Ime Udoka

Latest On Kings Coaching Search

THURSDAY, 5:34pm: McMillan intends to wait until the Pacers’ playoff run is over before interviewing for the Kings’ post, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

6:50pm: There has been no official contact yet, but the Kings are also interested in former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, reports Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter links). The interest is mutual, Amick says.

WEDNESDAY, 10:19am: Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton and Kings GM Vlade Divac are expected to meet to discuss Sacramento’s head coaching vacancy, likely after Golden State’s first-round playoff series with Houston, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Walton is “extremely fond” of Divac, who was briefly his Lakers teammate, and the location of Sacramento is increasingly appealing to Walton, who is fond of life in Northern California and has several close relatives in the Sacramento area, Voisin writes. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Monday that no team had asked permission to interview his top assistant, but Voisin reported Tuesday that Walton was among the coaches to whom the Kings had reached out.

Divac is especially interested in Walton, Spurs assistant Ettore Messina and NBA coaching veterans Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, but he’s planned to speak with several others. Divac is inquiring about the interest of Monty Williams, Jeff Van Gundy, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka and at least two college coaches, among other names previously reported as Kings coaching targets, Voisin relays. The Kings are poised to interview Sam Mitchell, Vinny Del Negro and Mike Woodson, according to reports. Mitchell’s interview is to take place today, a source told The Bee’s Jason Jones.

Sacramento has natural appeal to Brooks, who’s from the nearby city of French Camp, California, but Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported last week that he’s not interested in coaching the Kings, with the Wizards apparently the front-runner for the former Thunder head coach. Thibodeau and Van Gundy, apparent co-favorites for the Timberwolves job, don’t want to coach Sacramento either, according to Wojnarowski.

The Kings have reached out to Messina, as Voisin reported previously, though Messina and fellow Spurs assistant Udoka are busy with the playoffs. Both were reportedly candidates for the Nets vacancy, with Udoka the apparent front-runner at one point before the job instead went to Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson, who also reportedly drew interest from the Kings.

Williams is a Thunder assistant but has been away from the team since his wife died in February. He won’t rejoin the team for the playoffs and, as The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater hears, he’s not expected to return to Oklahoma City for next season, either. Top free agent Kevin Durant has a close bond with Williams, the former Pelicans head coach.

Kevin McHale, Mark Jackson, David Blatt, Jeff Hornacek, Patrick Ewing, Nate McMillan and Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga are the other candidates in whom the Kings are reportedly interested. Sources who spoke with Marc Stein of ESPN.com have speculated that Heat assistant David Fizdale and former Cavs and Lakers coach Mike Brown could become Kings candidates as well.

Which of the many names mentioned here do you like best for the Kings? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Ime Udoka Leading Candidate For Nets Job?

10:59am: Sources tell NetsDaily they believe Udoka is the leading candidate. It appears the team is poised to formally cut ties with Tony Brown and his assistant coaches as well as several long-time staffers as Marks plans to hire as many as 10 new staff members, NetsDaily also hears (All Twitter links).

8:25am: Brett Brown, who reportedly isn’t assured of keeping his job with the Sixers, along with Luke Walton, Mark Jackson, Vinny Del Negro and Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney are also in the mix for the Nets job, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The prospect of Brown having the interim tag removed and staying in the head coaching job is no more than a long shot, Lewis adds. Lewis also suggests the Nets still have Mike Conley atop their list of free agent targets.

4:01pm: Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson has been mentioned as a possibility for the Nets’ coaching vacancy, and he and Marks share the same agent, Mazzeo tweets.

3:00pm: The increasing belief in coaching circles is that neither Tom Thibodeau nor David Blatt will be a candidate for the job, but the search is only just beginning, writes Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com.

12:47pm: The Nets have interest in NBA coaching veteran Jeff Van Gundy and Spurs assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka for their head coaching job, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Tony Brown is Brooklyn’s head coach on an interim basis, though it’s unclear whether he’ll have a legitimate shot to remain in the position for next season.

Van Gundy’s name frequently comes up in connection to NBA coaching jobs even though he hasn’t coached an NBA team since the 2006/07 season, his last with the Rockets. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News speculated shortly before the team hired GM Sean Marks in February that Messina would become a candidate if the team indeed brought aboard Marks, who was then serving as a Spurs executive. Marks’ tie to the Spurs also explains the interest in Udoka, who was key to the recruitment of former teammate LaMarcus Aldridge this past summer. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has often talked about attracting stars to Brooklyn, and the team has no shortage of cap flexibility for the summer ahead.

Many New York fans still have fond memories of Van Gundy from his time as coach of the crosstown Knicks from 1996-2001, and he’s maintained a high profile as a broadcaster for ABC and ESPN. He reportedly interviewed for the Pelicans head coaching vacancy last year.

Messina has worked for Prokhorov before, when Prokhorov was the owner of CSKA Moscow and Messina was leading the team to two Euroleague championships as head coach. The Spurs hired Messina as an assistant two years ago, and he also served as a coaching consultant for the Lakers in 2011/12, but much of his reputation comes from overseas, where he was one of the most successful coaches in Euroleague history. The Thunder reportedly made him a candidate for their head coaching job a year ago.

Udoka is a veteran of eight NBA seasons as a player, and his last playing contract was with the Nets, who signed him in the 2011 preseason and cut him before opening night. The Spurs hired him as an assistant coach the following summer.

And-Ones: Euroleague, Aldridge, Huertas

For the first time on North American soil, two Euroleague powerhouses will go head to head when Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and three-time European champs EA7 Emporio Armani Milan meet this fall. As Maccabi announced recently, the two squads will play at Chicago’s United Center on October 1st before heading to Madison Square Garden on October 4th.

Adding some intrigue to the games, Hoops Rumors has learned that it is very likely that Dragan Bender, whom Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress projects as a top-five pick in the 2016 draft, will be making the trip to the U.S. The Croatian star, who is signed to Adidas, did not take center stage at the Nike-run U19 World Championship games in June, but he’ll now get his chance to shine in NBA territory. Bender, who doesn’t turn 18 until November, has been wowing scouts for a long time with his play for Maccabi’s junior squad.

Euroleague teams have played exhibition games against NBA clubs in the past, but American fans will now be treated to one of Europe’s premier basketball rivalries. In 2014, Maccabi downed Milan in a playoff series to advance to the Final Four and eventually win the Euroleague title. In 1987 and 1988, Milan beat Maccabi in back-to-back championship games that featured legends such as Bob McAdoo and Mike D’Antoni, among others.

Here’s more NBA-related news:

  • The key to perhaps the most significant free agent coup of the summer was Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka, who “got the deal done” between LaMarcus Aldridge and the team, Aldridge tells USA Today’s Sam Amick. Udoka, a long-ago teammate of Aldridge’s with the Trail Blazers, took a flight with the power forward after San Antonio’s pitch meeting and cleared some of the doubts in his mind as he weighed the Spurs against signing with the Suns. “Everybody was making this big fuss about how I’m not going to be able to take shots anymore, or be the scorer that I am, and he was just telling me, ‘We need a guy to score down there. Tim [Duncan] is older, and we need a guy to command a double team down there,’” Aldridge said in part. “So I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not a Spur, because I’ve been averaging 23 [points per game] for the last three to four years, and maybe I don’t fit into y’all’s system of let’s all average 17 [points per game].’ And he was like, ‘No, we’re not trying to change who you are and make you average 16 or 17. We want you to be you, because you’re going to help us be better and vice versa.’ He kind of reaffirmed that they didn’t want to change me, and that who I am is OK.”
  • Point guard Marcelo Huertas, who had planned a jump to the NBA this season and had been expected to draw significant interest, has instead agreed to sign with Galatasaray of Turkey, according to the team (Twitter link; hat tip to Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). Agent Gerard Darnes late last month denied reports that Huertas had a deal with the team at that point, though it appears that’s now the case.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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