Bobby Webster

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Webster, VanVleet, Ibaka, Gasol

The “strong rumble” in the Walt Disney World bubble was that the Raptors were nearing new long-term extensions for president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, general manager Bobby Webster, and head coach Nick Nurse, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Toronto announced a multiyear extension for Nurse earlier this week, but Ujiri told reporters today that he hasn’t engaged in contract discussions with Raptors ownership yet. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Ujiri said he wanted to prioritize new deals for his leadership team, including Nurse and Webster. He said an extension for Webster is “close,” per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As for his own contract, Ujiri offered the following assessment, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link): I think it will come. When it comes we’ll deal with it face on. But as for now I’m focused on other things. When that time comes I will deal with it.”

Ujiri and Webster have one year remaining on their current contracts.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Re-signing unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet will be a “big-time priority” for the Raptors this offseason, Ujiri said today (Twitter link via Murphy). He added that the club has a good sense of where its free agents still have room to grow or develop.
  • Ujiri also called free agent big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol priorities for the Raptors, though he acknowledged the challenges inherent in balancing the club’s short-term interests and long-term flexibility (Twitter link via Lewenberg). Toronto is expected to try to maximize its cap flexibility for the summer of 2021 as best it can.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic ranks the players on the Raptors’ roster by trade value, starting with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.
  • In case you missed it, we explained on Wednesday how Siakam’s All-NBA Second Team berth will affect the forward’s earnings going forward. Because Siakam’s extension will begin at 28% of the 2020/21 cap instead of 25%, the Raptors now project to have about $3.5MM less cap space during the summer of 2021, assuming the cap for ’20/21 stays the same as in ’19/20.

Eastern Notes: Bertans, Vaughn, Nurse, Antetokounmpo

Wizards forward Davis Bertans‘ decision to pass on the restart was driven by free agency, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Bertans made his comments on the ‘Basketball Network’ show on YouTube.

“I think there were multiple reasons,” the Wizards’ sharpshooter said. “Of course, one of the main ones I guess is that I was an upcoming free agent and we were put in a position as very unlikely to make the playoffs. To risk an injury after not playing basketball and not really working out for almost two months [was not smart]. That was the main reason.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Nets are hopeful that Jacques Vaughn will remain on Steve Nash’s staff even though they passed on making him the permanent head coach, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Vaughn has been identified is a candidate for the Pacers coaching job. The Rockets are also reportedly interested, though the Nets would have to grant those teams permission to interview him.
  • Handing coach Nick Nurse an extension was an important first step during a tricky offseason for the Raptors, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Canada opines. The Raptors need to position themselves for the summer of 2021, when they could chase top free agents. The next step this offseason would be to reach extension agreements with team president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster, Lewenberg adds. Details of Nurse’s multiyear extension can be found here.
  • The safest bet regarding Giannis Antetokounmpo is that he stays put with the Bucks, either through a Designated Veteran Extension this offseason or re-signing on a shorter deal next year, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Leroux looks at all the options and possibilities regarding Antetokounmpo’s future in the wake of the Bucks’ surprisingly early playoff exit.
  • The Raptors will have approximately $45MM to spend on their own free agents or using the mid-level exception before going into the luxury tax, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Murphy takes a closer look at the Raptors’ balance sheet and impending decisions, including Fred VanVleet‘s free agency.

Joe Dumars Won’t Be A Candidate In Kings’ Front Office Search

Last week’s shakeup left Joe Dumars in charge of the Kings‘ front office, but that’s not a role he wants to keep long-term, according to Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dumars has no interest in remaining Sacramento’s head of basketball operations and will not be a candidate in the upcoming search, the authors report. However, he will be included in the hiring process and will interview candidates along with owner Vivek Ranadive. The new GM will have full control of roster moves and will report directly to Ranadive, rather than Dumars.

The Kings haven’t determined what Dumars’ role with the franchise will be once a new GM is selected, which could become a “problematic component,” Amick and Charania add. There’s no timeline to fill the opening, so Dumars and assistant GM Ken Catanella could be making the draft and free agency decisions in October.

Mike Forde of Sportsology is expected to be the leader in the search for GM candidates. He formerly served as senior manager for Chelsea’s soccer franchise in the English Premier League, and his web site lists the Clippers, Spurs, Sixers and Nets as clients. He also worked as an adviser for the Wizards last spring after they fired Ernie Grunfeld as president of basketball operations.

When he hired Dumars, Ranadive reportedly envisioned a power-sharing arrangement in the front office with former GM Vlade Divac. However, Divac wasn’t willing to accept that and opted to resign, followed a day later by assistant GM Peja Stojakovic.

The authors note there is “significant interest” in the position around the league, despite concerns about what Dumars’ ultimate role might be. “A swell of support” has emerged for Knicks GM Scott Perry, who briefly served as VP of basketball operations in Sacramento before leaving for New York. Sources claim Ranadive and Perry are still on good terms and have remained in touch in the nearly three years since Perry’s departure.

Perry helped the Kings get an individual workout with De’Aaron Fox before the 2017 draft and improved the organization’s reputation through his close relationships with agents and executives. Perry still has a year left on his contract, but a source tells the authors he would be interested in returning to Sacramento as long as he’s guaranteed the final decision on personnel moves. The Kings would have to request permission from the Knicks to talk to Perry, which sources tell Amick and Charania they hadn’t done as of Tuesday night.

The authors list Clippers assistant GMs Mark Hughes and Trent Redden as other candidates to watch, along with Raptors GM Bobby Webster, Celtics VP of basketball operations Mike Zarren, Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Trajan Langdon, Timberwolves executive VP of basketball operations Sachin Gupta, Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, and Rockets assistant GM Eli Witus.

Latest On Kings’ GM Search

The Kings appear likely to hire an executive search firm to help them find a new permanent general manager following Vlade Divac‘s departure, league sources tell Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, according to Anderson, several names have already been connected to the position as possible targets for Saramento.

Anderson identifies Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, Knicks GM Scott Perry, Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, and Clippers assistant GM Trent Redden as executives who may be on the Kings’ preliminary list of candidates.

Sean Cunningham of ABC10, who singled out many of those same execs as ones to watch, mentioned veteran agent Bill Duffy as another possibility (Twitter link). However, Duffy indicated today that he currently has no plans to follow in the footsteps of Bob Myers, Leon Rose, and other agents who have made the move to a team’s front office.

“There’s no truth to me joining an NBA organization,” Duffy told Jason Jones and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I’m fully committed to my clients and their success.”

Joe Dumars, who is the Kings’ interim head of basketball operations, will be involved in the search for a new GM, though team owner Vivek Ranadive and COO Matina Kolokotronis are “viewed as the ultimate decision makers,” Anderson writes.

Anderson also notes that it will be interesting to see what sort of role Dumars ultimately retains in the front office, since Divac’s departure stemmed from Ranadive’s desire to have the former Pistons GM take on a larger role and to have the final say on the roster. Sources tell Anderson that some qualified candidates may be reluctant to fill Sacramento’s GM opening if it doesn’t come with full control over the roster.

Raptors Notes: Nurse, Draft, Campus, Restart

Raptors general manager Bobby Webster has lauded 2019/20 Coach Of The Year candidate Nick Nurse without expressly defining a timeline for Nurse’s potential contract extension.

“Nick obviously has done an incredible job for us and those (types) of conversations are always top of mind for us,” Webster said, per Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet (Twitter link).

Nurse inked a three-year, $10MM deal with the Raptors in 2018 that will keep him on the sidelines through the 2020/21 NBA season. During his first year as head coach, the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals. This season, the 46-18 Raptors are the No. 2 seed in the East and the team had two 2020 All-Star representatives in Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, despite having lost Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in 2019 free agency.

“Obviously, (the) timeline’s a little different this year,” Webster noted when asked about a potential extension for Nurse (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic).

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Webster indicated today that the team’s front office has held conversations with about 50 or 60 potential 2020 draft picks thus far, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). How the Raptors appraise those prospects remains relatively up in the air and contingent on COVID-19 numbers and league guidance as to whether or not individual player workouts or a draft combine will be permitted this season.
  • The Raptors are among the few teams present for the NBA’s summer restart at the Walt Disney World Resort whose traveling team includes both of their top front office executives, president Masai Ujiri and Webster, per Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet“I think you guys know how we operate, and having both of us here is good to take care of things here on the ground,” Webster noted on a conference call with reporters today.
  • The Raptors are eagerly anticipating their first return to NBA action tomorrow, in a scrimmage game against the Rockets, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports“It’s huge that we get to play basketball again and I’m excited,” Toronto guard Patrick McCaw said. “It’s a different type of atmosphere, no fans and things like that. The focus is just going to be on us, and just basketball.”

Latest On Bulls’ Front Office Search

The Bulls have received permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Karnisovas was one of four men said to be on Chicago’s initial wish list for a top front office executive who will have full authority on basketball decisions. It’s not clear if the Bulls will get a chance to talk to any of those four potential candidates besides Karnisovas.

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan reportedly rebuffed the Bulls’ interest, opting to remain in Indiana. And there’s plenty of speculation around the NBA that the Heat will make an effort to retain assistant GM Adam Simon, according to Johnson (Twitter link).

As for the fourth candidate, Toronto’s Bobby Webster, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes that the Raptors may not grant the Bulls permission to speak to their general manager, who is under contract through 2021. With president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and head coach Nick Nurse also set to have their contracts expire after next season, and many of their players coming off the books in the coming months, the Raptors face some long-term uncertainty and might not want to risk losing a rising young executive. There’s a sense they’ll tell Chicago that “this is not a good time,” according to Grange.

Even if they’re only able to speak to one of their initial four targets, the Bulls have a longer list of candidates, per Johnson (Twitter link), who names Clippers GM Michael Winger, Clippers assistant GM Trent Redden, Magic assistant GM Matt Lloyd, and Jazz GM Justin Zanik as possibilities.

Chicago has received permission to talk to Zanik, Johnson reports, so the Utah GM will join Karnisovas in taking part in the first round of Bulls interviews.

The Bulls will conduct those meetings electronically due to the coronavirus pandemic and reportedly want to make a hire prior to the draft and free agency.

Chad Buchanan To Stay With Pacers, Turns Down Interview With Bulls

Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan is declining an opportunity to interview for the Bulls‘ top front office position, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Buchanan decided to remain in his current job, saying he and his family have been treated well by the organization.

Toronto’s Bobby Webster, Miami’s Adam Simon and Denver’s Arturas Karnisovas are the most prominent remaining candidates for the position, Charania adds, but Chicago will continue to research other possibilities (Twitter link).

Buchanan, who is in his third year as Indiana’s GM, also worked with president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard in Portland before they both came to Indiana. His comfort level with that partnership played a strong role in the decision to stay, a source tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

The Bulls are seeking permission to interview Webster, Simon and Karnisovas, according to Johnson, who adds that team president Michael Reinsdorf hopes to fill the position before the NBA hiatus is over. Whoever is ultimately hired to run the organization may make more hires and will launch an overhaul of the scouting department.

Executive vice president John Paxson is expected to be retained in an advisory role, but the fate of former GM Gar Forman, who is now working mainly in scouting, may be determined by the new regime. Reinsdorf is still a strong supporter of coach Jim Boylen, Johnson notes, but the fate of all the coaches will be decided by the new team president.

Assistant GM Steve Weinman is believed to be safe, Johnson writes. He has built a strong reputation for his expertise with salary cap issues and the collective bargaining agreement.

Bulls To Seek Interviews With Karnisovas, Webster, Others

1:24pm: Pacers GM Chad Buchanan will  join Karnisovas and Webster on the Bulls’ list of first-wave interview targets, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Sources tell Darnell Mayberry and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Heat assistant GM Adam Simon will be part of that group as well.

According to Mayberry (Twitter link), the Bulls won’t pursue Ujiri or Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti and won’t go the player-agent route like New York and other teams have.

12:41pm: The Bulls have formally launched their search for a new top front office executive who will have full authority on basketball decisions, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. We had previously heard in a series of February reports that the team was laying the groundwork for front office changes.

Those February reports suggested that executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson would retain a “valuable seat at the table” amidst the front office upheaval and that general manager Gar Forman would have his responsibilities cut back.

Wojnarowski confirms that Paxson is expected to continue in an advisory role and says that the club will have more conversations with Forman about his future. Previous reports indicated Forman would likely be re-assigned to a scouting position.

According to Wojnarowski, Chicago plans to seek permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas and Raptors GM Bobby Webster, among others. The club’s goal is to complete its planned front office changes “well before” the NBA resumes play, per Woj, who hears that interviews will begin next week and will be conducted virtually rather than in person due to the coronavirus.

Neither Karnisovas nor Webster is the head of basketball operations for his respective team — Tim Connelly serves as Denver’s president of basketball operations, while Masai Ujiri holds that position in Toronto. However, the two GMs have risen through their respective organizations in recent years and have played important roles in building the Nuggets’ and Raptors’ talented rosters.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who identified Karnisovas and Webster as two possible targets for the Bulls in a March mailbag, Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, and Clippers GM Michael Winger are among the other executives on Bulls president/COO Michael Reinsdorf‘s list of potential candidates (Twitter link).

Many of those executives are under contract beyond the 2019/20 season, but likely wouldn’t be held back by their respective teams if the Bulls’ job is viewed as a promotion from their current roles. Based on Woj’s description, it should be.

The timing of Chicago’s search is interesting. Ujiri spoke earlier this week about putting business like contract extensions for himself and Nick Nurse on hold during the NBA’s stoppage, and we heard on Thursday that the Knicks aren’t pursuing front office changes or a new head coach during the hiatus. Nets GM Sean Marks also said this week that his team isn’t moving forward with its head coach search at this time.

However, no official hiring or firing freeze has been instituted by the NBA, and the Bulls’ situation is a little different from that of those other teams — a new top front office executive would lead the team’s decisions in the draft and free agency, making that search a more pressing matter than a head coaching hire, lower-level front office changes, or extensions for current execs and coaches.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Front Office, Anthony, Robinson

Leon Rose will be faced with plenty of important decisions as he takes over as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The first priority will be to sort out the front office. Many of the executives and scouts brought in by general manager Scott Perry and former team president Steve Mills are expected to be replaced, Popper states. Even though Rose has relationships with several of them through his time as an agent, a source tells Popper that a “house-cleaning” could be on the way.

Perry’s future is also in doubt, even though he has been running the team since Mills was fired four weeks ago. Popper notes that Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas has been mentioned as a possible target for the new front office, with the Raptors‘ Bobby Webster and the ClippersMike Winger also among the potential executives of interest. Members of Rose’s CAA agency might be brought in to help with scouting ahead of the draft.

In the coaching search, Popper expects Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy to be among the biggest names under consideration. Interim coach Mike Miller may be offered a chance to remain with the team as an assistant. The Knicks could also be active on the trade market with six free agents who signed last summer holding small guarantees for 2020/21.

There’s more from New York:

  • A report on Wednesday indicated that today would officially be Rose’s first day on the job in New York, but Frank Isola of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that will actually happen on Monday. Isola contends (via Twitter) that Rose will have to get the front office under control, since the “jockeying, maneuvering and backstabbing is at an all-time high.”
  • The hiring of Rose provides a perfect opportunity to bring Carmelo Anthony back to the organization, contends George Willis of The New York Post. Anthony remains popular in New York and could provide a valuable veteran presence for the team’s young core, Willis states. Rose served as Carmelo’s agent at CAA.
  • Although Mitchell Robinson is putting up the best numbers of his career, the Knicks have no plans to move him into the starting lineup, relays Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Robinson is averaging 14.0 PPG and shooting 81% over his last seven games. Still, Miller wants to keep him in a reserve role behind Taj GibsonTaj has gotten us off to great starts,” Miller said. “Sometimes it’s a matchup… But for the most part it’s because Mitchell is so effective in the role that he’s playing. We just haven’t been put in a situation where we think it’s time to change it.”
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines the Knicks’ unusual philosophy on player development and questions whether it’s wise to continue, considering the results.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Webster, Theis, Celtics

It might seem like Kawhi Leonard was intent on playing in Los Angeles long-term but he insists he gave serious thought to the idea of re-signing with the Raptors, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Gave it big consideration,” the Clippers superstar said. “I took my time like I did; I didn’t hurry up and make a quick decision. I talked to the (Raptors’) front office in deep detail. It was a hard choice to make.”

Leonard added that he had no issues with the Raptors organization. “I had a great time last year with the coaching staff, front office and the players. It was a great experience,” he said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri gets plenty of credit for building a championship team but GM Bobby Webster’s influence should not be underestimated, as Dan Robson of The Athletic details in a profile of the young executive. One player agent told Robson that Webster is heavily involved in all aspects of personnel decisions. “Bobby is making a lot of the decisions in terms of everything they do,” the unnamed agent said. “Masai is the lead role and the face of the program, and obviously very involved … but Bobby is the driving force, at least for me, for a lot of the decisions they make.”
  • Celtics big man Daniel Theis is aware of the perception that the frontcourt is the team’s weakness but he tries to drown out the noise, as he told Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston“We have so many bigs and it’s whoever plays good that night,” said Theis. “You don’t guard the best bigs with one person. It’s a team effort. We’re [the third best team] in the East and we’re playing really good basketball as a team. So, no, I don’t listen to that.”
  • Despite what Theis believes, the Celtics will probably need another quality big man to get past Philadelphia and Milwaukee in the postseason, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated argues. Joel Embiid‘s monster game against Boston on Thursday put the Celtics’ frontcourt issues on full display, Mannix adds.