A spring evening without an NBA playoff game is like a day without sunshine for many of us, but tomorrow, the Central Division champion Pacers
will try one more time to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the Reggie Miller
era. If they get there, they'll try to avoid becoming the third straight Central team eliminated by the Heat
, who already knocked out the Bucks
. Here's the latest from the division:
- Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com figures Nate Robinson has played his last game for the Bulls. Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague will all probably be around to play point guard, and Robinson's performance will likely make him too pricey for Chicago.
- Bulls GM Gar Forman addressed the specter of a missed season for Rose with Adam Fluck of Bulls.com, and in spite of an offseason of personnel decisions ahead, Forman identifies simply getting healthy as the team's primary goal this summer.
- Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf praised the work of Forman and executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson, as Fluck passes along in a separate piece.
- If the Cavaliers wind up picking third, their current position in the pre-lottery order, Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer expects the team to target a small forward, and take a backup big man with the 19th selection.
- Boyer also reports in her piece that the Cavs have hired Phil Handy, an assistant coach with the Lakers, to serve as an assistant under head coach Mike Brown. The Cavs have yet to make an official announcement.
- Former Cavs assistant Nate Tibbetts joined the Blazers staff this week, a move one executive classifies as a "home run hire" for Portland, notes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. The Bobcats had been interested in Tibbetts for their head coaching job.
Earlier this morning, we passed along word that the Sixers have received permission to interview Michael Malone and Jeff Hornacek for their head coaching position. Philadelphia is currently one of four teams actively seeking a new coach, but that number figures to increase in the coming weeks. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has a little more on the Sixers and other teams exploring the coaching market, so let's round up the highlights from his piece:
- Nate McMillan, who has met with the Pistons twice, is also near the top of the Bucks' list of targets, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).
- After the Bucks parted ways with Jim Boylan yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Stan Van Gundy and Kelvin Sampson were expected to be among Milwaukee's top targets. According to Berger, both Van Gundy and Sampson will interview with the Bucks. Lakers assistant Steve Clifford is also expected to be considered for the position.
- Bucks GM John Hammond is seeking a defensive-minded coach who can "control the locker room," says Berger.
- Pistons owner Tom Gores is taking a lead role in in the club's coaching search, with one source telling Berger that Gores is "looking to put his stamp on this one." Sampson and Nate McMillan are among the Pistons' potential candidates.
- Sampson, McMillan, Nate Tibbetts, and Quin Snyder will likely all be considered by the Bobcats, according to Berger.
- In addition to the Philadelphia targets we've already heard about, the Sixers are eyeing Heat assistant David Fizdale, says Berger, adding that the team is also doing its homework on potential GM candidates.
- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni would like to add a defense-first assistant to his staff, and McMillan may be his first choice. However, with McMillan a decent bet to land a head coaching job this summer, D'Antoni may turn to former Suns coach Alvin Gentry, according to Berger.
- Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times also provides a coaching update this morning, tweeting that he has been told Jerry Sloan is "seriously considering" returning to the sidelines.
3:21pm: The Bobcats have also requested permission to interview Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Sampson's Rockets remain active in the postseason, though the team is one loss away from elimination.
2:19pm: According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), Pistons GM Joe Dumars met with McMillan last week. Ownership is expected to be involved in today's formal interview, says Wojnarowski.
1:02pm: While the Cavaliers struck quickly to fill their head coaching opening, two other Eastern Conference lottery teams appear to be moving at a more deliberate pace. The Pistons have begun to interview candidates, according to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News, who tweets that Lindsey Hunter interviewed with the team yesterday, while Nate McMillan will do so today.
McMillan and Hunter appear to be the early favorites for the Pistons' coaching job, but they're unlikely to be the only candidates interviewed by the club. With 14 teams still alive in the postseason, teams searching for a new head coach may have to wait until later in the spring to seek permission to interview assistants on those playoff clubs.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats have asked for the Cavaliers' permission to talk to assistant coach Nate Tibbetts, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). If that story sounds familiar, it may be because the Bobcats interviewed the Cavs assistant a year ago, before eventually hiring Mike Dunlap.
The Bobcats seem to be revisiting a number of past candidates, having also been linked this month to Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and former Lakers assistant Quin Snyder, both of whom were interviewed by Charlotte last spring.
It's been about a month since the Bobcats announced they wouldn't be bringing back Paul Silas to coach the team next season. Since then, the Bobcats have conducted an extensive search for their new head coach that has seen them interview eight candidates, with more to come. In case you've lost track of all the names in the running for the Charlotte job, here's a round-up of what we've heard to date:
- Mike Dunlap, St. John's assistant: Interviewed on May 16th. Dunlap is probably a long shot for the Bobcats' job.
- Patrick Ewing, Magic assistant: Interviewed on May 17th. A source told Marc Berman of the New York Post shortly after Ewing's interview that it was hardly a courtesy meeting and that Ewing has a "good chance" of becoming Charlotte's next coach.
- David Joerger, Grizzlies assistant: Interviewed on May 18th. We haven't heard much about how his meeting went, so I wouldn't think he's a frontrunner.
- Michael Malone, Warriors assistant: Interviewed on May 8th. Malone is considered one of the top potential head coaches available, and also has has some interest in the Trail Blazers job.
- Nate McMillan, former Trail Blazers coach: Interviewed on May 22nd. One of the more high-profile candidates, McMillan has ties to the Charlotte area, having played college ball at NC State.
- Brian Shaw, Pacers assistant: The Bobcats are in the process of setting up an interview with Shaw, who wanted to wait until the Pacers' season ended to explore coaching opportunities. The Magic also figure to have strong interest in the Indiana assistant.
- Stephen Silas, Bobcats assistant: Interviewed on May 21st. Paul Silas was hoping his son would take over for him, but I'd be pretty shocked if the Bobcats went in this direction.
- Jerry Sloan, former Jazz coach: Interviewed on May 25th. Sloan said his interview went well but that he didn't receive an offer and he expected the Bobcats to meet with more candidates.
- Quin Snyder, Lakers assistant: The Bobcats plan to meet with Snyder sometime before the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago.
- Nate Tibbetts, Cavaliers assistant: Interviewed on May 14th. Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving had high praise for the Cavs assistant, which suggests Tibbetts is adept at working with young talent.
- Stan Van Gundy, former Magic coach: The Bobcats are expected to at least reach out to Van Gundy, if they haven't already. However, it continues to look like the ex-Magic coach will take a year off.
In McMillan and Sloan, the Bobcats have interviewed a pair of respected veteran coaches, but the team has also sought out under-the-radar options and up-and-coming assistants. I expect the search to wrap up sometime in mid-June, and considering their wide list of candidates, it'll be interesting to see which direction Michael Jordan and the Bobcats go.
Let's keep track of some Thursday night odds and ends here as Heat-Pacers gets underway. The Clippers will look to rebound from a dissapointing game one loss later tonight in San Antonio.
- Aaron Bruski of NBC Sports writes a piece providing great detail about the unfortunate business practices of the Maloofs with regard to the NBA franchise situation in Sacramento. Bruski says the Maloofs actions could lead the NBA to force them into selling.
- The agent of Nicolas Batum will have all the leverage in negotiations with the Blazers this summer, writes John Canzano of the Oregonian. Batum will become a restricted free agent in the offseason.
- Conrad Brunner from Pacers.com extols Larry Bird in an in depth look at the Pacers' President. In light of Wednesday's announcement that Bird won the 2012 NBA Executive of the Year award, Brunner says that the former Celtic great is as discreetly brilliant as a roster builder as he was as a player and coach. He credits Bird with changing the organizational culture by drafting wisely with middle of the first round picks and carefully managing the salary cap.
- As we mentioned yesterday, Patrick Ewing interviewed for the vacant Bobcats' job today. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer says that Ewing, a prototypical NBA big man as a player, would be a coaching rarity should be get the job.
- According to the New York Post, Charlotte owner and Ewing friend Michael Jordan did not plan to sit in on the interview. The Post adds that the Bobcats will also interview Memphis assistant Dave Joerger on Friday and have already interviewed Michael Malone, Nate Tibbetts, Mike Dunlap, Stephen Silas and has expressed interest in Brian Shaw.
- A group of ESPN.com writers offered their take on the greatness of the San Antonio Spurs. The three popular picks for the biggest reasons for the organization's success are Tim Duncan, Greg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford, with honorable mention going to Tony Parker and owner Peter Holt. Teams should look no further than San Antonio for a blueprint on how to build a team.
In losing Game Two of their series against the Pacers last night, the Heat mustered just 75 points on their home court, and will head to Indiana with the series tied at one. With Chris Bosh out, Miami looks vulnerable -- currently, over 58% of respondents to our Heat/Pacers poll believe Indiana will win the series. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel addressed concerns about the team's offense in a mailbag, calling Tuesday's game a "wake-up call." While we wait to see how the Heat respond on Thursday, here are a few more updates out of the Southeast Division:
Although a number of NBA head coaching jobs may open up at some point in the next few weeks, the Bobcats remain the only team currently interviewing coaching candidates, and are taking advantage of the opportunity. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (via Twitter) identifies Mike Dunlap and Nate Tibbetts as the two newest candidates that will be interviewed by the Bobcats within the next week or so.
Dunlap is currently serving as the associate head coach at St. John's University, while Tibbetts is employed by the NBA's Cavaliers as an assistant coach. They will join Patrick Ewing, Michael Malone, Brian Shaw, and Stephen Silas as candidates for the Bobcats' coaching job that either have already received an interview or are expected to meet with the team in the near future.
The Bobcats are looking for a replacement for Paul Silas, who won't return to the Bobcats' bench after leading the team to an NBA-record-worst 7-59 mark.