Mike D'Antoni

New York Notes: Durant, Sexton, Williams, Nash

Kevin Durant and the Nets’ other stars can pursue extensions this summer. Durant is taking a diplomatic approach to questions regarding that possibility, Chris Milholen of NetsDaily.com relays. “First of all, you enjoy playing the game. That’s the most important thing and I think we all three enjoy playing with each other … I’m sure when that time is right, we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves,” Durant said.

We have more tidbits regarding the New York City teams:

  • Trading for Cavaliers high scoring guard Collin Sexton could be a buyer-beware situation for the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Sexton has a stubborn streak that can turn off his teammates, according to a Berman source, and he might ultimately be more suited to a sixth-man, Lou Williams-style role rather than a No. 1 option at the point.
  • The Knicks could pursue Stanford wing Ziaire Williams in the draft, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Williams worked out for the Knicks and felt very good about his experience. However, Williams may go much higher than the No. 19 pick, the Knicks’ highest selection. He’s even been rumored to go to the Magic in the top 10.
  • Steve Nash issued a statement, Marc Stein of Substack tweets, regarding Mike D’Antoni‘s decision to step down from his post as a Nets assistant which read in part, “I will be forever grateful of his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together.”

D’Antoni Stepping Away From Role With Nets, Not Retiring

Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni is stepping away from his full-time role as a member of Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Wojnarowski’s use of the term “full-time” leaves the door open to the possibility that D’Antoni will still act as a consultant for Brooklyn or another team on a part-time basis. It’s unclear whether or not that’s in the cards, but Woj says that D’Antoni isn’t retiring and is expected to pursue NBA head coaching jobs again in the future.

D’Antoni sought a head coaching position this offseason and was a finalist for the Trail Blazers’ job, which eventually went to Chauncey Billups. A report in early June suggested D’Antoni had also received interest from Boston and Orlando, though there was no indication he was a serious contender for either job.

D’Antoni, whose most recent head coaching gig was with the Rockets up until 2020, has coached five different NBA teams and ranks 21st on the league’s all-time list with 672 regular season wins. However, at age 70, he may be running out of time to get another shot. Only two head coaches in NBA history – including current Spurs coach Gregg Popovich – have remained on the sidelines into their 70s, according to HoopsHype.

Billups, Hammon Getting Second Interviews With Blazers

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs assistant Becky Hammon are among the candidates for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching position who will interview with the team this week for a second time, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Billups and Hammon first interviewed with the Blazers last week, along with Mike D’Antoni, who also remains in the mix for the Portland job, per Wojnarowski.

According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry are among the others who have interviewed for the vacancy. It’s unclear whether Staley, and/or Barry will receive second interviews.

Billups has frequently been cited as a frontrunner for the Blazers’ job, so it’s no surprise that he’s among the finalists. He also received an endorsement from point guard Damian Lillard following Terry Stotts‘ exit earlier this month.

The fact that Hammon remains in the running is notable — according to Charania and Amick, it’s the first time that a woman has remained under consideration in the final stages of an NBA head coaching search.

Jeff Van Gundy and Juwan Howard were among the other possible candidates who were mentioned early in the Blazers’ search process, but we haven’t heard anything about them lately. Still, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey stated that Portland’s search would be extensive, with 20-to-25 candidates receiving consideration, so there are likely many names that haven’t been reported yet — it’s possible some of them have advanced to the second stage of the club’s interview process.

D’Antoni Interviewing With Blazers On Monday; Billups, Hammon To Follow

The Trail Blazers are interviewing Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni on Monday for their open head coaching position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, Portland also has interviews lined up early this week with Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs assistant Becky Hammon. All three names were previously identified as candidates to replace Terry Stotts in Portland.

A previous report stated that D’Antoni has “serious interest” in coaching the Blazers, but that it wasn’t clear whether Portland reciprocated that interest. The team appears intrigued enough by D’Antoni to give him an interview, though head of basketball operations Neil Olshey has indicated that the search will be fairly expansive, with upwards of 20-to-25 candidates receiving consideration. As such, we shouldn’t read too much into a single meeting.

Billups has previously been cited as a potential frontrunner for the Blazers’ vacancy. He also received a public endorsement from star point guard Damian Lillard, who is expected to have a say in the team’s hire.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.

Becky Hammon To Interview For Trail Blazers’ Head Coaching Job

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is among the candidates who will be interviewed for the Trail Blazers‘ head coaching vacancy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Charania that other names on Portland’s list include Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.

Either Hammon or Staley would make history by becoming the NBA’s first-ever female head coach. Hammon will also interview for the head coaching job with the Magic, Charania adds.

Hammon, 44, has been on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio since 2014. She became the first woman to serve as a head coach in the Summer League in 2015 and was the first female on an All-Star Game coaching staff in 2016.

Staley, 51, is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She has coached the South Carolina women’s team since 2008 and has been coach of the USA national women’s team since 2017.

A report this week identified Billups and D’Antoni as candidates in Portland, with Billups considered to be the front-runner. He is also rumored to be in contention for the Celtics’ coaching vacancy.

After retiring from the NBA, Barry spent several years as a broadcaster before joining the Spurs in a front-office role in 2018. He has no previous coaching experience.

Blazers Notes: D’Antoni, Billups, Lillard, McCollum

Since Terry Stotts was let go by the Trail Blazers, multiple reports have suggested that Portland has some interest in Mike D’Antoni has a potential head coaching candidate. However, Sam Amick of The Athletic frames things a little differently.

A source with knowledge of D’Antoni’s situation tells Amick that the two-time Coach of the Year has “serious interest” in coaching the Blazers. Amick says it remains to be seen whether that interest will be reciprocated.

D’Antoni’s reputation as a “point guard whisperer” could make him a good fit in Portland, Amick notes, but other aspects of his résumé may work against him. The Blazers will be seeking a head coach who can get them over the hump in the playoffs and who can improve the team’s defense. D’Antoni’s teams over the years have always stalled out before reaching the NBA Finals and have generally been offensive juggernauts rather than defensive stalwarts.

The Blazers are expected to cast a wide net in their coaching search, considering upwards of 20-to-25 candidates, so D’Antoni could certainly get a look. Amick is the latest reporter to name Chauncey Billups as the presumed frontrunner though.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Although Damian Lillard‘s situation in Portland is worth keeping an eye on, reports of teams around the NBA monitoring and/or inquiring on the All-Star guard aren’t particularly newsworthy, says Chris Mannix of SI.com. “We check in every year,” one rival team executive told Mannix. “You would be an idiot not to.”
  • Meanwhile, the Blazers’ other starting guard, CJ McCollum, said on Twitter that he’s not offended by seeing his name constantly pop up in trade rumors. I work hard, show up and do my job to the best of my ability,” he said. “Everyone has a right to their own opinion. Even if that means they want to see me traded. It’s a part of life when you play this sport.”
  • In case you missed it, we passed along several Blazers notes and comments from president of basketball operations Neil Olshey earlier in the week.

Mike D’Antoni Drawing Interest As Head Coaching Candidate

Mike D’Antoni, a two-time Coach of the Year who has coached five different NBA teams since 1998, is once again expected to be a candidate for teams making head coaching changes this offseason, according to Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link).

League sources tell Schultz that D’Antoni is receiving interest from all three teams that currently have head coaching vacancies — the Trail Blazers, Celtics, and Magic.

D’Antoni is currently an assistant on Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn, and Schultz suggests the Nets may not grant interview requests for D’Antoni until after their season is over. Brooklyn is currently the championship favorite, meaning the club could be playing into mid-July — that timeline may dissuade D’Antoni’s potential suitors from making him a top target.

Still, D’Antoni has an impressive résumé that includes a 672-527 (.560) regular season record as the head coach of the Rockets, Lakers, Knicks, Suns, and Nuggets. He has a 54-56 (.491) career mark in the playoffs — his teams have won 10 postseason series, but have never appeared in the NBA Finals. The closest D’Antoni came to the Finals was in 2018 when the Rockets lost in seven games to the eventual-champion Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Even if Portland, Boston, and Orlando go in another direction with their respective head coaching hires, D’Antoni could have other options. For instance, the Pacers – who continue to mull Nate Bjogkren‘s future – were said to have interest a year ago and could renew that interest if they move on from Bjorkgren.

Terry Stotts Won’t Return As Trail Blazers Coach

10:01pm: The team has confirmed in a press release that Stotts will not return.

“I have the utmost respect for Terry and what he has accomplished these past nine seasons,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision on both a personal and professional level but it’s in the best interest of the franchise to move in another direction. Terry will always hold a special place in the Trail Blazer family and the Portland community. We relied on the integrity, professionalism and consistency he brought to the job every day and we wish he and Jan nothing but the best.”


9:40pm: The Trail Blazers and longtime head coach Terry Stotts have mutually agreed to part ways, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Stotts, 63, has been the team’s head coach since the 2012/13 season. Portland has qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons but only made the conference finals in 2018/19, when they were swept by the Warriors. The Blazers have been eliminated in the first round in two consecutive years, and four of the last five.

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, ABC broadcaster and former Rockets/Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach and current Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, and University of Michigan head coach and former Heat assistant Juwan Howard are expected to receive consideration for the job, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet.

The Blazers’ quick exit in this year’s playoffs was unexpected. They were facing a depleted Nuggets team, missing starting guards Jamal Murray and Will Barton, while all of their own starters were healthy. Despite some stellar performances from Damian Lillard, Portland was eliminated in six games.

Lillard has played under Stotts throughout his career. The All-Star point guard will have a major say on Stotts’ replacement, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

In his nine seasons with Portland, Stotts accumulated a regular-season record of 402-318 (.558). However, the Blazers went 22-40 (.355) in those postseason appearances. Stotts had one more guaranteed year on his contract, with a team option for 2022/23.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Rumors: Bjorkgren, Warren, Bayno, D’Antoni, More

Amid multiple reports suggesting that Nate Bjorkgren‘s job as the Pacers‘ head coach is in danger, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report is the latest journalist to take a deep dive into what appears to be an untenable situation in Indiana.

One league executive who has previously worked with Bjokrgren told Bleacher Report that the Pacers’ coach is “completely out of his element as a leader,” and Fischer suggests that Bjorkgren’s struggles could even end up jeopardizing the job security of veteran executives Kevin Pritchard and Chad Buchanan as well.

As Fischer explains, the Pacers may not have done enough research during the hiring process into Bjorkgren’s background or how he treated people. The head coach has been described as abrasive, particularly with assistant coaches and other staffers, with Domantas Sabonis even encouraging Bjorkgren on one occasion to be kinder to the team’s staff, per Fischer.

Bjorkgren also reportedly has a tendency to become overly agitated by minor issues, such as a ball rack being out of place during practice or a team flight being delayed for de-icing purposes, Fischer adds.

“When he was hired, I was surprised, because he’s not the easiest to work with just on anything,” said one player who previously played for Bjorkgren in the G League. “He’s kind of stubborn, won’t listen, even though it might be good conversation. He’s a micromanager and he’s not for everyone.”

Here’s more on Bjorkgren and the Pacers:

  • Sources tell Fischer that T.J. Warren, who played for the Suns when Bjorkgren was an assistant in Phoenix, requested a trade following the Pacers’ hiring of the head coach. However, a person with knowledge of the situation tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star “that’s BS” (Twitter link).
    [UPDATE: Fischer has now cited a source close to the situation who says Warren never formally requested a trade.]
  • When assistant coach Bill Bayno resigned in February, mental health issues were cited as the reason for his departure. Fischer hears that the veteran assistant left in large part because he was no longer able to work with Bjorkgren.
  • Assistant coach Greg Foster – who received a one-game suspension for a sideline altercation with Goga Bitadze – has also “grown agitated” by Bjorkgren’s attitude toward the staff, according to Fischer. “He doesn’t mind embarrassing his coaches,” one league executive said of the Pacers’ head coach.
  • Bjorkgren’s reluctance to call out his top veterans has impacted his credibility in the locker room, sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, who says that even if the Pacers ultimately decide to retain their head coach for 2021/22, there will almost certainly be an overhaul of his coaching staff. Some of those coaches may want to leave voluntarily, Michael notes.
  • If Bjorkgren is let go, Mike D’Antoni is expected to once again be a candidate for the Pacers’ head coaching job, sources tell Fischer. D’Antoni drew interest from Indiana last fall.