Jesse Mermuys

Pacific Notes: Ayton, Clippers Arena, Hield, Kuzma

Suns center Deandre Ayton finds himself in a reserve role for the time being and he admits it’s an adjustment, as he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Ayton is working his way back into top shape after a 25-game league-imposed suspension. “I’ve never been through this, but it’s new,” the top overall pick of the 2018 draft said. “I’m just holding my head high and just working.” Ayton had 18 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes against Charlotte on Sunday.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Madison Square Garden Co., which owns The Forum, has sued California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee over legislation that facilitates the construction of a new Clippers arena, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reports.  The lawsuit alleges that a bill which shields the billion-dollar development from extended environmental litigation if it met several requirements violates the state constitution, Fenno continues. MSG has two additional lawsuits pending in relation to the proposed arena, which is scheduled to open in 2024.
  • Kings guard Buddy Hield signed a four-year, $86MM extension prior to the season and the franchise is holding him to a higher standard, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee relays. Head coach Luke Walton and assistant Jesse Mermuys had a candid conversation with Hield after he recently complained about his playing time. “I talked to Luke and coach Jesse, and we just sat down and they gave me a reality check,” Hield said. “There’s stuff they need me to do and stuff I need to get better at — just challenging me — and Luke is a guy who always challenges me. Him and Jesse just bring the challenge and I accept it.”
  • Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is aware his name has been bandied about in trade rumors but he’s trying to block it out, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Kuzma averaged 31 points in two games this weekend with Anthony Davis sidelined. “Nah, that’s for y’all to talk about,” Kuzma said. “I’ve been through it multiple times and obviously I see it. But it don’t even matter at this point.”

Pacific Notes: Thompson, Caroline, Fall, Kings’ Staff

Mychal Thompson, father of Warriors star Klay Thompson, said there’s “no question” Klay will re-sign with Golden State, Connor Letourneau‏ of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Warriors are expected to offer him a full five-year maximum deal worth nearly $190MM despite Thompson’s knee injury during Game 6 on Thursday. Thompson suffered a torn left ACL and is expected to miss most of next season.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

Kings Add Three To Coaching Staff

The Kings have made several additions to their coaching staff. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link), the team has added Bob Beyer, Jesse Mermuys and Roy Rana as assistant coaches.

Beyer most recently coached under Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City. He previously was in Detroit under Stan Van Gundy.

Mermuys follows new Kings head coach Luke Walton from Los Angeles to Sacramento, having spent the last three seasons with the Lakers.

Rana is a long-time Canadian coach who leads the country’s under-18 and under-19 national teams.

Walton joined the Kings after mutually parting ways with the Lakers. Sacramento is expected to add even more staff in the coming weeks.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Eastman, Lakers, Kings

Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo is eligible for free agency this summer, and while there’s a chance he’ll return to Sacramento, it sounds like those odds would have been very slim if George Karl hadn’t been replaced by Dave Joerger as the team’s head coach. In an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, Rondo said that the tension between the Kings‘ coaching staff and DeMarcus Cousins was unlike anything he’d seen in his NBA career.

“There were too many distractions on and off the court,” Rondo said. “The organization as a whole, I don’t think was together completely. I think as a team you have to want the best for the next man beside you, and that wasn’t the case with the Sacramento Kings.”

Asked about his free agency, Rondo didn’t rule out a return to the Kings, but suggested he’ll explore his option. The point guard will be prioritizing a landing spot where his teammates are willing to work hard to grow and get better. “I don’t want to be the hardest-working guy in the gym,” Rondo said.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Longtime basketball coach Kevin Eastman has decided to call it a career, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Eastman, who was an assistant on Doc Rivers‘ staff in Boston before joining him with the Clippers, was named L.A.’s vice president of basketball operations in 2014. In his newsletter, he explained his decision to retire from coaching and outlined what he’ll do next.
  • There’s coaching news on Los Angeles’ other squad as well. According to analyst Dave Miller (Twitter link), Jesse Mermuys will join Luke Walton‘s coaching staff with the Lakers. Last season, Mermuys served as the coach of the Raptors 905, Toronto’s D-League affiliate, so the Raps will have to fill that role for 2016/17.
  • Colorado State guard Antwan Scott, who previously worked out for Denver, will be part of a group workout on Wednesday for the Kings, tweets Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.

Atlantic Notes: Afflalo, Durant, Powell, Early

Executives around the league believed Arron Afflalo was likely to turn down his $8MM player option for next season with the Knicks even before the shooting guard and interim coach Kurt Rambis began publicly disagreeing about whether they discussed Afflalo’s benching, reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Afflalo’s choice is key since the team would have the cap flexibility necessary to chase middle-tier max free agents if he opts out, Begley notes. Afflalo and teammate Derrick Williams must decide on their player options no later than June 22nd, the day before the draft.

See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Providence College head coach Tim Welsh said in an appearance on “Toucher & Rich” on WBZ-FM that his conversations with NBA types of late indicate that the Celtics will be on the list of teams Kevin Durant‘s will at least look at in free agency this summer, in large measure because of the allure of coach Brad Stevens (video link via Comcast Sports Net Northeast).
  • DeMarre Carroll‘s injury has given Raptors 2015 second-round pick Norman Powell more of a chance at the NBA level that first-rounder Delon Wright has had, and Powell is playing a much different role in Toronto than he did early this season on assignment with the team’s D-League affiliate, notes Eric Koreen of Sportsnet. Still, Raptors D-League coach Jesse Mermuys sees Powell’s time with Raptors 905 reflected in his play of late. “All he saw was the rim, no matter how many bodies were there,” Mermuys said of Powell’s D-League performance. “We really wanted to try to develop when he got to the paint and got to the rim and there was a crowd, [that he would be] able to make the right play and the simple play, which he dramatically improved in his time. The more time he played and worked at it, it was a pretty rapid improvement, which was a huge sign for him. His ability to improve at that rate is why he is in the position he’s in now.”
  • The Knicks have recalled Cleanthony Early from the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link). Early has made only one 19-second appearance at the NBA level since he was injured in a December shooting.

Atlantic Notes: Saric, Kaun, Jason Smith, Carroll

The Sixers apparently wanted to bring Dario Saric over for 2015/16, and Saric shared that desire, reports David Pick, writing for Basketball Insiders. However, the No. 12 pick in the 2014 draft doesn’t have a way to escape his contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes until next year. Saric was circumspect when Pick asked him about the idea of coming stateside and the situation with his overseas team.

“It’s really hard for me to answer that,” Saric said. “I can’t comment. I think I’m ready to compete in the NBA, against the best players, but we built a great team in Efes and I want to help the club win a championship.”

In any case, it would seem that Saric is anxious to sign with the Sixers as soon as he can, rather than wait until 2017, when he wouldn’t be bound by the rookie scale, though that’s just my observation. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The most recent talks the Nets have had with the Cavaliers were about Cleveland draft-and-stash center Sasha Kaun, not Joe Johnson, as Chris Mannix of SI.com reports as part of a larger piece. The Nets and Kaun, a 6’11” 30-year-old, have had mutual interest for some time, tweets Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. The Spurs have also reportedly talked to the Cavs about him. The Johnson discussion is reportedly dormant.
  • The Knicks offered their $2.814MM room exception to Jason Smith, but he turned it down for more money from the Magic, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. New York could have offered as much as $3,933,600 via Non-Bird rights, but agent Mark Bartelstein made it clear there are no hard feelings, as Berman relays. “The Knicks made a great attempt to try to keep him,’’ Bartelstein said.
  • Soon-to-be Raptors signee DeMarre Carroll authored an homage to the Hawks, his former team, in The Players’ Tribune, giving credit to a handful of figures, especially former Hawks assistant Quin Snyder, who’s now head coach of the Jazz.
  • New Raptors D-League one-to-one affiliate Raptors 905 has named Dan Tolzman as its GM and Jesse Mermuys its head coach and assistant GM, the team announced. Both were already employed within the Raptors organization.

Odds & Ends: Hill, Team USA, Cousins

Opting to stick around for youth basketball camps he sponsored in Texas, Pacers guard George Hill understands that his decision to forego his commitment to Team USA training camp on short notice could hurt his chances at future invitations (IndyStar.com). USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo's reacted to Hill's decision: "We expected him here, and he withdrew…Until I really get the answer, I don't know what else to tell you. I just don't think it's fair to comment one way or the other until I have facts, out of courtesy and respect."

Here are a few more miscellaneous rumblings to pass along from tonight:

  • Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (via Twitter) hears that the Kings will be meeting with DeMarcus Cousins' agent Dan Fegan in the near future to discuss a contract extension. 
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets that early next year, Colangelo will announce another pool of 25-28 players for next summer's World Cup competition.
  • Though he almost chose the Mavericks at the request of his son, Jermaine O'Neal passed on the chance to return home and ultimately chose to join the Warriors for the opportunity to be a part of something special (Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News). 
  • Eric Koreen of the National Post introduces us to Bill Bayno, Jesse Murmuys, and Jama Mahlalela – some of the new faces on the Raptors' assistant coaching staff. In another piece, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun gathers some of head coach Dwane Casey's thoughts on Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan and their improvement this summer. 
  • Zach Harper of CBS Sports is puzzled by Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum's statement to Cleveland media that he's never played for a city that really supported their team, coming from someone who developed and enjoyed plenty of success with the Lakers

Atlantic Rumors: Nets, Kirilenko, Kenyon, Knicks

GM Billy King says there's nothing untoward about the Nets discount signing of Andrei Kirilenko, despite whispers about under-the-table dealings, as Newsday's Roderick Boone reports. 

"I can’t control what people think, what they say," King said. "I think some of the same things were said when Miami got the Big 3 together or guys have moved around. When things happen, people are surprised. My conscience is clean. I know in dealing with [Kirilenko's agent] Marc Fleisher and getting this deal done, I can’t control what people think."

There's more on Kirilenko's decision and other Atlantic Division rumblings, as we detail:

  • King said Kirilenko rejected the Nets' pursuit earlier this month, but the forward had changed his mind by the time King checked in with him again, Boone notes in the same piece.
  • The Knicks are eyeing free agent Kenyon Martin as they look for a backup big man, and Martin is keeping the Knicks in mind, guard Iman Shumpert tells Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com
  • Wolves assistant Bill Bayno and Rockets assistant Jesse Mermuys are set to join Dwane Casey's staff with the Raptors, as Eric Koreen of the National Post passes along.
  • Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie held forth on all things Sixers in his interview with HoopsWorld's Bill Ingram, affirming that ownership is on board with the drastic changes he's making to the team.
  • The Sixers' acquisition of Nerlens Noel for Jrue Holiday, Hinkie's first major move, became official today, as did the Celtics/Nets blockbuster. Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press examines Brooklyn's high-priced gamble.