Darvin Ham

Wes Unseld Jr., Darvin Ham Leading Contenders To Become Wizards Coach

The frontrunners in the Wizards‘ search for a new head coach are Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Bucks assistant Charles Lee is also a finalist for the job, Woj adds.

All three were reported last week as moving past the first round of interviews, along with former Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, who was hired as head coach of the Magic over the weekend. Washington and New Orleans are the only teams currently without a head coach.

Unseld is the sentimental choice for Wizards fans because his father was a legend in the area as a five-time All-Star with the Bullets. The younger Unseld started his coaching career with the Wizards in 2005 and spent time with the Warriors and Magic before coming to Denver.

Ham has been as assistant under Budenholzer for the past eight years in Milwaukee and Atlanta. His coaching career began with the Lakers in 2011.

The Wizards have been looking for a coach since deciding not to extend Scott Brooks‘ contract in mid-June.

Wizards Notes: Nored, Coaching Search, Beal, Workouts

The Wizards recently conducted a second interview with Ronald Nored for their head coaching job, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

A report last week indicated that Nored was close to leaving his position as a Hornets assistant for a role on Rick Carlisle‘s staff in Indiana. Haynes’ report today suggests Nored may still be in the running for Washington’s top job — presumably, if he isn’t hired by the Wizards, the 31-year-old will pivot to finalizing a deal with the Pacers.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Besides Nored, the Wizards’ top head coaching candidates are believed to be Wes Unseld Jr., Charles Lee, Darvin Ham, and Jamahl Mosley (who may be hired by the Magic). Fred Katz of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at those four contenders for the job to assess what they could bring to the organization.
  • Before the Wizards finalize their head coaching hire, general manager Tommy Sheppard will meet with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook to get their feedback on the finalists, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Within the same NBC Sports Washington story, Beal says he appreciated the five years he spent playing for Scott Brooks. “When I first got the news (Brooks wouldn’t return), it was tough,” Beal said. “Scotty was great. This is my second coach I’ve played for and even when I talked to him afterwards, (I said) how grateful I was towards him. He helped change my game and evolved my game to what it is now.”
  • The Wizards are working out a pair of guards today, according to Hughes, who tweets that Arizona State’s Josh Christopher and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are visiting the team. Christopher and Dosunmu rank 33rd and 34th, respectively, on ESPN’s big board for the 2021 draft, so it seems like a long shot that the Wizards would select either with the No. 15 pick.

Wizards Identifying Finalists In Head Coaching Search

Having moved through the first phase of their head coaching search, the Wizards are identifying finalists and are zeroing in on a handful of assistant coaches from around the NBA, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks), Darvin Ham (Bucks), Charles Lee (Bucks), and Wes Unseld Jr. (Nuggets) are among the candidates who remain in contention for Washington’s coaching job and who will meet with the team again, Wojnarowski reports. Sources tell Wojnarowski that Mosley and Unseld are also serious candidates to fill the Magic‘s coaching vacancy.

While some clubs that have sought a new head coach this offseason have made it a priority to land a candidate with previous head coaching experience, it appears the Wizards are very open to the idea of hiring a first-timer. Virtually all of the candidates linked to Washington throughout the process – including those listed above – lack head coaching experience.

As we’ve noted in previous stories, hiring Unseld would perhaps be the best story for the Wizards, since his father was a D.C. legend who played for the team and held various positions with the organization following his retirement. However, Mosley, Ham, and Lee are all also accomplished assistants who have worked for multiple NBA teams and who have received head coaching interest in the past.

In addition to the Wizards and Magic, the Pelicans also continue to search for a new head coach, as our tracker shows.

Darvin Ham Interviews For Wizards’ Coaching Vacancy

The Wizards have interviewed Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as they look for their next head coach, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Katz adds that there is “some support” within the organization for hiring Ham.

Ham was among the candidates who interviewed for the Celtics’ job last month before they chose Ime Udoka, Katz notes (via Twitter). He also interviewed last year for an opening at Texas Tech, where he went to school, and for head coaching vacancies with the Clippers, Bulls and Pacers.

The 47-year-old has been an assistant in Milwaukee since Mike Budenholzer was hired in 2018, and he spent five seasons with Budenholzer in Atlanta as well. He started his NBA coaching career with the Lakers in 2011.

Prior to that, Ham spent eight years in the league as a player and was with the Wizards during the 1997/98 season.

Other names that have been mentioned in Washington’s coaching search include Celtics assistant Scott Morrison, Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, Sixers assistant Sam Cassell, Heat assistant Chris Quinn, Bulls assistant Chris Fleming, Suns assistant Willie Green and Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Keep track of all the developments on the NBA coaching front with our Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Bucks Notes: Tucker, Lopez, Antetokounmpo, Coaching Staff

During his years with the Rockets, P.J. Tucker was never able to get past Kevin Durant‘s Warriors teams in the playoffs, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The Bucks acquired Tucker at the trade deadline to match up with elite scorers like Durant, and he finally prevailed over his long-time rival in Milwaukee’s Game 7 victory Saturday night.

The Bucks used several players on Durant during the series, but the primary job belonged to Tucker, his friend and fellow Texas alum. Durant had another incredible performance Saturday with 48 points in 53 minutes, but he air-balled a shot at the end that could have sent the game to a second overtime.

“It’s painful. I’m hurting. That was a battle every single night,” Tucker said. “To be able to finally get over the hump is pretty nice.”

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Brook Lopez was determined to make up for a mental error he committed late in the fourth quarter, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Lopez lost track of the shot clock with 8.1 seconds remaining, resulting in a turnover that gave the Nets a chance to tie the game. He responded by blocking a layup attempt by Durant with a minute left in overtime. “After that (shot clock violation) happened, I just took it upon myself,” Lopez said. “I told my teammates, ‘I made a mistake, but let’s go get this.’ I’m gonna fix this, we’re gonna fix this and so it happened, but it was great to see how resilient we were.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is making his second trip to the conference finals, wants to make sure his teammates stay focused on the challenge ahead. After Saturday’s win, he wrote an 8 in the locker room, which is how many more wins the Bucks need to capture a championship, per Marc Berman of The New York Post“It’s a great feeling,’’ Antetokounmpo said. “I try not to get too high or low. I got emotional a little bit out there. The team really tried their best. Just being able to come to New York and were 0 for 5 here and in Game 7 and everyone’s anxious and nervous and able to execute and trust each other. It was big time. I’m really happy for this team. We’re halfway through. I want everyone to cherish this moment.’’
  • Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee have been rumored for head coaching opportunities around the league, and Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer believes they’re ready, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “They’re incredible coaches,” he said.

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Ham, Billups, Walker, Fournier, Williams, Smart

Assistant coaches Ime Udoka (Nets), Darvin Ham (Bucks) and Chauncey Billups (Clippers) are expected to get interviewed a second time by the Celtics’ brass for the head coaching job vacated by new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. While that trio is viewed as serious candidates for the job, others are still under consideration.

Udoka has received endorsements from Celtics players who were members of the U.S. national team in the 2019 World Cup tournament, according to Wojnarowski. Ham has interviewed for several head-coaching jobs in the past two years, while Billups has drawn interest from the Trail Blazers, Wizards, Magic and Pelicans for their current openings.

We have more Celtics news:

  • By shedding Kemba Walker‘s salary in a trade with the Thunder on Friday, the Celtics believe they’ll have a better chance of re-signing free agent Evan Fournier, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. The trade also increases the possibility of signing another free agent to the full mid-level exception, Murphy adds.
  • Walker’s 15% trade kicker was nullified due to his large salary, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus tweets. Walker’s $34,379,100 salary this season, coupled with him being a nine-year veteran until August 2, exceeded the $32,742,000 maximum. He couldn’t earn anything above that, so the trade bonus was voided. If Walker had been traded once the new league year began in August, he could’ve received a portion of that bonus.
  • Robert Williams and Marcus Smart are two other prominent players who could be on the move, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Boston’s roster is overloaded with centers and Williams could be used to bring in a backcourt piece. Smart has an expiring $14.4MM contract next season and is eligible for an extension that could go as high as $17.MM in the first year. If Smart believes he could get more on the free agent market next year, the team may consider moving him now and getting assets in return.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.

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.

Outside Names Emerge In Celtics’ Coaching Search

New Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has begun reaching out to other organizations for permission to interview coaching candidates, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojanarowski.

The early group of candidates will likely be expansive, according to Woj. A few names he has heard from sources include Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, and Nets assistant Ime Udoka.

Billups and Udoka have been mentioned before in relation to Boston, but the other three names are new. Ham, who played 12 NBA seasons, has been an assistant coach for the past decade, starting with the Lakers and then working under Mike Budenholzer in both Atlanta and Milwaukee. Lee is also a former NBA player with seven years as an assistant, all under Budenholzer. Mosley started his coaching career with the Nuggets in 2005 and has been with Dallas since 2014.

Stevens, who is in the unusual position of hiring his own replacement, recently completed interviews with several assistants who were on his staff this season. Prominent names in that group include Jay Larranaga, Scott Morrison, Jerome Allen, and Joe Mazzulla.

Follow the developments on all the coaching vacancies throughout the league with our Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Celtics Will Start Coaching Search With Internal Interviews

The first step in the Celtics‘ search for a new head coach to replace Brad Stevens will begin with several internal candidates, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Chris Mannix of SI.com suggested as much earlier today.

Boston’s head coaching position opened up this morning when Danny Ainge resigned as president of basketball operations and Stevens was chosen to replace him.

Weiss notes that Stevens’ staff has several strong candidates. Jay Larranaga interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching spot before James Borrego was hired, and Scott Morrison and Brandon Bailey both coached at the team’s G League affiliate in Maine. Jerome Allen is a former NBA player with college head coaching experience at the University of Pennsylvania, while Jamie Young has been with the team since 2008.

Among external candidates, the most interesting name is Kara Lawson, who would become the first female NBA head coach if she gets the job. Lawson spent a year as an assistant in Boston before leaving in 2020 to become head coach of the women’s team at Duke. Others to watch, sources tell Weiss, include former Celtics players Sam Cassell, currently an assistant with the Sixers, and Chauncey Billups, who is on the Clippers‘ staff.

Weiss also expects interest in former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Nets assistant Ime Udoka, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee. According to Weiss, another potential outsider is Juwan Howard if he’s willing to leave Michigan.