Jason Kidd

Coaching Rumors: Lue, Sixers, Pelicans, Kidd, Lucas, Walton

Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue is expected to be one of the NBA’s most popular head coaching candidates this offseason, having already been connected to at least three job openings.

As we relayed on Wednesday, Lue reportedly sought $7MM per year when he was in negotiations with the Lakers last year about their head coaching job. And Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer cites a league source who says Lue will once again be looking for $7MM annually in his talks with the teams this time around.

[RELATED: Tyronn Lue, Chauncey Billups May Be Package Deal]

While Lue’s asking price remains high, it sounds like he could be more open to compromise this year. Pompey suggests that the former Cavaliers coach may end up settling for $5-6MM per year. That would be good news for teams like the Pelicans, who are reportedly budgeting about $5.5MM annually for their next head coach, and the Sixers, who will still have to pay Brett Brown $10MM over the next two years.

Here’s more on Lue, along with other NBA head coaching rumors:

  • We’ve heard that the Sixers and Lue have mutual interest, but Philadelphia will face plenty of competition. The Pelicans are expected to pursue Lue “hard,” according to Pompey, who adds that the former NBA guard is also “monitoring” the Bulls‘ coaching vacancy. Lue is considered a strong candidate for the Nets as well — he expects to receive an offer from Brooklyn, as Pompey has reported.
  • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd is interested in the Sixers‘ head coaching job, league sources tell Pompey. Pompey also reports that Rockets player development coach John Lucas is interested in the 76ers’ job. It’s not clear how seriously Philadelphia will reciprocate either coach’s interest.
  • The Kings are making it clear to potential GM candidates that they don’t intend to replace head coach Luke Walton prior to the 2020/21 season, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, Anderson notes that Walton’s position will still be somewhat precarious, as he’ll essentially be “auditioning for his own job” next season.

Tyronn Lue, Chauncey Billups May Be Package Deal

Tyronn Lue is rumored to be in the running for several head coaching jobs, and whoever hires him should be prepared to have Chauncey Billups as an assistant, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Sources tell Woj that teams know Lue has been talking to Billups about joining his staff as associate head coach. They are longtime friends, share the same agent, and both currently work for the Clippers, Lue as an assistant coach and Billups as a broadcaster.

Billups has been considered for several front office openings around the league and turned down an offer from the Cavaliers in 2017. Sources say his interest has changed from being an executive to being a coach, and he believes working with Lue will help him eventually land a head coaching position.

Lue is reportedly being considered for the new opening with the Pelicans, as well as the Nets, who plan to launch their search once they are eliminated from the playoffs. Wojnarowski states that he could be a candidate for the Rockets and Sixers as well if those teams decide to make coaching changes.

Lue turned down an offer from the Lakers last summer because L.A. wasn’t willing to give him more than three years of guaranteed salary. He landed a job with their cross-town rivals and has earned respect for challenging head coach Doc Rivers when he believes it’s necessary and for pushing the Clippers’ star players, according to Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski also reports that Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has seen his stock rise this year while serving as an assistant to Frank Vogel, and he could emerge as a strong candidate for one of the high-profile openings. According to Woj, Kidd impressed the Knicks in his interview for their head coaching spot and was willing to admit mistakes that he made during his time with the Nets and Bucks.

Pelicans Fire Head Coach Alvin Gentry

The Pelicans have parted ways with head coach Alvin Gentry, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez and Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The team has made it official, confirming the news in a press release.

“I’m grateful for and appreciative of Alvin’s commitment to the organization and, most importantly, the local community,” Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “The City of New Orleans is richer because of his presence here. These types of moves are often about fit and timing, and we believe now is the right time to make this change and bring in a new voice.”

Gentry’s dismissal comes on the heels of a disappointing showing for New Orleans at the NBA’s restart in Orlando. The Pelicans entered the summer tied with the Trail Blazers and Kings at No. 9 in the West, 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Grizzlies. However, while Portland surpassed Memphis for the No. 8 seed with a strong showing at Walt Disney World, the Pelicans struggled — despite a favorable schedule, they lost six of their eight seeding games.

In total, Gentry spent five seasons as the head coach in New Orleans, compiling a 175-225 (.438) record and making the playoffs just once. As Lopez observes (via Twitter), the Pelicans were hit hard by injuries in recent years, but the team still had loftier expectations, especially considering Anthony Davis anchored the roster for the first four years of Gentry’s tenure.

A report earlier this week suggested there were strong signals that Griffin wanted to make a head coaching change, so today’s news doesn’t come as a major surprise. Gentry still had one year worth $5MM+ left on his contract, but it appears team ownership gave its approval to hire a new head coach while paying off the rest of that deal.

The Pelicans will now join the Bulls and Nets as teams seeking a new head coach. They’ll have a head start on Brooklyn, which won’t formally launch a search until its season is over.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

As Wojnarowski reported last weekend, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and Lakers assistant Jason Kidd are expected to be among New Orleans’ top head coaching candidates. Lue, in particular, has a strong connection to Griffin, having coached the Cavaliers when Griffin was running the front office in Cleveland.

In their full ESPN.com story today on Gentry’s dismissal, Wojnarowski and Lopez suggest former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson will also receive consideration from the Pelicans, as will Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn if Brooklyn doesn’t retain him. As Woj and Lopez note, New Orleans’ general manager, Trajan Langdon, was previously a member of the Nets’ front office, so he’s very familiar with both Atkinson and Vaughn.

Sam Amick of The Athletic also recently identified Mike D’Antoni as a dark-horse candidate to replace Gentry if the Rockets don’t retain him, noting that D’Antoni and Griffin previously worked together for several years in Phoenix.

The Pelicans’ job figures to be an appealing one, considering the roster is anchored by rising stars like Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, as well as veteran guard Jrue Holiday. While Holiday could become an unrestricted free agent as early as 2021, New Orleans should control Williamson and Ingram for years to come — Zion is entering the second year of his rookie contract, while Ingram is eligible for restricted free agency this fall.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets To Formally Launch Coaching Search When Season Ends

Although interim head coach Jacque Vaughn has done an admirable job with the Nets during the NBA’s restart this summer, the team still intends to formally launch a full head coaching search when their season comes to an end, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Charania explains, team owner Joseph Tsai wants to identify the best possible “partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff, and players.” The team will be prioritizing building its culture based on relationships and “pursuing sustainable success.”

It’s possible the Nets’ search will lead them back to Vaughn, as Charania indicates he’s expected to receive serious consideration to retain his current position. Since replacing Kenny Atkinson in March, Vaughn has led Brooklyn to a 6-2 record, and four of those wins have come with a depleted squad in Orlando. Although the seventh-seeded Nets aren’t expected to win a playoff series, putting up a spirited fight against the defending-champion Raptors in the first round could further bolster Vaughn’s chances.

Still, Brooklyn is expected to consider several outside candidates as well. Charania identifies former NBA head coaches Jason Kidd, Tyronn Lue, and Jeff Van Gundy as possible targets, echoing an April report from The New York Times.

Sixers assistant Ime Udoka is also among the Nets’ potential candidates, according to Charania, who notes that more contenders could emerge “as job statuses around the league change.”

Of course, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving due back from injuries for the 2020/21 season, an ability to connect with and command the respect of those superstars will be a major factor the Nets consider as they decide on a permanent head coach.

Lue, Kidd Possibilities For Pelicans If Gentry Not Retained

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has just one more year left on his contract, making his future in New Orleans somewhat unclear. In four seasons prior to 2019/20, Gentry has led the Pelicans to just one postseason appearance, a conference semifinals exit at the hands of the Warriors.

If New Orleans decides to move on from Gentry, two candidates the organization may pursue are current Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue and current Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski notes, Pelicans’ executive vice president David Griffin has relationships with both Lue and Kidd from his front office days with the Cavaliers and Suns.

Lue was Cleveland’s head coach during the organization’s championship-winning season in 2016. Griffin spent 17 seasons within the Suns organization, during which time Kidd evolved into one of the NBA’s elites from 1996-01.

Jason Kidd Emerging As Frontrunner For Knicks’ Coaching Job?

1:17pm: Thibodeau is the Knicks’ first choice, but if he doesn’t reach an agreement with the team it could open the door for Kidd, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from a source that Kidd “really wants” the job.

One source who spoke to Berman estimated that Thibodeau still has about a “65 percent” chance to end up with the job. Berman also reports that a final decision isn’t expected to be made until next week.


11:27am: Jason Kidd is emerging as a frontrunner in the Knicks‘ head coach search, a “plugged-in” source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

According to Bondy, Kidd’s odds of becoming New York’s next coach increased after negotiations with presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau hit a snag.

Considered a player-friendly coach, Kidd is viewed by the Knicks as an asset for attracting top free agents. However, according to Bondy, some people within the organization aren’t entirely sold on the former Bucks and Nets head coach, given how his stints in Milwaukee and Brooklyn played out.

Bondy suggests that if the Knicks go with Kidd, the front office would want to pick “at least some” of his assistant coaches. A source tells The Daily News that Kenny Payne, Rod Strickland, and Mike Woodson – who all have close ties to new Knicks exec William Wesley – would be candidates to join the staff as assistants.

Bondy hears from a source that the Knicks and owner James Dolan have been unwilling so far to agree to Thibodeau’s contract requests. According to Bondy, Thibodeau remains a possibility for the open position, but one side or both would have to make concessions. Retaining interim coach Mike Miller hasn’t been ruled out either, Bondy adds.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported on Thursday morning that the Knicks weren’t currently engaged in negotiations with any of their head coaching candidates and hadn’t made a contract offer to anyone. That doesn’t necessarily contradict Bondy’s report — it’s possible the team had earlier negotiations with Thibodeau and never got to the point where an offer was made. It’s also possible negotiations took place in the last 24 hours, after Begley’s report was published.

Begley also indicated on Thursday that there’s a “strong likelihood” the Knicks will have conversations with multiple candidates next week, so it may still be several days before the team finalizes its decision. The club is expected to have a new head coach in place by the end of the month.

Latest On Knicks’ Head Coaching Search

The Knicks aren’t currently engaged in contract negotiations with any of their 11 reported head coaching candidates and haven’t made a contract offer to any of those candidates either, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

However, New York’s goal is still to hire a permanent head coach by the end of the month, likely prior to the NBA season resuming in Florida next Thursday, Begley says. Sources tell SNY that there’s a “strong likelihood” the Knicks will have discussions with multiple candidates next week.

Although Tom Thibodeau has been cited as the frontrunner throughout the process, Begley observes that the latest updates on the search suggest the team hasn’t necessarily zeroed in on any one candidate.

Still, Marc Berman of The New York Post calls attention to one factor working in Thibodeau’s favor. New Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose has hinted that the front office may have a hand in filling out the new coach’s staff — Thibodeau has been averse to that idea in the past, preferring to hand-pick his own assistants, but trusts Rose and is open to front office input in this case, sources tell Berman.

Kenny Atkinson and Jason Kidd are among the candidates that the Knicks have not “crossed off the list” as of yet, Berman adds. Atkinson met with the team on Monday in what was believed to be his second interview, Begley notes. As our tracker shows, New York has also interviewed interim coach Mike Miller, former NBA coaches Mike Brown and Mike Woodson, and a handful of current assistants from around the NBA.

Despite the lengthy process, some people believe the Knicks have a top choice in mind and are simply doing their due diligence on every candidate before finalizing their decision, Berman writes.

“In trying to be thorough and doing everything perfectly, the Knicks are dragging it out to a new level,” an NBA source tells The Post. “I believe they know who they’re going to hire, always have. They just need to make sure.”

Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Martin, Thibodeau, Milton

Following individual workouts in Boston ahead of traveling to the Orlando campus for the NBA’s season restart, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens noted that All-Star point guard Kemba Walker‘s knee gave him “a little discomfort” and he was subsequently held out of practice Monday, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

Though Walker is expected to have an increased role in practice tomorrow, these early reports on the 30-year-old ahead of the season restart on July 30 in Orlando raise obvious red flags. Restrictions will be placed on Walker’s minutes in team scrimmages and any upcoming seeding games ahead of the NBA playoffs in mid-August.

Losing Walker for any amount of time would be a huge blow for Boston’s playoff hopes. Superstar forward Jayson Tatum and two-way force Jaylen Brown have clearly benefitted from Walker’s veteran leadership. In 50 games for the Celtics during the 2019/20 season, Walker is averaging 21.2 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.1 RPG, while shooting 37.7% from three-point range and 86.7% from the free throw line. The 43-21 Celtics are the No. 3 seed in the East.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Rookie Nets point guard Jeremiah Martin, who went undrafted out of Memphis in 2019, has been proving himself a valuable asset to the team, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post“I’d say Jeremiah Martin has been a surprise for us, his ability to compete,” interim head coach Jacque Vaughn. “That’s all we ask at this beginning stage, is to compete. Whether that’s knowing the plays, knowing different implementation, or having yourself ready every day.”
  • Head coach interviews for the Knicks are heating up, according to The New York Post’s Marc Berman. Tom Thibodeau remains the leader in the clubhouse for the gig, though Jason Kidd is nipping at his heels following a strong second interview. Kenny Atkinson also remains in the running for the position. The team conducted at least 11 three-hour second interviews that wrapped up yesterday.
  • Second-year Sixers guard Shake Milton has taken over starting point guard duties in team practices, moving All-Star Ben Simmons to the power forward slot and big man Al Horford to the bench, the significance of which has been unpacked by The Athletic’s Derek Bodner. Horford, 34, signed a splashy four-year, $97MM contract (worth up to $109MM with incentives) in 2019 free agency, but has underwhelmed during his first season of that deal. “I think [Milton] has a huge opportunity to help us accomplish what we believe we can, and he’s been doing an amazing job just running the team,” All-Star center Joel Embiid said of the move.

 

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Tatum, Nets, Thomas, Knicks, Kidd

Sixers center Joel Embiid and guard Shake Milton are among those who have expressed some reservations about the NBA’s restart plan, though both players will participate this summer, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Embiid’s concerns stem from a suspicion that not all of his fellow players will follow the restrictions and protocols put in place by the league.

“There’s some guys that like to go out, there’s some guys that like to do stuff, there’s some guys that like adventure,” Embiid said. “I know myself. I know I’m not gonna put everybody else at risk. But the question is, is everybody else gonna do the same? Just being around this business, I surely don’t think so.”

Milton, meanwhile, was less concerned about the health and safety guidelines in place than about his belief that the resumption of the NBA might draw attention away from the ongoing fight for social justice reforms.

“I don’t really think we should be playing,” Milton said, per Bodner. “I feel like… there’s an issue going on right now in the world that is way bigger than the sport, way bigger than the game of basketball, and I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now, and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”

Despite their apprehensions, both Embiid and Milton stressed they’re committed to helping the 76ers compete for a championship in Orlando this summer.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum isn’t overly enthusiastic about restarting the season at the Walt Disney World campus and only recently finalized his decision to play, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “There’s a multitude of reasons why I wasn’t comfortable,” Tatum said. “… (I’m) still not excited about it, not thrilled. Obviously, what we’re fighting for (in society), against racism and social injustice and (for) equality. Obviously the virus is still very well and alive and continues to rise in Florida. For me, just being away from my son for two or three months, that’s what’s really bothering me. … Especially when they’re that young — their growth, they change every week. Just knowing I’m going to miss out on that.”
  • Veteran forward Lance Thomas, who was with the Nets last fall, is among the veteran free agents receiving interest from the team, league sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Brooklyn is eligible to sign three substitute players to replace DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Taurean Prince, who all contracted COVID-19. The club is also said to be eyeing Amir Johnson.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores Jason Kidd‘s candidacy for the Knicks‘ head coaching vacancy, noting that some insiders believe he’s the best “long-shot threat” to presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau. However, opinions on Kidd are mixed. “I wouldn’t hire Jason Kidd if he was the last coach standing,” one NBA source (who has worked with Kidd) told Berman. “It would be a terrible choice. There’s a reason Milwaukee is in the place where they are right now — coaching.”

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Kidd, Hardy, Labeyrie

As the Knicks‘ head coaching search continues, presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau has received an endorsement from a former Knicks All-Star, as Adam Zagoria of Forbes writes. Patrick Ewing praised Thibodeau during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio with hosts Frank Isola and Sarah Kustok.

“I think Tom’s a great coach,” Ewing said. “I had the opportunity to (play for him), him being on the (Knicks’) staff when I played, and also work with him. He’s been around for a lot of years, he knows the game in and out. He’s gonna do everything that he needs to do in terms of having his team prepared to play every night. I think he’d be a great candidate for that job.”

Although Thibodeau is just one of 11 candidates being considered by the Knicks, reports last month indicated that he was viewed as a favorite for the job. Zagoria also hears from multiple sources that New York is expected to hire someone with previous head coaching experience.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks’ coaching candidates had an initial round of conversations with a group that included president of basketball operations Leon Rose, general manager Scott Perry, and VP of basketball and strategic planning Brock Aller, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Each candidate will have a more in-depth conversation with the team during its second round of meetings, Begley adds.
  • According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, two of the Knicks’ head coaching interviews took place on Thursday, with the team talking to Jason Kidd and Spurs assistant Will Hardy. Those interviews were why the Knicks didn’t take part in the NBA’s Thursday conference call with its bottom eight teams about a possible Chicago campus for offseason mini-camps and exhibition games.
  • Speaking of that proposed Chicago campus, the Knicks aren’t fully on board with that plan, according to Berman, who notes that the club doesn’t have much interest in playing formal games this offseason, especially since many veterans on the roster will be free agents and likely wouldn’t participate. New York is one of a handful of those bottom eight teams that would prefer to hold OTAs in its own home market to evaluate young players.
  • French forward Louis Labeyrie, a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, has agreed to extend his contract with Valencia in Spain for at least two more seasons, as Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. The Knicks have held Labeyrie’s NBA rights since ’14, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the 28-year-old will come stateside.