Ime Udoka

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Crabbe, Clarkson, Sixers

The Celtics have reached an agreement to add another new assistant coach to Brad Stevens‘ staff, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team is bringing aboard Kara Lawson. A former WNBA and Olympic champion, Lawson has worked as a TV analyst for the Wizards for the last three years.

According to Wojnarowski, Lawson had talked to multiple NBA teams in recent years about possible coaching roles, but was convinced to accept an offer from the Celtics based on the opportunity to work with Stevens.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Allen Crabbe, who will be a member of the Hawks once their trade with Brooklyn becomes official in July, was arrested in Los Angeles on a DUI charge on Wednesday, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Since the trade hasn’t technically been finalized, the Hawks can’t yet comment on Crabbe’s arrest.
  • Jordan Clarkson has hired a new agent, becoming the latest member of the Cavaliers to sign with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports for representation, reports Joe Vardon of The Athletic (via Twitter). Klutch also reps Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Darius Garland.
  • The Sixers officially announced in a press release that they’ve hired Ime Udoka and Joseph Blair as assistant coaches. The hiring of Udoka, who comes over from San Antonio, was reported during the first week of June.
  • Revisiting the circumstances surrounding the KnicksKristaps Porzingis trade, Sam Amick of The Athletic writes that Porzingis threatened to return to Spain to rehab his ACL injury if New York didn’t move him. A source tells Amick that Porzingis was aware he’d be fined if he made that decision without the team’s permission, but was ready to deal with the consequences.

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Knicks, Celtics

As we relayed earlier this week, new Sixers coach Ime Udoka is replacing Monty Williams as lead assistant coach under head man Brett Brown. Unlike Williams, however, Idoka will also be tasked with being the team’s new defensive coordinator next season, writes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic.

Udoka has interviewed unsuccessfully for some head coaching positions over the last couple offseasons in Cleveland, Toronto, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando, but this new position for the Sixers will still be a promotion for him, as Ettore Messina is the lead assistant in San Antonio.

Getting the opportunity to be a lead assistant may very well increase Udoka’s chances of landing a head coaching role in the near future, especially considering the success that Brown’s other assistants for the Sixers like Lloyd Pierce (Hawks) and Williams (Suns) have had when they had the opportunity to interview for top jobs.

In the meantime, Udoka will oversee a defense that largely underperformed during the 2018/19 season given the talent on the Sixers’ roster.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division this afternoon:

Sixers To Hire Ime Udoka As Lead Assistant

Both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium are reporting that the Sixers are hiring longtime Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka as head coach Brett Brown‘s lead assistant in Philadelphia, replacing new Suns’ head coach Monty Williams.

Udoka, 41, interviewed for the head-coaching job in Cleveland this spring before the position ultimately went to ex-Michigan head coach John Beilein. He reportedly came across as “very sharp” during his interview.

Udoka, who has been on the staff of Gregg Popovich for the past seven years, played seven seasons in the NBA for the Spurs, Trail Blazers, Kings, Knicks and Lakers. He last played in the NBA in 2011, and he’s coached in the NBA since 2012, after finishing his playing career with a brief stint in Spain playing for UCAM Murcia.

Avery Johnson was reportedly among the candidates to interview for the lead role on Brown’s staff. Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Will Hardy is expected to take a more prominent role on Popovich’s staff in the wake of Udoka’s departure, per Wojnarowski.

Cavaliers Notes: Messina, Udoka, Fernandez

The Cavaliers‘ meeting with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is taking place today, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).

As we detailed last week, Messina will become the second assistant on San Antonio’s staff to interview for Cleveland’s head coaching job this spring, joining Ime Udoka. Udoke “came across as very sharp” during his interview on Sunday, Fedor writes in a Cleveland.com mailbag.

As Fedor explains in that same mailbag, the Cavaliers appear unlikely to interview Becky Hammon, a third assistant from the Spurs’ staff. In Fedor’s view, that’s because Messina and Udoka are lead assistants in San Antonio and are more ready to take the next step to a head coaching role. It’s the same reason Fedor believes Cleveland is unlikely to hire Jordi Fernandez, who is further down in the pecking order on the Nuggets’ staff than most of the other candidates the Cavs are interviewing.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • While Fernandez may not end up being the Cavaliers’ choice for head coach, it would make for a good story if he is. Joe Vardon of The Athletic explains why, with an in-depth look at Fernandez’s coaching journey and his deep ties to Ohio.
  • Within his mailbag, Fedor observes that the Cavaliers will have limited resources available to add pieces to their roster this offseason. However, if they’re able to acquire outside help, the Cavs need to prioritize shooting and/or rim protection, according to Fedor.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examines the Cavaliers’ roster situation and potential draft needs, outlining why he thinks the team should draft R.J. Barrett over Ja Morant if given the opportunity.

Cavs To Meet With Spurs Assistant Udoka

The Cavaliers will interview Spurs assistant Ime Udoka this weekend for their head coaching vacancy, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Udoka was a candidate for the Pistons’ head coaching job last summer before Detroit owner Tom Gores chose Dwane Casey.

Udoka joins a growing list of possible replacements for Larry Drew, who mutually agreed to part ways with the organization after the season.

Former Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff interviewed for the position on Tuesday and Jazz assistant coach and former Canton Charge assistant Alex Jensen was interviewed on Friday. Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley sat down with Cleveland’s brass last week. Nuggets assistants Jordi Fernandez and Wes Unseld Jr. are also expected to be interviewed.

Kenny Smith Still In Running For Pistons’ HC Job

The Pistons‘ list of finalists for their head coaching position lost one name on Wednesday when John Beilein announced that he’ll remain at the University of Michigan, but another name has emerged, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. Stein reports (via Twitter) that TNT’s Kenny Smith is in Detroit’s top tier of candidates and is meeting with owner Tom Gores.

Dwane Casey remains the leading candidate to replace Stan Van Gundy as the Pistons’ head coach, according to Stein, and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka is still in the mix too. However, the club is “intrigued” by Smith’s candidacy after interviewing him last week, and hasn’t ruled him out yet, Stein tweets.

Smith, who was a player in the NBA from 1987 to 1997 and has now been with Turner Sports for two decades, doesn’t have any NBA coaching experience. However, this is the second time this spring that a team has considered him for a head coaching job. Smith also met with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy before they hired David Fizdale.

Gores reportedly met with Casey on Tuesday and Udoka today. It’s not clear when the Pistons will sit down with Smith. Beilein met with Gores back in May, but withdrew from consideration for Detroit’s head coaching job and has reportedly agreed to a new deal with the Wolverines.

Latest On Raptors’ Coaching Search

The Raptors plan to trim their group of coaching candidates down to three finalists in the next seven to 10 days, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.

Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is expected to be on the list, along with longtime Raptors assistant Nick Nurse, according to Grange. He expects the other finalist to be Sarunas Jasikevicius, who briefly played in the NBA and has become one of Europe’s top coaching propects.

Jasikevicius, who serves as head coach of EuroLeague team Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, interviewed with Raptors president Masai Ujiri over the weekend at the NBA Global Camp in Italy.

Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, who is among the finalists for the Pistons’ head coaching vacancy, may also get consideration from the Raptors, Grange adds.

Toronto hopes to hire a new coach by the end of the month, and Nurse should be considered the front-runner, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports, who adds that several outside candidates are still being considered. Nurse is viewed highly by the front office after revamping the Raptors’ offense heading into this season.

The organization may talk to some more candidates before a final decision is made, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Latest On Pistons’ Head Coaching Search

The Pistons are still considering former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, Michigan coach John Beilein, and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka for their head coaching vacancy, as we heard on Monday. When we asked Hoops Rumors readers this morning about who would become the next head coach in Detroit, we passed along a note on Casey from Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who said the ex-Raptors coach exceeded expectations and was “impressive” in his interview.

Ellis has more updates on the Pistons’ search for a new head coach, so let’s dive in…

  • Casey wasn’t the only candidate who had a very strong interview. Ellis tweets that Udoka also impressed the Pistons’ search team and emerged as a serious option for the club.
  • According to Ellis, Udoka will meet with Pistons owner Tom Gores on Wednesday in Los Angeles, while Casey will meet with Gores today. Beilein previously met with Gores prior to last months’ Memorial Day weekend, so a second sit-down with ownership has been deemed unnecessary, per Ellis, who clarifies that the Michigan coach is definitely still in the running.
  • A source tells Ellis that the Pistons will likely fill their head coaching opening before they hire a new head of basketball operations. While that would mean the new GM wouldn’t get a say on the coaching hire, the Pistons have a strong group leading the coaching search, with special advisor Ed Stefanski, vice chairman Arn Tellem, and ownership representative Bob Wentworth involved.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News says (via Twitter) that he’s getting “more and more indications” that Casey is the frontrunner for the Pistons’ job. Our readers seem to agree — Casey has received nearly 69% of the votes in this morning’s poll on which candidate will become Detroit’s next head coach.

Pistons Want More Talks With Casey, Beilein, Udoka

9:35pm: Spurs assistant Ime Udoka also remains on the short list and the Pistons are making plans to advance the three candidates to meet with owner Tom Gores, according to Wojnarowski.

6:04pm: The Pistons would like to have additional conversations with former Raptors coach Dwane Casey and current Michigan coach John Beilein regarding their head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Both coaches have already met with Detroit’s front office, Wojnarowski adds.

This suggests that the duo may be emerging as the top candidates for the position, despite their very different resumes. Casey was named NBA Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association after guiding the Raptors to the Eastern Conference’s best record, then was abruptly fired after Toronto was swept by the Cavaliers during the conference semifinals.

Casey, who had coached the Raptors since 2011, was the winningest coach in team history, leading the club to a 373-307 (.549) regular season record. He had one year left on his contract with Toronto, worth $6MM.

Beilein has been a long-time college coach and led the Wolverines to the NCAA title game before they fell to heavily favored Villanova. Beilein has compiled a 248-143 record in 11 years at Michigan, including two trips to the Final Four.

Newly hired special advisor Ed Stefanski said that hiring a new head coach was a priority over hiring another front office executive. Stan Van Gundy held the positions of head coach and president of basketball operations before he was fired last month. GM Jeff Bower was let go last week.

Former Bucks coach Jason Kidd, Spurs assistants Becky Hammon and Ime Udoka, Heat assistant Juwan Howard, and TNT broadcaster Kenny Smith have also been connected to the position.

Pistons Part Ways With GM Jeff Bower

The Pistons have decided to cut ties with GM Jeff Bower, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Bower was hired to be Stan Van Gundy’s right-hand man when he took charge four summers ago. Owner Tom Gores fired Van Gundy last month and is currently conducting a search for a coach and front-office executive.

Ed Stefanski was hired last week as a senior advisor in charge of overhauling the team’s basketball operations. Van Gundy served as both head coach and president of basketball operations but Gores now wants separation between the two jobs.

Bower had continued his duties after Van Gundy’s departure but his contract was expiring at the end of June and Gores had to make a decision whether to retain him or move on.

Searches to fill the coaching and front office vacancies are ongoing.

On the coaching front, the team has lined up or already interviewed TNT analyst Kenny Smith, Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, Michigan coach John Beilein and former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

Nets assistant Trajan Langdon , TNT analyst Brent Barry, Hawks executive Malik Rose, Grizzlies assistant Tayshaun Prince and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups are among the candidates for the front-office job.