We saw earlier today that J.B. Bickerstaff was on the Pistons' radar. On Wednesday, the Rockets assistant will interview for the team's head coaching vacancy, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, adding that Bickerstaff's stock as a head coaching candidate has risen rapidly of late in the eyes of NBA execs. Phil Jackson, who is serving as a consultant in the Pistons coaching search, quietly flew into Detroit on Monday and was scheduled to meet with team president Joe Dumars on Tuesday, reports Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News. Here are some other news and notes from around the Association:
- We now know that Jackson will not be the Nets next head coach. While Marc Stein wrote that Mike Dunleavy Sr. is not being considered by Brooklyn, it is worth noting that Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News have reported that Dunleavy has emerged as a "real dark horse" in a coaching search that involves higher profile names. Dunleavy grew up in Brooklyn.
- Vinny Del Negro is expected to meet with Clippers owner Donald Sterling soon about his uncertain future as the team's head coach, reports Ken Berger of CBS Sports. All signs point toward Del Negro being dismissed despite an excellent relationship with Sterling. Berger reports that while Chris Paul is expected to have a say in who replaces Del Negro, his influence may be weaker than most think.
- Former coach and current NBA analyst Hubie Brown gave his thoughts on the Bobcats' coaching vacancy on Tuesday, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Brown's advice; match your coaching targets with your players strengths. From Brown, "Too many times a coach's style doesn't match the players already under contracts, particularly the top three players. The style of play is critical in relation to the players on the roster. If it doesn't match you're just wasting time."
- Brown went on to address the coaching-search misconception that all assistants have close to equal experience, using Tom Thibodeau as a prime example. "The backgrounds of various assistants are totally different," Brown said.
The latest piece from Marc Stein at ESPN.com includes word that Dwight Howard remains more likely than Chris Paul to leave Los Angeles this summer. One source predicted to Stein that there's "zero chance" Paul signs with any team besides the Clippers. However, while Paul looks like a strong bet to return to L.A., the same can't be said for his head coach. Here are the latest rumblings on Vinny Del Negro and the rest of the NBA's coaching carousel:
- Stein refers to Del Negro's dismissal as seemingly "inevitable" and suggests that the Clippers want to go "big" with their next hire. Stan Van Gundy is one name likely to surface, according to Stein.
- If Del Negro is let go, Michael Malone, Alvin Gentry, and Byron Scott also figure to be a few top candidates for the position, according to Mark Heisler of HoopsHype.com. Stein endorses that list of contenders, particularly if the team's interest in Van Gundy doesn't go anywhere.
- Kelvin Sampson is the Rockets assistant frequently mentioned as a head coach candidate, but J.B. Bickerstaff is also on the Pistons' list, says Stein.
- Sampson and Mike Dunleavy aren't currently being considered for the Nets' opening, reports Stein.
- Assuming Larry Drew is done in Atlanta, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer and former Lakers assistant Quin Snyder are expected to be among the Hawks' targets, says Stein.
- Coaching candidate Brian Shaw has yet to be contacted about job openings, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (via Twitter). I'd assume the Pacers will give Shaw permission to interview for coaching jobs once Indiana is out of the playoffs.
- Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com surveyed leagues execs, players, and team personnel on who would make a good first-time NBA coach, and Heat assistant David Fizdale, Grizzlies assistant David Joerger, and Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg were among the top selections.
In addition to taking over as the Timberwolves' president of basketball
ops, Flip Saunders will invest about $8MM into the team, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. We heard earlier today that owner Glen Taylor is no longer interested in selling the franchise, but instead figures to try to buy out minority owners' stakes, or find local buyers for those shares. Wolfson has a few more T-Wolves updates in his latest piece, so let's dive in and check them out....
- When he was fielding calls about possibly selling the franchise, Taylor was approached by Chris Hansen's Seattle group, former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley, St. Louis businessman Dr. Richard Chaifetz, and a group headed by former coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. However, none of those potential suitors had interest in keeping the team in Minnesota long-term, says Wolfson.
- Rick Adelman appears very likely to return as the Wolves' head coach in 2013/14, but if Saunders hires a new coach down the road, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff figure to be among the candidates, sources inform Wolfson.
- Nikola Pekovic's camp isn't upset with David Kahn's dismissal, but it will be Taylor who ultimately makes the final call on how high the Wolves are willing to go on a new deal for the restricted free agent.
- Wolfson also questions the validity of a number of the comments Kahn made after being let go, suggesting there may be some revisionist history at work.
- According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Twitter link), Taylor had a list of eight candidates to call about replacing Kahn, including Phil Jackson, but ultimately hired Saunders before even getting to his list.
Many believe there's virtually no chance the Jazz will re-sign both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap this summer, and Millsap admits the uncertainty of impending free agency crept into his mind during the season, as Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News writes. "That’s me being honest," Millsap said. "It’s a tough thing to try to put it in the back of your head and not think about it. For the most part, I felt like we did a good job of handling it and the coaches did too." Free agents in the playoffs face even more pressure as they chase a title and their next contract at the same time, and as we watch to see who can take that kind of heat, here's the latest from around the Association:
- Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks expressed his support for Vinny Del Negro to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, in response to rumors that the team may not retain the coach. Del Negro is in the final year of his contract, and though he and the Clippers have spoken about an extension, both sides have tabled those talks until after the season.
- Mike Dunleavy Sr. wants to coach again, and he's told agent Warren LeGarie to investigate the opportunities, reports Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida. Dunleavy said he'd limit his search to teams that have the "resources" available to win.
- Rival executives have suggested to Chris Mannix of SI.com that Grant Hill could be a fit for the general manager opening in Phoenix. Hill is likely to retire at the end of the season, and he's a favorite of Suns owner Robert Sarver, who employed him as a player for five seasons. Lon Babby, the team's president of basketball operations, is a former agent who used to represent Hill (Twitter link).
- SB Nation's Tom Ziller ponders what might have been if James Harden were still with the Thunder, pointing to numbers that suggest they'd be among the greatest offensive teams of all time.
- Former Illinois shooting guard Brandon Paul has chosen agent Jim Tanner of Williams & Connolly, tweets Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal. Paul checks in 57th with Jonathan Givony's ratings for DraftExpress, but Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him 96th.
The Nets handed the Bobcats their 17th straight loss last night under newly-minted interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Here's a look at the latest out of Brooklyn as we wonder how long the former Seton Hall head man will get to keep that mantle..
- Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson is not among the candidates to coach the Nets this season, reports Sam Amick of SI.com, despite earlier indication that he was receiving strong consideration. Amick also notes that Jeff Van Gundy, who doesn't want to lobby for the job while Carlesimo is in place, would prefer to stay out of coaching while his daughter finishes her senior year of high school.
- If Phil Jackson doesn't agree to coach the Nets this season, as he is reportedly relucntant to do, a source tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the Nets may decide to finish the season with Carlesimo on the bench and renew their coaching search in the offseason, when Jackson would be more willing to come aboard. The list of coaching hopefuls could be longer by then, but at the moment, GM Billy King is expected to propose Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Nate McMillan and Mike Dunleavy as candidates to owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
- Gerald Wallace, who was said to be one of Avery Johnson's biggest supporters, isn't thrilled with how his tenure came to an end, according to the Associated Press. "To me, it's kind of frustrating and sad because that's the first time in my career that a coach's been let go in the middle of the season like that," Wallace said. "But I understand the business part of it. We move on and obviously regardless of who's sitting at the head of the chair, we know what we got to do as players."
- Avery Johnson was said to be surprised by the Nets' move to fire him, but he shouldn't be, writes HoopsHype's Peter May. Johnson should have seen the writing on the wall when Prokhorov denied his request for a contract extension, May opines.
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) spoke with guard MarShon Brooks, who is excited about a new opportunity to play after being buried on the bench by Johnson. Brooks and Kris Humphries both seemed to be strong trade candidates as their roles were significantly reduced this season.
While it's been less than 24 hours since the Nets dismissed Avery Johnson, plenty of rumors are already swirling about how the team will replace its head coach. For now, P.J. Carlesimo has the interim job, but the Nets are reportedly expected to launch a "broad" search that will begin in earnest in the new year. Yesterday, multiple reports suggested that Phil Jackson was the Nets' number one choice, though TNT's David Aldridge said the club didn't necessarily have a top target. In any case, it seems Jackson is very much on Brooklyn's radar. Here are Friday's updates on the NBA's second head coaching search of the season, with any new items added to the top throughout the day:
- We've heard already tonight that Jeff Van Gundy is unwilling to coach the Nets this season, and now Ric Bucher of 95.7 Game, appearing on the NBC Sports Network, said Phil Jackson won't coach the team this year either, no matter how much money owner Mikhail Prokhorov is prepared to offer. Jackson instead prefers to wait until the end of the season, like Van Gundy. Bucher identified Van Gundy and Mike Dunleavy as the Brooklyn's next favorite choices, but notes that Brooklyn would much prefer Jackson.
- Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, speaking at a press conference, said, "Now P.J. (Carlesimo) is the head coach and if it becomes necessary, you know who the usual suspects are," as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com tweets. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News rounds up Prokhorov's open remarks via Sulia.
- Prokhorov said he backs Carlesimo. and refused to talk about Phil Jackson, Bondy tweets. The owner wouldn't answer questions about other candidates, either, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times (Twitter link). Prokhorov said he liked Johnson, but that the results weren't acceptable, according to Newsday's Rod Boone (Twitter link).
- Prokhorov said he made the decision to fire Johnson last week, Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record notes via Twitter.
- Deron Williams yesterday expressed surprise at Johnson's firing, and had more on his support for his deposed boss today, as Tim Bontemps of the New York Post documents. "Nobody asked me what they should have done with Avery, because if they’d asked me I would have said he needs to be our coach," Williams said.
- Jeff Van Gundy has interest in coaching the Nets, but he doesn't want to interview as long as interim coach P.J. Carlesimo is on board, as we passed along earlier.
- While the Nets are expected to take their time with their coaching search, "the Jackson aspect of the equation has the potential to move quickly in one direction or another," says Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
- Nets officials will begin meeting with owner Mikhail Prokhorov over the next couple days to identify candidates and set parameters for the search, according to Berger. No candidates will be contacted until Prokhorov is "formally looped in" to the process.
- Industry sources believe that Jeff Van Gundy is getting closer to considering a return to coaching, and the Nets are more interested in the former Knicks coach than his brother Stan Van Gundy, according to Berger.
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported today that Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson
is a "significant" candidate for the Nets' opening. However, the Nets
have yet to contact the Rockets to ask permission to speak to Sampson, tweets
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Still, if there's mutual interest between
Brooklyn and Sampson, the Rockets won't stand in his way, according to
Berger (Twitter link).
- Appearing on Sirius XM Radio today, Mike Dunleavy, who is from Brooklyn, said that coaching the Nets would be a "dream come true" (Twitter link).
- In addition to Jackson, the Nets' list of potential targets includes Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, and Jerry Sloan, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard. Sloan, who Broussard calls a long shot, declined to comment on the Nets or Deron Williams, but said he'd be opening to coaching in the NBA again (Twitterlinks).
- A source tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the Nets' job would definitely interest Jackson and that it's something he figures to explore. Jackson's rep, Todd Musburger, said yesterday that his client didn't have interest in the position "at this time," but Berger says that statement should be taken quite literally -- just because he wasn't interested immediately doesn't mean that Jackson wouldn't be intrigued after doing his due diligence on the franchise.
- Jackson would prefer to run a franchise from a front-office position and mentor a younger head coach, rather than coach himself, according to Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (Sulia link), though he doesn't rule out the Zen Master for the position. Bucher also adds Mike Dunleavy's name to the mix as a potential candidate.
- Sam Amick of USA Today reiterates that the Nets' coaching search is expected to be "wide-ranging."
As the Lakers zero in on Phil Jackson to be their next coach, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports that the Lakers are only focused on winning titles this season and next, and plan to make payroll cuts thereafter to curb luxury tax penalties. Here's the rest of what we're hearing, from Ding and others.
- Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that Lakers guard Steve Nash's first two choices for a new coach are Jackson and D'Antoni.
- David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets that D'Antoni is believed to be the Lakers' second choice should they not land Jackson, with Mike Dunleavy third on the list.
- The New York Daily News' Frank Isola believes Jackson's return to the Lakers is inevitable.
- Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports tweets that the Lakers have not contacted former Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan about the job opening.
- If the Lakers hire Jackson, he would likely make his debut Friday against the Suns, but could possibly coach the team Tuesday versus the Spurs, Ding reports.
- Jackson is expected to give the Lakers an answer about the job on Monday, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. "He's intrigued by the job but not completely sure it's the right thing to do," a source told Broussard.
- Jackson's deal would be for two years, and he would attend a limited number of road games, Broussard reports in the same piece.
- A representative for one of the top coaches on the market tells Broussard the Lakers would have to be especially accomodating to attract a coach other than Jackson given "the initial storm of disappointment" from fans.
- If hired, Mike D'Antoni wouldn't be available to coach for another 10 days to two weeks because of his knee replacement surgery, according to Broussard's report. The Lakers don't plan on meeting with D'Antoni in person after yesterday's phone interview.
- The Lakers confirmed on their website that Jackson met with executive Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak yesterday, with another meeting scheduled for early next week, writes Greg Beacham of The Associated Press (via the Detroit News).
- Everyone at yesterday's meeting has the belief that Jackson is likely to return, report Howard Beck and Mark Heisler of The New York Times, who add Nate McMillan to the list of coaches the Lakers will interview as backup plans that includes D'Antoni and Mike Dunleavy.
- While we heard yesterday that Jackson would command an annual salary of more than $12MM, Beck and Heisler say it's likely he'll earn a bit less than that.
9:54pm: In addition to rumblings that the Lakers would try to bring back Brian Shaw (currently an assistant on the Pacers) as an assistant if Jackson is hired, the former Bulls coach would reportedly consider bringing along Scottie Pippen to his staff as well (Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News reports).
9:29pm: Although this isn't much different that what has been implied before, Chris Broussard of ESPN also confirmed that Jackson's demands from today's meeting included travel restrictions for road games and an increased role in personnel decisions (Twitter link), a price which Broussard calls "steep."
8:53pm: According to Yahoo's Marc J. Spears, Jackson is expected to meet again with Lakers brass on Sunday or Monday. Should he accept an offer to coach the team, he is expected to bring former assistants Kurt Rambis, Frank Hamblen, and Jim Cleamons on board. Most notably, Mitch Kupchak has said that money will not be an issue in negotiations.
6:30pm: Kevin Ding of the OC Register (via Twitter) says that Phil's meeting with Kupchack and Jim Buss this afternoon went well.
5:45pm: Sam Amick credits a source close to Jackson who told USA Today that a deal would get done barring something significant. Mike Trudell of Lakers.com tweets that Jackson, Kupchak, and Jim Buss have all agreed to meet again within the next several days, also mentioning that Bernie Bickerstaff will remain as the interim coach in the meantime.
5:02pm: Sources with knowledge of the discussions tell Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski that the biggest hurdle remaining for Jackson is determining how he'd be able to handle the travel schedule . Wojnarowski adds that the Lakers are also considering ways in which Phil's coaching staff would be able to handle some of his coaching responsibilities, such as shoot-arounds. Lastly, former assistant Jim Cleamons is holding out on an coaching offer from China as he awaits further direction from Jackson's negotiations (All Twitter links)
4:53pm: The Lakers seem to be willing to give Phil Jackson all the time he needs to determine whether he wants to coach the team, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, who adds that the team maintains there's still a 95% chance Jackson will coach the team. Today's meeting included Jackson and executive Jim Buss, and the Lakers don't appear to have a problem with Jackson bringing his favored assistants on board, Bresnahan writes. If Jackson doesn't wind up as coach, the Lakers are thought to have interest in Mike D'Antoni, Nate McMillan and Mike Dunleavy.
4:25pm: A source close to Phil Jackson tells Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea.com that reports the job is his to turn down are inaccurate, and are being planted by the Lakers so that they can say Jackson passed on the job if he doesn't wind up returning as coach. The source is skeptical Lakers executive Jim Buss will give Jackson the authority he's seeking, though Bucher speculates that owner Jerry Buss, Jim's dad, will insist Buss give Jackson what he wants (All Twitter links).
3:39pm: The Lakers and Phil Jackson have concluded their meeting, and while the team didn't officially offer him the job, the understanding is that the job is Jackson's if he wants it, reports Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Bresnahan adds that the Lakers will interview a couple other coaches in case Jackson turns them down. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the team Sunday against the Kings (Twitter links).
2:28pm: Though Ken Berger of CBSSports.com identifies him as the team's second choice, Mike D'Antoni's camp believes the job is Phil Jackson's if he wants it, since they haven't had contact with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, TNT's David Aldridge tweets. No meetings with D'Antoni have been arranged, reports Sam Amick of USA Today.
2:14pm: A "couple more steps" must be addressed for Phil Jackson and the Lakers to come to an agreement, one of which is travel, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The Lakers have made initial contact with the agent for Mike D'Antoni, according to Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. D'Antoni told Fox Sports Southwest and DallasBasketball.com yesterday that he's interested in the job.
1:55pm: The Lakers and Phil Jackson are "getting close," according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, who adds that Jackson has already contacted some of his old assistant coaches (All Twitter links). "I can't imagine this not working out, a source tells Broussard. "Phil's health is fine now. That's no issue at all." The travel associated with the job is the primary hang-up for Jackson as he continues to mull over whether he'll return to coach the Lakers, tweets Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
1:31pm: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com hears from a source with ties to Phil Jackson that the Zen Master wants the Lakers job.
1:13pm: The Lakers are not meeting with any candidates other than Phil Jackson, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who hears from a source that, "They're all in on Phil" (Twitter link). Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times confirms via Twitter that the Lakers have not contacted Mike D'Antoni, and Mark Heisler of The New York Times hears the job is Jackson's if he wants it.
1:08pm: The agent for another Lakers coaching candidate tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that his client doesn't have anything set up with the Lakers, who are focusing on a strong push for Phil Jackson instead (Twitter link).
11:58am: The Lakers are moving quickly toward hiring Phil Jackson as their next coach, with one person in the organization telling Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times that there is a "95%" chance he will return to the club. Los Angeles plans on meeting with their former coach this morning to make sure he is interested in the job. If he is, it would appear that he will be the choice.
Meanwhile, sources tell Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea.com that Jackson would consider returning for a third stint in Los Angeles but it would require VP Jim Buss to shift a great deal of control over to the coach rather than himself or GM Mitch Kupchak. As for former coach Mike Brown, one source told Bucher that former part-owner Magic Johnson was instrumental in the decision while another strongly denied that.
9:44pm: Broussard says that D'Antoni's interview went very well, but the job is still for Phil Jackson's to lose (Twitter link).
9:26pm: ESPN's Chris Broussard says that Mike D'Antoni's interview had been conducted today, while Mike Dunleavy's is scheduled for tomorrow.
8:49pm: Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the Lakers have not made any contact with Nate McMillan at this point.
8:16pm: Marc J. Spears of Yahoo says that D'Antoni and Dunleavy will have their interviews conducted by phone (Twitter link).
6:41pm: NBA.com's David Aldridge relays a report from NBA TV (via Twitter) that the Lakers plan to speak with Mike D'Antoni and Mike Dunleavy within the next few days.
Kevin Ding of the OC Register tweets that although Phil Jackson appears to be the frontrunner to land the head coaching job, GM Mitch Kupchak will continue considering D'Antoni, Dunleavy, and Nate McMillan as possible candidates in case Jackson ultimately decides against returning.
Earl Bloom of the Orange County Register has a new column that touches on the Clippers' offseason following the departure of GM Neil Olshey.
- Bloom believes the loss of Olshey isn't as big a blow for the future of the Clippers as it had been made out to be, praising the job Vinny Del Negro, Andy Roeser, and Gary Sacks have done in his place.
- The veteran pieces the Clippers have brought in this offseason, including Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Ryan Hollins, and Ronny Turiaf, could prove to be very valuable, writes Bloom.
- Bloom would not be surprised if one of Del Negro, Roeser, or Sacks succeeds Olshey as general manager, pointing to the fact that Mike Dunleavy previously pulled coach/GM double duty for the Clippers.