Mike Brown

Knicks Reportedly “Obsessed” With Masai Ujiri

The Knicks are “obsessed” and “enamored” with Raptors executive Masai Ujiri as the next man to run the franchise, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. A front office shakeup is expected in the wake of yesterday’s firing of head coach David Fizdale, especially considering the poor track record of team president Steve Mills.

Begley speculates it would take “significant money and full autonomy” to land Ujiri, who is already in a comfortable spot after building a championship team. Even if the Knicks are willing to grant that, Ujiri may not want to work for a controversial figure like James Dolan, and he is signed with Toronto until 2021, a contract he said in October that he plans to honor.

Echoing a report we shared last week, Begley states that the Knicks believe Ujiri could be drawn to New York City to provide a larger platform for his charitable work with the Giants of Africa Foundation. However, there was similar speculation about Washington, D.C., a few months ago when the Wizards were restructuring their front office, and Ujiri opted to stay in Toronto.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Despite a 4-18 start and six straight losing seasons, the Knicks’ front office job is still viewed as appealing around the league, Begley adds in the same story. The team has drafted well under general manager Scott Perry and has held on to its first-round picks. The Knicks also retained cap flexibility by signing seven players to short-term contracts this summer after failing to land their top targets in free agency.
  • A few players got to say goodbye to Fizdale before he left the team, Taj Gibson tells Begley (Twitter link). Gibson said Fizdale was emotional during the departure, adding, “Guys loved him.”
  • Mark Jackson, a former Knicks guard and ex-head coach of the Warriors, is a 5-1 favorite to be the next head coach, relays Adam Zagoria for Forbes. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag have Kenny Smith second at 6-1 and Italian coach Ettore Messina at 7-1. Next in line are three college coaches, Michigan’s Juwan Howard, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller thanked Fizdale and the Knicks organization during today’s pre-game press conference (video link from Vorkunov). Neither Mills nor Perry has addressed the media since the firing became official, and nobody from management has commented apart from an unattributed statement that was released Friday.
  • Former NBA player Keith Bogans has been named to Miller’s staff, the Knicks announced on Twitter.

Pistons Notes: Stackhouse, Budenholzer, Armstrong, More

Jerry Stackhouse and Mike Budenholzer are two of the prominent names to look out for in the Pistons’ coaching search, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Detroit parted ways with coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy on Monday. Stackhouse is a former Detroit player and served as the Raptors’ G League coach this past season. Stackhouse met with the Knicks before they hired David Fizdale and also surfaced as a candidate for the Magic and Hornets’ jobs. Budenholzer, the former Hawks coach, is arguably the top experienced head coach on the market. Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin is another name to watch as the Pistons seek a new front office leader, Ellis adds.

Former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, ex-Warriors coach Mark Jackson and ex-Pacers and Magic coach Frank Vogel could also be coaching candidates. Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Chauncey Billups has previously been mentioned as a possible front office candidate, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News notes. Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Cavaliers coach David Blatt are among the other names to watch in the coaching search, Deveney adds.

In other news involving the Pistons-Van Gundy split:

  • Player agent and former Bulls executive B.J. Armstrong could be a candidate for a front-office position, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Armstrong has strong ties to Pistons chairman Arn Tellem and is a Detroit native. Goodwill adds.
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson was blindsided by the news of Van Gundy’s departure, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Jackson told Beard he was “stunned by the whole thing…it’s difficult right now to take the whole thing in.” Fellow point guard Ish Smith told Beard he would miss Van Gundy, adding that “he was really instrumental to my growth as a player.” (Twitter links)
  • Van Gundy’s coaching replacement needs to build the attack around the skills of Blake Griffin, Kevin Pelton of ESPN argues. His front office replacement will have to come up with creative ways to upgrade the roster around him despite salary-cap restraints, Pelton adds.
  • Griffin had some positive things to say about Van Gundy earlier Monday before the news of his departure broke. He made the comments during a podcast, which were relayed by USA Today’s Andrew Joseph“He’s actually a very cool guy. Very nice guy. Funny. And actually genuinely cares about people. That’s kind of rare.”

Knicks Interview Mike Brown, Aim To Hire New Coach Soon

The Knicks have completed their interviews for their head coaching vacancy, and will huddle this week to attempt to reach a consensus on Jeff Hornacek‘s replacement, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Woj, the club hopes to have a new head coach hired by the end of the week.

As Wojnarowski details, the Knicks conducted one final interview in addition to the meetings that have already been reported, speaking to Warriors assistant Mike Brown about their head coaching position. That brings New York’s list of reported candidates to 11 names. They are as follows, in alphabetical order:

  1. David Blatt (former Cavaliers head coach)
  2. James Borrego (Spurs assistant)
  3. Mike Brown (Warriors assistant; former Cavaliers head coach)
  4. Mike Budenholzer (former Hawks head coach)
  5. David Fizdale (former Grizzlies head coach)
  6. Juwan Howard (Heat assistant)
  7. Mark Jackson (ESPN analyst; former Warriors head coach)
  8. Jay Larranaga (Celtics assistant)
  9. Kenny Smith (TNT analyst)
  10. Jerry Stackhouse (Raptors 905 head coach)
  11. Mike Woodson (Clippers assistant; former Knicks head coach)

Budenholzer and Blatt have generated the most buzz as potential targets for the Knicks, while Fizdale, Stackhouse, and Jackson were initially considered among the club’s top tier as well.

If the Knicks do name a new head coach this week, they’ll likely become the first team to complete a full-fledged search this offseason. The Grizzlies became the first team to hire a new permanent head coach last week, but they didn’t consider outside options, opting instead to promote J.B. Bickerstaff from the interim role.

And-Ones: M. Brown, China, Evans, BIG3

Former NBA head coaches have been popular candidates for this spring’s coaching openings around the league, with David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Frank Vogel, Mark Jackson, David Blatt, and Mike Woodson among the many names said to be under consideration for at least one job. Top Warriors assistant Mike Brown would fit comfortably in that group, but hasn’t yet been identified as a candidate for any head coaching jobs.

The former Cavaliers and Lakers head coach tells Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group that while he’d have interest in another head coaching opportunity, he’s perfectly happy to see things out with the Warriors as the club looks for its third title in four years.

“I want to be a head coach again. But if I hadn’t experienced that already and if I wasn’t in a situation that I’m already in right now, maybe the itch might be there more,” Brown said. “Maybe I might be focused more on that than the task at hand. But I’m really excited about trying to do what I can and do my part in helping us win again.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Pacific Notes: Carter, Kings, Brown, Warriors, Clippers

Vince Carter is 40 years old and in his 20th NBA season but he can still evoke memories of the explosive player who was once regarded as one of the NBA’s best. Carter pitched in a season-high 24 points in the Kings‘ win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday and LeBron James had a raving review, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.

“He made some bombs,” James said. “He’s a Hall of Famer for a reason, let’s not take that for granted. Once he got going, we couldn’t slow him down.”

There have been talks that Sacramento should distribute Carter’s minutes to younger players as the team rebuilds. However, Carter is only averaging a career-low 14.6 minutes per game to go along with 3.9 PPG. His job is no longer to be the offensive leader, but just a leader. The longtime Raptor and Nets has embraced the role.

“It’s not really about the points, it’s making a difference for our team in a positive matter,” Carter said. “… I just want to assess myself as, did I help our team or the second unit? Did we close a deficit or extend a lead in our time in the game? That’s usually how you get minutes or earn more minutes and opportunities. That’s just my approach.”

Check out other news from the Pacific Division below:

  • In a separate article, Jason Jones from the Sacramento Bee writes that after a recent loss to the Spurs, the Kings’ coaching staff and players view the Spurs’ model as their blueprint for success. The Spurs have been a contender for the past two decades, whereas the Kings have not sniffed the postseason since 2007.
  • In an in-depth and insightful feature (via USA TODAY Sports), assistant coach Mike Brown‘s contributions to the Warriors over the last three seasons are highlighted. Brown has spoken glowingly of the Golden State organization and the love has been reciprocated from head coach Steve Kerr – who Brown filled in for last season — and the players.
  • Speaking of the Warriors, the team’s current foundation is currently held together by having four All-Star talents leading the team. However, the key to keeping that foundation intact may rest with the team’s new arena that is currently being built, Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports writes.
  • Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register looks at the Clippers’ uncertain future and whether or not the team is likely to stay in Los Angeles.

Mike Brown Not Expected To Have Interest In OSU Job

Creighton head coach Greg McDermott has reportedly turned down an opportunity to become Ohio State’s new coach, which means the Buckeyes are still looking for someone to fill the position. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter), Warriors assistant Mike Brown is on Ohio State’s radar as a potential candidate.

Despite the program’s interest in Brown, no contact has been made, and Wojnarowski hears that NCAA basketball doesn’t really intrigue Brown for now (Twitter link). As Wojnarowski points out, Brown has one of the NBA’s best coaching jobs as Golden State’s top assistant (and acting head coach, when necessary) and isn’t lacking for money, having worked as a head coach for multiple NBA teams.

Brown was born in Columbus, Ohio and coached the Cavs for several years, so he has ties to the area and makes sense as a potential target for OSU. However, he’s “incredibly happy” with the Warriors, tweets Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News.

Ohio State parted ways with longtime head coach Thad Matta earlier this week and has been seeking a replacement. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was reportedly among the school’s targets, but like Brown, he’s not believed to have interest in the position.

Warriors Notes: Kerr, Brown, Irving, Luxury Tax

Steve Kerr hasn’t decided if he will try to coach the Warriors during the NBA Finals, according to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News. Kerr’s physical condition has improved since he took a leave of absence from the team midway through the first round of the playoffs. He was able to run practice Monday and Tuesday and handled the coach’s media session Monday. However, he is still well short of being 100% and is being cautious about returning to the team in such an important situation.

There’s more Warriors news on the eve of the NBA Finals:

  • Kerr states in the same interview that he definitely plans to coach again next season. He remains optimistic about his long-term physical condition and has no plans to step aside. “You know, it’s a little trickier, since this has been going on,” Kerr explained. “I sort of assumed all last year that by the summer I’d get this thing knocked out. It’s been kind of a mystery and that’s what so frustrating. But I have every intention to coach for a long time. It’s scary stuff and still hoping for a better resolution to it.”
  • Interim coach Mike Brown doesn’t view this series as a shot at revenge, even though the Cavaliers fired him twice, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Brown served as head coach in Cleveland for five seasons before being let go in 2010. He was rehired in 2013, but was fired again after just one season, reportedly with $12MM in guaranteed money left on his contract. Despite his history, Brown said he has no ill feelings toward owner Dan Gilbert or the city of Cleveland. “My son goes to school back there, I still have a house back there, I have fond memories back there,” Brown said at today’s “media day” at Oracle Arena. “And went back there a second time with a good buddy of mine, [former Cavs GM] Chris Grant, and saw them put this plan into motion that is going on now.”
  • Kyrie Irving regrets the rocky relationship he had with Brown when they were together for his rookie season, relays Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Irving called it a “learning experience,” as things got so bad that Brown recommended that the front office try to trade Irving. “I understand that things happen in this league sometimes, whether controlled or uncontrolled,” Irving said. “I was a 21-year-old kid, just trying to lead a franchise, and he was a new head coach that I had to get introduced to a new offense, new players, as well as new system.”
  • Once Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are re-signed this summer, the Warriors will be headed for uncharted territory in their salary and luxury tax bills, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Golden State could wind up paying more in tax penalties than salary for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, and the total could be more than $600MM over the two years.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Kings, Brown

The Lakers aren’t afraid to draft Lonzo Ball just because of his father, Jeff Goodman of ESPN writes. Team president Magic Johnson recently told the media that LaVar Ball will have “no effect at all” on his son’s draft stock.

This Tuesday, the Lakers will have a 46.9% chance of landing a top-three pick (and thus retaining the pick) but have just a 15.6% chance of landing the first overall pick. Should they get lucky, the eldest Ball child could be the latest highly-touted prospect to don purple and gold.

To his credit, Lonzo Ball is seen by scouts as level-headed and unassuming, Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Daily News adds, suggesting that if given the opportunity, the Lakers will look to draft the UCLA product regardless of any possible complications related to his dad.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • As we wrote about earlier, a lousy reputation hasn’t exactly helped the Kings land talent. This year, however, the franchise is looking to use the combine as a way of chipping away at the “anywhere but Sacramento” mentality, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.
  • Assistant-turned-temporary head coach Mike Brown has seen his career revitalized with the Warriors and Anthony Slater of the Mercury News has all of the details of the former Cavaliers bench boss’ journey in a must-read feature.
  • Put simply, David West turned down over $10MM last season, instead opting for the chance to compete for a title with the Spurs. Now with the Warriors, Daniel Brown of the Mercury News writes, West is at the doorstep of the NBA Finals.

Cavaliers Notes: Lue, Brown, Blatt, Defense

A broken hand suffered by reserve center Edy Tavares has reinforced Tyronn Lue’s decision not to scrimmage during the Cavaliers’ long break, writes Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon Journal. Lue is working to keep the Cavs focused during a nine-day layoff as they await the winner of the Celtics-Wizards series. Lue admits the team is “itching to play” as he guides the players through walkthroughs, but he won’t consider scrimmages because of the injury risk. Point guard Kyrie Irving supports the decision. “An incident happened in practice where somebody got hit in the hand and it just wasn’t good,” Irving said. “I was about to come out and play five-on-five and the incident happened three seconds later as T-Lue comes out of the door. Naw, I’m not for scrimmaging right now until the game.”

There’s more news today as the wait continues in Cleveland:

  • Mike Brown and David Blatt have both prospered since being fired by the Cavaliers, notes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Brown took two years off after his dismissal, passing on chances to become a lead assistant with the Thunder and head coach at Nevada-Las Vegas. Last summer, he became the Warriors’ top assistant and has assumed head coaching duties with Steve Kerr sidelined for health reasons. Brown could wind up coaching against the Cavs in the NBA Finals. Blatt, who was fired midway through last year’s championship season, is the highest-paid coach in Europe, guiding Darussafaka Dogus in the Turkish League. He led the club to its first-ever Euroleague playoff berth.
  • After struggling on defense all season, the Cavaliers have improved on that end in the playoffs, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Cavs ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency during the season, but are fourth since the postseason began. Still, Lue jokes that he wishes the players could remember their defensive assignments as well as they remember their pre-game handshake routines.
  • The Cavaliers are among the teams showing interest in Arizona shooting guard Rawle Alkins, according to Sam Amico of Amicohoops. Cleveland doesn’t have a pick in this year’s draft, but could buy a late selection like it did last year to obtain Kay Felder. The Cavaliers, Thunder, Pelicans and Heat have all contacted Alkins’ high school coach to get more information, according to Adam Zagoria of Fanrag Sports (Twitter link).

Latest On Steve Kerr

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr remains out indefinitely, and is extremely unlikely to return to the team’s bench before the end of Golden State’s series against the Jazz, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Mike Brown will continue to coach the Warriors in the interim.

According to Shelburne, Kerr is seeing a specialist at Duke University Medical Center on Friday and is receiving treatment aimed at alleviating the symptoms that have been ailing him as of late. Kerr, who underwent surgery on his back two years ago, continues to experience the effects of complications from that procedure, including severe headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

While the Warriors would love to see Kerr back on the sideline, the team’s players are moving forward with the expectation that Brown will be the head coach for the rest of the playoffs, as we heard earlier this week.

As Shelburne tweets, Kerr was adamant during his first leave of absence last season that he didn’t want to return to the Warriors until he was healed and ready to coach full-time. That’s even more important this time around, Shelburne notes.