Dan Craig

Scotto’s Latest: Magic, Hartenstein, Allen, Ennis, Theis

Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast alongside Yossi Gozlan, Michael Scotto identified Nets assistant Ime Udoka and former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson as potential candidates to watch for the Magic‘s open head coaching position.

Clippers assistant Dan Craig and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham are among the other names Scotto has heard linked to the job in Orlando. If the Bucks lose their second-round series to Brooklyn, it could be the end of the road in Milwaukee not just for Mike Budenholzer, but for several members of his staff, including Ham, Scotto notes.

Here’s more from the podcast:

  • Scotto says Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein plans to turn down his player option, after hinting as much last month. Hartenstein will be eligible for restricted free agency and is a good bet to remain in Cleveland, either on a multiyear contract or on his qualifying offer, according to Scotto.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hornets and/or Mavericks could pursue Jarrett Allen, but Scotto expects the RFA center to ultimately remain with the Cavaliers, who gave up a first-round pick for him earlier this year.
  • James Ennis, who has played for seven teams since entering the NBA in 2014, will be seeking some stability as a free agent this offseason, per Scotto, who says Ennis is hoping for a deal that covers three years, or at least two. After knocking down 43.3% of his three-pointers in 2020/21, the veteran forward will be looking for a salary worth at least the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Scotto adds.
  • Scotto has heard from people around the league that free agent center Daniel Theis could command a deal worth at least the mid-level exception. Theis would like to join a winning team, but also wants the opportunity to play regularly.

Pacific Notes: Green, Wiseman, Whiteside, Clippers, More

The Warriors haven’t publicly announced which two players on their roster tested positive for the coronavirus, but head coach Steve Kerr “spelled it out pretty plainly” on Monday, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Seventeen of the team’s 20 players participated in the first practice of the season. Besides Klay Thompson, the only players missing were Draymond Green and James Wiseman.

“I will not comment on that any further,” Kerr said, per Slater. “I’m not allowed to comment on that. You can make your own deductions … I’m just trying to figure out which one of you has put all the pieces together and has figured out what is happening here.”

Assuming Green and Wiseman are indeed the two players who tested positive for COVID-19, the Warriors are expected to be without them until at least next week, Slater notes. That will give some of Golden State’s other frontcourt players a chance to play more significant roles during the preseason as they potentially audition for regular season minutes.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • New Kings center Hassan Whiteside is dealing with a mild calf strain and likely won’t be available for the team’s preseason opener, head coach Luke Walton said on Monday (Twitter link via Jason Jones of The Athletic).
  • Analytical data provided by new Kings general manager Monte McNair is expected to influence Walton’s new uptempo offensive system, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. “It’s been great working with Monte,” Walton said. “We’ve talked and he’s going to bring ideas analytically to what he sees, and then at the end of the day I can take what ideas I want and leave the ones I don’t.”
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said that assistant coach Larry Drew is focusing on the team’s offense, while Dan Craig is leading the defense with the help of Roy Rogers. Chauncey Billups is focusing on both sides of the ball, while Kenny Atkinson is leading player development, Lue added, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • Abdel Nader isn’t concerned about being considered “the other guy” sent to Phoenix in the Chris Paul trade and is looking forward to playing for the Suns, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I haven’t really spent time in Phoenix but I knew (the Suns) had a nice, young unit with a lot of talent,” Nader said. “Ability to grow. Also the city sounds like a nice place to me. I wasn’t complaining too much.”

Clippers Officially Announce Coaching Staff

The Clippers have officially announced Tyronn Lue‘s coaching staff for the 2020/21 season, confirming today in a press release that former Heat assistant Dan Craig has come aboard as L.A.’s associate head coach.

The team has also hired Kenny Atkinson, Chauncey Billups, Larry Drew, and former Bulls assistant Roy Rogers as assistant coaches. Rogers, who was let go by Chicago earlier this fall, reportedly drew interest from Doc Rivers in Philadelphia, but will instead join Rivers’ old team.

Previous reports had indicated that Craig, Atkinson, Billups, and Drew would be part of Lue’s staff.

Cam Hodges, Shaun Fein, Beau Levesque, and Dahntay Jones – who played for Lue in Cleveland in 2016 and 2017 – will also be part of the new-look staff in various coaching and player development roles, according to the team. Additionally, L.A. retained assistants Jeremy Castleberry and Brendan O’Connor.

“We have assembled a strong and experienced group of coaches with diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” Lue said in a statement. “They will provide our players with every opportunity to improve individually and excel as a team. As coaches, their skillsets are different, but they are all great teachers with a passion for player development, who understand how to impart their knowledge. I couldn’t be more excited to get on the court with this group.”

Craig, Atkinson, Billups Expected To Join Lue’s Clippers Staff

Heat assistant coach Dan Craig is leaving Miami to take a job as an assistant on Tyronn Lue‘s Clippers staff, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald confirms (via Twitter). According to Jackson, the Clippers offered more money than the Heat, and Craig hopes the role will help him eventually become an NBA head coach.

Mike Robinson of The Ball Out first reported today that Craig and former Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson would be joining the Clippers as assistants.

Marc Stein of The New York Times, who revealed last week that Craig and Atkinson were drawing interest as potential additions to Lue’s staff, tweeted today that Chauncey Billups has also interviewed for an assistant coach position with the Clippers. The expectation in coaching circles is that Craig, Atkinson, and Billups will all formally finalize deals to join the Clips, Stein adds (via Twitter).

Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported back on October 15 when Lue was promoted by the Clippers that Billups would join him in Los Angeles. Billups was still a candidate in the Pacers’ head coaching search at that time. Now that Indiana has gone in another direction, hiring Nate Bjorkgren, it appears Billups is on track to complete an agreement with L.A.

Craig, who reportedly received head coaching interest from the Bulls and Pacers this year, has been with the Heat for the better part of two decades after initially being hired as a video intern in 2003. He has been an assistant on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff since 2012, spending one year during that time (2015/16) as the head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate.

Like Craig, Atkinson generated some head coaching interest around the NBA this summer, having been linked to the Knicks, Rockets, Bulls, and Pelicans jobs. The former Knicks and Hawks assistant was hired by the Nets as their head coach of the Nets in 2016 and held that role until he was let go by the organization in March of this year. He compiled a 118-190 (.383) record in Brooklyn as he led the franchise through a challenging rebuild.

As for Billups, he’s a former NBA Finals MVP who expressed interest this year in becoming a head coach. Since his retirement as a player, Billups had reportedly “toyed with the idea” of getting into coaching, and it appears he’ll do so alongside Lue, a longtime friend with whom he shares an agent. A report in August suggested that Billups thought working on Lue’s staff might help him eventually land a head coaching job — he apparently has that in common with Craig.

Assuming the Clippers officially lock up Craig, Atkinson, and Billups, they’ll have gone a long way toward putting together Lue’s staff for 2020/21. Former NBA head coach Larry Drew is also expected to be hired by the Clippers as an assistant coach.

Pacific Notes: Handy, Clippers, Suns, Warriors

Despite some rumors linking him to Brooklyn in recent weeks, Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy suggested this week in a conversation with Jason Dumas of KRON4 News (Twitter link) that he intends to remain with the 2020 NBA champs.

“I am a Los Angeles Laker. What’s next for me is waiting for (Lakers head coach) Frank Vogel to pick up the phone and… give me what my next directives are,” Handy said.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • New Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is apparently strongly considering former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and current Heat assistant Dan Craig as additions for his bench, per Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets that Atkinson, renowned for his ability to develop young players, could be a fit considering that owner Steve Ballmer is hoping his new coaching staff does just that.
  • Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic assesses the prospects of a 2020/21 Suns squad if the team essentially maintains its 2019/20 roster and rely on internal player growth. Backup center Aron Baynes is the only rotation player entering unrestricted free agency this offseason.
  • As the Warriors look to build at the edges of their roster, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area takes a look at two potential swingman bench fits: sharpshooting Bucks guard Pat Connaughton and hyper-athletic Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Pacers Notes: Assistants, HC Finalists, Nurse, Bjorkgren

Though newly-hired Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren will have the opportunity to fill out his bench with assistants of his selection, the Pacers ownership and front office may provide some input, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). As Michael points out, Indiana became familiar with many coaches around the NBA during its expansive coaching search, so the team will have plenty of intel about possible candidates to share with Bjorkgren.

There’s more out of Indiana:

  • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Pelicans assistant Chris Finch, and Heat assistant Dan Craig were among the other finalists for the Pacers’ head coaching job, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was ebullient in his praise for his former assistant coach Bjorkgren, releasing a statement via Toronto’s team Twitter. “Nate and I have known each other for 30 years,” Nurse said. “I’ll miss having him next to me on our bench, and I know the Raptors players and staff will miss working with him every day.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic unpacks the career of Bjorkgren, praising the new Pacers head coach’s apparent flexibility with regard to making offensive and defensive schemes fit his personnel.

Eastern Notes: Craig, Harris, Raptors, Hawks

Heat assistant Dan Craig impressed in his interview for the Pacers’ head coaching job on Friday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets.

Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch still remains the favorite for the Indiana job, Jackson notes, with Miami assistant Chris Quinn also interviewing for the position. In addition, former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is reportedly in the mix as well.

The Pacers fired Nate McMillan in August after being swept by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The team accrued a 45-28 record this season, good for fourth-best in the East, but hasn’t won a playoff series since 2014.

Craig has been an assistant with the Heat for eight years. He started with the franchise in 2003 as a video intern, working his way up through the organization over time — much like current Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Nolan Jensen of Nets Daily examines how Joe Harris free agency could play out with the team. Harris is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and would provide an off-ball threat around Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant next season, though it’s unclear how much money the team is willing to spend to retain him. “Joe is a guy who is always in the gym,” teammate Caris LeVert said this season. “He’s always trying to get better. He’s always watching film. His maturation and his development obviously hasn’t been a huge surprise, especially for a lot of us who see him work each and every single day,” he said. “It’s especially good to see in games, but we know what Joe is capable of. We know how hard he works. It’s great to see that pay off, especially down the stretch of a game like that.”
  • The Raptors could target a number of free-agent wings this offseason, Blake Murphy of The Athletic writes. Toronto has multiple high-level free agents of its own, including Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka, but the team could show interest in players such as Harris, Jae Crowder and Kent Bazemore.
  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic interviewed Hawks assistant general manager Landry Fields, touching on subjects such as scouting, his job with the team and more. Atlanta named Fields as assistant GM earlier this month, with the former NBA player previously serving as GM of the Austin Spurs.

Latest On Pacers’ Head Coaching Search

After conducting initial interviews with a lengthy list of head coaching candidates, the Pacers are expected to bring back three finalists to meet with team ownership before the end of the month, reports J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

It’s not clear yet which three candidates will be part of that group of finalists. However, Michael hears that Mike D’Antoni thinks he’ll be one of the three. Michael also believes that – despite reports he’ll join Tyronn Lue‘s staff in Los Angeles – Chauncey Billups remains in the running for Indiana’s top job and could be a finalist.

Pelicans assistant Chris Finch and former Grizzlies and Kings coach Dave Joerger look like other contenders to be finalists for the Pacers’ coaching vacancy. A report earlier this week indicated that Finch may be Indiana’s frontrunner, while Joerger was identified earlier this month as a strong contender for the position.

[UPDATE: Dave Joerger joining Sixers’ staff as assistant]

Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn were reportedly scheduled to meet with the Pacers this week and may also still be in the mix.

For what it’s worth, Scott Agness of VigilantSports tweeted 12 days ago that the six names he continued to hear connected to the Pacers’ head coaching opening were D’Antoni, Billups, Finch, Joerger, Craig, and Quinn. It sounds likely that Indiana’s three finalists will come from that group, though the team has considered no shortage of other candidates, as our tracker shows.

Chris Finch Considered Frontrunner For Pacers Job

Pelicans assistant Chris Finch is considered the frontrunner for the Pacers coaching job, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets. This is the first indication which way Indiana’s front office is leaning as it searches for Nate McMillan‘s replacement.

We’ve heard about about a number of candidates, including former head coaches Mike D’AntoniMike Brown, and Dave Joerger as well as top assistants around the league, including Darvin HamIme Udoka, and David Vanterpool. ESPN analyst and 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups also reportedly received an interview.

Joerger had been considered a strong contender for the job.

As Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com tweeted earlier this week, Heat assistants Chris Quinn and Dan Craig are next in line for interviews, O’Connor confirms.

Finch has also been mentioned as a candidate for the Rockets’ head coaching job. After the Pelicans parted ways with Alvin Gentry following the seeding games in Orlando, VP of basketball operations David Griffin spoke highly of Finch and indicated that he wanted to retain him, while acknowledging the assistant would draw interest from other teams as a head coaching prospect.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Thibodeau, Bane, Nets

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes his assistants rightfully deserve consideration for head coaching vacancies around the league, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Both Dan Craig and Chris Quinn have seen their names linked to various teams this year, with Spoelstra backing the idea as a whole.

“I think on our staff we have several future head coaches,” Spoelstra said, as relayed by Winderman. “I don’t want them to just be assistant coaches their whole career. I want them to be able to grow and have opportunities to be head coaches at some point.”

The Heat have previously lost coaches such as Juwan Howard, who left for Michigan, and David Fizdale, who left to become head coach of the Grizzlies and Knicks. Spoelstra credits the coaching tree to team president Pat Riley, a former coach himself.

“I think it’s just the whole Heat program, and that started with Pat,” Spoelstra said. “I think he’s taught us all how to become basketball coaches, at all levels, where you have to learn scouting, offense, defense, tendencies in the league, learning how to coach on the floor and teach.

“That was all demanded from Pat. And then growing, that culture of growing you.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • For the Knicks, it won’t be business as usual with Tom Thibodeau now at the helm, Steve Popper of Newsday opines. Thibodeau is looking to ramp up the team’s offseason workload and work closely with the players, though he’ll have to adhere to the league’s COVID-19 guidelines first. “Obviously, we’d have to follow the protocol that’s set forth by the league, but we will have an opportunity to do the individual stuff with guys that are in the bubble up until October 6,” Thibodeau said. “Then we’re waiting on what we’ll be able to do with the guys that are out of the market. So whatever the league tells us we can do, we will certainly do. And if not we’ll find other ways to get to our development piece whether it’s through film, communications with the players. But we‘re planning on spending a lot of time with our players this offseason.”
  • TCU forward Desmond Bane could be the perfect 3-and-D player for the Nets to draft, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Bane credits current Nets forward Joe Harris for a key part of his game, explaining how he’s studied Harris’ ability to work off screens and make shots off different movements. The Nets have the No. 19 pick in this year’s draft, while Harris is set to reach unrestricted free agency.
  • NetsDaily.com examines the Nets‘ draft situation and which player could be selected, suggesting that Bane, Maryland big man Jalen Smith and others could fit nicely with Brooklyn, a team that’s expected to be at the forefront of contention next season. The draft will take place on Wednesday, November 18.