Chauncey Billups

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, M. Jackson, Ujiri, DSJ

Asked today about his reaction to an ESPN report that suggested team president Steve Mills is laying the groundwork to eventually fire him, head coach David Fizdale told reporters that he talks every day with Mills and GM Scott Perry, and that they’ve been supportive of him (Twitter links via Ian Begley of SNY.tv). However, it doesn’t sound as if Fizdale hasn’t received any specific assurances about his job security.

I got a two-and-a-half year contract,” Fizdale said, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). “That’s my assurance. That’s our business. The assurance is that I have a contract.”

According to Begley (video link), Knicks ownership isn’t expected to have a “heavy hand” in the team’s head coaching decision. Any move involving Fizdale would be made solely by Mills, says Begley.

As we wait to see what’s next for Fizdale and the Knicks, here are a few more notes on the team:

  • Chris Mannix of SI.com tweets that Mark Jackson is a name to watch if the Knicks make a head coaching change, since Jackson is a Perry favorite who was a candidate before the team hired Fizdale in 2018. Sean Deveney of Heavy.com identifies Kenny Smith, Chauncey Billups, Mike Woodson, and Tom Thibodeau as others who could emerge as candidates in that scenario, while Newsday’s Steve Popper (Twitter link) mentions Jason Kidd.
  • In response to a report that the Knicks may pursue Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri again next year, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets that he doesn’t believe Ujiri would ever want to work for Knicks owner James Dolan under any circumstance.
  • While the Knicks have been criticized for their return in last season’s Kristaps Porzingis trade, the club remains hopeful about Dennis Smith Jr.‘s long-term prospects and those two first-round picks coming their way, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “We don’t know what Dennis Smith is going to be,” Fizdale said. “He’s 21 years old. We’ve still got two first-round picks out of that. Who knows who that’s going to be? We won’t know exactly what comes out of that for a year or two.”

Central Notes: Holiday, Billups, Pistons, LaVine

New Pacers guard Justin Holiday was drawn to Indiana as a free agent due to the team’s winning culture and mentality, according to David Woods of the Indianapolis Star.

Holiday, whose brother Aaron Holiday currently plays for the Pacers, agreed to a one-year, $4.8MM deal with Indiana after evaluating interest on the open market. He has mostly played for non-playoff teams in recent seasons, making stops with Philadelphia, Golden State, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Memphis across his six-year career.

“It had nothing to do with finances at all,” Holiday said, as relayed by Woods. “I literally came here because of the culture of the team, coaching staff, the people in the front office. And my brother – that helps as well.

“This team wins every year. That’s something I want to do, is to be able to win. And also help the team get to the next level because I believe can do that.”

Holiday is expected to provide depth in the backcourt for the Pacers, a franchise that finished with a solid record (48-34) last year despite losing All-Star guard Victor Oladipo to injury. Indiana will be seeking its fifth straight playoff appearance and ninth in the last 10 years this upcoming season.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Former Pistons star Chauncey Billups hopes to see the team reach the playoffs again next spring, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. “Continuity can be a good thing, just add some pieces here and there,” Billups said. “I need to see how it all works together, but we’ll see because teams got a lot better. I can’t tell you the Pistons are one of those teams that got a lot better — maybe a little better. Obviously, I’m hoping that the Pistons will jump out there and kick a lot of butt because I’m tired of people talking stuff to me about my Pistons.”
  • New players could allow the Pistons to mix up rotations and try different lineups this season, Rod Beard writes for The Detroit News. The Pistons signed Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris and Tim Frazier to contracts in free agency, also acquiring forward Tony Snell from Milwaukee, claiming Christian Wood off waivers and selecting Sekou Doumbouya at No. 15 in June’s NBA Draft.
  • Former Bulls forward Bobby Portis tweeted his support on Saturday to get Zach LaVine on Team USA for the FIBA World Cup. Portis and LaVine were teammates in Chicago for part of last season and during the 2017/18 season.

Timberwolves Nearing End Of Front Office Search?

The Timberwolves‘ interview with Chauncey Billups for their president of basketball operations position will take place on Monday, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, the meeting with Billups will be Minnesota’s final interview. So far, the club has met with Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon, Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth, and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas about the job. The Wolves also wanted to interview Clippers GM Michael Winger, but he opted to remain in his position with Los Angeles.

While there was speculation that the Timberwolves could further expand their list of candidates to replace Tom Thibodeau atop the front office, Wojnarowski’s reference to Billups being the “final” interview suggests that the club will ultimately offer the job to one of the four current candidates.

There’s been little indication of which direction the Wolves may be leaning, but Billups’ and Booth’s names came up most frequently throughout the season in the wake of Thibodeau’s dismissal. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders recently suggested (via Twitter) that Booth may be the frontrunner.

Besides preparing for the Timberwolves’ upcoming offseason roster decisions, the club’s new president of basketball operations will have to make decisions on GM Scott Layden and head coach Ryan Saunders. As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic explained last week, both Layden and Saunders appear to be in good position to return, but the new head of basketball operations will have the opportunity to consult with owner Glen Taylor on their respective futures.

GM Michael Winger To Stay With Clippers

Clippers GM Michael Winger has taken his name out of the running for a front office position in Minnesota, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Winger had been a candidate to fill the president of basketball operations role with the Timberwolves, but sources tell Krawczynski that he has elected to stay in L.A. and continue the work he started there. He was reluctant to leave an already competitive team that will have the cap room to offer at least one max contract this summer (Twitter link).

Winger has served as GM of the Clippers since 2017 and previously worked as an assistant GM to Sam Presti in Oklahoma City. The Wolves haven’t started formal interviews yet, so Winger didn’t have more than preliminary contact with them (Twitter link).

With one candidate off the list, Minnesota still appears to have a strong group to choose from, with ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth as the other reported candidates.

Wolves, Chauncey Billups To Discuss Front Office Role

The Timberwolves will meet with Chauncey Billups sometime in the near future to discuss their open president of basketball operations position, sources tell Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

A longtime NBA guard who spent two seasons of his playing career in Minnesota, Billups has long been rumored to be a potential target for the Timberwolves, even before Tom Thibodeau was dismissed from his president of basketball operations role by the team.

Billups lacks front office experience, but Minnesota isn’t the only team that views him as a potential decision-maker for an NBA franchise — he previously interviewed for top jobs with the Cavaliers and Hawks.

Recently, Marc Stein of The New York Times wrote that there was some skepticism about owner Glen Taylor‘s ability to make Billups an offer attractive enough to lure him away from his analyst job at ESPN. However, it appears the two sides will at least meet to discuss the idea.

Billups is hardly the only candidate being considered by the Timberwolves as they seek out a new head of basketball operations. Reports earlier this week indicated that Minnesota is also in the process of securing interviews with Clippers GM Michael Winger, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth.

According to Charania and Krawczynski (via Twitter), the Wolves have been finalizing interview dates with those candidates.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Layden, Wolves, Craig

The Trail Blazers may have injured guard C.J. McCollum back in their lineup tomorrow, tweets Jason Quick of The Athletic. McCollum is listed as probable for a second straight division showdown with the Nuggets. He hasn’t played since suffering a left knee strain on March 16.

The return of McCollum, who is second on the team in scoring at 21.3 PPG, comes at an opportune time for Portland, which is trying to hold onto home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. After last night’s loss to Denver, the Blazers stand at 50-29, just one game ahead of the fifth-place Jazz.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves will decide the fate of GM Scott Layden after the season ends, with ESPN broadcaster Chauncey Billups and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth among the top candidates if Minnesota decides to make a change, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Wolves owner Glen Taylor was reportedly unhappy with Layden and former coach/executive Tom Thibodeau over the way they handled Jimmy Butler‘s trade request. Thibodeau was dismissed in early January.
  • A $9.2MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception will provide the Timberwolves with their best chance to improve this summer, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. All five starters will be under contract if Jeff Teague opts in to his $19MM salary, so Minnesota can use the MLE to try to fortify its reserves. Leroux suggests Marcus Morris, Tyreke Evans, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross as possible targets.
  • Torrey Craig has become the Nuggets‘ most disruptive force on defense, observes Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. The second-year forward has increased his stats across the board this season and is a valuable part of the rotation heading into the playoffs. “I hate to see guys comfortable, just dribbling easy getting to their spots,” Craig said. “So I make sure they try to feel me all the time no matter what, coming off screens or bringing the ball down court. I just want to be a physical presence on them the whole time.”

Latest On Wolves’ Coaching, GM Positions

Ryan Saunders, who replaced Tom Thibodeau as Minnesota’s coach in early January, appears likely to return to the position next season.

Marc Stein of The New York Times (via newsletter, which you can subscribe to here) writes that “all signs” point to the Timberwolves retaining the 33-year-old first-time head coach, citing the strong bond between Saunders and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Towns’ co-sign and improved performance may overshadow the fact that Saunders underperformed from a win-loss perspective during his limited time in the role. The team has gone 14-19 since he took over duties.

Stein adds that there is uncertainty around general manager Scott Layden‘s future. Owner Glen Taylor is fond of Chauncey Billups and has interest in hiring the ESPN analyst for the GM role. However, there’s pessimism within league circles about Taylor being able to put an attractive enough offer together for it to make sense for both sides.

Billups has previously expressed a desire to lead a front office. He’s interviewed with the Hawks and Cavaliers in recent years.

Nuggets executive Calvin Booth should be considered a strong candidate for the position if Taylor dismisses Layden, Stein adds. Booth previously played in the NBA and he worked in Minnesota’s front office before moving on to Denver.

Lawrence’s Latest: Rockets, Butler, Stotts, Suns

The Timberwolves didn’t show much interest in the Rocketstrade offer for Jimmy Butler that featured four first-round picks along with Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss, Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News confirms. According to Lawrence, Tom Thibodeau views Knight and Chriss as “dead weight” and would prefer a deal that includes Eric Gordon and/or P.J. Tucker.

Meanwhile, Lawrence is also the latest reporter to identify the Sixers as a potential dark horse in the Butler sweepstakes. Lawrence suggests Philadelphia had hoped to trade the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder in a deal for Kawhi Leonard and could offer that pick to the Timberwolves in a Butler package.

Here’s more from Lawrence:

  • According to Lawrence, league executives think that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor will bring in someone with strong ties to the franchise to run the front office next year. Lawrence identifies Chauncey Billups as one possible candidate.
  • Although Terry Stotts appears safe as the Trail Blazers‘ head coach for now, there are rival GMs and scouts that view his position as “tenuous,” says Lawrence. Stotts, whose contract runs through 2019/20, sought an extension in the offseason but was turned down by owner Paul Allen, according to Lawrence. Allen has since passed away and his sister Jody has always been more involved with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks than the NBA club, resulting in speculation about a Blazers sale, Lawrence notes. That could create further uncertainty for Stotts.
  • One Western Conference president on the Suns, according to Lawrence: “The minority owners are furious that [owner Robert] Sarver decided on his own to fire [GM Ryan] McDonough.”
  • Lawrence echoes an earlier report, writing that the Wizards are showing no inclination to break up their team or to fire head coach Scott Brooks. However, one Eastern Conference executive cautions that could change. “Brooks’ seat could get hotter if they don’t win and management thinks the team is better than it really is,” the exec tells Lawrence.

Atlantic Rumors: Korkmaz, Kanter, Marks, Wallace

The Sixers are still mulling whether to pick up swingman Furkan Korkmaz‘s option for next season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Philadelphia has a Wednesday deadline to make a decision. His option for the 2019/20 season is slightly over $2MM. If the Sixers decline, Korkmaz will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. The 6’7” Korkmaz has made four brief appearances this season after seeing action in 14 games last season.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Enes Kanter isn’t thrilled about being demoted to the second unit, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports. Kanter came off the bench against Golden State on Friday even though he’s the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder.  Coach David Fizdale is determined to develop his younger players.  “We all understand where our team is at and what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” Fizdale said. “One way or another we do have to bring our puppies along.” Kanter’s $18,622,514 salary comes off the books at the end of the season and the Knicks are expected to pursue higher-level free agents.
  • Warriors GM Bob Myers believes Nets GM Sean Marks has a blueprint for future success, as he told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Brooklyn has hoarded cap space to be a major player on the free agent market next summer. “I think they’re on their way,” Myers said. “They play in a great city, and Sean is smart. They’re in a position now with their picks and cap space where they’ll be able to make some change, and it’ll probably be positive.”
  • Rasheed Wallace, who won a championship with Detroit in 2004, was invited to Knicks practice on Sunday to instruct the big men, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports. Wallace, who was invited by GM Scott Perry, gave rookie Mitchell Robinson plenty of food for thought. “He pushed me to talk more on defense. I have a tendency to be a little quiet. And him, he brings it,” Robinson told Bondy. Fizdale plans to invite another ex-Piston, Chauncey Billups, to deliver tips to his young guards.

And-Ones: Canada, Blatt, HOF, Dixson

Per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, former Indiana University basketball player and Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald has been named the new president and CEO of Canada Basketball.

A native of Chicago, Grunwald was hired by the Raptors in 1994 as the team’s vice president for legal affairs and assistant general manager under former college teammate Isiah Thomas. Grunwald took over for Thomas in a few years later, eventually orchestrating a trade for Vince Carter that led to three straight playoff berths from 2000 to 2002.

Since that time, Grunwald has been heavily involved in all things Canadian. He obtained Canadian citizenship in 1999, served as the president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, and even spent time as the Athletic Director at McMaster University in Ontario.

“I’m honoured and proud to have this opportunity to work with Canada Basketball,” said Grunwald in a press release announcing his hiring. “This is an exciting time for the sport in our country and I look forward to working with the entire basketball community to continue the tremendous progress the sport has made here at all levels.”

Here are a few more items from around the basketball universe:

  • Former Cavaliers and current Olympiacos head coach David Blatt has called for an end to the dispute between FIBA and the EuroLeague, per Antigoni Zachari of EuroHoops. Saying the conflict is a matter of egos and political designs, Blatt iterated how the two organizations ongoing spat is not good for the sport of basketball.
  • In addition to Shawn Marion, who we highlighted here, Joe Nguyen of The Denver Post also opines that the following players could find their way into the Hall of Fame next year – guards Chauncey Billups, Tim Hardaway, Sidney Moncrief, and Kevin Johnson; and forwards Chris Webber and Ben Wallace.
  • Less than two weeks after working out for the Hawks, undrafted rookie Dikembe Dixson has signed with the Lebanese Basketball League’s Hoops Club, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Dixson, 22, posted career averages of 17.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in his three seasons at UIC.