Month: March 2017

And-Ones: O’Neal, Sterling, Jackson

Jonathan Abrams of Grantland examines the resurgence of Jermaine O’Neal with the Warriors. O’Neal feels like his years with the Celtics were lost seasons, per the article. O’Neal said, “Those two years [in Boston] were very difficult for me, because not only did I feel like I was wearing down physically, I was wearing down mentally. That was the first time in my life I felt myself starting to break away a little bit.”

More from around the league:

  • With Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s recent lifetime ban being announced, the legal battle will now begin. In an article by Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News, legal and business experts from USC analyze the situation involving the possibility of the league forcing Sterling to sell the team.
  • Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group examines some of the issues that have arisen between the Warriors front office and coach Mark Jackson.
  • Nine NBA teams — the Spurs, Clippers, Bucks, Heat, Lakers, Hawks, Bobcats, Suns, and Rockets — sent personnel to Spain recently to scout point guard Guillem Vives and center Walter Tavares, reports David Sardinero of Kia en Zona (translation by Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype). Both will be in this year’s draft.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) has released his most recent Big Board rankings for the upcoming NBA Draft.
  • The Bobcats announced (Twitter link) that Josh McRoberts’ surgery to remove bone spurs from his left big toe was successful. Roberts won’t be able to do any basketball related activity for a minimum of four weeks.
  • Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel examines if Magic owner Rich DeVos might be the next one Adam Silver will target for inappropriate comments. DeVos is alleged to have made anti-gay comments in the past.

Lakers Notes: D’Antoni, Kerr, Coaching Search

With the big news of the resignation of Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, the rumors are already beginning as to who his replacement will be. Ben Higgins of San Diego’s Channel 10 News (Twitter link) is reporting that Steve Kerr said he would be interested in speaking to the team about the now vacant position.

More from Los Angeles:

  • Stan Van Gundy is not expected to pursue the Lakers head coaching position, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
  • Former Lakers great James Worthy will represent the team during the May 20th NBA Draft lottery, reports Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times.
  • The Lakers will most likely look to hire either a high-salaried big-name coach or an NBA assistant with upside, tweets Bresnahan.
  • A potential coaching candidate that team management and Kobe Bryant share a fondness for is Ettore Messina, reports Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Messina impressed them while working as an assistant under former coach Mike Brown, Wojnarowski notes.
  • Wojnarowski also tweets that another possibility could be UConn coach Kevin Ollie.
  • Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link) reports that Byron Scott has strong interest in the Lakers head coaching position, and that he is on the team’s radar as a potential candidate.

Mike D’Antoni Resigns As Lakers Coach

8:55pm: Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) reports that D’Antoni will receive an undisclosed portion of the $4MM he was set to earn next season as part of his resignation.

8:21pm: Mike D’Antoni has resigned as coach of the Lakers, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). D’Antoni had been having discussions with GM Mitch Kupchak over the phone in regards to his future, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. These talks were also scheduled to continue on Thursday, prior to his resignation. Although no timetable has been established, the search for a replacement will begin immediately.

The Lakers have confirmed the news on their website. Kupchak said, “Given the circumstances, I don’t know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons. On behalf of the Lakers, we thank Mike for the work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude that he brought to the team every day. We wish him the best of luck.”

Medina reports (Twitter link) that D’Antoni’s agent Warren Legarie said D’Antoni hit an “insurmountable impasse” with Lakers refusing to provide assurances they will exercise his team option for the 2015/2016 season. D’Antoni had concerns about having a “lame duck” status next season.

D’Antoni, who was hired by the Lakers to replace Mike Brown on November 12, 2012, had a 67-87 record in his two seasons with the team. He previously was head coach of the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks, and has a career record of 455-426.

Bulls Notes: Rose, Boozer, Offseason

Tom Thibodeau said that Derrick Rose has begun taking contact in practice, reports Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. Thibodeau noted that there is no doubt that Rose will return to his old form. According to the article, Thibodeau said, “It was good. He’s right on schedule. So this is the next phase now. The rehab part went well. The non-contact stuff went well. So now this is the next step which is good.” The Bulls are optimistic that Rose will be able to participate in Team USA’s training camp this summer in advance of the World Cup of Basketball in Spain, per Friedell.

More from the windy city:

  • It was rumored earlier that the Bulls would likely attempt to trade Carlos Boozer this summer. Boozer weighed in, saying, “I would love to be back in a Bulls uniform. We have a team that I don’t feel has reached our potential, mostly due to injuries,” tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • Johnson also notes that Boozer told him that Bulls management said that they haven’t decided on his future, and they lauded him for his professionalism while dealing with reduced playing time (Twitter link).
  • In a separate article, Johnson examines Boozer’s future more in depth.
  • The team will only look to re-sign one of either D.J. Augustin or Kirk Hinrich, writes Johnson. Both players are unrestricted free agents.
  • The Associated Press looks at Rose’s recovery progress, the Bulls’ offseason ahead, and what roster moves the team might make.

Bobcats Notes: Free Agents, McRoberts, Hornets

Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford believes that three factors decide where free agents will sign, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Clifford said they were, “Money, of course… Who you play with… And can I win?” Charlotte, Clifford notes, comes out well in all those areas. The team could have up to $19MM in salary-cap space this summer, a good locker room atmosphere, and their improvement from 21 victories in 2012/13 to 43 this season shows a franchise on the upswing, per the article.

More out of Charlotte:

  • Clifford doubled down on his support for the return of soon-to-be free agent Josh McRoberts, saying the team needs him back, Bonnell notes (on Twitter).
  • Bonnell also tweets that president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said that improving the team’s perimeter shooting will be a priority this offseason.
  • We won’t be referring to the team as the Bobcats for much longer, tweets Bonnell. The nickname change back to the Hornets will become official in a “couple of weeks,” Bobcats spokesman Mike Cristaldi said, per Bonnell.

And-Ones: Warriors, Constitution, Sterling

Mark Jackson strongly denied a report that said he asked Warriors adviser Jerry West not to attend most practices or team activities, USA Today’s Sam Amick writes.

“That’s a lie,” Jackson said. “Come on. That’s a lie. That’s disrespectful.” 

West has indeed been attending practice of late, a source confirms to Amick, though the “wide and strong” belief is that Jackson would prefer West not be over his shoulder. Here’s more from around the league that uses West’s likeness in its logo:

  • Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders takes a look at a few of the intriguing clauses in the NBA’s Constitution and By-Laws, which the league released for the first time in light of its use in the punishment of Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
  • The NBA’s advisory/finance committee will hold a conference call Thursday to begin the process of arranging a vote to take the Clippers away from Sterling, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News details.
  • Raptors CEO Tim Leiweke isn’t worried about the notion of Kyle Lowry and coach Dwane Casey walking away this summer when their contracts expire, as he said on SportsNet 590 The Fan, tweets Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. “Why wouldn’t you want to be here?” Leiweke said.
  • Bulls GM Gar Forman has yet to begin negotiations with Nikola Mirotic but he’s confident that the European star will play for the Bulls at some point, as Forman told reporters today, including K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

‘Melo, Phil Jackson Talk Kerr, Free Agency

Carmelo Anthony and Knicks president Phil Jackson met Tuesday to discuss the team’s coaching vacancy and Anthony’s plans for free agency this summer, a source tells Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Jackson told Anthony about primary coaching candidate Steve Kerr, whom the Zen Master coached with the Bulls, Begley writes.

Jackson expressed a desire last week for Anthony to be “true to his word” that he’d take a discount to sign with the Knicks, referencing ‘Melo’s comments at the All-Star break this year. It’s unclear if that subject came up, according to Begley.

The Knicks would reportedly like to hire Kerr soon after the first round of the playoffs, cognizant of apparent interest from the Warriors and perhaps others. Kerr, who met with Jackson this weekend, wants his negotiations with New York to move at a slower pace. Anthony, who plans to opt out of his contract to become a free agent this summer, publicly expressed support for former coach Mike Woodson before the Knicks fired him earlier this month.

Jackson and Anthony have spoken briefly a few times since the Zen Master joined the organization last month, but they hadn’t addressed his potential free agency. Anthony has maintained that the Knicks are his preference, but he’s said that he wants to hear Jackson’s plan for returning the team to contention before he decides where to sign this summer.

Bulls, D.J. Augustin Share Interest In Return

3:27pm: Forman confirmed that the Bulls would like to re-sign Augustin this summer, calling him “a fit” for the team, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune observes (Twitter link).

1:23pm: The Bulls and point guard D.J. Augustin have mutual interest in a new deal this summer, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. The Thad Foucher client only signed for the rest of 2013/14 when he joined the team in December, but Chicago has a strong desire to keep him, Charania writes. Augustin tells Charania that he’s hopeful of a return to the Bulls, echoing comments he made to reporters, including Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald (Twitter link), after last night’s playoff elimination at the hands of the Wizards.

Augustin joined the Bulls as a free agent in December after the Raptors had waived him to accommodate the trade that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento. Toronto chose to cut ties with him and his one-year, $1.267MM deal even though it wasn’t much more than what fellow backup point guards Dwight Buycks and Julyan Stone were making. The move illustrated how far Augustin, the ninth overall pick in 2008, had fallen. The 26-year-old Augustin turned it around with a strong performance for Chicago, averaging 14.9 points, 5.0 assists and 1.9 turnovers in 30.4 minutes per game during the regular season. The scoring figure would be a career high if extrapolated over a full season.

Bulls GM Gar Forman and executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson have a busy offseason ahead. They’re in the running for Carmelo Anthony, and they appear likely to try to trade Carlos Boozer before the July 16th deadline to amnesty him. They’ll probably have to get Boozer off their books and make additional cap-clearing moves to have room for Anthony, and if they can’t hook Anthony, there’s a strong chance they’ll sign European star Nikola Mirotic. Augustin figures to be a secondary priority, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Bulls weigh him against combo guard Kirk Hinrich, who’s also a free agent. Hinrich told reporters again today of his preference to re-sign with the Bulls, as Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com notes (Twitter link).

Official Early Entrant List For 2014 NBA Draft

The NBA officially announced its list of early entrants for the 2014 NBA draft, with 75 names on the list, two fewer than last year (hat tip to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress). It includes 43 players from colleges in the U.S., 31 prospects from overseas, and one entry from the D-League.

NBA teams are allowed to contact these players and may schedule workouts. Any of them may withdraw between now and June 16th, but NCAA players won’t be able to return to play for their schools.

Here’s the complete list, in alphabetical order:

Tom Izzo Won’t Coach In NBA Next Season

Tom Izzo said on ESPNU’s College Basketball podcast today that he’ll return to Michigan State next season rather than pursue interest from the NBA, as Andy Katz of ESPN.com writes. Izzo had reportedly been a candidate to coach the Wolves and Pistons, though he says he hasn’t heard from any NBA team this year.

“If somebody made me an offer to be the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers that was so good that it would impress everybody, does that mean I would never say never? I’m not doing that anymore,” Izzo said. “I’ve seen too many people get stung that way. But put it this way, I’ve got a big-time recruit coming in an hour and if I was leaving I wouldn’t be recruiting.”

The 59-year-old Izzo strongly denied the rumors linking him to the Pistons last month, but the perception has remained that he had interest in a pro job. People close to the coach told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com last month that they thought he’d entertain NBA offers but that he wouldn’t leave this year. Fellow ESPN.com Marc Stein scribe suggested about a week ago that Izzo would listen to an offer from Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, his friend, but it appears as though Saunders can cross Izzo off his list of candidates.

Izzo considered taking the Cavaliers coaching job in 2010, but decided against it. He’s expressed frustration with the changing dynamics of recruiting players for the Spartans, but it looks as though he’ll be doing that job for at least one more year.

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