The latest out of the Northwest Division..
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN hears that a couple NBA people are wondering why Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has not yet publicly declared his intention to return for a third season. There also hasn't been any contact yet between Adelman and his long-time confidant, Elston Turner, about a spot on the staff with the Wolves.
- More from Wolfson, who writes that multiple sources say that Wizards VP Milt Newton is a good bet to be the Wolves' new GM. That wouldn't happen until after the draft, however. Newton was in town earlier this week for the draft workouts.
- Victor Oladipo's mentor told Wolfson (via Twitter) that the high flyer has only worked out so far for the Magic. The rest of his schedule for this weekend is TBD, but the Timberwolves hope to bring him in.
- If the Pelicans draft Trey Burke with the No. 6 pick, they should shift Greivis Vasquez over to shooting guard, opines John Reid of The Times Picayune. Many mock drafts have New Orleans grabbing the Michigan product, but he could very well be off the board before it's their turn.
With Mike Conley playing a significant role in leading the Grizzlies to within one game of the Western Conference Finals, Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com looks back at Conley's history in Memphis. As Shelburne writes, Conley was almost dealt to the Bucks for Ramon Sessions before Lionel Hollins took over as the Grizzlies' coach and gave Conley a vote of confidence.
"It was more than a rumor," Conley said. "My dad's also my agent and he
called me to say I wasn't playing this one game. When they tell you
that, you know it's pretty serious."
Conley's place in Memphis is certainly safe these days, and after last night's win, his team has a 3-1 lead on the defending conference champs. As we look forward to seeing whether the Grizzlies can eliminate the Thunder, let's check in on a few other items from around the West....
- Aaron Bruski of NBCSports.com and Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com (Sulia link) each provide updates on the Kings saga, with Bruski writing that the aggressive approach employed by the Seattle group in recent weeks isn't going over well with the league. Howard-Cooper, meanwhile, says Vivek Ranadive's influence in India isn't as big a factor in the NBA's decision as has been portrayed.
- New Timberwolves president Flip Saunders tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link) he's still confident that Rick Adelman will return to coach the team next season.
- Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic examines the Suns' search for a head coach, which will likely be completed within the next two weeks.
- Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com attempts to debunk the myth that top free agents aren't interested in signing with the Mavericks
In a video interview, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune says that he isn't exactly sure what the hiring of Flip Saunders means for Rick Adelman. Zgoda also mentions that Saunders' offseason goal is to add perimeter shooters and "balance the roster," which he interprets to mean that the Timberwolves will try to land a shooting guard with good size and see what they can get for Derrick Williams. You can find more notes out of the Western Conference tonight below:
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.
With the Nuggets in control in Denver and Grizz-Clips set for the late game in Los Angeles, let's round up some odds and ends from around the league here on Tuesday night:
- Regarding any Dwight Howard to the Sixers speculation, Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com agrees with our Luke Adams, tweeting
that the team doesn't have the cap space to sign Howard. Moore also adds
that Howard would probably not want to come to Philadelphia even if they did.
- Jeff Goodman and the CBS Sports crew unveil their latest mock draft, which shows Trey Burke (No. 4) and Shane Larkin (No. 14) as the latest risers. We are exactly three weeks away from the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery.
- In a phone conversation on Tuesday evening, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he will have a major announcement regarding the ownership of the team within the next week, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Taylor didn't elaborate much, only suggesting that the news will likely be surprising. Taylor said Rick Adelman's return "looks very favorable," but wouldn't comment on the job security of David Kahn or any rumors about Flip Saunders or Phil Jackson.
Cavs fans worried about what the hiring of Mike Brown might mean for the team's potential pursuit of LeBron James in 2014 shouldn't put too much stock in the move one way or the other, says Chris Broussard in his latest ESPN.com piece (Insider-only link). Brown's return to Cleveland doesn't mean LeBron is coming back too, but it also shouldn't be a deterring factor, according to Broussard, who notes that there will be plenty of other factors in play over the next 14 months. The ESPN.com scribe explores that topic and a number of others in his article, so let's round up the highlights....
- The Cavs are hoping to upgrade the roster before next summer in an attempt to lure James (or another impact free agent, presumably). As we heard from Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo! Sports yesterday, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and draft picks could be dangled as trade chips. Broussard mentions LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love as potential targets.
- The Bucks would like to keep all three of their free agent guards this summer, but recognize that they'll probably only be able to retain two, with Brandon Jennings the player most likely to stay put.
- Several sources around the league believed Lance Blanks, who the Suns fired earlier this week, was a scapegoat for the team's poor season. According to Broussard, the widely panned signing of Michael Beasley was Lon Babby's call, and Blanks had "little to do with" Alvin Gentry's firing as well.
- Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman is viewed as the frontrunner for the Suns' GM opening, says Broussard.
- Former Suns assistant Elston Turner may join Rick Adelman's staff in Minnesota, with an understanding that if Adelman steps down, Turner would take over as the Timberwolves' coach. We've heard in the past that Adelman "badly wanted" Turner on his staff when he first took the Wolves' job.
- While Kevin McHale isn't expected to step down as Rockets head coach anytime soon, Broussard hears from sources that the team would have "strong interest" in Stan Van Gundy if McHale left.
Two teams have already made coaching changes today, as the Cavaliers parted ways with Byron Scott and the Sixers announced that Doug Collins won't be returning as head coach. There could be a few more spins on the coaching carousel before the day is done, so let's round up the latest....
- ESPN.com's Marc Stein gets the sense that the Suns will take their time to make a decision on the future of coach Lindsey Hunter, who is not assured of returning (Twitter link). According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Hunter didn't fare well in his end-of-season player evaluations -- "players don't want him back," one source tells Berger.
- It sounds as if Lawrence Frank is on the way out in Detroit, but he won't officially learn his fate until he meets with Pistons owner Tom Gores today, tweets Stein. Berger hears that one reason Frank wants his fourth-year option picked up if the team brings him back for a third year is that his wife has been ill, so he's reluctant to make a commitment to Detroit if the club isn't committed long-term to him.
- The situation with Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman figures to take a couple weeks to be resolved, according to Berger.
- Berger adds that Dwane Casey's job with the Raptors appears to be safe for now.
- Although he acknowledges that the Sixers could replace Collins internally, John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer expects the team to interview several coaching candidates, including perhaps Mike Brown, Nate McMillan, Stan Van Gundy, Brian Shaw, and Michael Malone.
- Tom Sorenson of the Charlotte Observer is at a loss in trying to determine whether or not the Bobcats should bring back head coach Mike Dunlap for next season.
- According to GM Chris Grant, the Cavaliers' search for a new coach will begin immediately (Twitter link via Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio).
Kevin Love seemed optimistic about being able to bounce back from a difficult season with the best offseason of his life, writes Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune. He also spoke about his desire for Rick Adelman to continue coaching the team, saying: "We need to have him back...I know his family comes first, but hopefully we can sit down and talk to him. This year has given us a lot of perspective, and hopefully he can see we have the making of a very good team here. We can make a push and have a special year next year...I think he’ll come back.”
You can find more of tonight's miscellaneous links below:
- According to Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press, Rick Adelman has deemed finding a quality shooting guard among the top of Minnesota's priorities this offseason.
- Garrett Temple hopes to have found a home with the Wizards, telling J. Michael of CSN Washington that he'd "love" to be back with them next year.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel thinks that the Magic should look to move Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, and/or Glen Davis (at least one of them) in order to continue creating cap space for the future.
- Jan Hubbard of Sheridan Hoops wonders if a 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki will have to endure another season like this one, especially if the Mavericks are unable to hit a home run in free agency for the second straight year after breaking up their championship roster.
- Though Mark Cuban isn't happy that Dallas is going to miss the postseason, he vouched for coach Rick Carlisle: "Rick’s a great coach...We obviously didn’t have what we thought we would have, but we obviously should have had more. I don’t know if we could have, but we should have, so it’s all on me. If that means I let Rick down, I let Rick down" (Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram reports).
- Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation writes that Manu Ginobili has been "progressing" in rehab according to coach Gregg Popovich, and that the Spurs veteran shooting guard could be cleared for full contact soon. On a more unfortunate note, Boris Diaw is expected to miss three-to-f0ur weeks (including the start of the playoffs) after the forward underwent a procedure to remove a synovial cyst that had been bothering his spine.
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune believes that several topics of discussion surrounding the Timberwolves are tied to whether or not Rick Adelman decides to return as head coach next season, namely Andrei Kirilenko's $10MM player option as well as the impending free agencies of Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger. Another question mark is tied to future of GM David Kahn, as majority team owner Glen Taylor maintains that he is undecided on Kahn's future and has no timetable on a decision. Zgoda has more things to discuss about the team, and you can find the highlights below:
- Kahn seems confident that he'll return for the draft and next season: "Glen and I talk all the time...My sense is that we’ll be working on this for a while.”
- The team hasn't made it a secret that they'd like to keep Pekovic for the long-term, but it remains to be seen if that stance will change should the 6'11 center garner a max contract offer from another team.
- Although a $10MM salary in 2013-14 appears lucrative, Kirilenko - at age 32 - may find it wiser to opt out and seek a three-or-four year contract, which would likely be the last of his NBA career.
- Taylor speaks regularly with Flip Saunders, mostly because the former Timberwolves head coach has been involved with an investment group looking to buy the team. With that being said, their relationship has fueled speculation that Saunders could be among the next in line to be considered for the general manager position if Kahn isn't retained.
- Brandon Roy most likely doesn't have a future in Minnesota, but his salary could still be used to make a trade work around draft time.
- Taylor, who looked to sell the team before the start of this season (preferably to a buyer with Minnesota ties that would keep the team where it is), looks to continue owning the team for the foreseeable future.
- There has been some tension brewing after some comments that Kevin Love made about being unhappy with his contract situation earlier this year, causing some to speculate the 6'10 forward's desire to remain in Minnesota. With that being said, Love denies wanting out, and teammate Derrick Williams is among those who believe him: "I can vouch for my teammates, the people we’re around every single day, and I think he wants to be here...And we want him here. He’s one of the best players in the game. Who wouldn’t want one of the best power forwards in the game and in the world to be on their team?”
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor identifies the uncertainty surrouding the future of coach Rick Adelman as his top offseason concern, but his comments to Ray Richardson of St. Paul Pioneer Press seemed to dispel this week's report that Adelman is likely to retire. Taylor plans on Adelman coming back, and doesn't have a contingency in place if Adelman steps down. The owner said he isn't sure if assistant Terry Porter, who filled for Adelman during his absence, would be the choice. "If Rick were to leave, I would want to think about all options we have available to us. My thought process right now would be to not look at just one person," Taylor said.
Richardson's Q&A with Taylor is worth a read in its entirety, but we'll hit the highlights here:
On the future of GM David Kahn:
I haven't come to the time to make a decision on that. Let's finish the season first. I want to find out about my coach first. I don't have a time frame to address David's situation. He and I have been talking about the draft and other things as we go into the offseason. At some point, I know I need to make a decision.
On his relationship with Flip Saunders:
First of all, Flip was just trying to help a friend who had an outside group, but that group never submitted a bid. I have a coach and I have a GM. Me and Flip have not talked about those things. What we talk about mostly is his work at ESPN and what's going on in the league. I have maintained a friendship with Flip. We kept in touch when he was at Washington and Detroit.
On a potential sale of the team:
I haven't come up with anybody who meets all the needs. One of my problems is that I haven't found anybody who lives in Minnesota or has a Minnesota background. The interest has come from people outside the state. I'm interested in a local person buying the team on a limited partner basis. Right now, I don't have a strong feeling that I want to get rid of the team. I still enjoy it. I was thinking of a long run to try to find a successor, but I might keep things the way they are.
On Nikola Pekovic's restricted free agency this summer:
I want him to stay, and he has told me he wants to stay. It's to our advantage to try and work something out with him. We know and he knows he's able to test the market. When he tells me he wants to stay, I take him for his word, but agents play a big role in all of this.
On the notion that the team's signing of Brandon Roy was a mistake:
It's fair criticism ... for me and David. We did take a risk, and it was proven to be a wrong risk. There were other players out there with some experience who we could have gotten, who would have helped us at a position (shooting guard) where we needed help. We're out of the money this year ($5.1MM), but based on the contract we have, we don't have to pay him next year if he doesn't play.