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Sunday basketball notes

Finals also became a battle of NBA generations between Draymond Green and Cedric Maxwell

Some of the comments from Warriors forward Draymond Green after Game 2 against the Celtics got the attention of Cedric Maxwell.Steven Senne/Associated Press

What is transpiring in the NBA Finals is a battle of generations.

It began when Celtics legend and radio analyst Cedric Maxwell said that if Draymond Green tried the roughhousing tactics from the Warriors’ Game 2 victory in the 1980s, he would have been punched out by one of the league’s enforcers.

On the floor of the Chase Center, Maxwell and Hall of Famer Gary Payton, father of Warriors guard Gary Payton II, were brutally honest during a lighthearted trash-talking session. But Maxwell’s words got back to Green.

“One thing that baffles me about the ′80s or the ′90s, or whenever you want to call it when basketball was so much more physical, is some of the guys that be talking weren’t the guys that were punching people,” Green responded. “They act like guys were just walking around the court, like, ‘I’m hitting this guy in the nose.’

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“There were a few guys back then that would lay you out, that would knock you out, that would foul you and get thrown out the game. Bill Laimbeer. Rick Mahorn. But everybody running around acting like they were that. Y’all were getting bullied. So it baffles me when every guy, just because they played in the ′80s, just because they played in the ′90s, is like, ‘Man, if you played in our day, you’d get knocked out.’ No, not really, because it wouldn’t be you.”

Maxwell told the Globe he had no intention of getting in the middle of a controversy, but he doesn’t regret his statements and is proud of his NBA generation.

“People keep telling me I’m in the middle of this,” he said. “I’m not in the middle of this series. I made one comment, and the comment was that Draymond Green, if he had been playing during the ′80s, would have been knocked the [expletive] out, and everybody else I know who played in the ′80s said he would have been knocked out. It got to him and he made comments.”

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One comment that did anger Maxwell was when Green said why he doesn’t get more technical fouls.

Said Green, “OK, so you’re saying Rick Mahorn would have knocked me out? Rick Mahorn probably knocks you out. Bill Laimbeer probably lays you out. So, were there enforcers of that time? Of course. Would they have knocked you out? Of course. Their fine was also $2. It’s just not the same day and age. If I go knock somebody out, I probably get fined a million dollars. It just don’t work the same.”

“When he made the comment and we kind of went back and forth,” Maxwell said, “and he said during the ′80s, those dudes right there, if they got suspended, all they would have to pay is $2, that to me was offensive, because you know how you made that $30 million? You on the shoulders of all these brothers like me and all the other brothers who were before me. That’s how you made that money.”

The argument that players from the ′80s and ′90s would not have been able to play in the 2020s because of the increased skill isn’t true, according to Maxwell.

“All of those guys would have been able to play in the league now because the physicality isn’t there,” he said. “The things that we did would be enhanced. I couldn’t imagine somebody guarding me in the paint and all of a sudden [officials] saying he couldn’t touch me. What do you mean he can’t touch me? I’m going to score more points because of that.

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“[Green] said none of you guys could shoot like Steph Curry. No [expletive]. No, we can’t. But that’s just how it is. Steph Curry has destroyed this game. Everybody thinks they can shoot threes. And they can’t. Only two players I know changed the game, Wilt Chamberlain and Steph Curry.

“But it wasn’t Draymond Green. I’m not attacking Draymond because he can’t play. What I said was his antics would have gotten this done to him. I never said he wasn’t a good player.”

WORK IS NEVER DONE

Another coaching search for Ainge

Danny Ainge (left) has a coaching search on his hands after the resignation of Quin Snyder.Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Jazz CEO Danny Ainge did not want Quin Snyder to step down as coach, but Snyder was convinced it was time for a change, similar to how Brad Stevens felt last season in Boston. That leaves Ainge again with the responsibility of hiring a coach, and he said he will use the wisdom gained by his previous two hires, Doc Rivers and Stevens, to help in his search.

Ainge reflected on what attracted him to Rivers and Stevens. Rivers won a title in Boston. Stevens took the Celtics to three Eastern Conference finals. Both were home run hires.

“Two completely different personalities,” Ainge said. “Doc was a man’s man. He had command of the locker room, even with strong personalities in the locker room like [Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and [Rajon] Rondo and [Kendrick] Perkins and James Posey. We had some strong personalities on that team. Doc was in charge of that room. That was always really impressive to me, how he handled that team.

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“Brad’s greatest strength was his preparation. He earned the respect of his team through his genius and through his X’s and O’s and his willingness to try to outsmart the other teams with their game plan. They were both very effective in their own way.”

Ainge said he learned during his own coaching stint with the Suns that a head coach can’t be a CEO. The NBA has too many layers and issues for the coach to manage every facet.

“I was a coach, and I was going to be a coach that was going to have five different defensive schemes and we were going to be the best defensive team that ever lived,” he said. “The longer I coached, the more I simplified. I noticed the Pat Rileys, the Don Nelsons, they kept things a little more consistent, have less defensive schemes.

“My NBA experience tells me most of the great teams and most of the great players I’ve been around are mostly chaos. Handling an organization, you’re managing a lot of chaos. Sometimes you have focus on some of the chaos as opposed to basketball. It would be nice if I could concentrate on what offense we’re going run tonight, but it’s much bigger than that.”

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The Jazz have reached the playoffs six consecutive years but failed to reach the Western Conference finals in any of those seasons. The biggest disappointment came in was 2020-21, when the top-seeded Jazz were eliminated by the shorthanded Clippers in the conference semifinals.

This season, the Jazz couldn’t recapture that regular-season dominance, and they were bounced in the first round by the Mavericks. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are still under contract and considered cornerstones, but they have a tenuous relationship.

But that hasn’t affected enthusiasm in the coaching job.

“There’s a lot of interest in this job. There are many coaches out there that would die to have this job,” Ainge said. “Nobody was trying to get Quin out of here. He felt it was his time. We can take our time and get this right.”

Ainge said he will ask for input from Gobert and Mitchell on candidates.

“I don’t know what the soul of the Utah Jazz is,” Ainge said. “I don’t think it has a soul; that team with [John] Stockton and [Karl] Malone had a soul. But I think another coach can bring a different type of personality. I’ve always believed in player involvement. I was always appreciative when Red Auerbach would ask me a question about things going on with our team. I’ve involved my players. I really like to know what they have to say.”

Ainge said he felt both Rivers and Stevens were special coaches even before he considered hiring them. He wants that same feeling with the next Jazz coach.

“I had a special relationship with Doc Rivers as a former opponent of his in very heated competition,” Ainge said. “With Brad, I was able to watch practices and games and how he was able to change and execute a completely different game plan in an NCAA Tournament from one game to another with very little practice time. I was especially impressed. I said to [Celtics co-owner] Steve Pagliuca, ‘There’s the best coach in college basketball.’ “

ETC.

McCollum keeps busy in playoffs

Pelicans guard CJ McCollum is spending the early part of his offseason on TV, making appearances for ESPN.Matt York/Associated Press

Pelicans guard CJ McCollum joined ESPN as an analyst during the playoffs, but his No. 1 job is as the leader of a franchise that’s trying to reach the next level after being eliminated in the first round by the Suns.

The Pelicans acquired McCollum as another primary scorer to go with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, who missed the season following foot surgery. The franchise is poised to rise in a Western Conference that is aging and changing.

McCollum spent years in Portland with Damian Lillard trying to do the same thing. The Trail Blazers were never able to overtake the Warriors, Lakers, and Suns, and the franchise decided to rebuild.

“I think what I’ve taken from my time in Portland is that everybody is different; how you lead, how you follow, the type of advice you give,” McCollum said. “Whether it’s constructive criticism or not, it’s received differently from each person, so you’ve got kind of fit to personalities.”

McCollum said he plans to work with Williamson, the gifted but oft-injured forward who has been criticized for his lack of conditioning. Williamson is up for a maximum extension this summer, but his dedication to the game has been questioned. He said he wants to stay in New Orleans. Next season will be crucial for Williamson and the franchise.

“I think the biggest thing is developing relationships,” McCollum said. “You can have relationships with each player and each relationship will be different. Some people you will go out to eat with; some people you’ll just kind of talk to as working friends. I think the biggest thing is building trust, and then you’re able to have a higher sense of accountability. You’re able to hold people to a higher level of accountability. That all starts with relationships, trust.”

McCollum, the president of the Players Association, has the disposition and résumé to become a mentor to Williamson, whose success is crucial to the Pelicans’ potential rise.

“Going to a new team I had to let people know how I was as a person, allow them to challenge me,” McCollum said. “I think all those things are important. Be coachable, but also lead by example.

“I think that travels anywhere, any relationship, any working environment. If you work hard, do things the right way, and have that trust and that relationship, then everything else is easy, and I think that’s what I’ve done in every field, in every way of life.”

The Pelicans are hopeful that CJ McCollum can help mentor budding superstar Zion Williamson.Chris Graythen/Getty

The move from the court to the analyst role was natural for McCollum, who has already been lauded for his approach.

“There’s a balance in everything,” he said. “I went to school for journalism, majored in journalism, minored in communications and sociology, so I understand the ins and outs of it. I also understand that you can’t make everybody happy. It’s just more about analyzing the game. I’m not going to be overly critical.”

McCollum already has learned the perils of having an opinion. According to Yahoo! Sports, when McCollum told Draymond Green that he picked the Celtics to win the NBA Finals, Green snapped back by saying the Celtics would remain ringless, much like McCollum.

“I’m not going to say things I wouldn’t want people saying about me, but the game is the game, right?” McCollum said. “The percentages are the percentages, the stats are the stats. You win or you lose. Some players can be better in certain circumstances and situations; some players should play better. And I think you can be more frank in that matter.”

McCollum said he will manage his opinions, especially being the union president.

“In terms of bashing guys, I’m the president of the PA first of all, and I don’t think that makes sense or would be productive for me, or our league in general,” he said. “But it’s more about analyzing what I see. Instead of saying someone played poorly, why is someone having such a hard time, what is the defense doing, things of that nature I think is what I can speak to, the experience of preparing for games, execution during the games, adjustments teams may be making throughout a game.”

McCollum has been calculating in his opinions and insightful in his thoughts. He brings the type of knowledge fans are seeking.

“I can’t speak on CBA, I can’t speak on trades, I can’t really speak on salaries,” he said. “There are things I’m prohibited from speaking on, which is obvious, and then what’s not obvious is surely brought to my attention by the NBA.

“So I think it’s more about enjoying all that basketball has to offer, all journalism has to offer, immersing and spending some time to kind of hone my skills while utilizing my degree. I think that was important. The rest of the stuff is what it is. Can’t make everybody happy.”

Layups

Former NBA star Rasheed Wallace, who last coached with the Pistons in 2014, is joining the Lakers as an assistant.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

New Lakers coach Darvin Ham is putting together his staff, adding former Pistons great Rasheed Wallace to coach the big men, including Anthony Davis. One coach not retained was David Fizdale, who is looking for his third head coaching opportunity. The remaining opening is in Utah, and Fizdale may become a target. One issue for Ham’s predecessor, Frank Vogel, was too many coaches on his staff were looking to be head coaches. Fizdale and Jason Kidd were on Vogel’s staff before Kidd accepted the Dallas job. Ham is trying to decrease the number of decision-making voices in the organization and give himself a better opportunity to succeed … The Celtics are holding draft workouts, but their targets are potential late-first-round picks who may fall into the second round, because the Celtics have only the 53rd overall pick. They could trade up in the second round to take a certain player, or even try to crack the first round with a deal that would likely be costly. The Celtics traded their first-round pick to the Spurs in the Derrick White deal. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens has not valued the draft as much as his predecessor, Danny Ainge, moving last year’s first-rounder to the Thunder in the Al Horford/Kemba Walker swap. But the Celtics could use a few younger players to pad their roster as they transition to next season. They are building their summer league roster, which is expected to have second-round picks Yam Madar and Juhann Begarin, as well as members of the Maine Celtics. The question is whether former first-round pick Aaron Nesmith, who has had a tough second season, would participate in summer league, as would two-way contract players Sam Hauser and Brodric ThomasLeBron James, who recently became a billionaire, said his goal is to own an NBA team based in Las Vegas, but that is after playing on the same team with son Bronny. An NBA team in Las Vegas is a possibility but is not likely to happen this decade. The league is in no hurry to expand and its timeline will likely become clearer after the new collective bargaining agreement. But there’s no question the league will welcome James as a potential owner once his playing career is over.


Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at gary.washburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.