Becky Hammon

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.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale Fallout, Potential Long-Term Replacements

The Knicks fired David Fizdale earlier today while also relieving Keith Smart of his duties as assistant coach. The move comes after a 4-18 start, which ties a record for worst in franchise history.

While Fizdale repeatedly told reporters that he had owner James Dolan’s backing, Jabari Young of CNBC.com hears from an agent who represents coaches around the league that the firing was “inevitable.” Assistant coach Mike Miller will now take over as the interim head coach with 60 games to go in the season.

Former Warriors coach and Knicks guard Mark Jackson has been linked to the team as a long-term candidate for the role (any major hire is likely to come in the offseason) and Young reports that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon would be interested in the job should the team be willing to offer her a long-term deal. Young mentions four or five years as the necessary length of the contract.

Young also mentions former Coach of the Year (2007) Sam Mitchell as a good candidate for the short-term, as Mitchell has a reputation for getting top effort out of players.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jeff Van Gundy, Jason Kidd, and Tyronn Lue are among the former NBA coaches that Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic names as options for the Knicks. Vorkunov also lists several potential candidates without former head coaching experience, such as Jarron Collins, Stephen Silas, and Ettore Messina.
  • The firing of Fizdale won’t clean up the Knicks’ issues, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explains. Zillgitt believes that the front office should shoulder the blame for putting together this roster and simply expecting Fizdale to produce results with it.
  • Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post argues that the Knicks should fire team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. The regime put together a plan of signing big-name free agents and failed to deliver.

Spurs Assistant Ettore Messina Joins Olimpia Milano

11:09am: Olimpia Milano has made it official, announcing today in a press release that Messina has signed a three-year contract to serve as the club’s president of basketball operations and head coach.

8:01am: Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina has agreed to a deal with Italian club Olimpia Milano, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). According to Charania, Messina will run the team’s basketball operations and will become its new head coach.

Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reported on Monday that Messina had interviewed for that dual role with Olimpia Milano, the only Italian club in the EuroLeague, and was expected to make a decision on his future this week. Prior to Charania’s report, Carchia had indicated that Messina was leaning toward accepting Milano’s offer.

While the details of Messina’s new agreement aren’t known, Carchia classifies it is a multiyear deal and suggests that Olimpia Milano made the veteran coach a “rich” offer to lure him away from San Antonio. Messina will replace Milano head coach Simone Pianigiani on the sidelines, and is expected to name a new general manager soon, per Carchia.

A longtime head coach overseas for CKSA Moscow, Real Madrid, and other clubs, Messina joined the Spurs in 2014 as Gregg Popovich‘s lead assistant. He has received interest from multiple NBA teams as a head coaching candidate since then, interviewing with the Hornets, Bucks, and Raptors in 2018, and the Cavaliers in 2019. He also coached Italy’s national team from 2015-17.

With Messina’s imminent departure, the Spurs will have some holes to fill on Popovich’s coaching staff for the 2019/20 season. After James Borrego left for the Hornets last spring, Messina and Ime Udoka are departing this year — Udoka recently accepted a job as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

Assistants Will Hardy and Becky Hammon are in position to take on more prominent roles in San Antonio.

Cavaliers Notes: Messina, Udoka, Fernandez

The Cavaliers‘ meeting with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is taking place today, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).

As we detailed last week, Messina will become the second assistant on San Antonio’s staff to interview for Cleveland’s head coaching job this spring, joining Ime Udoka. Udoke “came across as very sharp” during his interview on Sunday, Fedor writes in a Cleveland.com mailbag.

As Fedor explains in that same mailbag, the Cavaliers appear unlikely to interview Becky Hammon, a third assistant from the Spurs’ staff. In Fedor’s view, that’s because Messina and Udoka are lead assistants in San Antonio and are more ready to take the next step to a head coaching role. It’s the same reason Fedor believes Cleveland is unlikely to hire Jordi Fernandez, who is further down in the pecking order on the Nuggets’ staff than most of the other candidates the Cavs are interviewing.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • While Fernandez may not end up being the Cavaliers’ choice for head coach, it would make for a good story if he is. Joe Vardon of The Athletic explains why, with an in-depth look at Fernandez’s coaching journey and his deep ties to Ohio.
  • Within his mailbag, Fedor observes that the Cavaliers will have limited resources available to add pieces to their roster this offseason. However, if they’re able to acquire outside help, the Cavs need to prioritize shooting and/or rim protection, according to Fedor.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examines the Cavaliers’ roster situation and potential draft needs, outlining why he thinks the team should draft R.J. Barrett over Ja Morant if given the opportunity.