Frank Vogel

Rockets Made Run At Frank Vogel For Assistant Job

The Rockets made a run at Frank Vogel earlier this fall in an effort to hire him to Mike D’Antoni‘s coaching staff, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times.

According to Stein, Houston viewed Vogel as a candidate to help fill the void created when defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik retired. Bzdelik has since come out of retirement and rejoined the Rockets, presumably eliminating the need for the organization to hire another assistant.

Vogel, the longtime coach of the Pacers, most recently served as the head coach in Orlando. The Magic fired him this spring, two years after hiring him. Vogel’s contract with the Magic was reportedly a four-year deal, meaning he’s still being paid this season and next season. As such, it makes sense that Vogel would take his time to consider all his options for his next job, rather than accepting an in-season assistant offer from Houston.

While it can’t be attributed entirely to Bzdelik’s return, the Rockets have looked much better on defensively lately than they did at the start of the season. After surrendering 115.6 points per game in their first seven contests, Houston has given up just 96.3 PPG in its last six.

Pistons Notes: Stackhouse, Budenholzer, Armstrong, More

Jerry Stackhouse and Mike Budenholzer are two of the prominent names to look out for in the Pistons’ coaching search, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Detroit parted ways with coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy on Monday. Stackhouse is a former Detroit player and served as the Raptors’ G League coach this past season. Stackhouse met with the Knicks before they hired David Fizdale and also surfaced as a candidate for the Magic and Hornets’ jobs. Budenholzer, the former Hawks coach, is arguably the top experienced head coach on the market. Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin is another name to watch as the Pistons seek a new front office leader, Ellis adds.

Former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, ex-Warriors coach Mark Jackson and ex-Pacers and Magic coach Frank Vogel could also be coaching candidates. Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Chauncey Billups has previously been mentioned as a possible front office candidate, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News notes. Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Cavaliers coach David Blatt are among the other names to watch in the coaching search, Deveney adds.

In other news involving the Pistons-Van Gundy split:

  • Player agent and former Bulls executive B.J. Armstrong could be a candidate for a front-office position, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Armstrong has strong ties to Pistons chairman Arn Tellem and is a Detroit native. Goodwill adds.
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson was blindsided by the news of Van Gundy’s departure, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Jackson told Beard he was “stunned by the whole thing…it’s difficult right now to take the whole thing in.” Fellow point guard Ish Smith told Beard he would miss Van Gundy, adding that “he was really instrumental to my growth as a player.” (Twitter links)
  • Van Gundy’s coaching replacement needs to build the attack around the skills of Blake Griffin, Kevin Pelton of ESPN argues. His front office replacement will have to come up with creative ways to upgrade the roster around him despite salary-cap restraints, Pelton adds.
  • Griffin had some positive things to say about Van Gundy earlier Monday before the news of his departure broke. He made the comments during a podcast, which were relayed by USA Today’s Andrew Joseph“He’s actually a very cool guy. Very nice guy. Funny. And actually genuinely cares about people. That’s kind of rare.”

Suns Plan To Interview Frank Vogel

The Suns plan to interview former Magic head coach Frank Vogel, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Fired by Orlando last week (link), Vogel compiled a record of 54-110 (.329) during his two seasons with the Magic. The Suns obviously hope that they could recreate the success Vogel had in Indiana, where he posted a record of 250-181 (.580) with five playoff appearances during six years as head coach of the Pacers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier tonight that Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer met with the Suns today and yesterday with an imminent deal possible, but Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic relays that GM Ryan McDonough was planning on interviewing multiple candidates, so it’ll be an interesting story to keep an eye on.

Southeast Notes: Budenholzer, Scott, Clifford, Weltman

The Hawks can expect a first-round pick if coach Mike Budenholzer bolts for another team, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Budenholzer, who has two years left on his contract, was granted permission to interview for the Suns job. The Celtics received an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft when the Clippers hired Doc Rivers in 2013, Cunningham notes. The Suns own extra first-round picks in the 2019 and 2021 drafts from previous trades, Cunningham adds.

In other developments around the Southeast Division:

  • Forward Mike Scott has emerged as a key member of the Wizards’ second unit in their playoff series against the top-seeded Raptors, Chase Hughes of notes. Scott was the only productive bench player Washington had in Game 1, as he scored 14 of its 21 points. A productive series would help Scott land a contract this summer. He signed a one-year, $1.47MM deal with the Wizards last summer.
  • Steve Clifford, who was fired as the Hornets coach last week, believes the team didn’t play with the same attitude it showed in previous years. Clifford made the comments during a press conference posted on the team’s website. “We’ve always had spirit. We didn’t have that this year,” he said. “Some games (we did), but not nearly the togetherness and spirit we’ve had in other years. They know that.”
  • The Magic are in no rush to hire a new coach after firing Frank Vogel following the regular season, John Denton of the team’s website reports. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman indicated that during a postseason press conference. “It is something that you’d rather do sooner than later so that we can get a guy in place and have our new staff around so that they can get their arms around our players, develop relationships and develop our young guys,’’ Weltman said. “All of that factors in. It would be better sooner, but as I always say … `we’re going to get it right before we get it fast.’ Hopefully, we can do both on this.’’

Magic Fire Frank Vogel

The Magic are making a change at head coach, announcing today in a press release that they’ve parted ways with Frank Vogel. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report that Vogel has been fired.

“We would like to thank Frank for his contributions to the Orlando Magic,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “We appreciate the sacrifices he made as head coach and certainly wish him and his family well going forward.”

In addition to Vogel, lead assistant coach Chad Forcier and assistants Corliss Williamson and Jay Hernandez have also been let go by the Magic, per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Like Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek, who was also fired once the 2017/18 regular season came to an end, Vogel was hired just two years ago but found himself on the hot seat after his team overhauled its front office during the 2017 offseason. Having been brought aboard by former head of basketball operations Rob Hennigan, Vogel will be replaced by Weltman and new GM John Hammond, who will hire their own candidate in the near future.

After compiling a 250-181 record (.580) with five playoff appearances during six years as the head coach of the Pacers, Vogel was unable to replicate that success in Orlando. His team failed to reach 30 wins in either of his two seasons — overall, the Magic had a 54-110 mark (.329) during Vogel’s tenure.

The Magic will begin a search for a new head coach immediately. Previous reports have linked the franchise to various candidates with Toronto connections — Raptors assistants Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian have been identified as possible targets for Orlando, and Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse has been cited multiple times as a viable candidate. Weltman was the general manager in Toronto before arriving in Orlando.

The Magic are the fifth NBA team known to be seeking a permanent head coach this offseason, joining the Suns, Grizzlies, Bucks, and Knicks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Vogel, Peterson, Morris, Ross

Selfish play has put the Wizards in a tailspin, coach Scott Brooks told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post and other media members. Washington lost to the lottery-bound Hawks on Friday and have fallen to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. “Not passing the ball to one another. Simple as that,” Brooks said. “Nobody wanted to share the basketball (Friday). When you do that you end up taking bad shots. When you take bad shots, you end up missing. Simple game.” The Wizards have also ranked last in defensive field goal percentage since February 28th, Buckner points out.

In other developments around the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic were devastated by injuries this season but that excuse may not be enough for coach Frank Vogel to retain his job, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Vogel has not received a public vote of confidence since the All-Star break and team president Jeff Weltman wouldn’t comment last month on his coach’s job security, Robbins continues. Team CEO Alex Martins was also evasive this weekend when asked Vogel’s status, saying only  “We don’t deal with those issues until the season’s over,” Robbins adds.
  • Buzz Peterson, the Hornets interim GM, is expected to maintain a significant role in the front office under new president and GM Mitch Kupchak, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Peterson had served as the interim GM after Rich Cho was fired. Kupchak was officially hired on Sunday.
  • Wizards forward Markieff Morris was fined $15,000 by the league for “inappropriate comments” toward an official Friday night, according to an ESPN report. Morris made the comments when he was ejected during the first quarter against the Hawks.
  • Magic swingman Terrence Ross returned to action on Sunday night at Toronto after a lengthy absence, Robbins tweets. The former Raptor had not played since November 29th due to a knee injury and a subsequent bone bruise.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, O’Quinn, Vogel, Ntilikina

While wrist and back issues have kept Enes Kanter out of action recently, he’d still like to return to action before the end of the season, suggesting this week that it would be “selfish” to shut himself down to focus on potential offseason free agency. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Kanter will face a decision this summer on an $18MM+ player option for 2018/19, but he’s putting that decision on the back-burner in the hopes of making it back for a couple late-season matchups against the Cavaliers.

“You’re always thinking the business part, but for me basketball comes first,” Kanter said. “We’ve got four games left and the Knicks are still paying me. The Knicks are paying for me to go out there and — if I’m healthy — to go out there to play. So if I feel really good, I’ll go out there and play.

“It’d be really selfish to think about opting in or opting out or thinking about my contract and not playing, giving up on my teammates and my team,” Kanter continued. “It’d be really selfish. For me the Knicks are still paying me, I’m still part of this team. If I’m still healthy I’m just going to go out there and fight.”

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Speaking of Kanter, some opposing executives have come away with the impression that the big man is leaning toward opting out in search of a multiyear deal this summer, says Ian Begley of Begley also examines Kyle O’Quinn‘s impending free agency, exploring how likely New York is to re-sign O’Quinn after he turns down his own player option. According to Begley, Knicks coaches and executives think highly enough of O’Quinn that the club will consider bringing him back, depending on the price.
  • Current Magic head coach Frank Vogel admitted earlier this week that he thought he’d be hired by the Knicks in 2016, and was “surprised” when the team went in another direction, as Barbara Baker of Newsday details. “They said they had one more person they wanted to talk to before they wrapped up the process, and they met with Jeff [Hornacek], and Jeff must’ve blown them away,” Vogel said.
  • Hornacek spoke this week about Frank Ntilikina‘s development, and the next steps for the rookie point guard as he prepares for next season. Brian Lewis has the story and the quotes in an article for The New York Post.

Stein’s Latest: Pistons, Knicks, Bucks, Magic, Suns

Earlier today, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Pistons have expressed interest in Chauncey Billups for a potential front office role, with an eye on possibly pairing him with Arn Tellem in their basketball operations department. The report quickly drew responses from multiple sides — Billups stated that he would “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while a Pistons ownership spokesman simply called the report “false.”

Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) also hears from a source that there’s “nothing whatsoever” to the idea of a Billups/Tellem team-up in the Pistons’ front office, but Stein doubled down on the report in his latest newsletter for The New York Times, citing league sources who say that Detroit has “great interest” in hiring Billups. According to Stein, the Pistons believe they have a real shot to convince Billups to leave his TV job for an executive role.

Stein’s newsletter includes a few more tidbits on coaching and front office situations around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • There’s a growing belief that Knicks GM Scott Perry will want to hire his own hand-picked head coach at season’s end, says Stein. According to Stein, if the club replaces Jeff Hornacek and makes a high-profile hire, Mark Jackson and David Blatt would be among the candidates to watch.
  • With a move to a new arena around the corner, the Bucks may want to make a big splash with their next head coaching hire. League sources tell Stein that Jeff Van Gundy and Kevin McHale are among the names on the Bucks’ list of potential candidates, while Monty Williams and David Fizdale have also been mentioned. Rick Pitino could even get an “exploratory look,” says Stein.
  • There’s a “widely held assumption” in coaching circles that the Magic will replace Frank Vogel, according to Stein, who identifies Nick Nurse, Rex Kalamian, and Jerry Stackhouse as possible targets for Orlando. All three of those coaches are in the Raptors organization, which is where Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman previously worked.
  • While Jay Triano will receive an interview as part of the Suns‘ head coaching search, Stein is hearing buzz that Triano is more likely to be asked to stay on as an assistant. Phoenix wants to explore the college ranks, and Villanova’s Jay Wright is one name that figures to come up during that search, per Stein.

Frank Vogel’s Job In Jeopardy In Orlando?

With the Magic wrapping up another lost season, there’s a sense in Orlando that it could be the last one for coach Frank Vogel, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Vogel is 50-102 in nearly two full years with the Magic, operating against a background of change. The team replaced GM Rob Hennigan and cleared out several other members of the basketball operations department last summer. New team president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond may prefer to select their own coach this offseason.

Neither would comment about the situation to Robbins, but speculation has been growing as Orlando quickly fell out of contention after an 8-4 start. When they assumed their new jobs, Weltman and Hammond said they planned to make this a season of evaluation, both for the roster and the coaching staff. Vogel signed a four-year contract in the summer of 2016, but the fourth season is a team option that hasn’t been exercised.

Robbins notes that the Magic made two important personnel errors that summer that left Vogel with a flawed roster. They traded Victor Oladipo to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka, then gave a four-year, $68MM contract to Bismack Biyombo, giving Vogel an abundance of big men at a time when the league was embracing guard play. Aaron Gordon was forced to play out of position at small forward and never adapted to the position.

The Magic have been hit heavily by injuries this season, with first-round pick Jonathan Isaac missing 47 games and Terrence Ross sitting out 48. Injuries also cost them 23 games for Gordon, 13 for Evan Fournier and 24 for Nikola Vucevic. Vogel has been in a difficult position since he came to Orlando, but even if the front office understands that, it may not be enough to save his job.

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.