Ken Catanella

Pacific Notes: Rivers, George, Harrell, Catanella, Suns

Doc Rivers will likely coach the Clippers next season, but his future with the organization beyond that is sketchy, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The way the 2020/21 season plays out will determine Rivers’ future with the franchise, Buha continues. There will be even more pressure for the Clippers to finally reach the Finals for the first time, Buha adds, and if it doesn’t happen then there could be a mutual parting of ways.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns hope their $45MM practice facility will be finished in October, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The courts are still being installed and painted, team officials told Rankin. Team owner Robert Sarver originally targeted August for the completion of the privately-financed facility.
  • New Kings GM Monte McNair is expected to retain assistant GM and salary cap expert Ken Catanella, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Catanella has been in the Sacramento front office since 2016 following a five-year stint with the Pistons.
  • Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Paul George got into a heated verbal exchange during a timeout of Game 2 against Denver, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. George committed a turnover on an attempted half-court pass to Harrell, which was intercepted by Jamal Murray. George told Harrell the pass could have been caught if he made the right play and that made Harrell angry.

Kings Rumors: McNair, Fox, Bogdanovic, Giles, More

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has long admired Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, so hiring away one of Morey’s top lieutenants – assistant GM Monte McNair – filled a “certain fixation” for Ranadive, according to Jason Jones and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

There had been a growing sense around the NBA that the Kings would pick Timberwolves executive Sachin Gupta to run their front office – Minnesota was preparing to have to replace Gupta, sources tell The Athletic – but the final selection of McNair was driven by Ranadive.

McNair’s first interview with Sacramento took place over video conference, with Ranadive and consultant Mike Forde running the meeting. The second interview occurred in person on Monday, with Joe Dumars and Ranadive’s son Aneel taking part in that session, according to The Athletic. Aneel Ranadive, a member of the Kings’ executive board, was “very involved in the process,” Jones and Amick report.

Although McNair ultimately beat out fellow finalists Gupta and Wes Wilcox, both Gupta and Wilcox made strong impressions on the franchise too. One source described Wilcox as a “sharp interview,” per The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Kings in the wake of their major front office hire:

  • Former general manager Vlade Divac believed the Kings were on the verge of becoming a playoff team, but that sentiment wasn’t shared by everyone around the league, say Jones and Amick. As such, it’s possible McNair won’t hesitate to break up the core of a roster that hasn’t yet produced a winning season.
  • According to The Athletic, Divac had been expected to offer De’Aaron Fox a maximum-salary rookie scale extension, re-sign restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic – even if meant paying $18MM-ish per year – and attempt to retain free agent big man Harry Giles despite previously turning down his team option for 2020/21. It remains to be seen whether McNair will follow a similar playbook in his first offseason with the organization.
  • The Kings have long faced criticism for not having a well-staffed front office, according to Jones and Amick, who say that McNair is expected to make more hires within the basketball operations department. Assistant GM Ken Catanella will also likely remain in his current position.

Joe Dumars Won’t Be A Candidate In Kings’ Front Office Search

Last week’s shakeup left Joe Dumars in charge of the Kings‘ front office, but that’s not a role he wants to keep long-term, according to Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dumars has no interest in remaining Sacramento’s head of basketball operations and will not be a candidate in the upcoming search, the authors report. However, he will be included in the hiring process and will interview candidates along with owner Vivek Ranadive. The new GM will have full control of roster moves and will report directly to Ranadive, rather than Dumars.

The Kings haven’t determined what Dumars’ role with the franchise will be once a new GM is selected, which could become a “problematic component,” Amick and Charania add. There’s no timeline to fill the opening, so Dumars and assistant GM Ken Catanella could be making the draft and free agency decisions in October.

Mike Forde of Sportsology is expected to be the leader in the search for GM candidates. He formerly served as senior manager for Chelsea’s soccer franchise in the English Premier League, and his web site lists the Clippers, Spurs, Sixers and Nets as clients. He also worked as an adviser for the Wizards last spring after they fired Ernie Grunfeld as president of basketball operations.

When he hired Dumars, Ranadive reportedly envisioned a power-sharing arrangement in the front office with former GM Vlade Divac. However, Divac wasn’t willing to accept that and opted to resign, followed a day later by assistant GM Peja Stojakovic.

The authors note there is “significant interest” in the position around the league, despite concerns about what Dumars’ ultimate role might be. “A swell of support” has emerged for Knicks GM Scott Perry, who briefly served as VP of basketball operations in Sacramento before leaving for New York. Sources claim Ranadive and Perry are still on good terms and have remained in touch in the nearly three years since Perry’s departure.

Perry helped the Kings get an individual workout with De’Aaron Fox before the 2017 draft and improved the organization’s reputation through his close relationships with agents and executives. Perry still has a year left on his contract, but a source tells the authors he would be interested in returning to Sacramento as long as he’s guaranteed the final decision on personnel moves. The Kings would have to request permission from the Knicks to talk to Perry, which sources tell Amick and Charania they hadn’t done as of Tuesday night.

The authors list Clippers assistant GMs Mark Hughes and Trent Redden as other candidates to watch, along with Raptors GM Bobby Webster, Celtics VP of basketball operations Mike Zarren, Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Trajan Langdon, Timberwolves executive VP of basketball operations Sachin Gupta, Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, and Rockets assistant GM Eli Witus.

Kings’ Vlade Divac Stepping Down From GM Position

Kings general manager Vlade Divac is stepping down from his current position in the front office, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Joe Dumars, who had been serving as a special advisor, will become the team’s interim executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager, according to Amick, who adds that Dumars will be involved in the search for Sacramento’s next GM.

The Kings have announced Divac’s departure and Dumars’ new role, issuing a press release to confirm the news. The wording of a statement from Kings owner Vivek Ranadive suggests the team may have had a hand in Divac’s decision to “step down.”

“This was a difficult decision, but we believe it is the best path ahead as we work to build a winning team that our loyal fans deserve,” Ranadive said. “We are thankful for Vlade’s leadership, commitment, and hard work both on and off the court. He will always be a part of our Kings family.”

News of the Kings’ front office shakeup comes on the heels of a report suggesting Divac’s job likely wouldn’t be in danger, since he still had three years left on his contract. Based on the framing of his departure as a resignation, it’s unclear whether Divac will be paid some or all of his remaining salary.

Divac joined the Kings in March 2015 and was promoted to the general manager position just a few months later. Over the course of his five years in Sacramento’s front office, Divac has had his ups and downs. He got a solid return – including Buddy Hield – when he traded DeMarcus Cousins, and drafted a potential franchise cornerstone in 2017, snaring De’Aaron Fox with the No. 5 pick.

However, Divac has been unable to add enough talent to turn Sacramento into a playoff team — the Kings’ 39-43 record a year ago was their best mark since 2006, the last year they made the playoffs. A handful of questionable roster and draft decisions during Divac’s tenure have hurt the club.

The most memorable misstep came during the 2018 draft, when the Kings passed on Luka Doncic to take Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 pick. Bagley was hampered by injuries this year and has yet to develop into a reliable NBA contributor, while Doncic won Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 and was a legitimate MVP candidate in his second professional season.

Although the Kings will seek a new general manager, they’re hopeful that their interim structure will provide enough stability through the draft and free agency, and may not fill the GM opening until after the draft, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter links). Dumars could be considered for the permanent job if he’s interested, Spears adds (via Twitter).

Meanwhile, Amick reports (via Twitter) that head coach Luke Walton‘s job remains safe despite the upheaval in the front office. Even though Walton was hand-picked by Divac, there “won’t be another domino falling here,” according to Amick.

While Walton appears safe for at least next season, James Ham of NBC Sports California suggests (via Twitter) that the new GM will likely be permitted to decide on the fates of some staff members, including executives Peja Stojakovic and Ken Catanella.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Kings Rumors: Chriss, Joerger, Catanella

Marquese Chriss’ all-around ability makes him a potential target with the Kings’ lottery pick, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. The 6’9” forward averaged 13.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his lone college season at Washington. He is ranked No. 12 by DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony and No. 8 by ESPN Insider Chad Ford. Chriss fashions his game after Sacramento’s incumbent small forward. “I try to play like Rudy Gay,” Chriss told Jones. “I feel like he’s very versatile. He can play from the perimeter, he can post people up, he can put the ball on the ground consistently. I’m working on my ballhandling to get more confident with that.”

In other news regarding the Kings:

Kings Notes: Joerger, Catanella, Assistants

New Kings coach Dave Joerger pledged today that he’d work in concert with GM Vlade Divac, in contrast to the discord between coach and front office that marked George Karl‘s Sacramento tenure and Joerger’s time in Memphis, as ESPN.com notes. The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, but Joerger, who took the Sacramento job despite openings in Houston and Indiana, is optimistic about the future for Sacramento, observes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee“The team’s on the rise,” Joerger said. “There’s still some heavy lifting to do but some of the heavy lifting has been done. This is not a blow it up, let’s start all over again situation. We’re on the road to recovery.”

See more from Sacramento:

  • Miscommunication disrupted the process that led to the hiring of Ken Catanella as Kings assistant GM, several league sources told Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. A confused narrative exists on whether Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace was a candidate, and it seemed former Bucks and Pacers executive David Morway was headed for the job before talks broke off.
  • Some of the candidates for the head coaching job pulled out before the search was over, while others simply used the team’s interest to bolster their resumes, according to Lowe.
  • The Kings dismissed assistant coaches Chad Iske and John Welch but will keep fellow assistants Nancy Lieberman and Corliss Williamson, as Jones and The Bee’s Ailene Voisin relay (Twitter links).
  • One of the candidates who interviewed for the head coaching job gave Jake Fischer of SI.com an anonymous rundown of the visit, providing insight on the team’s approach and telling Fischer that before Joerger emerged, the Kings originally planned to narrow the field to two finalists who would meet with Ranadive. That essentially jibes with earlier reporting from Jones, who heard the team intended to name three finalists.

Grizzlies Notes: Wallace, Joerger, Conley, Gasol

Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace didn’t speak with the Kings about the front office job that ultimately went to Ken Catanella, a Grizzlies source told Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal, who nonetheless heard from a Kings source that Wallace went so far as to engage in contract negotiations with Sacramento. Wallace denied that he spoke with the Kings, as Chris Vernon of WMFS-FM relays (Twitter links), with Wallace telling Vernon he has no reason to leave amid what he calls the best run of his career. “I never interviewed for a job with Kings,” Wallace said. “I’ve been in Memphis 9 years. I’m not interested [in] going anywhere.”

The notion that Wallace would leave the top front office job in Memphis for the No. 2 post under Vlade Divac in Sacramento would be troubling if accurate, Calkins posits. See more from Tennessee:

  • Grizzlies management wanted to keep Joerger, but the coach forced the issue, Calkins writes in the same piece. Still, Joerger wasn’t Wallace’s guy, as Calkins points out.
  • Key players on the Grizzlies as well as the team’s front office weren’t in Dave Joerger‘s corner, and Marc Gasol and Mike Conley never embraced Joerger’s style in his three seasons as head coach, according to Peter Edmiston of WHBQ-FM and The Commercial Appeal (Twitter links).
  • The Grizzlies are in the middle of the pack, NBA’s no-man’s land, and the imperative this summer is that they acquire players who fit with a long-range plan, The Vertical’s Bobby Marks opines.
  • To see the latest on the Grizzlies coaching search, click here.

Western Notes: Malik-Abu, Catanella, Ollie

N.C. State power forward Abdul Malik-Abu has a predraft workout scheduled for May 7th with the Timberwolves, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The 20-year-old is a potential second-round pick this June, with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranking him as the No. 26 sophomore overall. Malik-Abu appeared in 33 games for the Wolfpack and averaged 12.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 28.3 minutes per outing. His shooting line on the campaign was .490/.000/.630.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Ken Catanella, who was named the Kings‘ assistant GM on Thursday, will be Sacramento’s salary cap specialist in addition to assisting with personnel decisions and day-to-day operations, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Catanella said he’s excited to work with executive Vlade Divac and assist in his vision for the franchise, Jones adds. “For me it’s all a part of wanting to be bigger part of something bigger than ourselves,” Catanella said.
  • Despite the competition between franchises for available head coaches, the Rockets don’t intend to rush their search, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “We’re going to get the coach search right. We’re not going to do something quickly,” GM Daryl Morey told reporters.
  • Morey also told the media that unnamed NBA teams have put out negative information about the Rockets in order to hurt them in free agency, while downplaying the chemistry issues Houston has reportedly had this season, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com relays (ESPN Now link).
  • UConn coach Kevin Ollie, who is reportedly interested in the Lakers’ vacant coaching post, told Christian Vital, a player he is recruiting, that he intends to remain at the university next season, as Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv relays. “Basically [Ollie], he’s texted me before 9 every day this week,” Vital told Scout.com. “Just letting me know about he Lakers situation and that he loves me and he’s staying at UConn. That really means something to me, to have that kind of relationship with the head coach, knowing he has a million things to do.

Western Notes: Catanella, Rockets, Conley

The Kings have officially named Ken Catanella as their assistant GM, the team announced. Catanella joins Sacramento’s front office after spending nearly five years with the Pistons as director of basketball operations and assistant GM, the release notes. “We are focused on building a winning team and part of that process is ensuring we have a sound front office structure,” executive Vlade Divac said. “We are thrilled that Ken Catanella is joining the Kings to help us build on our progress and drive success on the court. Ken’s unique statistical and player expertise will provide a significant boost to our basketball operations team.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Rockets veteran Jason Terry gave his thoughts on the issues between Dwight Howard and James Harden, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston relays (on Twitter). “Could be a contrast in styles,” Terry said. “I think those two have to be put in a system where they have to learn to play together. I just think they’re two different styles. They just couldn’t coexist to have success this year. It worked last year, but this year it was just different for some reason.”
  • Veteran swingman Randy Foye says the Thunder have yet to play their best this postseason as they await their series versus the Spurs to commence, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman relays. “We want to get better. We feel as though as a team that we’re not playing our best basketball,” Foye told Horne. “We’re not satisfied with being where we’re at right now. We’re just trying to continue to take it to another level, every single practice. Even when we’re not practicing as hard, there’s guys in here trying to get work in, trying to better themselves.”
  • Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but despite the struggles of Memphis this season, he believes the window of contention is still open for the team’s core, writes Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com. “It’s not as bad as it may seem,” Conley said. “I mean, we are missing seven or eight guys and still had a chance to win Game 3 against one of the better teams in history. We might have a different team with a lot of different faces, but with the core group of guys we have instilled here, and with Marc Gasol coming back healthy, we definitely have a chance to continue in this window to be successful.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.