Eastern Notes: Curry, Celtics, Perkins

May 28 at 8:33pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Hornets announced today that former player and current broadcaster Dell Curry has expanded his role with the organization, becoming a team Ambassador and Special Projects Advisor. Curry will serve as an ambassador for the team at events related to both basketball and business operations, such as community programs, charity outings, speaking engagements and fundraising galas. “We are pleased that Dell has agreed to expand his role with our organization,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & COO Fred Whitfield.  “Dell’s name is synonymous with the words ‘Charlotte Hornets.’  Our fans know him well from both his history as a player and his six seasons as our TV analyst.  We are excited that he will be strengthening his relationship with our franchise.

Here’s the latest out of the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics held workouts today for David Kravish (California), Cliff Alexander (Kansas), Chasson Randle (Stanford), George Lucas (Brazil), Maxie Esho (UMass), and Satnam Singh (IMG Academy), Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com relays (via Twitter).
  • Kendrick Perkins had a choice to sign with either the Clippers or the Cavaliers after parting ways with the Jazz at midseason via a buyout arrangement, and the big man is thrilled that he ultimately decided on Cleveland, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media writes. “Just to come and have a chance to win a title is beautiful,” Perkins told Haynes. “Anytime you have that chance to make it to The Finals, you’re definitely a championship-type team. … We’re proving it every night.
  • The Nets have three sets of workouts scheduled for next week, the team announced. The group on Monday will consist of Terry Rozier (Louisville), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Treveon Graham (VCU), Aaron Thomas (FSU), Mike Myers (MD-Eastern Shore), and Kendall Gray (Delaware State). Tuesday’s crop will consist of Phil Greene (St. John’s), Darrick Marks (Boise State), Darrun Hilliard (Villanova), Greg Whittington (Georgetown), Aaron White (Iowa), and David Laury (Iona). And on Wednesday the team will work out Jarvis Summers (Mississippi), Quinn Cook (Duke), Jesse Morgan (Temple), J.P. Tokoto (North Carolina), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), and JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova).

Dwyane Wade Open To Leaving Heat

May 28 at 8:18pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

8:18pm: A person close to Wade indicated that the player’s representatives believe that the Heat think Wade is bluffing, and that he wouldn’t leave Miami, Jackson writes. Another associate of Wade’s pointed out that Dragic’s future is another chip that Wade holds in negotiations, because the chances of Dragic departing as a free agent this summer would increase if Wade signs elsewhere, Jackson adds.

7:30pm: Thomas spoke with Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel regarding Wade’s bargaining position. “Several guys opted out of their contract last year,” Thomas said. “Obviously Dwyane wasn’t in a position that Chris [Bosh] was in, in terms of having another team offer a maximum deal. But the reality of this is he’s played his entire career for Miami. He’s done wonderful things in terms of the five titles that they played for, winning three of them. He’s had a tremendous career, and we’re just trying to see whether or not there’s room to continue that.

4:51pm: Agent Henry Thomas said, “I am going to continue to have conversations with the Heat and try to make this work,” but wouldn’t say if Wade was leaving Miami or if his client would definitely opt out of his deal this offseason, Jackson relays (Twitter links).

4:34pm: The Heat and guard Dwyane Wade have been discussing his contract situation and there appears to be a significant difference in what the two sides believe Wade’s next deal should be worth, multiple sources have told Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Though Wade still prefers to remain with the franchise, where he has spent his entire 12-year career, he is now open to leaving if Miami does not raise its offer, Jackson adds.

Wade had opted out of the final two years of his contract last summer which were worth approximately $41.6MM. Instead, the veteran agreed to a more team-friendly two-year, $31MM deal, which included a player option for next season worth $16.1MM. The guard did so in order to allow the team’s front office to have greater financial flexibility to improve the roster, Jackson notes. At the time, Wade indicated that he was curious to see how much he could command in the summer of 2016, when the salary cap is expected to increase dramatically, courtesy of the league’s new television deal kicking in, the Herald scribe writes.

According to Jackson’s sources, Wade’s representatives are urging him to opt out this summer and to try to secure a lucrative three-year contract that would extend past his 36th birthday, Jackson relays. But the Heat are said not to prefer this option, and want Wade to opt in for next season. The franchise would then re-sign him to a two-year deal, but not for a significant amount, Jackson adds.

Whether Wade opts out of his deal or not, there is still said to be a “sizable gap” between what Wade wants to be paid over the next three seasons and what the Heat are willing to commit to him, Jackson notes. When asked about the differences between the two sides, Wade’s agent Henry Thomas declined to comment, as did the team, the Herald scribe relays. Jackson also notes that if Wade departs it could negatively impact the team’s chances at re-signing Goran Dragic.

Wade has been the face of the Heat franchise for years, which could affect his negotiating stance with the team. But Miami is almost assuredly concerned with committing a large portion of its salary cap amount to a player with Wade’s injury history. The 33-year-old has averaged just 58 games per season the last four years, and his knees certainly aren’t getting any younger.

In 62 appearances this past season, Wade averaged 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 31.8 minutes per contest. His career numbers are 24.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 5.9 APG. Wade’s career slash line is .490/.289/.765.

Vinny Del Negro Interviews With Pelicans

May 28 at 7:58pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Pelicans GM Dell Demps discussed the team’s head coaching vacancy with Vinny Del Negro, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Del Negro has emerged as a candidate based upon his successful five-year run as head coach of the Bulls and the Clippers, Wojnarowski adds.

Del Negro is the latest name to surface in connection with the open position in New Orleans that was freed up when the team parted ways with former coach Monty Williams. Jeff Van Gundy, who is reportedly seeking an arrangement similar to the one that brother Stan Van Gundy has with the Pistons in which he coaches and runs the front office, also interviewed with the team. As did Scott Skiles, who is reportedly the front-runner to fill the Magic’s head coaching position, and Clippers assistant coach Alvin Gentry spoke with Demps as well.

Wojnarowski also notes that the current front-runners to land the Pelicans job are Van Gundy and Gentry. But former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has also been mentioned as a candidate, and with Chicago no longer being in the position to request compensation for Thibs, he will likely be under stronger consideration now as well.

The former Bulls and Clippers coach has a career regular season record of 210-184, and a playoff record of 10-19. Del Negro last coached during the 2012/13 season with the Clippers, leading the team to a record of 56-26 before being fired and subsequently replaced by Doc Rivers.

Draft History: Dell Demps

May 28 at 7:10pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The 2015 NBA draft is just under a month away, and for teams that aren’t still participating in the NBA playoffs, the focus is on using that event to build toward a better future. Now that the NBA Draft lottery is complete, the speculation can truly begin as to which player each franchise will pin its hopes on for the future. Of course, having one of the top selections in any draft doesn’t guarantee that a team will snag a future All-Star. Team executives and scouts still have the difficult task of making the correct call with their picks.

With this in mind we at Hoops Rumors will be taking a look back at the draft history of the primary basketball executive for each NBA team. Their names, reputations, and possibly employment will be on the line as a result of the decisions to come on June 25th, and we’ll be examining what they’ve done in previous years in charge of a club’s front office. Note that many of them have played other sorts of roles within a team’s executive structure, but this won’t take that into account. We’ll continue onward with a look back at the calls made by Pelicans GM Dell Demps.

Pelicans (July 2010-Present)

2011 Draft

  • No first-rounder. Pick No. 19 overall (Tobias Harris) owned by the Bucks).
  • Traded the No. 45 overall pick (Josh Harrellson) to the Knicks for cash.

Players passed over or available at draft slot: Harris (No. 19), Kenneth Faried (No. 22), Nikola Mirotic (No. 23), Reggie Jackson (No. 24), Jimmy Butler (No. 30), Chandler Parsons (No. 38), and Isaiah Thomas (No. 60).

2012 Draft

  • No. 1 Overall — Anthony Davis: 199 games, 19.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 2.5 BPG. .525/.111/.789.
  • No. 10 Overall — Austin Rivers: 206 games, 7.0 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.1 APG. .397/.326/.624.
  • No. 46 Overall — Darius Miller: 102 games, 3.1 PPG, 1.3 RPG, and 0.9 APG. .420/.351/.841.

Players passed over or available at draft slot: Bradley Beal (No. 3), Damian Lillard (No. 6), Andre Drummond (No. 9), Draymond Green (No. 35), and Khris Middleton (No. 39).

2013 Draft

  • *No. 6 Overall — Nerlens Noel. Noel was later dealt along with a 2014 first round pick to the Sixers in exchange for Jrue Holiday and the rights to the No. 42 overall pick (Pierre Jackson).
  • No second-rounder. Pick No. 35 overall (Glen Rice Jr.) owned by Wizards.

Players passed over or available at draft slot: Noel (No. 6), Michael Carter-Williams (No. 11), Kelly Olynyk (No. 13), Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15), Mason Plumlee (No. 22), and Rudy Gobert (No. 27).

2014 Draft

  •  No first-rounder. No. 10 overall pick (Elfrid Payton) owned by the Magic.
  • No second-rounder. No. 40 overall pick (Glenn Robinson III) owned by the Timberwolves.

Players passed over or available at draft slot: Payton (No. 10), Zach LaVine (No. 13), K.J. McDaniels (No. 32), and Jordan Clarkson (No. 46).

Southeast Notes: Millsap, Skiles, Brand

May 28 at 5:50pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Hawks forward Paul Millsap, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, said that his shoulder won’t require surgery, just rest, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution relays (Twitter link). There have been reports that Millsap might need surgery to repair damage to his sprained right shoulder. Should the veteran ultimately require surgery, it is unclear how or if it would affect the market for the 30-year-old, who is expected to command a max salary or close to it on his next contract.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • New Mexico State guard Daniel Mullings worked out for the Heat today, his agent Matt Slan of Slan Sports Management tweeted.
  • With Scott Skiles reportedly the front-runner to become the Magic‘s next head coach, it had been noted that Skiles had a poor relationship with forward Tobias Harris when the two were with the Bucks. But sources have told Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) that there is no lingering issue between the two sides, and that Harris would like to continue to be a part of what the team is building. Harris can become a restricted free agent this summer if Orlando tenders him a qualifying offer.
  • Hawks big man Elton Brand said that he will take several weeks to decide if he will return to the NBA for his 17th season, or call it a career and retire, Vivlamore writes. The 36-year-old appeared in 36 games for Atlanta this past season, averaging 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per contest.

Fallout From Tom Thibodeau Firing

May 28 at 3:21pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Bulls GM Gar Forman and executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson didn’t say as much in their press conference today, but the now-vacant Bulls coaching job is Fred Hoiberg‘s to lose, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. There has been some doubt about whether Hoiberg, coming off heart surgery last month, would head to the Bulls this year, but sources close to the Iowa State coach tell Randy Peterson of The Des Moines Register that they believe Hoiberg would accept if, or when, offered. Indeed, several close to Hoiberg are confident that he’s ready for the challenge of the NBA, Johnson hears (Twitter link). There’s much more on Hoiberg, the fired Tom Thibodeau, and the Bulls, as we relay:

  • There’s no way Hoiberg would turn down the Bulls job, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press, and the coach was ready to jump to the NBA if the Warriors had offered him their job last season, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, the Warriors got the sense then that Hoiberg wasn’t quite ready, notes Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Still, Hoiberg last month told recruiting target Cheick Diallo that he couldn’t guarantee that he’d remain the school’s coach for 2015/16, sources told Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune (hat tip to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv).
  • The Bulls have also fired assistant coach Andy Greer, Forman confirmed at the press conference today, as Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com notes (on Twitter).
  • Forman also said that Bulls management got the sense they needed to make a change after meeting with players and other team personnel, Friedell tweets. That would jibe with Johnson’s report that some players conveyed in their exit meetings this month that they didn’t endorse Thibodeau’s return.
  • The GM denied that the Bulls viewed Thibodeau as an asset they could use to extract compensation from other teams and confirmed that no team had called to ask permission to interview the coach this year, Friedell passes along (on Twitter).
  • Paxson suggested that the Bulls would have kept Thibs if they’d won the title this year, advancing the idea that the team’s inability to get past the Cavs in the playoffs further lowered Thibodeau in the eyes of management. “We wouldn’t be sitting here if we won a championship,” Paxson said, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link). “I feel like we had a real chance.” 

And-Ones: Wolves, Lakers, Pacers, Celtics

May 28 at 2:28pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Several players and agents suggested to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders that any given Eastern Conference team would be more attractive than a comparable one from the Western Conference given the disparity between the conferences. One agent told Kennedy that players “absolutely” want to be the East and that he hopes his draft clients are taken by Eastern teams, though an executive cautioned that the presence of LeBron James might dissuade free agents from jumping out of the West. James is set to represent the East for the fifth straight time in the NBA Finals, and while we wait more than a week for tip-off, here’s more from around the NBA:

  • Chad Ford of ESPN.com hears D’Angelo Russell is in the mix for the Timberwolves at No. 1, says Karl-Anthony Towns, but not necessarily Jahlil Okafor, would be a lock for the Lakers at No. 2, and also writes in his chat with readers that the Pacers and Celtics would love to move up. Ford has heard chatter among GMs that the Thunder have promised Cameron Payne they’ll take him at No. 14, but he isn’t sure just how much truth there is to that, as the ESPN scribe writes in the same piece. Sources have suggested to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders that Payne has a promise from some team. Our Eddie Scarito has Payne going to the Thunder in the Hoops Rumors Mock Draft.
  • UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn had an especially impressive workout this past weekend, Ford observes in an Insider-only piece, and Vaughn also opened eyes in his workout Tuesday for the Heat, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Ford adds in his piece that scouts have told him that French center Alpha Kaba is willing to stay in the draft rather than withdraw by the June 15th deadline if he receives a promise from a team.
  • The Bulls and Pelicans have interest in former 16th overall pick Royce White, reports Shams Charania of RealGM, though it’s not clear if they’re yet considering him for any sort of deal that would go beyond summer league.

Melvin Hunt Front-Runner For Nuggets Job

May 28 at 1:14pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt is the front-runner to take the job on a formal basis, a source tells Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling (Twitter link). The chances that Hunt would fill the vacancy have improved since season’s end, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported last week, and while Stein wrote that Mike D’Antoni was still in the mix, the long-ago Nuggets coach has yet to interview for the vacancy Denver created when it fired Brian Shaw, Zwerling adds.

The Nuggets are “not an option” for Tom Thibodeau, sources told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com last week, even though it had earlier seemed as though he would be the favorite once the Bulls let him go, as they finally did today. Alvin Gentry is reportedly a candidate for the Denver job, but reports have linked him to all four current NBA head coaching vacancies. Michael Malone, Scott Skiles, Fred Hoiberg and David Vanterpool are others who’ve been in contention, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Denver’s brass sees Hunt as a viable coach for a rebuilding team, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote this week. The Nuggets are apparently contemplating major changes, but Hunt drew strong support from existing Nuggets players after he took over the team for the stretch run. That included plaudits from Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried, who are otherwise losing confidence in the team and have let the Nuggets know that unless they make the right kind of coaching hire or pull off a significant trade, they’d rather be traded themselves than go through rebuilding, Kyler wrote.

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Calathes, Draft

May 28 at 12:36pm CDT By Chuck Myron

One comment that Marc Gasol made to Spanish media should be encouraging for the Grizzlies, while another appears to fuel Spurs hope. Gasol said that he hasn’t thought about changing teams and once more cited his deep roots in Memphis, according to Adriano Correal of Gigantes del Basket (translation via HoopsHype). Still, he called the Spurs a model franchise and expressed his admiration of Tim Duncan, as Abraham Romero of Diario As passes along (translation via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News). The Spurs are the team the Grizzlies fear the most among Gasol’s suitors, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com recently reported. Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Nick Calathes told Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype that his primary goal is to remain in the NBA and denied a report from Javier Maestro of Encestando.es that he wanted to leave the NBA and that his camp had offered his services to Barcelona of Spain (translation via HoopsHype). Calathes, whose contract with Memphis expires at the end of next month, is nonetheless expected to draw pursuit from several European teams, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia, who says the 26-year-old stands to make more money overseas than he would remaining in the NBA. The Grizzlies can match competing NBA bids for him if they tender a qualifying offer worth more than $1.147MM.
  • The Mavs on Wednesday were set to work out Florida shooting guard Michael Frazier, Villanova small forward Darrun Hilliard, Nebraska swingman Terran Petteway, Arkansas shooting guard Michael Qualls, Baylor small forward Royce O’Neale and Incarnate Word combo guard Denzel Livingston, a source told Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link).
  • Terrence Jones questioned whether he would ever play again after suffering a nerve injury earlier this season that knocked him out for nearly three months, so he’s not too upset that the Rockets benched him during the playoffs, as Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle examines. Jones is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

Bulls Fire Tom Thibodeau

May 28 at 11:08am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Bulls have fired coach Tom Thibodeau, the team announced via press release. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported overnight that resolution to the long-running drama between Thibodeau and Bulls management was expected no later than Friday.

Apr 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau during the second quarter in game one of the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

“When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said in the team’s statement.  “But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed.”

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf also made a lengthy comment in the statement that spoke to a breakdown in cohesion among the coach and management, essentially confirming a well-documented storyline that’s persisted for more than a year. The Bulls let Thibodeau know his fate at a meeting today, but the coach knew the news was coming, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). The Bulls are still on the hook for the nearly $9MM they owe Thibodeau for the rest of his contract, which covered the next two seasons, but that would be offset if he takes a coaching job elsewhere within two years.

The Magic and the Pelicans are known to have interest in talking to Thibodeau, Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote Wednesday, but as of last week, no team had contacted the Bulls to ask permission to hire Thibs, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Thibodeau wasn’t willing to meet with teams or talk to them about their vacancies while he remained under contract with the Bulls, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders heard. The Nuggets are not an option for Thibodeau, sources told Berger. The Bulls reportedly wanted to hold off on firing Thibodeau and seek compensation in return for allowing another team to hire Thibs, but teams didn’t appear willing to give it up for a coach whom Chicago was well-known not to want back.

Multiple reports have cast Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg as Chicago’s top choice to succeed Thibodeau, but the Bulls are interested in Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry, too, Kyler reported, and one source who spoke with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report considers Gentry the favorite for the job. Bulls lead assistant coach Adrian Griffin is also in the mix as a potential Thibodeau replacement, as Stein reported. Hoiberg had open heart surgery last month to replace his aortic valve, and Kyler and Beck have heard doubts that he’ll jump to the Bulls this year. The Nuggets and Magic appeared to have interest in Gentry at various points this spring, and the Pelicans interviewed him.

Thibodeau had plenty of on-court success in his five seasons with the Bulls, who gave the longtime assistant his first NBA head coaching job. He went 255-139 in the regular season, winning the 2010 Coach of the Year award, though he was just 23-28 in the playoffs, and Stein heard that the Bulls were displeased with his team’s inability to get past a banged-up Cavs team in the second round this year.