Kevin Ollie

Western Notes: Pelicans, Nuggets, Jazz, Ivey

The Pelicans are hiring former Cavaliers director of coaching analytics Michael Hartman to lead their analytics department, according to Shamit Dua of Bourbon Street Shots (Twitter link).

Hartman was promoted last summer after spending the previous two seasons as the Cavaliers’ basketball analytics coordinator. Under his new title, he helped the Cavs with player development and coaching strategy using a data-driven approach. He also worked with current Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin in Cleveland.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Kendra Andrews of The Athletic opines that the Nuggets need to stay patient in their pursuit of an NBA championship. Denver had a magical run in the bubble that saw the team overcome two separate 3-1 deficits (Jazz and Clippers) and ultimately fall a few games short of an NBA Finals appearance. Andrews observes that the Nuggets’ roster-building approach has them on the same trajectory that helped Golden State become a dynasty.
  • In her latest mailbag, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News explores which free agent reunions with former Jazz players are realistic this offseason. One player frequently mentioned is Derrick Favors, who was traded away last summer to the Pelicans. However, Todd believes that – despite there being a mutual interest between Utah and Favors – he could be out of their price range. Jae Crowder, Justin Holiday, Wesley Matthews, and Jevon Carter are among the other free-agent options mentioned.
  • As the Thunder begin their head coaching search, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman makes a case for why Knicks player development coach Royal Ivey deserves consideration. He notes that Ivey is a former player for OKC and spent a few seasons as an assistant coach with their G League affiliate and the Thunder. Along with Ivey, Mussatto also makes a case for former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie to be the next head coach in Oklahoma City.

Thunder Notes: Durant, Free Agency, Adams

Kevin Durant, who is expected to be the most sought-after name on this summer’s free agent market, respects David West for passing up millions to pursue an NBA title, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. West declined a $12.6MM option with the Pacers last year and signed with the Spurs for the $1.5MM veteran’s minimum. The move raised eyebrows around the league, but Durant found it admirable. “Money isn’t everything in this life,” Durant said. “I know we tend to think about taking care of your family and being financially stable, but from the outside looking in, it looked like he said, ‘I’ve been blessed enough to make X amount of dollars, and I want to be happy chasing something that is the grand prize in this league.’”

There’s more news from Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder are the favorites to keep Durant, but their chances would decline if they can’t get past the Spurs, writes Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. That largely falls in with a Friday report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Heisler expects Durant to sign a one-year deal with Oklahoma City or possibly a two-year pact with an opt-out clause for next summer. That will enable him to earn about $40MM more and time his free agency with Russell Westbrook‘s. “I think he’s going to test the water,” said former Thunder teammate and current Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, “but at the end of the day, Oklahoma City is something dear to his heart.” In order, Heisler lists the Spurs, Warriors, Wizards, Clippers, Knicks and Lakers as the top contenders if Durant does decide to leave OKC.
  • Because he was drafted with a pick the Thunder received in the James Harden trade, Steven Adams has been dealing with huge expectations from the start of his NBA career, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Adams averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this year while splitting time at center with Enes Kanter. Before the start of last season, Oklahoma City picked up Adams’ $3,140,517 option for 2016/17. “He’s not easily impressed, he doesn’t take things too seriously,” said teammate Nick Collison. “I think that’s the culture from his background. He’s all about, ‘Get over yourself.’ He didn’t grow up with the dream to play in the NBA, and it shows.”

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.

Lakers Plan To Interview David Blatt

The Lakers plan to interview David Blatt for their coaching vacancy, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who writes within a story on the Warriors granting the Lakers permission to interview assistant Luke Walton. L.A. is also interested in Doug Collins, Stein reveals, additionally confirming the team’s interest in Kevin Ollie.

Blatt, the ex-Cavs coach, apparently met Monday with Knicks president Phil Jackson about New York’s coaching vacancy, and the Kings have reportedly reached out to him about their job, too. The 56-year-old Blatt has less than two seasons of NBA experience at any level, though he put up an 83-40 regular-season record with the Cavs, who fired him in January, just seven months after he coached them in the finals.

Collins, 64, has been an ESPN broadcaster since the end of his coaching stint with the Sixers in 2013. He’s 442-407 in parts of 11 seasons with the Bulls, Pistons and Wizards as well as Philadelphia.

The Lakers have strong interest in Ollie, Stein hears, and that appears to be mutual. The 43-year-old has never been an NBA coach but won an NCAA title at Connecticut and was an NBA player for 14 seasons, the last of which with Oklahoma City, where he was teammates with 2016 free agent Kevin Durant and 2017 free agent Russell Westbrook.

Jeff Van Gundy, Ettore Messina, Jeff Hornacek, Roy Williams, John Calipari, Jay Wright and Tom Izzo are others in whom the Lakers have interest, according to previous reports. The Lakers would like to make a hire before the draft and want their next coach to be able to attract marquee free agents, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported earlier this week and as Stein confirms.

Lakers Notes: Messina, Walton, Ollie

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak spoke about the firing of Byron Scott during a press conference earlier today, as the team’s Twitter feed relays. “If you’re going to make a change, make a change now.” Kupchak said. “This was clearly just a basketball decision. … Jim [Buss] and I agreed 100 percent.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers have received permission to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, reports Sam Amick of USA Today. It is unclear how soon they intend to bring Messina in for a meeting.
  • The Lakers intend to put a long list together of potential candidates for their head coaching vacancy, which will be headed by Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, Messina, and UConn’s Kevin Ollie, team sources tell Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Ding believes that Walton is the obvious choice for the position.
  • Earlier today, it was reported that Ollie has interest in the Lakers‘ job, but he would want a say in personnel decisions. That’s something that’s unlikely to happen, argues Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). Pincus points out that the team isn’t in position to give out any sort of control in the front office with Kupchak and Buss around, and the team’s structure isn’t expected to change until after the 2016/17 season, at the earliest.
  • The timing of Scott’s dismissal is curious, opines Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Mannix wonders whether Los Angeles could have landed Tom Thibodeau or Scott Brooks if the team had acted sooner. Brooks reportedly would have had interest in the position.

UConn’s Kevin Ollie Interested In Lakers Post

5:26pm: Ollie is interested in the position but wants a say in personnel decisions, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. In an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz earlier today, Ollie said he hasn’t heard from the Lakers but would listen if they reached out, relays Don Amore of The Hartford Courant. Ollie, who played basketball at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, said it would take a “very special” situation to make him leave his job at UConn.

3:45pm: The Lakers fired coach Byron Scott on Sunday night and speculation has begun in earnest as to whom the franchise will hire to lead it into the 2016/17 season. One candidate who is intrigued with the now-vacant post is UConn head coach Kevin Ollie, a source close to Ollie tells Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first relayed that Ollie could be a potential target for the Lakers. This isn’t the first NBA coaching post that Ollie has been connected to, with the Thunder having reportedly made him their No. 1 target last summer, and Ollie apparently listened to overtures before pulling out of the running. Oklahoma City subsequently hired Billy Donovan as the successor to Scott Brooks.

Ollie is viewed around the league as a rising coach who could relate to and develop younger players like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown, Medina writes. The 43-year-old is a former teammate of Kevin Durant‘s, with the two having played together during the 2009/10 season in Oklahoma City, and he could make the Lakers an attractive option for the small forward when Durant hits unrestricted free agency this summer, Medina also notes.

The Lakers would not be required to seek permission from UConn to interview Ollie, who has three years left on his contract with the Huskies after signing a five-year extension in 2014, Medina writes. Ollie has a clause in his contract that would allow him to depart for the NBA without negotiating a buyout with the university, but that clause won’t go into effect until March of 2017, Medina notes. The former NBA player has a career NCAA coaching mark of 97-44, all with UConn, and he led the Huskies to the National Championship in 2014.

Other candidates who are reportedly on the Lakers’ radar are Warriors assistant Luke Walton, who may be the favorite to land the job, former Cavs coach David Blatt, former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.

Lakers Fire Coach Byron Scott

Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports Images

Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports Images

11:18pm: The move is official, the team announced. The Lakers called it a decision not to pick up Scott’s team option for next season. That’s likely a reference to the partial guarantee on next season’s salary that Shelburne alluded to, as the terms are often used interchangeably.

“We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time,” Kupchak said.

10:10pm: The Lakers have fired head coach Byron Scott, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Scott just completed a 17-65 season and had a 38-126 record in two years on the Lakers’ bench. The move was a joint decision by GM Mitch Kupchak and executive Jim Buss and doesn’t signal a shakeup in the front office, tweets Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Primary owner Jeanie Buss reportedly an advocate for Scott behind the scenes, but it appears she’s allowed the basketball department to make its own call.

Warriors assistant Luke Walton may be the favorite to land the L.A. job, tweets Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times, although he points out that by waiting to fire Scott the Lakers missed out on Tom Thibodeau, whom the Wolves hired Wednesday, and Scott Brooks, who is the new coach of the Wizards (Twitter link). Pincus says the Lakers never would have given Thibodeau the organizational control he wanted (Twitter link), but may have had interest in Brooks for his record in developing young players and his ties to Kevin Durant (Twitter link). Along with Walton, Pincus lists David Blatt, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Kevin Ollie as potential replacements (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski also mentions Walton, Van Gundy and Ollie as possibilities, as well as Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. He adds that the Lakers don’t have a definite replacement in mind, and Kupchak will conduct a search in conjunction with team owners.

Earlier this month, Kupchak refused to commit to another year for Scott and said he planned an informal meeting with the coach to discuss his job status. “It does take time to develop young players,” Kupchak said. “We’ll know in two or three years how effective Byron was as a parent to the young guys on this team.” Scott was initially believed to have one more season of guaranteed money on his contract, with a team option for 2017/18, but Ramona Shelburne explains on ESPN Now that the deal became only partially guaranteed for next season because Scott failed to meet performance incentives.

Northwest Notes: Harrell, Batum, Jokic, Ollie

Montrezl Harrell is a dangerous force around the basket, but it’s the former Louisville power forward’s improving midrange game that would make him attractive to the Jazz at pick No. 12, as Jody Genessy of the Deseret News examines. He’d certainly already have been drafted by the time Utah’s other picks, at Nos. 42 and 54, come up, Genessy notes. Harrell worked out for the team Sunday. Here’s more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Nicolas Batum envisions someday returning to play in France to finish his career, mentioning Le Mans and Caen as preferred destinations to Alexandre Lacoste of BeBasket.fr (translation via HoopsHype). Of course, that probably won’t be for a while, since Batum is only 26 even as he’s set to enter the final season of his contract with the Trail Blazers.
  • Draft-and-stash prospect Nikola Jokic has his sights set on joining the Nuggets, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. Pick reported last month that Jokic was holding out for a long-term deal from Denver, but it appears as though the center who plays for Mega Leks in his native Serbia is nonetheless enthusiastic about joining the NBA team that selected him 41st overall last year.
  • The Thunder and Kevin Ollie never engaged in formal talks about the Connecticut coach taking the Oklahoma City job, as Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant writes. There nonetheless appeared to be some contact, as Ollie was reportedly the team’s No. 1 target and apparently listened to overtures before pulling out of the running.

Reaction To Thunder’s Billy Donovan Hiring

People around former Thunder coach Scott Brooks believe he never had a chance this year and that GM Sam Presti had long planned to replace him with Billy Donovan or Kevin Ollie, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Ollie’s sizable buyout, which Wojnarowski refers to as $5MM but previous reporting indicated was $4MM, was a “non-starter” for the Thunder, according to Wojnarowski. The Pistons made a run at hiring Donovan last year, Wojnarowski reveals in the same piece. Here’s more in the wake of the Thunder’s hiring of Donovan on Thursday:

  • Kevin Durant tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com that he wants to gather as much information on Donovan as possible and that he isn’t thinking about how the hire could affect his decision as free agency looms in a year (See all six Twitter links here). He also expressed a trust in Presti, who didn’t consult with him during the hiring process. “I know what my job is,” Durant said to Goodman. “I let him do his.”
  • Durant downplayed Donovan’s lack of NBA experience in an interview with Royce Young of ESPN.com and said he spoke with Mike Miller and Chandler Parsons, both of whom played under Donovan at Florida. “I met him one time out in Vegas. He was there for USA Basketball,” Durant said of Donovan in his chat with Young. “And I’ve heard good things about him. I’m sure we’ll click pretty quickly. But I don’t have a relationship with him. I don’t know him. He didn’t recruit me at Florida, so I don’t really know him too well. I’m just going off of what guys that played for him said. And I’m looking forward to meeting him and getting a feel for him myself.”
  • The Thunder’s choice of Donovan is a bold but worthwhile gamble, USA Today’s Sam Amick argues. There’s risk in hiring just about any coach, The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel believes, but Donovan’s success with and without NBA talent made him stand out to Presti, Tramel writes.

Thunder Coaching Rumors: Donovan, Messina

A third NBA head coaching vacancy opened Wednesday when the Thunder cut ties with Scott Brooks, and college coaches Billy Donovan and Kevin Ollie have emerged as perhaps the most prominent candidates. We’ll round up the latest on the Thunder’s search here, with any additional updates added to the top:

  • While Donovan is the current favorite to land the Thunder’s coaching position, Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is also on the team’s list of candidates, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets.

1:18pm update:

  • “Very personal reasons” have led Ollie to call Presti and tell him he wouldn’t take the job, a source told Zagoria. A second source said to Zagoria that the Thunder made it clear that they were indeed interested, but there were a variety of reasons why Ollie decided against it.

12:10pm update:

  • Ollie has “removed himself from consideration” for the Thunder job, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com (Twitter link; hat tip to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman). Given the doubt that lingered Wednesday even after Ollie issued his statement that he would stay at Connecticut, it’s unclear if that completely closes any reasonable chance that Ollie will end up in the Oklahoma City job.

12:00pm update:

  • “All signs point to” Donovan becoming the next Thunder coach, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who hears sentiments similar to those that Marc Stein of ESPN.com heard earlier this spring indicating that the Florida coach is ready to jump to the NBA. Donovan, a friend of Thunder GM Sam Presti, is tired of recruiting and while he would jump to the NBA only for a winning situation and a GM he knows and trusts, as a person who knows Donovan tells Berger, the Thunder fit the bill. Donovan would seek a deal worth $25MM over five years, or similar terms, league sources tell Berger.
  • Donovan doesn’t have the credibility or relationship with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that Ollie does, a source points out to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. The same source who earlier identified Ollie as the Thunder’s No. 1 target tells Zagoria that Ollie is “listening” as Oklahoma City pursues him, despite Ollie’s statement from Wednesday in which he indicated that he would remain at Connecticut. The source also suggests to Zagoria that if the Thunder’s next coach can’t manage the two-superstar dynamic between Durant and Westbrook to Durant’s liking, last year’s MVP will leave in free agency next summer.
  • Durant expressed “100%” support for the team’s decision to part ways with Brooks but said the news was difficult to take and lauded Brooks for his mentorship on and off the court, as the injured star posted on his Instagram account.