Chris Jent

Lakers Hiring Chris Jent As Top Assistant Coach

Chris Jent will join the Lakers‘ coaching staff as the top assistant to new head coach Darvin Ham, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Jent is a long-time NBA assistant who has been with the Hawks since the 2017/18 season. Wojnarowski notes that he built a strong relationship with Lakers star LeBron James while serving as an assistant in Cleveland from 2006-11. Ham worked with Jent under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta in 2017-18 and spent the past week recruiting Jent to join his staff, according to Woj.

Jent’s playing career included two brief NBA stops and a career total of six games, but he spent most of his time playing overseas. After retiring, he began his coaching career as an assistant with the Sixers in 2003.

Chris Jent Candidate To Become Lakers Assistant Coach

Hawks assistant coach Chris Jent is a candidate to become an assistant under new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, sources tell Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Jent, 52, had a short playing career after four seasons at Ohio State, winning a championship with Houston in 1993/94. He’s a long-time NBA assistant, with stints in Philadelphia, Orlando (where he was briefly an interim head coach in ’04/05), Cleveland, Sacramento and now Atlanta.

He was a Cavs assistant from 2006-11, with four seasons of overlap with star LeBron James, so the two are obviously familiar with each other. Jent has been with Atlanta for the past five seasons and served as acting head coach earlier this season when Nate McMillan was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols.

Ham and Jent also have experience together, as they were both assistants with the Hawks under Mike Budenholzer in ’17/18.

Echoing an earlier report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, Turner says Rasheed Wallace remains a candidate to become an assistant coach as well.

COVID-19 Updates: Malone, Budenholzer, Hawks, Holiday, Marjanovic, Vincent, Nader

Two head coaches may clear health and safety protocols in time for their teams’ next games. Michael Malone traveled with the Nuggets to Oklahoma City and expects to be on the sidelines Sunday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Malone missed four games while in the protocols, and acting coach Popeye Jones compiled a 2-2 record.

Darvin Ham, who is serving as acting head coach for the Bucks, is hoping Mike Budenholzer will be ready to return for Monday’s game at Charlotte, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link). Nehm suggests that Budenholzer still needs to return multiple negative tests before being cleared.

Here are more updates on COVID-19 and the health and safety protocols:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan remains in the protocols, but assistant Chris Jent has been cleared and will serve as acting head coach for Sunday’s game against the Clippers, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday tested out of the protocols, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. However, Holiday sat out tonight’s game because of pain in his left ankle.
  • Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic has cleared the protocols, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
  • Heat guard Gabe Vincent is out of the protocols, but isn’t with the team for tonight’s game in Phoenix, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Marcus Garrett is the only Miami player remaining in the protocols.
  • Suns forward Abdel Nader has also cleared the protocols, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Nader is recovering from a knee injury and will have to go through reconditioning before he can play again.
  • Follow our Health And Safety Protocols Tracker for a complete list of how the virus is affecting the league.

Southeast Notes: Suggs, Hawks, Okongwu, Miles Bridges, LaMelo

2021 fifth overall pick Jalen Suggs suffered a fractured right thumb on Monday for the Magic, but surgery won’t be necessary to repair the injury, according to Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com.

Savage writes that Suggs will be evaluated every two weeks to assess how much the bone has healed, and the healing process will determine when he returns to the court.

Through 21 contests (27.8 MPG), Suggs is averaging 12.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.1 SPG. His counting stats are solid, but like many rookies, he’s struggled with efficiency in the early going, committing 3.2 turnovers per game with a poor shooting line of .339/.255/.763.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hawks assistant coach Jamelle McMillan is in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and head coach Nate McMillan will be isolating until he has tested negative multiple times, the team announced (Twitter link). In a follow-up tweet, the team says that assistant coach Chris Jent will serve as head coach Dec. 1 against the Pacers. Jent is a veteran assistant and has been with the Hawks since 2017.
  • Second-year Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu is starting to ramp up activity while recovering from shoulder surgery. We noted last week he played 3-on-3, and now coach Nate McMillan says he’s going to start practicing 5-on-5 with the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He’s expected to play in a G League game if the practices go well.
  • LaMelo Ball is playing a major role in Miles Bridges‘ breakout season with the Hornets, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes. Tjarks takes an in-depth look at the connection between the two players, noting that Bridges is an All-Star candidate this season with two-way impact. Tjarks says the Hornets may regret not giving Bridges a rookie scale extension at a discounted rate when they had the chance, stating that Bridges could earn a max contract next summer if he keeps playing at a high level.

Multiple Hawks Players Reportedly Wanted Coaching Change

There was hope entering the season in Atlanta that the previously-existent friction between Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and star guard Trae Young would be a thing of the past, but it reemerged as the season progressed, according to Chris Kirschner, Sam Amick, and David Aldridge of The Athletic. And the Athletic trio suggests that Young wasn’t the only Hawks player frustrated by Pierce’s coaching style.

Sources tell The Athletic that several members of the Hawks were “eager to hear a new voice,” and that multiple players recently shared their desire for a change with team management. By the time Pierce was let go on Monday, player support for him was dwindling, per Kirschner, Amick, and Aldridge.

As the trio details, there wasn’t a single moment this season that resulted in Pierce losing the locker room, but it happened over time due to a number of small moments that added up.

“There’s no telling when he lost it,” a source close to the team told The Athletic. “He didn’t have support from many people. It came down to him not being able to manage egos. That’s what did him in, especially these young guys. It’s tough.”

The Athletic’s report, which is worth checking out in full if you’re a subscriber, includes many other interesting tidbits on the Hawks’ coaching change. Here are a few highlights:

  • Pierce’s job security was already tenuous by the end of the 2019/20 season, but a number of factors – including the abrupt hiatus and Pierce’s strong voice during the social justice movement – helped save his job for the time being, according to The Athletic’s report.
  • Multiple Hawks players felt last season as if they weren’t having their concerns heard when they approached Pierce about them, and started going to assistant coach Chris Jent with those concerns instead, per The Athletic. Players once again felt unheard this season when they asked Pierce about adjusting the late-game offense to make it more free-flowing.
  • Sources tell The Athletic that Cam Reddish was among the players who bristled at Pierce’s coaching style and felt as if he was being “picked on” behind the scenes. According to Kirschner, Amick, and Aldridge, some Hawks players believe Reddish’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s on the roster and thought Pierce’s approach was stunting his development.
  • The Hawks’ fourth-quarter struggles this season bothered team owner Tony Ressler, who “grew incensed” when the club kept losing winnable games by blowing late leads, per The Athletic’s trio. GM Travis Schlenk has said the decision to fire Pierce was his and his front office’s, but at the very least, Ressler had to sign off on it.

Larry Drew Unlikely To Coach Cavs Long-Term

The Cavaliers have begun searching for a permanent head coach for 2019/20 and beyond, and Larry Drew isn’t believed to be a serious candidate, according to a report from Joe Vardon and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. While Drew has served as Cleveland’s interim coach since Tyronn Lue‘s dismissal earlier this season, he’s unsure he’d want to return next season and doesn’t appear likely to be asked, per Vardon and Lloyd.

“I don’t know if I ever want to be a head coach again after this year,” said Drew, who has dealt with a constant stream of injuries since Lue’s ouster, guiding the Cavs to a 9-34 record.

According to Vardon and Lloyd, the Cavaliers will likely seek a first-time NBA head coach who has experience developing players and/or coaching in the G League. The club hasn’t yet begun reaching out to candidates or their agents, since the search is still in its infancy. However, The Athletic duo identifies six candidates who have ties to the Cavs or GM Koby Altman and could be fits. Those six candidates are:

  • Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez
  • Hornets assistant Steve Hetzel
  • Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin
  • Hawks assistant Chris Jent
  • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley
  • Jazz assistant Alex Jensen

It’s not entirely clear whether Vardon and Lloyd are just speculating based on the criteria outlined by the Cavs and Altman’s history with those coaches, or if they have inside info on the club’s wish list. Either way, it seems safe to assume that at least a few of those assistants will receive consideration from Cleveland.

For now, Drew is still running the show and the 60-year-old coach admits that he’s happy Lue was let go early in the season — not because he wanted to supplant Lue, but because he believes the Cavs’ struggles this year would have been hard on the team’s former head coach, who battled stress and health issues last season.

“I wouldn’t want to see him go through this,” Drew said. “I wouldn’t want him to go through it from a physical and mental standpoint after some of the things that he went through. He deserves better after having won a championship. He deserves much, much better.”

When the Cavs initially replaced Lue with Drew, he resisted taking on the title of interim head coach until the team gave him a raise and a small financial guarantee for next season. Several months later, he still doesn’t sound like someone who wanted the job to begin with, as Vardon and Lloyd relay.

“I wasn’t looking to do this. I was not looking to do this at all,” Drew said. “But it happened. Ain’t a whole lot you can do about it.”

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wade, Simons

If the Hornets are going to turn the fate of their franchise around, they’ll have to improve how they handle lottery picks. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes that only one of their seven different top-11 picks since 2011 has been an All-Star.

Bonnell breaks down ex-general manager Rich Cho‘s underwhelming draft portfolio noting that beyond Walker, only one of the remaining six players they’ve drafted in the top-11 has even gone on to be a consistent starter (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).

To Cho’s credit, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk can all be valuable rotation pieces for the foreseeable future but it’s hard to justify the selections of Bismack Biyombo and Noah Vonleh.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Pending free agent Dwyane Wade has not decided if he’s going to retire or not. If he returns, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets, he’d want to return with the Heat.
  • Not surprisingly, Anfernee Simons was particularly excited to work out for the Magic, the franchise with whom his namesake made his mark. John Denton of the team’s official site writes about the Florida native’s connection to the team and his decision to enter the draft directly out of prep school.
  • It’s official, the Hawks have made Melvin Hunt, Chris Jent, Greg Foster, Marlon Garnett and Matt Hill assistant coaches under new head coach Lloyd Pierce, the team announced on its website.

Chris Jent To Remain With Hawks As Assistant Coach

Hawks assistant coach Chris Jent will remain with the team in that capacity as part of new head coach Lloyd Pierce‘s staff, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Jent joined Atlanta’s coaching staff last season after spending the previous season as an assistant at Ohio State.

Jent, 48, has a history with Pierce as both men were part of former head coach Mike Brown’s staff with the Cavaliers. Jent also served as an assistant coach for the Sixers, Magic, and Kings. Jent was an interim head coach for the Magic for the last 18 games of the 2004/05 season. As a player, Jent played in six NBA games, three with the 1994 NBA championship-winning Rockets and three with the Knicks.

It makes sense for Pierce to retain someone with both a wealth of coaching experience and familiarity with the Hawks as he prepares for his first head coaching job. We passed along earlier this week that Melvin Hunt will join the Hawks as Pierce’s lead assistant, while former Suns assistant Marlon Garnett will also be part of the team’s staff.

Pacific Notes: Kobe, Buss, Casspi, Suns

Lakers Executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss believes Kobe Bryant is worth his league-high $25MM salary this season after all he’s done for the franchise and said that while the team is operating on the premise that Bryant will retire at season’s end, he’d welcome him back with open arms if he’s willing to accept a role that fits his age and ability. Buss made his comments as part of an interview with Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, adding that he “feels like we’ve righted the ship” with coach Byron Scott and a new cast of key players, even if the team didn’t sign a star free agent this summer.

“It’s just that it takes time to build a core that guys want to play with,” Buss said to Pincus. “I understand a superstar doesn’t want to come in and say, ‘Oh, we still have two or three years of rebuilding.’ I think with Jordan Clarkson, [D’Angelo] Russell, [Julius] Randle, even [Roy] Hibbert … we’re getting a core of seven or eight players.”

See more on the Lakers amid the latest from around the Pacific Division:

  • Buss, also a part-owner of the team, has no regrets about pledging in April 2014 to resign from his basketball operations position if he couldn’t restore the Lakers to contention in three or four years, as he said to Pincus for the same piece. Buss’ sister Jeanie, the primary owner of the franchise, has said she’ll hold him to that pledge if the Lakers aren’t back in the Western Conference Finals by the spring of 2017. Still, the top goal for this season, Jim Buss said to Pincus, is identifying core players for the future, and not necessarily making the playoffs.
  • Omri Casspi cited DeMarcus Cousins, calling him the best center in the league in an interview with James Herbert of CBSSports.com, among the reasons why he decided to re-sign with the Kings this summer.
  • The Suns officially named Chris Jent the head coach of their one-to-one D-League affiliate, the franchise announced Thursday. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this month that the sides were finalizing a deal. Jent had been Michael Malone‘s lead assistant with the Kings.

And-Ones: Heat, Holmes, Jent

No team spent more cash in trades during the 2014/15 season than the Heat did, sending a total of $2,539,424, just shy of last season’s $3.3MM limit, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders examines Conversely, the Pelicans raked in $3,299,959, just shy of the $3.3MM cap on the amount of money teams could receive via trade. Both limits have increased to $3.4MM for this season.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Jonathan Holmes has a $100K partial guarantee on his minimum-salary deal with the Lakers, agent Zach Kurtin of Priority Sports tells Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). The final season on the two-year contract becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster through the fourth day after the conclusion of next year’s summer league, Pincus adds.
  • The Suns are close to completing a deal to hire Chris Jent as head coach of the Bakersfield Jam, the franchise’s NBA D-League affiliate, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Jent had previously been an assistant on former Kings coach Michael Malone‘s staff, and he replaces Nate Bjorkgren, who was promoted to be the Suns’ player development coach, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest tweets.
  • The National Basketball Referees Association has officially ratified its new seven-year contract with the NBA, the NBRA announced (via Twitter). The new agreement takes effect this season, replacing the final year of the existing contract, and runs through 2022. “The NBA takes great pride in our world-class referee program and we are pleased to extend the league’s partnership with the NBRA for another seven years,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement regarding the new pact

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.