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McHale, Rockets close

Former Celtic likely next coach

Associated Press / May 28, 2011

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A person familiar with the situation said the Houston Rockets are close to hiring Kevin McHale as coach.

McHale, 53, would take over for Rick Adelman, who left after four seasons.

McHale, a Hall of Fame player for the Celtics, spent 15 years as an executive with the Timberwolves in his native Minnesota. A general manager and coach, he was let go in 2009 and has recently served as a TV analyst.

Houston has missed the playoffs the last two years as it dealt with injuries that have limited All-Star center Yao Ming to just five games since the 2008-09 season.

McHale’s first coaching experience came when he took over the Wolves for the last 31 games of the 2005 season after he fired Flip Saunders. He went back to the front office after that before returning as coach in 2008 after Randy Wittman was fired.

James motivated Whenever he wants to feel humbled, LeBron James pops in the tapes of the 2007 NBA Finals.

San Antonio simply outclassed Cleveland four years ago, and that still serves as a colossal source of motivation for James.

Since then, he’s won two MVP awards and earned around $200 million. Still, nothing fills the void created by those four losses. Here comes a chance to change it.

James is heading to the Finals for the second time, after he, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh carried the Miami Heat to a wild, series-clinching comeback victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference title series in Chicago. The season’s final challenge is the Dallas Mavericks, who visit in Game 1 of the Finals Tuesday night.

“I think about [2007] all the time,’’ James said.

Butler ‘unlikely’ Don’t expect Caron Butler to make a dramatic return to the Mavericks in time to face the Heat. Coach Rick Carlisle said Butler’s availability is “unlikely, but I’m not sure.’’ Butler has been out since tearing a tendon in his right knee on Jan. 1 . . . Scottie Pippen added to Chicago’s pain by suggesting that LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan. In an interview with ESPN radio, Pippen said Jordan “is probably the greatest scorer to play the game’’ but James “may be the greatest player to ever play the game.’’ . . . The Heat-Bulls series averaged 10.4 million viewers on TNT, up 46 percent from last year’s Celtics-Magic matchup in the East finals.

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