Harold Ellis

Pistons Announce Front Office Additions, Promotions

The Pistons have announced a series of additions to their basketball operations department, confirming a pair of hires that had been previously reported. Here are those new additions and their titles, per the team:

  • Harold Ellis, pro personnel evaluator
  • Ryan West, pro personnel evaluator
  • Britta Brown, senior director of basketball administration
  • Tony Leotti, senior director of strategy and systems
  • Michael Lindo, director of player and family engagement

The hirings of Ellis and West in the scouting department were first reported last month by The Athletic. Ellis was previously the director of player personnel for the Knicks, while West – the son of NBA legend Jerry West – held the same role with the Lakers up until 2019.

According to the Pistons, Brown will oversee team operations and logistics, assisting in day-to-day management of the department; Leotti will assist the team with salary cap oversight and overall strategy; and Lindo will assist Pistons players and their families off the court.

Detroit also announced a handful of promotions, including Gregg Polinsky to senior director of player personnel, Dan Rosenbaum to senior director of analytics, and Eric Tellem (the son of Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem) to director of pro scouting.

The front office changes are among the first moves made by new general manager Troy Weaver, who was hired by the Pistons to run the basketball operations department earlier this year.

Pistons Adding Harold Ellis, Ryan West To Scouting Department

The Pistons are hiring Harold Ellis and Ryan West as scouts, sources tell James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). The moves come as part of a front office shakeup that has already included the hiring of Troy Weaver as GM and David Mincberg as an assistant GM.

It’ll be a reunion for Ellis, who previously served as an assistant coach for the Pistons in 2008/09 and was later a scout for the club. Since then, he has held a director of pro scouting position with the Magic and a director of player personnel role with the Knicks. Ellis was with New York up until this year, when the team reshaped its own front office following the dismissal of Steve Mills and the hiring of Leon Rose.

West, the son of NBA legend Jerry West, joined the Grizzlies under his father as a scout back in 2002. He later took on a similar role with the Lakers before being promoted to assistant director of scouting in 2012 and then to director of player personnel in 2015. The younger West parted ways with the Lakers a year ago and did some work with the Clippers during the 2019/20 season, albeit not in a formal capacity.

The Pistons have yet to make any formal announcements about Ellis and West, so it’s not clear yet whether they’ll receive titles similar to the player personnel ones they held with the Knicks and Lakers, respectively.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Ntilikina, Front Office

As a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Mitchell Robinson came cheaper than a first-rounder, but his contract could create some complications if and when the Knicks look to extend him, as Mike Vorkunov and Danny Leroux of The Athletic explore.

Robinson has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2020/21 and a minimum-salary team option for 2021/22, making him a great bargain for the next two years. However, if the Knicks wait until the end of that four-year deal to try to re-sign him, Robinson will be eligible for unrestricted free agency and could sign with any team.

On the other hand, if the Knicks were to turn down Robinson’s fourth-year option and negotiate a new deal in the ’21 offseason, he’d be a restricted free agent, giving the team the opportunity to match any offer sheet he may sign.

As Vorkunov and Leroux observe, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets found themselves in a similar situation a couple years ago, and Denver opted to lock up its star center after his third year, significantly increasing his fourth-year cap hit but avoiding the risk of unrestricted free agency. Robinson isn’t on Jokic’s level, but it still may make sense for the Knicks to take a similar approach with their young big man to ensure they don’t lose him after his fourth year.

For now, Leroux estimates that Robinson might cost about $15MM per year on his next contract, but cautions the 22-year-old’s value could substantially increase or decline depending on his performance over the next year or so.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the above-linked piece, Vorkunov and Leroux discuss what Frank Ntilikina‘s next contract might look like, given his defensive strengths — and his offensive shortcomings. While they cite Dante Exum as one point of comparison, the Athletic’s duo notes that Exum’s three-year, $28.8MM deal with Utah ended up being an overpay. Leroux expects Ntilikina – a restricted free agent in 2021 – to get less than that.
  • In his latest mailbag, Ian Begley of SNY.tv examines how changes to the salary cap projection for 2020/21 might affect the Knicks, while also addressing the team’s coaching situation and a few other topics.
  • Nothing has been finalized yet, but sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that Knicks executives Craig Robinson, Gerald Madkins, and Harold Ellis are unlikely to be retained by new president of basketball operations Leon Rose.
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks are finalizing a pair of front office deals, with the team set to hire Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin as assistant general managers.

Knicks Notes: Perry, Rose, Smith Jr., Coaching Search

The Knicks are bringing back general manager Scott Perry for another season, but the fate of his staff won’t be determined until this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Perry and the team had a May 1 deadline on their mutual option, so new president of basketball operations Leon Rose had to make a decision this week. However, Perry’s staff all have contracts that run through August, so Rose will take more time to evaluate each of them.

Those staff members include personnel director Harold Ellis, assistant GM Gerald Madkins, scout Fred Cofield and capologist Michael Arcieri, and Berman notes that none of them are guaranteed to remain with the team. He adds that Perry will have input into Rose’s future hires for the scouting department.

Perry has a long relationship with NBA mogul William Wesley, who Berman believes is providing behind-the-scenes advice to Rose. Perry’s new contract runs for one season, and he will likely get the chance to earn a longer deal based on his decisions going forward.

There’s more from New York:

  • Keeping Perry around will provide continuity for the Knicks heading into the draft and the offseason, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Perry has spent the past three years with the organization and worked closely with former team president Steve Mills before he was fired in early February.
  • The decision to dismiss Mills right before the trade deadline probably postponed plans to trade Dennis Smith Jr., Ian Begley of SNY.tv states in a mailbag column. A source tells Begley that some people in the organization thought it was a “near certainty” Smith was going to be moved. Begley believes injuries and the death of a family member led to Smith’s regression this year and suggests he might be better off with another team, possibly the Magic, who reportedly expressed interest before the deadline.
  • Begley expects Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy to get consideration in the upcoming coaching search. Several agents and coaches told Begley they believe Rose will hire Tom Thibodeau if he doesn’t keep interim coach Mike Miller in place. Begley adds that Kentucky’s John Calipari shouldn’t be dismissed as a candidate, even though he has stated that he’s not interested in the job.

Knicks Won’t Pursue Front Office, Coaching Moves During Hiatus

New Knicks president Leon Rose is not looking into any front office changes during the hiatus, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

With an unofficial hiring and firing freeze around the league, Rose continues to lean on GM Scott Perry, assistant GM Gerald Madkins and director of player personnel Harold Ellis for draft preparations. Perry is expected to remain in his position at least through the draft, Berman continues.

The Knicks possess two first-round picks in this year’s draft — their own, plus the Clippers — as well as the Hornets second-rounder.

A report surfaced on Wednesday that the Knicks might target Sixers GM Elton Brand to replace Perry but a separate report indicated Philadelphia has no desire to let Brand leave.

The Knicks have also put a potential head coaching search on hold during the NBA’s stoppage, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports. Rose gained a positive impression of interim coach Mike Miller during the short time games were being played after Rose officially was named to his current position.

Knicks Notes: Front Office, Dotson, Perry

The Knicks announced a series of hires for the team’s front office on Tuesday, which included Gerald Madkins (assistant general manager), Craig Robinson (vice president, player development and G-League operations), Harold Ellis (director, player personnel), Michael Arcieri (director, basketball strategy) and Fred Cofield (scout). Clarence Gaines Jr. will remain with the team as a scout as well.

“Last month, the day after I was hired, I started a full evaluation of the entire basketball operations staff,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a press release. “My first goal was to build-up the highest level front office in the NBA. We are adding a host of highly-regarded and respected basketball people to work with the Knicks to fortify the franchise for years to come.”

Madkins and Cofield both have ties to the Knicks organization, whereas Ellis and Arcieri worked on Perry’s staff in Orlando. Robinson, the brother-in-law of former president Barack Obama, had a prominent role in the Bucks’ front office before joining New York. As ESPN’s Ian Begley notes (via Twitter), Gaines was hired by since-departed president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines with the team’s decision to draft Kristaps Porzingis.

Read below notable tidbits of news surrounding the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Perry has been able to come in the Knicks’ front office and make the personnel moves he desires. Creating a staff of preferred people was reportedly one of the hurdles that kept former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin from coming to New York, so Perry seems to have at least some power in the early stages of his Knicks tenure.
  • Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), Damyean Dotson is the fourth second-round pick in 2017 to sign a contract worth over $1MM for the coming season. Dotson’s deal guarantees him $1.1MM in 2017/18 and $1.4MM in 2018/19. As for the $1.6M salary in 2019/20, it is non-guaranteed with trigger dates during the season to guarantee it.

Eastern Rumors: Griffin, Yabusele, Teodosic, Magic

The Cavaliers did not grant GM David Griffin permission to interview for front office jobs with the Magic and Hawks, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The Magic were interested in hiring Griffin as President of Basketball Operations and had discussions with him but were not allowed to formally interview him and ultimately decided to hire Raptors GM Jeff Weltman, Windhorst continues. The Hawks are looking for an new GM. Griffin’s contract expires at the end of July and has been negotiating with team owner Dan Gilbert, Windhorst adds.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics forward Amir Johnson is questionable for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals because of a shoulder injury, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. Johnson played only nine minutes in Game 3. Jonas Jerebko, who scored 10 points in 12 minutes in Boston’s victory at Cleveland, could replace him in the starting lineup, ESPN’s Chris Forsberg tweets.
  • Celtics first-rounder Guerschon Yabusele recently had surgery to remove bone spurs in both feet and will not be available for summer-league games, a source told Forsberg. The 6’8” draft-and-stash prospect, who was chosen with the No. 16 pick last June, spent much of last season in China before joining the Celtics’ D-League team, the Maine Red Claws, in March. Yabusele appeared in seven D-League games and averaged 12.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 27.3 MPG.
  • The Nets will have stiff competition from the Nuggets and Jazz for the services of Euroleague point guard Milos Teodosic, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets are among several teams scouting Teodosic, who plays for CSKA Moscow, and he’s their top free-agent priority, Lewis continues. The Nuggets already have a Serbian connection to Teodosic in Nikola Jokic, his national teammate. The Jazz will have a point guard need if George Hill leaves in free agency and coach Quin Snyder is a former CSKA assistant, Lewis adds.
  • The Magic parted ways with several front office members, including Director of Pro Scouting Harold Ellis, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets.

Southeast Rumors: Magic, Wizards, Sichting

Orlando is once again the center of the NBA universe as the Magic are reportedly working on yet another Dwight Howard trade. Sam Amick of SI.com provided an update earlier on the talks, and in his story he passed along a few comments from Magic CEO Alex Martins on how the team will proceed with Howard. 

"We have very specific goals as to what we would hope to achieve if we were to trade Dwight, OK?" Martins said. "We acknowledge and are realistic about the fact that you're never going to get equal value in return for Dwight Howard. But if we were to trade him, we have three primary goals that we're trying to achieve and in the end, any deal that's proposed to us I think we've been very clear about the fact about the goals of what we're trying to achieve."

Martins didn't specify what the three goals are, but said the team hasn't delineated from its plan, and added that the ability to acquire "the right combination of pieces" in return for Howard will determine whether they make a deal. We've got more on the Magic and the rest of the Southeast Division here:

  • The Wizards have hired Jerry Sichting as an assistant coach, the team reports on its website. Sichting has 24 years of NBA experience as a player, assistant coach, and front office executive, but spent last season coaching Martinsville High School, his alma mater, in Indiana.
  • Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News tweets that Harold Ellis, director of pro personnel for the Pistons, is jumping to the Magic to work in a similar capacity. He follows Scott Perry, who left the Pistons in June to become Orlando's assistant GM.
  • Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com doesn't think the latest Howard deal makes sense for the Magic (Twitter link). Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com also looks at what each side might get in the deal, and believes the Sixers are the only team that would benefit. The deal remains fluid, though, and some of the players currently said to be part of the deal may not be included.