Charles Lee

Central Notes: M. Robinson, Bulls, Lee, Pacers’ Workouts

The Bulls could be the main threat to take Mitchell Robinson away from the Knicks in free agency this summer, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Chicago and the Pistons were among teams that engaged in trade talks about Robinson prior to February’s deadline, Berman writes, but Knicks officials decided to hang onto the fourth-year center through the rest of the season.

The Bulls are still doing research on Robinson, sources tell Berman, and have interest in pairing him with center Nikola Vucevic to improve their interior defense. If Chicago re-signs free agent guard Zach LaVine, the team would likely operated over the cap and be limited to the mid-level exception. The Mavericks, who were rumored to have interest in Robinson at one time, are now expected to pursue less costly alternatives, according to Berman’s source.

Berman reported in February that Robinson was likely to leave if he couldn’t reach a new contract with the Knicks prior to free agency, but he’s now expected to take the best offer he can find, even if that means staying in New York, Berman adds. A source tells Berman that the Knicks’ major concern with Robinson involves maturity and how he might respond once he has a guaranteed deal.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Comments about continuity from Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnišovas indicate that he’s serious about re-signing LaVine and keeping the rest of the team’s nucleus together, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Johnson believes Chicago plans to add depth through the draft and cap exceptions rather than seeking a significant trade.
  • The Bucks will promote Charles Lee to associate head coach, filling the spot vacated by new Lakers coach Darvin Ham, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Lee interviewed Friday for the head coaching slot with the Jazz, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin worked out Friday for the Pacers, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Mathurin didn’t talk to the media, but he told Agness at last month’s draft combine that his main concern is landing in the best situation. “It’s not about going high or low, it’s all about going to the right spot,” he said. “And I’ll bring winning to the team. I want to go to a team and win a championship and get better as a player.” 
  • Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis has a workout scheduled with the Pacers on Monday, Agness tweets.

Latest On Jazz’s Head Coaching Search

The Jazz have been given the green light to talk to several well-regarded current assistant coaches about their head coaching vacancy, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Several of the names Woj and MacMahon mention had been floated as possibilities in reports earlier this week, but Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla joins an expanding list of assistant coaches under consideration by Jazz brass.

As Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets, Mazzulla worked as an assistant coach under both Brad Stevens and now Ime Udoka in Boston, and has assumed a more significant role while on Udoka’s bench this season. Mazzulla interviewed for the head coaching position with Boston in 2021 after Stevens moved into a front office role with the franchise and will get an opportunity to meet with the Jazz this spring.

Woj and MacMahon indicate that Utah is also set to interview current Jazz assistant Alex Jensen, who served on the staff of departed head coach Quin Snyder, along with former Blazers coach Terry Stotts, Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, Celtics assistant Will Hardy, and Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee. These five candidates had been included on the team’s preliminary list.

Suns assistant coach Kevin Young and Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin were previously cited as possible candidates, but they weren’t mentioned in today’s ESPN report.

The other key piece of new information from Wojnarowski and MacMahon is that the coaching search is anticipated to expand further to include both assistants and recent NBA head coaches. According to ESPN’s duo, the team will cast a wide net and move gradually in its search.

In eight seasons with Snyder at the helm, Utah never advanced beyond the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. This year, the Jazz finished with a 49-33 regular season record and lost 4-2 in the first round to the Mavericks.

Darvin Ham Leading Candidate To Become New Lakers Coach?

Sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic that Bucks assistant Darvin Ham has made the “strongest impression” on Lakers brass thus far in interviews, and appears to be the leading candidate for the head coaching job.

As we relayed earlier today, Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts are reportedly finalists for the position.

Los Angeles’ leadership is looking for a coach “who can command respect and authority from the locker room” while maintaining a strong voice and presence in order to manage the differing personalities throughout team’s roster. Ham’s “no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players” has impressed the Lakers to this point, according to Charania and Amick.

They aren’t listed as finalists, but Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin haven’t been eliminated from consideration yet. However, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson is no longer a candidate, per The Athletic’s duo.

Here’s more on the Lakers’ coaching search, courtesy of Charania and Amick:

  • Owner Jeanie Buss will meet the finalists during their in-person interviews, which will occur soon. She has not been involved in the process to this point.
  • The team’s search committee is headed by VP of basketball operations and GM Rob Pelinka, and it will make the final decision on who’s hired. Buss plans to defer to the committee’s recommendation. Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson, who are reportedly advising Buss despite not having official roles, are not part of the search committee. LeBron James isn’t on it either — only Lakers officials are.
  • After a disappointing season and lots of turmoil surrounding the franchise over the past few years, including the poorly executed firing of former head coach Frank Vogel, Buss “is determined to assuage any and all of the finalists’ concerns about the organization” as the team concludes its search, says Charania and Amick. She plans to deliver a message centered on providing the necessary resources and support for the Lakers to be successful going forward.
  • The team is still operating as though Russell Westbrook will be on the roster next season, which is why the coaching candidates have been asked how they’d use him. Assuming the Lakers are unable to find a trade for Westbrook, which would undoubtedly be difficult given his enormous ($47MM) player option and declining play, releasing him isn’t considered a viable alternative, nor is having him away from the team, like the Rockets did with John Wall this past season, per Charania and Amick.
  • However, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that he remains skeptical Westbrook will be on the roster in 2022/23. Stein notes that while the team is reluctant to part with future first-round picks to grease the wheels on a Westbrook deal, creating a “fresh-start atmosphere” for next season will be very difficult if he’s still on the Lakers.

Lakers To Interview Bucks Assistant Charles Lee

The Lakers intend to interview Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee for their head coaching vacancy, having requested permission to speak to him, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link).

Lee, 37, played four seasons at Bucknell from 2002-06 prior to making international stops in Israel, Belgium and Germany. He started his NBA assistant coaching career in 2014 with Atlanta, and has spent the past eight seasons working with head coach Mike Budenholzer, winning a championship with Milwaukee last season.

Lee was reportedly a finalist for head coaching jobs in New Orleans and Washington last summer, and he has continued to receive interest this season. Within the past month, he has interviewed for the positions in Sacramento and Charlotte. The Kings ultimately hired Mike Brown to be their new head coach, but the Hornets’ lead job is still vacant.

The Lakers have now interviewed (or are expected to interview) Lee, fellow Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson (formerly the head coach of the Nets), and former head coaches Mark Jackson and Terry Stotts for their head coaching position.

Hornets To Interview Charles Lee, David Vanterpool

The Hornets have been granted permission to interview Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee and Nets assistant David Vanterpool for their head coaching vacancy, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Lee, 37, played four seasons at Bucknell from 2002-06 prior to making international stops in Israel, Belgium and Germany. He started his NBA assistant coaching career in 2014 with Atlanta, and has spent the past eight seasons working with head coach Mike Budenholzer, winning a championship with Milwaukee last season.

Lee was reportedly a finalist for head coaching jobs in New Orleans and Washington D.C. last summer, and he has continued to receive interest this season. He recently interviewed for Sacramento’s opening, but didn’t make the final cut.

An assistant for CSKA Moscow from 2007-12 after spending time with the Russian team as a player, Vanterpool made the move to the NBA in 2012. He served as an assistant coach on Portland’s staff for seven years from 2012-19, then spent two seasons as the Timberwolves’ associate head coach, first under Ryan Saunders, then under Chris Finch.

When the Wolves replaced Saunders with Finch during the 2020/21 season, some league observers expressed surprise that the team hired an assistant from another team (Finch had been part of Nick Nurse‘s Raptors staff) in the middle of the season rather than promoting Vanterpool, who has received consideration for other head coaching openings in recent years. Instead of sticking around in Minnesota, Vanterpool decided to join Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn last summer.

Lee and Vanterpool are the fifth and sixth candidates set to interview for Charlotte’s vacancy, joining Mike D’Antoni, Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham and Sean Sweeney. The team is also rumored to be interested in a few other possible candidates.

And-Ones: Coaching Candidates, Kirkwood, Garuba, Embiid

Suns assistant Kevin Young, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Celtics assistant Will Hardy, Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic, Heat assistants Chris Quinn and Malik Allen, and Warriors assistants Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson are among the assistants around the NBA who are viewed as potential head coaching candidates by league insiders, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz (Insider-only link).

A number of the names on Arnovitz’s list have been linked to one or more of the NBA’s three current head coaching openings. Ham and Brown, for instance, all believed to be under consideration by all three of the Hornets, Lakers, and Kings.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Harvard senior guard Noah Kirkwood, who declared for the 2022 NBA draft as an early entrant, has decided to remain in the draft and go pro rather than using his final year of college eligibility, according to agent Ronnie Zeidel (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports).
  • Rockets forward/center Usman Garuba said in an interview with Spanish outlet AS.com that he’s committed to representing Spain at this year’s EuroBasket competition, as Eurohoops relays.
  • In an intriguing bit of international basketball news, an RMC Sport report indicates that Sixers center Joel Embiid is exploring the possibility of obtaining French citizenship and representing France in future international events. Embiid was born in Cameroon, but has family from France and has never suited up for the Cameroonian national team.

Jackson, Brown, Clifford Are Finalists For Kings’ Coaching Job

5:36pm: Jackson, Brown and Clifford are the three finalists for the job and will all have in-person meetings with the Kings’ front office, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320.

The other four candidates — Mike D’AntoniCeltics assistant Will Hardy and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee — are no longer under consideration.


4:19pm: ABC/ESPN announcer Mark Jackson is a finalist to become the next head coach of the Kings, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic, who adds that general manager Monte McNair has started notifying the candidates who will receive in-person interviews.

Warriors assistant Mike Brown and Nets consultant Steve Clifford are finalists as well, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Jackson, who is among the candidates that LeBron James reportedly wants the Lakers to consider, hasn’t coached since the 2013/14 season and is currently employed as an ABC/ESPN broadcaster. He compiled a 121-109 record in three seasons with the Warriors and reached the playoffs twice.

Brown has been an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s staff since the 2016/17 season. He has a 347-216 record as a head coach with the Cavaliers and Lakers and was named Coach of the Year in 2009.

Clifford spent three years as head coach of the Magic before he and the team decided to part ways last summer. He also served five seasons as head coach in Charlotte and has a career record of 292-345.

Kings To Interview Mike D’Antoni, Mark Jackson, Others

The Kings will interview former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Mark Jackson for their open head coaching position, sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Sacramento has also received permission to interview former coaches Mike Brown and Steve Clifford, as well as Celtics assistant Will Hardy and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Of the former head coaches, D’Antoni currently serves as an advisor to Pelicans head coach Willie Green, Jackson is an ABC/ESPN broadcaster, Brown is an assistant with the Warriors, and Clifford is a consultant for the Nets.

The Kings have done their homework on a wide range of candidates and narrowed their list down to a smaller group, according to Charania and Amick, though the above list of candidates isn’t necessarily complete, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento.

The Kings will begin conducting virtual interviews with candidates next week, according to James Ham of ESPN 1320, who tweets that in-person meetings will take place after that first round of Zoom interviews.

Sacramento is in the market for a new head coach after firing Luke Walton near the start of the 2021/22 season and then opting not to retain his interim replacement, Alvin Gentry, last week.

When word first broke that the Kings weren’t bringing back Gentry, Wojnarowski said they would consider candidates who have previously turned lottery teams into playoff clubs. D’Antoni (Phoenix), Jackson (Golden State), Brown (Cleveland), and Clifford (Charlotte and Orlando) all technically fit that bill.

Ham, Lee, and Hardy don’t have head coaching experience, but have all interviewed for head coaching positions in recent years. Ham and Lee reportedly received consideration from multiple teams in 2021, while Hardy was in the mix for multiple jobs in 2020.

Kings Not Retaining Alvin Gentry As Head Coach

1:06pm: The Kings have officially confirmed that Gentry won’t be back as the team’s head coach.

“The entire Kings organization is grateful for the leadership of Alvin Gentry, who stepped up when he got the call mid-season,” GM Monte McNair said in a statement. “We appreciate his leadership on and off the court.”

Although Gentry is out as head coach, he still may stick with the organization. Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that Gentry and the Kings are discussing a possible front office position, with a resolution expected later this week.


12:37pm: The Kings have informed Alvin Gentry that he’s no longer the team’s head coach, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link), who report that Sacramento will immediately launch a “comprehensive” search for a new coach.

Gentry was named the Kings’ interim head coach just 17 games into the 2021/22 season following the ouster of Luke Walton. After starting 6-11 under Walton, the Kings were hopeful that Gentry could lead the team to at least a spot in the play-in tournament. However, Sacramento went just 24-41 the rest of the way and finished in the lottery for a 16th consecutive season.

Gentry, who has previous head coaching experience with the Heat, Pistons, Clippers, Suns, and Pelicans, previously stuck around following interim stints in Detroit and Phoenix to become those teams’ permanent head coaches, but that won’t happen in Sacramento. It appears he’ll be in the market for a new job this spring despite having spoken on Sunday about wanting to remain with the franchise.

“Obviously, I have a desire (to stay),” Gentry said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “I love it here and I think we’re on the right path. We’ve got some good pieces. We’ve got good people from our medical staff all the way up to the top. It has been done here before. It’s not something that’s impossible to do. It’s been done here before, so you just have to wait and see, but all of those things, I don’t make those decisions, so whatever happens, if it doesn’t work out, then I’ve had a great two years here. Love the people here. Love the franchise.”

The Kings, meanwhile, will conduct a wide-ranging search that includes candidates who have previously turned lottery teams into playoff clubs, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Marc Stein previously identified Terry Stotts, Mike D’Antoni, Mike Brown and Steve Clifford as names who have come up in coaching circles as possible targets for Sacramento. Wojnarowski confirms that Clifford and Brown are expected to be considered and adds Kenny Atkinson, Mark Jackson, and Bucks assistants Charles Lee and Darvin Ham to the list of potential candidates.

Rick Adelman was the last coach to take the Kings to the postseason, back in 2006. Since then, Sacramento has employed 11 different head coaches — the new hire will be the 12th.

Central Notes: Caruso, Garland, Lee, Pistons

Bulls guard Alex Caruso is nearing his return from a wrist injury that’s sidelined him 22 games, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Caruso fractured his wrist on Jan. 21 and participated fully in the team’s practice on Friday.

“We haven’t talked about specific target yet,” Caruso said. “I think we’re just trying to take it day-by-day to make sure it passes each test. Wake up (Saturday), hopefully no soreness that will hold me back and go from there.”

Chicago plays Cleveland on Saturday, Sacramento on Monday and Utah on Wednesday. Caruso is currently listed as questionable to play on Saturday. In 28 games this season, he has averaged 8.4 points, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals, playing 27.7 minutes per contest.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • As the season has progressed, Cavaliers guard Darius Garland has received more attention from opposing defenses, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Garland has become a franchise cornerstone for the Cavaliers, averaging 21.0 points and 8.3 assists per game in his first All-Star season. As Fedor notes, it’ll be important for Cleveland to counter those defenses, especially with the playoffs roughly a month away.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic hosts a Q&A with Bucks assistant Charles Lee, who remains a future NBA head coaching candidate. Lee has been with Milwaukee since 2018 after previously serving as an assistant with the Hawks for four years.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News examines what the Pistons could do with their cap space this offseason. As Beard outlines, Detroit is projected to have roughly $31.4MM to pursue free agents. The team will also have former No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III as a restricted free agent.