Ime Udoka

Nets Notes: Nash, D’Antoni, Udoka

Newly-hired Nets coach Steve Nash discussed a number of topics related to the upcoming season with Steve Serby of the New York Post, including the pressure he could face as a first-year head coach, the team’s championship aspirations and more.

Nash doesn’t hold any prior coaching experience, though he’s set to bring in coaches such as Jacque Vaughn (lead assistant), Mike D’Antoni (longtime NBA head coach) and Ime Udoka (veteran NBA assistant) for his first season. The team also hired Nash’s former teammate, Amar’e Stoudemire, as a player development assistant last month.

“Not championship or bust, but we’re playing for a championship, that’s our goal,” Nash said when asked if he’s approaching this season with a championship or bust mentality. “I think it’s silly, the championship or bust, you never know. You have to have health, you have to have luck to win a championship. It’s not as simple as one plus one equals two, but we are playing for a championship. We are saying that out loud. That’s how we’re going to frame all the decisions we make and the effort and intensity that we train and play with.”

The 46-year-old also touched on subjects such as Kyrie Irving, his own playing days, the 2000 Olympics, and more. When asked what it would mean to win a championship as a rookie coach after never winning one as a player, Nash gave a humble response.

“It would mean everything to me, but honestly, it’s not about me,” he said. “I would be thrilled for our group, for the players, for the coaches. … Honestly, I would get as much joy, more joy, out of seeing our players, coaching staff, all departments win than the feeling I would get about me being a winner. To me, I love being a part of a group, part of a team, and seeing other people happy and succeed is as rewarding as anything and more rewarding than the individual glory. It would be unbelievable just to be a part of that, but to see everyone else’s satisfaction would mean the world to me.”

There’s more out of Brooklyn today:

  • By hiring Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach, the team is putting a clear emphasis on its offense for next season, Greg Logan of Newsday writes. D’Antoni, the architect of the well-documented “seven seconds or less” offense from his Suns teams in the mid 2000’s, will help coach a team that already includes the likes of Irving and Kevin Durant — two of the best offensive players of the past decade and beyond.
  • Ime Udoka could prove to be a key hire for the franchise, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic opines. The defensive-minded Udoka holds several years of coaching experience and was an assistant under Gregg Popovich from 2012-19.
  • Sports Illustrated examines whether the Nets are the NBA’s most interesting team. The franchise includes a unique nucleus of Durant, Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVertDeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen and others, combined with a coaching staff that holds past ties to each other or to general manager Sean Marks.

Nets Officially Announce Coaching Staff

The Nets have officially announced the coaching staff for new head coach Steve Nash, confirming in a press release that Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka will be assistants, while Amar’e Stoudmire is coming aboard as a player development coach. Those hires were all previously reported.

In addition to the newcomers, Nash will retain former interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, as expected. Assistant coaches Adam Harrington, Jordan Ott, and Tiago Splitter will also remain with the team, as will player development coordinator Ryan Forehan-Kelly.

“We’ve assembled an experienced staff of high-character individuals with varied backgrounds, both on and off the court, that will help create a solid foundation for me and our players,” Nash said in a statement. “When I set out to build this staff, I wanted to put together a committed group that would connect with our players and help put them in the best position to succeed as a team. With coaching and playing experience at the highest level and a deep background in player development, I’m confident that we’ve put the right people in place to lead us forward.”

Nash, a first-time head coach, has plenty of veteran experience on his new staff, including a pair of former head coaches in D’Antoni and Vaughn. He’ll likely lean on D’Antoni to help run the offense, while Udoka focuses primarily on Brooklyn’s defense, as Chris Milholen of NetsDaily writes.

Nets To Hire Mike D’Antoni, Ime Udoka As Assistants

A pair of notable coaches are joining Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn as assistants, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka are finalizing deals with the Nets.

D’Antoni, who parted ways with the Rockets following the team’s elimination from the postseason in September, ranks 20th among head coaches on the NBA’s all-time list of wins. In addition to coaching the Rockets, he has been on the sidelines for the Lakers, Knicks, Nuggets, and – most notably – the Suns, where he lead two-time MVP Nash to back-to-back appearances in the Western Finals.

By joining the Nets, D’Antoni will reunite with Nash and provide the sort of veteran experience that the first-time head coach could use on his staff.

As for Udoka, he has never been an NBA head coach, but he has proven his bona fides as an assistant, serving on Gregg Popovich‘s staff in San Antonio for seven years before joining the Sixers for the 2019/20 season.

There was a time when it looked like Udoka would receive a shot at a head coaching job this year — he was linked to the Nets, Bulls, Pacers, Knicks, and 76ers jobs, but was passed over in each instance. Now he’ll get the opportunity to work under Nash in Brooklyn, as the Nets – led by a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – look to make a deep playoff run in 2021.

Nash’s staff will also include former Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, who was retained as an assistant after missing out on the permanent coaching job. When word broke that the Nets were retaining Vaughn, Wojnarowski reported that he would be the highest-paid assistant in the NBA — it’s not clear if that’s still the case, but it’s probably safe to assume Brooklyn spared no expense bringing in D’Antoni and Udoka.

Pelicans Notes: Van Gundy, Udoka, Lee, Redick

The hiring of Stan Van Gundy shows the sense of urgency within the Pelicans organization, William Guillory of The Athletic opines. Anything less than immediate playoff contention on a roster headed by Zion Williamson will be viewed as a failure, Guillory notes. Van Gundy would not have left his TV job for a rebuilding project and Pelicans executives will expect immediate results from their big-name hire, Guillory adds.

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • Ime Udoka and Charles Lee are potential additions to the Pelicans’ coaching staff, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports. Udoka was an assistant under Brett Brown with the Sixers last season after a seven-year stint with the Spurs. Lee has worked under Mike Budenholzer since the 2014/15 season, first with the Hawks and then with the Bucks.
  • The fact that Van Gundy can concentrate on coaching rather than wearing two hats fosters the belief he’ll be a success in New Orleans, according to Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times Picayune. Van Gundy was a flop in Detroit largely due to his personnel decisions. Van Gundy’s gregarious personality was a key factor in the hire, as Pelicans executive David Griffin feels Van Gundy will be able to connect with a young roster and make players accountable.
  • J.J. Redick is unlikely to be traded with Van Gundy on the bench, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to Sportando). Redick, who has one year and $13MM remaining on his contract, played for Van Gundy in Orlando.
  • If you didn’t get all the details on Van Gundy taking the coaching reins in New Orleans, we have them here.

Thunder Notes: Weaver, Gallinari, Coaching Search

The Thunder‘s head coaching search now includes former Sixers and Nets assistant Will Weaver, sources tell Mitch Lawrence of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link). Weaver, who coached the Long Island Nets in 2018/19, currently serves as the head coach of the Sydney Kings in Australia’s National Basketball League.

In an episode of his Hoop Collective podcast earlier this month, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst linked Weaver to the Pelicans‘ head coaching search, noting that the veteran coach has a working relationship with New Orleans’ general manager Trajan Langdon. As Windhorst explains, the Pelicans’ decision to send 2019 second-round pick Didi Louzada to Sydney was related to Weaver’s presence there.

Relaying Windhorst’s comments last week, Matt Logue of The Australian wrote that “it is understood” that Weaver will interview for the Thunder’s open head coaching job.

While we wait to see if anything more concrete materializes between Weaver and two of the teams still seeking head coaches, here are a few more Thunder-related items:

  • An unrestricted free agent this fall, Danilo Gallinari published a tweet on Tuesday asking, “Where to next?” There’s still a chance Gallinari could return to the Thunder for the 2020/21 season, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. However, Oklahoma City is believed to be mulling a rebuild and Gallinari’s Tuesday tweet suggests he’s preparing to play elsewhere next season.
  • Elsewhere at The Oklahoman, Mussatto continues to profile coaches who he believes could become candidates for the Thunder’s head coaching vacancy. In recent days, he has taken a closer look at Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts, Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, and Dayton head coach Anthony Grant.
  • In case you missed it last week, we previewed the Thunder’s major upcoming offseason decisions, including the possibility of a Chris Paul trade.

Pacers Notes: Assistants, HC Finalists, Nurse, Bjorkgren

Though newly-hired Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren will have the opportunity to fill out his bench with assistants of his selection, the Pacers ownership and front office may provide some input, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). As Michael points out, Indiana became familiar with many coaches around the NBA during its expansive coaching search, so the team will have plenty of intel about possible candidates to share with Bjorkgren.

There’s more out of Indiana:

  • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Pelicans assistant Chris Finch, and Heat assistant Dan Craig were among the other finalists for the Pacers’ head coaching job, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was ebullient in his praise for his former assistant coach Bjorkgren, releasing a statement via Toronto’s team Twitter. “Nate and I have known each other for 30 years,” Nurse said. “I’ll miss having him next to me on our bench, and I know the Raptors players and staff will miss working with him every day.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic unpacks the career of Bjorkgren, praising the new Pacers head coach’s apparent flexibility with regard to making offensive and defensive schemes fit his personnel.

Windhorst’s Latest: Coaching Rumors

The Pacers have interviewed more than 20 candidates for their head coaching opening and are now scheduling second interviews, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Appearing on The Jump (video link) on Friday, Windhorst said that former Kings coach Dave Joerger, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka are among the candidates expected to receive second interviews with the Pacers. ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups is also in the mix.

Windhorst doled out a number of other tidbits regarding coaching vacancies:

  • The Sixers have focused in on two high-profile candidates, Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue, and that could impact what the Pelicans will do. New Orleans is “very interested” in Clippers assistant Lue, who won a championship in Cleveland with current Pelicans executive David Griffin. However, the Pelicans may have to wait until Philadelphia decides what it wants to do before pursuing Lue in earnest.
  • The Thunder appear to be going into rebuild mode and that increases the chances it will hire a first-time head coach. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and perhaps Spurs assistant Will Hardy have emerged as contenders for the job.
  • As previously reported, the Rockets are looking seriously at Clippers assistant and former Houston player Sam Cassell and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Charania’s Latest: Pacers, Donovan, Bulls, Nurse, More

The Pacers have added another name to their list of head coaching candidates, having interview former Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan last week, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

While Donovan’s addition increases the number of candidates connected to the Pacers to a total of 18, Charania hears that the team is expected to only interview about a dozen contenders for the job. From there, the plan is for Indiana to trim its list approximately in half, then to conduct in-person interviews with the finalists.

Here are a few more notes and rumors from Charania’s latest column for The Athletic:

  • The Bulls continue to narrow down their head coaching pool and will likely meet with finalists soon, according to Charania, who hears that Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, and Wes Unseld Jr. are among the candidate who have had strong interviews so far.
  • The new multiyear contract extension signed last week by Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is worth approximately $8MM per year, making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid coaches, per Charania. Nurse’s previous deal was reportedly worth in the neighborhood of $3MM per year, but he has won a title and a Coach of the Year award since signing that contract in 2018.
  • Kawhi Leonard isn’t expecting the 2020/21 NBA season to get underway anytime soon, as Charania relays. “February, maybe?” Leonard said last week after the Clippers were eliminated from the postseason. “I’ve also heard March.”
  • In case you missed it, we also passed along items from Charania on the Sixers’ coaching search, the Clippers’ offseason, and Will Barton‘s injury.

Pacers Identify 14 Head Coaching Candidates

The Pacers are set to begin a wide-ranging search for a head coach that will include more than a dozen candidates, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski details, Indiana is looking to interview the following candidates as the team seeks a replacement for Nate McMillan:

  • Former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger
  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool
  • Nets associate head coach Jacque Vaughn
  • Trail Blazers associate head coach Nate Tibbetts
  • Spurs assistants Becky Hammon and Will Hardy
  • Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn
  • Mavericks assistants Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas
  • Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee
  • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka
  • Magic assistant Pat Delany

It remains to be seen whether the Pacers will be granted permission to speak with all of their potential targets. If they do, the team’s first round of virtual meetings would feature at least 14 interviews.

Many of the Pacers’ coaching candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been linked to other vacancies around the league. Vanterpool, Craig, Mosley, Silas, Ham, and Udoka, for example, are all believed to be interviewing for the Bulls’ job. Udoka and Ham have also been mentioned as potential 76ers candidates, as has Joerger. Vaughn was seriously considered for the Nets job before the team hired Steve Nash, while Hardy and Delany interviewed with the Knicks before they hired Tom Thibodeau.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Others on Indiana’s list, such as Tibbetts and Hammon, have interviewed in past years for various NBA head coaching openings. Only a couple candidates – Quinn and Lee – haven’t received head coaching consideration in the past, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Joerger and Vaughn are the only names on the list with previous head coaching experience.

Mike D’Antoni has also been mentioned as a potential target for the Pacers, but he remains active in the postseason with the Rockets and there’s no guarantee he’ll leave Houston when his contract expires.

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has spoken about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to connect with younger players. McMillan’s old-school approach to offense was believed to be one reason why Indiana made a change.

Bulls Begin Interviewing Head Coaching Candidates

The Bulls‘ search for a new head coach is underway, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team has received permission to speak to a number of candidates and has begun conducting interviews.

Several candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been previously reported as potential targets for Chicago. That group includes former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, and Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool.

In addition to those candidates, Wojnarowski reports that the Bulls have also been granted permission to talk to Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley and Heat assistant Dan Craig.

Finally, current Bulls assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers – holdovers from Jim Boylen‘s staff who remain under contract – may receive consideration for the top job, according to Wojnarowski. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago indicates that Fleming could have a role on the new staff if he isn’t promoted, since he has previously worked with Bulls executive VP Arturas Karnisovas in Denver and there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

Following Boylen’s dismissal, Karnisovas suggested that Chicago is seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator.” The Bulls, who appear to be conducting a wide-ranging search, could be competing with the Pacers, Sixers, Nets, and Pelicans for certain candidates, since all of those clubs are also in the market for new head coaches.

While Karnisovas has said there’s no set timeline for finalizing a new hire, it will be interesting to see whether Chicago tries to have a new head coach in place for its organized offseason team activities, which are scheduled to take place from September 14 to October 6.