Avery Johnson

Coaching Updates: Grizzlies, Kidd, Suns, Sixers, Bulls, Thibodeau

The latest round-up of NBA rumors from Shams Charania of The Athletic features a handful of coaching-related notes, including an update on the Grizzlies‘ head coaching search.

According to Charania, Bucks assistant Taylor Jenkins, whose interview with Memphis was previously reported, met with the Grizzlies for a second time last week. Jenkins is one of at least six candidates to interview for the position, but the fact that he got a second meeting may signal that he’s receiving serious consideration.

Elswhere in Charania’s story, he notes that Jason Kidd‘s contract with the Lakers will make him the highest-paid assistant in the NBA and reports that Warriors assistant Willie Green has been offered a leading assistant coach job with the Suns. Phoenix is hopeful that Green, who played for new Suns head coach Monty Williams in 2010/11, will accept that offer.

Here are a few more coaching-related items from around the NBA:

  • Former Brooklyn and Dallas head coach Avery Johnson is interviewing with the Sixers for a job on Brett Brown‘s staff, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Johnson spent the last four seasons coaching at Alabama.
  • Not long after parting ways with the Rockets, Roy Rogers has agreed to a three-year deal to become an assistant for the Bulls, tweets Wojnarowski. K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, who tweets that Rogers’ interview with the team was described as “impressive,” points out that the three-year term lines up with head coach Jim Boylen‘s new extension.
  • Appearing on The Zach Gelb Show, Tom Thibodeau confirmed that he’s not eager to rejoin the assistant coaching ranks anytime soon (link via CBS Sports Radio). The Lakers were rumored to have interest in Thibodeau as a lead assistant when they appeared to be nearing a deal with Tyronn Lue, but Thibs says the position probably wouldn’t have appealed to him. “I’ve known Ty for a long time. I coached him in Houston, and when he first got into coaching, we were in Boston together, so I consider him a really good friend,” Thibodeau said. “But I still have some time on my contract. I’ll be patient and just wait for the right opportunity to come along.”

Former NBA Coach Avery Johnson Out At Alabama

Avery Johnson, who spent seven years as an NBA head coach with the Mavericks and Nets, is no longer the coach at Alabama, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. He had been negotiating a separation agreement with the university since Thursday, and a deal was announced today.

Johnson was mentioned as a possible replacement for Tyronn Lue in Cleveland when he was let go in October. Johnson mentored Cavs rookie point guard Collin Sexton during his lone year with the Crimson Tide and may have interest in renewing their relationship in the NBA.

The Cavaliers will search for a long-term head coach once the season ends, and it’s not clear if current coach Larry Drew will be considered for the job.

Johnson spent four years at Alabama, compiling a 75-62 record with one NCAA Tournament appearance. He is 254-186 as an NBA head coach and took the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006.

Central Notes: A. Johnson, Portis, Harrison, Antetokounmpo

With the Cavaliers‘ coaching situation still uncertain, Alabama coach Avery Johnson could become a candidate, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Johnson has plenty of NBA coaching experience, spending seven seasons with the Mavericks and Nets and taking Dallas to the NBA Finals in 2006.

Johnson also has a strong connection with Cavs’ rookie point guard Collin Sexton, coaching him last year in his lone season of college basketball. Johnson attended Cleveland’s home opener last week as Sexton’s guest. Windhorst notes that owner Dan Gilbert has wanted to hire a college coach before, making offers to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’ Bill Self and Kentucky’s John Calipari.

In the wake of Tyronn Lue‘s firing over the weekend, Larry Drew continues to act as interim head coach, but without the title. Drew said Tuesday that he’s “very disappointed” with the pace of negotiations to make his role more permanent.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Bobby Portis is sidelined with a sprained right MCL, but it hasn’t changed his mind about his decision to pass on a contract extension, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Portis, who may be out of action until mid-December, opted to test the market as a restricted free agent next summer rather than accept a deal now. “Can’t second-guess yourself,” he said. “Basketball gods don’t bless people that way. It doesn’t work that way. In life, obviously you have a choice. I made mine, I’m happy with what I did, and I’m just living life one day at a time.”
  • Bulls point guard Shaquille Harrison didn’t have his confidence shaken after being waived by the Suns, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Injuries to Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine have given Harrison an opportunity, and he has responded with 10 and 13 points in the past two games. “The Bulls brought me here for a reason,” he said. “I don’t need to do more than what’s being displayed. Try to continue to play hard, be a leader and be a playmaker.”
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has cleared concussion protocol and is expected to play tomorrow in Boston, according to Matt Velazquez of The Journal-Sentinel. Antetokounmpo has missed one game so far after being elbowed in the head Saturday. “It’s kind of scary because, you know, you get hit in the head and you feel pain for 10 seconds,” he said. “But it was lingering and I had a headache the next day and it was kind of bad, but at the time, I felt – I’m Giannis – I felt great. I wanted to play. … I think the NBA medical staff did a great job protecting me, keeping me out of the game.”

And-Ones: Payne, Rodriguez, Johnson

Potential lottery pick Cameron Payne suffered a non-displaced fracture in the ring finger of his right hand during a pre-draft workout for the Nuggets on Monday, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reports. The point guard visited a hand specialist, and it was determined that it was a clean fracture that will not require surgery, and the former Murray State player will sit out the next three weeks as a precautionary measure, Givony notes. “Cam continued to work out even after suffering the injury in Denver, and he could probably play in a meaningful game tomorrow if he needed to,” Payne’s agent Travis King told Givony.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former NBA coach Avery Johnson acknowledged earlier this week that if he had waited until after the NBA season ended, he would have likely landed a head coach position in the league, John Reid of The Times Picayune writes. ”I know without a shadow of a doubt, that if I had waited, there would have been a high probability I would have got an NBA job based upon the conversations my agent was having with some people,” Johnson told Reid. ”But the main thing is that there is no turning back. I’m here at the University of Alabama and this is the right situation.” Johnson has coached the Mavericks and the Nets, and he owns a career regular season record of 254-186.
  • Texas big man Myles Turner is scheduled to work out for the Pistons on Saturday, the Heat on Monday, and the Knicks on Tuesday, Dwain Price of The Star Telegram relays (Twitter link).
  • Real Madrid’s Sergio Rodriguez, who is considered the top point guard in Europe, plans to try and secure an NBA deal this summer, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. NBA front-office executives regard Rodriguez as an elite backup playmaker in the NBA, and his representatives at CAA began calling teams today to gauge initial market interest for Rodriguez, Wojnarowski adds. The 28-year-old’s contract with Real Madrid contains an NBA buyout provision that isn’t expected to become an obstacle, the Yahoo! scribe relays. Rodriguez last played in the NBA during the 2009/10 season, appearing in 66 contests split between the Knicks and the Kings.

Alabama To Hire Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson has made a verbal agreement to coach at the University of Alabama, sources tell Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Johnson, a longtime NBA coach, was said to be among the possible candidates for the Nuggets’ head coaching job not long ago and could have been a leading candidate for other vacancies this summer.

Johnson has been out of the NBA since the Nets replaced him with assistant P.J. Carlesimo in the middle of the season.  Of course, even though things didn’t work out as planned in New Jersey/Brooklyn, Johnson boasts an impressive resume which includes a Coach of the Year award in 2005/06 while with the Mavericks.  That year, he led Dallas to a Western Conference Championship before succumbing to the Heat in 2006.

Johnson, who turned 50 last month, has never coached before at the college level.  Across parts of seven seasons as an NBA head coach, Johnson led his teams to a combined 254-186 record.  While he never guided the Nets to the postseason, his Mavs teams went to the playoffs in each of his four seasons there. Of course, in their quest for a title, simply making the playoffs was not enough.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Irving, Stevens, Shved

The relationship between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was “rocky” at points earlier this season, Irving admits, but it’s grown into a bond that appears much stronger than the one between James and Kevin Love, as Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group details. Love and James say it doesn’t matter whether they become as tight as Irving and James are as long as they can develop a greater on-court connection, Vardon writes.

“People get so infatuated with the best of friends, things of that nature,” James said. “First of all, I’ve got three very good friends in this league, and that’s Carmelo [Anthony], and that’s C.P. [Chris Paul], and that’s [Dwyane Wade] Wade. And after that I have a bunch of teammates. I have guys I ride for every day. But Kyrie is a guy I understand how important he is to this team, how important he is. And the same with Kev as well.”

James and Love can opt out to hit free agency this summer, while Irving will enter year one of his five-year extension next season. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS hears “some Brad Stevens chatter” in connection to the University of Texas coaching job (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether there’s interest on either side, though Texas athletics director Steve Patterson has spoken with NBA coaching agents of late, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. Davis identifies Avery Johnson as a possible sleeper for the job. Stevens is just finishing up the second season of a six-year, $22MM deal and there have been no indications that he wants to leave the Celtics. Further, the Celtics would probably deny him permission to go, as Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com surmises (Twitter link).
  • Alexey Shved loves playing for coach Derek Fisher and is open to re-signing with New York after his contract expires this summer, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link). The Knicks can make Shved a restricted free agent if they tender a qualifying offer of nearly $4.103MM.
  • The Cavs have assigned Joe Harris to the D-League, the team announced. It’s the eighth time Cleveland has sent last year’s 33rd overall pick to its affiliate, though none of the seven previous assignments have lasted as long as a week, as our leaguewide assignments/recalls log shows.

Nuggets Likely To Target D’Antoni, Gentry, Others

3:38pm: Denver is expected to make former Bulls and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro a candidate for the job, and according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who also hears mention of ex-Kings coach Michael Malone. Berger hints that’s true of Pelicans assistant Bryan Gates, Pacers assistant Nate McMillan and Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga, too, though that’s not entirely clear. In any case, the Nuggets will likely give Gentry “heavy consideration,” Berger writes.

1:10pm: The Nuggets have yet to any consider long-term candidates, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

1:01pm: Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, current Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry and Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin are believed to be likely candidates to replace the fired Brian Shaw as Nuggets head coach, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick. One-time Mavs and Nets coach Avery Johnson and former Nuggets, Suns, Knicks and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni are other likely candidates, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and a source who knows D’Antoni’s thinking told Amick that he would certainly be interested in the job. Still, the Nuggets indicated when they announced Shaw’s firing that Melvin Hunt would remain as interim coach through season’s end and that they would begin a search for a more permanent replacement after that. Sources confirm to Stein that the Nuggets will take a “long-term view” on their search (Twitter link).

D’Antoni recently suggested in a radio appearance with Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck and Ethan Skolnick that he had interest in returning to coach in the NBA (Twitlonger link; Twitter link). That was before Shaw’s firing, Beck cautions (on Twitter). D’Antoni resigned as Lakers coach last spring, and he got his start as an NBA coach with the 1999 Nuggets.

Jackson also coached as recently as last season, though his three-year Warriors stint is his only head coaching experience. Still, his name was linked to both the Magic and Kings openings earlier this season. Gentry has spent parts of 12 seasons as an NBA head coach, the last coming in 2012/13 with the Suns. That was Johnson’s last year of coaching, too, though he was only in charge of the Nets for the first 28 games that season. Johnson had more success in Dallas, where he took the team to the 2006 NBA Finals and won 67 games in 2006/07. Griffin has so far only served as an assistant coach with the Bucks and Bulls since the 2008/09 season, but Chicago promoted him before this season to lead assistant.

Bucher’s Latest: Kings, Pelicans, Cavs

It’s no secret that the Nets trio of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are available on the trade market, and they’re among a long list of players that GMs say teams are open to trading as the February 19th deadline approaches, according Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. Jeff Green, Brandan Wright, Lance Stephenson, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings, Goran Dragic, Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson, Arron Afflalo and most of the other Nuggets are also on that list, with Bucher, in many cases, confirming earlier reports. Still, Bucher hears plenty of new rumbles, as he passes along in his piece, and we’ll hit the highlights here:

  • Kings owner Vivek Ranadive unilaterally made the decision to fire former coach Michael Malone, sources tell Bucher, even though GM Pete D’Alessandro claimed the decision as his own. Most of the Kings organization was pleased with the direction the team was headed in and believed the team was overachieving, though there were doubts that Malone was the long-term solution, Bucher writes.
  • Ranadive wanted to make a splash with Malone’s successor, but Kings front office executives prevailed upon him to keep Tyrone Corbin as head coach, according to Bucher. Ranadive would relish the chance to turn the screws on the Warriors, of whom he used to be a part-owner, by hiring Mark Jackson, the ex-Warriors coach, a source tells Bucher, who nonetheless believes that the team won’t hire Jackson during this season.
  • Talk “circulating around the league” suggests that Pelicans owner Tom Benson is eyeing former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and former Mavs and Nets coach Avery Johnson if he decides to make changes, Bucher writes. Still, Pelicans sources tell Bucher that the club hasn’t contacted either Dumars or Johnson, and that there are no signs that Benson is definitively displeased with either GM Dell Demps or coach Monty Williams.
  • Several executives from around the league don’t believe the pair of trades the Cavs made this week assure the team of any more than a second-round appearance, according to Bucher. One exec tells Bucher that the Cavs “overinflated” the market with what they gave up for Timofey Mozgov.

Cavs Rumors: Brown, Gilbert, Assistants

A majority of Hoops Rumors readers don't believe Phil Jackson will consider coaching the Cavs, even though a source tells Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio that Jackson would "absolutely" listen if the team called. While the Zen Master is far and away the biggest name associated with the team's search, there are plenty of other candidates, and there's news on several of them this morning:

  • The team has had informal conversations with former coach Mike Brown about a reunion, writes Bob Finnan of The News-Herald, who passes along a report from WKYC-TV in Cleveland that Brown and owner Dan Gilbert will meet Sunday.
  • A source tells Finnan that Brown would be the top choice for the Hawks if they decide to make a coaching change. That's no surprise, given the ties between Brown and Atlanta GM Danny Ferry.
  • The Cavs aren't expected to discuss the opening with any college coaches, and the hiring process will move swiftly, according to Finnan.
  • Finnan adds Melvin Hunt of the Nuggets and Michael Curry of the Sixers to the list of assistant coaches who may receive interviews, which already included Michael Malone (Warriors), Brian Shaw (Pacers) and David Fizdale (Heat).
  • The Cavs will indeed interview Shaw, just as they did when they hired Byron Scott in 2010, reports Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer
  • Flip Saunders, Nate McMillan and Avery Johnson have all either directly or indirectly expressed interest in the position, Pluto also writes.
  • The Cavs have a chance to make an impression on Kyrie Irving with their coaching hire, so that means much is riding on the team's decision, opines fellow Plain Dealer scribe Bud Shaw.

Aldridge On Nets, Phil Jackson, Cousins

It may be New Year's Eve, but that doesn't mean TNT's David Aldridge is taking a break from his weekly Morning Tip piece on NBA.com. In this week's column, Aldridge recaps the top 10 stories of 2012, including the Lakers' coaching carousel, the Dwightmare, and LeBron James' first NBA championship. He also dishes a few rumors on the Nets' coaching search and DeMarcus Cousins' availability, so let's check out the highlights:

  • According to Aldridge, the Nets thought that Avery Johnson carried his desire for a contract extension too far, considering plenty of other respected coaches around the league began coaching in the final year of their respective contracts without extensions.
  • While the Nets are saying P.J. Carlesimo will get a shot to prove he deserves to be the team's permanent head coach, Phil Jackson is still expected to get the first call if and when Brooklyn begins a coaching search in earnest. "It's Phil," a league coaching source tells Aldridge. "That's coming straight from Russia."
  • Kings GM Geoff Petrie insists that Cousins is not on the trade block in Sacramento: "He's not going anywhere. You can lay that to rest. Some of that stuff lives in its own reality." However, Aldridge hears from sources that the Kings are ready to consider moving the volatile big man for "a package of less talented, perhaps, but more emotionally grounded players."
  • Some members of the Kings were surprised when Cousins was reinstated and showed up for practice so soon after being suspended, and weren't overly moved by his attempt to apologize. "When he apologized to the team, two players stood up and said 'we've heard this bull(bleep) before,'" a source tells Aldridge. "'You're either going to be with us, or you're not. We don't want to hear any more excuses.'"
  • Examining teams with rumored interest in Cousins, Aldridge makes note of some potential roadblocks: The Celtics would be reluctant to part with Avery Bradley in any trade, the Pistons wouldn't be eager to pair Cousins with Andre Drummond, who Aldridge says "has his own growing up to do," and the Wizards likely wouldn't want to take on someone of questionable character after clearing the roster of that sort of player within the last year.