Matt Nielsen

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Allen, Mavericks, Nielsen

Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy believes his team is too dependent on its offense, Jim Eichenhofer writes for NBA.com. New Orleans dropped a 117-114 game to the Spurs on Saturday, allowing San Antonio to shoot 48% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range.

“That’s the problem, when you have to shoot the ball well to win,” Van Gundy said. “That’s going to be a problem. Guys are going to have bad nights shooting the ball. You’ve got to be able to win games where you don’t shoot well, and right now we can’t. We’re totally dependent on our offense to win games, and that’s not going to take you very far.”

The Pelicans own the second-worst defensive rating in the league at 116.1, trailing only the Kings. The team owns a 14-19 record largely because of its lackluster defense and has lost seven of its last 10 games.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen has entered the league’s concussion protocol, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Allen suffered the injury during the team’s game against the Clippers on Friday. The 25-year-old has averaged 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game this season, starting in eight of the club’s last nine games.
  • The Mavericks‘ 2018 draft class has never looked better, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News writes. Luka Doncic (pick No. 3) and Jalen Brunson (No. 33) have gradually improved since entering the league almost three years ago. “He’s a great player,” Doncic said of Brunson. “It’s easy to have chemistry like that.”
  • Austin Spurs coach Matt Nielsen is bringing out the best of his team this season, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Nielsen has coached the club to a 8-4 record thus far in the G League bubble. “I love him as a coach,” Spurs guard Tre Jones said of Nielsen. “As a person, he is a really good guy, easy to get along with and talk to on a day-to-day basis. As a coach, he is super encouraging…He is always on our side.” 

Texas Notes: Walker, Austin Spurs, Assistant Coaches

Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV has new representation. Rich Paul and Lucas Newton of Klutch Sports are Walker’s new agents, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link). Klutch also represents Walker’s teammates Dejounte Murray and Trey Lyles.

Walker remains on his rookie contract with the Spurs. He will become eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2021 and – if he doesn’t sign a new deal early – would reach restricted free agency in 2022.

There’s more from the Lone Star State:

  • The Spurs‘ G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, have promoted assistant Matt Nielsen to head coach, and named former assistant general manager Tyler Self the new GM, according to a team press release.
  • The Rockets continue to remake their personnel beyond the hardwood. New head coach Stephen Silas has added Magic player development coach Rick Higgins, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), and former Sydney Kings head coach Will Weaver, per Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link).
  • Per a team press release, the Spurs have promoted Mitch Johnson to fill Tim Duncan‘s role on Gregg Popovich‘s bench and have also named Darius Songalia an assistant coach. Duncan, a Hall of Fame power forward and five-time champion with the club, will return to his more informal player development duties with the team for 2020/21.