Greg Buckner

Southwest Rumors: Potapenko, Cousins, Mavs Draft, Rockets

Vitaly Potapenko and Greg Buckner are among the assistants named to J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff with the Grizzlies, according to a team press release. Potapenko had been the Cavaliers’ assistant director of player development since 2013, while Buckner is a holdover from last season’s staff. As previously announced, Jerry Stackhouse will also be a top assistant for Bickerstaff. Stackhouse, who coached the Raptors’ G League the past two seasons, interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Chad Forcier, an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Magic the last two seasons, has also joined the staff along with Nick Van Exel and Adam Mazarei.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • DeMarcus Cousins will most likely stay put with the Pelicans but there are three other Western Conference teams where the big man would be a good fit, HoopsHype tweets. The Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs are the most likely landing spots for Cousins if he leaves New Orleans, HoopsHype adds.
  • A draft night trade with the Bulls might make sense for the Mavericks, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Dallas owns the No. 5 pick with Chicago slotted at No. 7. If Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young go a little higher than anticipated, the Mavs could move down and either Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter or Jaren Jackson would still be on the board, Cowlishaw points out.
  • Rockets fans should lower their expectations of potentially landing LeBron James or Paul George and simply hope GM Daryl Morey can upgrade a  luxury-tax team with precious few young assets, Sean Deveney of Sports Illustrated opines. Giving Chris Paul a max contract will be a tough pill but one they’ll have to swallow to remain a prime contender, Deveney adds.

Southwest Notes: Smith Jr., Green, Bickerstaff

The Mavericks were without rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. tonight and will likely be without him through the weekend, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.

According to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, the 20-year-old injured his hip after getting tangle up with a baseline camera man. While the injury doesn’t appear to be serious, Dallas has been particularly cautious with Smith Jr.’s health this season.

Through 23 games with the Mavericks this season, Smith Jr. has averaged 14.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He missed two contests already this season back in October.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies don’t have a permanent head coach yet but just hired former NBA player Greg Buckner to serve as an assistant, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes. Buckner worked alongside interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff in Houston and played for the Grizz in 2008/09.
  • The Grizzlies don’t need JaMychal Green to be a star but they do need him to establish himself as a plus defender, Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal writes. Green looked particularly impressive on that side of the ball in the team’s streak-busting win over the Timberwolves this week.
  • In the same article for The Commercial Appeal, Chris Herrington writes that the Grizzlies have been slower on offense than before J.B. Bickerstaff took over as head coach. Another difference than under David Fizdale‘s watch is that the Grizz are shooting fewer threes but at a higher clip.