Pacers Rumors

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.

Coaching Rumors: Donovan, Billups, Bjorkgren, Walton

Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas made a personal connection with Billy Donovan that helped him land his new coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this morning on “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” (video link). After Donovan left the Thunder two weeks ago, Karnisovas wanted to set up a meeting right away, according to Woj. The Bulls executive flew to Donovan’s Florida home a few days later and was able to sell him on the job.

Wojnarowski notes that Chicago has a recent history of taking chances on college coaches and veteran assistants, but has rarely hired someone with previous NBA head coaching experience. He adds that the Bulls have the talent to compete for a playoff spot in the East and Donovan could turn them into a desirable market for free agents.

Donovan said he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding job in OKC, but Wojnarowski believes that will be less of a concern in Chicago. He said the Thunder are “cycling down” with a lot of veteran players and draft picks and may bottom out for a while before becoming good again. The Bulls have “players on the uptick” and could become contenders with the right coach.

There’s more on the NBA’s coaching carousel:

  • Wojnarowski passed along a few other rumors today (video link). The Sixers are ready to start bringing in coaching candidates and have already started conversations with Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue. Chauncey Billups is a name to watch for the Pacers, who have shown a willingness to hire former players with no coaching experience and surround them with a veteran staff. The Pelicans have been doing a “ton of background” and haven’t started formal interviews yet. The Rockets like interviewing a lot of people whenever they have an opening and will consider various combinations of head coaches and lead assistants. Woj expects the interview process to be lengthy in both Houston and Oklahoma City.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told Sirius XM Radio that assistant Nate Bjorkgren has interviewed for the opening with the Pacers (Twitter link).
  • The Kings‘ front office shakeup shouldn’t affect the job security of coach Luke Walton, Sam Amick of The Athletic said on a recent HoopsHype podcast. Amick believes new head of basketball operations Monte McNair was told before he was hired that the organization is “pretty invested both financially and kind of spiritually in Luke.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Pistons, Cavaliers, Atkinson

With a new VP of basketball operations in control and now a new head coach set to stalk the sidelines, the Bulls with finally get fresh eyes for this year’s draft. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes an extensive look at Chicago’s various draft options with the fourth pick this season, as well as the team’s other pressing offseason issues.

Vecenie examines several options in play for the Bulls with the pick, assessing the potential fits of Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball, Georgia forward Anthony Edwards, Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton, Ulm guard Killian Hayes, Auburn wing Isaac Okoro, and Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija. Vecenie also appraises some realistic options for the Bulls’ No. 44 pick this season.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Central Division:

  • As the Pistons began their three-week team camp, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and new general manager Troy Weaver found themselves aligned in terms of their thoughts on the team’s roster, according to Keith Langlois of “We’ll talk about certain players and see the same things,” Casey said. “I think that’s very, very important that you look at the type of people you want to compete with, the type of people you want to go to battle with.”
  • This offseason, the Cavaliers front office, led by general manager Koby Altman, will prioritize adding “defensive-minded players” and “length and athleticism,” per Spencer Davies of Basketball News. The team has the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, and will have access to the full mid-level exception as it weighs potential additions.
  • As the Pacers continue their search for a new head coach, the team has conducted background research on former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, according to a new episode of the HoopsHype Podcast featuring Michael Scotto and guest Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Bulls Hire Billy Donovan As Head Coach

5:18pm: The Bulls have officially announced Donovan as their new head coach.

“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” Karnisovas said in a statement. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”

5:00pm: The Bulls and Billy Donovan have reached a deal that will make him Chicago’s new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Wojnarowski, new Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas “aggressively pursued” Donovan this month, as he and GM Marc Eversley felt that the former Thunder coach was the best candidate available.

Donovan, who had spent the last five years in Oklahoma City, parted ways with the Thunder following their elimination from the postseason earlier this month. He compiled a 243-157 (.608) regular-season record with the franchise during that time, making the postseason in each of his five years in OKC. He did arguably his most impressive work in 2019/20, guiding a roster that wasn’t viewed as playoff-ready to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.

While the Thunder reportedly had interest in retaining Donovan, there was a sense that the veteran coach didn’t want to stick around through a rebuilding process. In Chicago, he won’t be taking over a team that’s ready to immediately contend, but Karnisovas and the Bulls sold him on a “partnership and vision for a talented young roster,” as well as a chance to lead one of the NBA’s marquee franchises, says Wojnarowski.

The Bulls had been in the market for a new head coach since dismissing Jim Boylen in mid-August. At the time, Karnisovas indicated the team would conduct a comprehensive search and would focus on hiring someone who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator.”

Among the candidates interviewed by Chicago, Kenny Atkinson, Ime Udoka, Darvin Ham, and Wes Unseld Jr. were said to have made good impressions in their meetings with the organization. However, Donovan was always viewed as a strong candidate for the job, having been linked to the Bulls immediately after his departure from Oklahoma City.

With Donovan off the market, a handful of teams still in the midst of their coaching searches will have to look elsewhere. The former Florida Gators coach was said to be on the Sixers‘ short list and reportedly met with the Pacers as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Interview Billy Donovan

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.

Examining What Pacers Players Hope To See From New Head Coach

  • Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files examines what Pacers players are hoping to see from their next head coach. Indiana fired Nate McMillan from his position in August, ending his four-year tenure as head coach of the team. “It’s up to me to step up to the plate and find the right person to lead the locker room again and be creative as a new-age coach,” team president Kevin Pritchard said last month.

Pacers To Interview Mike Brown For Head Coaching Vacancy

The Pacers will interview Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown for the team’s head coaching vacancy, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link).

Indiana’s head coaching search has yielded numerous names but Brown, 50, is as experienced a coach available this fall as multiple teams seek to fill openings.

Since 2016, Brown has been an assistant to Steve Kerr, helping the team win three NBA championships. Before that, the 2009 NBA Coach of the Year led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 during a five-year run as Cleveland’s head coach.

After he was dismissed from Cleveland, Brown replaced Phil Jackson in Los Angeles for the 2010/11 campaign but the Lakers were eliminated early in the postseason his season at the helm. Brown was fired just five games into the 2011/12 season after a sluggish start.

The Cavaliers rehired Brown in 2013 but was fired after just one season following a losing season.

Brown has previous experience in Indiana when he served as an assistant coach to Rick Carlisle from 2003-05. The team made the postseason in both of Brown’s season as an assistant.

Brown joins a long list of names receiving consideration for the Pacers’ opening, which includes a blend of experienced assistants, ex-head coaches and even a potential first-timer in Chauncey Billups. Additionally, now-former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni could be an option for Indiana.

Vanterpool Interviewing With Pacers On Thursday

  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool is scheduled to interview with the Pacers for their head coaching job on Thursday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Vanterpool was one of more than a dozen candidates said to be on Indiana’s initial list.

Mike D’Antoni Won’t Return To Rockets

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has informed team ownership that he intends to become a coaching free agent and won’t return to Houston next season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

D’Antoni had been on an expiring contract, having turned down extension offers from the Rockets prior to the season.

General manager Daryl Morey had said after Houston’s Game 1 win over the Lakers in the second round that the team wanted to retain D’Antoni. However, there was always a sense that the two sides may not continue their relationship, especially since Houston’s preseason extension offers were short-term and included incentives. That sense only increased after the Rockets lost four straight games to the Lakers and were eliminated from the postseason.

D’Antoni, who joined the Rockets in 2016, led the organization to a 217-101 (.682) record over four seasons and won at least one playoff series in each of those four years, earning Coach of the Year honors in 2017.

Despite championship aspirations during that time, the club never got over the hump and reached the NBA Finals, having been eliminated twice by the Warriors, once by the Spurs, and now once by the Lakers.

Having confirmed his departure from Houston in a statement (link via Woj), D’Antoni is now expected to be among the candidates considered by the Sixers as they seek a new head coach, per ESPN. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets that there have been rumblings for weeks that D’Antoni may be headed to the Pelicans, though an earlier report suggested those rumors may be overstated. He has also been linked to the Pacers.

The Rockets, meanwhile, are likely to take a close look at Tyronn Lue as they weigh potential replacements for D’Antoni, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rockets Notes: D’Antoni, Morey, House, Gordon

Mike D’Antoni wants to continue coaching, but his time in Houston may be over, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. D’Antoni, 69, is now a free agent on the coaching market after his Rockets were ousted from the playoffs Saturday night. He hasn’t ruled out staying with his current team, but was unable to reach an extension last summer, leading to a public battle with management.

Sources tell Amick that there’s interest in D’Antoni from the Pacers, who recently fired Nate McMillan. However, Indiana is looking at other candidates as well, and D’Antoni’s hiring wouldn’t be a sure thing. There have also been rumors that he might be headed to New Orleans and a reunion with VP of basketball operations David Griffin, whom he once worked with in Phoenix, but Amick hears that D’Antoni isn’t a serious contender for the Pelicans job.

D’Antoni has been successful in his four years with the Rockets, posting a 217-101 record and leading the team to at least the second round of the playoffs each season. But Amick adds that hard feelings remain from last year’s failed talks involving D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie, and owner Tilman Fertitta, general manager Daryl Morey and CEO Tad Brown.

Amick notes that ABC/ESPN analyst and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy is considered a candidate if the job opens up again. Tim MacMahon of ESPN also mentions Van Gundy, along with ex-Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and Pelicans assistant Chris Finch, who has a championship on his resume with the Rockets’ G League affiliate in Rio Grande.

There’s more Rockets news this morning:

  • Morey’s job remains safe, despite the playoff ouster and an early-season tweet that cost the organization millions in sponsorship deals and damaged the NBA’s relationship with China, high-ranking Rockets sources tell MacMahon. Morey reportedly plans to continue the small-ball experiment next season as he believes it’s the best way to maximize the talents of James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
  • Rockets players haven’t said much publicly about the Danuel House incident since he was forced to leave the Disney World campus following an alleged violation of league rules, but Harden called it a “distraction” in a post-game interview. (video link from Ben DuBose of USA Today’s The Rockets Wire). “Very, very disappointing. It affected us,” Harden said. “Obviously, we still have to go out there and play a basketball game, and play a series. But it affected us. Obviously, it’s a distraction. He was a huge part of our rotation.”
  • Saturday’s loss means the final year of Eric Gordon‘s contract will remain non-guaranteed, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The four-year extension Gordon signed in September includes a provision that guarantees his $20.9MM salary for 2023/24 if he makes an All-Star team or the Rockets win a championship.