Joe Dumars

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Danny Ferry Named Pelicans’ Interim GM

Veteran NBA executive Danny Ferry is taking over as the Pelicans‘ general manager on an interim basis, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the move in an official announcement. The press release also confirms that New Orleans has parted ways with longtime GM Dell Demps, which was reported earlier today.

“We will immediately begin the process of restructuring our basketball operations department,” team owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “This will include a comprehensive, but confidential, search aided by outside consultants to identify a new leader of our basketball operations, directly reporting to me.”

A former general manager in Cleveland and Atlanta, Ferry did excellent work reshaping the Hawks’ roster, but saw his time with the team come to an end after he read an offensive comment from a scouting report on Luol Deng out loud during a conference call. Ferry subsequently took a leave of absence from the Hawks and eventually reached a buyout agreement with the club.

In recent years, Ferry has served as a special advisor to the general manager in New Orleans.

The Pelicans are expected to aggressively pursue a high-level executive to be the club’s next head of basketball operations, with former Cavaliers GM David Griffin and current Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren among the candidates already mentioned. New Orleans’ search figures to take some time though, opening the door for an in-house exec like Ferry to take the reins for the time being.

Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter links) hears that Joe Dumars, who has long been linked to the Pelicans, isn’t expected to be a target for the permanent GM job. However, Mackel suggests that Ed Stefanski, who is currently the head of basketball operations for the Pistons, may be a candidate.

Mackel adds (via Twitter) that president Mickey Loomis, who is primarily a football executive for the Saints, will continue to have oversight within the NBA franchise, but is expected to take a step back and focus nearly exclusively on football. That lines up with Benson’s statement, which suggests that the basketball operations department will be reworked and that the new GM will report directly to her.

Joe Dumars Joins ISE Agency

Former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars has joined sports agency Independent Sports & Entertainment, according to a press release. ISE, which went through an acrimonious split with president of basketball Dan Fegan earlier this year, has hired Dumars to fill Fegan’s old position.

“Joe’s arrival at ISE marks the tone for the future of our basketball practice and business,” ISE president and CEO Hank Ratner said in a statement. “He’s experienced on both sides of the negotiating table, has served as a role model and mentor for players at all levels and understands the preparation and dedication required to excel as a player and then make a successful post-career transition. A decorated NBA player and front office executive with relationships across the globe and an impeccable reputation as a leader and man of great integrity, we are proud to have Joe join ISE.”

Dumars, who stepped down from his role in Detroit in 2014, helped lead the Pistons to a 595–536 (.527) regular-season record, 73 postseason wins, and an NBA championship in 2004, and was named Executive of the Year in 2003.

In recent years, Dumars has been linked most frequently to the Pelicans’ front office, and was also a candidate for the Hawks when they sought a new GM this spring. However, his new role will be for a player agency rather than for an NBA franchise. In a statement of his own, Dumars suggested that he’s looking forward to working with NBA players in a “much more impactful and meaningful way.”

As for Fegan, ISE’s former president of basketball filed a $30MM lawsuit against Ratner earlier this summer for fraud and contractual interference, alleging that Ratner and ISE “orchestrated a Machiavellian conspiracy, to steal [Fegan’s] clients and destroy his reputation.” ISE responded with a statement calling Fegan’s lawsuit a “publicity stunt.” The agency previously alleged that Fegan was operating a side business while working for ISE.

Latest On Hawks’ Front Office Search

The Hawks placed former team president Mike Budenholzer and former GM Wes Wilcox into new roles earlier this month and it appears the team’s search for new front office members is progressing out of its “infancy stage.” 

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) hears that Sacramento’s Scott Perry is being considered for the open GM position. The Kings hired Perry as their executive VP of basketball operations less than four weeks ago.

Earlier today, we learned that the Knicks have granted the team permission to interview their Director of Player Personnel Mark Hughes for the Hawks’ open GM position. Like New York, Houston will allow Atlanta to interview a member of its front office. The Hawks have their eye on Rockets VP of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas.

Atlanta is reportedly also considering Cavs GM David Griffin and Joe Dumars. The team also plans on discussing the position with TV analysts Chauncey Billups and Brent Barry.

Magic Await Permission To Talk To David Griffin

The Magic have submitted a formal request to the Cavaliers to speak with GM David Griffin, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Griffin is believed to be the front-runner to become Orlando’s president of basketball operations, with a report last month saying he will be offered the job when he becomes available.

The Cavaliers have not responded to the request, Wojnarowski adds, and have the option of holding onto Griffin until his contract expires at the end of June. With free agency starting July 1st, it’s possible that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will deny the interview request as a stall tactic to see if Orlando turns to someone else.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that Gilbert hasn’t made a substantive offer to try to keep Griffin, who built the Cavaliers into a championship team after LeBron James returned in 2014. James has been an outspoken advocate of keeping the GM, but his public comments seem to have had little effect on negotiations.

The Magic are getting ready to start interviewing other candidates for the position, including Hall of Famer Kevin McHale and Bucks GM John Hammond, who still has a year left on his contract in Milwaukee. Interim Magic GM Matt Lloyd has already been through the interview process and is highly thought of in the organization, according to Wojnarowski.

Orlando launched a front-office shakeup when the season ended, firing GM Rob Hennigan and assistant GM Scott Perry. The Magic plan to put control of the front office in the hands of a president, who will then hire the next GM.

The team faces competition from the Hawks, who recently relieved Wes Wilcox of GM duties. Griffin is seen as a candidate in Atlanta, along with former Pistons executive Joe Dumars, Rockets VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, Knicks director of player personnel Mark Hughes and former players and current TV analysts Chauncey Billups and Brent Barry. Wojnarowski reports that the Hawks have received permission to interview Rosas and Hughes.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Combine, Johnson, Dumars

Pistons center Andre Drummond may start wearing a facemask to protect his nose, according to Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Drummond recently underwent surgery to fix a deviated septum, which has limited his breathing for several years. Coach Stan Van Gundy said the procedure could make Drummond more vulnerable to having his nose broken, which is why the mask is being considered. “The only thing is there’s a little bit of a chance that it makes you more susceptible to breaks, which he knew going in, which means he may have to wear a mask, at times,” Van Gundy said. “Or if it gets hit. So we’ll see.” He added that Drummond is ” feeling a thousand times better” since the procedure.

There’s more news out of Detroit:

  • The Pistons asked the prospects they interviewed at this week’s draft combine to break down film clips, Ellis adds in the same story. Gonzaga big man Zach Collins said Detroit was one of the few teams he talked to that asked for film analysis, but Van Gundy is a believer in the technique. “There is no right or wrong answer; I just like to hear them talk about basketball and articulate what they see on the court,” Van Gundy said. “Most of them will go back to their rules in college about defensive rotations. I’m not worried about what it is [they know], but more if guys have a pretty clear understanding of what they think should be done.”
  • Second-year swingman Stanley Johnson expressed a willingness to play in the Orlando Pro Summer League, but the Pistons seem to have decided against it, Ellis relays in another story. Van Gundy says the decision was made in last month’s exit meeting. “I think what we might do with him is – and he talked it about when he left – go down [to Orlando] and practice with us,” Van Gundy said.[Reggie] Bullock did it with us last year. Go down and practice, but not anything else.” He added that rookies Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije will definitely be part of the summer league team.
  • Pistons legend and former executive Joe Dumars is honored to be a candidate to run the Hawks, Vincent adds in a separate piece. Appearing this week on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Dumars addressed rumors that he is being considered for the top job in Atlanta. “There’s only 30 of these jobs in the world,” he said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be with the Hawks or anyone else, I look at it as a great opportunity because these are tough jobs.” Grant Hill, Dumars’ former teammate in Detroit, is a minority owner of the Hawks.

David Griffin, Joe Dumars On Hawks’ Radar?

Having restructured their front office, the Hawks are in the market for a new top basketball executive, and according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter), league sources suggest that David Griffin and Joe Dumars are expected to emerge as candidates for that job.

Mike Budenholzer had previously served as the president of basketball operations in Atlanta, but relinquished that title and will simply be the club’s head coach going forward. Meanwhile, Wes Wilcox was the Hawks’ general manager, but will now serve as a special advisor to team ownership. Both Budenholzer and Wilcox are expected to have a say in personnel decisions, but the Hawks are on the lookout for someone who will have the final say.

Griffin has emerged as the most popular front office target around the league early in the 2017 offseason. Despite playing a significant role in building the Cavaliers’ roster, the GM is on an expiring deal with the defending champs, and contract talks between the two sides have reportedly stalled. That has opened the door for rival suitors to prepare pitches for Griffin. In addition to the Hawks, the Magic are believed to have the Cavs GM high on their wish list, though those teams won’t be able to talk to him until Cleveland’s season ends.

As for Dumars, the Pistons’ former president of basketball operations stepped down from that role in 2014. During his time in Detroit, he helped lead the club to a 595–536 (.527) regular-season record, 73 postseason wins, and an NBA championship in 2004, and was named Executive of the Year in 2003. In recent years, he has been linked most frequently to the Pelicans’ front office, should New Orleans decide to shake things up.

As Stein observes (via Twitter), Hawks minority owner Grant Hill, who was expected to have a hand in the team’s search for a new executive, has ties to both Griffin and Dumars. Griffin worked in the Suns’ basketball operations department when Hill was in Phoenix as a player, and Dumars played with Hill in Detroit.

Earlier today, Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler said that he hopes to have a GM in place before June’s draft, though he has confidence in the current basketball operations department to handle things in the coming weeks. Ressler added that he hopes Wilcox remains with the Hawks in his new role, admitting that the former GM will have many other options around the NBA (all Twitter links via David Aldridge of NBA.com).

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Gentile, Pelicans

It may not be up to him but Kawhi Leonard has told the Spurs coaching staff that he would prefer to play out the final six contests of the regular season, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

Unfortunately for Leonard, the club’s final six games come in a span of nine days, including one set of four games in five nights. Considering historically cautious Spurs bench boss Gregg Popovich, it’s unlikely that Leonard’s wish will be granted.

In 69 games for the Spurs this season, Leonard has averaged 25.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Though his season average is 33.8 minutes per game, that usage increased to 36.0 in March.

Suffice it to say, though Leonard is approaching a career high in games played for a season, it’s unlikely he closes out all six. As McDonald writes, he only needs four to set a new career mark with 73 in a campaign.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Veteran big man David Lee signed on with the Spurs after falling out of favor in Dallas and Golden State. The 33-year-old’s energy has added a new element to the traditionally subdued roster. “I know the team, especially when Tim Duncan was here, was a lot more quiet. Then Dewayne Dedmon and I both came in, and we are quite outgoing,” Lee told Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “I don’t know if that is right or wrong, but that’s just being ourselves.
  • Italian swingman Alessandro Gentile, a 2014 second-round pick of the Timberwolves whose rights are currently held by the Rockets, has signed on to play in Israel, E. Carchia of Sportando relays.
  • With possible newcomer Joe Dumars waiting in the wings, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps and head coach Alvin Gentry will be evaluated this summer, writes John Reid of the Times-Picayune. The pair have struggled to build a framework for success around Anthony Davis.

Front Office Shakeups Ahead?

Disappointing seasons could lead to front office changes for at least five teams this summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

The most obvious team headed for a shakeup is Sacramento, which reportedly wants to position someone above GM Vlade Divac and may have interest in former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, despite an official statement denying it. There are also ongoing rumors of a rift between Vivek Ranadive and the minority ownership, which has grown frustrated with the way the team has been managed.

Kyler notes that Ken Catanella was hired as an assistant GM last summer, but wasn’t given the power that many expected him to have.

Change may also be coming to these organizations:

  • Orlando — The Magic seem ready to replace GM Rob Hennigan, with Pistons executive and former Orlando player Pat Garrity as the leading candidate to be offered the job. The Magic had hoped to be playoff contenders after signing Bismack Biyombo and trading for Serge Ibaka, but the new combination never worked out. Orlando is 14th in the East at 27-47, and Ibaka was shipped to Toronto last month. Kyler cites league sources who say several of the Magic’s lower level executives are expecting changes and have started contacting other organizations.
  • New Orleans — A recent report said coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps could both be fired without significant progress by the end of the season. Demps may have bought himself more timee with the DeMarcus Cousins trade, but the Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his seven years at the helm. Louisiana native Joe Dumars is close to ownership and is reportedly being considered as a replacement.
  • Phoenix — The Suns will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, and many believe that owner Robert Sarver wants to turn things around quickly. Ryan McDonough has amassed an impressive group of young talent in his four years as GM, but that may not be enough to convince Sarver to keep him.
  • Atlanta — It’s unlikely that coach/executive Mike Budenholzer or GM Wes Wilcox gets replaced, but several staff additions are expected. The Hawks have been shaken by the loss of free agent Al Horford last season and the possible exit of Paul Millsap this summer, along with a late-season losing streak that may knock them out of the playoffs. More voices may be brought on to help Budenholzer and Wilcox with the decision-making process.

Uncertainty Surrounds Jason Kidd, John Hammond

League sources who spoke with Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times believe Bucks GM John Hammond will either be fired or resign soon, and people close to the team tell Woelfel that coach Jason Kidd is also on shaky ground. The news on Kidd jibes with a February report from The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicating that Kidd was losing his influence with Bucks owners in the wake of player personnel moves that haven’t panned out. Kidd has exerted control over the composition of the roster, as Woelfel told Hoops Rumors earlier this season.

Some around the league speculate that Hammond will end up with the Pelicans, who’ve long been linked to Joe Dumars, Hammond’s former boss, Woelfel hears. The Bucks signed Hammond to an extension this past September that carries through next season, which is also the last on Kidd’s deal. Lottery-bound Milwaukee has disappointed this year and can finish no better than 35-47 after last season’s 41-41 record.

Woelfel indicates the Bucks plan to shop Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams this summer, though it’s unclear if that plan would persist if neither Hammond nor Kidd is around to execute it. The Bucks reportedly had talks with the Pelicans about Monroe before the trade deadline, and Wojnarowski heard Bucks owners vetoed a would-be trade with the Pelicans that Kidd was spearheading, though it’s unclear if that would have involved Monroe.