David Vanterpool

Rockets Coaching Candidates Knew Of Morey’s Decision

While Daryl Morey’s decision to step down as the Rockets’ GM surfaced this week, he said that coaching candidates were notified during the interviewing process that he was departing, Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

Morey made up his mind nearly a month ago, a day after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference playoffs. Family considerations were the main reason why he chose to leave at this time.

“I mean he just said, ‘You know, I’m kind of just struggling and don’t know what I want to do,’” owner Tilman Fertitta said. “To tell y’all, when we signed Daryl’s last extension, Daryl told me, ‘You know, I’m not going to always be here (and) when my last son graduates (I might leave).'”

Head coach Mike D’Antoni decided he didn’t want to remain in the organization on the plane ride home and Morey said all of D’Antoni’s potential replacements were told that he was headed out, as well.

“We’ve been up front with all the candidates that this was coming and they’ve been respectful to not have it get out early,” said Morey, who added that D’Antoni’s parting did not impact his decision. “It’s been baked in.”

The Athletic duo, though, said that it hasn’t been quite that transparent. At least two of those candidates were uncertain why Rafael Stone, the executive VP of basketball operations who is replacing Morey as GM, was leading the interviewing process. They were not directly told Morey was going to step down.

Morey had essentially been operating as a consultant the past few weeks, The Athletic confirmed.

Houston has interviewed Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue, Kenny Atkinson, Stephen Silas, David Vanterpool, Wes Unseld Jr., and John Lucas for the vacant coaching job. Lue has agreed to coach the Clippers, while Van Gundy, Silas and Lucas appear to be the top remaining candidates for the Rockets.

Latest On Rockets’ Head Coaching Search

The Rockets‘ pool of candidates to replace Mike D’Antoni as the team’s new head coach still consists of seven names for now, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. According to Feigen, the club hasn’t ruled out expanding the interview process beyond those seven candidates, but has been “pleased” with its meetings so far.

Houston met last week with current assistant coaches Stephen Silas (Mavericks), David Vanterpool (Timberwolves), and Wes Unseld Jr. (Nuggets), as well as former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

According to Feigen, team officials have since met with Rockets player development coach John Lucas as well, and Tyronn Lue‘s interview is scheduled to happen today. Jeff Van Gundy is also expected to interview with Houston now that his broadcasting duties for ABC and ESPN have come to an end for the season.

It’s not clear yet whether the Rockets will be prepared to make a decision on their new head coach after completing their meetings with Lue and Van Gundy. As Feigen writes, it’s possible the team will want to narrow down the field and bring back finalists for follow-up sessions, but team owner Tilman Fertitta has been part of the interview process already, so it’s not as if contenders for the position still need to meet with him.

The Rockets are one of five NBA teams still seeking a new head coach, along with the Pelicans, Pacers, Thunder, and Clippers.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Vanterpool, Unseld, McCollum

The Jazz had a relatively successful 2019/20 run, culminating in a first round 4-3 loss to the Nuggets sans start small forward Bojan Bogdanović. As the team looks to improve this offseason, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News assesses possible free agent additions for the Jazz, with input from some Utah fans.

Todd looks at the potential fit and cost of Suns center Aron Baynes, Pacers wing Justin Holiday, Bulls combo guard Shaquille Harrison, Pistons power forward Christian Wood, and Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. — all are role players who could especially help the team’s defense.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool ranks among the top candidates for the head job with the ThunderJoe Mussatto of the Oklahoman runs through Vanterpool’s resume and apparent coaching style. “I have different philosophies when it comes to schematics and how you want to approach a situation,” Vanterpool said in a May conversation with the NBA Coaches Association.
  • Nuggets lead assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been interviewed by the Rockets and Clippers about each of those Western Conference playoff contenders’ head coaching vacancies, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Unseld is known around the league to be a player-friendly, defensive-oriented coach. After the Nuggets defeated the Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals, Unseld was singled out for praise by head coach Mike Malone“Wes Unseld should be a head coach,” Malone raved. “Our defense in the last three games [all Nuggets wins] has been phenomenal.”
  • Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com tweets that Trail Blazers starting shooting guard CJ McCollum expects to resume all his basketball activities with no restrictions in November as he continues to rehabilitate from the lower back injury he incurred during the NBA’s summer restart. “Got a little plan together from a rehab standpoint to kind of make sure everything is in place,” McCollum said.

Rockets Rumors: Green, Tucker, Nwaba, Coaching Search

Former Rockets swingman Gerald Green, who missed the entire 2019/20 season due to a broken foot, is training privately in Houston and is hoping to eventually reunite with the Rockets, league sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Green, 34, began the ’19/20 campaign with the Rockets, but didn’t suit up for any games, having undergone foot surgery on October before he was eventually traded and waived in February. A July report indicated that Green has since recovered from that procedure and received medical clearance, but decided not to seek a new deal until the fall for family reasons, including the expected birth of his child in August.

Green has signed three consecutive minimum-salary contracts with Houston since 2017, so it seems safe to assume that the team would remain interested in bringing him back at that price as long as he’s fully healthy and there’s a roster spot available.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • P.J. Tucker is still hoping to reach an agreement with the Rockets on a new contract that would extend his current deal beyond 2020/21, according to Iko. Both sides are believed to be “on the same page” when it comes to wanting Tucker in Houston beyond next season, says Iko. Because Tucker is earning below the NBA’s estimated average salary in ’20/21, his starting salary on an extension wouldn’t be able to exceed about $11.5MM for ’21/22.
  • Within his same story for The Athletic, Iko cites a source who says David Nwaba “looks good” as he continues to rehab his Achilles injury in the hopes of getting healthy for the start of the 2020/21 season. Nwaba is being viewed internally as a “key rotational piece” for next season, Iko adds.
  • Following up on a Wednesday report, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle says that David Vanterpool‘s interview for the Rockets’ head coaching job will actually take place on Friday.
  • Feigen confirms that Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., and Stephen Silas have interviewed for the position so far, with meetings still to come for Vanterpool, Tyronn Lue, and John Lucas. The early interviewees have been “impressive” but there’s no clear frontrunner yet, according to Feigen, who adds that Jeff Van Gundy and other potential candidates could still end up meeting with Houston about the job.

Rockets Interview Stephen Silas, David Vanterpool

The list of candidates to interview for the Rockets‘ head coaching vacancy continues to grow, with Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston reporting (via Twitter) that the club has met with Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas and Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool about the position.

An earlier report indicated that Kenny Atkinson has interviewed with the Rockets for their coaching job. Tyronn Lue is also expected to meet with the club at some point this week about the position — it’s not clear whether or not that meeting has already occurred. Rockets assistant John Lucas is said to be an “emerging candidate” for the role, and the club has also secured permission to talk to Wes Unseld Jr.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Silas, who was hired in 1999 as a scout by the franchise known at the time as the Charlotte Hornets, has since served as an assistant on a number of NBA coaching staffs. After spending eight years as an assistant with the Bobcats/Hornets from 2010-18, he moved to Dallas in 2018, where he has spent the last two years as a member of Rick Carlisle‘s staff.

Vanterpool, meanwhile, coached EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow from 2007-12 before returning stateside and becoming a Trail Blazers assistant. After seven years in Portland, he was hired in 2019 by the Timberwolves as an associate head coach under Ryan Saunders.

Both Silas and Vanterpool have interviewed for head coaching positions in the past, but neither has any head coaching experience. Each of the two veteran assistants reportedly interviewed with the Pacers and Bulls this year, while Vanterpool has also been linked to the Thunder’s opening.

Coaching Rumors: Gentry, Vanterpool, Rockets, Pelicans, More

After being dismissed by New Orleans in August, Alvin Gentry hasn’t been linked to any head coaching openings, but he’s reportedly drawing interest from multiple teams for a potential assistant role.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday evening (via Twitter) that Gentry has emerged as a “serious possibility” to join Doc Rivers‘ staff with the Sixers. The two veteran coaches have a pre-existing relationship, as Gentry was the associate head coach under Rivers during his first year with the Clippers in 2013/14.

While Philadelphia is one possibility for Gentry, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) hears that New Orleans’ former head coach is also in the running to become the Kings‘ associate head coach under Luke Walton. Gentry and Walton were previously members of Golden State’s coaching staff during the 2014/15 season.

Here are a few more coaching rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool will be among the candidates interviewing for the Rockets‘ head coaching job, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Vanterpool is also believed to be a candidate for Indiana and Oklahoma City, and was considered by Chicago before the club hired Billy Donovan.
  • Confirming a previous report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that Tyronn Lue has meetings lined up with the Pelicans and Rockets. Lue is also a leading candidate for the Clippers‘ job, and Woj notes that L.A. is expected to begin meeting with candidates soon.
  • The Pelicans‘ head coaching search process is underway, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link), who hears that the plan is to eventually bring in two or three finalists for formal in-person interviews. It’s not clear when those face-to-face meetings will happen though, Lopez adds. A previous report on Lue’s meeting with New Orleans on Friday suggested it would be an “informal” discussion.
  • Some people with the Nets view Oklahoma City assistant Brian Keefe as a good fit for Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Keefe was in OKC with Kevin Durant from 2007-15 and returned to the team last year, but isn’t a lock to be back with the Thunder after the club’s head coaching change.

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.

Central Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Vanterpool, Cavs

The Pistons finished the 2019/20 season with a 20-46 record, and after buying out Reggie Jackson and trading Andre Drummond, all indications are that they’re not counting on being a playoff team next season. However, head coach Dwane Casey isn’t viewing the team’s process as a full-fledged rebuild, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes.

“We’re not really rebuilding here in Detroit,” Casey said. “I think our basketball fans deserve a lot, so we like to use the word retooling (or) restoring as much as rebuilding. So, again, it doesn’t have to take a long time because if our young guys are making the progress we expect them to make, it shouldn’t be a long-term restoring. And again, if we get the opportunity to get the right free agent that’s out there.”

While Casey is hopeful that the retooling process doesn’t necessarily have to be a long-term one, he cautioned that the Pistons will be careful about how they use their cap room this offseason.

“We want to be smart,” Casey said (Twitter link via James L. Edwards III of The Athletic). “We want to build something that’s going to last, be consistent and sustainable. We just don’t want to — as I tell my kids — ‘Don’t let the money burn your pockets.'”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pistons have made it known they’d be open to trading the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, sources tell Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. While it makes sense for new head of basketball operations Troy Weaver to explore all his options with that selection, I’d be surprised to see the club move up or trade out of the first round.
  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool is scheduled to interview with the Pacers for their head coaching job on Thursday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Vanterpool was one of more than a dozen candidates said to be on Indiana’s initial list.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes a deep dive into the pros and cons of the Cavaliers potentially drafting USC big man Onyeka Okongwu with the No. 5 overall pick.

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.

Bulls Begin Interviewing Head Coaching Candidates

The Bulls‘ search for a new head coach is underway, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team has received permission to speak to a number of candidates and has begun conducting interviews.

Several candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been previously reported as potential targets for Chicago. That group includes former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, and Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool.

In addition to those candidates, Wojnarowski reports that the Bulls have also been granted permission to talk to Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley and Heat assistant Dan Craig.

Finally, current Bulls assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers – holdovers from Jim Boylen‘s staff who remain under contract – may receive consideration for the top job, according to Wojnarowski. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago indicates that Fleming could have a role on the new staff if he isn’t promoted, since he has previously worked with Bulls executive VP Arturas Karnisovas in Denver and there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

Following Boylen’s dismissal, Karnisovas suggested that Chicago is seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator.” The Bulls, who appear to be conducting a wide-ranging search, could be competing with the Pacers, Sixers, Nets, and Pelicans for certain candidates, since all of those clubs are also in the market for new head coaches.

While Karnisovas has said there’s no set timeline for finalizing a new hire, it will be interesting to see whether Chicago tries to have a new head coach in place for its organized offseason team activities, which are scheduled to take place from September 14 to October 6.