Chad Buchanan

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.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Simon, Brown, Draft

The Bulls are entering an offseason of change, as the franchise is looking to revamp its basketball operations department. The Athletic’s John Hollinger hears that Miami’s VP of basketball operations Adam Simon is a leading candidate for the team’s top front office job (confirming an earlier report) and adds that the chatter about Indiana’s Chad Buchanan was rather loud before the Pacers‘ GM took himself out of the running. Denver’s Arturas Karnisovas and Toronto’s Bobby Webster have also been linked to the Bulls’ opening.

Hollinger wonders if Chicago will also search for a new head coach during the NBA’s hiatus. Jim Boylen‘s future with the club is uncertain and the Bulls won’t be the only team looking for a new head coach this offseason.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Many insiders believe that Sixers coach Brett Brown is on the hot seat, though it’s unlikely that the team makes a move while the league is on hiatus, Hollinger adds in the same piece. Firing Brown and having the Sixers proceed to the playoffs with a new coach wouldn’t be an ideal scenario.
  • The Cavaliers don’t have enough intel on their top young talent to rule out selecting a player at any position in the 2020 draft, Chris Fedor of writes. Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. both appear to be long-term building blocks, yet neither is certain to be an All-Star, so the Cavs should select the best available player regardless of position with their top pick.
  • Keith Langlois of examines Khyri Thomas‘ progress since the Pistons‘ drafted him with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Injuries have stunted Thomas’ growth and while the franchise doesn’t have major talent on the wing, he’ll need to show more if he’s going to stay with Detroit beyond his current contract, which is non-guaranteed for next season.

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.

Latest On Bulls’ Front Office Search

After Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported during All-Star weekend that the Bulls were laying the groundwork to hire a new general manager and re-assign Gar Forman to a scouting role, both reporters have offered updates on Chicago’s forthcoming front office changes.

A source tells Cowley that the Bulls are still determining how the power structure in the new-look front office will work, noting that multiple executives could be hired, rather than just a GM to replace Forman. Cowley’s source also says that VP of basketball operations John Paxson will still have a “valuable seat at the table” in the restructured front office, even if it appears as if he’s transitioning to a background role.

While it remains to be seen how the Bulls’ management group will be structured once new hires are made, Cowley’s report indicates that Paxson and COO Michael Reinsdorf are still “running the show.” The Reinsdorfs – including owner Jerry Reinsdorf – have “100 percent faith” in Paxson to lead the organization, Cowley writes.

If a new general manager has to report to Paxson, it may be more challenging for the Bulls to recruit a top-tier candidate. However, K.C. Johnson hears from multiple league sources that Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan is one candidate who appears to be gaining momentum.

Buchanan, who previously held front office roles in Charlotte and Portland, was named Indiana’s GM in 2017 when the team promoted Kevin Pritchard to president of basketball operations. According to Johnson, Buchanan is “widely known for his embrace of analytics.” He and Pritchard have done a good job retooling the Pacers’ roster over the last three years, starting with the Paul George trade that netted the team a pair of All-Stars (Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis) despite being widely panned at the time.

Because he’s already a level below the head of basketball operations in Indiana, Buchanan may be open to a position working under – or alongside – Paxson in Chicago. Still, Johnson’s report doesn’t suggest that the Bulls have asked for or received permission to interview the Pacers’ executive yet.

Pacers Name Chad Buchanan New GM

JULY 1: The Pacers have officially named Buchanan as their new general manager, per a press release from the team. The club also promoted VP of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie to senior VP of basketball ops.

JUNE 29: Hornets executive Chad Buchanan will be the new GM in Indiana, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. He will report to Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations.

Buchanan came to Charlotte in 2014 and has served as assistant GM under Rich Cho for the past two seasons. Before that, he spent 10 years with the Trail Blazers, where he served as director of college scouting. Buchanan and Pritchard were in the Portland organization together, notes Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

Indiana’s GM position has been open since the beginning of May, when Pritchard was promoted to replace Larry Bird, who resigned as team president. Buchanan joins the organization just in time to help oversee free agency and possibly work out a trade involving star forward Paul George.

Hornets Rumors: Batum, Zeller, Cho, Clifford

The Celtics offered the Hornets a package that included four first-round picks to entice Charlotte to give up the No. 9 pick last month, sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Boston was willing to give up its own pick at No. 16, the No. 15 pick that they would tentatively have acquired from the Hawks, an unprotected future first-round pick from the Nets (presumably the 2018 pick Brooklyn owes Boston) and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or the Timberwolves (presumably the ones those teams already owe Boston), as Lowe details. Some front office members in Charlotte liked the idea, but owner Michael Jordan preferred to roll with Frank Kaminsky, whom the Hornets took at No. 9, several sources said to Lowe. The Grantland scribe delves into the implications of that choice, and he touches on more, too, as we highlight amid the latest from the Queen City:

  • Nicolas Batum‘s camp has been talking about how much he’d like to play with the Raptors, given the international appeal of Toronto, several league sources tell Lowe. The native of France, whom the Hornets traded for last month, is set to become a free agent after this coming season.
  • The Hornets have been willing to talk about Cody Zeller when they discuss trades with other teams, sources tell Lowe. That jibes with a report from shortly before the draft that Charlotte was aggressively shopping the big man.
  • GM Rich Cho and coach Steve Clifford have had a chilly relationship since last year’s departure of president of basketball operations Rod Higgins, sources familiar with the situation tell Lowe, yet Cho, Clifford and Hornets vice chairman Curtis Polk all downplay the notion. “I would say it’s a good relationship now,” Cho says. “I value his input. We’re not always going to agree, but I wouldn’t expect to.”
  • Polk, Jordan, Cho, assistant GM Chad Buchanan and director of player personnel Larry Jordan, Michael’s brother, are the primary decision-makers for the team, according to Lowe.
  • Charlotte shopped Noah Vonleh and the No. 9 pick in a package to try to move up in the draft before abandoning that pursuit and trading Vonleh in the Batum deal, as Lowe details.
  • The Hornets had interest in Rodney Hood going into last year’s draft, Lowe hears. Hood wound up going at No. 23 to Utah, and Charlotte had an opportunity to move down into a spot where it might have nabbed him instead of Vonleh, as Lowe explains.
  • Hornets brass likes Elliot Williams, whom the Hornets have reportedly agreed to sign to a camp deal, but they see him as an insurance policy and don’t view him as a replacement for backup point guard Brian Roberts, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter links).

Hornets Hire Chad Buchanan As Assistant GM

The Hornets have hired Trail Blazers scouting director Chad Buchanan as an assistant General Manager, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo (on Twitter).  Buchanan will serve under GM Rich Cho, who gained full control of the front office when president of basketball operations Rod Higgins resigned last month.

Buchanan was in charge of Portland’s college scouting but had a fairly uneventful June as Portland didn’t have any picks in the 2014 draft.  Buchanan has long been well-regarded in the Blazers front office and was considered for the GM job a couple of years back.

And-Ones: Draft, Spurs, Hornets, Hollins, Wolves

Jarnell Stokes‘ representatives are excited about his performance against Adreian Payne in a workout for the Raptors today, with auditions for the Spurs and Clippers still to come, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors reports (Twitter links). Zach also hears that Rodney Hood has rescheduled workouts with the Wolves and Kings this week after withdrawing from earlier auditions for the teams (Twitter link). Justin Jackson showed off twice for the Hornets last week, with the Hawks, Heat and Suns on his upcoming workout agenda, Zach also tweets. Here’s more from around the league:

  • A Western Conference executive who spoke with Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News suggests that teams will be wary of the poor performance that soon-to-be free agent Boris Diaw turned in for Charlotte preceding his tenure with the Spurs. Monroe also hears doubt from an exec about Patty Mills‘ ability to succeed outside of San Antonio.
  • The Hornets are interviewing Blazers director of college scouting Chad Buchanan for their assistant GM post, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The assistant GM will serve under GM Rich Cho, who gained full control of the front office when president of basketball operations Rod Higgins resigned last week.
  • The Rockets are aggressively seeking Lionel Hollins to serve as an assistant coach even though they know it will be difficult to land him as he seeks head coaching jobs, according to Marc Stein of Hollins has interviewed to become the head man for the Cavs and Lakers.
  • The Timberwolves named Sam Mitchell an assistant coach today, the team announced (on Twitter). Mitchell interviewed for the head coaching job and was reportedly a favorite of owner Glen Taylor.

Morway, Bower Frontrunners For Blazers’ GM Job

Current Pacers GM David Morway and former Hornets GM Jeff Bower have emerged as the frontrunners for the Trail Blazers' general manager opening, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Bower has already met with team owner Paul Allen, and Morway will meet with Allen tomorrow to discuss the position.

With Allen looking to cut back on his free-spending ways, the Blazers' owner appears to be targeting executives that have experience with small-market budgets, says Wojnarowski. Morway and Bower played significant roles in constructing talented rosters in Indiana and New Orleans, respectively.

Chad Buchanan, who has served as the Blazers' acting GM over the last year, is also still a candidate for the permanent position. However, team president Larry Miller has said Buchanan won't be formally interviewed, since the franchise is already very familiar with the long-time employee. Bower and Morway are the only two candidates to receive interviews with Allen so far.