Becky Hammon

And-Ones: COVID-19 Testing, Female Coaches, White, Hilliard, A-Rod

All of the players in the Finals have been tested daily for COVID-19 and none of them have returned a confirmed positive test since July 7, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). Outside of Chris Paul early in the postseason, no player has returned a positive test since the playoffs began.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • NBA players are increasingly open-minded about female coaches, but front offices remain reluctant to give one of them a shot as a head coach, according to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Los Angeles Times. There’s increasing pressure on the league to give Spurs assistant Becky Hammon — a finalist for the Trail Blazers job — a chance to be a head coach, but GMs in a risk-averse league keep finding reasons to pass on her and other female candidates. Having more female executives around the league could change those perceptions, Nguyen adds.
  • Former NBA big man Okaro White has signed to play with Greece’s Panathinaikos next season, Alessandro Maggi of Sportando relays. White played in Russia last season. He appeared in 41 games for the Heat in 2016-18 and saw action in three games with the Wizards in 2018/19.
  • Former NBA guard Darrun Hilliard has agreed to terms with Germany’s Bayern Munich, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Hilliard appeared in 77 Pistons games from 2015-17 after getting drafted in the second round. He also played 14 games for the Spurs during the 2017/18 season.
  • Timberwolves buyers Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore met with the league’s Finance Committee this week, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. It’s part of the process to receive league approval for their first 20% purchase of the team. They will make multiple purchases of the franchise over the next few years until they become the controlling owners. The sale agreement was reached in mid-May. The Finance Committee is expected to recommend to the NBA’s Board of Governors that it approves the first sale.

Western Notes: Hammon, Rockets, Mobley, Giddey, Curry

Although she interviewed with the Trail Blazers twice and was identified as a finalist for the team’s head coaching position, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon sensed that she wasn’t the favorite to land the job.

“I knew I was second; I knew who they wanted,” said Hammon, who openly discussed multiple topics with Jabari Young of CNBC. “And I’m OK with that, because every race I’ve gotten into my entire life, I’ve been behind, and I’m OK with that. And that’s just how it is — but at the same time, I’m not ignorant to what I’m going up against.”

Instead of Hammon, Portland opted to hire Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups in the position. Billups was one of two preferred names mentioned by Blazers star Damian Lillard last month, immediately making him a strong candidate for the job.

“I’m not mad,” Hammon said. “This is the business, and it’s a very competitive business. But, at the end of the day, throw everything out the window — if you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason to hire me. And if you don’t want to hire me, you’ll find that reason, too. And that’s just that.”

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Atkinson, Pelicans, Blazers, Wizards

Although Penny Hardaway has reportedly emerged as a legitimate candidate for the Magic‘s head coaching job, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says Kenny Atkinson‘s name continues to be the one most frequently linked to the Orlando job.

As Fischer notes – and as has been reported elsewhere – the Magic are believed to be seeking a candidate who has previous head coaching experience. While Hardaway holds the top job at the University of Memphis, he lacks the NBA experience that Atkinson has. Sources tell Fischer that former Blazers coach Terry Stotts also remains a strong option for Orlando.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes and rumors:

  • The Pelicans‘ search is expected to continue until at least later this week, with current New Orleans assistant Fred Vinson still to be interviewed, says Fischer. However, Jacque Vaughn appears to be the frontrunner for that job, sources tell Bleacher Report. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said last week that Vaughn’s candidacy was gaining traction.
  • Trail Blazers officials were caught off guard by Damian Lillard‘s public support for Jason Kidd early in the team’s coaching search, and several staffers were surprised the All-NBA guard didn’t name former Portland assistant David Vanterpool as his preferred candidate, according to Fischer. Lillard advocated for Vanterpool to be named Minnesota’s coach following Ryan Saunders‘ dismissal earlier in the year.
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon impressed the Trail Blazers during the interview process, but the background intel the team got on Hammon “was not nearly as complimentary pertaining to various aspects of day-to-day coaching responsibilities,” Fischer writes. While team owner Jody Allen liked Hammon, there were doubts about whether she was best suited to navigate “delicate waters” with Lillard, Fischer adds.
  • Fischer says that the Wizards‘ coaching search will be “lengthy and thorough,” which suggests that Washington may end up being the last team to fill its head coaching opening.

Northwest Notes: Barton, Nuggets, D’Antoni, Rosas

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone would “love” for starting shooting guard Will Barton to return to the club in the 2021/22 season, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Barton has a $14.6MM player option.

“I would love for Will Barton to be back,” Malone said of Barton, who has been with the Nuggets since the club traded for him in a deal with the Trail Blazers during the 2014/15 season. “Everything he brings to the team. That’s on the court, off the court, in the locker room, from a culture standpoint. … He means a ton to me personally. He means a ton to this team and everything we’ve been able to accomplish these last six years. … Me, personally, I hope he’s back here for a long time.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets‘ chemistry, both on the court and on the bench, will eventually yield a title, opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The night during which Denver was ousted from the playoffs by Suns, in a four-game second-round sweep, MVP center Nikola Jokic, head coach Michael Malone, and team owner Josh Kroenke all sat down for a drink. “When I went home that night, I said, ‘Man, we got a really unique setup here,’” Malone reflected. “We’re all disappointed, we lost, no one was happy. … But to have an owner and an MVP who are just so down to earth and committed to doing whatever it takes to be better and find ways to win a championship, those two hours were so important.” The club was without its second-best player, guard Jamal Murray, for the entirety of its playoff run. Kiszla notes that the close bond between that trio is a rare thing in pro sports.
  • Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni was perceived as the runner-up finalist to land the Trail Blazers head coaching job that is expected to go to Chauncey Billups, write Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, who would have been the first female head coach hired by a franchise in the big four American men’s sports, was the third option, Charania and Amick write.
  • Timberwolves GM Gerson Rosas handled the end of the 2020/21 season and the lead-up to last week’s lottery with the right approach, writes La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. A mostly-healthy Minnesota team went 7-5 to close the season. Their top-three protected first-round pick fell to No. 7 in the lottery, and will be conveyed to the Warriors. Neal commends Rosas for wanting to see what the Timberwolves had under new head coach Chris Finch, rather than tanking and attempting to retain the team’s 2021 first-round pick.

Northwest Notes: Hammon, Billups, McCollum, Wolves’ Offseason

Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen is pushing for Spurs assistant Becky Hammon while president of basketball operations Neil Olshey prefers Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups to be the team’s next head coach, Marc Stein of the New York Times hears. The team is conducting second interviews with both candidates with Mike D’Antoni reportedly also in the running.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • There’s a strong possibility CJ McCollum will be traded this offseason, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Dealing McCollum is the most logical way for the Blazers to improve, or at least shake up their roster. Olshey seems more open to breaking up his star backcourt, which has posted a 15-30 record in the playoffs. However, with three big years left on McCollum’s contract, it’s tough to know what the Blazers could get in return.
  • There were a number of reasons why the Timberwolves didn’t tank, most notably to find out how D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns would mesh down the stretch, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. They also wanted to establish a culture of expectations for their youngest players. Minnesota had to convey its pick at No. 7 to Golden State after failing to move into the top three in the lottery.
  • Without a first-rounder, the Timberwolves will look to free agency and the trade market to shore up their roster, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. They’re particularly intent on upgrading the power forward spot to become a better rebounding team.

Billups, Hammon Getting Second Interviews With Blazers

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs assistant Becky Hammon are among the candidates for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching position who will interview with the team this week for a second time, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Billups and Hammon first interviewed with the Blazers last week, along with Mike D’Antoni, who also remains in the mix for the Portland job, per Wojnarowski.

According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry are among the others who have interviewed for the vacancy. It’s unclear whether Staley, and/or Barry will receive second interviews.

Billups has frequently been cited as a frontrunner for the Blazers’ job, so it’s no surprise that he’s among the finalists. He also received an endorsement from point guard Damian Lillard following Terry Stotts‘ exit earlier this month.

The fact that Hammon remains in the running is notable — according to Charania and Amick, it’s the first time that a woman has remained under consideration in the final stages of an NBA head coaching search.

Jeff Van Gundy and Juwan Howard were among the other possible candidates who were mentioned early in the Blazers’ search process, but we haven’t heard anything about them lately. Still, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey stated that Portland’s search would be extensive, with 20-to-25 candidates receiving consideration, so there are likely many names that haven’t been reported yet — it’s possible some of them have advanced to the second stage of the club’s interview process.

D’Antoni Interviewing With Blazers On Monday; Billups, Hammon To Follow

The Trail Blazers are interviewing Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni on Monday for their open head coaching position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, Portland also has interviews lined up early this week with Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs assistant Becky Hammon. All three names were previously identified as candidates to replace Terry Stotts in Portland.

A previous report stated that D’Antoni has “serious interest” in coaching the Blazers, but that it wasn’t clear whether Portland reciprocated that interest. The team appears intrigued enough by D’Antoni to give him an interview, though head of basketball operations Neil Olshey has indicated that the search will be fairly expansive, with upwards of 20-to-25 candidates receiving consideration. As such, we shouldn’t read too much into a single meeting.

Billups has previously been cited as a potential frontrunner for the Blazers’ vacancy. He also received a public endorsement from star point guard Damian Lillard, who is expected to have a say in the team’s hire.

Becky Hammon To Interview For Trail Blazers’ Head Coaching Job

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is among the candidates who will be interviewed for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching vacancy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Charania that other names on Portland’s list include Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.

Either Hammon or Staley would make history by becoming the NBA’s first-ever female head coach. Hammon will also interview for the head coaching job with the Magic, Charania adds.

Hammon, 44, has been on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio since 2014. She became the first woman to serve as a head coach in the Summer League in 2015 and was the first female on an All-Star Game coaching staff in 2016.

Staley, 51, is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She has coached the South Carolina women’s team since 2008 and has been coach of the USA national women’s team since 2017.

A report this week identified Billups and D’Antoni as candidates in Portland, with Billups considered to be the front-runner. He is also rumored to be in contention for the Celtics’ coaching vacancy.

After retiring from the NBA, Barry spent several years as a broadcaster before joining the Spurs in a front-office role in 2018. He has no previous coaching experience.

Celtics Notes: Allen, Stevens, Lawson/Hammon, Ainge

Current Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen will interview for the vacancy left by Brad Stevens when the latter opted to step into a front office role with Boston, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Allen has been an assistant on Stevens’ staff for the last six seasons. Stevens will be leading the search for his replacement.

Pompey notes that Allen had an opportunity to become an assistant coach with the Mavericks during the 2020 offseason, but opted to remain in Boston, hoping to one day become the next Celtics head coach.

“For six years, I either sat behind [Stevens] or next to him and watched him not only work, I watched him prepare,” Allen said. “I watched him show-in to other people. Watched how he operated.”

Pompey writes that Allen has developed strong relationships with current Celtics Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, and Marcus Smart. Before transitioning to the NBA, Allen was previously the head coach at the University of Pennsylvania.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • In a new piece, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe details how Brad Stevens emerged as the replacement for departing Celtics team president Danny Ainge. Ainge officially informed Celtics ownership of his intentions after the March 2021 trade deadline. Upon hearing this, owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca approached then-head coach Stevens about transitioning into the team president role.
  • There are several viable female candidates who could become the Celtics’ next head coach, writes Steve Buckley of The Athletic. Buckley examines the potential fits of former Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson, as well as longtime Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon.
  • Outgoing Celtics team president Ainge has outfitted the team with plenty of promising players, but new president Stevens will need to make some key adjustments to bring Boston back to title contention, writes Jay King of The Athletic“These last two years have been tough,” Ainge acknowledged. “In the [2020 NBA restart] bubble and all the rules and scrutiny and protocols that we had to go through has not made the job as much fun.” King notes that the 62-year-old Ainge may yet join another team’s front office in some capacity. Ainge drafted current Boston All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Stevens will need to figure out how to navigate his way around the league’s luxury tax while improving the roster around the Celtics’ two best players, writes King.

Celtics Will Start Coaching Search With Internal Interviews

The first step in the Celtics‘ search for a new head coach to replace Brad Stevens will begin with several internal candidates, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Chris Mannix of SI.com suggested as much earlier today.

Boston’s head coaching position opened up this morning when Danny Ainge resigned as president of basketball operations and Stevens was chosen to replace him.

Weiss notes that Stevens’ staff has several strong candidates. Jay Larranaga interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching spot before James Borrego was hired, and Scott Morrison and Brandon Bailey both coached at the team’s G League affiliate in Maine. Jerome Allen is a former NBA player with college head coaching experience at the University of Pennsylvania, while Jamie Young has been with the team since 2008.

Among external candidates, the most interesting name is Kara Lawson, who would become the first female NBA head coach if she gets the job. Lawson spent a year as an assistant in Boston before leaving in 2020 to become head coach of the women’s team at Duke. Others to watch, sources tell Weiss, include former Celtics players Sam Cassell, currently an assistant with the Sixers, and Chauncey Billups, who is on the Clippers‘ staff.

Weiss also expects interest in former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Nets assistant Ime Udoka, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee. According to Weiss, another potential outsider is Juwan Howard if he’s willing to leave Michigan.