Bill Self

Western Notes: Giles, Looney, J. Green, Spurs

Harry Giles has played some of the best ball of his career as of late for the Kings, but his contract situation raises uncertainty about whether the team will be able to keep him this offseason, Greg Wissinger writes for The Sacramento Bee.

Giles, who missed his entire rookie season due to knee issues, had a part-time role for the Kings a year ago, averaging 7.0 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 58 games (14.1 MPG). However, despite flashing some potential, Giles had his fourth-year option for 2020/21 turned down by Sacramento last fall, ensuring that he’ll become an unrestricted free agent this summer. When he does, the Kings won’t be able to offer him a starting salary worth more than $3,976,510, the value of the declined ’20/21 option.

It remains to be seen whether Giles will actually generate enough interest to receive an offer larger than that from a rival suitor, but he has been boosting his stock in recent weeks. The third-year big man has started 14 of 16 games for the Kings since the start of February, averaging 10.4 PPG and 6.3 RPG with a .624 FG% in 21.0 MPG during that stretch.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Although Kevon Looney just recently turned 24 years old, his health is becoming an ongoing concern for the Warriors, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, who notes that Looney’s diagnosis of neuropathy is a chronic condition that can only be managed, not fixed.
  • Jeff Green, the newest addition to Houston’s roster, has seen an increased role over the Rockets‘ last two games, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. Green was a +28 in the team’s nine-point loss to Charlotte on Saturday and went 8-for-8 from the floor on Sunday, making a strong case to continue playing extra minutes going forward.
  • Earlier this season, amidst chatter that he may be a candidate to become the Spurs‘ next head coach, Kansas coach Bill Self said there was “zero truth” to those rumors. Recently, Self reiterated that he has no plans to leave the Jayhawks to become Gregg Popovich‘s successor, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News relays. “People may say whatever because (Spurs CEO R.C. Buford and I) are buddies, which we are, and proud of that,” Self said. “But I am not going to be the next coach of the San Antonio Spurs, nor would he want me to be. I mean, they got arguably the greatest coach of all time that still has got a lot of gas in the tank. So, that is a rumor I know some people have said, but that is a pretty ridiculous one right there.”

Southwest Notes: Harden, Self, Ingram, Luka

After Russell Westbrook joined James Harden in the backcourt for the new-look 2019/20 Rockets, the team’s offense struggled with counters against half-court double team Harden traps from smart teams like the Nuggets, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko writes.

Iko details how coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden, Westbrook, and their Rockets teammates devised clever solutions to counter the traps. “We figured out a way it’s going to work for us,” wing Danuel House told Iko. “All we gotta do is be ready to knock … shots down or make the right reads. If we don’t have the shot, pass it or drive to get someone else a shot.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Kansas head coach Bill Self responded to chatter from ESPN’s Seth Greenberg and The Athletic’s Sam Amick and John Hollinger that he is being considered to replace Spurs coach Gregg Popovich when the five-time NBA champion eventually retires. “There’s absolutely zero truth to that,” Self said, according to The Kansas City Star’s Gary Bedore. “The thing that cracks me up about some media types is the more outlandish things you can say … what it was, was [Greenberg’s] ‘Bold Predictions for 2020 [segment].’ You grab something or throw something against the wall and hope something sticks.”
  • Pelicans star forward Brandon Ingram has been having a breakout season in New Orleans, averaging 25.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 3.8 APG this year. Andrew Lopez of ESPN takes a look at how Ingram, in the final season of his rookie contract, has carved out a place for himself on his new team. The 22-year-old, who will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020, was just named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week.
  • Clippers consultant Jerry West has very high praise for rising Mavericks star Luka DoncicKevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News reports. “One player has transformed them into a playoff team,” West said. “[Doncic] will be the best player Dallas has ever had… I have great respect for [Dirk] Nowitzki, but Dirk is not him.” West has won nine titles as a player and executive in a storied Hall-of-Fame career.

Coaching Rumors: D’Antoni, Gentry, Boylen, Spurs

The Rockets are off to a reasonably strong start this season, with their 15-7 record good for fourth in the Western Conference. However, Houston’s play hasn’t necessarily made Mike D’Antoni‘s position as head coach any more secure.

According to John Hollinger and Sam Amick of The Athletic, a source with direct knowledge of the Rockets’ situation expressed “serious skepticism” that D’Antoni will still be the head coach in Houston beyond this season. In the view of that source, any result short of a Rockets championship this season probably means the odds are “slim” that D’Antoni returns in 2020/21.

While it seems unlikely that the Rockets would make an in-season coaching change unless things really go south, a few teams around the NBA may look ahead to next spring and consider the possibility of pursuing D’Antoni should he become available, according to Hollinger and Amick.

Here are a few more head coaching notes and rumors from The Athletic’s duo:

  • A number of factors are working in Alvin Gentry‘s favor when it comes to his job security. The Pelicans haven’t been healthy, head of basketball operations David Griffin has a history with Gentry, and team owner Gayle Benson also thinks highly of New Orleans’ head coach. Plus, Gentry is under contract for the 2020/21 season, and his salary for next year is believed to be worth $5MM+, a source tells Hollinger and Amick.
  • League sources tell The Athletic that Bulls head of basketball operations John Paxson continues to be a fan of Jim Boylen and his “tough-love approach.” However, Boylen’s defensive scheme has drawn some criticism and Chicago has the league’s 29th-ranked offense. According to Hollinger and Amick, Boylen also remains unpopular in the Bulls’ locker room. The Athletic duo wonders if an organizational overhaul that affects both Boylen and the front office could be in the cards next year if the team’s struggles continue.
  • League sources continue to speculate that Kansas head coach Bill Self could be a potential successor for Gregg Popovich when the Spurs‘ longtime head coach opts to retire, per Hollinger and Amick. Self has been close friends with San Antonio executive R.C. Buford since they attended college together at Oklahoma State.

2017 Basketball Hall Of Fame Class Announced

The 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame class was announced this afternoon on ESPN2 (link). Tracy McGrady, Rebecca Lobo, Bill Self, Muffet McGraw, Robert Hughes, Jerry Krause, George McGinnis, Tom Jernstedt, Nikos Galis, Zack Clayton and Mannie Jackson all made the cut as inductees.

A seven-time All-Star whose career spanned 17 seasons, McGrady received the HoF nod in his first year on the ballot. T-Mac, who battled injuries throughout his career, announced his retirement following the 2012/13 season, in which he made six postseason appearances with the Spurs.

Dikembe Mutombo, a Hall-of-Famer and former teammate of McGrady’s, was overjoyed to see Tracy’s selection.

“To have two of my friends, Tracy and Yao [Ming], who competed with me for the Houston Rockets, one of the great organizations, to see them in the Hall of Fame, that means a lot,” Mutombo told Mark Berman of Fox 26. “It’s something I can sit down with my kids and tell them I was not the only Hall of Famer out there with the Houston Rockets. I was lucky and fortunate to play with the other two.”

A pioneer of the WNBA, Lobo had been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Following a successful career with the UConn Huskies, Lobo played for the New York Liberty in the WNBA’s inaugural season. Lobo would play in parts of six WNBA seasons, playing for the Houston Comets and Connecticut Sun following her time in New York.

Krause, the former Bulls’ GM, was inducted posthumously, as the former executive passed away on March 21. Serving as the Bulls’ GM for over 18 seasons, Krause is credited as the architect of Chicago’s roster during Michael Jordan’s tenure.

And-Ones: Durant, Love, Diallo

The Lakers and Wizards are not expected to be granted a meeting with Kevin Durant once free agency begins, reports Sam Amick of USA Today. Amick adds that New York is back on Durant’s radar as a result of the Derrick Rose trade. The Knicks are expected to sit down with the 2013/14 MVP, as are the Spurs, Warriors, Celtics, Heat, and Clippers in addition to the Thunder.

The Wizards reached out to Durant’s camp to see if he had interest in joining the team and they came away believing it’s unlikely that he signs with Washington, Britt McHenry of ESPN.com reports. “It’s not like LeBron and Cleveland,” the source tells McHenry.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • Kansas coach Bill Self believes Cheick Diallo would have been a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft had he stayed another year at the university, Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate tweets. Diallo was drafted No.33 overall and the Pelicans traded their two second-rounders for his rights.
  • Kevin Love received an invitation to play in the Olympics this summer, but he has declined, opting to rest after the Cavs‘ long playoff run, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Love took to Instagram earlier today to write an open letter thanking Cavs teammate James Jones for teaching him how to be a better teammate and how to put the team first. Such a sentiment could be foreshadowing Jones’ potential retirement, although that is merely my speculation. Jones and Love both arrived in Cleveland during the 2014 offseason.

Coaching Rumors: Rockets, Lakers, Pacers

The major story on the coaching front is that the Pacers have parted ways with Frank Vogel, as we covered in detail here, but plenty more news is developing. Track the latest here:

9:31am updates:

  • Mike D’Antoni has already interviewed for the Rockets head coaching job, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com, advancing an earlier report that he would do so this week.
  • TNT broadcaster Kenny Smith, whom Stein heard may interview for the Rockets vacancy, said on “Inside the NBA” Wednesday that he’d like to coach under the right circumstances but made it clear that he enjoys his television job, as Stein relays.
  • The Rockets are focused on proven NBA head coaches and up-and-coming assistants, sources emphasized Wednesday as they spoke with Stein. That casts doubt on the viability of Smith and college coaches Shaka Smart and Bill Self, who also reportedly intrigue the Rockets.
  • It became apparent to former Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff that the team wouldn’t formally make him its head coach, and that’s what prompted him to withdraw from consideration for the post, Stein also writes.
  • Incoming Lakers head coach Luke Walton counts Brian Shaw among the assistant coaching candidates for his staff, but executive Jim Buss was opposed to Shaw as a head-coaching option and many around the league are skeptical that Buss wants a Phil Jackson disciple like Shaw around, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Shaw served as a Lakers assistant under Jackson.
  • Belief around the league is rising that the Pacers will let go of Vogel, Stein writes. President of basketball operations Larry Bird has a press conference scheduled for 10am Central today, and it appears likely he’ll lend clarity to Vogel’s future at that time. The coach’s contract with the Pacers has already expired, as Wojnarowski indicates, citing league sources. Many coaching contracts carry until the end of June, as player contracts do, but apparently that’s not the case with Vogel, who made approximately $2.5MM this past season, according to Wojnarowski. The Vertical scribe speculates that Vogel could double that annual salary in his next job. Bird had yet to speak with Vogel about a new contract as of late Wednesday, league sources told Wojnarowski.

Latest On Rockets Coaching Search

9:46pm: The Rockets are intrigued by college coaches Shaka Smart (Texas) and Bill Self (Kansas), and also may seek to interview former Rocket and current broadcaster Kenny Smith, Stein relays (Twitter links).

9:08pm: Sixers associate head coach Mike D’Antoni will interview for the vacant post this week, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Houston will also desire an interview with Frank Vogel if he is let go by the Pacers, Stein adds.

8:00pm: Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has withdrawn from consideration for the team’s head coaching position after meeting with team ownership and front office personnel on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. Other NBA teams have now begun reaching out to Bickerstaff about available lead assistant positions, which is what he is now focusing on, the Vertical scribe adds, though Wojnarowski makes no mention of which teams have been in contact with the coach.

Houston intends to conduct a wide-ranging search for its next head coach, Wojnarowski relays. GM Daryl Morey and team owner Les Alexander met with Bickerstaff on Monday, as well as with Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Rockets assistant Chris Finch, league sources informed Wojnarowski. The Rockets are trying to arrange interviews with Jeff Hornacek and Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, league sources told Wojnarowski. The franchise also reportedly plans to interview former Cavs coach David Blatt, though reports peg former Rockets and Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy as the front-runner for the vacant post.

Bickerstaff posted a mark of 37-34 after taking over for the fired Kevin McHale, who got off to a 4-7 start to the campaign. Houston indicated that Bickerstaff would receive consideration to have his interim tag removed, but apparently guiding the team to the playoffs wasn’t enough to sell ownership on him as a viable long-term option.

Draft & D-League Notes: Kobe, Embiid, Bennett

Instead of coming back and playing for the Lakers chances to play in June for a 17th NBA Championship, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times thinks Kobe Bryant should “play for June” by not coming back from his injury this season and hurting the Lakers June draft position. Plaschke believes the Lakers chances of winning it all this season are impossible so any improvement Kobe would bring hurts their draft chances this summer. 

A few other notes about players that will be playing in the NBA for years to come.

  • Joel Embiid is a player that has rapidly climbed in draft stock this season. One person whose draft board he hasn’t risen on is Bill Self, his coach at Kansas, and that’s because he has always been at the top of Self’s draft board. Self told Eric Prisbell of USA TODAY that he informed Embiid the moment he stepped on campus that he would be the No. 1 pick, whenever Embiid decided to come out (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets have called up Robert Covington from their D-League affiliate according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The rookie scored 33 points Friday for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and was on Houston’s active roster Saturday night. Coming into tonight, Covington had yet to log any minutes in the NBA.
  • Someone who may be heading to the D-League is Cavaliers rookie Anthony Bennett. According to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald, Cleveland needs to send Bennett to their D-League affiliate in order to rectify what has gone wrong this season.

Odds & Ends: Clippers, Cousins, Pacers, Self

While a few of the more notable games on the 2013/14 NBA schedule have already been reported, the full slate won't be announced until later this afternoon. As we look forward to the 5:00 CT announcement, let's check out a few odds and ends….

  • Chris Paul's new five-year contract with the Clippers makes him one of the NBA's only players locked up through 2018, but Paul believes the team's other long-term fixture will be crucial to L.A.'s success. "I think our team will definitely go as Blake [Griffin] goes," Paul told Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Grantland's Zach Lowe examines the case of DeMarcus Cousins, exploring whether it makes sense for the Kings to try to lock him up or to explore potential trades.
  • Popeye Jones will join Pacers coach Frank Vogel's staff, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).
  • At Brandon Knight's introductory presser, Bucks GM John Hammond told reporters, including Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that the team is "by no means" in tanking mode for 2013/14.
  • Kansas coach Bill Self hasn't ruled out the possibility of someday leaving the NCAA for an NBA job, as he told Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman. "It hasn't really tempted me because I haven't had that many people talk to me about it," Self said. "But at some point and time, sure, I think it would. It would be great to be able to match wits with the best athletes in the world, but I'm certainly happy where I'm at."
  • Bobby Brown is flying to New York to meet with the Knicks, tweets Marc Berman of the New York Post. Brown is under contract with a Chinese team, but has until August 15th to sign an NBA deal and opt out.