Jeff Bzdelik

Western Notes: Pelicans, Bzdelik, PG13, Lillard, More

After being let go by the Rockets this spring, veteran assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik is generating significant interest from one of Houston’s division rivals. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), The Pelicans have offered a spot on Alvin Gentry‘s coaching staff to Bzdelik, who is weighing his options after leaving Houston.

While nothing has been finalized yet, David Aldridge of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that Bzdelik and the Pelicans are “close” to a deal. The longtime NBA and college coach, who previously had a stint as Denver’s head coach is one of the most highly-regarded defensive coordinators in the league, as both Stein and Aldridge note.

If the Pelicans finalize an agreement with Bzdelik, he could step into the role vacated by former assistant Darren Erman, who recently left the club’s coaching staff.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Shortly after word broke that the Thunder had agreed to trade Paul George to the Clippers, Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) said that George had “a little bit of buyer’s remorse” after agreeing to a long-term extension in Oklahoma City last summer. Bill Simmons of The Ringer used the same phrase (“buyer’s remorse”) on a recent podcast when describing what he had heard about PG13 over the last couple months.
  • At the press conference to announce Damian Lillard‘s new super-max extension on Saturday, Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey called the move a “no-brainer,” while Lillard explained why his top priority has always been winning a championship in Portland. “In the end, I know that if it gets done, it will feel much better to know that I did it in a solid way,” Lillard said, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I didn’t have to go and play with the best players just to get it done. For me, this is the way I want to do it. And I know that if it doesn’t happen I can live with it because I know the route that I chose.”
  • While Jerami Grant is unlikely to start over Paul Millsap, the Nuggets will continue to be “judicious” with Millsap’s playing time moving forward, giving Grant plenty of opportunities in Denver, writes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. In his analysis of the Nuggets’ latest acquisition, Kosmider suggests that Grant projects as an ideal floor spacer next to Nikola Jokic.
  • In a court brief filed last week in response to sexual assault allegations by former sportscaster Kelli Tennant, new Kings head coach Luke Walton claimed that those allegations aren’t backed up by facts and are designed to attract media attraction. Stefanie Dazio of The Associated Press has the full story.

Rockets Notes: D’Antoni, Harden, Paul, Staff Changes

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said talks regarding a contract extension are in an advanced stage, he told Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports. D’Antoni, who has one season left on his four-year, $16MM contract, believes he can go an additional two or three years.

News that the two parties were negotiating an extension came to light last weekend.

“I don’t do it (negotiate). That’s my agent. He takes care of that stuff,” D’Antoni said. “They’ve been discussing it for a long time now. It just hasn’t been a couple weeks. It’s been awhile that they’ve been talking. So they’ll figure it out.”

We have more on the Rockets:

  • D’Antoni was caught off-guard by a report that James Harden and Chris Paul had a verbal altercation in the locker room after the team was eliminated by Golden State, he told Berman. “It was definitely blown out of proportion,” D’Antoni said. “Those are discussions that (happen with) every good team that has a lot of alpha dogs and we do. Those are things that (happen) in the locker room and on the floor, time outs and everybody’s trying to compete and win a championship. That happens all the time. So it was nothing out of the ordinary at all. It kind of took me a little bit by surprise. I was shocked. Just wow, okay, it just didn’t happen.”
  • The Rockets fired player development assistant coach Irv Roland, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. That’s quite significant, since he has been Harden’s trainer since 2016 and also has a tight relationship with Paul, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets.
  • The organization also mutually parted ways with assistant Roy Rogers, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Rogers wanted more than a one-year offer, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Assistant Mitch Vanya and video coordinator John Cho were also let go, Feigen adds.
  • Despite the extension talks, the staff shakeup has made some people in the coaching community wonder if the team’s brass is trying to convince D’Antoni to leave, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. The Rockets also parted ways with associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik last week.

Bulls Notes: Bzdelik, Adams, Draft, Dunn

Former Rockets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik could be a candidate to join Jim Boylen’s staff in Chicago, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The Rockets decided not to pursue a new contract with Bzdelik, who is considered the architect of the defense in Houston. He briefly retired from the game last fall before rejoining the Rockets in November.

The Bulls interviewed Bzdelik for an assistant’s job in 2002 and were interested in hiring him before he joined the Nuggets. He also interviewed with executive vice president John Paxson for Chicago’s head coaching position in 2008. Bzdelik hasn’t decided if he wants to keep coaching next season, but Johnson notes that the Bulls still have an opening to fill.

There’s more today from Chicago:

  • Mark Adams, an assistant at Texas Tech and a long-time friend of Boylen’s, had discussions about coming to the Bulls but decided to remain in Lubbock, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium.
  • The Bulls are looking at Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Duke’s Cam Reddish and North Carolina’s Coby White as possibilities in next month’s draft, Johnson writes in a full story. Paxson said after the lottery that he is open to all possibilities with the No. 7 pick, including a trade. If the Bulls keep their selection, they could choose a defensive upgrade in Culver, a shooting specialist in Reddish or address a position of need by taking White. “I’m a point guard,” White said when asked where he projects himself in the NBA. “Put the ball in my hands.”
  • The Bulls may opt to give Kris Dunn another chance rather than chase a crop of free agent point guards that isn’t outstanding, speculates Sam Smith of NBA.com. Dunn only established himself as a scorer occasionally under coach Fred Hoiberg and he never gained the trust of Boylen once he took over the team, Smith adds. However, with D’Angelo Russell and Terry Rozier both being restricted free agents — and Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison as realistic alternatives — Chicago may decide to spend its free agent money elsewhere.

Rockets Part Ways With Jeff Bzdelik

Rockets associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik has been let go by the organization, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Houston technically took no action, as Bzdelik’s contract expired at the end of this past season. The coach has been with the Rockets since 2016, though he had been publicly noncommittal about his future with the club over the past year.

Bzdelik, who has a background in scouting in addition to coaching, has previously been an assistant in Denver, Memphis, and Washington. He also spent several seasons in the college ranks as a head coach at Air Force, Colorado, and Wake Forest.

Texas Notes: Spurs, Milutinov, Walker, Bzdelik

Barring any surprises, the Spurs‘ starting five for next season appears set, writes Jeff McDonald of The Athletic. Dejounte Murray, returning from a torn right ACL, should take over at point guard, with Derrick White joining him in the backcourt. DeMar DeRozan will move to forward, alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, who impressed the coaching staff after a midseason move into the starting lineup.

That means, if he returns, Rudy Gay will continue in a bench role, along with Bryn Forbes, who started much of this season. Coach Gregg Popovich wants DeRozan to become more proficient from 3-point territory to make up for not having Forbes as a starter.

“That’s what the league is all about now,” Popovich said. “End of the game, the first thing that you look at is 3-point shooting, and it covers up a whole lot of warts. You can get beat on the boards —  I mean, in one of the games that we beat Denver, they had 28 second-chance points, but they shot horribly, and we shot very well. Game over. It’s not very interesting. It’s not much fun. But that’s the way the league is.”

There’s more NBA news from Texas:

  • The Spurs may be ready to add draft-and-stash project Nikola Milutinov to their roster, McDonald adds. The 26th pick in 2015, Milutinov has been playing for Olympiacos B.C. of the Greek Basketball League, where he averaged 10.7 PPG and 6.8 RPG this season. The Spurs will explore the 24-year-old center’s market value before bringing him to the U.S., and McDonald expects them to let him adjust to the league gradually, just as they did with Boban Marjanovic and Davis Bertans.
  • Kemba Walker appears to be the Mavericks‘ most realistic option in free agency, Marc Stein of the New York Times said in a recent radio interview in Dallas. Stein said the Mavs are “legitimately intrigued” by Walker, and he believes they will get a meeting with him when free agency begins in July.
  • Rockets associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik has found a way to balance basketball and family after briefly walking away from the game last fall, relays Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston convinced him to return in November and he helped fix the defense after a disastrous start. “He was kind of resolute for a little while,” said Rockets CEO Tad Brown. “Fortunately for us, we were able to wear him down and end up bringing him back. The first thing was always, let’s make sure everything is OK, personally, with he and his family. And then, secondarily, how do we handle this, how do we move forward? But at the same time, he’s a key part of what we do. How do we get him back to (our) family?”

Southwest Notes: Bzdelik, Conley, Davis, Holiday

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni missed a second consecutive game with the stomach flu today, but fortunately for the Rockets, associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik has been able to pick up the slack in D’Antoni’s absence.

Unfortunately, the Rockets do not yet know whether Bzdelik, 66, will return to the team next season after he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he hasn’t yet thought about his future beyond this season.

“That’s a really good question. I don’t know the answer to it,” Bzdelik said when asked whether he intended to return to the Rockets next season. “First of all, none of us have any guarantees on tomorrow… I work for a great organization, great ownership, great management. I work for a great, great man and basketball coach in Mike. I work with great people. I thoroughly enjoy my job.”

Bzdelik, who retired after the end of last season due to an unspecified personal issue, returned to the Rockets in November.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division this evening:

  • Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian takes a detailed look at the value of Mike Conley to the Memphis franchise in the wake of what could be the final few games of the 31-year-old point guard’s career with the Grizzlies. Additionally, Herrington analyzes some variables that may affect whether the team ultimately trades Conley.
  • While recognizing that Anthony Davis is the greatest player in franchise history, Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes how Davis’ connection with the Pelicans franchise and the city of New Orleans imploded the second he demanded a trade. Both Davis and the Pelicans are sick of losing, but were never able to come up with a joint solution to the problem.
  • In another article for The Advocate, Kushner details how Davis’ inevitable departure may lead to Jrue Holiday being the new face of the Pelicans, a role and challenge that Holiday is ready to embrace. “I’m going to go with it,” Holiday said. “I’m excited to run with it. I guess I’d like to be more involved with decisions and decision-making moving forward.”

Southwest Notes: House, Davis, Grizzlies, Bzdelik

Just hours after signing with the Rockets on Monday, Danuel House was thrown into the fire, logging 28 minutes in the team’s overtime loss to Washington. While House only posted four points in his first game as a Rocket and the club couldn’t get a victory, the Houston native is excited to be playing for his hometown team, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“It’s huge,” House said of his new contract with the Rockets. “I didn’t want to break the news to my family quite yet. Going back home, I’m from Houston, it’s going to be huge. It’s an honor. Showing my little cousins and the people around me to never give up and continue to fight. Life can throw you down, but you have to be judged by how you stand up.”

Although House has now appeared in regular season games for three NBA teams since going undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2016, he has spent a good chunk of his professional career in the G League, playing last season and this year for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s NBAGL affiliate. This is the first time he has been under contract with the Rockets.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Asked on Monday about how the Pelicans are dealing with Anthony Davis trade speculation, head coach Alvin Gentry suggested that he’s not even thinking about that, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald relays. “That’s what you guys talk about,” Gentry said of the Davis chatter. “We don’t talk about it. So he’s here. He’s playing on our team. We’re trying to win games. That’s the only thing that matters right now. It’s not anything that I’m going to have a say-so in or anything else, so we don’t bother about it.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com takes an in-depth look at how the Grit ‘n’ Grind 2.0 philosophy is working out for the Grizzlies, who are managing to pile up wins despite ranking dead-last in the NBA in points per game.
  • Rockets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik officially returned to the team on a full-time basis last Friday, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details. The return of Houston’s defensive specialist hasn’t exactly had an immediate impact — the Rockets have lost all three games since Bzdelik has been back on the bench, surrendering 122.7 PPG in Detroit, Cleveland, and Washington.

Rockets Notes: Carmelo, MCW, Paul, Bzdelik

While there has been no resolution yet to the Carmelo Anthony situation in Houston, the uncertainty surrounding the 10-time All-Star hasn’t been a distraction for the rest of the Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“In this league, man, you’ve seen it all, especially the vets,” forward P.J. Tucker said. “You see all kinds of crazy situations. There’s different things going on. You’re a professional. You go out. You play the other team. The situation is unfortunate, but in this league, you got to say, ‘Who’s up next,’ get ready to play and go out and play your (butt) off.”

As Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays, league sources still believe that Anthony has played his last game with the Rockets.

As we wait to see what happens with Carmelo, let’s round up a few more items on the Rockets…

  • Within his look at the Rockets’ offseason changes, MacMahon observes that Michael Carter-Williams has been just as disappointing as Anthony, with Houston having been outscored by 45 points during his 97 minutes on the court. James Ennis has been better, but a hamstring issue has prevented him from developing chemistry with his new teammates. “I don’t think they’re all on the same page,” a Western Conference scout told MacMahon last week. “I think that’ll come. I think they’ll get it. It’s still a long season, still remains to be seen. They’ll figure it out and be fine.”
  • When the Rockets re-signed Chris Paul to a four-year deal this summer, they knew that the fourth year, worth $44.21MM, probably wouldn’t provide good value, writes MacMahon. However, they do expect more from Paul this season, with the veteran point guard off to a slow start. “That’s a lot to do with it,” Paul told ESPN. “I look at myself first in this situation. I know I’ve got to play better, and that’ll help us play better.”
  • One scout who spoke to MacMahon believes Paul looks “a step slow,” but CP3 points out that he’s having no problem creating shots — just making them. MacMahon also suggests that some people believe the Rockets are dealing with a “hangover” from last season in the early going this year. “We didn’t win,” Paul said. “So we can’t have a hangover.”
  • Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta personally recruited defensive specialist Jeff Bzdelik to get him to rejoin the team, offering a significant raise and making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistants, according to MacMahon. Bzdelik won’t be back with the organization on a full-time basis until after Thanksgiving, MacMahon adds.

Rockets Made Run At Frank Vogel For Assistant Job

The Rockets made a run at Frank Vogel earlier this fall in an effort to hire him to Mike D’Antoni‘s coaching staff, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times.

According to Stein, Houston viewed Vogel as a candidate to help fill the void created when defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik retired. Bzdelik has since come out of retirement and rejoined the Rockets, presumably eliminating the need for the organization to hire another assistant.

Vogel, the longtime coach of the Pacers, most recently served as the head coach in Orlando. The Magic fired him this spring, two years after hiring him. Vogel’s contract with the Magic was reportedly a four-year deal, meaning he’s still being paid this season and next season. As such, it makes sense that Vogel would take his time to consider all his options for his next job, rather than accepting an in-season assistant offer from Houston.

While it can’t be attributed entirely to Bzdelik’s return, the Rockets have looked much better on defensively lately than they did at the start of the season. After surrendering 115.6 points per game in their first seven contests, Houston has given up just 96.3 PPG in its last six.

Texas Notes: Doncic, Pondexter, Spurs, Bzdelik

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, the early-season favorite for Rookie of the Year, hasn’t needed time to adjust to the NBA game, writes Martin Rogers of USA Today. Unlike past European stars who have struggled with the faster pace, Doncic has made an impact right away, averaging 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his first three weeks in the NBA.

Teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who made the same transition 20 years ago, believes Doncic has benefited from rules changes that limit the amount of contact by defenses.

“The game is easier to adjust to now than it was 10 years ago,” Nowitzki said. “It is less physical and more free flowing, so everything is set up for him to succeed and do well.”

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Veteran swingman Quincy Pondexter has a “50-50” shot at staying on the Spurs‘ roster for the entire season, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic. Pondexter, who signed with San Antonio in August, is the only player on the team without a guaranteed contract. He has appeared in six games and is only playing 7.5 minutes per night, but has been a positive influence in the locker room. Young believes his fate will depend on whether the Spurs decide they want to sign someone who has been bought out.
  • The Spurs plan to scout several players before filling their second two-way slot, Young adds in the same story. San Antonio gave one spot to Drew Eubanks shortly before camp opened, but has been keeping the other one vacant. Young doesn’t believe its being held for injured forward Josh Huestis, formerly of the Thunder, who is now with the Spurs’ G League affiliate in Austin.
  • The Rockets opted to keep the same defensive philosophy as last season despite a change in personnel and are bringing back associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik to try to make it work, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Bzdelik, who installed the switching-heavy approach that took Houston to within a game of the NBA Finals, announced his retirement shortly before the start of training camp. However, team officials convinced him to return and he plans to rejoin the Rockets at the end of this month.