckham, who allegedly made it by throwing a tantrum after the Giants’ 38-13 loss to Green Bay.

Others in the Giants organization partially defended Beckham on Monday.

Tanaka is owed $22 million in 2018 and ’19, and $23 million in 2020, before he enters free agency after the 2020 season. 2017’s best-case, most realistic scenario for the Yankees isn’t exactly playing out: Tanaka would have pitched lights-out in 2017 and looked to opt out after this year, freeing the team of the money and potential future elbow issues.

Just a reminder: Tanaka was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear in 2014, his first year in the majors, rehabbed the injury, and has pitched since.

The Yankees have largely avoided bad contracts the past few seasons, and are even poised to shed some of them: Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia come off the books this year, after Mark Teixeira and others came off last season.

But truthfully, Tanaka has been as ineffective as infomercial diet pills, and it’s probably too late for him to turn this season completely around. Meaning he’ll stay in his contract, meaning he’ll be a Yankee for the next three years, meaning he’ll be owed a lot of money to be average to bad if he doesn’t improve.rams_087

Merchant said there is only one person whose opinion matters.

“I would, if the kids ask me,” he said. “I’m just so much older than them. I think it’s been so long, not many people remember me.”

Whenike_cardinals_1604t said there is only one person whose opinion matters.

“My first-year manager Woody Huyke, whatever he said about me, I would take to the grave,” Merchant said. “No other manager saw me at the best of my abilities.”

Huyke gave his take in an interview with the Post-Gazette in August 1987.

“If Ken Griffey (Jr.) has more ability, he must be one hell of a player,” he said. “(Merchant is) a front-line prospect, one of the better ones I’ve ever seen. I didn’t see Mickey Mantle when he was 18 years old, but Mark has all the tools to play in the big leagues.”

So about those comparisons? Merchant has heard them.

“Comparing Mark Merchant to Ken Griffey Jr. is like comparing the newspaper guy at your local high school to a Pulitzer Prize winner,” he said.

But as Merchant sees it, it’s not that simple. That’s why he defends himself.

“It’s bulls—,” he said. “There were things I could do on a baseball field that I didn’t see anyone else do. I wouldn’t trade my ability with anyone I saw.

“I can’t compare to someone with over 600 home runs. When I had my ability at 18, we were comparable. I only played a half season where I was injury free. It’s something I really don’t talk to anybody about.”

That’s because Quinn was in charge of making sure his entire team didn’t fall apart

Both that piece and his Q&A with SI.com showed a Michael Vick in a mood for reflection, regret and reconciliation, about a career self-sabotaged like few others in history.

A huge portion of the two stories were devoted to the day he started to fully come to terms with the future he had envisioned back with the Falcons once he got out of federal prison … how that future disintegrated before his eyes when the team drafted Matt Ryan in 2008, how he heard about it from another inmate and how the definitive signal that the Falcons were leaving him behind and moving on sunk in.

Just as riveting, though, was Vick’s description of what he and those Falcons had created in Atlanta at their collective heights — which, of course, made the crash even more destructive and the subsequent rebirth more joyous.

Which brought him to his triumphant return in the farewell to the Georgia Dome at the end of the regular season, the prodigal-son story to top all sports-related prodigal-son stories.

Worse than the Falcons squads of 1980 and 2012 that squandered double-digit leads in the second half of playoff failures.

And for Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, worse than when he was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in a last-minute Super Bowl 49 loss to New England in what was the largest Super Bowl comeback (10 points) before Sunday’s contest. That’s because Quinn was in charge of making sure his entire team didn’t fall apart, and he failed.seahawks_012