Johnnie Bryant

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, Raptors

If the Celtics are unable to come back from a 3-1 deficit to knock off the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, they may not be able to help looking back on a pair of 50-50 outcomes from past drafts that didn’t go in their favor.

As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, the first of those draft-day coin flips came in 2011, when the Celtics owned the 27th overall pick and had narrowed down their choice to JaJuan Johnson or Jimmy Butler. Boston selected Johnson, allowing Butler to fall to Chicago at No. 30. Today, Johnson is eight years removed from playing in his last NBA game, while Butler is on the verge of eliminating the C’s from the postseason (albeit after changing teams three times).

Meanwhile, Game 4 star Tyler Herro, who established a new career high on Wednesday with 37 points, was selected by the Heat in the 2019 draft at No. 13, one pick ahead of the Celtics at No. 14. Those draft slots were as a result of a three-team tiebreaker for the Nos. 12-14 selections, after Charlotte, Miami, and Sacramento all finished the season with identical records. The Hornets won the tiebreaker and claimed the No. 12 pick, while the Heat got No. 13. The C’s, who owned the Kings’ pick, ended up at No. 14.

As A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes, there was a “collective moan” among the Celtics’ brass after the Heat selected Herro at No. 13 a year ago, since the C’s had their eye on the Kentucky sharpshooter. They would have had a shot to draft him if they’d had better luck in that draft tiebreaker.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post questions whether the Nets really need to make a trade for a third star, suggesting that the missing piece for the roster may instead be a tough wing defender who could be signed using the mid-level exception. Lewis points to veteran forward Andre Roberson as one possibility, assuming he’s fully healthy.
  • David Nurse, a life/skills coach for a number of NBA players, believes that the Knicks will benefit from new assistant coach Johnnie Bryant‘s player development abilities, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays. “He focuses on the details and the specifics for each player,” Nurse said on Begley’s podcast, The Putback. “Player development gets thrown out there as a buzzword, like culture. No one really knows what it means. Most (people think of it as) being just rebounding for players, shooting spot shots. But that’s not player development. Johnnie realizes it’s about the details with helping these players that he works with, focusing on their strengths.”
  • Blake Murphy and Eric Koreen of The Athletic explore a few Raptors offseason topics, including how much the team’s initial offer to free agent guard Fred VanVleet should be worth, while Doug Smith of The Toronto Star says that president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster will earn their money during this offseason of uncertainty.

New York Notes: Mitchell, J. Bryant, Nash, Draft

The recent news that the Jazz will likely extend All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell with a five-year maximum contract takes him off the table as a Knicks trade target this offseason, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Bondy notes that there had been hope that Mitchell’s connection to new Knicks team president Leon Rose (he is represented by Rose’s former agency, CAA) might make the prospect of Mitchell demanding a trade to Madison Square Garden palatable. Mitchell played his AAU basketball in New York City.

There’s more out of the Empire State:

  • At least one Jazz personnel member will be joining the Knicks for 2020/21. Former Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, who will be the associate head coach under new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, officially signed his contract with the team following Utah’s elimination from the playoffs, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).
  • New Nets head coach Steve Nash will have his hands full with a litany of challenges and a loaded, win-now roster, per Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
  • The Knicks will have a variety of intriguing prospects to choose from with the No. 8 pick in the NBA draft, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Vorkunov appraises both the high-upside prospects and the low-risk options that should still be on the board by the time New York drafts.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Hayward, Nurse, Bryant

Even if the Nets manage to extend their season by winning today, they don’t know when Joe Harris might return to Orlando, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harris left the Disney World complex after Game 2 because of a family emergency. Teammates said he knew about the situation ahead of time, but still played on Wednesday.

“We haven’t even assessed that yet,” coach Jacque Vaughn said about whether Harris might rejoin the team. “My conversations with him were just checking on him to make sure that he was good and to let him know that we’re here for him when needed. I think the biggest task right now is for us to extend the series, and so to get a win and see what happens afterwards. It’s the ultimate compliment to him that he was concerned about the guys and the game, and so encouraging of the group. So while we were checking on him he was checking on us.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, who is sidelined with a Grade III sprain of his right ankle, has left Orlando and will return when he is closer to being ready to play, according to a tweet from the team. Hayward suffered the injury Monday and was projected to miss about four weeks.
  • Nick Nurse’s reaction to the loss of Kawhi Leonard last summer laid the groundwork for his Coach of the Year honor, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN. Nurse didn’t panic when Leonard announced he was headed to the Clippers in free agency, breaking up a team that had just won the NBA title. Instead, he started looking for solutions to keep the team in the championship chase without its best player. “When you see Nick on the sidelines, that’s who he is as a person – relaxed but so hard working, creative and dynamic, always setting the tone for our team (by) attacking our next championship, rather than defending our last,” said team president Masai Ujiri. “That is who Nick is, that is why we believe in him. His journey to this tremendous honor has been a long one – we are so happy to see him recognized this way.”
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder said assistant Johnnie Bryant will be a valuable addition to Tom Thibodeau’s staff with in New York, states Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks are expected to officially announce the move soon, but Bryant will continue to coach alongside Snyder as long as Utah’s playoff run continues. “He’s been someone who’s been with me since I got to Utah,” Snyder said. “Tactically, he’s learned (a lot) in the game and on the bench. He’s great on the court with players and you see him develop guys. It’s something we take pride in with our program. Johnnie’s been a big part of that.’’

Northwest Notes: Porter, Harris, Barton, Bryant, Little

The first round of the playoffs is an educational experience for young Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., as Mike Singer of the Denver Post details. Porter had 13 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes in the team’s postseason opener against Utah on Monday but was also targeted on defense and saw extra attention offensively.

“Just being out there, learning, going through it, you can’t put a dollar sign on that,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the best teacher that Michael is going to have. We can tell him, we can prepare him, but he has to go out there and feel it for himself and learn from it, which I know he will.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will once again be down two starters in Game 2 of their first-round series on Wednesday, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic tweets. Wings Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee), both of whom missed the opener, will sit out. Porter and Torrey Craig started in their place, though Jerami Grant and Monte Morris played heavy minutes off the bench.
  • Johnnie Bryant will remain on the Jazz’s coaching staff through the playoffs, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Bryant has reportedly reached an agreement with the Knicks to become the club’s associate head coach.
  • Trail Blazers rookie forward Nassir Little experienced a syncopal episode (fainting) on August 12 while attending an optional practice in Orlando, the team tweets. He was diagnosed with dehydration and further tests have been negative. He will remain with the team and undergo precautionary health monitoring for two weeks. Little has appeared in 48 games, but none during the restart.

Knicks To Hire Johnnie Bryant As Associate Head Coach

The Knicks are hiring veteran Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant as their new associate head coach under head coach Tom Thibodeau, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bryant is the second assistant confirmed to be part of Thibodeau’s staff, joining Kenny Payne.

[RELATED: Knicks hire Kenny Payne as assistant coach]

Having initially joined the Jazz in 2012 as a player development coach, Bryant was promoted to his assistant role in 2014 when Quin Snyder was named the team’s head coach. He has been a key part of Snyder’s staff since then, with Jazz beat writers Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune and Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter links) both noting that Bryant is highly regarded for his player development skills. Jones adds that Bryant has a “very close” relationship with rising Utah star Donovan Mitchell.

In New York, Bryant will be Thibodeau’s lead assistant on a staff that also features Payne and is expected to include a pair of former Knicks coaches, Mike Miller and Mike Woodson. Neither Miller nor Woodson has been officially named an assistant yet, but multiple reports in recent weeks have indicated they’re good bets to be part of Thibodeau’s staff.

Bryant’s player development abilities will be put to the test as he joins a team that features numerous recent top-10 picks, including RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, ‘Melo, Nuggets, Wolves, Jazz

Star point guard Damian Lillard attempted to recruit Carmelo Anthony to the Trail Blazers before the 10-time All-Star was traded to Oklahoma City in 2017 and then again before ‘Melo signed with Houston in 2018.

With Anthony once again on the lookout for a new team, Lillard has made peace with the fact that the veteran forward probably isn’t coming to Portland, as he said during an appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast (video link via ESPN). After Lillard detailed his previous recruiting efforts, he was asked if he’s “not putting [his] hand out again.”

“The team or me,” Lillard responded. “I’m like, ‘He ain’t coming here.’ He deserves to be in the league, but he ain’t coming here.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Free agent point guard Isaiah Taylor is working out for the Nuggets in Denver this week, league sources tell Harrison Wind of BSN Denver (Twitter link). After spending the 2017/18 season with Atlanta, Taylor was pushing for a spot on Cleveland’s roster last fall when he suffered a stress fracture in his leg and was subsequently waived. Now healthy, Taylor has also worked out for the Suns and Celtics, according to Wind.
  • The Timberwolves announced this week in a press release that Sam Newman-Beck will assume head coaching duties for their G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves. Newman-Beck, who was an assistant for the Erie BayHawks last season, previously spent eight years (2010-18) in Minnesota as a coaching associate/video scouting director.
  • Bryan Bailey, who was previously on the Salt Lake City Stars’ staff in the G League, has been hired as an assistant by the Jazz, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones adds (via Twitter) that Johnnie Bryant and Alex Jensen will continue to be Utah’s lead assistants, with Lamar Skeeter, Zach Guthrie, and Vince Legarza sharing the third assistant role and rotating on the bench.

Western Notes: Randolph, Sterling, Jazz

Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com explains the odd circumstance concerning Zach Randolph‘s player option with the Grizzlies next season. According to the current CBA, a player cannot earn less money in a player option year relative to how much he made in the previous season. As it currently stands, Randolph will make $16.5MM if he decided to opt in for 2014/15, which is considerably lower than the $17.8MM he made in 2013/14.

Tim Duncan had a similar issue in his contract with the Spurs, as his player option for the upcoming year was initially less than what he made this past season. While Duncan’s contract was ultimately modified to address the error, Randolph’s remains unchanged simply because the contract had been signed too long ago, Deeks hears. Randolph and Memphis reportedly are moving toward a multi-year deal, but if he opts in and the deal winds up coming in the form of an extension, Randolph’s missing money will come into play.

Here are more noteworthy links to pass along tonight:

  • A Los Angeles Superior Court judge said that the terms of the Sterling family trust may give Donald Sterling little room to challenge the finding that he is mentally incapable of continuing as co-owner of the Clippers, writes James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times. This would appear to give Shelly Sterling the advantage in her case to affirm both her control of the trust and sale of the team.
  • The Jazz announced the additions of Brad Jones, Antonio Lang, Alex Jensen, Mike Wells, and Johnnie Bryant to Quin Snyder’s coaching staff. Jones will be Snyder’s lead assistant, according to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv has opted out of its contract with Joe Ingles, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Back in March, we passed along that Ingles was considering a move to the NBA this summer. The Grizzlies and Jazz were among the Western Conference teams reported to have interest in the Australian-born forward.

Northwest Rumors: Hickson, Morrison, Jazz

It's been a busy day for current and former members of the Timberwolves. The team officially announced the signing of Louis Amundson, having reportedly passed on Sean Williams and Yi JianlianAnthony Tolliver was also in the running to return until yesterday, and today he agreed to sign with the Hawks. Mark Deeks of ShamSports revealed the Wolves can get out of the last year of their contract with Brandon Roy if he reinjures his knees this season, and after an offseason of changes, Kevin Love says he's satisfied with the team's moves. There's news on Minnesota's Northwest Division rivals as well, and we'll round it up here:

  • J.J. Hickson will start training camp with the inside track to be the starter at center for the Blazers, said coach Terry Stotts, who also gave a nod to the strides rookie Meyers Leonard made over the summer, as The Oregonian's Joe Freeman writes.
  • In the same piece, Freeman reports that the Blazers will give strong consideration to keeping Adam Morrison for the entire season. The third overall pick in the 2006 draft signed a non-guaranteed contract with the team last week.
  • The Jazz have added 27-year-old former University of Utah guard Johnnie Bryant to their staff as a player development assistant, reports Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).