Chris Grant

Agent Rob Pelinka Frontrunner For Lakers’ GM Job

With general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss having been relieved of their duties in the Lakers’ front office, new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson will call the shots in L.A. However, the club remains on the lookout for a new GM, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (Twitter links), longtime player agent Rob Pelinka has emerged as a frontrunner for the position.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne first reported (via Twitter) that Pelinka, who represents Kobe Bryant and many current NBA players, was on the Lakers’ radar for a front office role. If the team decides to hire Pelinka, he would have to divest himself of his representation business, which would take some time, as Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter).

Several other rumors are swirling as the Lakers’ front office undergoes major changes, so let’s round them up…

  • Assuming the Lakers haven’t already decided on Pelinka, there are a number of other potential candidates believed to be on their radar, per Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter links). According to Amick, Blazers GM Neil Olshey, former Cavs GM Chris Grant, Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, and Pacers VP of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie are worth keeping an eye on.
  • ESPN’s Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that another veteran player agent – Arn Tellem – is also said to be a potential target for the Lakers. However, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets, Tellem – who formerly represented Kobe Bryant – has been very involved in the Pistons‘ move to downtown Detroit and seems unlikely to bolt in the middle of that project.
  • Magic Johnson has previously talked about wanting Bryant to have a role in the Lakers’ front office. Shelburne tweets that the future Hall-of-Famer is “happy doing what he’s doing,” but would be available to the organization if needed.
  • Jerry West hasn’t been approached by the Lakers about a role in the team’s front office, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. According to Ding (via Twitter), West won’t be a part of the club’s new management group.
  • According to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News (Twitter links), one reason the Warriors were motivated to give GM Bob Myers a promotion and a raise last summer was to avoid making him a target for the Lakers.

International Notes: Bennett, Greene, Kelly

Anthony Bennett, who was recently waived by the Nets, may head overseas to pursue his next basketball opportunity, sources tell Sam Amico of Pro Basketball Digest. Amico adds that the former No.1 overall pick is also considering the D-League as an option with an eye on signing a few 10-day contracts with NBA clubs.

Bennett flashed promise at UNLV but struggled mightily during his three stops in the NBA. Amico notes that Bennett’s poor performance during his rookie season played a role in Cleveland’s decision to fire then-GM Chris Grant during the middle of the 2013/14 campaign.

Here are a few more international updates on players with NBA ties:

  • Former Kings big man Donte Greene, a 2008 first-rounder who last played in 2012, has joined Puerto Rican team Capitanes de Arecibo, according to an announcement from the club (hat tip to Sportando). Greene, who turns 29 next month, said back in August that he continues to hope for one more shot from an NBA team.
  • Maccabi Kiryat Gat of Israel has released former Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor, according to international journalist David Pick (Twitter links). The team will use the roster spot to bring Josh Selby aboard. Selby, who was the No. 49 pick in the 2011 draft, previously played in Israel for Bnei Herzliya.
  • Sasha Djordjevic, the coach of Bayern Munich, is recruiting Nicolas Laprovittola to play for his team, Pick reports (Twitter link). Laprovittola was waived by the Spurs last month.
  • Ryan Kelly has garnered interest from Reggio Emilia, a team in Italy, but it’s unlikely he joins the club as he prefers to pursue NBA opportunities, according to Emilio Carchia of Sportando. The Hawks waived Kelly last week.

Luke Adams contributed to this post

Western Notes: Durant. Westbrook, Grant

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook never got along when both were members of the Thunder, a one-time teammate of both told Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net, also adding that the reports of animosity between the pair since Durant signed with the Warriors are real, not a product of the media. “It’s real, and [since Durant left] the relationship has gotten worse,” the ex-teammate told the scribe. “They got along before because they sort of had to. There is no relationship now, and what is there is all bad.

Westbrook believes KD joining Golden State “exposed Durant as a big chicken,” the ex-teammate told the scribe. Responding to Durant’s comments to reporters that the Warriors are an unselfish bunch that treats each other like family, which many believe was a slight at his former teammate, Westbrook told reporters, “That’s cute. My job is to worry about what’s going on here. We’re going to worry about all the selfish guys we’ve got over here, apparently.

For those wondering, the first time Westbrook and Durant will square off against one another on the court is November 3rd in Oakland. Here’s more from out West:

  • The Spurs have hired former Cavs GM Chris Grant as a team scout, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reports. During his time in Cleveland, Grant was responsible for drafting Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, as well as selecting Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick.
  • The Nuggets‘ impressive depth at multiple positions could end up being problematic, given the lack of minutes and numerous players deserving of playing time whose development may be stunted as a result, Keith P. Smith of RealGM.com opines in his analysis of the team. The scribe notes that Denver desperately needs to make a trade to consolidate that depth and land a star player to build around, which is also something that I noted previously in my look back at the Nuggets’ offseason.
  • The Spurs made another addition to their staff, hiring former NBA player Pops Mensah-Bonsu as an advance pro scout, international journalist David Pick relays (on Twitter).

Latest On Nets GM Search

THURSDAY, 6:56pm: The Nets intend to narrow their list of candidates down to two or three names by this weekend and Colangelo, Karnisovas and Marks are currently the front-runners for the vacant post, Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 7:37am: Marks appears to be the strongest among the most recently reported candidates and has leaped in front of many of the candidates, reports NetsDaily. That’s even though Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich said Tuesday that he was unaware that Marks was in the mix for the job, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). He’s one of about 20 candidates the club has spoken to, a league source told NetsDaily, though it seems not all of them have received formal interviews. See more on Marks here.

TUESDAY, 10:53pm: The Nets intend to have a new GM in place by the February 18th trade deadline and are in the process of conducting interviews this week, with former Cavaliers GM Chris Grant and current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard both under consideration for the vacant post, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post reports, citing league sources (via Twitter). They join Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks, former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former Cavs and Hawks GM Danny Ferry, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nets assistant GM Frank Zanin as candidates.

Grant was fired by Cleveland in February of 2014 and replaced by David Griffin, who eventually assumed the position full-time after initially being named interim GM. Grant first joined the Cavs as assistant GM in 2005 before taking over as GM on June 4th, 2010, roughly a month before LeBron James departed for the Heat as a free agent. Grant was responsible for the selections of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett during his time with the Cavs franchise.

Pritchard was Blazers GM from March of 2007 through June of 2010 and was responsible for the ill-fated selection of center Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in the 2007 NBA draft. After being fired from his post in Portland, he joined the Pacers as director of player personnel. The executive was promoted to GM in June of 2012 and has held the post ever since. Brooklyn would have had to request and receive permission from Indiana to speak with him about its available position.

Sean Marks Contender For Nets GM Post

Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks is one of eight candidates for the Nets GM job, NetsDaily writes, confirming an initial dispatch from Fred Kerber of the New York Post that executives with two teams had identified Marks as a “guy to watch” as the Nets zero in on a new front office chief (Twitter link). Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com confirmed that Marks is on a list that also includes former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former Cavs and Hawks GM Danny Ferry, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nets assistant GM Frank Zanin (Twitter link).

It’s unclear who the other two candidates are, though Colangelo appears to be the early favorite. The Nets are conducting interviews this week with the goal of hiring someone before the February 18th trade deadline. Zanin has been running the front office since the team removed Billy King from the GM post last month.

Marks, 40, spent 12 seasons as a player in the NBA, the last of which was 2010/11. He joined the Spurs the next season as a basketball operations analyst and later became director of basketball operations and GM of the team’s D-League affiliate. He was an assistant coach for the 2013/14 season before assuming his current capacity as assistant GM last season.

Amico’s Latest: Gilbert, Griffin, Brown, Offseason

Dan Gilbert is reportedly “enraged” that his team missed the playoffs this season, though a source tells Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio that the Cavaliers owner isn’t likely to “overreact and start firing everybody.” He is, however, expected to meticulously determine who is best suited to run the basketball side of things in Cleveland this summer. One option includes offering interim GM David Griffin the full-time position, and sources tell Amico that Gilbert has been impressed with the way the team’s locker room culture has changed since Griffin took over the front office. On the contrary, another source believes that the chances of keeping the team’s current management intact is “shaky.”

Amico has plenty more to share out of the Forest City, and you can find a comprehensive roundup of his notes below:

  • Mike Brown‘s status with the team is also expected to be determined this summer, and Amico hears that the new GM – whether it’d be Griffin or someone else – will be given the authority to make a decision on Brown’s future. With that being said, Amico opines that Gilbert could still opt to make the call on Brown by himself. The 44-year-old head coach just completed the first of a five-year deal worth $20MM and has a buyout option in the fifth year.
  • An opposing executive tells Amico that the Cavs GM position – with plenty of assets and options right now – would be an enticing opportunity for potential candidates: “The job is appealing, because (they) are right there…I know a lot of people on our staff who would take it.” The same exec also thinks that Gilbert’s willingness to spend and his desire to win helps make the job that much more appealing.
  • No player is untouchable in the right deal, and the general feeling is that the team will aggressively pursue a significant trade this summer.
  • Though the plan is to keep Luol Deng for the long-term, Gilbert is “still steaming” over the fact that former GM Chris Grant surrendered future draft picks to acquire him from Chicago. Deng could leave as an unrestricted free agent in July.
  • Though often mentioned as a potential trade chip, Dion Waiters has found favor with the front office, coaches, and fellow teammates, and is seen as a key piece to the team’s future. Amico observes that the current priority is to make Waiters and point guard Kyrie Irving the team’s long-term starting backcourt. Waiters has reportedly garnered acclaim and respect from teammates because of his effort and maturation.

Cavs Rumors: Griffin, Grant

David Griffin took over control in Cleveland when the Cavs fired Chris Grant earlier this year, and his positive interactions with staff and players could result in an offer to stick around beyond this season, a source tells Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Let’s round up a few more rumors surrounding Griffin and Grant:

  • Griffin’s solid performance at the helm of Cleveland’s operations still won’t stop the team from hiring a big-name executive if they get the chance, Kyler passes along in the same piece. However, the lack of available heavyweight executives probably means Griffin’s job is safe.
  • Grant, on the other hand, might struggle to find a GM gig. Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio passes along that one league executive said the former Cavs boss is considered “a buffoon around the league: Dishonest, incapable and full of (beans).
  • Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer thinks Griffin’s presence has been a huge factor in the Cavs’ turnaround this season and definitely proves he’s capable of GM duties. Pluto hears Griffin felt very strongly that the team should draft Dion Waiters, and Waiters’ success has made Griffin look wise.

Eastern Notes: Sixers, Magic, Grant

Former Cavs GM Chris Grant has been taking a lot of heat for the state of the franchise. The team has underachieved and not all of his moves worked out, but Grant did a much better job than he’s getting credit for, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Grant walked into one of the worst situations in professional sports, opines Lloyd. Shortly after he was named GM, LeBron James departed and the rest of the roster was in shambles. The team had no pick in that summer’s draft and no players of real value left to trade away and begin the rebuilding process. According to Lloyd, Grant restocked an organization bereft of young talent and future draft picks and he never lost a trade. Grant isn’t employed anymore because the Cavs played terribly for most of this season given the preseason expectations, but those expectations existed thanks to the remarkable work he did for the past three years.

More from around the east:

  • The Sixers have been rumored to be actively shopping Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes. The team isn’t expected to retain Turner and Hawes past this summer, and would like to get something in return for them. Tom Moore of The Bucks County Courier Times examines how likely GM Sam Hinkie is to make a trade before Thursday’s deadline.
  • Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com has a different opinion on the possibility of the Sixers moving Turner. He tweeted that Turner wasn’t very likely to be moved by the deadline. The team is trying to get a first-round pick for him, and the Sixers are going to have trouble wrangling one in a trade.
  • The Magic aren’t expected to be players at the trade deadline, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Kyler says they will listen to offers, but aren’t pushing to make any deals.
  • Kyler also tweets that Arron Afflalo isn’t likely to be going anywhere. The Magic view him as a piece that fits their big picture plan, and his age and reasonable contract are a plus. Afflalo is averaging 19.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, in 36.5 MPG. Chuck Myron had profiled him as a trade candidate earlier this month.

Odds & Ends: David Griffin, Deng, Mbah a Moute

Since drafting Kyrie Irving in 2011, ex-Cavaliers GM Chris Grant made one draft mistake after another in the following years and spent his final months in Cleveland offering overvalued young players in lopsided proposals for LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, and Andre Drummond, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Eventually, Wojnarowski says, few NBA executives had the inclination to listen to Grant’s one-sided offers.

Now that the Cavs have elevated David Griffin into the role of interim GM, the team may have a chance to make some improvements through trades based on Griffin’s superior standing with other executives from around the league. Wojnarowski reports that until the deadline, Griffin will be working the phones with a mandate to keep pushing for the playoffs.

You can find tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes below, including more from the above piece:

  • Though one Eastern Conference executive views Griffin’s current situation as an opportunity to impress Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, Wojnarowski writes that Gilbert’s plan nevertheless is to search the NBA landscape for Grant’s replacement.
  • Wojnarowski says that in order to keep Luol Deng in Cleveland after this season, the Cavs would likely have to exceed his market value; letting him walk would be too embarrassing after paying such a steep price to acquire him, the Yahoo! scribe adds.
  • Timberwolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute could be the most likely to be dealt from Minnesota right now, says Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (via Twitter).
  • Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said on ESPN 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show” that if New York makes a deal between now and the trade deadline, he expects to be involved in the discussion: “I would like to think that if something goes down, I’m sure they will include me…It’s been that way since I’ve been here and I don’t see that changing. We just have to let it play out and see what happens” (Ian Begley of ESPN New York). Woodson’s job security has been a hot topic as of late on Hoops Rumors, and multiple reports over the last week suggest that his days in New York could be numbered.
  • Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders outlines several potential trading partners and scenarios for the Knicks if they were to trade Carmelo Anthony.

Fallout From Cavs GM Change

The big news out of Cleveland today was the firing of GM Chris Grant. The team was expected to let Grant go after the season, but with the team losing six in a row, and 10 of their last 13 games, team owner Dan Gilbert felt he couldn’t wait that long. There are a number of candidates now being considered to take over the now-vacant GM position. The trade deadline is looming, and the team may be looking to shake up its roster. The only thing certain right now is that the team is in trouble on the court, and now in a state-of-flux off of it.

Here’s more on the state of the Cavs:

  • Grant has a reputation around the league as being difficult to work with, and executives from other teams believe he valued his own players too highly, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Gilbert, rather than Grant, engineered the Andrew Bynum signing this past summer, Lowe adds.
  • In the press conference where he discussed firing Grant, Dan Gilbert mentioned how no one associated with the team is happy with how the season is going, and he alluded to the need for “cultural and environment change.” If that is indeed the case, then it doesn’t make sense to fire the GM, but keep the coach, writes Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. He believes that Mike Brown might be more responsible for the team’s current woes than Grant. The team isn’t responding to him, and the Cavs aren’t playing with the necessary effort to turn things around, says Pluto, who also believes the team would be in better shape if it had retained Byron Scott for another season.
  • Dan Gilbert purchased majority ownership of the Cavs back in 2005. In that time he’s seen his share of turmoil, but he says this season has been the “most challenging,” writes Jodie Valade of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Gilbert didn’t go as far as promising that Mike Brown’s job was safe, but did mention that Brown has been with the team less than a full season. Gilbert also stated, “We’re going to see Mike Brown succeed this year. I think he will be able to do good things in the next 30 games or so.”
  • With the team looking to shake up its roster, Basketball Insiders takes a look at the roster and salaries interim GM David Griffin has to work with.
  • Lack of progress led to Grant’s firing, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. With the team having had four top-four draft picks in three years, including two No. 1 overall choices, the team should have been moving in a much more positive direction, opines Amico. The poor season that Anthony Bennett is having also didn’t help Grant’s case.
  • Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders thinks Grant’s firing suggests roster changes will be coming, with the trade deadline two weeks away. A new GM won’t have any attachment to the players whom Grant brought in, which means a roster shakeup could be happening soon. The only player who should feel secure is Kyrie Irving. Every other player, including Luol Deng, could be on the move, according to Kennedy.
  • There are five tasks the new Cavs GM must tackle, writes Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. These include retaining Kyrie Irving, finding a new head coach, re-signing Deng, drafting better, and bringing in more efficient offensive players.