From Comcast SportsNetSTORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Kevin Ollie can win as many games, even as many national championships, as his predecessor and former coach did at Connecticut. But he can't transform the program. Jim Calhoun did that already.During his 26 seasons in Storrs, Calhoun turned a regional New England program into a powerhouse, becoming one of just five coaches to win three national titles or more. Add to that seven Big East tournament crowns and 10 regular-season championships. No wonder the 10,000 seats were usually filled at Gampel Pavilion, the arena Calhoun gets credit for building.All those accomplishments are history now. What's left are high expectations for a rookie coach.Ollie, who played for Calhoun from 1991-95, went on to a long NBA career and returned two years ago as an assistant, took over Thursday -- a choice Calhoun fully supported."Simply put, he epitomizes what we want our students to be about," Calhoun said. "When I started here we felt we could do anything and I feel that way now, everything's in place. This is an exciting time as we go forward."And a difficult one. He takes over a team that is banned from the Big East and NCAA tournaments because of poor academic performances.With a one-year contract, Ollie won't have much time to show what he can do on the bench and on the recruiting trail. And his depleted roster isn't likely to add to Calhoun's stellar numbers -- 27 players selected in the NBA draft, including 13 lottery picks."We're going to attack this thing head on," Ollie said at a news conference at Gampel, where he once thrilled UConn crowds with his hustle and defense. "We have enough to do it. Coach will be there right beside me as he has always been. He's been a second father to me from the day I arrived here as a recruit and believe me, that won't change."Ollie's contract will pay him a prorated 384,615 and ends on April 4, the last day of the 2012-13 basketball season.Athletic director Warde Manuel said there's a reason it's a single-year deal."I like to win and Kevin does, too. We're not here just to participate in games," Manuel said. "I'm looking to see how he is on the sideline. How he handles decision-making, substitutions, things that are normal in a game. How does he handle losses with the team and motivate them the next day to come back and play?"It truly is a long-term plan, but I want to see where Kevin is before we extend that contract. The commitment is there. He knows it."Ollie refused to get caught up in the discussion."Everything I've done has prepared me for sliding over into that chair," he said. "I'm going to coach this team like I've got a 10-, 15-year contract. I hope it's for a lifetime. I want to retire one day from the University of Connecticut like Jim Calhoun did."Ollie will have some familiar faces on the bench since all four assistants are staying."Kevin has always been a great listener," associate head coach George Blaney said. "He's a potential superstar as a coach, no doubt about that. Sure he'll be different than Jim, but there was only one Jim Calhoun."Several former UConn players were there to see one of their own become coach.Kemba Walker, who led UConn to the national championship with an incredible 11-game run in 2010-11, isn't worried in the least."He's one of the toughest guys I know," said Walker, who plays for the Charlotte Bobcats. "Kevin's UConn just like Coach is UConn. It's not one person here. It's everybody who played here. We are a family and it will stay that way."Connecticut has never faced a season like this one.It will have its first new head coach in 26 years and he is only guaranteed seven months on the job. There are only five players returning who saw significant playing time last season. There will be no postseason play at all. Those factors should make the job as tough as any faced by a coach in Division I.Don't tell that to Ollie."I told my players this morning, It's all stairs now. No escalators,' ' he said. "Escalators are for cowards. Every day now will be one step at a time."
The words of John Wall has resurrected the talk of Paul George playing for the Wizards in 2017-18, but nothing has changed to improve the prospects of that happening.
1) George is under contract for $19.5 million with the Indiana Pacers before he enters a player option for 2018-19 that he’ll surely exercise to become an unrestricted free agent. The Wizards have to make Indiana an offer that it’ll accept but with understanding there no promises beyond that one year of George’s services.
2) Let’s say the Wizards put forth enough in a salary match such as Marcin Gortat’s $12.8 million for this season, Tomas Satoransky ($3 million) and first-round picks, which would come with a projected cap hold to make a deal work, would the Pacers want it? This isn’t the same as Blake Griffin opting out of his deal with the Clippers to become a free agent. A team can deal directly with him in the open market (and no, the Wizards can’t afford him). With George, the Pacers are the third party and can pull the plug on anything.
3) Any deal that involves Bradley Beal, who is under contract for four more years, is a no-go. Can’t have a Big 3 without him coming off his best season as a pro. And it would probably include Otto Porter being put into the deal for George. Porter, of course, doesn’t have any incentive to do a sign-and-trade because he gets significantly less in such a deal under the new CBA rules. He’d either have to really want to do the Wizards a solid or really love the prospect of being in Indianapolis.
4) Assume that George were to end up here and wanted to stay despite all of those hurdles. The money alone makes it a salary cap nightmare with Beal’s $25.4 million, Wall’s $19.1 million and Ian Mahinmi’s $15.9 million on the books when George would command a max of his own in the summer of 2018. To keep George around beyond (and he has even made it clear to Wall he wants to be in L.A.) would require financial gymnastics that aren't plausible.
5) Having George linger all season long in Indiana knowing he’s on his way out can be toxic. It’s better for the Pacers and the player that they move and not allow this situation to drag out. Otherwise, every time George has a bad game or the team underperforms they’ll face questions. Teammates and coaches will be bombarded with a season full of inquiries about the topic. It’ll be a lost year instead of one where they hit the reset. There’s no point of delaying the inevitable. Of course, the Pacers have taken this long knowing it was in the offing and haven’t moved on George. Or they're simply waiting for the Boston Celitcs to put together a package. With their assets and plethora of picks, the Celtics can afford to take a gamble on George for a year.
As CSNmidatlantic.com reported a few weeks ago, Wall wants to see where the franchise heading before he signs an extension as early as this summer. While a player the caliber of George would wow him now, what would the Wizards look like in two years without George, Porter and a few first-round picks?
It's officially rumor season in the NBA.
That time of year where every NBA fan — at some point — thinks about what it would take to get whatever superstar engulfed in trade talks to play for their team.
It doesn't matter how serious the conversations are, or how realistic the logistics need to be.
Admit it, at some point you've pictured Paul George changing uniforms like this:
As CSN's J. Michael explained, Paul George to D.C. is not a likely scenario, but it sure looks good, doesn't it?
So let's take this a step further, and lay out actual reasons the Wizards should be a serious consideration for Paul George.
1. Playing with John Wall makes players better
In an era full of shoot-first point guards, there's a premium on the traditional point guard in the NBA. Luckily, the Wizards have one.
Wall was second in the NBA in assists per game, at 10.7 during the regular season. He also doesn't need a ton of shots either, taking only 18.4 per game, and hitting over 45 percent of them.
Efficiency is a major plus in the NBA.
To put that in perspective, Russell Westbrook — the newly minted MVP — who ranked just behind Wall in assists, still took over 24 shots per game.
Wall is efficient and unselfish. He thrives on making sure everyone is a part of the offense.
The Wizards ranked sixth in the NBA in assists. The Cavaliers, who are desperately trying to land George in a trade, ranked 13th with a ball-dominant point guard (yes they have LeBron, but Kyrie Irving needs his shots to be happy, Wall doesn't).
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2. Scott Brooks and his system
The Wizards have an offense George would thrive in. They can score (5th in ppg) and move fast to get there (11th in pace).
If you like the ball in your hands, with opportunities to put up big numbers comfortably, Scott Brooks has what George is looking for.
That's what Kevin Durant wanted too, and look how that turned out.
3. The Wizards have the rare combination of youth and experience
Every team wants to get younger, but with youth usually, comes inexperience.
Not in the Wizards case though.
They were tied for the ninth youngest team in the NBA in 2016-17, with an average age at under 26 years old.
Their young building blocks in Wall and Bradley Beal already have 65 combined postseason games under their belts.
The Lakers, in a complete rebuild right now, had the same average age as the Wizards, and their young core has — wait for it — ZERO games of experience in the playoffs. How long does that take to change? How long does George want to wait and babysit?
On the other hand, the Cavs and Clippers have plenty playoff experience but are the oldest teams in the NBA.
What's the future in Cleveland and Los Angeles going to look like in two years?
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4. The Wizards future is more defined
That brings us to another important part of the Wizards.
Beal is locked up until 2021. Wall is here until at least 2019, and would likely want to stick around much longer with a third star on this team.
Those are the names that matter for George, and you know where they stand with the organization.
LeBron can opt out after next season, Irving has quietly been shopped, and there's more than enough questions about long-term stability in Cleveland.
The Lakers have cap space coming yes, but the Wizards already have two stars on the roster with a proven track record.
It's not a "what if" scenario for George in Washington, D.C.
In Los Angeles, it's "what if" Lonzo Ball can be a great point guard, or "what if" Brandon Ingram reaches his potential.
How long are you willing to wait to compete if you're Paul George and you're looking to win now?
5. Altering D.C. sports history would make Paul George a legend
NBA stars aren't as dependent on big markets to help build their brand like they used to be, but it still doesn't hurt.
D.C. is the eighth biggest media market in the country, and desperate for a champion.
Cleveland is important to the NBA because of LeBron. When he leaves, a smoldering crater will be left behind.
Los Angeles is Hollywood first, but basketball second. It's what hurt the Lakers in their recent recruiting pitches to stars like LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant.
Imagine the legend George would be in this city if he were to help lead the Wizards to a title?
You're not getting murals on a wall outside of Ben's Chili Bowl for winning one title with the Lakers. You still have to catch up to Magic, Kareem, and Kobe to even be remembered once you retire out there.
If you win a ring here though, you elevate your legacy to a whole new stratosphere.
Look at the Warriors first title. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will be the three names always associated with turning them around from basement dwellers to NBA Champions.
Forget super teams and Kevin Durant, their career headlines were written when they changed the Warriors image in 2015.
LeBron James's biggest career accomplishment will be bringing a ring (maybe more) to Cleveland. He ended the "since 1964" drought.
If Paul George wants to truly be looked at as an all-time great, bringing an NBA title to Washington would be what pops off the page of his resume.
Not grooming a bunch of kids in L.A. to win something they've already seen 16 times.
Isn't that what players care about now anyway, how they're remembered?
So in the end, Paul George can either play in the shadows somewhere else, or create a whole new spotlight on himself here in DC.
It just depends on what his priorities really are.