Maurice Cheeks

Western Notes: Kings, Atkinson, Pelicans, Thunder

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon reportedly informed the Kings on Wednesday that he will not be involved in their search for a new head of basketball operations.

With Langdon pulling his name out of the Kings’ search, that leaves Sachin Gupta, Adam Simon, Calvin Booth, Monte McNair, and Wes Wilcox as potential replacements for Vlade Divac. Jason Jones of The Athletic looks at each candidate’s resume, exploring why they would make sense for Sacramento.

As Jones points out, the Kings head into the offseason with four picks in the 2020 NBA draft, including the 12th overall selection, but do not have a lot of cap space. Therefore, whoever Sacramento chooses will have a tall task ahead of them to break the team’s 14-year playoff drought.

Here’s more from across the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans are one of the many teams looking for a brand new head coach after firing Alvin Gentry. One potential candidate who could be of interest to New Orleans is former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who evaluates Atkinson’s fit in New Orleans. As Guillory details, Atkinson has a relationship with Langdon, who was the Nets’ assistant general manager, and could help further the development of New Orleans’ young roster like he did with Brooklyn.
  • After just missing out on the playoffs, the Pelicans hold the 13th overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft. But unlike the other teams in the lottery, New Orleans does not necessarily need its first-round pick and could use it to acquire veteran players. William Guillory of The Athletic draws up three trades that the Pelicans could execute to upgrade their roster. One trade Guillory created has the Nets giving up Taurean Prince and their 2020 first-rounder for Darius Miller, Nicolo Melli, and the No. 13 pick.
  • The Thunder will be looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Billy Donovan on Tuesday. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman takes a deep dive into potential replacements, listing 50 possible candidates for OKC’s vacancy. Outside of the known options, Mussatto mentions multiple internal candidates, including Maurice Cheeks and Mark Daigneault.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Towns, Westbrook

The Jazz didn’t make any major headlines over the course of the summer, electing to stand pat on a roster that shocked the NBA world and emerged as a Western Conference contender. Heading into 2018/19, the club is as dangerous as ever, Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight writes.

Of course the biggest hurdle for the Jazz will be to win ball games despite the fact that opponents won’t take them for granted. Now that the rest of the league is aware of what they’re capable, they’ll have to bring their best game every night out.

Herring wonders if Ricky Rubio will be able to continue to shoot the ball as well as he did in the second half of last season after a career of sub-par percentages. Similarly, he considers just how scary the team can be on the defensive end with a hopefully healthy Rudy Gobert in the lineup for a full season.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The fact that Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t signed a five-year max rookie scale extension is “eyebrow raising,” Brian Windhorst of ESPN says (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). Per Windhorst, there has never been a player that hasn’t signed such an offer.
  • A recent feature on 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Maurice Cheeks paints the retired point guard and former Thunder assistant as a “Russell Westbrook whisperer.” Royce Young of ESPN details the coach’s impact on the early years of Westbrook’s career.
  • It’s never too early to start talking about next year’s free agent crop. Our 2019 NBA free agent rankings are now live. Two of the four most valuable potential acquisitions? Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler.

Ray Allen, 12 Others Selected To 2018 Hall Of Fame Class

Two-time NBA champion and 10-time All-Star Ray Allen was among 13 names selected by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for enshrinement as part of the 2018 Hall of Fame Class.

In his 18-year career, Allen set the record for most three-point field goals made with 2,973 and is ranked sixth on the all-time free throw percentage list with an .894 mark. Allen, 42, was drafted by the Bucks fifth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft and spent his first six-and-a-half seasons in Milwaukee. After a four-and-a-half year run with the then-Supersonics, Allen joined the Celtics, capturing his first of two NBA titles in 2008.

The University of Connecticut product joined the Heat for his final two seasons, capturing his second championship in 2013. Allen sank several clutch treys in Game 6 and Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, leading the Heat to the title.

As we relayed earlier this week, Jason KiddSteve Nash, Grant HillMaurice Cheeks, and Rod Thorn were selected to the Hall of Fame. You can read detailed descriptions of their careers from our February report of 13 finalists being selected for the Hall of Fame.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith,  four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson, long-time Maryland coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Dino Radja, Charlie Scott, Ora Mae Washington, and Rick Welts were also selected.

Nash, Kidd, Allen Headline 13 Hall Of Fame Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced 13 finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame in 2018. The list includes six first-time finalists, including likely first-ballot hall-of-famers Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, and Steve Nash, as well as Grant Hill, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith and four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson.

Among the seven other finalists are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, and five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber. Rounding out the list are long-time Maryland coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, 28-year NBA referee Hugh Evans, two-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

The Class of 2018 will be announced on Saturday, March 31 at a press conference in San Antonio prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Let’s now take a look at some more information on the six former NBA stars up for election as players.

  • Steve Nash – Played in the NBA for 19 seasons, earning MVP honors in both 2005 and 2006. An eight-time All-Star and an All-NBA First Team member in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Nash also holds the NBA record for highest career free throw percentage (.904) and had four seasons with a shooting line of .500/.400/.900, the most in NBA history.
  • Jason Kidd – During his 18-year NBA career, he earned All-NBA First Team honors five times and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star while also ranking second on the NBA all-time steals list (2,684) and all-time assists list (12,091).
  • Ray Allen – A two-time NBA Champion, Allen was selected to the All-Star game 10 times during his 18-year career. He is still the all-time NBA leader in three-point field goals made (2,973) and is ranked sixth on the all-time free throw percentage list (.894).
  • Grant Hill – A 19-year NBA veteran, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and a member of the All-NBA First Team in 1997, Hill was also a member of two NCAA national championship teams (1991, 1992) at Duke and a gold medal recipient at the 1996 Olympic Games.
  • Chris Webber –Webber is a five-time NBA All-Star and the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year. He earned All-NBA First Team honors in 2001 and averaged more than 20 points per game for nine consecutive seasons from the mid-90’s to the early 00’s.
  • Maurice Cheeks – A four-time NBA All-Star (1983, 1986-1988) and four-time NBA All-Defensive team selection, Cheeks was also a member of the 1983 NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers.

And-Ones: Olympics, Cheeks, Raduljica, Draft

A 3-on-3 version of basketball could be coming to the Summer Olympics in 2020, according to Graham Dunbar of The Associated Press. The IOC executive board is expected to approve a list of medal events for the Games this week, and 3-on-3 basketball is a favorite to be added. A decision is expected to be announced Friday at a board meeting to discuss the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. ”Now there is an urban cluster that has been created,” said FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann. ”The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball. It would certainly be a perfect fit.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks is OK after a health scare this week, relays The Philadelphia Inquirer. The former Sixers star was hospitalized overnight in Philadelphia after an undisclosed medical problem during a flight. He underwent several tests at the hospital before being released.
  • Miroslav Raduljica has severed ties with Olimpia Milano and could be returning to China next season, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The Serbian big man played for the Bucks in 2013/14 and the Timberwolves in 2014/15.
  • Getting fouled on a 3-point shot has become the most productive act in the NBA, writes Tom Haberstroh of Players who manage to get the call are averaging 2.5 points per play, as opposed to 1.1 on a regular 3-point attempt.

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Durant, Porter

The Wizards’ deal to hire Scott Brooks as their new coach was a safe move for the franchise, as he is likely to be a solid leader for the team, writes Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post. But the jury still remains out on how successful Brooks can be without Kevin Durant to aid him, Brewer adds, with the scribe also noting that Brooks was fired after a season that saw the small forward limited to just 27 games. It’s also remains to be seen how well Brooks will coexist with John Wall after the coach had his difficulties at times with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, with many believing Brooks’ offense limited the point guard’s productivity, Brewer adds.

Washington may have to hope that Brooks doesn’t require the presence of Durant to succeed, as friends of the player have indicated that he doesn’t want to sign with the Wizards and deal with the pressure of being surrounded by family, friends and hangers-on from his native Washington. Here’s more from the nation’s capital:

  • Some possible candidates for Brooks’ coaching staff in Washington include Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian, Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks and former Nets interim coach Tony Brown, David Aldridge of relays (Twitter links).
  • Brooks is an ardent believer in the potential of 2013 No. 3 overall pick Otto Porter, Aldridge notes. Porter, 22, appeared in 75 games for the Wizards this season and averaged 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists, all of which were career highs.
  • The deal with Brooks is the culmination of the team’s moves the past few seasons, all of which were aimed at luring Durant to Washington D.C., writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The front office doesn’t view Brooks’ five-year pact as a risk, seeing the coach as a known quantity, Michael adds. Brooks should bring a fresh start to the team’s locker room, though he would be wise to add a disciplinarian to his coaching staff to help balance out his affable personality, the scribe opines.
  • Durant said today that he’s happy Brooks landed the new position but insisted he’s focused on the playoffs when asked if the move increased his chances of joining the Wizards, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman relays.

Thunder Rumors: Durant, Donovan, Foye, Kanter

Heading into free agency, Kevin Durant is asked about a lot of NBA destinations, but he offered a simple answer of “It’s home” when he got that question about Oklahoma City, relays Royce Young of Whether or not that offers a clue of Durant’s free agency intentions, it’s clear he has developed an affection for the city where he has spent the last eight years of his NBA career. “I’ve always felt that this place meant so much to me,” Durant said. “It has a special place in my heart and my family’s heart as well.”

There’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • Billy Donovan has adjusted to the challenge of handling two superstars in his first NBA coaching job, writes Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Donovan had spent 21 years at the college level, and 19 at the University of Florida, before replacing Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City last summer. Donovan has the Thunder, who missed the playoffs in an injury-filled season a year ago, firmly in third place in the West with a 48-22 record. “I just think that there is sort of a down-to-earth part of him that allows him to come in and be excellent at inheriting a hell of a team,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Donovan. “That’s a hard job in different ways you look at it. Because it is so veteran and they have been used to success. I thought Scotty did a hell of a job with them, too. It’s not an easy job.”
  • Randy Foye, who was acquired from the Nuggets at the trade deadline, has helped rejuvenate the bench in Oklahoma City, according to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Foye is a streaky shooter, but he has helped by limiting turnovers and playing strong defense on the perimeter. Strong bench play has also come from center Enes Kanter, whom the Thunder kept last summer by matching a five-year, $70MM offer from Portland.
  • Still recovering from hip surgery, assistant coach Maurice Cheeks is expected to return to the Thunder bench for home games beginning this week, Slater tweets. Donovan hopes Cheeks can take on full-time duty by the start of next month.
  • The Thunder have assigned forward Mitch McGary to Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League. He has played 22 games with the Blue this season, averaging 15 points and 9.1 rebounds.

Thunder Notes: Mohammed, Payne, Cheeks, Durant

After veteran center Nazr Mohammed opted to come out of “semi-retirement” and sign with the Thunder, he explained his decision in a post on The 37-year-old hasn’t played in the NBA this season. His last action was with the Bulls in 2014/15, when he appeared in 23 games. Mohammed said he was considering full retirement before Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti called with an offer.  “As a young player, your only desire is to be in the NBA,” Mohammed said. “As you get older, your desire is to play for certain organizations with certain circumstances, making it a little tougher to find the right fit. Mine was a combination of all of the above. Most of the teams that I had interest in didn’t need my services, and I didn’t have the desire to go just anywhere. And some teams just didn’t want me.” The 18-year vet was a member of the Thunder team that reached the NBA Finals in 2011/12.

There’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder’s trade at the deadline that brought Randy Foye from Denver has sharply reduced the playing time of rookie Cameron Payne, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Even though Payne is a point guard and Foye is more of a shooting guard, Payne has fallen victim to coach Billy Donovan‘s new substitution pattern that sees Kevin Durant take most of the ball-handling responsibilities when Russell Westbrook is resting.
  • The Thunder hoped to have assistant coach Maurice Cheeks, who is recovering from hip surgery, back at practice today, but it will be some time before he can be part of games, Slater tweets. “Standing up and down during games, is that good for his hip?” Donovan said. “I’m not sure what the doctor will tell him.”
  • Durant’s best strategy in free agency may be to follow the example LeBron James set, according to Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. Beer argues that Durant should maximize his earnings by signing a two-year contract with the ability to opt out in the summer of 2017. By then, the cap is expected to rise and Durant will be a 10-year veteran, which significantly increases the amount he can earn. Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors examined the issue in depth last month.

Northwest Notes: Martin, Cheeks, Pleiss, Burke

Kevin Martin is hoping the Wolves will trade him to a winning team before Thursday’s deadline, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. A source said Martin would like to see the deal done as a reward for his “professionalism and mentoring of young teammates.” The 12th-year shooting guard is making $7.085MM this year and has a player option worth nearly $7.38MM for next season.

There’s more news from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks will be out of action for about six weeks after undergoing hip surgery, the team announced today. Mark Daigneault, head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, will take Cheeks’ place, while OKC Blue assistant Jarell Christian will coach that team for the rest of the season.
  • The Jazz recalled center Tibor Pleiss from the D-League today, tweets Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. However, the move was just so Pleiss could attend practice, and he was sent back down later in the day.
  • Jazz point guard Trey Burke, who is rumored to be in a proposal that would send him to Houston in exchange for Ty Lawson, works better as a backup than a starter, according to Bobby Marks of the Vertical on Yahoo Sports. In his guide to the trade deadline for Utah, Marks says the Jazz have been missing a floor leader in the absence of Dante Exum, who is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery last summer. Marks advises the Jazz to hang onto Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and rookie Trey Lyles as they push for a playoff spot.
  • Randy Rigby will retire as president of the Jazz at the end of the season and will be replaced by Steve Starks, Genessy tweets. “I am excited about the future of the Jazz and my continued involvement as an adviser,” said Rigby, who has been with the organization since 1986.
  • The Nuggets may be able to get a second-round pick for J.J. Hickson, Marks writes in his trade deadline guide for Denver. Hickson has fallen out of the team’s rotation and has been on the market for weeks. Marks credits the Denver front office with being on the right track for rebuilding and says the team should consider moving either the Rockets’ or Blazers’ first-round picks, which are both conditional, in exchange for a future pick or veteran player.

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Donovan, Matthews

Timberwolves GM Milt Newton poured cold water on persistent Ricky Rubio trade rumors, telling Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press that the front office is “not talking to anybody about trading Ricky” and that the team expects the point guard to play an integral role.

“He’s one of the best facilitators in the NBA,” Newton said. “We’ve got a young team of guys that are athletic, that are going to get up and down. And we’re going to utilize those talents that they have. Who better than Ricky to be the one leading the charge, pushing the pace, pushing the ball and getting our guys easy opportunities and getting the ball where they can be their best? We’re looking to him to be that person.”

Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher said earlier this month that the Wolves had lost faith in Rubio and had gauged the market for him, though Bucher added that he heard trade talks weren’t ongoing. Since then, Newton assumed control of the front office from the ailing Flip Saunders, who’s on a leave of absence as he recovers from cancer treatments. See more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder GM Sam Presti said this week that he didn’t have any influence in Billy Donovan‘s assistant coaching hires, moves that complement the first-year NBA head coach with veterans Monty Williams and Maurice Cheeks, as The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel details. “Billy, great quality about him, he did not know Monty, and he did not know Maurice Cheeks,” Presti said. “He interviewed those guys. He really liked them. He felt like they could help. He was totally aligned with our vision for an organization. One of the things that make him able to do that, he naturally and intrinsically gravitates to those kinds of people. Those guys have been great together. We’re grateful those guys were willing to jump in. Both those guys have accomplished a lot.”
  • The Trail Blazers had no reason to pay a premium to retain Wesley Matthews once LaMarcus Aldridge left, given Matthews’ torn Achilles and the rebuilding phase that Portland is entering, contends Shaun Powell of in his review of the team’s offseason. Jabari Young of Comcast SportsNet Northwest presented a different take on that in our latest installment of The Beat.
  • The max deal Matthews signed with the Mavs appears on the list of the five worst contracts for the future that Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports compiled. Also on the list is Enes Kanter, who signed an offer sheet with the Blazers that the Thunder matched, and former Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson, now on a five-year, $80MM deal with the Pistons.