Dave Joerger

Bjorkgren, Stotts, Budenholzer Among Coaches On Hot Seat

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that Nate Bjorkgren‘s future as the Pacers‘ head coach is uncertain, and Shams Charania and Sam Amick echo that point in their latest report for The Athletic. According to The Athletic’s duo, Bjorkgren’s “abrasive” style and a tendency to be controlling with assistants and other staff members has been a cause for concern.

Sources tell Charania and Amick that multiple Pacers players have expressed dissatisfaction with Bjorkgren this season, with Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis among those who haven’t been on the same page with the first-year coach. Those same sources tell The Athletic that several Pacers players feel the analytical style Bjorkgren has employed doesn’t suit the team’s personnel.

The growing pains Bjorkgren has experienced in Indiana don’t necessarily mean that the Pacers will make a coaching change at season’s end, but the situation is worth keeping a close eye on, per Charania and Amick.

The two Athletic reporters also singled out a few other coaching situations worth watching around the NBA. Here are a few highlights from their report:

  • The Trail Blazers are increasingly likely to part ways with head coach Terry Stotts this offseason unless he can “pull a rabbit out of his hat” and make a deep playoff run, according to Charania and Amick. Sources tell The Athletic that Stotts has less player support this season than he has in past years. Charania and Amick identify Jason Kidd, Dave Joerger, Chauncey Billups, Brent Barry, and – if he becomes available – Nate McMillan as potential targets for Portland if the team makes a change.
  • There’s significant pressure on Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer entering the postseason, according to Charania and Amick, who say Budenholzer’s job will be in serious danger if the team is eliminated in the first two rounds. Budenholzer has one year left on his contract after 2020/21, per The Athletic’s duo.
  • Luke Walton of the Kings and Scott Brooks of the Wizards are other coaches whose job security isn’t exactly rock solid, but Charania and Amick point to financial considerations in Sacramento and a recent hot streak in D.C. as factors working in favor of Walton and Brooks keeping their jobs. Walton has a strong relationship with Kings GM Monte McNair, while Brooks is well-liked in Washington, note Charania and Amick. Still, the long-term future of Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard is also somewhat uncertain, which further clouds Brooks’ status.

Sixers Officially Announce Coaching Staff

The Sixers have officially announced Doc Rivers‘ new coaching staff, confirming today in a press release that Dave Joerger, Sam Cassell, Dan Burke, Popeye Jones, and Brian Adams have been hired as assistants. All five assistant coach additions were reported in the past few weeks.

In addition to those five hirings, the 76ers are retaining Eric Hughes as an assistant, hiring Pete Dominguez as a coaching associate, and giving Todor Pandov the role of assistant coach/performance director.

“After taking this job, one of my top priorities was forming the best staff in the NBA,” Rivers said in a statement. “I’m thrilled with the way it came together as this group boasts years of valuable NBA experience, both playing and coaching, and each member brings a championship-level mindset to the table. I’m confident in my staff’s ability to best support our players and look forward to getting into the lab with our team as soon as we get the green light.”

Joerger, Cassell, and Burke are the most notable additions to Rivers’ staff. Joerger is a former NBA head coach, having compiled a 245-247 (.498) record with the Kings and Grizzlies from 2013-19; Cassell is a veteran assistant who was a member of Rivers’ staff in Los Angeles and received some head coaching buzz this year; and Burke is a highly respected defensive specialist who spent the last two-plus decades in Indiana.

Sixers To Hire Dave Joerger As Assistant Coach

Former Grizzlies and Kings head coach Dave Joerger has agreed to join the Sixers as an assistant on Doc Rivers‘ new staff, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Joerger, who took over as the Grizzlies’ head coach in 2013, led the team to a 147-99 (.598) regular season mark, with three consecutive playoff appearances. His time in Sacramento wasn’t quite as successful, as the Kings had a 98-148 (.398) record and no postseason berths during his three years with the club. However, it’s worth noting that his 39-43 record in 2018/19 represented the Kings’ most successful mark since 2005/06.

The Pacers interviewed Joerger for their head coaching position and Wojnarowski had reported earlier this month that he was a strong contender for the job. However, with Indiana preparing to narrow its field of candidates to three finalists, it appears Joerger didn’t make the cut.

Frank Isola first reported on Wednesday that Joerger was receiving consideration to join Rivers’ staff.

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.

Eastern Notes: Sixers, Raptors, Pistons, Magic

Former Kings head coach Dave Joerger is under consideration to join Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff with the Sixers, according to Frank Isola (Twitter link). Joerger, who also coached the Grizzlies, interviewed for the Pacers’ head-coaching vacancy earlier this month.

As things stand, Rivers has not finalized his coaching staff in Philadelphia. Derek Bodner of The Athletic looked at several candidates last week who could join Rivers on the sidelines next season. Some of the names mentioned were Tyronn Lue, Sam Cassell, Armond Hill, and Rex Kalamian.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic considers possible free-agent center targets for the Raptors, explaining that center is a pressing need for Toronto, even if the team re-signs Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol. Murphy breaks down multiple free-agent targets into three tiers based on the Raptors’ financial situation, identifying Montrezl Harrell and Danilo Gallinari as expensive options while naming the likes of Jakob Poeltl and Noah Vonleh as more affordable alternatives.
  • In his latest mailbag, Rod Beard of The Detroit News suggests that Tyrese Haliburton or Killian Hayes would be a good pick for the Pistons in the 2020 draft. “Most mock drafts I’ve seen have one of those two available, and if they come out with either, they’d be happy with the pick, because they’d have filled a big roster gap,” he writes. The Pistons currently own the seventh overall pick, which means they’re in a prime position to take the best player available. Both Haliburton and Hayes are expected to be lottery picks next month.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic discusses the potential offseason moves that could be in store for the Magic in his latest mailbag. One of the questions that Robbins answered concerned the future of Evan Fournier. The 27-year-old guard has a $17.2M player option for the 2020/21 season, which he could ultimately decline next month. However, Robbins believes Fournier will likely accept the option due to the dip in NBA revenue as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last season with Orlando, he averaged 18.5 PPG and shot 39.9% from three-point range.

Dave Joerger A Strong Contender For Pacers’ Coaching Job

The Pacers are meeting with head coaching candidates this week and next, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that former Grizzlies and Kings coach Dave Joerger has met with the team and is considered a “strong contender” for the position.

Wojnarowski says that Pelicans assistant Chris Finch is among the candidates to meet with Indiana, and adds that Chauncey Billups will also get an interview.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst previously reported that the Pacers had talked to over 20 candidates about their head coaching job, but it’s possible those conversations were informal in nature, and that the team is now narrowing down the field as it conducts more in-depth interviews.

While we don’t know the full list of the 20+ candidates who have talked to the Pacers, Finch’s name is the 19th we’ve heard linked to the job, as our head coaching search tracker shows. Indiana’s interest in Joerger and Billups had been previously reported.

After parting ways with Nate McMillan, Pacers management talked about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to connect with younger players.

Windhorst’s Latest: Coaching Rumors

The Pacers have interviewed more than 20 candidates for their head coaching opening and are now scheduling second interviews, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Appearing on The Jump (video link) on Friday, Windhorst said that former Kings coach Dave Joerger, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka are among the candidates expected to receive second interviews with the Pacers. ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups is also in the mix.

Windhorst doled out a number of other tidbits regarding coaching vacancies:

  • The Sixers have focused in on two high-profile candidates, Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue, and that could impact what the Pelicans will do. New Orleans is “very interested” in Clippers assistant Lue, who won a championship in Cleveland with current Pelicans executive David Griffin. However, the Pelicans may have to wait until Philadelphia decides what it wants to do before pursuing Lue in earnest.
  • The Thunder appear to be going into rebuild mode and that increases the chances it will hire a first-time head coach. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and perhaps Spurs assistant Will Hardy have emerged as contenders for the job.
  • As previously reported, the Rockets are looking seriously at Clippers assistant and former Houston player Sam Cassell and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Pacers Identify 14 Head Coaching Candidates

The Pacers are set to begin a wide-ranging search for a head coach that will include more than a dozen candidates, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski details, Indiana is looking to interview the following candidates as the team seeks a replacement for Nate McMillan:

  • Former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger
  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool
  • Nets associate head coach Jacque Vaughn
  • Trail Blazers associate head coach Nate Tibbetts
  • Spurs assistants Becky Hammon and Will Hardy
  • Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn
  • Mavericks assistants Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas
  • Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee
  • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka
  • Magic assistant Pat Delany

It remains to be seen whether the Pacers will be granted permission to speak with all of their potential targets. If they do, the team’s first round of virtual meetings would feature at least 14 interviews.

Many of the Pacers’ coaching candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been linked to other vacancies around the league. Vanterpool, Craig, Mosley, Silas, Ham, and Udoka, for example, are all believed to be interviewing for the Bulls’ job. Udoka and Ham have also been mentioned as potential 76ers candidates, as has Joerger. Vaughn was seriously considered for the Nets job before the team hired Steve Nash, while Hardy and Delany interviewed with the Knicks before they hired Tom Thibodeau.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Others on Indiana’s list, such as Tibbetts and Hammon, have interviewed in past years for various NBA head coaching openings. Only a couple candidates – Quinn and Lee – haven’t received head coaching consideration in the past, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Joerger and Vaughn are the only names on the list with previous head coaching experience.

Mike D’Antoni has also been mentioned as a potential target for the Pacers, but he remains active in the postseason with the Rockets and there’s no guarantee he’ll leave Houston when his contract expires.

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has spoken about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to connect with younger players. McMillan’s old-school approach to offense was believed to be one reason why Indiana made a change.

Sixers Considered Unlikely To Retain Brett Brown

Following a quick playoff exit, the Sixers are widely expected to part ways with head coach Brett Brown, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Brown, who has two years remaining on his contract, has no “internal momentum” to return for another season; Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote that the anticipation within coaching circles is that the Sixers will part with Brown in the coming days; and Shams Charania of The Athletic cited multiple sources with knowledge of the situation in reporting that the 76ers are expected to make a coaching change.

Sources tell Haynes that Brown “never grabbed full command” of the locker room during his time as the Sixers’ head coach. As Haynes details, Al Horford expressed frustration earlier this season about not having a defined role communicated to him, and some people in the locker room have questioned Brown’s handling of rookie Matisse Thybulle, who has seen his minutes fluctuate drastically at times. Josh Richardson also expressed on Sunday that “more accountability” is necessary going forward, per Sacha Pisani of Sporting News.

“I don’t think there was much accountability this season and I think that was part of our problem,” Richardson said. “… (When) guys are not doing their job on or off the court, there’s got to be some kind of consequence — not consequence, but we’ve got to be able to talk to each other and listen. And not (just) listen to say something back, but actually hear (each other). It’s a hard lesson to learn for some people, but in order for us to make this playoff run that I think we all want, I know we all want, it’s got to start.”

Until the Sixers officially make a decision on Brown, it’s probably too early to identify frontrunners for the job. But Charania hears from sources that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Kings coach Dave Joerger, and Villanova coach Jay Wright are among the names to watch.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • There’s an expectation that the 76ers remain committed to the Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons duo and plan to let the next head coach figure out how to maximize the two stars, according to Shams Charania. Within his preview of Philadelphia’s offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) explains why he thinks it makes sense for the team to keep both Embiid and Simmons.
  • While Brown figures to be dismissed, he’s not the reason the Sixers have come up short in recent postseasons, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, who assigns more of the blame to the team’s front office. Charania suggests that no front office shake-up is imminent though, writing that GM Elton Brand has maintained a healthy relationship with team ownership.
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN passes along some of Brown’s post-game comments from Sunday, while Brian Windhorst of ESPN does the same for Embiid. As Bontemps details, Brown told reporters that he feels as if he never got a chance to show his full potential as a coach due to the injuries that plagued the Sixers over the years.
  • According to Chris Haynes, the 76ers were prepared to offer Jimmy Butler a maximum-salary contract in the summer of 2019 if he agreed not to take any recruiting visits. However, Butler – who was “lukewarm” on the idea of re-signing with Philadelphia – didn’t agree to that condition. Haynes adds that Brown didn’t love how “outspoken” Butler was with his coaching tactics.

Pacific Notes: Russell, Evans, Kings, Vogel

As we’ve detailed before, the Timberwolves put on the full-court press in their efforts to recruit D’Angelo Russell during the 2019 free agent period, but the Warriors‘ maximum-salary offer and the opportunity to play alongside Stephen Curry ultimately swayed Russell to Golden State. Discussing that decision with Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report, Russell made it sound as if it didn’t take him long to choose the Dubs once his agent called him to inform him of the max offer.

“I’m like, ‘Why the f–k is you on the phone with me?!'” Russell said. “‘Tell them yes!'”

Of course, his first year in the Bay Area hasn’t played out like he’d hoped, with Curry joining Klay Thompson on the long-term injury list and the Warriors plummeting to the bottom of the Western Conference.

Russell has been linked to the Wolves again as of late, with Minnesota reportedly intensifying its efforts to trade for him. While a deal seems unlikely to happen before the deadline, D-Lo acknowledged that this has been something of a lost season for the Warriors, who are essentially evaluating their roster for 2020/21.

“This whole year is kind of a test of seeing what’s gonna fit, what’s gonna make sense for next year,” Russell told Sepkowitz. “It’s them kind of sitting back, seeing who I am as a teammate and a player, what I bring to the table.”

Here’s more out of the Pacific:

  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans has been diagnosed with a concussion and a broken nose after taking an elbow to the face on Tuesday, the club announced (Twitter link). It’s not clear how much time Evans will miss, but he’s currently in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will wear a protective mask when he returns, according to the Warriors.
  • The Kings passed on Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft due to concerns about his fit alongside De’Aaron Fox, a decision that some fans in Sacramento have had a hard time moving past, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, former Kings coach Dave Joerger passive-aggressively joked to GM Vlade Divac midway through last season that he’d negotiated a trade with the Mavericks to land Doncic, to which Divac shot back: “Do I get their coach, too?”
  • In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Arnovitz explores how the perception of Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has changed over the last several months. When Vogel was hired in the spring, he was viewed as a Plan C whose hiring was proof of the franchise’s dysfunction. However, he has helped right the ship in L.A., leading the team to a 33-8 first-half record.