Jerry Sichting

Knicks Expected To Retain Kurt Rambis As Assistant

The Knicks are currently in negotiations with Kurt Rambis on a new contract that would give the former interim head coach a spot on Jeff Hornacek‘s staff in New York, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.com. The deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but it sounds as if both sides are comfortable moving forward with Rambis as a Knicks assistant.

Rambis, who was considered for the Knicks’ head coaching vacancy, ultimately lost out on the position to Hornacek, raising some doubts about his future with the franchise. However, sources tells Begley that Hornacek has signed off on making Rambis a part of his staff. Rambis had one year remaining on his previous contract with New York, but the two sides have decided to work out a new agreement.

While Phil Jackson, who publicly endorsed Rambis’ inclusion on the Knicks’ coaching staff earlier this week, was believed to be pushing for his former Lakers assistant to stick around, Hornacek was given the authority to make the final calls on his assistants, and is on board with the plan. “Nothing is being forced down Jeff’s neck,” one source tells Begley.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, Hornacek and Rambis, who were teammates as players with the Suns, have a long-standing friendship, with each coach having considered the other for a spot on his staff in the past — Rambis offered Hornacek a job with the Timberwolves, while Hornacek discussed bringing Rambis onto his staff in Phoenix.

Hornacek is also expected to add former Suns assistant Jerry Sichting to his staff in New York, says Begley.

Eastern Notes: Beal, Knicks, Antetokounmpo

Shooting guard Bradley Beal believes he’s worthy of a max deal as he heads into restricted free agency this summer, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. Beal will sign an offer sheet from a suitor willing to pay that price if the Wizards don’t make a max offer when free agency begins in July, he told Castillo in a phone interview. “I feel like I’m a max player and that’s what I’m looking for,” he said. “If Washington can’t meet that requirement then I may be thinking elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that they probably won’t [let me go].” Beal declined a contract extension prior to the beginning of this past season and doesn’t believe his injury history will affect his bargaining power, Castillo adds. “The injury thing, that’s behind me,” Beal said. “I’m moving forward. I’m past it.”

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Jerry Sichting, Jeff Hornacek’s offensive assistant with the Suns, could land an assistant coaching job with the Knicks under Hornacek, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Sichting was let go against Hornacek’s wishes last season while Corey Gaines, another former Hornacek assistant who was not retained by the Suns after the season, is also a candidate to join Hornacek’s staff, Berman continues. Hornacek is not expected to retain ex-coach Derek Fisher’s hires of former Thunder assistants Brian Keefe, Joshua Longstaff and David Bliss.
  • Power forward Anthony Tolliver, center Joel Anthony and point guards Steve Blake and Lorenzo Brown are unlikely to return next season, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com in his roster review. It’s 50-50 whether the team will bring back oft-injured shooting guard Jodie Meeks and third-string point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Langlois continues. Meeks could be tossed into a trade, while the club has a mid-July deadline to decide whether to guarantee Dinwiddie’s contract for next season, Langlois adds.
  • Power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to play for the Greek National Team in the Olympic Qualifier at Turin, Italy, Sportando reports via Eurohoops. “I want to play for the national team. The Bucks know it,” he said to Eurohoops. “We have not talked yet for this matter. Even if they are negative, I would try to convince them to let me play.”

Jeff Hornacek On Hot Seat With Suns

MONDAY, 11:05am: The Suns have officially announced the assistant coaching moves in a press release. “It is never easy to make changes to a coaching staff in the middle of a season but we feel Earl and Nate are ready to take the next steps in their careers and provide some creative ideas to our group,” said GM Ryan McDonough. “We thank Mike and Jerry for their contributions. They are both good coaches who made significant contributions to our team winning 87 games over the previous two seasons.

11:10pm: The Suns are firing assistant coaches Mike Longabardi and Jerry Sichting, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, while Stein hears that fellow assistants Nate Bjorkgren and Earl Watson will take on more prominent roles (Twitter links). Hornacek’s future is still unclear, Wojnarowski says, though Stein suggests in a second tweet that the moves indicate the team is giving Hornacek another chance.

SUNDAY, 1:39pm: Jeff Hornacek‘s job as head coach of the Suns is under immediate threat because of the team’s 12-20 record and its recent 5-15 skid, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. With belief growing within the organization that the team is no longer responding to Hornacek, the organization is thinking about making a coaching switch, according to Stein. This is the final guaranteed season on Hornacek’s original four-year contract.

The Suns were viewed as having a strong chance to make the playoffs this season after solid campaigns in each of Hornacek’s first two seasons. Phoenix was one of the league’s most improved teams in 2013/14, Hornacek’s first year. The Suns went 48-34 that season yet did not make the playoffs. They were 39-43 last season and again missed the playoffs. The Suns’ signing of Tyson Chandler was thought to be a significant addition and one that would make the Suns a much better team, as Stein points out.

Things have not worked out that way, especially lately. The Suns’ loss to the Sixers on Saturday seems to have been especially tough for the organization to swallow, Stein writes. It was Philadelphia’s first road win since last March. What’s more, as Stein adds, it was the first game on the Sixers’ bench for former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, who was hired recently by new Philadelphia chairman of basketball operations and former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo to serve as associate head coach to the Sixers’ Brett Brown. The timing of the news is also interesting because Eric Bledsoe will likely miss a significant amount of time with a knee injury, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).

Hornacek’s agent, Steve Kauffman, reportedly engaged in an odd exchange on an online message board over the summer in which he denied that Hornacek declined to interview for the then-vacant head coaching position at Iowa State, his alma mater. Shortly before that, Hornacek expressed his commitment to the Suns when asked if he had interest in coaching the Cyclones.

And-Ones: Cavs, Nets, T’Wolves

There are plenty of head coaching options for the Cavaliers to consider, as the league’s current list of free agent coaches includes Mike D’Antoni, Lionel Hollins, Mark Jackson, and George Karl. Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio briefly profiles each of the above-mentioned candidates according to their chances of landing in Cleveland next season. Additionally, Amico mentions Alvin Gentry, Jerry Sichting, Mark Price, Alex Jensen, and Steve Kerr as other names to keep in mind.

Here are some more miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight:

  • Despite talk that Kevin Garnett could potentially retire after this season, with Paul Pierce slated to hit unrestricted free agency, all signs point toward both returning to the Nets next year, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.
  • Timberwolves brass will be heading to Chicago tomorrow in preparation for the NBA’s pre-draft combine and are expected to request interviews with many players, including Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas, Kentucky’s James Young, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, and Duke’s Rodney Hood, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
  • In the same piece, Zgoda writes that the Wolves are looking to acquire their own D-League affiliate.
  • Don’t be surprised if LeBron James chooses to distance himself from Roger Mason Jr.‘s recent comments about boycotting the 2014/15 season if Donald Sterling still owns the Clippers, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
  • Assuming he re-signs with the Thunder in 2016, Kevin Durant could earn somewhere around $143.75MM over five years, as Berry Tramel and Jon Hamm of NewsOK explain.
  • During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Magic Johnson revealed that he declined an offer from Pistons owner Tom Gores to be part of his ownership group in Detroit (H/T to The Detroit News). Magic had been responding to the claim from Donald Sterling that the former Lakers star had been conspiring to purchase the Clippers.

Rick Adelman Announces Retirement

Rick Adelman announced his retirement from coaching at a press conference today, the Timberwolves confirm (Twitter link). A parting of ways has been widely expected, and fellow Star Tribune scribe Sid Hartman wrote last week that there was “no chance” that Adelman would return. That followed a pair of reports last month that cast serious doubt on the coach’s future. The team and Adelman had a mutual option for 2014/15, and either side had the ability to walk away from the contract. He’ll remain with the team as a consultant, the team also says (on Twitter).

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte BobcatsTom Izzo, Fred Hoiberg and Stan Van Gundy are the team’s targets to coach next season, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported last week, though all three seem difficult targets. Hoiberg appeared unlikely to accept an offer from the team even before Iowa State gave him a raise, and report from February indicated Van Gundy probably won’t coach anywhere next season. Izzo vehemently denied rumors that he’d coach the Pistons. A more attainable replacement for Adelman could be Suns assistant coach Jerry Sichting, whom Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio identifies as a “name to really watch” in connection to the Wolves job (Twitter link). Wolves President of basketball operations Flip Saunders reportedly would like to take over as coach, but owner Glen Taylor prefers that two different people handle the top front office job and the head coaching gig.

Adelman, 67, is stepping away with the eighth-most wins in NBA history, having compiled a 1,042-749 record in 23 seasons. He arrived in Minnesota for the 2011/12 season after a three-year stint with the Rockets, but he failed to lift the Wolves into the playoffs during his tenure. He enjoyed much greater success elsewhere, leading the Trail Blazers to two Finals appearances in his first four seasons as an NBA coach and nearly guiding the Kings to the Finals in 2002, when they lost a seven-game heartbreaker in the conference finals.

Those Kings teams cemented Adelman’s reputation as an offensive wizard, but Zgoda suggested last month that if he hadn’t retired from the Wolves, the team would have declined to pick up his option for next season. In any case, the health of Adelman’s wife likely weighed heavily in his decision. He missed 11 games to tend to her during the 2012/13 season, when she was suffering from seizures, and Adelman missed time to deal with unspecified personal issues this season.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune was the first to report the news, via Twitter. Sam Amick of USA Today confirmed the report (Twitter link). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Suns, Jordan

A few notes from around the league's Pacific Division.

Southeast Rumors: Magic, Wizards, Sichting

Orlando is once again the center of the NBA universe as the Magic are reportedly working on yet another Dwight Howard trade. Sam Amick of SI.com provided an update earlier on the talks, and in his story he passed along a few comments from Magic CEO Alex Martins on how the team will proceed with Howard. 

"We have very specific goals as to what we would hope to achieve if we were to trade Dwight, OK?" Martins said. "We acknowledge and are realistic about the fact that you're never going to get equal value in return for Dwight Howard. But if we were to trade him, we have three primary goals that we're trying to achieve and in the end, any deal that's proposed to us I think we've been very clear about the fact about the goals of what we're trying to achieve."

Martins didn't specify what the three goals are, but said the team hasn't delineated from its plan, and added that the ability to acquire "the right combination of pieces" in return for Howard will determine whether they make a deal. We've got more on the Magic and the rest of the Southeast Division here:

  • The Wizards have hired Jerry Sichting as an assistant coach, the team reports on its website. Sichting has 24 years of NBA experience as a player, assistant coach, and front office executive, but spent last season coaching Martinsville High School, his alma mater, in Indiana.
  • Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News tweets that Harold Ellis, director of pro personnel for the Pistons, is jumping to the Magic to work in a similar capacity. He follows Scott Perry, who left the Pistons in June to become Orlando's assistant GM.
  • Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com doesn't think the latest Howard deal makes sense for the Magic (Twitter link). Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com also looks at what each side might get in the deal, and believes the Sixers are the only team that would benefit. The deal remains fluid, though, and some of the players currently said to be part of the deal may not be included.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Howard, Ferry, Teague

In a piece that calls upon Dwight Howard to act professionally as he seeks to move on from the Magic, Chris Broussard of ESPN.com revisits the big man's decision to waive his early termination option this past March. Broussard says Howard wanted to give the team a chance to improve the roster and was open to staying, but when former coach Stan Van Gundy told the media a team executive had let him know Howard wanted him fired, Howard lost all trust and confidence in the Magic. There are a few other items concerning the Magic's Southeast Division rivals this evening:

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune expects former Wolves assistant coach Jerry Sichting to wind up in that same role for the Wizards (Twitter link). That appears to be the "tweak" to his staff Wizards head coach Randy Wittman was referring to (link below).

Earlier updates:

  • Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio applauds Hawks GM Danny Ferry, hired barely a month ago, for assembling a competitive team for the upcoming season while freeing cap space to make a major move next summer. 
  • This coming season will be the last of Jeff Teague's rookie contract, and with all the new faces on the Hawks this year, including fellow point guard Devin HarrisMichael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at how Teague can make the most of 2012/13.
  • Roger Mason, who agreed to sign with the Hornets today, thought when last season ended that he'd be back with the Wizards, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. With the team drafting Bradley Beal at his position and adding other veterans who can assume his leadership role, the eight-year veteran decided to turn elsewhere.  
  • Wizards coach Randy Wittman held forth on a number of topics, and Lee has the details. Wittman hinted that the team may keep a roster spot or two open heading into training camp, and said he's still considering another "tweak" to the coaching staff after hiring former Spurs assistant Don Newman earlier this summer.
  • In the same piece, Wittman addressed the team's decision to use the amnesty clause to waive Andray Blatche, saying, "I hope and wish the best for Dray. And maybe this can be the best thing for him in turning his career back around and being the player I think we all think he can be."
  • Wittman expressed a preference for having three point guards on the roster, and said that's one reason the Wizards signed A.J. Price.
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