Bogut To Play In Australia, Done With NBA

APRIL 23rd, 9:48pm: Bogut said he will play two seasons with the Sydney Kings and that he’s retired from the NBA, Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports Australia tweets. There are no outs in his contract to return to the NBA or play in Europe, Uluc adds.

APRIL 22nd, 9:02am: Andrew Bogut‘s comeback will continue next season in Australia, relays Jake Michaels of ESPN.

The Sydney Kings announced on social media overnight that they are signing the 33-year-old center, who played 13 NBA seasons. A press conference has been scheduled for Monday.

Bogut was never able to re-establish himself in the NBA after fracturing his left tibia in his lone game with the Cavaliers last season. He signed with the Lakers just before the opening of camp in September, but he got into just 23 games before being waived in January.

Bogut told Michaels last week that he turned down offers to join four playoff-bound teams late in the season. He opted to return to Australia at the time to deal with personal issues, including his wife’s high-risk pregnancy and his grandfather’s death.

“I had an offer from one in the east and I got an offer for a 10-day [contract] from a team in the west,” Bogut said. “The one out east was for the rest of the season but I just decided they weren’t great fits for me and the way I play so I just decided to wait it out.

“The other thing I had in my back pocket was there were two other teams that expressed a lot of interest but had some cap space issues and they wanted me to wait until late March, early April to sign so it wouldn’t affect their salary cap as much as it would by signing in January. Those teams called immediately after I was released from the Lakers.”

He added that he was “blindsided” by his release in L.A. and speculated that Lakers management didn’t want to deal with a potential buyout situation.

Bogut spent seven seasons in Milwaukee after being taken with the first pick in the 2005 draft. He was traded to the Warriors in 2012 and became a defensive anchor of their 2015 championship team. He was shipped to the Mavericks in 2016 as Golden State cleared cap room to sign Kevin Durant.

Central Rumors: Ayton, Lue, Young, Jackson

DeAndre Ayton should be the Bulls’ selection if they win the lottery, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports argues. The Arizona big man is unquestionably the best prospect in the draft and the top center available since Karl-Anthony Towns, Strotman continues. His offensive game is more developed than any big man over the last decade outside of Anthony Davis, Strotman adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue showed a lack of trust in the newcomers acquired by GM Koby Altman at the trade deadline during Game 4 against the Pacers, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report points out.  During the final six minutes, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. were mostly spectators as Lue went with holdovers from previous playoff runs. “It was a close game down the stretch,” he told the media afterward. “So I wanted my veterans, the guys that I know.”
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young has been quietly efficient in the series against the Cavs, as Mark Monteith of Pacers.com notes. He’s shooting 56% from the field and leads them in rebounding, blocked shots, steals and deflections through the first four games. Young has a $13.76MM option on the final year of his contract next season.
  • It’s crucial that point guard Reggie Jackson stay healthy next season for the Pistons to get into the playoffs, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Jackson battled a knee injury throughout the 2016/17 season after missing the first month, then suffered a severe ankle sprain this season that kept him out for nearly three months. “It’s about getting healthy once again in the offseason and getting back to training,” Jackson told Beard. “I just want to be healthy again.”

Pacific Rumors: Randle, Bradley, Looney, Kokoskov

Lakers power forward Julius Randle could wind up in his hometown of Dallas next season, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. Randle would be a nice fit alongside guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavericks have plenty of cap space to sign him. He played very well against them this season, averaging 21.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG and 5.6 APG on 66% shooting, Urbina notes. Randle would also slot in well with the Suns and Pacers, Urbina adds, though it’s more likely he winds up staying with the Lakers. Randle will be a restricted free agent if, as expected, the Lakers extend a $5.564MM qualifying offer by the June 29th deadline.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley could wind up with the Sixers if Philadelphia loses J.J. Redick in free agency, Urbina writes in a separate piece. Bradley’s spot-up shooting and man-to-man defense would make him a good fit with their young core, Urbina continues. The Spurs and Thunder, who were involved in trade rumors for Bradley this winter, could be potential landing spots. The Pelicans might also be interested in upgrading the shooting guard spot, which would allow them to move Jrue Holiday back to the point if they lose free agent Rajon Rondo, Urbina adds.
  • Big man Kevon Looney has emerged as a key player for the Warriors and that won’t change throughout the postseason, according to Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News. The Warriors’ first-round pick in 2015 has battled injuries during his first two seasons. Now healthy, Looney gives the Warriors another quality defender with length who guard all five positions, Kurtenbach adds. Looney could be plying his trade somewhere else next season, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Warriors declined their team option on him last October.
  • Igor Kokoskov has Jared Dudley‘s endorsement as the Suns search for a new head coach, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Kokoskov, 46, was instrumental in drawing up plays when Lindsey Hunter was Phoenix’s interim coach in 2013, according to Dudley. Kokoskov, who has interviewed for the Suns job, is currently a Jazz assistant. “It’s not like Igor is young,” Dudley said. “He’s had plenty of experience. It’s like Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. They put the right staff around them. That’s the critical part. I think he’s shown he deserves the opportunity.”

Pistons Owner Gores, Van Gundy To Meet Tonight

Pistons owner Tom Gores and coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy will meet this evening to begin discussions on the franchise’s future, including Van Gundy’s job status, Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press tweets.

This will be the first of what will likely be several meetings between Gores and Van Gundy, Ellis adds.

The Pistons have failed to qualify for the playoffs in three of the four seasons with Van Gundy running the show. Gores could opt to stick with the status quo regarding Van Gundy’s coaching and front office duties, bring in another executive to run the show while retaining Van Gundy as head coach, or let Van Gundy go and seek a new direction.

The mid-season acquisition of Blake Griffin from the Clippers could work in Van Gundy’s favor, as the Pistons didn’t have the services of point guard Reggie Jackson at the time. The Pistons are hoping that the trio of Griffin, Jackson and the NBA’s top rebounder, Andre Drummond, can lead them back to prominence. They only played four games together after Jackson returned from a high ankle sprain, as Griffin missed the last eight games with a bone bruise on his ankle.

Gores told reporters during the team’s final home game that he would meet with Van Gundy after the season to determine what changes, if any, would be made. Van Gundy has one season remaining on his five-year, $35MM contract.

The Pistons finished 39-43 this season, ninth-best in the Eastern Conference.

Pelicans To Pick Up Option on Gentry’s Contract

The Pelicans have told coach Alvin Gentry they will pick up their team option on his contract for next season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Gentry was given the good news prior to the team’s sweep of the Trail Blazers in the opening round of the playoffs, Wojnarowski adds.

Gentry’s job status was tenuous at best coming into the season. The team’s brass didn’t decide until mid-May last year to bring him back as the head coach. When the Pelicans got off to a slow start, the heat ramped up on Gentry.

Thanks to a banner season from MVP candidate Anthony Davis, the Pelicans turned things around and qualified for the playoffs despite the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins. After finishing 22 and 14 games below .500 during Gentry’s first two seasons as head coach, the Pelicans had a 48-34 record. Then, behind Davis and the guard duo of Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo, the Pelicans stunned the third-seeded Blazers to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

Gentry was the Warriors’ top assistant prior to signing a four-year, $13.7MM contract with the Pelicans in May 2015. He had previous stints as the head coach of the Pistons, Clippers and Suns.

Suns Speak To Kidd, Del Negro About HC Job

The Suns continue to conduct a wide-ranging search for their new head coach, with Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic reporting that the team has spoken to Jason Kidd and Vinny Del Negro about the job.

Kidd, who was fired by the Bucks earlier this year, was linked to the Suns earlier this month, and Bordow suggests that the former Brooklyn and Milwaukee coach has “openly campaigned” for the job. Kidd’s coaching résumé is a mixed bag — he led the Nets and Bucks to three playoff appearances in four years, but had a 183-190 overall record and didn’t always see eye-to-eye with management.

As for Del Negro, this is the first time we’ve heard his name connected to any coaching openings this spring. His history with the Suns likely contributed to the team’s decision to talk to him about the position — Del Negro played for the Suns in 2001, and was part of the team’s front office before he transitioned to coaching. In five seasons coaching the Bulls and Clippers, Del Negro compiled a 210-184 record, with a 10-19 postseason mark.

It’s not clear how seriously the Suns are considering Kidd or Del Negro, but the two former NBA head coaches join a group of candidates that includes David Fizdale, Igor Kokoskov, Frank Vogel, Steve Clifford, David Blatt, James Borrego, and Kevin McHale, per our tracker.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Jazz, Blazers, Barton

Speaking to WCCO 830’s Chad Hartman, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said his team can afford to pay Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler the max, despite already having a maximum-salary extension for Andrew Wiggins on the books. However, in order to fill out the rest of the roster with complementary pieces, the Wolves may have to convince some veteran free agents to accept below-market deals.

As Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune details, title contenders like the Warriors, Cavaliers, and Rockets can often convince vets looking for championships to sign minimum-salary deals. Taylor is hoping the Wolves will be able to make a similar pitch, pointing to a star like Butler and a coach like Tom Thibodeau as potentially instrumental recruiters. “That really helps when you have that clout within the league,” Taylor said.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is happy to see assistant Igor Kokoskov receive consideration for the Suns‘ coaching job, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “I’ve told him for a number of years that I think he’s a head coach in the NBA,” Snyder said. “It’s taken him some time to see himself that way because he’s just been focused on doing his job.”
  • Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has pushed back against the idea that “sweeping changes” are needed in Portland after the team was swept out of the playoffs. John Canzano of The Oregonian makes a case for why those sort of “sweeping changes” may be necessary.
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype offers up four potential destinations for Will Barton in free agency. Barton has spent the last three and a half seasons with the Nuggets and has expressed interest in sticking with the team, but Urbina also views the Suns, Pacers, and Sixers as viable suitors for the veteran swingman.

Wesley Matthews Plans To Exercise Option

Wesley Matthews intends to pick up the player option on the final year of his contract, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Doing so would keep Matthews under Mavericks control for one more season, putting him on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2019.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions for 2018/19]

According to comments relayed by Price and Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Matthews didn’t explicitly say he’ll pick up that option, but he talked repeatedly about his plans to remain in Dallas, and Price indicates that he’ll opt into his deal to make that happen.

“I don’t really know,” Matthews said when he was asked about the deadline for his player option decision, per Sefko. “I guess I ought to check on that. But I don’t plan on being anywhere else.”

Matthews, 31, appeared in 63 games for the Mavs in 2017/18, averaging 12.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.7 APG with a .406/.381/.822 shooting line. His season was cut short by a fractured fibula — he sustained the injury on March 10 and didn’t return before season’s end. However, Matthews confirmed over the weekend that he has been medically cleared to resume full basketball activities, joking that he was about to “go try and find a pickup game.”

If and when Matthews formally exercises his option, he’ll be on Dallas’ books for $18,622,514 next season. That would make him the team’s second-highest player behind Harrison Barnes, assuming the Mavs don’t make a bigger splash in free agency or on the trade market.

Community Shootaround: Can Budenholzer Return To Hawks?

Mike Budenholzer has interviewed for two of the NBA’s open head coaching positions so far this offseason, meeting with the Suns and Knicks about their vacancies. Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for the Phoenix job, but is reportedly interested in landing in New York.

The only problem? Budenholzer already has a coaching job, with two years and about $13-14MM remaining on his contract with the Hawks. While Atlanta has been willing to let Budenholzer interview for other jobs, the team has maintained that it’s open to bringing back its head coach for the 2018/19 season.

Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is skeptical, writing today that he finds it hard to believe that Budenholzer could remain the Hawks’ head coach going forward. As Cunningham outlines, Budenholzer wasn’t thrilled to lose personnel decision-making power to GM Travis Schlenk a year ago, and isn’t all that interested in working through a long rebuilding process in Atlanta.

A person familiar with Budenholzer’s plans tells Cunningham that the head coach would be ready to return to Atlanta if he doesn’t get another job, and the Hawks have maintained that they could be on board with that scenario too. But Cunningham views that scenario as untenable, since it’d be hard for Hawks players to commit to a lame-duck coach who may have his eye on other jobs.

The best-case scenario for both Budenholzer and the Hawks would for him to find another situation he likes, and for that team to offer Atlanta a fair compensation package to let him out of his current contract. That way, Budenholzer could move on to a more favorable situation and Atlanta’s new management group could hand-pick a new head coach after having gotten out from under Budenholzer’s contract.

If Budenholzer doesn’t get an offer though, or if a team that wants him isn’t willing to give the Hawks compensation to let him go, the situation could get messy. It wouldn’t be unprecedented if Budenholzer ultimately remains in Atlanta – Dave Joerger signed an extension with the Grizzlies in 2014 after they let him interview with the Timberwolves – but it wouldn’t be ideal either.

What do you think? Can the Hawks bring Budenholzer back? Will they have the opportunity to make that decision, or will he be offered a job by another team? Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Ettore Messina To Remain Spurs’ Coach For Game 5

Top Spurs assistant Ettore Messina will continue to serve as the club’s interim head coach for Game 5 of its series against the Warriors on Tuesday, the team announced today. It will be Messina’s third game as head coach this series.

Messina is filling in for Gregg Popovich, who is away from the team mourning the death of his wife Erin. The Spurs will give Popovich as much time as needs, so it’s not clear if we’ll see him again on the sidelines this season.

The Spurs currently trail the Warriors 3-1, with Messina having helped lead the team to a victory at home in Game 4. In order to further extend the series, San Antonio will need to pick up a victory in Oakland, which will be no easy task — the Dubs haven’t lost a home playoff game since Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, having won 11 in a row since then.

Messina is on the Hornets’ list of candidates to interview for the head coaching job in Charlotte. If the Spurs had been swept, Messina likely would’ve met with the Hornets within the next few days, but that interview will remain on hold until San Antonio’s season is over.