John Lucas

Rockets Notes: D’Antoni, Travel Details, Tucker

69-year-old Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who says he has cleared his medical screenings with Houston, has flown with the team to Orlando, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). Though D’Antoni was granted no “formal NBA thumbs up,” as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets, the league also did not restrict D’Antoni’s campus attendance following the medical clearance.

D’Antoni is the league’s second-oldest head coach, after 71-year-old Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. The 40-24 Rockets are currently the No. 6 seed in the West, 1.5 games clear of the seventh-seeded Mavericks.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • D’Antoni and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey are relishing the opportunity for the team to practice together ahead of the league’s scheduled July 30 restart, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Because we had a major change in the components of the team, we do think a second training camp benefits us,” Morey said. “Because when you’re integrating a starter onto a very good team, getting more time to drill… will allow us to integrate (Robert) Covington in, and I do think that slightly favors us.”
  • Rockets All-Stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook did not travel with the rest of the team to Orlando today, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). They are expected to arrive later this week. Newly-signed substitute player Luc Mbah a Moute and player development coach John Lucas also did not travel with the rest of the Rockets, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • 35-year-old Rockets forward/center and defensive stalwart P.J. Tucker has indicated that he would like an extension on his current four-year contract, which expires after the 2020/21 season, per Fox 26 Houston’s Mark Berman (Twitter link). “I want to retire as a Houston Rocket,” Tucker said. “The fans, the city have embraced me since day one. So fingers crossed, I hope we can strike a deal and get it done.”

Rockets Notes: House, D’Antoni, Blossomgame, Shabazz

Danuel House credits Rockets assistant coach John Lucas for helping him to stay focused when it appeared his NBA dream may not work out, writes Sean Deveney for Forbes. House reached out to Lucas after being waived by the Wizards in March of 2017. A broken wrist had sidelined him for more than two months and he had gotten into just one game – less than a minute of playing time – with his first NBA team.

“Shut your mouth,” said Lucas, who first met House at age 13 at a Houston basketball camp. “Shut your mouth and get ready for your next opportunity.”

That came the following year with the Suns, but House found a more permanent home last season with the Rockets. He spent most of the year as a two-way player, but started 13 NBA games and eventually earned a three-year contract.

“I also told him he would be an NBA player,” Lucas recalled. “You could see he was good enough for that. I just never imagined we’d be together with the same team.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Mike D’Antoni was among the first coaches to successfully challenge a call, but he doesn’t believe teams should keep their right to challenge if they’re correct, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Under the newly adopted rule, coaches get to use the challenge once per game, whether they’re right or wrong. “Then you could have 20 or 30 challenges a game,” D’Antoni said. “I could see why they don’t do it.”
  • The Rockets’ G League affiliate has traded for Jaron Blossomgame, who was with Houston during the preseason. Blossomgame’s returning player rights were held by the Canton Charge, who agreed to give him up in exchange for Gary Payton II. Blossomgame impressed Rockets coaches during camp, and he was considered as a candidate for one of the team’s two-way slots.
  • The Rockets weren’t able to hold onto Ronshad Shabazz after signing and waiving him last weekend. Shabazz was selected by College Park, the Hawks‘ affiliate, with the 13th pick in Saturday’s G League draft.

Northwest Notes: Aldrich, Westbrook, Plumlee, Hood

Cole Aldrich, who signed a three-year, $22MM deal with the Wolves over the summer, was brought in to be a veteran mentor to the younger guys on the team and he’s enjoying his role, as he tells Michael Rand of The StarTribune. “Well, with [Jordan Hill], myself, [Brandon Rush] and we had John Lucas earlier in the year, it’s fun to have those guys and the young guys,” Aldrich said. “The teams we were on last year, we were all on older teams, playoff teams. Being able to bring our experience from those teams to a younger group of guys has been a lot of fun.”

More from around the Northwest…

  • Several of Mason Plumlee‘s teammates had adverse reactions to Sunday’s trade, Casey Holdahl of reports. “I mean, the business sucks man,” Damian Lillard said. “You wish you could get a team together and put pieces together and you can keep it together. You wish you had the power to keep it together regardless of anything. It happens this way sometimes.” Plumlee, who was dealt to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, had become an “adept playmaker” under coach Terry Stotts. “He’s [Plumlee] just a glue guy that you want on your team,” C.J. McCollum said. “He’s a guy who does things the right way, never complains and he’s getting better. He put together a nice string of 20, 25 games to where he’s getting double-doubles, making his free throws, finishing in the lane. And he’s a good guy. That’s what matters the most, he’s a good guy.”
  • Kevin Durant continues to get the best of Russell Westbrook, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. KD is averaging 37.7 points against OKC this season, a span in which the Warriors have gone 3-0. Despite the loss, Westbrook appeared to enjoy the home crowd’s mental warfare against Durant. “Honestly, I used to get booed in all arenas,” Westbrook said. “So, you know, the tables have turned a little bit.”
  • Chris Haynes of ESPN was critical of Westbrook’s demeanor in Saturday’s rivalry game, writing: “That miniature exchange exemplified Durant’s frustration in playing alongside Westbrook for those eight years with the Thunder. It was always, “I’m coming. I’m coming.” Meanwhile, the team wasn’t going anywhere.” Whereas Westbrook pursued lofty stats, Haynes writes, Durant always prioritized winning.
  • Rodney Hood, who has been out of action since February 1 due to a right knee injury, is expected to return after the All-Star break, the Jazz announced on its official website. Hood has averaged 13.7 points with 3.6 rebounds through 40 games in 2016/17.

Northwest Notes: Thibodeau, Lucas, Oladipo, Blazers

Managing expectations is one of the challenges Tom Thibodeau faces in his first year as coach of the Timberwolves, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Many observers thought Minnesota was poised to become playoff contender with a proven coach joining forces with young stars Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. But the Wolves have started slow, winning just seven of their first 25 games, and Thibodeau keeps reminding them to ignore outside influences. “Those are all projections,” he said. “Sometimes they’re high and sometimes they’re low. The thing is not to get wrapped up in that and to understand where you are and the improvement you have to make. Also, every year is different. Teams change. Personnel changes on every team and you have to understand what goes into winning.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Veteran Wolves guard John Lucas III is squaring off against his father tonight for the first time in his NBA career, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Lucas III earned a roster spot in Minnesota in the preseason, while the elder Lucas serves as head of player development for the Rockets.“It’s good to see him being back doing the thing he loves to do, being around the game. He’s enjoying it. I like seeing him back out there, passing on his knowledge,” Lucas III said.
  • The Thunder’s only plan regarding Victor Oladipo‘s injury is to re-evaluate him every day, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Oladipo hasn’t played since suffering a wrist sprain Sunday, and no timetable has been set for his return“I think a lot of times people want to know when he’s gonna be back, and to be honest with you, we don’t know,” said coach Billy Donovan. “I’m not saying he’s gonna be out for months. I’m not saying weeks or days. But I think what happens is, if you say, ‘He’s gonna be back this day’ and he’s not, people start to draw conclusions.”
  • The Trail Blazers need to turn some of their frontcourt surplus into a swingman who can play defense or a big man who can score, writes Josh Martin of Bleacher Report. He mentions Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Meyers Leonard as possible trade candidates.

Coaching Notes: Frank, Iske, Lucas, Pistons

The Clippers and assistant coach Lawrence Frank have reached an agreement that will see him promoted to executive vice president of basketball operations, reporting directly to team president and coach Doc Rivers, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. Frank will be tasked with reorganizing the franchise’s front office, including building out the infrastructure of its scouting, sports science and long-term strategic planning, Wojnarowski notes.

Frank, 45, has been a two-time head coach in the NBA with the Nets and Pistons, and had been working toward a transition to the front office in recent years, the scribe notes. As Nets coach, Frank reached the Eastern Conference semifinals three out of his first four seasons on the job. He won 279 games as a head coach, including an 18-20 (.474) playoff record. Frank has been an assistant coach and defensive coordinator for the past two seasons with Los Angeles.

Here’s more coaching news from around the league:

  • The Pistons announced via press release that the team has named Jon Phelps as GM and Rex Walters as head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s D-League affiliate. “We’re fortunate to be able to fill these two positions with guys we feel very comfortable with,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy.  “Jon was in Grand Rapids with the Drive the last two years so there’s familiarity and continuity there.  We’re confident he will continue to do a good job and transition well into this new role.  “Rex Walters brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience and has a passion for developing young players.  He’s spent some time with us here and already has a good understanding of how we operate.  We look forward to working with both of them.
  • The Wizards will be adding former Kings assistant Chad Iske to Scott Brooks‘ coaching staff in Washington, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post relays (on Twitter).
  • Former Wizards assistant coach Roy Rogers has reached an agreement to join Mike D’Antoni‘s staff with the Rockets, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • Former NBA player and coach John Lucas is joining the Rockets‘ staff as the head of player development, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays.

Eastern Notes: Lowry, Pistons, Heat, Kidd

DeMar DeRozan stayed in touch with Kyle Lowry this summer but didn’t try to pressure him into re-signing with the Raptors, and the soft-sell approach worked, as the point guard tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for Lowry confirms that the Rockets met with him on the first day of free agency but suggests that the Heat only made contact via email, as Lowry also says to Aldridge. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Pistons GM Jeff Bower looked into trade possibilities as the team sought a point guard, but no amenable deal emerged that would have allowed Detroit to acquire a player on an expiring contract, as president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy told reporters today. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press has the details. Detroit, which temporarily filled its vacancy with a 10-day deal for John Lucas III today, reportedly had interest in Norris Cole, who’s on an expiring deal, but the team evidently couldn’t work out a deal for him.
  • Lucas is willing to stick around if the Pistons want him beyond his 10-day contract, though he acknowledges that the team has made no promises for after the 10 days, as Ellis observes in the same piece.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called 10-day signee Tyler Johnson “the model of player development” today, as Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald tweets, leading Goodman to wonder if the club has long-term plans for the guard. Miami can’t sign Johnson to anymore 10-day deals this season after this one expires at the end of Saturday, so a season-long commitment would be required if he’s to remain with the Heat.
  • Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders makes the case that Jason Kidd should be a leading candidate for Coach of the Year thanks to the job he has done in his first year with the Bucks. Kidd is no stranger to surprising turnarounds as a player, since he helped take the Nets from a 26-56 team in 2000/01 to the Eastern Conference title in 2001/02 upon his arrival.  We’re only just past the midway point of the season, but Hamilton has Kidd as his top coach of the 2014/15 season, ahead of Steve Kerr and Mike Budenholzer.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Moreland, Green, Lucas, Hancock

There are six Western Conference teams in action tonight on a slate that includes a matchup of unbeatens between the Rockets and Heat, who also went head-to-head in the pursuit of Chris Bosh this past offseason. Let’s take a look at what’s going on out west before tonight’s action gets underway:

  • The Kings have assigned undrafted rookie forward Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns, the team announced today. Moreland, who signed a three-year deal with Sacramento in July, had yet to touch the floor in four games for the Kings after impressing this summer. His contract is guaranteed for $200K this season and is non-guaranteed for the two years beyond that.
  • Draymond Green, who will become a restricted free agent next summer, has switched agents, reports Sam Amick of USA Today (via Twitter). Green was previously represented by Herb Rudoy of Interperformances, as our Agency Database shows, and will now be under the care of B.J. Armstrong and Arn Tellem of the Wasserman Media Group, according to Amick. Green originally signed a three-year pact with the Warriors as a rookie, the third year of which became guaranteed on August 1 when he remained on the Golden State roster.
  • The Grizzlies’ deal with Kalin Lucas, struck earlier today, is non-guaranteed for one year but will become fully guaranteed at some point in January, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (via Twitter). Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders confirms it is a minimum salary deal worth the prorated amount of $486,446 (via Twitter).
  • Luke Hancock, who was waived by the Grizzlies in October, signed with Panionios B.C. of Greece, the team announced today (translation via Sportando). Memphis brought Hancock into camp on a non-guaranteed deal in September before parting ways with the undrafted rookie out of Louisville.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Odds & Ends: Magic, Wizards, Riley, Lin

In a tweet, Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Brian Shaw, Mike Malone, and Steve Clifford are three current coaching assistants who will be considered for the Magic's still vacant head coaching position. Here are a few more Wednesday evening odds and ends….

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Decisions On Non-Guaranteed Contracts

February 10th marks the day that all players on non-guaranteed contracts will have their deals guaranteed for the remainder of the season. However, if a team wants to meet that Friday deadline, it will need to make its decisions today, allowing its player(s) to pass through waivers in time.

Some non-guaranteed players, such as DeJuan Blair and Jeremy Lin, are in no danger of being waived. However, with a few dozen players on non-guaranteed deals across the league, there will be plenty of cuts before the day is out. Some of those players will sign 10-day contracts shortly after being cut, while others could join the D-League or find a place on our list of current unrestricted free agents.

We'll track all the day's decisions on non-guaranteed contracts right here, with the latest news up top:

Zach Links contributed to this post.