Juwan Howard

Penny Hardaway Drawing Interest As NBA Coaching Candidate

NBA teams are making calls to gather intel on University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Hardaway is expected to get offers to interview for NBA jobs this offseason.

A four-time All-Star as an NBA player, Hardaway has slowly been climbing the coaching ladder over the last decade. After several years in the high school ranks, he was hired by Memphis in 2018 and has landed top recruits like James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa in recent years. The Tigers haven’t made the NCAA tournament since Hardaway joined the program, but had a 20-8 record and were NIT champions in 2020/21.

It’s not clear which teams might offer Hardaway an interview – or if he’d be open to leaving Memphis – but the Celtics, Pacers, Magic, and Trail Blazers currently have head coaching openings.

Another noteworthy college coach, Juwan Howard of Michigan, continues to draw NBA interest as well, but he has been telling teams that he has no interest in leaving the Wolverines, according to Wojnarowski. Howard, who was specifically identified as a potential Blazers candidate, also rebuffed NBA interest in 2020.

Jason Kidd Won’t Seek Trail Blazers’ Coaching Job

Jason Kidd has decided not to be a candidate for the Trail Blazers’ vacant head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

“Portland’s a first-class organization and will have great candidates for its head coaching job, but I’ve decided not to be one of them,” Kidd said. “Whoever they choose will have big shoes to fill from Terry (Stotts).”

According to Wojnarowski, Kidd became uncomfortable with seeking the Trail Blazers’ job after star guard Damian Lillard said Friday that Kidd was his top choice. Kidd was concerned that Lillard’s public comment would put the team in an awkward position if he interviewed for the post.

“Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” Lillard said after news broke that Stotts won’t be returning next season.

Kidd, a former head coach with the Nets and Bucks, has been the top assistant to Frank Vogel with the Lakers for the past two seasons.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Blazers haven’t talked to any potential candidates yet or reached out for permission to interview anybody, but that process should begin once the last first-round series wraps up today.

Portland is expected to consider Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, former Knicks and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and Michigan coach Juwan Howard, sources tell ESPN.

Terry Stotts Won’t Return As Trail Blazers Coach

10:01pm: The team has confirmed in a press release that Stotts will not return.

“I have the utmost respect for Terry and what he has accomplished these past nine seasons,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision on both a personal and professional level but it’s in the best interest of the franchise to move in another direction. Terry will always hold a special place in the Trail Blazer family and the Portland community. We relied on the integrity, professionalism and consistency he brought to the job every day and we wish he and Jan nothing but the best.”


9:40pm: The Trail Blazers and longtime head coach Terry Stotts have mutually agreed to part ways, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Stotts, 63, has been the team’s head coach since the 2012/13 season. Portland has qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons but only made the conference finals in 2018/19, when they were swept by the Warriors. The Blazers have been eliminated in the first round in two consecutive years, and four of the last five.

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, ABC broadcaster and former Rockets/Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach and current Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, and University of Michigan head coach and former Heat assistant Juwan Howard are expected to receive consideration for the job, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet.

The Blazers’ quick exit in this year’s playoffs was unexpected. They were facing a depleted Nuggets team, missing starting guards Jamal Murray and Will Barton, while all of their own starters were healthy. Despite some stellar performances from Damian Lillard, Portland was eliminated in six games.

Lillard has played under Stotts throughout his career. The All-Star point guard will have a major say on Stotts’ replacement, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

In his nine seasons with Portland, Stotts accumulated a regular-season record of 402-318 (.558). However, the Blazers went 22-40 (.355) in those postseason appearances. Stotts had one more guaranteed year on his contract, with a team option for 2022/23.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Will Start Coaching Search With Internal Interviews

The first step in the Celtics‘ search for a new head coach to replace Brad Stevens will begin with several internal candidates, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Chris Mannix of SI.com suggested as much earlier today.

Boston’s head coaching position opened up this morning when Danny Ainge resigned as president of basketball operations and Stevens was chosen to replace him.

Weiss notes that Stevens’ staff has several strong candidates. Jay Larranaga interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching spot before James Borrego was hired, and Scott Morrison and Brandon Bailey both coached at the team’s G League affiliate in Maine. Jerome Allen is a former NBA player with college head coaching experience at the University of Pennsylvania, while Jamie Young has been with the team since 2008.

Among external candidates, the most interesting name is Kara Lawson, who would become the first female NBA head coach if she gets the job. Lawson spent a year as an assistant in Boston before leaving in 2020 to become head coach of the women’s team at Duke. Others to watch, sources tell Weiss, include former Celtics players Sam Cassell, currently an assistant with the Sixers, and Chauncey Billups, who is on the Clippers‘ staff.

Weiss also expects interest in former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Nets assistant Ime Udoka, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee. According to Weiss, another potential outsider is Juwan Howard if he’s willing to leave Michigan.

And-Ones: Lin, Draft Pick Trades, March Madness, J. Howard

Following a productive stint in the G League bubble, where he averaged 19.8 PPG on 50.5% shooting in nine games, veteran guard Jeremy Lin explained to Marc Stein of The New York Times why he opted to play for the Santa Cruz Warriors instead of accepting a far more lucrative offer in China.

“The more that we talked to teams, they were telling my agent, ‘Hey, we want to see if Jeremy’s healthy, and we want to see if Jeremy can still go. No offense to some of the leagues overseas, but we would love to see him here in front of us, in an NBA system, playing under NBA rules,'” Lin said. “I know I’m an NBA player. I know I’m a better shooter. I know I’m a better defender. I know I’m more well rounded as a basketball player. I know these things, but I just needed a chance to show it.”

Within his wide-ranging Q&A with Stein, Lin also revealed that he was affected by a small bone spur in his shooting elbow during his most recent NBA stint in Toronto in 2019, and had to undergo surgery to address the issue after the season. The 32-year-old added that he remains confident he’ll get another chance to play in the NBA, suggesting that he believes it’s “just a matter of time.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In an interesting piece for The Ringer, Danny Chau dives into the evolution of draft pick trading, examining when and why certain restrictions were put in place, and how teams have continued to get creative with the protections and conditions on traded picks.
  • Potential top picks Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, and Evan Mobley are among the many prospects that Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) will be keeping an eye on during the upcoming NCAA tournament. Givony also notes that many NBA executives believe Michigan coach Juwan Howard will be in “high demand” this offseason, though it remains to be seen whether Howard will consider leaving the Wolverines.
  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press explores how the lure of making the play-in tournament has changed the feel of the trade deadline by creating fewer potential sellers.

Juwan Howard Intends To Rebuff NBA Head Coaching Interest

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this morning (via Twitter) that Michigan coach Juwan Howard is viewed as a possible NBA head coaching candidate who is “gaining traction” within front offices. However, less than two hours later, Howard put out a statement indicating that he doesn’t plan on exploring NBA opportunities at this time.

“There was a report of my name as a potential candidate for NBA coaching opportunities,” Howard tweeted. “While I am flattered, and know it will more than likely happen again, I am NOT exploring, seeking, or listening.”

Howard, who previously served as an assistant coach on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff in Miami, generated plenty of interest on the head coaching market during the spring of 2019. He reportedly interviewed with the Lakers and Cavaliers, and received an offer from the Timberwolves to become the associate head coach on Ryan Saunders‘ staff.

However, he opted instead to return to his alma mater, reaching an agreement on a five-year deal to coach the Wolverines. Since he’s only one season into that five-year commitment, it makes sense that he’d be disinclined to begin pursuing NBA opportunities again. Michigan also did well on the recruiting trail this year, with Juwan’s son Jace Howard among the players joining the Wolverines for the 2020/21 season.

Knicks Reportedly “Obsessed” With Masai Ujiri

The Knicks are “obsessed” and “enamored” with Raptors executive Masai Ujiri as the next man to run the franchise, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. A front office shakeup is expected in the wake of yesterday’s firing of head coach David Fizdale, especially considering the poor track record of team president Steve Mills.

Begley speculates it would take “significant money and full autonomy” to land Ujiri, who is already in a comfortable spot after building a championship team. Even if the Knicks are willing to grant that, Ujiri may not want to work for a controversial figure like James Dolan, and he is signed with Toronto until 2021, a contract he said in October that he plans to honor.

Echoing a report we shared last week, Begley states that the Knicks believe Ujiri could be drawn to New York City to provide a larger platform for his charitable work with the Giants of Africa Foundation. However, there was similar speculation about Washington, D.C., a few months ago when the Wizards were restructuring their front office, and Ujiri opted to stay in Toronto.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Despite a 4-18 start and six straight losing seasons, the Knicks’ front office job is still viewed as appealing around the league, Begley adds in the same story. The team has drafted well under general manager Scott Perry and has held on to its first-round picks. The Knicks also retained cap flexibility by signing seven players to short-term contracts this summer after failing to land their top targets in free agency.
  • A few players got to say goodbye to Fizdale before he left the team, Taj Gibson tells Begley (Twitter link). Gibson said Fizdale was emotional during the departure, adding, “Guys loved him.”
  • Mark Jackson, a former Knicks guard and ex-head coach of the Warriors, is a 5-1 favorite to be the next head coach, relays Adam Zagoria for Forbes. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag have Kenny Smith second at 6-1 and Italian coach Ettore Messina at 7-1. Next in line are three college coaches, Michigan’s Juwan Howard, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller thanked Fizdale and the Knicks organization during today’s pre-game press conference (video link from Vorkunov). Neither Mills nor Perry has addressed the media since the firing became official, and nobody from management has commented apart from an unattributed statement that was released Friday.
  • Former NBA player Keith Bogans has been named to Miller’s staff, the Knicks announced on Twitter.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Raptors Workout, Russell, Eisley

Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard filed a federal lawsuit against Nike on Monday, claiming he designed the logo that appeared on his Nike apparel and the company copyrighted the logo without his consent, Matthew Kish of the PDX Biz Journal reports.

In a separate development that could foretell his summer plans, Leonard apparently bought property in his current NBA city, according to Michael Landsberg of TSN (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). Landsberg said in a radio interview that “What we’ve heard is that he’s purchased a property in Toronto,” and that “we’ve heard this now from two different sources.” That could be an indication that Leonard, who will opt out and become a free agent this summer, plans to stick with the Raptors.

We have more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors will hold their fourth pre-draft workout on Tuesday, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). The list includes guards Jalen Adams (UConn) Australian William McDowell-White, Kyle Allman (Cal State Fullerton) and Jared Harper (Auburn) and  forwards Dedric Lawson (Kansas) and Dean Wade (Kansas State).
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell expects that he’ll have to be patient in free agency, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. Russell will be a restricted free agent. “It’s more of just the waiting game as far as chess moves have to be made,” Russell told Lewis. “There’s a lot of big fish out there that have to find their destinations so I think I’ll [fall in line after that]. There are a lot of fish out there that need to find destinations. So whenever that time comes then I have decisions to make on my own, I think I’ll be well ready for it.”
  • Knicks assistant coach Howard Eisley is expected to join Michigan’s staff under former Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Brendan Quinn of The Athletic tweets.

Northwest Notes: J. Howard, Jazz, Nuggets, Noel

Before he reached a deal to become the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Juwan Howard reportedly drew interest from the Timberwolves as they considered whether to retain head coach Ryan Saunders or go in a different direction.

While Minnesota ultimately opted to retain Saunders and Howard left the NBA for a college job, the Wolverines’ new head coach revealed today that the Timberwolves’ interest was real. According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (via Twitter), Howard said that the Wolves offered him their associate head coach position – presumably under Saunders – but he declined. “My heart is with Michigan,” he said.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Northwest…

Southeast Notes: Allen, Hornets Workouts, Beal, Young

Malik Allen was the only member of Tom Thibodeau’s former staff who was retained by the Timberwolves after Ryan Saunders had the interim tag removed earlier this week. However, Allen may be on the move as well. He has emerged as a prime candidate to replace Juwan Howard on Erik Spoelstra’s staff, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Howard left the Heat to take the University of  Michigan head coaching job.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets are bringing in six prospects for a workout on Saturday, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. That group includes Ar’Mond Davis (UC Santa Barbara), Jon Axel Gudmundsson (Davidson), Nathan Knight (William & Mary), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State), Josh Reaves (Penn State) and Quinndary Weatherspoon (Mississippi State). Weatherspoon, a shooting guard, heads that group as ESPN Jonathan Givony’s No. 57 overall prospect.
  • Bradley Beal didn’t become eligible for a supermax extension as he was left off the All-NBA teams. The Wizards shooting guard could still be on the move this summer, Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington writes. If Washington decides to rebuild, it could trade Beal for assets and salary cap space. In Standig’s view, the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks could be among the most likely destinations, particularly if they strike out in pursuit of high-level free agents.
  • Hawks point guard Trae Young believes his style of play will help bring in quality free agents, as he declared in an interview with 92.9 The Game (hat tip to E. Jay Zarett of the Sporting News). “If you’re looking to have the ball in your hands, if you’re looking to score a lot of points – I mean, a lot of players in the league know if you come play with me, I’m going to make sure I get you the ball,” Young said. “I think that’s something that attracts a lot of big players.”