Grizzlies Rumors

Lakers Interested In Reunion With Dwight Howard

Six years after leaving the Lakers, Dwight Howard may be about to return, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. L.A. is expected to seek permission to talk to the veteran center, and there is reportedly “mutual interest” in a reunion.

Howard, 33, is currently with the Grizzlies after being traded there in early July in exchange for C.J. Miles. However, the move was regarded as a salary dump for Memphis, and Howard isn’t expected to play for the franchise. Buyout talks are expected soon on his $5.6MM contract for the upcoming season.

An eight-time All-Star who was once considered one of the league’s best centers, Howard has turned into a journeyman since reaching his 30s. He has played for four teams in the past four years and was briefly the property of the Nets last summer. Injuries limited him to nine games last season, but he was still productive in 2017/18, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per night with the Hornets.

The Lakers suddenly find themselves short-handed at center after this week’s ACL injury to DeMarcus Cousins, who signed with the team last month. L.A. was hoping to avoid using Anthony Davis in the middle, but JaVale McGee is the only other currently option on the roster.

Still, the shift toward Howard is somewhat surprising, given his acrimonious history with the team. Howard spent just one year in L.A. after being traded there in 2012, signing with the Rockets the following summer. Kobe Bryant famously called him “soft” at the time and suggested that Howard wasn’t willing to learn how to win.

In an interview last month with Kristine Leahy of FS1 (video link), Howard appears to have come to terms with those comments. “Everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times,” he said. “I think at that time I was ignorant to the level that he was at. So I appreciate you, Kobe. Thank you for saying I was soft. I didn’t realize what you meant until now.”

Grizzlies Sign Matt Mooney To Exhibit 10 Deal

The Grizzlies have signed Matt Mooney to an Exhibit 10 deal, as the guard tells KeloSports. Mooney will likely end up playing for the team’s G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle.

The 6’3″ guard helped lead Texas Tech to the National Championship game last season, though the team lost to Virginia. He’s the third member of that squad to ink NBA contracts this offseason with Jarrett Culver joining the Wolves and Tariq Owens finding himself on the Suns.

Mooney said he had been deciding between the Grizzlies and the Heat for his first deal in the NBA. He’ll join Memphis for training camp.

Brad Jones Will Be Taylor Jenkins' Lead Assistant

  • New Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins spoke to Peter Edmiston of The Athletic about how he filled out his coaching staff and what traits he and the front office prioritized as they hired assistants. According to Jenkins, Brad Jones will be his lead assistant.

Mike Conley Talks Trade To Utah, Jazz’s Goals, More

The trade that sent Mike Conley from Memphis to Utah this offseason was one of the first major deals completed, and got buried under a flurry of free agency news, as All-NBA players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook changed teams.

Still, the Jazz‘s acquisition of Conley could ultimately end up being one of the summer’s most impactful moves. Utah has finished in the top five of the Western Conference in consecutive seasons and now has a third standout player to complement defensive anchor Rudy Gobert and up-and-coming star Donovan Mitchell.

Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Conley said that he’s excited to play alongside Mitchell in Utah’s backcourt, calling the 22-year-old a “special player” and suggesting that the two guards will help each other alleviate pressure from opposing defenses.

Conley also spoke about several other topics during his conversation with Kennedy, which is worth checking out in full. Here are some of the highlights from the Q&A:

On getting used to no longer being a member of the Grizzlies:

“It’s still an adjustment. Even just hearing people call my name out and saying ‘Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz,’ it doesn’t even equate yet (laughs). I’m still trying to get used to that and waiting for it to become normal. It’s a new beginning, a new journey, a new challenge and I love that. You don’t get blessed with opportunities like this very often. I feel like I’m in a blessed situation to be part of this organization and hopefully do something special while I’m there.”

On his first impressions of Utah:

“The people, the fans, have just been so welcoming. My family and I really enjoyed ourselves in the two or three weeks that we’ve been able to spend there. Everyone is just so excited! The Jazz organization is top-notch in every way. Coach Quin [Snyder] is one of the best out there and we have a really good roster. We have all of those in one bottle, so we have a lot going on and it’s going to be exciting.”

On the Jazz’s goals for 2019/20:

“After talking to Coach Quin, we all realize what the ultimate goal is – and it’s everyone’s ultimate goal – and that’s winning a championship. We know that. Are we going to achieve the daily goals to become a champion? … That’s what it boils down to. I think we’re at the stage where we’re just working and trying to stay humble and stay focused and respect the game. At the end of the day, if we [achieve our daily goals], we have a good enough team, a good enough organization and good enough coaches to give ourselves a chance.”

On whether he’d be interested in coaching after his playing career is over:

“Yeah, I think coaching is kind of the natural progression for me. I think that’s something that I’d definitely enjoy, whether it’s coaching kids at any level or [coaching] all the way up to the NBA. It’s such a passion of mine, this game, and it’s something that I know so much about. And it’s one of those games that you can never figure all the way out, and I think that’s one of the things that I love about it. Hopefully I can continue to give back as much as possible.”

Niele Ivey Sees NBA Gig As Next Step

  • Niele Ivey, the first female assistant coach in Grizzlies history, believes that outside of being a head coach, a move to the NBA was the next step in her professional career, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. “I was like, ‘you know what? I felt like I’ve worked really hard and I’m at a great point in my career now and — outside of being a head coach — this would be next level for me.'”

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2019/20

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $109,140,000 threshold once their room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit of $132,627,000 as well — the Trail Blazers have this season’s highest payroll at the moment, more than $11MM above the tax line.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows a club like Portland to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped.

When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5,718,000) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.

When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron was set $6MM above the luxury tax line in 2017/18 (the first year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) and creeps up a little higher each season. For the 2019/20 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $138,928,000.

More teams than ever this offseason have been willing to hard-cap themselves, and in at least a couple cases, it will significantly impact a team’s ability to add further reinforcements later in the league year. The Warriors and Heat are nearly right up against the hard cap, and won’t be players in free agency during the season unless they can shed salary.

So far this year, half the teams in the NBA have imposed a hard cap on themselves by using the bi-annual exception, using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, or acquiring a player via sign-and-trade. Listed below are those 15 teams, along with how they created a hard cap.

Boston Celtics

  • Acquired Kemba Walker from the Hornets via sign-and-trade.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Acquired Kevin Durant from the Warriors via sign-and-trade.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Acquired Terry Rozier from the Celtics via sign-and-trade.

Chicago Bulls

Dallas Mavericks

  • Acquired Delon Wright from the Grizzlies via sign-and-trade.
  • Used approximately $7.46MM of their mid-level exception to sign Seth Curry.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Boban Marjanovic.

Detroit Pistons

  • Used approximately $7.32MM of their mid-level exception to sign Derrick Rose.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Markieff Morris.

Golden State Warriors

Indiana Pacers

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Used their full mid-level exception ($9,258,000) to sign Tyus Jones.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Marko Guduric.

Miami Heat

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Acquired Jake Layman from the Trail Blazers via sign-and-trade.

Orlando Magic

  • Used their full mid-level exception ($9,258,000) to sign Al-Farouq Aminu.

San Antonio Spurs

Toronto Raptors

Washington Wizards

Outside of the Warriors and Heat, no clubs on the list above are really being restricted by the hard cap at this time. A few teams – such as the Pistons and Magic – are near the luxury tax threshold, but that still gives them several million dollars in breathing room below the hard cap.

While it’s possible that trades could push some teams closer to the apron, Golden State and Miami appear to be the only clubs that will be noticeably affected by the hard cap in 2019/20.

Guduric Joins Crowd At Wing Spots

Grizzlies Announce New Coaching Staff

After hiring first-time head coach Taylor Jenkins to replace J.B. Bickerstaff in June, the Grizzlies have officially announced Jenkins’ staff, which features a series of new hires.

According to a press release, Niele Ivey, Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Scoonie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko, and Neven Spahija will serve as Jenkins’ assistants for the 2019/20 season. Of the six, only Potapenko was on the team’s staff last season.

Ivey, who has spent the last 12 seasons at Notre Dame, including the last four years as the associate head coach of Fighting Irish’s women’s team, is the first female assistant in Grizzlies history, as David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal notes.

Jones, a veteran of the NBA and G League, most recently served as the head coach of the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBAGL affiliate. The team has named Jason March as its new G League head coach.

McClure spent the last three seasons as a player development coach for the Pacers; Penn comes to Memphis from Ohio State, where he was the director of player development since 2017; Spahija has coached internationally in a handful of countries since the mid-1980s, and was a Hawks assistant from 2014-17, working alongside Jenkins under Mike Budenholzer.

“Their experiences at the collegiate, international, G League and NBA levels will benefit everyone in our organization,” Jenkins said of his new assistants. “Above all else, I am thrilled to work with great people who will help build a competitive, unselfish, development-focused, and positive environment for our players.”

Grizzlies Sign Guard Marko Guduric

5:30pm: Guduric’s deal is worth $5.3MM over two years, according to Omari Sankofa II and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). As Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes (via Twitter), the team used a portion of its bi-annual exception to complete the deal, which is fully guaranteed.

4:31pm: The Grizzlies have signed guard Marko Guduric, according to a team press release.

Multiple reports out of Europe earlier this month indicated that he would sign a two-year contract with Memphis and now it’s official.

The 6’6” Guduric, 24, has played the last two seasons for Fenerbahçe in Turkey. Last season, he averaged 9.4 PPG while shooting 54.9% from the field and 47.7% from three-point range. He also helped his team win the 2019 Turkish Cup.

The Serbian native previously played four seasons for KK Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade but went undrafted in 2017. He’s also a member of the Serbian national team.

He’ll provide depth at shooting guard behind Dillon Brooks and Grayson Allen, among others. Memphis already had 15 players with guaranteed deals, a couple more with partial guarantees, plus a pair of two-way players. Thus, the club will have to make some more roster moves before opening night.

2019 NBA Head Coaching Carousel Recap

The 2017/18 NBA league year was one of the most active in recent memory for head coaching changes. Nine teams – nearly one-third of the league’s 30 franchises – named new head coaches between the start of the ’17/18 season and the 2018 draft.

The ’18/19 league year was only slightly quieter in terms of head coaching changes. Fred Hoiberg (Bulls), Tyronn Lue (Cavaliers), and Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) were fired during the season, and several more coaches got the axe at season’s end.

Jim Boylen, Hoiberg’s replacement in Chicago, was named the Bulls’ new permanent head coach during the season and was extended at season’s end, but Cleveland and Minnesota conducted head coaching searches this spring. As such, the Cavs and Wolves are included in our round-up below of the offseason’s head coaching shake-up, but the Bulls aren’t.

Here’s a recap of which teams have named new permanent head coaches since the end of the 2018/19 season:

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Hired: John Beilein (story)
  • Replaced: Larry Drew (story)
  • Contract details: Five-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Juwan Howard, Jamahl Mosley, J.B. Bickerstaff, Alex Jensen, Ime Udoka, Ettore Messina, Steve Hetzel, Wes Unseld Jr., Jordi Fernandez, David Vanterpool

After mutually agreeing to part ways with Drew, the Cavaliers conducted a long, thorough coaching search that focused primarily on young, up-and-coming assistants. So it came as a surprise when they made a long-term commitment to Beilein, a 66-year-old college head coach.

Still, Beilein has a strong track record developing young players at the University of Michigan. He’ll bring that pedigree to Cleveland, where he’ll be joined by other new hires like associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and assistant Lindsay Gottlieb.

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Hired: Frank Vogel (story)
  • Replaced: Luke Walton (story)
  • Contract details: Three-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Monty Williams, Tyronn Lue, Jason Kidd, Juwan Howard, J.B. Bickerstaff

After months of rumors that Walton was on the hot seat, it seemed as if the Lakers would have a top candidate or two in mind to pursue at season’s end, when Walton’s ouster became official. Williams and Lue appeared to be those top targets, but Williams accepted an offer from Phoenix and Lue and the Lakers couldn’t agree to terms.

The Lakers moved onto Plan B (or was it Plan C?), unexpectedly turning to Vogel on a fairly short-term deal. The former Pacers coach will be joined by other former head coaches on the Lakers’ sidelines, as Kidd and Lionel Hollins are reportedly coming aboard as assistants.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Hired: Taylor Jenkins (story)
  • Replaced: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
  • Contract details: Not known
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Alex Jensen, Jarron Collins, Igor Kokoskov, Nate Tibbetts, Adrian Griffin, Sarunas Jasikevicius

The longest-lasting head coaching search of the offseason also resulted in the most out-of-left-field hire. Jenkins, a longtime Mike Budenholzer lieutenant in Atlanta and Milwaukee, hadn’t received much head coaching buzz in recent years, but the Grizzlies liked what they saw in multiple meetings with him.

The hiring of Jenkins was the first major decision made by the new Memphis management group led by team president Jason Wexler and executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman.

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Hired: Ryan Saunders (story)
  • Replaced: Tom Thibodeau (in-season change)
  • Contract details: Not known
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Juwan Howard, David Vanterpool, Chris Finch, Darvin Ham

Saunders stepped in as the Timberwolves’ interim head coach in January when Thibodeau was let go, and he immediately emerged as a player-friendly coach who earned the trust of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and others.

With a new president of basketball operations arriving in the spring, it seemed as if the Wolves might go in another direction, and Gersson Rosas did briefly consider outside candidates. However, Rosas ultimately opted for continuity, making the 33-year-old the NBA’s youngest current head coach.

Phoenix Suns

  • Hired: Monty Williams (story)
  • Replaced: Igor Kokoskov (story)
  • Contract details: Five-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbetts

Williams was one of the most popular head coaching candidates on the market this offseason, as the Sixers assistant received consideration from the Lakers and Kings in addition to the Suns. In Phoenix, he’ll assume control of a young roster headed by Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.

It will be Williams’ second opportunity to serve as an NBA head coach. He previously held that position in New Orleans from 2010-15 for the Hornets and Pelicans.

Sacramento Kings

  • Hired: Luke Walton (story)
  • Replaced: Dave Joerger (story)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal (link)

No team moved faster to name a new head coach than the Kings, who had a deal in place with Walton just two days after firing Joerger. While there were rumors that Sacramento would consider Monty Williams and Ettore Messina, the team settled quickly on Walton, who was originally hired in Los Angeles to coach a young Lakers squad that didn’t feature LeBron James. He’ll get another opportunity to coach an up-and-coming roster in Sacramento.

The fact that the Kings moved so quickly on Walton meant that by the time sexual assault allegations against him surfaced later in April, he was already under contract with his new team. There has been no indication that Sacramento is reconsidering its commitment to Walton, who has vehemently denied those allegations.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.