Fotis Katsikaris

Western Notes: Lakers, Katsikaris, Sikka, Turner, Samanic

After re-adjusting the Anthony Davis trade, the Lakers find themselves with approximately $32MM to spend in free agency. With Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and others available, Los Angeles figures to use the newfound space to pursue one of those premier players.

Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus examined how the team may approach free agency with $32MM at their disposal. Pincus labeled Leonard as the only player who may be worth the sizable investment for the Lakers. Otherwise, the team would be better off spreading the available money around to create a more balanced roster.

Among Pincus’ breakdown includes hypothetical deals – mimicking the 2017 Heat’s trick of signing several players to unlikely incentives – for D’Angelo Russell and a slew of veterans. Whichever way the Lakers elect to go, Pincus notes that pursuit, and possible acquisition of Leonard, remains a realistic outcome.

Check out more Western Conference notes below:

  • After spending one season with the Jazz as an assistant coach, Fotis Katsikaris is headed to Spain to become the new head coach of Herbalife Gran Canaria, as first reported by Eurohoops. Katsikaris is the second Jazz assistant coach to depart this offseason as Antonio Lang recently joined the Cavaliers’ staff.
  • The Spurs are set to bring their 2019 first-round pick, Luka Samanic, stateside after reaching an agreement with his former team Petrol Olimpija Lubiana to release him, according to Sportando. The Croatian forward averaged 8.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG last season.
  • Elston Turner is set to return to the Rockets as a lead assistant coach, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Turner previously spent four years as an assistant with the Rockets under Rick Adelman.
  • The Timberwolves announced the hiring of Robby Sikka as vice president of basketball performance and technology. Per ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter links), Sikka is giving up consulting gigs to focus solely on Minnesota. “Robby’s background and skillset strongly aligns with our desire to be a modern, player-centric organization,” said Timberwolves’ president Gersson Rosas said. “In his new position, Robby will play a key role in the integration of medical, technology, analytics and player development with the goal of improving basketball performance and player wellness.”

Western Notes: James, Batum, Katsikaris, Jones

LeBron James seriously considered joining the Sixers and Rockets before signing with the Lakers. In an extensive interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that was relayed by Dave McMenamin, James addressed a variety of topics, including which teams he considered during free agency.

“I definitely thought long and hard about the possibilities of lining up alongside Ben [Simmons] and [Joel] Embiid or lining up aside [James] Harden and Chris [Paul],” he told Nichols.

The Sixers had the salary-cap space to sign James but the Rockets would have likely required a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers to acquire his services. James also insisted he doesn’t see next season as a rebuilding year for the Lakers.

“We have an opportunity to do something that a lot of people don’t think we can do, and we love the notion of it’s another rebuilding year and we don’t have enough. So that will motivate the guys that we have anyways.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets are actively seeking a defensive-minded player on the trade market and are willing to take on a long-term contract, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN in comments relayed by digital journalist Ben DuBose. Houston would presumably move forward Ryan Anderson, who has two years and $41.7MM left on his deal. The Hornets’ Nicolas Batum would be a logical target, as Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype notes. Batum has three years and $76.7MM remaining on his contract, which includes a player option in the final year.
  • The Jazz have hired Fotis Katsikaris as an assistant to Quin Snyder, the team announced in a press release. Katsikaris becomes the first-ever native Greek NBA assistant coach. He was a head coach in Spain last season and served as head coach of the Greek national team from 2014-16.
  • The Warriors are unlikely to pick up center Damian Jones‘ fourth-year option, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State must make a decision on the $2.3MM option prior to the start of the season. If it’s declined, Jones will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Northwest Notes: Thibodeau, Nurkic, Katsikaris

There is no chance that the Timberwolves trade Karl-Anthony Towns, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes, despite the fact that there’s room for the relationship between he and the front office to improve.

Although that bond is far from irreparable, it pales between that of Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau and All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. Butler, of course, played for Thibodeau as a member of the Bulls and the two share similarly passionate approaches to basketball.

With the 2018/19 season on the horizon, however, Thibodeau will need to find a way to bridge the gap between himself and players on the Timberwolves’ roster that weren’t exposed to him in Chicago, a problem that Krawczynski writes traces back to a lack of communication.

There’s more out of the Northwest this afternoon:

  • The Thunder are hoping to hit big with their two late draft picks, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes, noting that the fact that they’ll fall so late in the draft (No. 53 and No. 57) means they’ll come with less of a financial burden and less pressure to pan out.
  • The Trail Blazers need not rush out and blow up their roster, Bobby Marks of ESPN writes, suggesting that the team shouldn’t be punished for overachieving last season and ultimately getting overpowered in the postseason. Marks also adds that Portland fans can expect a long drawn-out restricted free agency process for Jusuf Nurkic, unless he decides to sign his $4.8MM qualifying offer.
  • The Jazz are “in discussion” to hire Greek coach Fotis Katsikaris to serve as an assistant under Quin Snyder, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. If hired, Katsikaris would fill the void left by Igor Kokoskov. It had been previously reported that Katsikaris had already been hired to a contract but those reports, Woodyard tweets, were premature.