- After promoting Nate McMillan from an assistant coach job to replace Frank Vogel as head coach, the Pacers will have at least one opening on their bench, and the team is in pursuit of Bill Bayno, says Stein (Twitter link). A longtime coach at a variety of levels, Bayno most recently served as an assistant for the Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, and Raptors.
- Bayno isn’t the only potential assistant being targeted by Indiana. Sources tell Stein (Twitter link) that the Pacers have also expressed interest in hiring Nick Van Exel. The former NBA guard, who coached the D-League’s Texas Legends this past season, is believed to be drawing interest from teams besides Indiana, Stein adds (via Twitter).
Fresh off securing the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft, the Sixers won’t limit their options to LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Philadelphia is planning workouts for California forward Jaylen Brown, Providence point guard Kris Dunn and Kentucky combo guard Jamal Murray, Spears reports. The Sixers may also offer invitations to Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Dragan Bender. “The media has their darlings and that is perfectly fine,” Brown said of the attention surrounding Simmons and Ingram. “I’m just here to prove that I’m in the conversation with those two, if not better.” Brown also issued a challenge to the projected top two picks, saying, “Do they want to work out [against] me? I think that’s the question.”
There’s more draft-related news as Wednesday’s deadline for underclassmen to return to school approaches:
- The results of Tuesday’s lottery may push Dunn out of the top five, according to Derek Bodner of USA Today. Bodner believes the best scenario for Dunn would have been for the Lakers to drop to No. 4 and ship their pick to the Sixers, who need help at point guard. If Simmons and Ingram are the first players selected, the next three teams — the Celtics, Suns and Wolves — all have established point guards on their roster.
- Providence power forward Ben Bentil, who announced earlier today that he is staying in the draft, will work out for the Pacers Monday, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. The sophomore will have a session in Orlando later this week.
- Kentucky freshman Isaiah Briscoe has a workout scheduled this week for the Hawks, Zagoria tweets. Briscoe hasn’t decided whether to stay in the draft or return to school.
- Briscoe will work out for the Wolves Monday, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Joining Briscoe will be Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet, BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth, Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith, Louisiana-Monroe’s Majok Deng and South Carolina’s Michael Carrera.
- The Jazz believe in volume when it comes to workouts, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. Utah hosted Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey, Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, Finney-Smith, Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Xavier’s Jalen Reynolds and Mississippi State’s Gavin Ware on Sunday, and expects to work out dozens more before draft day. “We’re trying to find players, not only possibly for the Jazz but also for the [D-League Salt Lake City] Stars,” said vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin. “Get to know as many people as possible.”
Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt plans to be on someone’s bench next season, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. After taking Cleveland to the NBA Finals last season, Blatt was fired in January with a 30-11 record. It’s a rare break for the 57-year-old, who has held coaching jobs around the world since 1993. “I’m going to coach next year,” Blatt said. “I’m not going to sit out. It’s not in my nature. I want to work. I’ll be back somewhere. Could be anywhere.” He added that he prefers a head coaching position overseas to working as an assistant in the NBA.
There’s more news from the Central Division:
- It’s time for the Bulls to break up the Derrick Rose–Jimmy Butler backcourt, argues K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Johnson says their relationship has become “untenable” because both players consider themselves to be the team leader, both need the ball in their hands to be most effective and neither has the 3-point shooting skills to complement the other. Johnson believes Rose’s injury history would make him difficult to deal, even though he only has one season left on his contract at $21.3MM. Butler would probably bring a greater return, but it would signify a rebuilding process that Chicago may not be ready for. If they’re both back next season, Johnson suggests drafting a shooting guard, possibly Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, and moving Butler to small forward.
- New Pacers coach Nate McMillan has to change his style to succeed in the modern NBA, former All-Star Gary Payton tells Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. Payton, who played for McMillan in Seattle, says the coach will need to drop his disciplinarian image. “[McMillan] can’t be that militant coach,” Payton said. “You see what happened with George Karl up in Sacramento. When you’ve got players and it happens like that, you’re going to be the odd man out. I don’t think ownership these days are taking the side of a coach unless you’re a [Gregg] Popovich or something like that, over these $15MM-$20MM players.”
- The Bucks are weighing their options with the 36th and 38th picks in next month’s draft, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Journal-Sentinel. Milwaukee concentrated on forwards on its first workout this week, which included Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Shawn Long. Trading the picks to move into the first round is also an option. “Could we ever bundle those picks and move up?” said GM John Hammond. “Once again, not easy to do. Do we stay with both picks? Do we look at making one of those picks for a current roster spot and maybe another one with potentially an international player that could stay and continue to develop? We’ll see as it moves forward.”
It remains to be seen how well new Pacers coach Nate McMillan has evolved since his stint with the Blazers, given how much the league has changed since then, Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star writes. “The interesting thing is that Nate went to Portland and had a pretty decent run of success there but played a very methodical, slowed-down, precise type of offense,” said former player Brent Barry, who was coached by McMillan for four seasons, “and I think that’s why a lot of people are interested in how it is after Larry’s comments with regards to coach Vogel, wanting to be a more up-tempo offensive, quick-strike team, how it is that Nate has changed and evolved during his time on the bench in Indiana.”
- The Pacers will hold their third predraft workout on Monday and participating will be Anthony Barber (North Carolina State), Ben Bentil (Providence), Kay Felder (Oakland), Armani Moore (Tennessee), Rasheed Sulaimon (Maryland), and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue), the team announced.
- Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead cancelled his workout with the Pacers that was scheduled for Wednesday and the player is giving serious consideration to returning to school for his junior campaign, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv relays.
The Grizzlies spoke with at least two candidates today as their search for a new coach heats up. Heat assistant David Fizdale came to Memphis for an interview, tweets Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com., as did Portland assistant Nate Tibbetts, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). Both had been previously named as candidates for the job.
Spurs assistant James Borrego impressed Grizzlies officials during his interview earlier this week, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Memphis has also held interviews with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing and recently fired Pacers coach Frank Vogel (Twitter link). The Grizzlies have significant interest in Vogel, according to ESPN, but so does Orlando (Twitter link).
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Pelicans free agent Ryan Anderson says he was nearly traded to Cleveland at the deadline, relays Brett Dawson of The Advocate. Appearing on “The Vertical Podcast,” Anderson contends the Cavaliers were trying to work out a deal for him before they picked up Channing Frye from Orlando. “There was a very last-minute phone call that I could have gone to Cleveland,” Anderson said. “I would be playing for the Cavs right now.” Anderson said he didn’t ask the Pelicans to trade him because he wants to have the option in free agency of staying in New Orleans. Anderson’s last experience as a free agent came in 2012 when he was restricted and Orlando swung a deal to send him to the Pelicans. This time, he likes the feeling of being in complete control. “I want to enjoy this process and see where New Orleans is at this summer,” Anderson said. “I want to see where, I don’t know, Houston is at or Sacramento or Washington.”
- The Spurs could be interested in power forward Thomas Robinson if he opts out of his deal with the Nets, according to Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Robinson would give up a little more than $980K by opting out, but he stands to make much more on the open market with the expected jump in the salary cap. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has talked about the need to rebuild the bench with younger players, and the 25-year-old Robinson, a former teammate of LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland, could be a possibility.
- Rockets point guard Jason Terry thinks Dwight Howard would be a “great fit” with the Mavericks, but only if he adapts to coach Rick Carlisle, according to The Dallas Morning News. “Whatever [Howard’s] role is, he would have to be the one to buy in first, and then you go from there,” Terry said on ESPN Radio’s Cowlishaw and Mosley show. “But he and Dirk [Nowitzki] together? That’s a powerful combination.” The 38-year-old Terry adds that he hopes to play one more season before retiring.
The Pacers, who typically employ three assistant coaches, will have at least one hole to fill in that group after Nate McMillan‘s promotion to head coach. However, as Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star writes (via Twitter), the team would like to retain its other two assistants, Dan Burke and Popeye Jones. That would leave one opening, and McMillan would have the opportunity to pick his replacement, per Buckner.
- The Pacers held their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday, and will hold another session on Wednesday, according to a pair of announcements from the team. Participants today that had not been previously reported included Dorian Finney-Smith, Michael Gbinije, Sheldon McClellan, and Tyrone Wallace. Tomorrow, Ryan Arcidiacono, Wade Baldwin, Matt Costello, Max Landis, Patrick McCaw, and Kaleb Tarczewski will work out for Indiana.
- Thon Maker had been scheduled to take part in Indiana’s workout on Wednesday, but he won’t participate due to a scheduling issue, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Zagoria suggests that Maker will still work out for the Pacers and Bulls at some point.
12:38pm: McMillan signed a three-year contract with the Pacers, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). There are no options included in the deal.
11:55am: In advance of their formal news conference today, the Pacers have confirmed in a press release that Nate McMillan has been hired as the team’s new head coach. McMillan, who has been an assistant with the team since 2013, replaces Frank Vogel, who was let go on May 5th.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported on Saturday that the Pacers were putting the final touches on a deal to promote McMillan to the head coaching job. According to Wojnarowski, Pacers officials offered McMillan the job during his interview late last week.
“I truly believe Nate is the right coach for us at this time,” Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird said in a statement on Monday. “When I heard he was interested, I got in touch with him, met with him and in our conversation I came away with all the confidence in the world in Nate to lead our franchise to where we want to go. His experience as a player, head coach and assistant coach in the NBA are valuable assets for us.”
This will be the third NBA head coaching job for McMillan, who spent nearly five seasons as the coach in Seattle and six and a half with Portland. He has a 478-452 career record, along with five playoff appearances.
The Pacers considered several former NBA coaches and current assistants before deciding on the 51-year-old McMillan. He was also reported to be a finalist for the Kings job that went to Dave Joerger and was listed as a possible candidate for the Wizards’ opening before they hired Scott Brooks.