Bill Bayno

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Hayes, Coaching Staff

Figuring out how to maximize the backcourt of lottery picks Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham may be most important element of Cunningham’s integration into the league, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That process will start in training camp and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey is known for preferring multiple ballhandlers on the court. Cunningham’s versatility makes it both easier and more challenging to find the right balance between the two young backcourt partners, Langlois adds.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • The team has officially named Rex Kalamian, Jerome Allen, Jim Moran and Bill Bayno as assistant coaches, and Andrew Jones as a player development coach in a press release. The news that the club was hiring Kalamian, Allen and Bayno was reported in June. Allen was on Brad Stevens’ Celtics staff, while Bayno had been on Indiana’s staff. Kalamian worked the Kings last season. A report surfaced in July that Moran, a former Portland assistant, would be joining Casey’s staff. Jordan Brink and Austin Dufault have been promoted to player development coaches, the release adds.
  • Hayes may not be a legitimate building block, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic opines in a Q&A session with colleague James Edwards III. His struggles to gain separation make it very difficult for him to create anything as a lead guard and he’s always been turnover-prone, according to Vecenie, though it would unfair to give up on him too quickly. Vecenie does believe the club is being built the right way, though it needs a couple more elite players to be a true contender.
  • In case you missed it, there’s been speculation that second-round rookie Luka Garza, who has signed a two-way deal, could be promoted to a standard contract. Get the details here.

Pistons Adding Three Assistants To Dwane Casey’s Staff

The Pistons are finalizing deals to add three new assistant coaches to Dwane Casey‘s staff, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Detroit is expected to hire Jerome Allen, Bill Bayno, and Rex Kalamian.

Allen, who recently interviewed for the Celtics’ head coaching job and has been linked to the Trail Blazers’ vacancy as well, has been an assistant on Brad Stevens‘ staff in Boston since 2015, but appears set for a change of scenery.

Bayno, who previously worked on Casey’s staff in Toronto, was a Pacers assistant from 2016-21 before resigning due to mental health issues earlier this year. Kalamian was also a Raptors assistant under Casey until 2018. He joined the Clippers for two years, then the Kings for the 2020/21 season.

A recent report suggested that Pistons assistant Micah Nori may leave Detroit for a job with the Timberwolves, so it seems safe to assume Casey’s staff will look much different in 2021/22 than it did this past season.

At least one familiar face is expected to be back, however. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Detroit is currently negotiating a new contract with assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who has been on the staff since 2018.

Pacers Rumors: Bjorkgren, Warren, Bayno, D’Antoni, More

Amid multiple reports suggesting that Nate Bjorkgren‘s job as the Pacers‘ head coach is in danger, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report is the latest journalist to take a deep dive into what appears to be an untenable situation in Indiana.

One league executive who has previously worked with Bjokrgren told Bleacher Report that the Pacers’ coach is “completely out of his element as a leader,” and Fischer suggests that Bjorkgren’s struggles could even end up jeopardizing the job security of veteran executives Kevin Pritchard and Chad Buchanan as well.

As Fischer explains, the Pacers may not have done enough research during the hiring process into Bjorkgren’s background or how he treated people. The head coach has been described as abrasive, particularly with assistant coaches and other staffers, with Domantas Sabonis even encouraging Bjorkgren on one occasion to be kinder to the team’s staff, per Fischer.

Bjorkgren also reportedly has a tendency to become overly agitated by minor issues, such as a ball rack being out of place during practice or a team flight being delayed for de-icing purposes, Fischer adds.

“When he was hired, I was surprised, because he’s not the easiest to work with just on anything,” said one player who previously played for Bjorkgren in the G League. “He’s kind of stubborn, won’t listen, even though it might be good conversation. He’s a micromanager and he’s not for everyone.”

Here’s more on Bjorkgren and the Pacers:

  • Sources tell Fischer that T.J. Warren, who played for the Suns when Bjorkgren was an assistant in Phoenix, requested a trade following the Pacers’ hiring of the head coach. However, a person with knowledge of the situation tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star “that’s BS” (Twitter link).
    [UPDATE: Fischer has now cited a source close to the situation who says Warren never formally requested a trade.]
  • When assistant coach Bill Bayno resigned in February, mental health issues were cited as the reason for his departure. Fischer hears that the veteran assistant left in large part because he was no longer able to work with Bjorkgren.
  • Assistant coach Greg Foster – who received a one-game suspension for a sideline altercation with Goga Bitadze – has also “grown agitated” by Bjorkgren’s attitude toward the staff, according to Fischer. “He doesn’t mind embarrassing his coaches,” one league executive said of the Pacers’ head coach.
  • Bjorkgren’s reluctance to call out his top veterans has impacted his credibility in the locker room, sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, who says that even if the Pacers ultimately decide to retain their head coach for 2021/22, there will almost certainly be an overhaul of his coaching staff. Some of those coaches may want to leave voluntarily, Michael notes.
  • If Bjorkgren is let go, Mike D’Antoni is expected to once again be a candidate for the Pacers’ head coaching job, sources tell Fischer. D’Antoni drew interest from Indiana last fall.

Central Notes: Bayno, Hutchison, LeVert, Cavs, Holiday

Pacers assistant coach Bill Bayno has resigned due to mental health issues, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Bayno, 58, took a leave of absence two weeks ago. Both of his parents recently passed away and he needed to step away from the pressures and workload of the NBA grind amid the pandemic, Wojnarowski adds. He could return to coaching at some point. The team confirmed his resignation in a press release.

“I appreciate the impact Coach Bayno has had on our players and the Pacers organization over the last five years,” head coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “All of us at the Pacers wish him the very best as he transitions to his next chapter.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Chandler Hutchison is out indefinitely due to personal reasons, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. He’ll continue to be around the team and on the sidelines. Hutchinson played four minutes against Orlando on Friday but only appeared in one game in January after testing positive for the coronavirus.
  • Caris LeVert is attending Pacers practices two weeks after undergoing surgery for kidney cancer, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. “He’s obviously in all of our film sessions and our team meetings,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “He’s getting there, he’s walking around and that’s a good start.” Acquired in the four-team blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to Brooklyn, LeVert is out indefinitely.
  • The Cavaliers’ current road trip could determine the direction of the team for the remainder of the season, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. It could decide their approach to the trade deadline and whether they have a realistic chance at making the postseason.
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday was declared inactive on Monday due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.

Eastern Notes: Pacers, Knicks, Rondo, Hawks, Magic

The Pacers are adding Calbert Cheaney to Nate Bjorkgren‘s coaching staff as an assistant, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). An Indiana native who played his college ball for the Hoosiers, Cheaney spent 13 years in the NBA as a player. He has been an assistant for Atlanta’s G League affiliate for the last two seasons.

Cheaney is the latest addition to a new-look coaching staff that will also feature Kaleb Canales and Greg Foster, in addition to returning Pacers assistant Bill Bayno. Indiana recently issued a press release confirming that all three of those coaches will be part of Bjorkgren’s staff in 2021.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

Central Notes: Weaver, Bulls Draft, Avdija, J. Holiday

The Pistons hired general manager Troy Weaver because of his reputation for evaluating young talent, so Omar Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press looked into Weaver’s track record with the Thunder to get clues for this year’s draft. Detroit holds the No. 7 pick in a draft that appears unpredictable after the first two or three choices.

Weaver has a history of taking athletic players with long wingspans, Sankofa notes. His standout selection was Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008, and the pattern extends with first-rounders such as Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Josh Huestis, Terrance Ferguson and Darius Bazley. Weaver also signed Luguentz Dort, a similar player, after he went undrafted last year.

Sankofa believes former Memphis center James Wiseman and Georgia guard Anthony Edwards are the best fits for Weaver’s philosophy, but both are expected to be taken well before the Pistons’ turn. Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, possibly the draft’s best wing defender, could be an alternative, along with guard RJ Hampton and Florida State forward Patrick Williams.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • With the Bulls holding the No. 4 pick, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times looks at four potential selections and their possible impact on the organization. LaMelo Ball would challenge Coby White for the starting point guard job right away and could open the door for a Zach LaVine trade that would create cap room to add a free agent next summer. Edwards could be the future shooting guard, which would also make LaVine expendable, while Wiseman would give the team a true center and leave Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen battling to become the starting power forward. Deni Avdija fills the greatest need for Chicago and would eventually take over for Otto Porter Jr.
  • At least one draft expert believes Avdija would be a perfect fit for the Bulls, relays Rob Schaffer of NBC Sports Chicago. Appearing on the Bulls Talk podcast, Spencer Pearlman, a former draft consultant with the Suns, says Avdija is versatile enough to handle either forward slot and plays bigger than his 6’9″ size.
  • Although the Knicks have interest in free agent guard Justin Holiday, returning to the Pacers is his first option, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Michael also states that assistant coach Bill Bayno will remain with Indiana under new coach Nate Bjorkgren (Twitter link) and the organization has hired Ted Wu as a capologist (Twitter link).

Coaching Notes: Warriors, Pacers, Nets, Sixers

Mike Brown has been offered the top assistant position by the Warriors, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The former Cavaliers and Lakers head coach would replace Luke Walton, who was named the Lakers’ head coach, but terms of the deal are still being hammered out, Wojnarowski continues. Brown has remained close to his NBA mentor, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and spent a considerable amount of time around their organization last season, Wojnarowski adds.

Brown’s ties to the Spurs, affable personality and head-coaching experience tipped the scales in his favor in head coach Steve Kerr’s mind, according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link). Former Suns coach Ty Corbin was a finalist for the job before becoming one of Earl Watson‘s assistants with the Suns, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports while also confirming Golden State’s plan to hire Brown. The Warriors also met with the Hornets’ Stephen Silas and the Trail Blazers’ Nate Tibbetts, Stein adds.

In other coaching developments around the league:

  • The Pacers have added Bill Bayno as an assistant coach and David McClure as player development coach, the club announced on its website. New head coach Nate McMillan will retain Dan Burke and Popeye Jones from Frank Vogel’s staff.
  • The Nets have hired D-League assistant and Euroleague legend Mike Batiste as their big man coach, international journalist David Pick tweets.
  • The Sixers have hired John Townsend as their shooting coach, league sources told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He held the same post with the Grizzlies the past two seasons and previously was the shooting coach for the Raptors and Trail Blazers. He replaces Gene Burroughs, who is now the head coach of the Sixers’ D-League team, the Delaware 87ers.
  • The Mavericks have hired Bob MacKinnon to coach their D-League team, the Texas Legends, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. He replaces Nick Van Exel, who is now a Grizzlies assistant.

Coach Rumors: Rockets, Borrego, Pacers, Kings

As the Rockets continue to scour the market for their next head coach, Spurs assistant James Borrego appears to have emerged as a serious candidate for the job. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Borrego, who interviewed with Houston on Monday, will have a second meeting with the team later this week. That second interview will include owner Les Alexander, Stein reports.

Borrego’s second meeting with the Rockets doesn’t come with any guarantees, as Houston is also believed to be considering Magic assistant coach Adrian Griffin, Sixers assistant Mike D’Antoni, and Hornets assistant Stephen Silas for its head coaching opening. Still, Borrego remains in the mix for now.

Let’s check in on a few more coaching updates from around the NBA, courtesy of Stein…

  • After promoting Nate McMillan from an assistant coach job to replace Frank Vogel as head coach, the Pacers will have at least one opening on their bench, and the team is in pursuit of Bill Bayno, says Stein (Twitter link). A longtime coach at a variety of levels, Bayno most recently served as an assistant for the Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, and Raptors.
  • Bayno isn’t the only potential assistant being targeted by Indiana. Sources tell Stein (Twitter link) that the Pacers have also expressed interest in hiring Nick Van Exel. The former NBA guard, who coached the D-League’s Texas Legends this past season, is believed to be drawing interest from teams besides Indiana, Stein adds (via Twitter).
  • Dave Joerger is attempting to put together his staff for his first year as the Kings‘ head coach, and Stein tweets that the ex-Grizzlies head coach is targeting Elston Turner and Bryan Gates. Turner, who was mentioned as a candidate early in Sacramento’s coaching search, was a part of Joerger’s staff in Memphis, while Gates spent the 2015/16 season as a Timberwolves assistant.

Latest On Kings, Dave Joerger

12:48pm: The deal would indeed be a four-year arrangement with a team option on the fourth season, sources tell Wojnarowski, so the reports on contract length now align (Twitter link).

11:29am: The Kings hope they’ll finalize a deal with Joerger today, Stein hears (Twitter link).

MONDAY, 7:56am: Joerger is just one of three finalists, Divac said, according to Voisin (Twitter link). The identity of the other finalists is unclear. The Kings plan to meet with each of the finalists in the coming days and hope to make a decision by the end of the week, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

The deal the Kings and Joerger are discussing involves a team option on the fourth season, Stein writes. That would seem to account for the difference between the three- and four-year offers Stein and Wojnarowski referred to earlier.

SUNDAY, 11:55pm: A meeting with owner Vivek Ranadive set for Monday is the last obstacle between Dave Joerger and a deal to become Kings coach, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The team flew Joerger and his family to Sacramento, and the sides have made significant progress toward a three-year deal worth about $4MM a year, Wojnarowski hears, though sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com that they’ve been discussing a four-year arrangement for the same annual salary (Twitter link).

Regardless, GM Vlade Divac still plans to compose a list of finalists, and that’s the message that the team has communicated to its candidates even since Joerger’s arrival for today’s face-to-face with Divac, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, (Twitter links). That suggests Sacramento hasn’t ruled out hiring someone other than Joerger just yet. Joerger, too, has held mutual interest with the Rockets, as USA Today’s Sam Amick noted earlier, and his plan was to wait to hear from Houston before making a decision, according to TNT’s David Aldridge, but whether the Rockets are still in the picture for him after today’s meeting with Divac is unknown.

Joerger spoke at length with Divac today and would have the authority to hire his own assistants, though doubt exists about whether he wants to bring his Grizzlies staff with him, as Wojnarowski details. Still, it’s expected that Joerger would hire Grizzlies assistant Elston Turner, and he’d also likely to bring aboard Bill Bayno, a longtime college and NBA assistant who wasn’t with the Grizzlies, according to Wojnarowski. Turner has already interviewed with the Kings, as Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee noted earlier, but it’s unclear if that was for an assistant job or the head coaching job.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Sixers, Nets

D’Angelo Russell could wind up as a top-two pick if the Knicks or Sixers are that position after the results of the draft lottery on Tuesday, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. While it’s widely assumed that Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will go 1-2 in the draft, there was some speculation by rival executives at the draft combine that Philadelphia or New York may opt instead to transform to its backcourt with the Ohio State guard, Berger reports.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Michael Qualls (Arkansas), Keifer Sykes (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Ryan Boatright (Connecticut) and Terry Rozier (Louisville) are scheduled to work out with the Sixers on Tuesday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia brought in Julian Washburn (Texas-El Paso), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Terran Petteway (Nebraska), Marcus Thornton (Georgia), Stanton Kidd (Colorado State), Juwan Staten (West Virginia) and Shannon Scott (Ohio State) for workouts on Monday, Pompey adds.
  • Mike Conley and Kevin Love, if he does not opt out this summer, are potential free agent targets for the Nets in 2016, according to NetsDaily.com. The Nets will undergo many changes this offseason as they try to get under the luxury tax but they need to remain a playoff-caliber team to attract future free agents, the story adds.
  • A shakeup of Dwane Casey’s staff is underway as the Raptors parted with assistants Bill Bayno and Tom Sterner today, sources told Berger (Twitter links).