Grant Hill

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Mayo, Mejri

Grant Hill has taken over as USA Basketball’s managing director and one of his first tasks is to find a replacement for coach Gregg Popovich. Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that he plans to hire a new coach before the NBA season begins on October 19.

Candidates that have previous experience with USA Basketball will have the upper hand, according to Spears. That group would include Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Wright, Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra and Jeff Van Gundy.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo has reached an agreement with Russia’s Unics Kazan, Sportando relays. Sport-Business.ru was first to report the news. Mayo was banned by the NBA in 2016 for violating the league’s drug program. Mayo has recently played in China.
  • Former Mavericks big man Salah Mejri has reached an agreement with Al Jahra in Kuwait, according to Sportando. Mejri appeared in 204 games with Dallas from 2015-19.
  • In case you missed it, Jarrell Brantley is expected to sign with a Russian team after being waived by the Jazz. Get the details here.

Olympic Notes: Holiday, Middleton, Booker, Hill

The U.S. Olympic team is about to get some reinforcements now that the NBA Finals are over, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. With the Bucks finishing off the Suns Tuesday night, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker are all headed to Tokyo and are expected to be ready when the Americans open Olympic play on Sunday against France.

All three players will bring some welcome firepower to a team that went 2-2 in exhibition play. While they didn’t have the benefit of training with their new teammates, coach Gregg Popovich is confident that it won’t take long for everyone to adjust.

“Chemistry is something that we hope forms quickly,” Popovich said. “These guys get along very well. They haven’t played together but they know each other and they’re very happy to be here. They’ve sacrificed a lot under the circumstances to do this. The chemistry builds day by day, you can’t force that issue. It just happens organically. The three guys that are coming in will blend in as best they can and we’ll try to do a good job coaching-wise to put them in situations where they feel comfortable together.”

There’s more on the Olympics:

  • Despite the difficulty of going from one high-level competition to another, none of the three players in the Finals have any regrets about their Olympic decisions, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic“Yes, there is a component of playing for your country, playing for your family,” Holiday said. “My wife (former soccer star Lauren Cheney) being a two-time Olympian, was is also a factor, but I think not having a break and just feeling like, well, we’re in the Finals, why not just continue playing basketball.”
  • A busy schedule awaits Grant Hill after the Olympics, notes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Hill will replace Jerry Colangelo as managing director of USA Basketball and will have just a few months before qualifying begins for the 2023 Basketball World Cup. Hill won’t be at the Olympics because of limits on personnel that can travel with a team, but he has worked closely with Colangelo to prepare for the new role. “No question, these are big shoes to fill,” Hill said. “Jerry has been incredible. His vision, strategic thinking, his will to make this successful. … I’m amazed at many things I didn’t know about his various contributions to the game of basketball.”
  • Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gobert are the top players to watch in this year’s Games, The Athletic states in its guide to men’s Olympic basketball.

And-Ones: G League, Olympics, NBA Africa, COVID-19

As the league mulls the possibility of a midseason tournament at the NBA level, G League officials are making progress toward finalizing an in-season tournament of their own for the 2021/22 season, sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

According to Fischer, the plan is for the G League’s tournament to be an enhanced version of the event that took place at the league’s annual showcase in 2019. Teams would play a series of 12 or 14 round-robin games leading up to the showcase, then the top four teams would compete in a prize-money tournament at the showcase, while the rest of the NBAGL’s clubs participate in the annual event as usual.

The G League is still working to finalize the format and the reward of its potential fall/winter tournament, which would be labeled as some type of “Cup,” sources tell Fischer.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Team USA officials aren’t counting on any players who participate in the NBA Finals – or even the conference finals – to be available for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. That means getting commitments from certain players whose teams didn’t make the postseason will be a priority for the program, according to Vardon, who points to Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson as two top targets for USA Basketball.
  • The NBA has announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new business investment entity that will oversee the league’s business endeavors in Africa, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Former NBA stars such as Dikembe Mutombo and Grant Hill are among the investors, as the league tries to expand its presence in key African markets.
  • While the worst of COVID-19’s impact on the NBA may be in the rear view, the league isn’t taking anything for granted during its non-bubble postseason, writes Marc Stein of The New York Times. “We’re optimistic that what we’ve been doing will work, but we certainly can’t relax because it’s the playoffs,” said David Weiss, the NBA’s senior VP of player matters. “We have to emphasize that it’s important to keep following the protocols and getting vaccinated.”

Grant Hill To Become Managing Director Of USA Basketball

Basketball legend Grant Hill will succeed Jerry Colangelo as the new managing director of USA Basketball’s men’s team following the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, per a press release issued on Saturday (via The AP’s Tim Reynolds).

Hill, 48, will assume the role with a resume that includes 19 NBA seasons and seven All-Star team selections. He was a member of the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame class and helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity, also an incredible challenge,” Hill said. “I had the good fortune of participating in international play — the Pan American Games, of course the Olympic team — and I have been a fan of Team USA going back to the 1984 Olympic team when I first started to fall in love with basketball. The more I thought about it, the more intrigued, excited and the more willing I was to roll up my sleeves and move forward with this awesome responsibility.”

It will be no easy task for Hill replacing Colangelo, who joined USA Basketball in 2005 as managing director after Team USA won the bronze medal in 2004. The former Suns owner helped shaped the program for years to come, selecting players and coaches to help USA Basketball compete for gold.

For three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012, 2016), Team USA took home gold medals led by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, and will play under current Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich in Tokyo. Hill intends to work closely with Colangelo during the Tokyo Olympics in preparation for taking over the reins.

“I intend to spend an incredible amount of time with Jerry, shadow him some this summer, and I think that experience will certainly help as we move forward,” Hill said. “He’s just an invaluable resource and has done a remarkable job, so you can’t help but learn from someone like Jerry.”

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), talks about Hill succeeding Colangelo had been ongoing for months. NBA commissioner Adam Silver was a “big proponent” of Hill’s candidacy for the position, Wojnarowski adds.

Hill, who has worked as an analyst for Turner Sports covering the NBA and NCAA, will remain in that role after taking over the Team USA job, Reynolds reports. In the meantime, he is focused on the challenge of building and sustaining a winning national team.

“The brain is working,” Hill said.

Ray Allen, 12 Others Selected To 2018 Hall Of Fame Class

Two-time NBA champion and 10-time All-Star Ray Allen was among 13 names selected by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for enshrinement as part of the 2018 Hall of Fame Class.

In his 18-year career, Allen set the record for most three-point field goals made with 2,973 and is ranked sixth on the all-time free throw percentage list with an .894 mark. Allen, 42, was drafted by the Bucks fifth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft and spent his first six-and-a-half seasons in Milwaukee. After a four-and-a-half year run with the then-Supersonics, Allen joined the Celtics, capturing his first of two NBA titles in 2008.

The University of Connecticut product joined the Heat for his final two seasons, capturing his second championship in 2013. Allen sank several clutch treys in Game 6 and Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, leading the Heat to the title.

As we relayed earlier this week, Jason KiddSteve Nash, Grant HillMaurice Cheeks, and Rod Thorn were selected to the Hall of Fame. You can read detailed descriptions of their careers from our February report of 13 finalists being selected for the Hall of Fame.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith,  four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson, long-time Maryland coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Dino Radja, Charlie Scott, Ora Mae Washington, and Rick Welts were also selected.

Hill, Kidd, Nash, Cheeks Headed To Hall Of Fame

2:24pm: Rod Thorn, who spent years as a coach and executive and worked for the league office, will also be inducted, Wojnarowski tweets.

10:55am: Former Sixers point guard Maurice Cheeks will also be inducted this year, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Cheeks was a four-time All-Star and a five-time selection to the All-Defensive Team. He won an NBA title in 1983.

10:33am: Three NBA greats will be part of the Class of 2018 for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Grant Hill, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash have all received notice that they will be among the inductees, although the formal announcement won’t be made until this weekend.

The third pick in the 1994 draft, Hill shared Rookie of the Year honors with Kidd. He was a seven-time All-Star, a first-team all-NBA selection in 1997 and a second-team choice four other times. He was also part of the gold medal team at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Kidd was a 10-time All-Star who is recognized as one of the top point guards of his era. He was a five-time choice to the all-NBA first team and led the league in assists in five seasons. He won Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2008 and captured an NBA title with the Mavericks in 2011.

Nash is one of a handful of players to be named MVP in consecutive seasons. He was an eight-time All-Star, a five-time all-NBA first-team selection and a five-time assists leader. Nash also has a strong presence in international basketball as a former player and current GM for the Canadian national team.

Nash, Kidd, Allen Headline 13 Hall Of Fame Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced 13 finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame in 2018. The list includes six first-time finalists, including likely first-ballot hall-of-famers Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, and Steve Nash, as well as Grant Hill, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith and four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson.

Among the seven other finalists are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, and five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber. Rounding out the list are long-time Maryland coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, 28-year NBA referee Hugh Evans, two-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

The Class of 2018 will be announced on Saturday, March 31 at a press conference in San Antonio prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Let’s now take a look at some more information on the six former NBA stars up for election as players.

  • Steve Nash – Played in the NBA for 19 seasons, earning MVP honors in both 2005 and 2006. An eight-time All-Star and an All-NBA First Team member in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Nash also holds the NBA record for highest career free throw percentage (.904) and had four seasons with a shooting line of .500/.400/.900, the most in NBA history.
  • Jason Kidd – During his 18-year NBA career, he earned All-NBA First Team honors five times and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star while also ranking second on the NBA all-time steals list (2,684) and all-time assists list (12,091).
  • Ray Allen – A two-time NBA Champion, Allen was selected to the All-Star game 10 times during his 18-year career. He is still the all-time NBA leader in three-point field goals made (2,973) and is ranked sixth on the all-time free throw percentage list (.894).
  • Grant Hill – A 19-year NBA veteran, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and a member of the All-NBA First Team in 1997, Hill was also a member of two NCAA national championship teams (1991, 1992) at Duke and a gold medal recipient at the 1996 Olympic Games.
  • Chris Webber –Webber is a five-time NBA All-Star and the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year. He earned All-NBA First Team honors in 2001 and averaged more than 20 points per game for nine consecutive seasons from the mid-90’s to the early 00’s.
  • Maurice Cheeks – A four-time NBA All-Star (1983, 1986-1988) and four-time NBA All-Defensive team selection, Cheeks was also a member of the 1983 NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers.

David Griffin, Joe Dumars On Hawks’ Radar?

Having restructured their front office, the Hawks are in the market for a new top basketball executive, and according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter), league sources suggest that David Griffin and Joe Dumars are expected to emerge as candidates for that job.

Mike Budenholzer had previously served as the president of basketball operations in Atlanta, but relinquished that title and will simply be the club’s head coach going forward. Meanwhile, Wes Wilcox was the Hawks’ general manager, but will now serve as a special advisor to team ownership. Both Budenholzer and Wilcox are expected to have a say in personnel decisions, but the Hawks are on the lookout for someone who will have the final say.

Griffin has emerged as the most popular front office target around the league early in the 2017 offseason. Despite playing a significant role in building the Cavaliers’ roster, the GM is on an expiring deal with the defending champs, and contract talks between the two sides have reportedly stalled. That has opened the door for rival suitors to prepare pitches for Griffin. In addition to the Hawks, the Magic are believed to have the Cavs GM high on their wish list, though those teams won’t be able to talk to him until Cleveland’s season ends.

As for Dumars, the Pistons’ former president of basketball operations stepped down from that role in 2014. During his time in Detroit, he helped lead the club to a 595–536 (.527) regular-season record, 73 postseason wins, and an NBA championship in 2004, and was named Executive of the Year in 2003. In recent years, he has been linked most frequently to the Pelicans’ front office, should New Orleans decide to shake things up.

As Stein observes (via Twitter), Hawks minority owner Grant Hill, who was expected to have a hand in the team’s search for a new executive, has ties to both Griffin and Dumars. Griffin worked in the Suns’ basketball operations department when Hill was in Phoenix as a player, and Dumars played with Hill in Detroit.

Earlier today, Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said that he hopes to have a GM in place before June’s draft, though he has confidence in the current basketball operations department to handle things in the coming weeks. Ressler added that he hopes Wilcox remains with the Hawks in his new role, admitting that the former GM will have many other options around the NBA (all Twitter links via David Aldridge of NBA.com).

Magic Rumors: G. Hill, Wright, Cousins, Hennigan

Shortly after the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan this morning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reported that team officials have interest in pursuing Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms Orlando’s interest in Hill, but tweets that the former Magic forward currently has no plans to leave the Hawks‘ ownership group.

As we wait to see if Hill’s stance changes, here are several more Magic-related notes, with a focus on today’s front office shakeup:

  • Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright is on the Magic‘s preliminary list of potential GM candidates, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski also notes that the leaked white board that went viral last week ultimately didn’t affect Orlando’s decision to replace Hennigan — the team had already decided to move on from him at that point.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Sam Amick of USA Today expressed surprise that the Magic dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry along with Hennigan (Twitter links). Both reporters note that the two men had different voices in the front office, suggesting that Perry would have likely been able to complete a trade for DeMarcus Cousins if Hennigan had been on board with it.
  • Although Hennigan didn’t have a ton of success in Orlando, he remains widely respected around the NBA and will likely have “attractive offers” to choose from when he looks for a new job, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
  • In non-Hennigan news, the Magic‘s D-League affiliate, which will begin play next season, will be called the Lakeland Magic, as Robbins details for The Sentinel.

Magic Fire GM Rob Hennigan

With their offseason now underway, the Magic have started making changes in their front office, firing general manager Rob Hennigan, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). The team also dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).Rob Hennigan vertical

“We appreciate Rob’s efforts to rebuild the team, but feel we have not made any discernible improvement over the last few years specifically,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. “It’s time for different leadership in basketball operations.  We certainly wish Rob and his family well.”

Hennigan was considered to be on the hot seat for much of this season, as his flurry of moves a year ago failed to lead to tangible on-court improvement for the Magic. An eventful 2016 offseason saw Orlando trade for Serge Ibaka, then sign Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin, and Jeff Green in free agency.

The franchise had playoff aspirations to start the year, but lost its opener to the Heat, and never got back above .500. Orlando’s spot in the standings prompted the team to flip Ibaka to the Raptors before February’s trade deadline, and Hennigan and the front office were widely criticized for giving up far more for Ibaka last summer than they got back for him at the deadline.

Hennigan’s seat likely became hotter in recent weeks after a photo taken by Patricio Garino‘s agent that showed an apparent list of Orlando’s offseason targets on a dry-erase board went viral. Hennigan insisted that the leaked white board wasn’t indicative of the Magic’s summer plans, and that it was just a list of possible options for the team, but it wasn’t a great look for a management group that was already under fire.

2016/17 was the fifth straight season that the Magic finished with a losing record, dating back to 2012/13, Hennigan’s first year at the helm. During Hennigan’s five years as Orlando’s GM, the team posted a 132-278 record (.322). The club has employed four different head coaches during that time, never winning more than 35 games in a season or earning a spot in the playoffs.

With Hennigan no longer in the mix in Orlando, the Magic have named Matt Lloyd as the interim general manager, the club confirmed (via Twitter). Lloyd will be in the mix for the permanent job, though he won’t be the only candidate considered.

According to Robbins, Magic officials have interest in Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Robbins adds that Pistons associate GM Pat Garrity and Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk could also be among the executives targeted by Orlando.

There were rumblings earlier this year that Doc Rivers could consider jumping to the Magic in a head coach/president of basketball operations role, but that seems like a long shot — Rivers dismissed the idea at the time. For now, Frank Vogel remains the head coach in Orlando, and he just finished the first year of a four-year contract, so a new GM may be reluctant to make a change unless the Magic are willing to eat a significant chunk of money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.