Dave Bliss

Thunder Notes: Coaching Staff, Burton, Gray

The Thunder officially announced Mark Daigneault‘s coaching staff today, confirming in a press release that Mike Wilks, Dave Bliss, and David Akinyooye will return to the team as assistants, while Zach Peterson and Kameron Woods will be back as player development coaches.

The team also confirmed that former Knicks interim coach Mike Miller has been hired as an assistant, as reported earlier today. However, otherwise the group looks similar to last year — which makes sense, considering Daigneault himself was a Thunder assistant in 2019/20 before receiving a promotion this fall.

“This group has proven to be great collaborators during their time with the Thunder, complementing their ability to help develop our team and players,” Daigneault said. “They all share a deep commitment and understanding for the values of the organization and are dedicated to being continuous learners. I’m looking forward to welcoming Mike to the Thunder and our coaching staff as we work to maximize our team and program.”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Although he had his team option turned down last week by the team, free agent wing Deonte Burton remains on the Thunder’s radar, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv. According to Begley, scouts who watched Burton last season were impressed by his defense and athleticism, and believe he has some upside. He’s drawing interest from other teams besides Oklahoma City, Begley adds.
  • A source tells John Hollinger of The Athletic that Josh Gray – who was signed-and-traded from the Pelicans to the Thunder in the Steven Adams deal – was just days away from agreeing to sign with a Turkish team for a “tiny fraction” of the $1.62MM he got as a result of the sign-and-trade. It’s not clear whether or not Gray is in OKC’s plans for 2020/21, but he’ll get paid either way — his first-year salary had to be guaranteed as part of the transaction to make salary-matching work.
  • In case you missed it last night, the Thunder generated another huge trade exception (worth $19.5MM) by getting involved in the Hawks’ Danilo Gallinari signing to turn it into a sign-and-trade.

Thunder Notes: Patterson, Luxury Tax, Bliss, Gibbs

Erik Horne of The Oklahoman opines that Patrick Patterson became expendable after the Thunder acquired Danilo Gallinari from the Clippers, signed veteran free agent Mike Muscala, and drafted Darius Bazley in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Gallinari is now the likely the starter at power forward, able to stretch the floor alongside big man Steven Adams. Meanwhile, Muscala has arguably been a more productive player the last two seasons and is three years younger. Finally, Bazley, still only 19 years old, will almost certainly merit playing time should the Thunder fall into rebuild mode.

Patterson, who was signed in the summer of 2017, was supposed to be the type of floor spacer the Thunder are now looking for from Gallinari, but he never lived up to his contract. The signing of Carmelo Anthony, which pushed Patterson to a reserve role, didn’t help, nor did undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in 2017.

That said, Patterson is just a season removed from shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range and 87 percent from the line, so it’s possible he could be a nice piece for the Clippers in the right role.

There’s more to report from Oklahoma City this afternoon:

  • According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the Thunder will stretch Patterson’s cap hit over the next three seasons. With Patterson giving back $3.5MM of his $5,711,200 salary, the yearly cap hits equal $737,067 after taking set-off into account.
  • Marks adds (Twitter link) that while the Thunder are now approximately $698K below the luxury tax threshold, they only have 13 guaranteed contracts. As such, they’ll need to go back into the tax in order to sign another player to a standard contract.
  • Despite his infamous name, Thunder player development coach Dave Bliss, also a former Knicks’ assistant coach under former Thunder point guard Derek Fisher and Jeff Hornacek, is well on his way to a promising coaching career, writes Horne in a separate piece for The Oklahoman.
  • Former Gonzaga and Creighton guard Grant Gibbs has been named head coach of the Thunder’s G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced on Friday. Per Executive Vice President and GM Sam Presti, “Grant is someone we identified early in his post-playing career as a potential fit within our organization… He has steadily impressed us with his versatility as a coach. We believe he will do an excellent job with the Blue and is ready to continue his growth within the organization.”

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, No. 9 Pick, Coaches, Workouts

Since being hired by the Knicks earlier this month, new head coach David Fizdale has talked repeatedly about making it a priority to connect with his new star, Kristaps Porzingis. On Thursday, Porzingis finally reciprocated some of Fizdale’s love, tweeting that he had a “great conversation” on the phone with Fizdale, and is “excited” about the hiring.

As Ian Begley writes at ESPN.com, Porzingis’ tweet isn’t a whole lot to go on, but it looks like a positive sign for the relationship between the big man and the Knicks’ new head coach. Porzingis didn’t always have the rosiest relationship with former head coach Jeff Hornacek, and skipped his exit meeting with Knicks brass – including Steve Mills – in 2017, so it’s important to get him on board with the franchise’s direction as he becomes extension-eligible for the first time this offseason.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While it’s possible that the nation’s leading scorer, Trae Young, could still be on the board when the Knicks pick at No. 9, they should resist the urge to draft him, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from sources that the club has “a genuine yen” for the Oklahoma guard.
  • In addition to being linked to Young, the Knicks are also believed to have interest in Miami guard Lonnie Walker. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype passes along a report connecting Walker to the Knicks, and confirms separately with a source that New York is “very interested” in the Hurricanes freshman.
  • Three Knicks assistants who were with the team last season – Jerry Sichting, Corey Gaines, and Dave Bliss – won’t be back next season as new coach David Fizdale reshapes the staff, per Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.
  • Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez and Michigan’s Charles Matthews had pre-draft workouts with the Knicks, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter links), who cites their respective Instagram accounts.