Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes has issued a statement to Sam Amick of USA Today on his suspension. “I deeply regret my actions and apologize to my teammates and the organization for my poor judgment,” says Calathes. “Let me be clear: I never took any medication whatsoever for a performance-enhancing reason. I don’t agree with this outcome, and I will come back a better player and person when I return.” Here’s more from out West:
Tim Kawakami of Bay Area News Group says that it has been emphasized to him that no decision on Mark Jackson‘s future with the Warriors has been made (via Twitter). That would support the perception that Golden State’s performance in the playoffs could largely determine whether he is the coach beyond this year.
The Clippers are poised to make a deep playoff run, and Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune credits Doc Rivers, who has improved the roster through acquisitions and development as both head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations.
SATURDAY, 9:18am:Ron Klempner, the acting player’s union executive director, tells Wojnarowski that the suspension is a “true injustice,” and that the NBPA has and will continue to fight the decision. “Our collectively bargained program failed this player and this case will certainly be recalled when we return to the bargaining table,” Klempner said. “In the meantime, we’ll file an appeal and allow the process to run its course.”
FRIDAY, 6:31pm: Memphis guard Nick Calathes will be suspended 20 games for a violation of NBA’s Anti-Drug policy, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The suspension is to begin immediately according to the tweet. The Grizzlies begin their playoff series against the Thunder on Saturday. The suspension will cause Calathes to miss this year’s playoffs.
Calathes allegedly tested positive for Tamoxifen, which was supposedly part of an over-the-counter athletic supplement he had used, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link).
The NBA’s lab results reportedly showed no traces of testosterone or performance enhancing drugs in the supplement, tweets Wojnarowski. “There was no intent here,” a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
Calathes averaged 4.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 16.5 minutes per game this season.
The intersection of exit interviews for teams that missed the playoffs and a steady stream of draft-related news has made for a busy Thursday around Hoops Rumors. We’ll catch up on the latest from around the league here:
Carmelo Anthony suggested today that he’s considered opting in for 2014/15, but he believes he’s better off hitting free agency this summer rather than waiting, according to Scott Cacciola of The New York Times (Twitter link).
Zach Randolph‘s failure to make the All-Star Game and trigger a $438,333 bonus that had been considered likely gave the Grizzlies the flexibility to claim Beno Udrih off waivers without going into tax territory, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports explains in a piece for the Score.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts appears nervous about his future with the club, which has yet to pick up its option on him for next season, as The Oregonian’s Jason Quick observes, wondering if the coach’s fate will be tied to the team’s postseason performance.
The league is considering a proposal that would tie an increased NBA age minimum to better D-League pay, sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Some D-Leaguers could earn between $100K and $200K per year under the plan, Deveney tweets.
Pelicans GM Dell Demps said in a press conference Wednesday that he likes the team’s core and wants to see more of those players on the court together after an injury-plagued 2013/14, notes Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com. Demps also said it would be unfair to judge coach Monty Williams, given all the injuries.
Williams indicated Thursday that he’d like to see the Pelicans make a move to bolster their defense, particularly in the paint, as Eichenhofer writes in a separate piece.
The Warriors have assigned Ognjen Kuzmic to the D-League, the team announced. The rookie center will assist the Santa Cruz Warriors in their playoff game tonight, fresh off his best performance of the year for Golden State on Wednesday.
The Rockets announced (on Twitter) that Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington have been assigned the club’s affiliate in Reno Grande Valley. Both players are extremely familiar with the Vipers.
Zach Randolph reiterates his desire to remain with the Grizzlies for the rest of his career, though he adds in his interview with Marc Stein of ESPN.com that he hasn’t had any talks with team management as a decision on his player option for next season looms (video link).
Flip Saunders would make himself the Timberwolves next coach if it was up to him, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Team owner Glen Taylor wants Saunders to focus on one job because he believes a coach lives in the present and a good manager must think for the future, writes Zgoda. He still could change Taylor’s mind, particularly if he convinces Taylor that his coaching system and style will help keep Kevin Love in Minnesota, opines Zgoda.
If the Nuggets can get all of their players healthy to start next season, there could be a big man battle brewing, writes Aaron J. Lopez of NBA.com. The play down the stretch of Timofey Mozgov has put JaVale McGee‘s job as starting center in danger, opines Lopez. Over his past seven games, Mozgov is averaging 17.4 PPG and 9.6 RPG.
As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, it’s the time of year when the annual coaching carousel begins to spin and a slew of faces will end up in brand new places. Heading into the 2013/14 season there were a total of 13 coaching changes, which if you’re keeping score at home, is the most ever in a single offseason.
We won’t know for sure just how many teams will be making a change on their bench until the playoffs are over. Normally you would think a playoff spot would ensure job security, but Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, and Larry Drew all weren’t retained after reaching the playoffs last year. So the exact number of vacancies are up in the air, but we know there will be some.
If your team is making a head coaching change, which would you prefer in your new hire? Do you want a veteran coach with years of experience to lead your team? One who has a proven track record, but also could be carrying baggage and bad habits picked up throughout the years. Or, would you prefer the energy and new ideas a first-time coach can provide? A new coach has more to prove, and might be more in touch with the pulse and culture of his players, but has no experience to rely on, and no track record to predict future performance.
Let’s look at how this year’s crop of new coaches fared as an example. First up, the ones with prior experience:
Doc Rivers (Clippers): The team is 55-24, first in the Pacific Division, and the third seed in the playoffs. Last year’s team went 56-26 under Vinny Del Negro, before Del Negro wasn’t retained and the team traded for Rivers.
Maurice Cheeks (Pistons): He was fired 50 games into the year with a record of 20-29. Detroit was 29-53 in 2012/13 under Lawrence Frank. After the team signed Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season, owner Tom Gores expected a much better record and for the team to make the playoffs.
Mike Brown (Cavaliers): The team sits at 32-47, which is good for tenth in the eastern conference. Last year under Byron Scott the team had a record of 24-58 and ended up with the first overall selection in the draft.
Larry Drew (Bucks): The Bucks sit at 14-64. which is good for the worst record in the league. In 2012/13 under Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan the team went 38-44.
Now for how the first-time coaches performed:
Jason Kidd (Nets): The Nets are at 43-35, which is good for the fifth overall playoff seed. Kidd replaced interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team finished 2012/13 with a record of 49-33.
Brad Stevens (Celtics): Stevens, taking over for Doc Rivers, has gone 23-55, but has the re-building team heading in a positive direction. Last year’s team went 41-40.
Mike Budenholzer (Hawks): The Hawks have gone 35-43 and currently hold the final playoff spot in the east. Last year’s Larry Drew led squad went 44-38.
Steve Clifford (Bobcats): Clifford has led the Bobcats to a 40-38 record and the sixth seed in the east. Under Mike Dunlap the team went 21-61 during last year’s campaign.
Brian Shaw (Nuggets): The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries all season, and sit at 35-44. Shaw replaced coach of the year winner George Karl, who led the team to a record of 57-25.
David Joerger (Grizzlies): Joerger replaced Lionel Hollins and has guided the team to a record of 46-32, and has the team is one game out of the final playoff spot. Last year the team went 56-26.
Brett Brown (Sixers): Under Brown the Sixers have the second worst record in the league at 17-61, including a record-tying 26 game losing streak. Last season under Doug Collins, the team went 34-48.
Jeff Hornacek (Suns): The Suns are one of the most improved teams in the league with a record of 47-31, and hold the seventh seed in the western conference. Last year under Lindsey Hunter and Alvin Gentry the team went 25-57.
Mike Malone (Kings): Under Malone the Kings have gone 27-52. During the 2012/13 season under Keith Smart the team ended up 28-54.
This means that in their first seasons with their new teams, experienced coaches went 121-164 (.424), and the first-timers went 313-391 (.444). There are many different factors outside a coach’s control that contribute to the team’s final record, but the nature of the NBA is that the coach is the first one to take the heat.
Now it’s time to vote. If your team makes a coaching change this off season, do you want an experienced person hired, or would you prefer the team brings in a brand new face? Cast your vote below and feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Bulls, Cavaliers and Bobcats will likely court Pau Gasol in free agency this summer, executives from around the league tell Chris Mannix of SI.com. The executives add that the Grizzlies will be in the mix, too, if Zach Randolph opts out, echoing a report from last month. The Arn Tellem client, who’ll turn 34 in July, has a decent chance to receive an offer worth $10MM a year, a front office official from an Eastern Conference team says to Mannix.
That Eastern exec suggests that there are two schools of thought regarding Gasol, with his most aggressive suitors believing that the environment in Los Angeles and the Lakers’ style of play have hindered Gasol the past two seasons, and that an escape could revive his career. Others insist that Gasol is past his prime, the unnamed exec tells Mannix.
Gasol has said he won’t rule out a return to the Lakers, and according to Mannix, the Lakers feel the same away about re-signing the 7-footer. Teammate and friend Kobe Bryant has said he believes there’s an 80% chance the Lakers will bring back Gasol, but Bryant and Gasol reportedly would like to see coach Mike D’Antonireplaced, and the Lakers appear to be leaning toward keeping D’Antoni. Gasol, who appears likely to miss the rest of the season with vertigo, tells Mannix that a team’s chances of winning will be paramount as he makes his decision.
“I want to be in a team that is going to be built to win a championship,” Gasol said. “That’s my top priority. Money won’t be the main priority. Length and money are factors, but we’ll see. Until I know all the options, I won’t be able to measure them. But we’re getting close to the end of my career. I want to be in a good situation. It’s an important decision to make.”
The Bulls and Grizzlies appear to be closest to winning a championship among the suitors that Mannix lists. Executives have doubts about Charlotte’s ability to defend with Gasol and Al Jefferson as their primary rim protectors, as the SI.com scribe notes. The Cavs were deep in talks with the Lakers about acquiring Gasol via trade when Cleveland was shopping Andrew Bynum in January.
If the Clippers beat the Suns tonight, they will clinch the Pacific Division title. Here’s more from out west:
Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes that Warriors coach Mark Jackson has a uniquely loyal roster in Golden State, and that Warriors brass ought to be very convinced his weaknesses are insurmountable before choosing to part ways with the third-year coach. Stein believes that the most important factor for an NBA coach’s success, other than a talented roster, is player buy-in. Star point guard Steph Curry is adamant that he supports Jackson, and Stein warns that there’s no guarantee a new coach with a winning pedigree could earn the same level of commitment from the Warriors locker room.
The Grizzlies have recalled Jamaal Franklin from their D-League affiliate per a team release. The rookie has been sent back and forth between the NBA and D-League a handful of times this season, averaging 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds in 7.9 minutes per contest in his 19 games with Memphis.
J.J. Redick is planning on returning for one of the Clippers next three home games, sources tell Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). Redick has been out with a bulging disc long enough to raise the question of whether he could miss the rest of the season.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale told reporters including Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that Houston’s staff will miss Kelvin Sampson. “He’s had success wherever he’s been. We’ll all miss him. He’s been a great addition,” said McHale. Sampson was hired by the University of Houston and will leave the Rockets after tonight’s game. Sampson himself had no comment on his departure.
Rudy Gay could become one of the most polarizing free agents of the 2014 class if he decides to turn down next season’s player option, worth more than $19.3MM, and hit the market this summer. The Grizzlies and Raptors reached new heights after unloading him, while the Kings have remained at the bottom of the Western Conference since acquiring the 6’8″ forward. Gay has nonetheless played much better in Sacramento, and his 48.4% shooting percentage in 50 games as a King would be a career high if extrapolated over a full season. Here’s the latest on the Octagon Sports client as a critical offseason looms:
Gay tells Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that he’s so uncertain about whether to exercise his player option that he can’t even identify what will factor into the decision. Still, Howard-Cooper gets the sense that Gay is leaning toward staying with the Kings, whether that means opting in or signing a new deal with the team. “I think I can have a future here for sure,” Gay said. “For sure. With the people we have in the front office, with the coaches, I definitely fit in here. It’s just when you get here, you’re set and you’re settled and everything’s blown over, when you have your contract and everything’s set, no matter where you are, it’s just where do we go from there? I’m looking forward to weighing my options.”
The 27-year-old said to Howard-Cooper that he can envision himself continuing to play in a rebuilding situation, but he admits to Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom that it’s not ideal. “At times it’s tough,” Gay said. “I’m not going to say it’s all peaches and cream because at times it’s tough. But you have to put yourself in a different mindset. Of course, if I was on a vet team, I’d probably be preparing for the playoffs. But since I’m here, I have to make these guys better.”
Seth Curry is going to sign with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest is reporting (Twitter link). This will be his second stint with the team this season. This comes on the heels of the Cavaliersdeclining to sign Curry to a second 10-day contract. Curry only appeared in one game for the Cavs, contributing three points, two steals, and one rebound in nine minutes of action.
Curry also spent time in the NBA this season on a non-guaranteed contract with the Grizzlies, until Memphis waived him. Curry only saw the floor once in Memphis as well.
In 36 games with Santa Cruz, Curry has averaged 19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 5.9 APG in 35.3 minutes per game.