Jason Kidd

Pelicans Part Ways With Stan Van Gundy

11:08am: The Pelicans have officially announced Van Gundy’s exit, stating in a press release that the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.

“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization, I would like to thank Stan for the integrity and professionalism that he demonstrated during his time in New Orleans, as well as the commitment and work ethic he brought to our team,” Griffin said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally, but we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction. We wish Stan, Kim and their family all the best in the future.”

9:57am: Stan Van Gundy will not return to the Pelicans for the 2021/22 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez of ESPN, who report (via Twitter) that Van Gundy is out after just one year as New Orleans’ head coach.

Van Gundy and Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin have met regularly since the end of the regular season to discuss the team’s future, and a divorce between the team and its coach began to feel like an inevitable outcome around the organization, tweets Wojnarowski.

Van Gundy, who previously coached the Heat, Magic, and Pistons, spent a couple years as an NBA analyst from 2018-20 before returning to the head coaching ranks in 2020, when he was hired by the Pelicans. He had a disappointing season in New Orleans, however — a team that entered the year with playoff aspirations finished with a 31-41 (.431) record, missing the play-in tournament.

Replacing Alvin Gentry on the Pelicans’ sidelines, Van Gundy emphasized improving the team’s defense, but failed to do so, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New Orleans ranked 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions, two spots worse than in 2019/20. The Pels also had trouble closing out games, losing 14 times when they held a double-digit lead.

Clark writes that Van Gundy struggled to connect with many of the Pelicans’ young players, who didn’t adapt well to the drastic shift from Gentry’s coaching style to Van Gundy’s. Sources tell NOLA.com that Van Gundy’s relationship with star forward Brandon Ingram was “strained” for much of the season.

Van Gundy joins Nate Bjorkgren, formerly of the Pacers, as the head coaches who were let go this spring after just one year on the job.

The fifth team to launch a head coaching search since the regular season ended, the Pelicans are expected to look both inside and outside of the organization as they seek Van Gundy’s replacement.

Several reporters – including Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Will Guillory of The Athletic, and Marc Stein of The New York Times (all Twitter links) – say that current Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon is a strong contender for the position, while O’Connor also identifies Fred Vinson as a candidate.

As for external candidates, Wojnarowski names Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, and Nets assistants Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka as possibilities, noting that the Pelicans considered some of those coaches a year ago before hiring Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, meanwhile, could receive some consideration from the other four teams with head coaching openings, but may prefer to step away again after a trying season. A return to broadcasting is one possibility for the veteran coach.

Magic To Interview Jason Kidd For Head Coaching Job

The Lakers have granted permission to assistant coach Jason Kidd to interview with the Magic for their head coaching position, reports Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports (Twitter link). According to Rohlin, Kidd will interview with Orlando this week.

It’s the second time today we’ve heard Kidd mentioned in connection with the Magic’s head coaching vacancy. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said this morning that the Lakers assistant is being linked to that job more and more frequently by people around the NBA.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Kidd has two stints as a head coach under his belt, having led the Nets for a single season in 2013/14, then the Bucks from 2014-18. He had a combined regular season record of 183-190 (.491) during his four-and-a-half years as a head coach in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, with a playoff mark of 9-15 (.375), including a lone series win in 2014.

The Lakers have reportedly been impressed with Kidd’s work on Frank Vogel‘s staff during the last two seasons and believe he should be a head coaching candidate again this offseason. He has already been linked to multiple vacancies, though he withdrew his name from consideration for one position, pulling out of the Blazers’ search after being publicly endorsed by Damian Lillard.

Teams with interest in Kidd figure to take a close look at his past run-ins with the law. He pleaded guilty to a domestic abuse charge in 2001 and to a misdemeanor DWI charge in 2013. However, his legal history hasn’t prevented him from being hired for multiple jobs since then.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.

Blazers Rumors: Billups, Lillard, Roster Changes, Kidd

On Monday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said there have been whispers among league personnel for weeks about Chauncey Billups being the most likely candidate to replace Terry Stotts as the Trail Blazers‘ head coach.

Today, John Hollinger of The Athletic echoed that point, writing that league sources view Billups as the likeliest choice for the Blazers. That belief may be one reason why Jason Kidd removed his name from consideration for the Portland job so quickly, Hollinger speculates.

Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said on Monday that the team will look at upwards of 20-to-25 candidates, so it doesn’t sound like he has zeroed on Billups quite yet. However, it’s worth noting that Billups – along with Kidd – was one of the candidates Damian Lillard endorsed last week. And Olshey confirmed during his press conference on Monday that Lillard will have a say in the hiring process, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“Obviously, Dame’s opinion is very important,” Olshey said. “If you ask him, we have very rarely made a big free-agent decision, very rarely made a trade without his participation and his insight. And it will be the same thing (with this coaching hire).”

According to Olshey, when the team made its decision on Stotts, Lillard was the first player to be informed.

“I called Dame to let him know we were making a coaching change, and I kind of told him the model of what we are looking at in terms of profile and the kind of candidates we would be looking at,” Olshey said, per Quick. “And I said, ‘Hey, if you have a few names, let me know.’ And he gave me a couple names. It’s unfortunate it was made public, because it didn’t actually serve the guys whose names were thrown out there. It certainly didn’t serve them well in the ensuing 48 hours.”

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Olshey said on Monday that finding a coach capable of improving the Blazers’ defense will be a top priority. As Quick writes, Olshey pointed to certain teams – such as the Knicks and Hawks – that made defensive improvements after changing coaches without major roster shakeups. “Teams that made big jumps on the defensive end were led in part by coaches who players knew on day one they were going to have to defend and be held accountable on that end of the floor because that’s what the coach valued,” Olshey said.
  • Although Olshey didn’t close the door on roster changes, he argued on Monday that the Blazers’ first-round loss “was not a product of the roster,” according to Hollinger. He also suggested that the coaching hire is Portland’s top priority since it’s a decision that the team can fully control. “We don’t control whether or not a superstar player wants to come to Portland or not. Or whether we have the pieces to get a deal done for that level of player,” Olshey said, per Quick. “But right now, we do control one element where we think we can find someone who can make more of an impact — with the current group, with improvements coming in the offseason — to get us to the level we expect to be at.”
  • Asked on Monday about changes to the roster, Olshey declined to specifically discuss any players, stating his preference not to do in a public forum. “We are going to look to make our team better; nothing is ever off the table if it advances us closer to a championship,” he said, per Quick. “But I’m not going to start bandying names about because people in the media think that there is some predetermined resistance to making a trade.”
  • Following Lillard’s public endorsement of Kidd, there was some back-and-forth between Lillard’s camp and the Blazers’ front office, according to Quick, who believes that conversation may have revolved around the team’s concerns about Kidd’s domestic violence history.

Jason Kidd Won’t Seek Trail Blazers’ Coaching Job

Jason Kidd has decided not to be a candidate for the Trail Blazers’ vacant head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

“Portland’s a first-class organization and will have great candidates for its head coaching job, but I’ve decided not to be one of them,” Kidd said. “Whoever they choose will have big shoes to fill from Terry (Stotts).”

According to Wojnarowski, Kidd became uncomfortable with seeking the Trail Blazers’ job after star guard Damian Lillard said Friday that Kidd was his top choice. Kidd was concerned that Lillard’s public comment would put the team in an awkward position if he interviewed for the post.

“Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” Lillard said after news broke that Stotts won’t be returning next season.

Kidd, a former head coach with the Nets and Bucks, has been the top assistant to Frank Vogel with the Lakers for the past two seasons.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Blazers haven’t talked to any potential candidates yet or reached out for permission to interview anybody, but that process should begin once the last first-round series wraps up today.

Portland is expected to consider Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, former Knicks and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and Michigan coach Juwan Howard, sources tell ESPN.

Lakers Notes: Pelinka, Schröder, Centers, Kidd

When a defending champion gets knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, it usually means changes are coming, but Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka hopes to keep the core of this year’s team intact, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Injuries played a large role in L.A.’s downfall this season, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both missing long stretches and being less than 100% for the playoffs.

The Lakers will have eight free agents this summer and possibly nine if Montrezl Harrell turns down a $9.7MM player option. Pelinka indicated that he will try to re-sign most of those players and said the front office is committed to paying the luxury tax to keep the team in title contention.

“I’m convinced that, again, without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year, the challenges that we had to face, that we’d be a championship-caliber team,” he said. “So the goal is to try to keep that core group together.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • At Friday’s exit interviews, Dennis Schröder made it clear that his decision to turn down an $84MM extension during the season wasn’t in retaliation for being part of trade talks involving Kyle Lowry, McMenamin adds. Schröder has expressed a desire to return to the Lakers, but he will see what offers are available in free agency. “I didn’t decline the extension because I was in trade talks,” he said. “I own a (basketball) team in Germany as well. I try to run my organization in Germany as fair as possible, but end of the day, it’s still business. … That’s what Rob did as well. He told me the story. He listened to it. It wasn’t even right by the trade deadline, but he talked to them to see. … I would listen to offers as well. … You don’t know what you can get, and you see what your options are.”
  • Finding a dependable center should be the focus of the Lakers’ offseason, states Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. They installed Andre Drummond as their starter after signing him in March, but he wasn’t used in Thursday’s close-out game. Marc Gasol signed a two-year contract during the offseason, but his role diminished significantly after Drummond was added.
  • With three NBA head coaching jobs now open, Frank Vogel said he believes Jason Kidd deserves another shot, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The Lakers’ assistant is Damian Lillard‘s first choice to take over the Trail Blazers and may be a candidate for other teams. “Jason has become one of my closest friends, you know, really a trusted advisor on my coaching staff and someone that has just been integral to our success in the last two years,” Vogel said. “He should be at the top of everybody’s list that has an opening in the NBA.” 

Lillard Favors Kidd For Blazers’ Job, Also Likes Billups

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has already gone on the record regarding Terry Stotts’ potential replacement, and he favors two other former All-Star point guards.

Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’d like to see Lakers assistant Jason Kidd get the job. Portland parted ways with Stotts, its nine-year head coach, on Friday night after the Blazers’ latest early playoff exit.

“Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” Lillard said.

Haynes reported shortly after the news broke of Stotts’ departure that Lillard would have significant input in the hiring process. Stotts has been his only head coach since he entered the league.

According to Haynes, Lillard and Kidd “have a great relationship” and Lillard has great respect for Kidd’s basketball acumen and knowledge, believing he could get the team to the next level.

In a story written by The Athletic’s Jason Quick and Shams Charania, Lillard added another name to the mix — Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups.

“I like J. Kidd and Chauncey,” Lillard said.

The Athletic story added that Dame prefers Kidd, mainly due to his head coaching experience, but that Portland’s front office is intrigued by Billups. It’s believed that the job will go to one or the other.

Kidd’s record as a head coach — one season with the Nets and three-plus seasons with the Bucks — is 183-190. He was fired by Milwaukee midway through the 2017/18 campaign. He’s been one of the Lakers’ top assistants under Frank Vogel the last two seasons.

Billups, the 2004 Finals MVP, joined Ty Lue’s staff after a stint with ESPN.

Billups, ABC broadcaster and former Rockets/Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach and current Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, and University of Michigan head coach and former Heat assistant Juwan Howard were named as potential candidates by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Blazers didn’t want to make a hasty decision on Stotts’ status but the 63-year-old coach and his agent wanted a quick resolution so that they could explore other opportunities, according to The Athletic. Stotts is believed to be a candidate for the Pacers job if they move on from Nate Bjorkgren.

Lillard heaped praise on Stotts and wished things had turned out differently.

“I feel down about it, because I’m not much a fan of change,” Lillard said. “And every memory of mine in this uniform includes him.”

However, there were increasing concerns about Stotts’ ability to connect with his players and make in-game adjustments.

Jason Kidd Expected To Receive Interest From Celtics, Blazers

Having spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach on Frank Vogel‘s staff, Jason Kidd has impressed the Lakers during that time, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who says the front office has “raved” about Kidd.

Haynes cites Kidd’s innovative ideas, communication skills, and ability to “rally the troops” as traits that have impressed the Lakers. The club believes he should be a top candidate for open head coaching jobs this offseason — and it sounds like he will be.

According to Haynes, the Celtics are expected to interview Kidd for their newly-opened head coaching position. Additionally, Haynes reports that there’s an expectation Kidd will be a top target for the Trail Blazers if they move on from Terry Stotts. Marc Stein of The New York Times echoes this point, tweeting that there’s “strong buzz” in coaching circles linking Kidd to Portland.

Boston is the only team that currently has a head coaching vacancy after Brad Stevens transitioned to a front office role. However, a number of other teams are evaluating their head coaches. Besides the Blazers and Stotts, the Pacers and Wizards will have to make decisions on Nate Bjorkgren and Scott Brooks, respectively. So it may not be long before there are multiple clubs in the market for a new coach.

Kidd has two stints as a head coach under his belt, having led the Nets for a single season in 2013/14, then the Bucks from 2014-18. He had a combined regular season record of 183-190 (.491) during his four-and-a-half years as a head coach in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, with a playoff mark of 9-15 (.375), including a lone series win in 2014.

Kidd has had some run-ins with the law in the past. He pleaded guilty to a domestic abuse charge in 2001 and to a misdemeanor DWI charge in 2013. However, his legal history hasn’t prevented him from being hired for multiple jobs since then.

Celtics Will Start Coaching Search With Internal Interviews

The first step in the Celtics‘ search for a new head coach to replace Brad Stevens will begin with several internal candidates, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Chris Mannix of SI.com suggested as much earlier today.

Boston’s head coaching position opened up this morning when Danny Ainge resigned as president of basketball operations and Stevens was chosen to replace him.

Weiss notes that Stevens’ staff has several strong candidates. Jay Larranaga interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching spot before James Borrego was hired, and Scott Morrison and Brandon Bailey both coached at the team’s G League affiliate in Maine. Jerome Allen is a former NBA player with college head coaching experience at the University of Pennsylvania, while Jamie Young has been with the team since 2008.

Among external candidates, the most interesting name is Kara Lawson, who would become the first female NBA head coach if she gets the job. Lawson spent a year as an assistant in Boston before leaving in 2020 to become head coach of the women’s team at Duke. Others to watch, sources tell Weiss, include former Celtics players Sam Cassell, currently an assistant with the Sixers, and Chauncey Billups, who is on the Clippers‘ staff.

Weiss also expects interest in former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Nets assistant Ime Udoka, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee. According to Weiss, another potential outsider is Juwan Howard if he’s willing to leave Michigan.

Brad Stevens Named Celtics’ Head Of Basketball Operations, Will Lead Search For New Coach

10:06am: The Celtics have officially announced that Stevens is the new president of basketball operations. Despite at least one report suggesting that Ainge isn’t expected to retire from basketball (as noted below), the club’s statement says the veteran executive is “retiring” from his role as president of basketball ops. Ainge will continue to work with the team through its offseason transition, per the C’s.

“Helping guide this organization has been the thrill of a lifetime, and having worked side-by-side with him since he’s been here, I know we couldn’t be in better hands than with Brad guiding the team going forward,” Ainge said in a statement. “I’m grateful to ownership, all of my Celtics colleagues, and the best fans in basketball for being part of the journey.”

Stevens issued a statement of his own, as follows:

“I’m grateful to ownership and to Danny for trusting me with this opportunity. I’m excited to tackle this new role, starting with a wide ranging and comprehensive search for our next head coach. I love the Celtics, and know the great honor and responsibility that comes with this job. I will give it everything I have to help us be in position to consistently compete for championships.”

9:24am: A major shakeup is taking place in Boston, as Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will indeed step down from his current role, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski had reported earlier in the morning that Ainge was seriously considering such a move.

The Celtics won’t go outside the organization for Ainge’s replacement, however. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links), head coach Brad Stevens will be making the move from the sidelines to the front office and will become the club’s new president of basketball operations.

Rather than holding a dual role, Stevens will become a full-time front office executive and is expected to lead the search for the Celtics’ new head coach, Charania reports.

Celtics players were informed of this potential change late on Tuesday night after the team was eliminated from the playoffs, says Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Ainge had been contemplating leaving his job as the Celtics’ president of basketball operations for the last several months, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who adds that Ainge had discussed possible succession plans with ownership.

While Stevens is a surprising choice as Ainge’s successor, Wojnarowski points out that Ainge made a similar move early in his post-playing career, having coached the Suns from 1996-99 before later transitioning into a front office role. According to Woj (Twitter link), Stevens has been described as feeling “worn down” with coaching since last summer and welcome the opportunity to shift into an executive position.

This major basketball operations overhaul comes on the heels of the Celtics’ early exit from the postseason. After making the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four years, Boston entered the season with aspirations of competing for a title.

However, due to COVID-19 issues, injuries, and inconsistent play, the team never built any real momentum toward legit contention, finishing seventh in the East. Although the C’s earned a postseason berth via the play-in tournament, they were eliminated swiftly in the first round by the Nets.

Despite the Celtics’ disappointing season, Stevens and Ainge – one of the longest-tenured coach/executive duos in the NBA – weren’t thought to be in any real danger of being fired. It appears Ainge’s exit is of his own volition after he spent the last 18 years calling the shots in the team’s front office.

Even though his time with the Celtics is ending, Ainge isn’t believed to be leaning toward retirement, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who tweets that the Jazz have been rumored as a possible landing spot for the veteran exec.

Meanwhile, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce are expected to be among the candidates to fill Boston’s newly-created head coaching vacancy, according to Haynes (Twitter link).

In his eight seasons as the Celtics’ head coach, Stevens led the team to a 354-282 (.557) regular season record, with a 38-40 (.487) mark in the playoffs, including those three Eastern Finals appearances. As for Ainge, the C’s made the postseason in all but three of his 18 seasons running the front office, taking home a title in 2008.

Ainge’s trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen helped lead the Celtics to a title in 2008. Additionally, the blockbuster deal that sent an aging Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for a boatload of draft picks in 2013 is considered one of the biggest NBA heists of the century, putting Boston in position to land Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in subsequent drafts.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.