Jamelle McMillan

Pelicans’ Gentry Cleared To Travel To NBA Campus

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has been cleared to travel with his team to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link), Gentry received the call from the NBA today just minutes before the Pelicans were set to board their plane to Orlando.

Gentry, who is 65 years old, is one of the head coaches who has received extra scrutiny from team doctors and the NBA due to potentially heightened health risks if he contracts the coronavirus. The restart agreement gives the league the right to prohibit certain red-flagged individuals from accompanying their teams to Disney.

The NBA has assured coaches they won’t be red-flagged based on their ages alone. However, if there are also underlying health issues that will put them at greater risk, they can be held out of the restart — that was the case for Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins, for instance.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, 71, is expected to travel to the NBA campus on Thursday, per Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, 69, also said this week that he hasn’t heard anything suggesting he’ll be prohibited from heading to Orlando (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle). D’Antoni is still waiting the official OK from the league, but there’s optimism he’ll get it, tweets Wojnarowski.

While the Pelicans got good news on Gentry, the club will be without associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik won’t be with the club this summer. He decided to stay in New Orleans and work remotely after consulting with team doctors and CDC regulations.

In addition to Bzdelik, the Pelicans will be missing assistant Jamelle McMillan, who is staying behind to care for his newborn son, according to Lopez (Twitter link).

Pelicans Hire Jeff Bzdelik As Assistant Coach

Veteran assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik has officially joined the Pelicans‘ coaching staff as an assistant, the club announced today in a press release. Bzdelik will be one of two associate head coaches under Alvin Gentry, handling defensive responsibilities while fellow associate head coach Chris Finch focuses on offense.

A former head coach for the Nuggets and a handful of college programs, including Colorado and Wake Forest, Bzdelik had been the Rockets’ associate head coach since 2016. He briefly retired following the 2017/18 season, but after Houston got off to a slow start in 2018/19, the team lured him out of retirement and got him back on the bench alongside Mike D’Antoni.

Following a disappointing second-round exit this spring, the Rockets let Bzdelik’s contract expire without pushing to lock him up to a new deal. He subsequently engaged in negotiations with New Orleans, with a report back in July indicating that the two sides were close to a deal.

The Pelicans have also hired former Suns assistant Jamelle McMillan in an assistant role, promoting Joe Boylan to assistant coach/director of player development and Michael Ruffin to assistant coach/player development.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Giles, Ferrell, McMillan

Lakers president Magic Johnson is getting rave reviews from owner Jeanie Buss on the job he has done in remaking the team, relays Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. Johnson’s standout move was luring free agent LeBron James to L.A., but he also cleared away a lot of cap space and convinced a series of veterans to accept one-year deals so the Lakers can take another big swing in free agency next summer.

“I have complete faith in Magic Johnson in terms of his ability to be a leader, to know how to put together a winner,” Buss said this week in an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show. “And I have patience. And I think what he’s done has exceeded my expectations, how quickly they’ve kind of turned around the roster.”

There’s more today from the Pacific Division:

  • Harry Giles still hasn’t seen any NBA action, but he has been the most intriguing Kings story of the summer, notes Noel Harris of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings were extremely cautious with Giles after making him the 20th pick in the 2017 draft, sitting him out the entire season to make sure his knees were fully recovered from a series of surgeries that date back to high school. Giles was impressive in Summer League action and was picked as the Rookie of the Year favorite by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton.
  • Yogi Ferrell may have a prominent role off the bench in the Kings‘ backcourt, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area in an examination of the team’s potential guard rotation. Sacramento was able to land Farrell in free agency after he pulled out of an agreement with the Mavericks in search of more guaranteed money. Ham expects newly acquired Ben McLemore to be bought out or traded and notes that the team would like to move Iman Shumpert, but is having trouble finding a taker for his $11.4MM salary.
  • Jamelle McMillan is enjoying a homecoming after being added to the Suns‘ coaching staff, writes Cody Cunningham of NBA.com. The son of Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, Jamelle played four seasons at Arizona State before starting his coaching career. At age 29, he is one of the NBA’s youngest assistants.

Suns Rumors: Bridges, Free Agency, Coaches, Williams

The addition of Mikal Bridges gives the Suns a logjam at the forward spots and they still need to address their point guard situation, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes.

After the draft-night trade with the Sixers to acquire Bridges’ rights, the Suns now have five recent first-rounders – Josh JacksonT.J. WarrenDragan Bender and Marquese Chriss being the others – angling for playing time in the frontcourt. GM Ryan McDonough said he might add a stretch four in free agency, Bordow continues, so they could use that depth in a trade, with Chriss and Warren the most likely to be dealt.

Despite selecting Frenchman Elie Okobo with the first pick of the second round, the Suns still need another veteran at that spot, and McDonough confirmed they could pursue a floor leader in free agency, Bordow adds.

We have more on the Suns:

  • The Suns consider Bridges a “special player” and that’s why they were willing to deal the No. 16 pick and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder for him, Bob Baum of the Associated Press reports. ‘‘We weighed the pros and cons of trading it heavily and carefully,” McDonough said. ”We were only going to put it in play if we had a chance to get a special player and that’s how we feel about Mikal.”
  • With $15-$20MM available to pursue free agents, the Suns will be proactive in free agency, Baum adds in the same piece. ‘We’re going to continue to be aggressive for the next couple of weeks in free agency,” McDonough said. “We’ve got some money to spend and we’re looking to spend it on the best players we can get.”
  • Joe Prunty, Corliss Williamson, Jamelle McMillan, Jason Staudt and Cody Toppert have officially signed up as assistants for new head coach Igor Kokoskov, Bordow tweets.
  • It’s hard to imagine the Suns will retain center Alan Williams on his current deal, Bordow adds in another tweet. Williams, whose $5.52MM salary is not guaranteed, would get a full guarantee if he’s still on the roster through July 6. He’d be a third-string center behind Deandre Ayton and Tyson Chandler if he sticks.