Becky Hammon

Southwest Notes: Hammon, Cousins, Burke, Anderson

Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon continues to perform most of her coaching duties despite being away from the team due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News reports.

Hammon is under a league-mandated quarantine in Los Angeles along with Spurs big man Drew Eubanks and an unnamed staffer. She has missed three games.

“It’s a big loss,” guard DeMar DeRozan said. “The chemistry we have with Becky makes it a lot lighter compared to Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich).”

We have from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins was ejected on Monday against his former team, the Lakers, for an altercation with Markieff Morris. Cousins intervened for teammate Jae’Sean Tate, who was shoved to the court by Morris, and first-year coach Stephen Silas was fine with Cousins’ actions, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets“He wasn’t going to allow anything to happen to his rookie, and I think that’s admirable,” Silas said. “Him sticking up for his teammate shows a lot of who DeMarcus Cousins is.”
  • The Mavericks are dealing with major COVID issues and guard Trey Burke knows what his teammates are going through, as Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News details. Burke underwent a 25-day quarantine last summer after signing with Dallas. “I kept getting inconclusive [test] results,” he said. “It would come back negative and then it would be positive. It is a real experience. … I know it is a tough time and it is unfortunate but try to use this isolation time to do some meditation, some visualization, and try to work on yourself.”
  • Forward Kyle Anderson is averaging career highs in points, rebounding and assists for the injury-riddled Grizzlies and he feels a measure of vindication, Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “I feel like I could have been doing this in this league, but I put a lot of work in and finally proving to myself that I can do it,” said Anderson, who is signed through the 2021/22 season.

Texas Notes: Iwundu, Wall, White, Hammon

The Mavericksquarantine issues could give Wesley Iwundu his first real opportunity since joining the team as a free agent last month, writes Eddie Sefko of NBA.com. Dallas is playing without Josh RichardsonDorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson, who are all out of action for at least a week.

Iwundu has gotten into four games so far, but is averaging just 5.0 minutes per night. He spent his first three seasons with the Magic before getting an offer from the Mavericks.

“Coming to Dallas, the focus on winning is higher,” Iwundu said. “You have a better team, better players and it’s just something you got to come in with that mindset that you want to get better each and every day.”

There’s more from the Lone Star State:

  • John Wall believes the Rockets‘ bench can be among the best in the league, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Wall often plays alongside the reserves, who are shooting 50% from the field, which is the best among NBA bench units. “I know I can score the ball,” Wall said. “At the same time, I can put pressure on the defense pushing the pace, running pick-and-rolls. And I can find my shooters, guys like Eric Gordon, Ben McLemore, DeMarcus (Cousins) out there, Jae’Sean Tate, Sterling Brown, (David) Nwaba. I have guys that can make shots.”
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expects guard Derrick White to miss four to six weeks with a fractured toe, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. White had surgery on the toe in August and was sidelined through the first four games of the regular season. He reinjured it on New Year’s Day.
  • Popovich confirmed that assistant coach Becky Hammon is one of the Spurs‘ staff members not with the team because of health and safety protocols (Twitter link from Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News). Two staffers and reserve big man Drew Eubanks have been required to quarantine.

Southwest Notes: Hammon, Richardson, Pelicans, G. Allen

When Becky Hammon took over the head coaching reins for the Spurs on Wednesday night following Gregg Popovich‘s ejection, she was focused on trying to “win the game” rather than the historical significance of the moment, as Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News writes. However, after the game, she was able to appreciate the fact that she had become the first woman to act as head coach during an NBA game.

“Obviously, it’s a big deal,” Hammon said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s a substantial moment. I’ve been a part of this organization, I got traded here (as a WNBA player) in 2007, so I’ve been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs and sports organization with the Stars and everything for 13 years. So I have a lot of time invested, and they have a lot of time invested in me, in building me and getting me better.”

The Spurs weren’t able to come back and knock off the defending champion Lakers in Hammon’s unexpected head coaching debut, but San Antonio players were happy to see her get a chance to run the show in Popovich’s absence.

“Any player who knows the history of women’s basketball knows what she meant to the sport,” Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said. “You don’t think twice about it. She’s one of us. When she speaks, we are all ears.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • One of Josh Richardson‘s agents, Bill Duffy, tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News that his client’s fit in Philadelphia last season was “awkward” and that he and fellow agent Erik Kabe asked the Sixers about exploring trade options this offseason. “Josh has an opt-out after this year,” Duffy said. “So Erik and I were pretty candid with Philly that it was pretty unlikely he’d return, ‘so maybe you should have discussions.'” The Mavericks were Richardson’s preferred landing spot, and Dallas and Philadelphia were able to work out a deal that Duffy views as a “win-win.”
  • As they incorporate new additions Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe, the Pelicans are working on improving their chemistry – especially on offense – following a condensed offseason, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “It’s different from every other year because of the time,” Adams said. “Still man, it’s not impossible. Chemistry is just a weird thing. You can’t really rush it.”
  • Health issues continue to plague the Grizzlies, who saw Grayson Allen leave Wednesday’s game in the second quarter due to a left ankle sprain, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The club -which is already missing Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson, and Justise Winslow – will have to hope Allen’s sprain is a minor one.

More On Clippers-Doc Rivers Breakup

The Clippers’ decision to part ways with Doc Rivers could be the riskiest coaching change in NBA history, Kevin Pelton of ESPN opines. The team is rolling the dice with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George potentially opting out and becoming unrestricted free agents after next season. L.A.’s collapse against the Nuggets can be attributed to poor shooting, Pelton adds, as the Clippers took higher percentage shots than the Nuggets but made substantially fewer of them.

We have more on Rivers and the Clippers:

  • The Clippers’ front office concluded that issues that had cropped up during the season surfaced under the stress of the playoffs, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. That led to the assessment that Rivers had to be held accountable for the team’s collapse.
  • By severing ties with Rivers, the Clippers indeed are blaming him for their playoff flop, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated opines. Could Phil Jackson be the answer? Jackson is 75 but he’s had time to recharge his batteries and this wouldn’t be a long-term job anyway, Mannix notes.
  • Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are reportedly two of the former head coaches the Clippers will consider. Dan Loumena of the Los Angeles Times speculates that the Clippers might also consider assistant coach Sam Cassell, Chauncey Billups, Mark Jackson, Stan Van GundyMike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Kenny Atkinson, Alvin Gentry, Jason Kidd and Becky Hammon.
  • Lue is the 3-2 favorite to get the job, according to Bet Online, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. Van Gundy is the second choice at 3-1 with Billups surprisingly listed as the third choice at 4-1.
  • Add the Rockets to the list of teams interested in Rivers, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Pelicans and 76ers have already made contact.

Pacers Identify 14 Head Coaching Candidates

The Pacers are set to begin a wide-ranging search for a head coach that will include more than a dozen candidates, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski details, Indiana is looking to interview the following candidates as the team seeks a replacement for Nate McMillan:

  • Former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger
  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool
  • Nets associate head coach Jacque Vaughn
  • Trail Blazers associate head coach Nate Tibbetts
  • Spurs assistants Becky Hammon and Will Hardy
  • Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn
  • Mavericks assistants Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas
  • Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee
  • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka
  • Magic assistant Pat Delany

It remains to be seen whether the Pacers will be granted permission to speak with all of their potential targets. If they do, the team’s first round of virtual meetings would feature at least 14 interviews.

Many of the Pacers’ coaching candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been linked to other vacancies around the league. Vanterpool, Craig, Mosley, Silas, Ham, and Udoka, for example, are all believed to be interviewing for the Bulls’ job. Udoka and Ham have also been mentioned as potential 76ers candidates, as has Joerger. Vaughn was seriously considered for the Nets job before the team hired Steve Nash, while Hardy and Delany interviewed with the Knicks before they hired Tom Thibodeau.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Others on Indiana’s list, such as Tibbetts and Hammon, have interviewed in past years for various NBA head coaching openings. Only a couple candidates – Quinn and Lee – haven’t received head coaching consideration in the past, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Joerger and Vaughn are the only names on the list with previous head coaching experience.

Mike D’Antoni has also been mentioned as a potential target for the Pacers, but he remains active in the postseason with the Rockets and there’s no guarantee he’ll leave Houston when his contract expires.

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has spoken about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to connect with younger players. McMillan’s old-school approach to offense was believed to be one reason why Indiana made a change.

Western Notes: Burke, Spurs, Fox, Barnes

Mavericks guard Trey Burke worked out at the Orlando campus for the first time on Friday, Tim McMahon of ESPN tweets. He wasn’t a full go but did some conditioning work and ran through sets, coach Rick Carlisle told MacMahon. Burke was signed as a substitute player but didn’t arrive at the campus until Wednesday.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is rotating his assistants to run the team during scrimmages against other clubs, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press tweets. Becky Hammon was the head coach for their Thursday scrimmage, Mitch Johnson will run the show on Saturday and Will Hardy will guide the team on Tuesday.
  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox had no restrictions during Friday’s practice, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Fox sprained his ankle after the team arrived from Sacramento. He took part in non-contact drills earlier this week.
  • Kings forward Harrison Barnes passed his COVID-19 tests in Sacramento and headed to Orlando on Friday, Ham reports. “He’ll have to start his two-day quarantine once he gets here and pass that protocol before he can join us on the court,” coach Luke Walton told Ham and other media members. Barnes tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month but Sacramento held his roster spot in anticipation he would recover in time.

Knicks Notes: Knox, Hammon, Coaching Search

New Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose is “not sold” on 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who says that Rose badly wanted to see the young forward in action over New York’s final 16 games. With the team not part of the NBA’s 22-team restart plan for this summer, Rose won’t get that opportunity.

Despite not necessarily being all-in on Knox and not getting the chance to evaluate him down the stretch this season, it seems unlikely that Rose will look to move him this offseason. The team would be selling low if it traded Knox now, and there’s a chance that a new head coach could get more out of the 20-year-old.

Still, it’s worth noting that the Knicks will have to make at least one key decision on Knox later this year. He has a fourth-year option for 2021/22 worth $5.85MM that would typically have to be exercised or turned down by October 31. It’s not yet clear when that decision will be due now that the NBA’s calendar is undergoing some changes.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Although Spurs assistant Becky Hammon has been identified by multiple outlets as a name to watch in the Knicks’ head coaching search, a source tells Berman that she appears unlikely to interview for the position.
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Berman notes that six of the nine candidates identified so far as probable interviewees in the Knicks’ coaching search are clients of Creative Artists Agency, Rose’s old firm. It’s not clear how many of those coaches are legit candidates for the job. “It seems obvious this is a great way to get their names in the pipe line and give them some exposure for the next cycle,” a coaching source told Berman. “Time is on their side.”
  • Of the assistant coaches interviewing with the Knicks, Ime Udoka of the Sixers looks like one of the strongest candidates, having interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs in the past. Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic takes a closer look at Udoka’s résumé, examining how he’d fit in New York.

Knicks To Interview Spurs’ Will Hardy

The Knicks have received permission to interview Spurs assistant Will Hardy for their head coaching position, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Hardy, who has been with the Spurs since 2010, was initially hired as a basketball operations intern before becoming a video coordinator for the team. He was named an assistant coach in 2016 and was promoted to the front of the bench a year ago, following the departures of Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka. The 32-year-old Hardy is “well-regarded” within the Spurs’ organization, per Wojnarowski.

With Hardy joining the Knicks’ list of potential coaching candidates, we’re now up to at least eight who are expected to interview. Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, and interim coach Mike Miller have long been considered candidates, with Mike Woodson joining the mix a couple weeks ago. On Wednesday, reports indicated that Udoka, Pat Delany, and Chris Fleming are also expected to interview for the job.

Although Ian Begley of SNY.tv has said that the Knicks will likely speak to eight-to-10 candidates during their head coaching search, he doesn’t rule out the possibility that the list of interviewees will continue to grow. Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson have fans within the organization, according to Begley, who says there’s also some interest in meeting with former Cavs and Lakers coach Mike Brown. Spurs assistant Becky Hammon has been identified as a name to keep an eye on as well, as Begley confirms.

Thibodeau has been viewed as the frontrunner for the job for several weeks, and Atkinson also has legitimate support within the organization. However, it’s possible one of the assistants the Knicks are interviewing will make a lasting impression on the club during the interview process.

New York is expected to conclude its search sometime before the season resumes in Orlando at the end of July, says Begley.

Knicks Plan To Interview Udoka, Others For Head Coach Job

4:58pm: The Knicks are also expected to interview Bulls assistant Chris Fleming, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who hears that the club will likely meet with about eight-to-10 candidates in total. Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link) hears that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is among those who could interview with the Knicks too, though that’s not yet confirmed.

3:54pm: In addition to meeting with Udoka, the Knicks also plan to interview Magic assistant Pat Delany, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). A former G League head coach for Miami’s affiliate, Delany has spent six years as an assistant coach under Steve Clifford, first in Charlotte and now in Orlando.

3:39pm: The Knicks intend to interview Sixers assistant Ime Udoka for their head coaching vacancy, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Udoka joins a list of candidates that includes Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, and Mike Miller. Atkinson reportedly has some support within the Knicks’ organization, though Thibodeau is considered the frontrunner. Woodson and Miller are also expected to interview — if they haven’t already.

Udoka, 42, enjoyed a seven-year playing career that ended in 2011 after suiting up for the Spurs, Trail Blazers, Kings, Knicks and Lakers. He was part of Gregg Popovich‘s staff in San Antonio for seven seasons before joining the 76ers last spring. Udoka also interviewed for the Cavaliers’ head coaching job last year before the team hired John Beilen.

Interestingly, Udoka was recently reported to be a leading candidate for the Bulls’ head coaching job in the event that they move on from Jim Boylen. It’s not clear whether New York’s apparent interest in Udoka will prompt Chicago to accelerate its evaluation process with Boylen at all.

Knicks Notes: Perry, Rose, Smith Jr., Coaching Search

The Knicks are bringing back general manager Scott Perry for another season, but the fate of his staff won’t be determined until this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Perry and the team had a May 1 deadline on their mutual option, so new president of basketball operations Leon Rose had to make a decision this week. However, Perry’s staff all have contracts that run through August, so Rose will take more time to evaluate each of them.

Those staff members include personnel director Harold Ellis, assistant GM Gerald Madkins, scout Fred Cofield and capologist Michael Arcieri, and Berman notes that none of them are guaranteed to remain with the team. He adds that Perry will have input into Rose’s future hires for the scouting department.

Perry has a long relationship with NBA mogul William Wesley, who Berman believes is providing behind-the-scenes advice to Rose. Perry’s new contract runs for one season, and he will likely get the chance to earn a longer deal based on his decisions going forward.

There’s more from New York:

  • Keeping Perry around will provide continuity for the Knicks heading into the draft and the offseason, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Perry has spent the past three years with the organization and worked closely with former team president Steve Mills before he was fired in early February.
  • The decision to dismiss Mills right before the trade deadline probably postponed plans to trade Dennis Smith Jr., Ian Begley of SNY.tv states in a mailbag column. A source tells Begley that some people in the organization thought it was a “near certainty” Smith was going to be moved. Begley believes injuries and the death of a family member led to Smith’s regression this year and suggests he might be better off with another team, possibly the Magic, who reportedly expressed interest before the deadline.
  • Begley expects Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy to get consideration in the upcoming coaching search. Several agents and coaches told Begley they believe Rose will hire Tom Thibodeau if he doesn’t keep interim coach Mike Miller in place. Begley adds that Kentucky’s John Calipari shouldn’t be dismissed as a candidate, even though he has stated that he’s not interested in the job.