Bryson Graham

Coaching/Front Office Notes: Watson, Raptors, Kokoskov, Mavs, More

Former Suns head coach Earl Watson appears set to return to the sidelines for an NBA team, as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter) that Watson is finalizing a deal to join the Raptors. Watson – who was pursued by multiple teams, according to Haynes – would be an assistant on Nick Nurse‘s staff. Watson hasn’t coached in the NBA since 2017, but Devin Booker has credited the former Phoenix coach for his accelerated development at the NBA level, Haynes notes.

Here are a few more notes on coaching and front office hires from around the NBA:

  • Veteran assistant Popeye Jones, who spent over a decade in the NBA as a player, will leave the Sixers to take a job on Michael Malone‘s staff with the Nuggets, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Marc Stein first reported (via Twitter) that Jones – a former Nuggets player – was emerging as a strong candidate to be hired by Denver.
  • Turkish club Fenerbahce officially announced today that head coach Igor Kokoskov won’t return to the team next season. As previously rumored, the former Suns coach is on track to take a job on Jason Kidd‘s staff with the Mavericks, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. In Dallas, Kokoskov will get the opportunity to reunite with Luka Doncic, whom he coached on the Slovenian national team in 2017.
  • Speaking of the Mavericks, they’ve hired Nets salary cap strategist Andrew Baker for a senior role in their front office under new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
  • Fischer also identifies Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham as two potential targets for the Celtics as they seek a general manager under new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens.

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.