Melvin Hunt

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wade, Simons

If the Hornets are going to turn the fate of their franchise around, they’ll have to improve how they handle lottery picks. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes that only one of their seven different top-11 picks since 2011 has been an All-Star.

Bonnell breaks down ex-general manager Rich Cho‘s underwhelming draft portfolio noting that beyond Walker, only one of the remaining six players they’ve drafted in the top-11 has even gone on to be a consistent starter (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).

To Cho’s credit, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk can all be valuable rotation pieces for the foreseeable future but it’s hard to justify the selections of Bismack Biyombo and Noah Vonleh.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Pending free agent Dwyane Wade has not decided if he’s going to retire or not. If he returns, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets, he’d want to return with the Heat.
  • Not surprisingly, Anfernee Simons was particularly excited to work out for the Magic, the franchise with whom his namesake made his mark. John Denton of the team’s official site writes about the Florida native’s connection to the team and his decision to enter the draft directly out of prep school.
  • It’s official, the Hawks have made Melvin Hunt, Chris Jent, Greg Foster, Marlon Garnett and Matt Hill assistant coaches under new head coach Lloyd Pierce, the team announced on its website.

Coaching Notes: Hornets, Hawks, Bucks, Blatt

After reaching an agreement to hire former Suns head coach Jay Triano as a top assistant, the Hornets are adding another coach to James Borrego‘s new staff in Charlotte. According to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link), former Magic assistant Jay Hernandez has agreed to a deal with the Hornets.

Hernandez, who had been working under Frank Vogel in Orlando, was let go at the same time Vogel was fired by the Magic last month. Hernandez’s name surfaced as one to watch in New York when David Fizdale was hired, but he’ll land in Charlotte instead, teaming up with Borrego and Triano on the Hornets’ new-look bench.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the basketball world:

  • Lloyd Pierce has begun to fill out his coaching staff in Atlanta, with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reporting that former Mavericks assistant Melvin Hunt will join the Hawks at Pierce’s lead assistant, while former Suns assistant Marlon Garnett will also be part of the team’s staff. Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported (via Twitter) that the Hawks were in advanced discussions with Hunt.
  • Many of the Hawks‘ former assistants are preparing to relocate to Milwaukee along with Mike Budenholzer, leaving the Bucks‘ old staff in the lurch. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times looks at what’s next for those Bucks assistants.
  • Darussafaka head coach David Blatt is receiving some interest from EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, according to a report from La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Blatt, who interviewed for multiple NBA coaching jobs this spring, has an extensive international résumé that includes a stint as head coach of the Russian national team.
  • At Sportando, Carchia passes along another La Gazzetta dello Sport story, as the Italian outlet reports that Sergio Scariolo – the coach of Spain’s national team – is pursuing an opportunity to become an assistant in the NBA.

Jameer Nelson Contemplates Asking For Trade

Jameer Nelson would prefer to remain with the Nuggets, but if it appears he won’t see more playing time than he received down the stretch this season, he won’t hesitate to have agent Steve Mountain ask Denver to trade him, reports Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Nelson signed a three-year, $13.622MM contract with the Nuggets just this past summer and began the season as the primary backup to Emmanuel Mudiay, averaging 27.6 minutes per game through January 15th. Nelson appeared for only one seven-minute stint after January 30th, though that was initially because of a wrist injury that at one point threatened to prematurely end his season.

The 34-year-old Nelson returned to the active list after the wrist caused an eight-game absence in February, but while he was out, Denver traded for D.J. Augustin, who played well enough to convince coach Michael Malone to drop Nelson to third on the depth chart, as Dempsey details. Malone is clearly fond of Augustin, calling him the team’s “security blanket,” and Augustin has said he’d love to re-sign with the Nuggets when he hits free agency this summer.

“Like I said we’ll figure it out and see what’s going on,” Nelson said, according to Dempsey. “I would love to come back here. That’s the reason why I signed a three-year deal. But it’s just one of those things that, it’s a business. It’s a business, and we have to figure it out.”

Nelson had sincere doubts about Denver when the Nuggets acquired him via trade during the 2014/15 season, but he praised the organization this past fall, saying the team delivered on its promise that it had a role in mind for him, and he organized a summertime bonding session with teammates. He was a fan, like most Nuggets, of Melvin Hunt, the team’s interim coach for the spring of 2015, and while he opted out last summer and said the team’s choice of a new coach would be a determining factor as he thought about whether to re-sign, he followed through and signed his new contract with the Nuggets after they hired Malone.

Orlando, where Nelson spent the majority of his career, maintains a place in his heart, Nelson said this season, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan has spoken openly of his desire to have more veterans on the team. The Magic will have plenty of cap room available to absorb Nelson’s salary of close to $4.541MM for next season without sending salary in return, if necessary.

Western Notes: Warriors, Mudiay, Hunt

Now that the Warriors have secured the NBA title, the team enters the offseason with the goal of keeping its young core intact while still improving itself, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group writes. When you have the success that we had, you like to keep it together as much as possible,” Golden State GM Bob Myers said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t open your eyes to see what else is out there, but if it’s a close call, you always want to retain the talent that got you a championship. I think if we’re going to lean in a direction, it’s the continuity, which is something we’ve tried to build here, and certainly at least it worked for this year.” One of the Warriors’ priorities this summer is to re-sign restricted free agent Draymond Green, who is in line for a hefty increase from his 2014/15 salary of $915,243.

Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings have been unsuccessful thus far in getting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay to work out for the team, Sean Cunningham of News 10 Sacramento tweets. Mudiay’s representatives believe that he’ll be off the board prior to Sacramento selecting with the No. 6 overall pick, Cunningham adds.
  • Arizona defensive whiz Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s scheduled workout with the Jazz on Friday was cancelled due to travel issues, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News relays (Twitter link). It’s unclear if the showcase will be rescheduled prior to the draft. Hollis-Jefferson is already expected to work out for the Kings on Monday.
  • Mavs coach Rick Carslile has confirmed reports that former Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt will be joining his staff as an assistant, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays (Twitter links). Hunt will replace assistant Monte Mathis, who has been offered the job as head coach of Mavs’ D-League affiliate if he does not obtain another position outside of the organization, Stein adds.

Southwest Notes: Green, Villanueva, Hunt

Jeff Green, who picked up his player option with the Grizzlies, will represent a cap hold of $9.45MM rather than $9.2MM for 2015/16 because he triggered a $250K bonus this season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). The incentive clause kicked in when Memphis picked up its 55th win, and he was in line for an additional $200K if the Grizzlies, who finished 55-27, had won 56 games, Pincus explains. The cap hit applies for next season because the league now considers it likely that Memphis will again win 55 games, though he won’t get the money if they don’t again hit that threshold. Here’s more from around the Southwest Division.

  • Charlie Villanueva would like to re-sign with the Mavericks, and while the team would welcome that, Dallas isn’t willing to pay more than the minimum, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
  • The Mavs are close to a deal with former Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt that would make him the top assistant in Dallas to head coach Rick Carlisle, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Pelicans have also been interested in Hunt as an assistant, Stein reported earlier.
  • Shooting guards Norman Powell of UCLA, Josh Richardson of Tennessee and Tyler Harvey of Eastern Washington are working out for the Mavs today, reports Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (on Twitter).
  • The Grizzlies will work out Southeast Missouri State forward Nino Johnson on Monday, sources tell Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia.

Western Notes: Lakers, Duncan, Ginobili, Wolves

Mitch Kupchak admits that finding someone who can make an immediate impact as Kobe Bryant nears retirement factors into his approach to the offseason, as the Lakers GM tells Chris Mannix of SI.com. Climbing merely to mediocrity would be a dangerous proposition, Kupchak cautions.

“To some degree,” Kupchak said. “We feel we want to make significant progress from this year to next year. And if we can do that and not mortgage the future — in other words, with a player who is in free agency that’s a veteran — then yeah. It’s a factor because we do want and we need in this city to show progress. And we’ve not made the playoffs for two years running, I suppose you can do it a third year, but our fans are impatient, and they’re used to a good product, and that’s not what we want to do. And we know Kobe is not as happy when the town around him is not enough to win. But, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t do something that puts us in the middle of the pack for the next six or seven years. Because all that does is get you the eighth seed in the playoffs and a draft pick that’s not very good.”

There’s more on the Lakers amid the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Tony Parker is optimistic that both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will return to the Spurs for next season, though he admits that his hope that they indeed come back may cloud his ability to accurately predict what they’ll do, as Parker tells Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Regardless, Duncan said to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com that the loss of more than $20MM that he alleges that a former financial adviser swindled him out of won’t play a role in his decision whether to return.
  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor dismissed any lingering doubt Wednesday, declaring that president of basketball operations Flip Saunders will continue as coach of the team for next season, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities relays (on Twitter).
  • The Pelicans would like to add former Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt as an assistant coach, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers have interest in trading the No. 27 pick to clear the salary that goes with it, and talk has also centered on the team packaging the pick with other assets in an offer for another pick higher in the order, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes within his mock draft.
  • Notre Dame swingman Pat Connaughton, N.C. State shooting guard Trevor Lacey, Iowa State shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, Tennessee Tech center Charles Jackson and UC Santa Barbara center Alan Williams were among those who worked out for the Wolves this week, Wolfson reports (Twitter link).

Nuggets Interview David Vanterpool

Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool has interviewed for the Nuggets head coaching job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who first identified Vanterpool as a candidate for the vacancy in April. Vanterpool is nonetheless not among the favorites for the position, Wojnarowski writes, pointing instead to the interview itself as a boon for the 42-year-old who has just three years of experience as an NBA assistant coach. Wojnarowski refers to interim coach Melvin Hunt, Michael Malone and Mike D’Antoni as strong candidates for the job, the same three names Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post identified as known candidates in a story from overnight.

Other names have nonetheless emerged as well, as the team has interviewed Wizards assistant Don Newman, according to Shams Charania of RealGM, while Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe heard that Mike Woodson might get an interview, too. The Nuggets are believed to want their next coach in place soon so that the new hire can help the team prepare for the draft, Dempsey writes, and an increasing number of coaches around the league foresee the team going with Hunt, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported. Hunt would seemingly have the advantage of incumbency, and it’s clear that the Nuggets players are behind him. Malone is so far the only candidate reported to have drawn a second interview, though the Nuggets are clearly familiar with Hunt’s credentials.

Vanterpool interviewed for the Sixers head coaching job in 2013 and seemingly became the front-runner for that position at one point. That came just one year after he joined the Blazers, a gig that Vanterpool landed after he served in the Thunder’s front office as director of player personnel, Wojnarowski notes. Before that, he was an assistant coach for CSKA Moscow under European coaching icon and current Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, as Wojnarowski also points out.

Coaching Rumors: Nuggets, Donovan, Cheeks

Michael Malone‘s candidacy for the Nuggets head coaching job is gathering momentum, but an increasing number of coaches around the league envision interim coach Melvin Hunt getting the position, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. In any case, it appears that Denver is drawing closer to a hire, as it’s believed that the team would like to have its new coach help with draft prep, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Here’s more coaching news from around the NBA:

  • Mike Miller lauded Billy Donovan‘s demeanor, preparation and communication when Kevin Durant asked him about the incoming Thunder head coach, as Miller tells Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Miller makes it clear he harbors no shortage of affection for his college coach, saying to Slater that it will be “very weird” to go against Donovan in the NBA. Miller wouldn’t necessarily have to do so if he declines his player option, worth nearly $2.855MM, and signs with the Thunder this summer, of course, but the Cavs reserve didn’t suggest that such a scenario was on his mind.
  • The Thunder are increasingly serious about rehiring Maurice Cheeks as an assistant coach, according to Stein, who notes the strong relationship between Cheeks and Russell Westbrook (Twitter links). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first identified Cheeks as a possible candidate for an assistant’s job in Oklahoma City, a role that would reprise the one he filled from 2009/10 to 2012/13.
  • Remaining with the Magic to serve as an assistant under Scott Skiles remains a “strong option” for James Borrego, Stein also reports (Twitter link). Borrego, who was Orlando’s interim coach and a candidate to remain in the head coaching position on a long-term basis before the Skiles hire, has drawn interest from the Pelicans and had talks with the Thunder about assistant coaching jobs, as Stein previously reported.

Malone Gets Second Interview With Nuggets

Michael Malone has landed a second interview with the Nuggets for their head coaching vacancy, tweets ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, who cites sources. Stein also tweets that he expects Mike D’Antoni to secure a second interview with the team, and that interim coach Melvin Hunt remains firmly in the mix to keep the job on a full-time basis. It is not clear when Malone’s second interview with the Nuggets will take place.

The Nuggets initially interviewed Malone, primarily known as a defensive coach, on Tuesday. Malone was fired as coach of the Kings in December. Malone’s regular season coaching record with the Kings was 39-67.

Hunt reportedly emerged as the front-runner to land the job on a more permanent basis in late May. Denver interviewed D’Antoni, who is known for running up-tempo offenses, on Tuesday as well. The Nuggets received permission to interview Wizards assistant Don Newman, who has been an NBA assistant coach for 16 NBA seasons, on Thursday. It also appears Denver is in line to interview Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson. The Nuggets have the league’s only remaining coaching vacancy.

Nuggets Interview Mike D’Antoni, Eye Malone

Mike D’Antoni met with the Nuggets on Tuesday regarding their head coaching position, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Denver’s post is the lone remaining coaching vacancy in the NBA now that Fred Hoiberg is in place in Chicago, Scott Skiles is on the job in Orlando, and Alvin Gentry has been hired to lead the Pelicans. Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported that D’Antoni would be a potential target of Denver’s.

While D’Antoni’s fast-paced offensive style fits perfectly into what Denver wishes to transition to, interim coach Melvin Hunt, who was reported to have emerged as the front-runner to land the post on a more permanent basis, still remains a strong contender for the position, Wojnarowski adds. Also reported to be in the mix for Denver’s coaching billet is former Hawks and Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who could land an interview in the near future, and former Kings coach Michael Malone, who has had conversations with GM Tim Connelly, and Malone could warrant an interview as well, Wojnarowski notes.

D’Antoni, 64, spent less than a season as the interim head coach with the Nuggets during the 1998/99 campaign, and he has also been a head coach for the Suns, Knicks , and the Lakers. Through 881 career regular season contests his record is 455-426, with a postseason mark of 26-33.