Larry Drew

Central Notes: Middleton, Bulls, Boylen, Cavs

Asked after the All-Star Game about his upcoming free agency, Bucks swingman Khris Middleton deflected the question, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays (via Twitter).

“I’ll think about the summertime in the summertime,” Middleton said. “We have a lot more work to do, hopefully. The second half of the season is going to be tough. We’ve been playing great basketball, so that’s the only thing I’m worried about.”

While Middleton may not want to talk about it yet, he figures to draw a ton of interest in the offseason — he’d be an ideal complementary piece for a handful of teams with cap room, and may be a fall-back option for other clubs that miss out on stars like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. If they want to retain Middleton going forward, the Bucks will likely have to double his $13MM salary.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer lauds the Bulls for their traded-deadline acquisition of Otto Porter, arguing that the veteran forward is exactly the sort of piece the team needed, since he has the ability to make players around him better.
  • The Bulls haven’t had a ton of on-court success since Jim Boylen took over as the team’s head coach, but he has done what the team’s management group asked of him, instilling a “blue-collar identity,” writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, Boylen, who could earn up to $1.6MM next season, with $1MM guaranteed, currently looks very likely to return to Chicago’s bench for 2019/20.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes an early look at potential candidates for the Cavaliers‘ permanent head coaching job. According to Fedor, Larry Drew should receive consideration if he wants it, but Cleveland figures to cast a wide net and may target an up-and-coming coach that can grow with the team’s players during the rebuild.

Larry Drew Unlikely To Coach Cavs Long-Term

The Cavaliers have begun searching for a permanent head coach for 2019/20 and beyond, and Larry Drew isn’t believed to be a serious candidate, according to a report from Joe Vardon and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. While Drew has served as Cleveland’s interim coach since Tyronn Lue‘s dismissal earlier this season, he’s unsure he’d want to return next season and doesn’t appear likely to be asked, per Vardon and Lloyd.

“I don’t know if I ever want to be a head coach again after this year,” said Drew, who has dealt with a constant stream of injuries since Lue’s ouster, guiding the Cavs to a 9-34 record.

According to Vardon and Lloyd, the Cavaliers will likely seek a first-time NBA head coach who has experience developing players and/or coaching in the G League. The club hasn’t yet begun reaching out to candidates or their agents, since the search is still in its infancy. However, The Athletic duo identifies six candidates who have ties to the Cavs or GM Koby Altman and could be fits. Those six candidates are:

  • Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez
  • Hornets assistant Steve Hetzel
  • Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin
  • Hawks assistant Chris Jent
  • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley
  • Jazz assistant Alex Jensen

It’s not entirely clear whether Vardon and Lloyd are just speculating based on the criteria outlined by the Cavs and Altman’s history with those coaches, or if they have inside info on the club’s wish list. Either way, it seems safe to assume that at least a few of those assistants will receive consideration from Cleveland.

For now, Drew is still running the show and the 60-year-old coach admits that he’s happy Lue was let go early in the season — not because he wanted to supplant Lue, but because he believes the Cavs’ struggles this year would have been hard on the team’s former head coach, who battled stress and health issues last season.

“I wouldn’t want to see him go through this,” Drew said. “I wouldn’t want him to go through it from a physical and mental standpoint after some of the things that he went through. He deserves better after having won a championship. He deserves much, much better.”

When the Cavs initially replaced Lue with Drew, he resisted taking on the title of interim head coach until the team gave him a raise and a small financial guarantee for next season. Several months later, he still doesn’t sound like someone who wanted the job to begin with, as Vardon and Lloyd relay.

“I wasn’t looking to do this. I was not looking to do this at all,” Drew said. “But it happened. Ain’t a whole lot you can do about it.”

Central Notes: Lopez, Pistons, Cavaliers

As the Bucks have gotten off to a strong start, the improved floor-spacing around Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a key in taking the team to the next level. Of course, one of the key cogs in the Bucks’ rotation has been Brook Lopez, who is attempting nearly seven 3-pointers per game from the center position.

As Marc Stein writes for The New York Times, Lopez’s transformation into an elite shooter at center has made the Bucks offense even more dynamic and unstoppable. As Stein points out, once the Lakers decided not to bring Lopez back in the offseason, the Bucks pounced and added Lopez as a key offseason addition for new head coach Mike Budenholzer as he worked to modernize the team’s offense.

So far, the results speak for themselves. Antetokounmpo is averaging 18.9 points per game in the paint as a result of the increased floor-spacing around him, and the Bucks look to be a regular season power with their new offensive system.

There’s more from the Central division:

Central Rumors: Henson, Lopez, Sexton, Kennard

John Henson‘s wrist injury will cost him more than just a chunk of the season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN explains. The Bucks center will lose $750K in bonus money due to clauses in his contract. He was due $250K for appearing in 60 games and an additional $500K for 75 games. Henson, who is signed through next season, is expected to miss at least 12 weeks due to a torn left wrist ligament. Henson’s cap hit for the 2019/20 campaign will be reduced to $9.7MM after the season once the bonuses are deemed unlikely. That will give Milwaukee a little more financial flexibility next summer.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls center Robin Lopez has seen his playing time increase in recent games and the team may be showcasing him and his expiring contract, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Lopez is making $14.3MM and the team could acquire an asset and move him to a contender, where he could add toughness off the bench without a long-term commitment, Cowley notes. Lopez is downplaying the possibility of getting traded. ‘‘I’ve always found that I kind of play best when I go out there and play unencumbered or unhampered by things like that,’’ he said.
  • Collin Sexton may have taken over the Cavaliers’ starting point guard spot from George Hill, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland’s lottery selection is averaging 18.0 PPG and shooting 48.4% since Hill injured his shoulder earlier this month. “There are just guys who feel more comfortable starting than coming off the bench,” head coach Larry Drew told Fedor and other media members. “I think everybody wants to start, but everybody’s production as a starter is not very good. … Certainly with G-Hill out, Collin has definitely stepped up to the plate and made his presence felt and has made a major impact to what we’ve been doing.”
  • Pistons shooting guard Luke Kennard will be out a few more weeks, according to the team’s latest medical update. Kennard suffered a right shoulder AC joint sprain on October 25th. Kennard’s rehabilitation process will continue for an additional two weeks with a gradual intensification towards basketball activity. That suggests Kennard, a second-year guard, won’t be back until sometime next month.

Central Notes: Budenholzer, Sexton, Sabonis

The Bucks credit new coach Mike Budenholzer for their hot start, as Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. The Bucks’ offense has more structure than it did under former coach Jason Kidd and interim coach Joe Prunty, multiple players told Friedell and other media members. “We have multiple sets we can get into, we have — just more of a foundation to play off of rather than just freestyle,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said. The players are displaying trust in the system, which emphasizes 3-point shots and ball movement, Friedell adds. “I think teams are starting to take notice and realize we’re not the Bucks that we were when I first got here six years ago,” small forward Khris Middleton said. “We’re a totally different team even from last year.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers coach Larry Drew is going to ride the team’s first-round pick and he’s told the rest of the team to buy in. Drew has instructed his veterans that they need to allow rookie point guard Collin Sexton to work through his mistakes, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer“I actually pulled some guys to the side when we were in Orlando (on Monday),” Drew said. “That was my exact point — having to be patient with a 19-year-old kid.”
  • Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis is off to a hot start and that presents a tricky dilemma for the front office, Zach Lowe of ESPN notes. Myles Turner signed a four-year, $72MM extension last month but Sabonis has thus far outplayed him. Statistics bear out that Indiana’s offense suffers when both are on the court, though Turner has a higher ceiling because of his 3-point shooting and rim protection, Lowe continues. Sabonis is eligible for an extension prior to the start of next season but it’s tough to pay big bucks for two players at the same position, Lowe adds.
  • The Pistons rank among the top 10 in the league in open 3-point attempts, yet they’ve done a poor job of making them. Meanwhile, the Bulls have been bit hard by the injury bug. Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at some of the areas of concern for Central Division clubs.

Larry Drew, Cavs Reach Contract Agreement

6:45pm: Drew has officially signed the agreement, according to a team press release.

4:39pm: Larry Drew and the Cavaliers have agreed on a contract for the rest of this season and a partially-guaranteed deal for next season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Drew will remain the team’s head coach through this season. If the team decides to move on from Drew after the season, he will receive a buyout, Wojnarowski adds.

Drew had been the team’s acting coach but didn’t want the interim tag after replacing Tyronn Lue. Drew had been one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistants, but was still earning less than $1MM, well below the going rate for a head coach.

None of the other Cavaliers assistant coaches were given additional security as part of the agreement, Joe Vardon of The Athletic tweets.

Drew had expressed optimism recently over the state of negotiations with owner Dan Gilbert and GM Koby Altman after indicating he was “very disappointed” by the lack of progress in those talks.

After starting the season with ambitions of making the postseason in the post-LeBron James era, the Cavaliers could wind up with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. They’re 1-8 and have lost their best player, Kevin Love, for at least six weeks after he underwent foot surgery last week. Drew’s postseason evaluation will likely be centered on how the team’s younger players, particularly lottery pick Collin Sexton, progressed during the course of the season.

Drew previously coached the Hawks for three seasons and the Bucks for a season.

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Drew, Smith, Korver

The Cavaliers are in a state of chaos that stretches from the front office to their first-round draft pick, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The four-time defending Eastern Conference champs dropped to 1-8 last night after their latest lopsided loss, a 32-point blowout in Charlotte, and there seems little chance of righting the ship without a major roster upheaval.

There’s a significant divide in the locker room between players who are holdovers from the LeBron James era and the younger talent that management sees as the team’s future, Vardon adds. The focal point is 19-year-old Collin Sexton, who was taken with the eighth pick in this year’s draft. Any time a veteran talks about someone not knowing their role or where to be on the court, it’s usually a reference to Sexton, Vardon states.

Sexton is shooting 41.3% from the field through his first nine games and has about an equal number of assists and turnovers. However, he still has the backing of owner Dan Gilbert, who wants Sexton to keep playing, according to Vardon. Also, Sexton knows he has a future with the organization, unlike many of his veteran critics.

There’s more out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • A week after firing Tyronn Lue, the Cavs still doesn’t have an official interim head coach. Larry Drew is running the team, but retains his title of associate head coach while trying to negotiate an increase in his salary. The front office offered a modest raise after Lue was dismissed, but Drew is holding out for a contract extension for himself and his assistants. When management refused, Drew went public with his demands. The players support Drew, but they don’t view him as an official head coach because of the contract standoff.
  • Through nine games, J.R. Smith has been told twice that he was being taken out of the rotation, then was quickly reinstalled by both Lue and Drew. Earlier this week, GM Koby Altman offered Smith the chance to go on paid leave because he wouldn’t be playing, but he got 24 minutes last night and led the team with 14 points. “As far as I’m concerned, given what our circumstances are, J.R., he’s a member of our team, and if I need him I’m going to call on him,” Drew said.
  • When Altman re-signed Kyle Korver to a three-year deal last summer, it came with an understanding that Korver would be traded or bought out if James left in free agency. Korver asked to be dealt after James joined the Lakers, but the front office refused, saying it wanted to keep the veteran core together to compete for a playoff spot. The Cavs would want maximum value if they do move Korver, likely a first-round pick.

Progress In Talks Between Cavaliers, Larry Drew

Cavaliers acting head coach Larry Drew said on Thursday that discussions with the team about restructuring his contract are “moving forward in a positive direction,” writes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. According to Drew, he spoke to agent Andy Miller and feels good about the progress being made in negotiations.

Drew, who appeared poised to take over as the Cavaliers’ interim head coach after Tyronn Lue‘s dismissal, has resisted taking that title to date, pushing for a raise and perhaps an extension from the team. Drew is one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistants, but is still earning less than $1MM, well below the going rate for a head coach.

The fact that Drew is optimistic about the negotiations is an encouraging sign, since it was just three days ago that he said he was “very disappointed” by the lack of progress made in those talks.

As Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com observes, Thursday’s blowout loss to Denver helped illustrate why Drew wants a new deal and possibly a longer-term commitment. If the Cavs go into full-fledged tank mode, that type of loss figures to become more frequent, negatively impacting Drew’s win-loss record and potentially hurting his chances of landing a head coaching job in the future.

“Certainly when you talk about rebuilding, it’s not an easy thing to do,” Drew said recently, per Fedor. “It’s usually something that takes a little time. If it’s going to take some time, I’d like to be part of that. I made the organization pretty aware of that, that this is something that’s not going to happen overnight.”

Asked about the Drew situation on Thursday, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert praised the veteran coach but said he’d be staying out of contract negotiations, letting GM Koby Altman handle those discussions. Fedor has the details in a separate Cleveland.com story.

Cavs Rumors: Korver, Drew, J.R. Smith, Love

There was good news and bad news in Cleveland on Tuesday. The home crowd finally got to see the Cavaliers pick up their first victory of the season, as they blew out the Hawks by a 22-point margin. Plus, reports earlier in the day indicated that the city would host the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.

However, the team’s coaching situation remains extremely unsettled, with Larry Drew telling reporters before the game that there’s still no deal in place to make him the team’s interim head coach, let alone the permanent coach. Drew, who is seeking a raise and possibly a longer-term commitment, said that he’s “very disappointed” with the lack of progress in negotiations.

As we wait to see what happens with Drew and the Cavs, here are a few more items out of interest from out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers have begun testing the trade market for Kyle Korver, according to Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. Korver was mentioned in trade rumors over the summer, with reports suggesting that the Sixers discussed a potential deal for the veteran sharpshooter in July. It’s not clear if Philadelphia is still interested in Korver, but the Cavs are exploring their options.
  • The Cavs may become more active in looking to trade other veterans in the coming weeks, sources tell Windhorst and Wojnarowksi. Channing Frye, Rodney Hood, and David Nwaba aren’t trade-eligible until December 15 and Kevin Love can’t be traded until January 24, but anyone else on the roster could theoretically be dealt immediately.
  • J.R. Smith has been informed that he’ll be removed from the rotation and won’t receive guaranteed minutes, according to Windhorst and Wojnarowski. The ESPN duo reports that the veteran guard was “upset” by the news and considered taking some time away from the club, but has decided to stay with the Cavs for the time being. A Cavs front office official denied that report on Smith’s apparent discontent, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
    • Update: Smith has since tweeted that the Cavs gave him the option of taking time away, but he chose to stay.
  • Although Larry Drew suggested on Tuesday that the Cavs may decide to bring in an outside coach to replace him, GM Koby Altman has no interest in going that route, writes Vardon.
  • Kevin Love confirmed on Tuesday that his toe injury will keep him sidelined for at least the next couple weeks, as Tom Withers of The Associated Press relays. “I would like to get back obviously as soon as possible,” Love said. “I had high hopes for the season, I know it’s been off to a really rocky start, but the more I can be out there and help this team, the better. So I’m hoping to get out there as quickly as possible and hoping that it’s only two or three weeks.”

Larry Drew “Very Disappointed” In Negotiations With Cavs

9:47pm: The Cavaliers have not been aggressive in searching for another coach, sources tell Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

Drew, who is earning nearly $1MM this season, is one of the league’s highest-paid assistants. However, he’s looking for a raise on his salary in return for becoming the interim coach. The ESPN duo adds that it’s unclear how long Drew is willing to act as the coach without an agreement.

Windhorst and Wojnarowski also report that the Cavs again talking with teams about Kyle Korver trades, noting that the club could be more active in looking to deal other veterans in the coming weeks.

5:23pm: Larry Drew made it clear he was yet not the Cavaliers interim coach, telling the media earlier this week that he’s simply the “voice” of the team. He had hoped to reach an agreement with the Cavs to become the new floor leader. Prior to tonight’s game with Atlanta, there is still no deal in place and Drew is “very disappointed” in the lack of progress, Joe Varden of The Athletic tweets.

Drew added that he will “never quit” on the team and will “remain professional,” as Sam Amico of Amico Hoops relays via Twitter. Drew has been told the Cavaliers may bring another person in to be the head coach and he may be moved to his previous role.

“I’m fine with [the team bringing in another coach] … my contract is up in July. Maybe Larry Drew isn’t part of the future,” Drew said.

Drew has a career 143-169 record as a head coach. It was previously reported that there was a push within the organization to make Drew a long-term commitment.