David Vanterpool

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Nets, Sixers, Simmons

After signing Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to a two-year contract earlier this week, the Raptors find themselves right up against their $143MM hard cap for the 2021/22 season, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

[RELATED: NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2021/22]

Although the Raptors only have about $133.5MM in guaranteed money on their books, the team is just $155K below the hard cap due to all the non-guaranteed money on its books, along with Gary Trent Jr.‘s incentives and Nando De Colo‘s qualifying offer, according to Marks.

While Toronto’s financial situation is worth noting, it shouldn’t hamstring the team’s flexibility this fall. The Raptors could still add a 20th man to their training camp roster by signing a player to an Exhibit 10 contract, since those deals don’t count toward the hard cap. And once the team starts making cuts to get down to the 15-man regular season limit, it will create some additional breathing room below the hard cap.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Zach Harper of The Athletic assigns the Raptors a grade of B-minus for their offseason, praising the team’s additions of Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa, but acknowledging that Kyle Lowry‘s departure will be a major loss to overcome.
  • In a pair of articles for The Athletic, Alex Schiffer examines the Netsfrontcourt situation, exploring what Paul Millsap will bring to the team, and weighs whether David Vanterpool‘s new job with Brooklyn will be his last role as an assistant coach before he gets a shot at a head coaching position.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer enlisted Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian to discuss whether there’s a Ben Simmons trade between the Sixers and Trail Blazers that makes sense for both sides. Fentress doesn’t expect Damian Lillard to be available anytime soon, but thinks a Simmons/CJ McCollum swap would work if Philadelphia is willing to lower its asking price. However, Fentress does note that some people within the Blazers organization aren’t sure how well Lillard and Simmons would fit together.

Nets Hire David Vanterpool As Assistant

7:01pm: The team has officially hired Vanterpool, according to a press release.


10:04am: The Nets lost a key member of Steve Nash‘s coaching staff when the division-rival Celtics hired assistant Ime Udoka to become their new head coach. However, it appears Brooklyn has already lined up a replacement for Udoka.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), the Nets are finalizing a deal to hire David Vanterpool as an assistant coach.

An assistant for CSKA Moscow from 2007-12 after spending time with the Russian team as a player, Vanterpool made the move to the NBA in 2012. He served as an assistant coach on Portland’s staff for seven years from 2012-19, then spent the last two seasons as the Timberwolves’ associate head coach, first under Ryan Saunders, then under Chris Finch.

When the Wolves replaced Saunders with Finch during the season, some league observers expressed surprise that the team hired an assistant from another team (Finch had been part of Nick Nurse‘s Raptors staff) in the middle of the season rather than promoting Vanterpool, who has received consideration for other head coaching openings in recent years. Word broke in May after Minnesota’s season ended that Vanterpool wouldn’t stick with the club.

Last month, when seven head coaching positions opened up around the NBA, it seemed as if Nash may be in danger of losing multiple assistants, with Udoka, Mike D’Antoni, and Jacque Vaughn all generating interest. However, Vaughn withdrew from head coaching consideration and it doesn’t appear D’Antoni will be hired by any of the teams still conducting searches. For now, we’re assuming both coaches will be part of Nash’s staff along with Vanterpool for 2021/22.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Atkinson, Pelicans, Blazers, Wizards

Although Penny Hardaway has reportedly emerged as a legitimate candidate for the Magic‘s head coaching job, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says Kenny Atkinson‘s name continues to be the one most frequently linked to the Orlando job.

As Fischer notes – and as has been reported elsewhere – the Magic are believed to be seeking a candidate who has previous head coaching experience. While Hardaway holds the top job at the University of Memphis, he lacks the NBA experience that Atkinson has. Sources tell Fischer that former Blazers coach Terry Stotts also remains a strong option for Orlando.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes and rumors:

  • The Pelicans‘ search is expected to continue until at least later this week, with current New Orleans assistant Fred Vinson still to be interviewed, says Fischer. However, Jacque Vaughn appears to be the frontrunner for that job, sources tell Bleacher Report. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said last week that Vaughn’s candidacy was gaining traction.
  • Trail Blazers officials were caught off guard by Damian Lillard‘s public support for Jason Kidd early in the team’s coaching search, and several staffers were surprised the All-NBA guard didn’t name former Portland assistant David Vanterpool as his preferred candidate, according to Fischer. Lillard advocated for Vanterpool to be named Minnesota’s coach following Ryan Saunders‘ dismissal earlier in the year.
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon impressed the Trail Blazers during the interview process, but the background intel the team got on Hammon “was not nearly as complimentary pertaining to various aspects of day-to-day coaching responsibilities,” Fischer writes. While team owner Jody Allen liked Hammon, there were doubts about whether she was best suited to navigate “delicate waters” with Lillard, Fischer adds.
  • Fischer says that the Wizards‘ coaching search will be “lengthy and thorough,” which suggests that Washington may end up being the last team to fill its head coaching opening.

And-Ones: Vanterpool, Mack, Championship, Jones

Longtime Blazers assistant David Vanterpool could receive strong consideration for multiple head coaching vacancies across the league, Jordan Schultz of ESPN tweets.

The Celtics, Magic and Blazers all recently opened up their head coaching positions, with more teams potentially on the horizon. Many league observers are monitoring the Pacers and Pelicans after both clubs finished with underwhelming campaigns.

Vanterpool, who has been linked to past coaching vacancies, served as Minnesota’s associate head coach this season, but he won’t return to the team for 2021/22. Prior to joining the Wolves, he spent five years as an assistant with CSKA Moscow and seven years as an assistant with Portland.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Shelvin Mack has left Panathinaikos in Greece, according to SDNA.com (hat tip to Sportando). Mack departed from the club due to personal reasons. The 31-year-old was drafted at No. 34 overall in 2011 and holds eight years of NBA experience, the most recent of which was with Charlotte in 2018/19.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic examines how the past failures of some teams could provide fuel in the championship race this season. The Bucks and Clippers are two prime examples of such, with Milwaukee getting revenge against Miami in the first round and Los Angeles avoiding another playoff collapse on Sunday.
  • Michigan transfer DeVante’ Jones has received an invite to the G League Elite Camp, which is set to be held from June 19-21 in Chicago, a source told Hoops Rumors. Jones remains an intriguing mid-major prospect for the draft, averaging 19.3 points per game with Coastal Carolina last season. The 23-year-old also averaged 7.2 rebounds per game and finished third in the NCAA in steals per game (2.8). For more information on draft-related dates and deadlines this year, click here.

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.

Timberwolves Notes: Vanterpool, Gates, Edwards, Towns, McDaniels

Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool as well as assistant Bryan Gates won’t return to Chris Finch’s staff next season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Vanterpool and Gates were holdovers from Ryan Saunders‘ staff. Numerous players around the league openly questioned Minnesota’s decision to hire Finch away from the Raptors’ staff, instead of promoting minority candidate Vanterpool when Saunders was let go.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Anthony Edwards could be “scary” good after a strong rookie season, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said this week, per Dave Campbell of The Associated Press. “He doesn’t know how good he is and, scary enough for us, we don’t know how good he is,” Rosas said. “You’re talking about a 19-year-old who’s late to the sport. It’s not always pretty, not always efficient, but the signs of greatness are there.”
  • Edwards expects the team to participate in the postseason next year, Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “I’m ready to go to the playoffs,” he said. “I know this is my first year, but I just see how happy teams [are], knowing they’re going to play more basketball. So I want that feeling next year.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns wants to make a point that he’s not concerned about sharing the spotlight with Edwards, according to Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “He’s showed exactly why he’s the No. 1 pick and why he’s the Rookie of the Year,” Towns said. “So we’ve got to put our egos to the side at all times. We cannot let that get between us. We cannot let that be a story of amazing talents coming together and not making it work.”
  • The Wolves’ front office made a prudent choice with Jaden McDaniels at the No. 28 overall pick, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes. McDaniels started regularly in the final 27 games of the season and showed great promise as a 3-and-D wing. Having productive players on low-cost contracts is necessary to keep the team’s core intact while still avoiding the luxury tax, Krawczynski adds.

Wolves Notes: Finch, Defense, Towns, Vanterpool

The Timberwolves hired Chris Finch as their new head coach in the hopes of improving an offense that ranked 28th in the NBA under Ryan Saunders, and while the results on that front were promising in Finch’s debut on Tuesday, Minnesota also allowed a season-high 139 points in a blowout loss to Milwaukee, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

Acknowledging that he has a reputation as more of an offensive-minded coach, Finch stressed on Tuesday that the Wolves’ defense has to improve, noting that he’s hoping to streamline the system and implement “simple, highly executable coverages” for the team’s young roster.

“We don’t want them overthinking anything out there where there’s a lag time in their performance and reaction. But yeah, we’re all about the defense,” Finch said, according to Krawczynski. “I’m known for the offensive side of the ball, but the reality is I’m a defense-first guy because that creates the best offense. You still have to play defense in this league to win.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • After being hired, Finch told Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns that he’s committed to running the team’s offense through him going forward, according to Chris Hine and Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. “He should be at the center of everything,” Finch said of Towns, per Krawczynski. That approach was evident on Tuesday, as Towns matched a season high with 19 shot attempts and established a new career-high with 11 assists.
  • While Towns expressed a hope that more “Black and minority coaches” – including Wolves assistant David Vanterpool – will get head coaching opportunities going forward, he pledged to support Finch and once again reiterated his commitment to the franchise, as Hine writes in a separate story for The Star Tribune. “I’m a very loyal guy, to a fault. I’ve said it before, I would love to finish my career here in Minnesota,” Towns told reporters. “I want to build something great here. I want to build a legacy in Minnesota.”
  • When Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas discussed the hiring of Finch, he explained that the veteran assistant was a finalist when the team conducted a brief search and ultimately decided to retain Ryan Saunders in 2019, which was one reason why he was comfortable bringing him in midseason without a full-fledged search this time around. “When we got that opportunity we were very aggressive with it because he’s a candidate that we have experience with through our last process and the guy we identified as a target for us,” Rosas said (link via Hine).
  • Ricky Rubio admitted he’ll miss Saunders and called the timing of Finch’s full-time hiring “a little weird,” but said he has been impressed by the new coach’s offensive mind so far (link via Hine). Malik Beasley, who played for Denver during the one season that Finch was a Nuggets assistant, had nothing but praise for him as well, calling Finch a “great guy” and predicting that the Wolves are “going to do some big things.”

Timberwolves Notes: Towns, Saunders, Russell, Vanterpool

Amid the turmoil of a mid-season coaching change, the Timberwolves got some good news Sunday night as star center Karl-Anthony Towns indicated he foresees a long future with the organization, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Towns was asked about his intentions following a loss to the Knicks that dropped Minnesota’s record to a league-worst 7-24.

“If you want to build a legacy we got to win,” Towns said. “And I want to build my legacy here so I want to win with the Wolves, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to keep step-by-step, brick-by-brick, building something and a culture here that’s going to stand here for a long time.”

Towns, 25, still has three more years on the extension he signed in 2018, paying him $31.65MM, $33.83MM and $36MM through the 2023/24 season. He could opt to demand a trade, as other stars have done in losing situations, but Sunday’s comments should offer some hope to the Wolves that he’s committed to turning things around in Minnesota.

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

  • Ryan Saunders knew for weeks that his job was in jeopardy, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Players had been openly speculating about a coaching change, and the only question was whether management would keep him in place through the end of the season. Owner Glen Taylor had resisted the move because Towns was out of the lineup so much this season due to injuries and a battle with COVID-19. However, Minnesota was just 1-7 since Towns returned February 10, which was enough for Taylor to endorse firing Saunders.
  • Obvious tension built up between guard D’Angelo Russell and Saunders as losses mounted, Krawczynski adds in the same story. A long-time friend of Towns, Russell was brought in at last year’s trade deadline to provide a second star for the team to build around. However, because of injuries and the hiatus, Saunders only got to coach Towns and Russell together in five games.
  • Several NBA players questioned why Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool wasn’t chosen to replace Saunders, with the loudest support for the former Trail Blazers assistant coming from Portland stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, notes Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports. “How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool,” Lillard tweeted, “and he’s right there on the bench… and has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!” According to Krawczynski, there has been speculation throughout the league that Chris Finch has been on top of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas‘ wish list since he joined the Wolves two years ago, and Rosas was willing to endure criticism over not considering a minority candidate such as Vanterpool.

Timberwolves Fire Ryan Saunders, Hire Chris Finch

9:35am: Minnesota has officially announced Finch as its new head coach.

“I would like to thank Glen Taylor and Gersson Rosas for this incredible opportunity to be the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Finch said. “I look forward to working hand and hand with Gersson to build and lead a team that Timberwolves fans will be proud of. We have excellent pieces in place and I can’t wait to get to work.”


5:43am: The Timberwolves have parted ways with head coach Ryan Saunders, the team announced in a press release late on Sunday night. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Saunders’ dismissal.

“We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organization and wish him the best in the future,” Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said in a statement. “These are difficult decisions to make, however this change is in the best interest of the organization’s short and long-term goals.”

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Wojnarowski, Minnesota already has a replacement lined up for Saunders, having reached a deal to hire Raptors assistant Chris Finch. The two sides are finalizing a multiyear contract that will make him the Wolves’ permanent head coach rather than an interim replacement.

Saunders, who took the reins on Minnesota’s sidelines following Tom Thibodeau‘s exit from the franchise in 2018/19, compiled a 43-94 (.314) record across parts of three seasons with the team. Those Wolves clubs were plagued by injuries, with franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns missing 54 of Saunders’ 137 games with the team, but underperformed even when healthy, finishing 14th in the West a year ago and ranking last in the conference so far this year.

Finch, meanwhile, has interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs in recent years, but will be getting an opportunity to run his own NBA team for the first time. He did have a stint as a G League head coach with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers from 2009-11 and won an NBAGL title with the club before becoming an assistant for the Rockets from 2011-16. Rosas was part of Houston’s front office during that time, giving him a familiarity with Finch.

Since leaving the Rockets, Finch has been an associate head coach for the Nuggets (2016-17), Pelicans (2017-20), and Raptors (2020-21). He has a reputation of improving teams’ offenses, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic observes.

According to Wojnarowski, Finch is expected to officially begin the job on Tuesday when the Wolves play the Bucks in Milwaukee, and is expected to keep the team’s coaching staff intact for the time being. That staff includes associate head coach David Vanterpool and assistants Bryan Gates and Pablo Prigioni, Woj notes.

Hiring another team’s assistant coach after making an in-season coaching change is fairly unusual for an NBA team, according to Wojnarowski, who says it hasn’t happened since Memphis hired Lionel Hollins away from Milwaukee in 2009. Murphy suggests (via Twitter) that Toronto is probably more likely to promote a coach from the Raptors 905 once the G League season ends than to bring in someone from outside the organization to replace Finch on Nick Nurse‘s staff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Notes: RHJ, Taylor, Vanterpool, Russell, Towns

Speaking to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor praised Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s performance during training camp and the preseason, explaining that the team’s decision to release him was an “insurance policy” for roster flexibility.

“If we’d (retained Hollis-Jefferson), then we’d have the roster. We wouldn’t have any room for any movement at all,” Taylor said. “And I just think that you want to go into this year leaving a little bit of flexibility to see if you get some injuries or something like that, that you can bring in somebody to fill it.”

While Taylor’s point is a fair one, it’s worth noting that Hollis-Jefferson had a non-guaranteed contract, as do Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid, who remain on the roster. So even if the Timberwolves had carried a full 15-man roster into the regular season, they would’ve had some flexibility to make changes if necessary prior to February’s league-wide salary guarantee deadline.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Although Taylor has done his due diligence on a potential sale of the franchise, he suggested in his conversation with Wolfson that no agreement is close and acknowledged that he could still own the club a year from now. “There’s probably a good possibility that could happen,” Taylor said.
  • Within his discussion with Wolfson, Taylor also said he expects Timberwolves assistant coach David Vanterpool to eventually become an NBA head coach and said that president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas remains on the lookout for trades that could upgrade Minnesota’s roster.
  • Ricky Rubio started in place of D’Angelo Russell in the Wolves’ opener because Russell was late for his coronavirus test on Wednesday, writes Patrick Reusse of The Star Tribune. As Reusse notes, Russell tested negative and ended up playing 33 minutes, but the Wolves’ decision not to start him sent a message that they expect their players to strictly follow COVID-19 protocols.
  • Following the death of his mother and several other loved ones this year, Karl-Anthony Towns is playing with a heavy heart and is no longer the “happy-go-lucky” player he was during his first five seasons in the NBA, Jon Krawzyncski writes for The Athletic. “You may see me smiling and stuff, but that Karl died on April 13,” an emotional Towns said following the Wolves’ win on Wednesday. “He’s never coming back. I don’t remember that man. I don’t know that man. You’re talking to the physical me, but my soul has been killed off a long time ago.”