Doc Rivers

Pacific Notes: Thomas, Rivers, Williams, Thornwell, Evans

Isaiah Thomas has made it clear that he sees himself as a starter and not a reserve player, the role he has occupied since he was traded to the Lakers. The Lakers will have ample cap space this summer with the intention of luring at least two top free agents. Unless the Lakers want to start Thomas alongside Lonzo Ball, it’s unlikely that Thomas re-signs with Los Angeles.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report opines that while a Thomas reunion with the Lakers is unlikely, it should not be ruled out. LeBron James and Paul George will be the Lakers’ top two targets; James and Thomas were teammates for 15 games in Cleveland this season. If James decides to sign with the Lakers, Thomas re-signing likely becomes more unlikely, Pincus writes.

“Of course, if Thomas insists he’s a starter and will only re-sign on that contingency, the Lakers would presumably need to start him alongside Ball,” Pincus writes. “If George and Ingram are forwards, perhaps [Julius] Randle slides over to start at center.”

Starting two point guards — including a 29-year-old coming off an injury-riddled season — does not sound like something the Lakers would prefer.

Check out more Pacific Division notes below:

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was fined $15K for criticizing the officials in the team’s loss to the Rockets on Thursday, per ESPN. Rivers was critical of the referees’ lack of calls for his team.
  • Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans were prepared for the G League this season and were not expecting significant minutes with the Clippers. A rash of injuries have given Thornwell and Evans key roles, in which they have excelled, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Suns big man Alan Williams was assigned to the G League’s Northern Arizona Suns this week. However, he will not play for the NBA team until he gets into a game with the G League affiliate, which is expected on Wednesday, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports.

Coaching Notes: Fizdale, Stackhouse, Hornacek, Van Gundy

Former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale has become the prime candidate to take over as the Suns‘ head coach once the season ends, according to Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. James Jones, who became VP of basketball operations in Phoenix last summer, spent five seasons as a player with the Heat while Fizdale was the lead assistant under Erik Spoelstra. Earlier today, we passed on Lawrence’s comments that Fizdale hasn’t given up on the Lakers job if the team decides to replace Luke Walton, so the Suns could have some competition for his services. Interim Phoenix coach Jay Triano has expressed a desire to be considered for the job, but it appears the team is looking in a different direction.

Lawrence passes on a few more rumors from NBA coaching circles:

  • If the Magic decide to move on from Frank Vogel, longtime player Jerry Stackhouse will be their top choice. Stackhouse, named G League Coach of the Year with Raptors 905 last season, is close to Jeff Weltman, Orlando’s president of basketball operations. Weltman spent four years as GM in Toronto and got an up-close look at Stackhouse’s coaching abilities.
  • There’s a growing sense that the Knicks will part with Jeff Hornacek once the season ends. Lawrence admits Hornacek has been in a difficult situation in New York between the front office turmoil, the Carmelo Anthony situation and the recent injury to Kristaps Porzingis, but Hornacek was hired by former team president Phil Jackson, and Steve Mills might prefer to have his own coach in place. There is a strong sentiment to bring in former Knick Doc Rivers, but he still has supporters in the Clippers front office and might be kept for another year after turning in an impressive coaching job with a weakened roster.
  • Stan Van Gundy may need to get the Pistons into the playoffs to keep his job. Van Gundy has one season left on his five-year, $35MM contract and is back on thin ice after the team’s recent slump. Even if he does return next season, the feeling is Van Gundy will be replaced at team president, with former agent and current Pistons VP Arn Tellem next in line to run the team’s basketball operations.

Knicks Notes: Rivers, Porzingis, Noah

If Jeff Hornacek does not return as Knicks head coach, it’s possible that current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers would consider that vacancy if he also departs from his current team, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

Rivers spent parts of three seasons with the Knicks as a player during his 14-year NBA career. A former associate of Rivers tells Berman that Rivers — who has coached the Clippers since 2013 — still holds the team in high regard.

“Doc enjoyed his time there,’’ the former associate said. “He respects the city, he respects the organization.’’

The season-ending injury to Kristaps Porzingis has complicated the long-term future for the Knicks. Porzingis is expected to miss the next 10 months, which would sideline him for at least the start of the 2018/19 season. While that could alter the pursuit of head coaches, Rivers’ background with the team from his playing days could help the Knicks if he’s on their wish list.

Check out other Knicks notes below:

  • Speaking of Porzingis, he was spotted in Manhattan on Tuesday leaving a rehab appointment, per The New York Post. Porzingis was walking without the assistance of crutches but his trainer was still carrying them. The big man went down with a torn ACL on February 8.
  • March 1 is the last day for the Knicks to make a determination on Joakim Noah so he can sign with another club and be eligible for the postseason. The Knicks do not have to waive him or agree to a buyout by then, though it would be in Noah’s best interest if a resolution is reached by then. Both Marc Berman of the New York Post and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (subscription required and recommended) identify $5MM as the salary Noah could potentially leave on the table to help facilitate a move — that would slightly reduce the Knicks’ cap hits without significantly compromising Noah’s earnings, since he could earn most of that money back on minimum-salary contracts.
  • Earlier today, we passed along more Knicks-related notes, including more details on the Noah situation, which is reportedly being monitored by the NBPA.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, Ball, Clippers, Bell, Warriors

The Clippers pulled off a blockbuster trade earlier this week, sending franchise cornerstone Blake Griffin to the Pistons in a multi-player trade. Griffin was traded a mere six months after signing a massive deal to remain a Clipper in the offseason, changing the direction of his career and the franchise.

In an interview with Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers discussed the trade of Griffin. Rivers, who coached the Celtics to an NBA championship in 2007/08, also discussed his admiration of the success of the New England Patriots. Rivers compared that Celtics team to the Clippers teams he has coached in recent years; despite immense talent, the team never made it out of the first round of postseason play.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a team that’s won a title in any sport where the players haven’t bought into the system,” Rivers said.

Rivers’ comments echo the team possibly not being on the same page when the likes of Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan comprised one of the most feared threesomes in the league.

Check out other news out of the Pacific Division:

  • As part of the Griffin deal, the Clippers acquired three players: Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, and Boban MarjanovicElliot Teaford of the Orange County Register writes that Rivers had his squad play pickup basketball to help integrate the new acquisitions to the team and better learn their games.
  • Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball still feels something in his sprained right MCL and the team is expected to be cautious with his recovery, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. Ball, 20, has missed the Lakers’ past 10 games, including Sunday’s tilt against the Thunder.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider (subscription required and recommended) examined the Lakers‘ options as the Thursday deadline approaches. Among the Lakers’ choices: trading young players (Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson) or possibly dealing a veteran on an expiring deal (Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). 
  • Warriors rookie Jordan Bell underwent an MRI on his swollen left ankle on Friday and the results revealed the center will miss at least two more weeks, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • The Warriors have played more noticeably fatigued basketball recently despite winning their games. Head coach Steve Kerr said the players cannot wait to rest during the All-Star break, ESPN’s Chris Haynes writes. “Hell yeah,” Kerr said. “Guys are dying to get to the All-Star break. We’re limping to the finish line of the All-Star break. But we’ve got to fight through it to the break and then we need to get the hell away from each other and go sit on a beach and relax and then we’ll be in great shape.”

Coaching Shakeup May Be On The Way

Coming off a rare season in which no coaches were fired, the NBA may be preparing for a shakeup that will affect a third of the league, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.

Isola suggests as many as 10 teams could be looking at coaching changes at the end of the season, if not sooner. The actual number will depend on how things play out, but several more names may join David Fizdale of Memphis and Earl Watson of Phoenix as coaching casualties for 2017/18.

Both Los Angeles teams could be open to changes, with the Lakers far out of the playoff race at 16-29. The front office was slow to defend Luke Walton after recent derogatory comments by LaVar Ball, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently suggested that hiring former Fizdale, a former assistant with the Heat, would give the organization a better shot at LeBron James. However, Walton still has an important ally in majority owner Jeanie Buss.

Across town, Doc Rivers is doing a remarkable job with a depleted roster, but he may not remain with the Clippers if they decide to rebuild by following through with rumored trades involving DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. Rivers, who has one more year left on the extension he signed in 2014, was removed from his front office duties before the start of the season. Isola says Rivers may return to television if he leaves the Clippers, though he would become a candidate for possible openings in New York and Orlando.

There will be no shortage of prominent candidates if the Knicks decide to move on from Jeff Hornacek. Isola identifies ABC/ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy as potential replacements, along with former Pelicans coach and Knicks player Monty Williams, reigning G League Coach of the Year Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova coach Jay Wright, although there is speculation that Wright would only leave the college ranks to take the Sixers’ job.

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Jordan, Clippers

A difficult string of games in which the Suns were noticeably better without Josh Jackson than with him precipitated a change in his relationship with head coach Jay Triano. Now, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes, the first-year forward has started to regain the coaching staff’s trust.

When Triano told Jackson that he was losing his confidence in him, he asked the player what he might suggest to repair the situation. Since then, the two have watched film of Suns games.

[Jackson suggested they watch film of Suns games] just to see what [Triano] sees,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, two people look at the same play and see two totally different things. He has a basketball mind and he’s really smart, so just trying to see what he sees and trying to pick his brain a little bit.

In the three games since, Jackson has averaged 14 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Suns, shooting an impressive .486 from the field and .556 from three.

There’s more from the Pacific Division this afternoon:

  • The Clippers were treated to some good news on Thursday when it was revealed that Blake Griffin could return to action following a concussion and Milos Teodosic after another bout of plantar fascia issues ( report). Of course, in true Clippers fashion, DeAndre Jordan sprained his ankle hours later and had to leave the match (ESPN report).
  • The NBA fined Warriors forward Draymond Green $25K for comments critical of officials on Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Dubs took down the Clippers that night.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thinks that NBA players seem to get injured more often than they used to because they’re not playing basketball enough. Per Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register, Rivers posits that players do more things outside of the sport these days and that consistently reliable Jamal Crawford is one example of a guy that is constantly playing the game outside of his professional commitment.

Clippers Rumors: Williams, Austin Rivers, Doc

Swingman C.J. Williams is nearing the end of his 45-day limit with the Clippers and admits the situation weighs on him, as he told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Williams scored a career-high 18 points on Tuesday in his 37th day with the club. Once he reaches the limit, he’ll either have to spend the rest of the season in the G League or receive a standard contract. The Clippers do have an open roster spot, as Turner notes. “It’s hard not to think about it,” Williams told Turner. “But once the game comes, I’m focused on the game, focused on what I’m doing. I can’t really think about what’s going to happen in the future.”

In other developments involving the team:

  • Austin Rivers has missed the last two games with a sore right Achilles tendon. The combo guard is listed as questionable to play on Thursday. The club sent him to another specialist just to make sure the injury is not more serious than the original diagnosis, Turner writes in a separate story“I know he was working out the last couple of days and had some discomfort. So they’re going to reevaluate his foot again,” coach and father Doc Rivers said. “I think they are going to send him to another guy and see what’s going on.”
  • The Clippers have managed to hang around in the playoff race despite injuries to several key players. That’s made this a rewarding season thus far for Doc Rivers. “I just love coaching this team,” he told Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register. “There are so many reasons we could have thrown in the towel. [Sunday], we had four of our top six scorers out. We have it over and over again and somebody else steps up. This team is a resilient team.”
  • Earlier today, we asked you for your predictions on how the rest of the Clippers’ 2017/18 season will play out. Join our discussion right here.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers’ Job Seems Safe

Clippers coach Doc Rivers will likely hold onto his job the remainder of the season, multiple sources told USA Today’s Sam Amick. Owner Steve Ballmer feels the team’s rash of injuries has made it difficult to judge Rivers’ performance this season, Amick continues. The team’s top player, power forward Blake Griffin, is out at least a month with an MCL sprain. Point guard Patrick Beverley underwent season-ending knee surgery, while newcomers Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari have barely played because of ailments. “You’ve just got to hang in there,” Rivers told Amick. “People get down on the team. They get down on you. They get down on everybody. That’s what happens, and you can’t waver. You’ve just got to keep doing your job, and the players have to just keep playing.”

Other notable items from Amick’s story:

  • The club is taking calls on center DeAndre Jordan but not actively shopping him. Jordan is expected to opt of the final year of his contract next summer, leaving $24.1MM on the table. The front office believes it can re-sign him, so they’re asking price for any potential deal is high. The market could heat up on December 15th, when many players who signed new contracts last summer are eligible to be dealt. Jordan hired an agent on Monday, which could facilitate trade talks.
  • The team remains committed to building around Griffin, who re-signed with them over the summer. Griffin doesn’t have an opt-out on his massive five-year, $171.1MM deal until the summer of 2021.
  • Productive role players, such as guard Lou Williams, could be dealt for draft picks. The team still has its first-rounder in June but dealt away its 2019 pick.

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Gallinari, Teodosic

While speculation about Doc Rivers‘ job security has subsided somewhat since the team snapped its nine-game losing streak last week, Rivers was asked about it today, and suggested it’s “so easy” to become a target when your team gets hit by injuries and losses start piling up (Twitter link via Arash Markazi of ESPN).

“There’s nothing much I can do about it though,” Rivers said (Twitter link via Markazi). “It’s different than it was 15 years ago. Now people want to place blame right away. Blame me, blame whatever. It’s the way it’s going to work. Who cares? That doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t read it anyway.”

As the Clips prepare for Thursday’s game against Utah, here are a few more notes on the club:

  • While online observers are pushing for the Clippers to undergo a rebuild, that means next to nothing to Rivers, as Markazi tweets. “The day I start answering the internet people is the day I’m an internet person,” Rivers said. “That’s not going to happen. I don’t listen to all that stuff. We’re going to do what’s best for the franchise.”
  • In a piece for The Vertical, Michael Lee makes a case for why Blake Griffin‘s latest injury should have the Clippers mulling the possibility of a drastic move.
  • Although the Clippers are expected to be without Griffin until January, two other injured players – Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic – are making progress and should be back on the court within the next five or 10 games, per Markazi (Twitter link).
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, the Clippers’ panic level should be at about a 7, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

Clippers Notes: Jordan, Rivers, Beverley

As the Clippers descend in the Western Conference standings, center DeAndre Jordan‘s name has become prominent in trade talks. Jordan could hit free agency after this season as he holds a $24MM player option on the original four-year, $88MM pact he signed with the Clippers in 2015.

Any team interested in acquiring Jordan could have difficulty gauging his desire to commit long-term, however, because the 6’11” center is not represented by an agent (per ESPN’s Bobby Marks on Twitter).

Per Marks, it will be hard to do any “backchanneling to see if [Jordan] is a short-term rental or would commit long-term.”

Jordan, 29, is averaging his fewest PPG (10.0) since the 2012/13 season but remains a force on the glass (13.7 RPG) and on defense (1.1 BPG). The Clippers currently hold the 10th seed in the Western Conference with an 8-11 record; the team recently snapped a nine-game skid and is dealing with injuries to Patrick Beverley (knee), Blake Griffin (MCL sprain), Danilo Gallinari (glute) and Milos Teodosic (foot).

The injuries could force a teardown and Jordan would likely be one of the first players traded. However, the All-Star recently told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report that he is focused on being there for his current team despite the poor play and injuries.

“It’s definitely tough, but I can’t give up on my teammates,” Jordan said. “I’ve got to stay positive, and hopefully it will turn around.”

Check out other news surrounding the Clippers below:

  • The aforementioned Beverley is expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery and the Clippers are still reeling from the news, Elliot Teaford of the Orange County Register writes. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself, ever, ever,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “Before the game in Atlanta, I told our guys, ‘I know millions of guys who would trade places right now. Right now, on your worst day, they would trade. So, there’s a lot to be thankful for. You’ve got to keep plugging away.’”
  • Rivers admitted that his fifth season as head coach of the Clippers has been his most challenging, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. However, the former NBA Finals-winning coach said his team still needs to play hard. “I’ve gone through far worse as a coach. … With this group right now, let’s get healthy and let’s see what we’ve got,” Rivers said. “But I love coaching the young guys, too. It’s nice that they get to play.”