Executives, coaches and other league insiders struggle to come up with names of intriguing coaching candidates after last year’s record volume of new hires, but Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com was able to pry the identities of a few well-regarded potential hires. Some of them have been in rumors in recent weeks, but University of Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney, and Blazers assistant David Vanterpool are the names we haven’t heard. Potential head coaches with ties to the Spurs were already popular, and they’ve grown even more so this year, Arnovitz hears. Here’s more from the coaching rumor mill:
- The Jazz plan to interview more than 20 candidates fitting virtually every description, team president Randy Rigby said Wednesday on The Zone Sports Network radio, notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Though a few candidates have reportedly emerged, Rigby insists the club hasn’t identified any potential targets. He also said the decision will be a group effort and won’t lie solely with GM Dennis Lindsey.
- Mike D’Antoni won’t be coaching Marshall University next season, but his brother Dan D’Antoni will be, the school announced. Dan D’Antoni is leaving his job as a Lakers assistant coach to take the new gig.
- The Pacers weren’t pleased when former assistant coach and current Jazz head coaching candidate Jim Boylen left last year to become a Spurs assistant, tweets Scott Agness of Pacers.com. “He did us dirty,” one Pacers player told Agness.
- Knicks president Phil Jackson said Wednesday that his coaching search could extend into July, but he adds that it’s not because he’s waiting around to see which, if any, coaches working in the playoffs become available, notes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter).
- Nets GM Billy King said on NBA TV that he, and not coach Jason Kidd, made the decision to reassign assistant coach Lawrence Frank earlier this season, fellow ESPNNewYork.com scribe Mike Mazzeo observes.
The lone Atlantic Division representatives in the playoffs are duking it out in what’s become a compelling series, with the Raptors saving themselves from an 0-2 hole in Tuesday’s night’s victory against the Nets. While we wait for Friday’s Game 3, here’s the latest from around the Atlantic:
- No one on the Celtics is guaranteed to return next season, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, who takes stock of each player’s chances of coming back. Jeff Green is “eminently available” for a trade, according to Murphy.
- Kyle Lowry will surely have plenty of offers to leave the Raptors in free agency this summer, but he’s enjoying Toronto’s revival this season, telling reporters, including Fred Kerber of the New York Post, “I love my team and I’ll tell anybody that.” (Twitter link).
- Phil Jackson is surprised that so many have expressed interest in the Knicks head coaching job even though he wants to institute the triangle, as he said today to reporters, including Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal (Twitter link).
- Jackson appears comfortable with the idea of watching Carmelo Anthony leave this summer, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv believes, judging by the Zen Master’s willingness to make Anthony follow through on his idea of playing for less than the max.
- Connecticut point guard and Massachusetts native Shabazz Napier spoke about his dreams of playing for the Celtics, but it’s unlikely that the Celtics will be in position to draft him in June, observes Brian Robb of Boston.com.
Knicks owner James Dolan isn’t allowing team president Phil Jackson to make peripheral changes to the organization, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, but it’d be a stretch to call it the end of Jackson’s honeymoon with the Knicks, Isola cautions. The personnel that Jackson targeted for removal were likely members of the team’s front office, medical or media relations staff, Isola posits, though that’s unclear. Jackson addressed the report in a press conference today, saying that Dolan has “been very true to his word” about giving Jackson complete control over basketball decisions, as Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com documents. We’ll round up more from Jackson’s talk here:
- Carmelo Anthony has spoken about a willingness to take a discount if he chooses to re-sign with the Knicks, and Jackson hopes he’s “true to his word” about that, notes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. Jackson said he views the decision of Miami’s trio of stars to take less money as a precedent and believes it’s difficult to assemble a title-winning roster unless players make financial sacrifices.
- If Anthony doesn’t re-sign, the Knicks are prepared to move forward, Jackson said, according to Botte.
- Jackson said he plans to talk to Steve Kerr about the coaching job in the next week or two, observes Marc Berman of the New York Post, That conflicts with the report that they’re deep into discussions about the job.
- There are other candidates in the mix for the job, Jackson said, but he wouldn’t name them, and he gave the impression that Kerr is indeed the front-runner, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Jackson’s fiancee, Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, tried to encourage him to coach the team himself, but he reiterated today that he will not return to the bench. In any case, Jackson isn’t looking for a retread, Berman adds, but it does appear he wants his coach to run the triangle, writes Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger.
- Jackson indicated that a new coach might be in place within the next month, but he said he just wants to make sure someone’s in the job before summer league action starts in July, Berman notes. The Zen Master said that while he’ll allow his new coach to pick a staff, he’ll exercise veto power if need be.
- Hiring someone new for the front office is “not a priority,” Jackson said, as Zagoria tweets.
Since Phil Jackson joined the Knicks, there has been ample speculation about him bringing along connections from his winning past to work for the organization. As we’ve noted recently, Steve Kerr appears to be the strongest candidate being considered for the team’s head coaching position. We also relayed that former Jackson-assistant Jim Cleamons has his sights set on joining the team in any capacity. Today, Ron Harper – who played for Jackson in Chicago and Los Angeles – told Marc Berman of the New York Post that he expects to interview for a position:
“I would expect so…A few guys are expecting to hear from (Jackson). We’re in a wait-and-see mode. Whatever he needs me to do, I will do. He knows that.”
Here are more of tonight’s miscellaneous notes:
- Though there are reports that the Kerr wants the Knicks job, Berman writes that his ideal preference would be a West coast team, echoing Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Kerr currently lives in San Diego, and an opportunity to stay close to home could present itself with Mike D’Antoni allegedly on thin ice in Los Angeles; however, it wouldn’t seem likely that Lakers president Jeanie Buss would try to compete with Jackson for Kerr’s services.
- If Carmelo Anthony doesn’t remain with the Knicks as expected, the Rockets would be in prime position to acquire him this summer, says Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW. Sefko imagines that the Mavericks would also try to land Anthony, but isn’t sure if putting hope in him as a number one guy would be the most prudent thing to do at this point.
- Kevin McHale doesn’t seem to be the right coach for Houston, opines Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders, who in his weekly chat addressed a scenario in which the Rockets attempted to pursue George Karl if they ultimately decided to make a coaching change. Such a courtship would be incompatible with the team’s interest in Carmelo, opines Ingram, to the point that Karl would not even consider accepting the job if they acquired the star forward.
- It’s worth pointing out that almost all of the potential coaching candidates for the Jazz opening are represented by Warren LeGarie, who also happens to be the agent of Utah GM Dennis Lindsey (Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune mentions via Twitter).
- Former NBA forward Dominic McGuire has signed with Gigantes de Guayana of the Venezuelan league, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
All five of the teams in the NBA’s three largest media markets saw declines in local ratings during the regular season, and local ratings fell about 5% leaguewide, report John Ourand and John Lombardo of Sports Business Journal. The news belies an otherwise rosy financial picture for the league, with the latest salary cap projection for 2014/15 coming in at $63.2MM, a more than 7.7% hike from this season. Here’s the latest from the Association:
- Steve Kerr is concerned with the failure of the Knicks to capitalize on their resources in the James Dolan era, and Kerr intends to do his research before taking any offer from the team, a source tells Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
- Former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum is likely to become Kerr’s agent, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports.
- Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro isn’t ruling out the idea of trading the team’s first-round pick, and he’ll also try to trade for a second-round pick, as he told reporters, including Ailene Voisin and Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (All Twitter links).
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News would be shocked if Arnett Moultrie were back with the Sixers for 2014/15. Cooney sizes up the future for each Sixer and looks ahead to the draft, noting that Brett Brown is enamored with Dante Exum.
- The Warriors‘ purchase of land in San Francisco for a new arena appears to end any hope that they’ll remain in Oakland, writes Matthew Artz of the Bay Area News Group. “I wish them well,” Oakland city councilman Larry Reid said. “It was my hope that the Warriors would build a new arena in Oakland, but there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do.”
- Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune provides a taste of the local antipathy toward leading Jazz coaching candidate Jim Boylen.
Reports have linked Cavs interim GM David Griffin to the front offices of the Knicks, and, more recently, the Pistons, but he indicated a strong preference to remain in Cleveland as he spoke today with reporters, including Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer.
“You’re either all the way in, or you’re all the way out,” Griffin said. “There’s no in-between. This is where I want to be.”
Here’s more on Griffin and the Cavs:
- Griffin said he doesn’t know when he’ll hear about his future with the team from owner Dan Gilbert, and while he said he’s confident that he and Gilbert are moving in the same direction, Griffin also said he needs to improve, Valade notes in the same piece. Still, the acting GM gave the impression that his job is safe, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio observes (Twitter link).
- Coach Mike Brown is on shakier ground, according to Amico, and ownership is looking for honest assessments of Brown from the team’s players and, once in place, its front office staff, Amico writes.
- Griffin would like to shift the team’s focus from ”asset accumulation mode” to “target acquisition mode,” he says, and he plans to target size, toughness, basketball IQ and shooting, as Valade chronicles. Still, he’s high on his backcourt pairing of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. “I’ve seen flashes of them being very, very good together,” Griffin said. ”… They’re two ball-dominant, drive-and-kick players. They require spacing and shooters. It’s too easy to look at them and blame one of them. It’s a collective thing.”
The Knicks and Steve Kerr are deep into discussions for the former GM and Phil Jackson pupil to take over as the team’s next head coach, a person familiar with the situation told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports.
On Friday we learned that Kerr has been expecting the Knicks to offer them the job once they officially dispatched Mike Woodson. The former Bulls guard has reportedly been the front-runner for the job for a while, and his name was linked to the Knicks as a possible candidate even when the team was still negotiating its deal with Jackson.
Several teams apparently would like to bring Kerr aboard as an executive, but his focus is on coaching. Marc Berman of the New York Post recently suggested Jim Cleamons as a potential candidate to become the top assistant coach for the Knicks if they hire Kerr as head coach.
Earlier today, the Knicks made the move that we’ve long expected when they fired coach Mike Woodson. Pending free agent Carmelo Anthony threw his support behind Woodson last week, which some thought would give him a puncher’s chance, but it wasn’t enough to save his job. The latest from MSG..
- J.R. Smith knew that Woodson would lose his job, but that didn’t make it any easier for him to digest, the Knicks guard told ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley). ”It is sad,” Smith said. “He was great to me. I think I got a fair shake for the first time in awhile under him. He treated me how he wanted to be treated. It sucks, but there is nothing I can do about it.”
- The dismissal of Woodson is just the beginning of the offseason overhaul for the Knicks, writes Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. The change will begin with dissolving the marriage between the Garden and Creative Artists Agency. CAA represents two key members of the front office, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien, and has close ties to GM Steve Mills. All three are likely to be cut loose or pushed into new roles. Meanwhile, while Steve Kerr is being talked about as the frontrunner to get Woodson’s old job, Beck suggests that Fred Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie, who have both made quick impressions in the college ranks, could put themselves in the mix.
- Steve Kerr reportedly wants the Knicks’ head coaching job, but he should be careful what he wishes for, cautions Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com. ”New York is famous for chants, and you know you’ll hear ‘We want Phil’ in the Garden after they lose four in a row,” said one longtime league official with ties to the Knicks. “If the head coach is Steve Kerr or someone else, he’ll have to be strong and understand that something like that is going to happen. He’ll have to understand that it’s not a knock on him, but a testament to Phil’s greatness. And then it’s up to Phil to protect his coach from that.“
- More from Begley, who handicapped the field of candidates to become the next coach of the Knicks. Kerr leads the way with 2-1 odds. Brian Shaw is a 15-1 pick and Jackson himself is at 50-1 odds.
2:47pm: Kerr said that he anticipates hearing from Jackson about the team’s coaching vacancy, reiterated his desire to coach, and said that he’d be interested in the Knicks job in radio appearances today on SiriusXM’s NBA Radio and ESPN Chicago 1000. Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com passes the news along via Twitter.
MONDAY, 8:44am: Kerr’s friends say he may wait to see which other coaching jobs come open before saying yes to the Knicks, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Kerr intends to work his full playoff schedule for TNT, which runs through the conference finals, and he hasn’t spoken to his bosses about adjusting it to accommodate a coaching gig, Isola hears.
FRIDAY, 8:17am: Steve Kerr “absolutely expects” the Knicks to offer him their head coaching job, and he intends to accept such an offer, a source tells George Willis of the New York Post. Kerr has already spoken to TNT about adjusting his broadcasting schedule for the playoffs so he can start working for the Knicks, Willis hears.
Kerr has reportedly been the front-runner for the job for a while, and his name was linked to the Knicks as a possible candidate even when the team was still negotiating its deal with Phil Jackson. Mike Woodson is under contract to coach the team in 2014/15, but the Knicks had reportedly been planning to fire him if they failed to make the playoffs. Even after falling short of the postseason, Woodson received strong public support from Carmelo Anthony, who on Thursday referred to Woodson as “almost a father figure, a friend, a guy I can bounce stuff off of,” notes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Woodson still appears on his way out, according to Isola, who hears from a source who says that Woodson and Jackson will speak Friday, and either set up a meeting for next week or discuss the terms of their parting.
Several teams apparently would like to bring Kerr aboard as an executive, but his focus is on coaching. Marc Berman of the New York Post suggests Jim Cleamons as a potential candidate to become the top assistant coach for the Knicks if they hire Kerr as head coach.
The Knicks’ firing of Mike Woodson today will have no impact on Carmelo Anthony‘s willingness to remain with the team, and Anthony plans to meet with several other NBA clubs this summer, a source tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Anthony wants to approach the process just as Dwight Howard did last summer, when he sat down with potential suitors after free agency began in July, Deveney hears. ‘Melo hasn’t made a list of the teams he’d like to hear from yet, but Deveney says the Knicks and Bulls are “certain” to be on it, naming the Lakers, Rockets and Clippers as others who might be in the mix.
Anthony spoke in support of Woodson last week, but the identity of next season’s coach will have little effect on Anthony’s free agency, according to Deveney. Anthony has long planned to opt out of his contract this summer, and summed up his thoughts regarding the Knicks and free agency succinctly last week when he said, “I want to come back. I want to come back. But I also want to win.” Deveney’s source reiterates that winning will be chief in the star’s mind, though it will be difficult for the Knicks to improve their roster, given their lack of both cap flexibility and a first-round pick in this year’s draft, as Deveney points out.
Howard’s contentment in Houston this year is helping dispel Anthony’s fears of a public backlash should he leave the Knicks, Deveney writes. The Rockets star endured a maelstrom of negative press amid his departures from the Magic and the Lakers, but that’s died down now that Howard is on a long-term deal in Houston.