Mike D'Antoni

Nets Notes: Durant, Harden, LeVert, Irving, More

Asked today about reports that he and James Harden have talked about teaming up in Brooklyn, Nets forward Kevin Durant dismissed the idea that such a plan has been in the works, as Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com writes.

“I don’t know where you making these stories up that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant said on a conference call with reporters. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff.

“I was just so focused on working out,” he continued. “I heard all the noise and I heard that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets but anybody could make up stories. Anybody can write a story and it gets some traction so nothing’s ever set in stone until it’s set in stone.”

While the Nets have been frequently linked to Harden in recent weeks, it doesn’t sound like they ever made any real progress on a trade for the Rockets star. Shams Charania of The Athletic suggested during an appearance on Complex’s Load Management podcast that Brooklyn doesn’t have the sort of young star that would appeal to Houston as the centerpiece of a package for Harden.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Charania also said on the Load Management podcast that the Nets were unwilling to include Caris LeVert in their trade offer for Jrue Holiday last month, as NetsDaily relays. According to Charania, Durant and Kyrie Irving view LeVert as “a very significant part of this team.”
  • Durant spoke to reporters today about the challenges of recovering from an Achilles tear, writes Scott Thompson of SNY.tv. “Those milestones of learning how to walk, learning how to run, jump again and getting used to certain movements again, I think that’s underestimated,” Durant said. “People don’t realize that the Achilles ligament is one of the strongest ligaments in your body. So for that to pop, you gotta build that up and that takes a while.”
  • Asked today about whether Durant and Irving will be load-managed during the 2020/21 season, Nets head coach Steve Nash acknowledged that the two stars likely won’t play all 72 games, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. However, Nash didn’t suggest there’s any set plan in place for resting those returning All-Stars.
  • Nash said today that he plans on having Mike D’Antoni lead the Nets’ offense and Jacque Vaughn lead the team’s defense, but his entire staff of assistants will provide input on both sides of the ball (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).
  • In case you missed it, Brooklyn announced its initial 20-man training camp roster earlier this afternoon.

Eastern Notes: Dellavedova, D’Antoni, Erman, Pistons

The Cavaliers are close to finalizing a deal to bring back Matthew Dellavedova for another season, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that the veteran guard has agreed to the parameters of a one-year contract. The agreement will give Dellavedova $2.1MM for the upcoming season, along with a one-year Bird restriction and the option to veto any trade.

Dellavedova, 30, is expected to serve as a back-up point guard and a veteran leader on a youthful team. Fedor states that several other teams expressed interest, including the Lakers, but Dellavedova opted for Cleveland, where he has spent most of his seven-year NBA career.

The signing will give the Cavaliers 14 players under contract, and the final roster spot may not be filled right away, Fedor adds. The team will explore potential signings heading into training camp, but may opt for the flexibility of keeping a spot open.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Mike D’Antoni considered retirement after leaving the Rockets following their playoff exit, writes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. D’Antoni was convinced to keep coaching when he got an offer from the Nets to join the staff of first-time head coach Steve Nash, who orchestrated D’Antoni’s offense when they were together in Phoenix. “He’s going to make it easy for Steve,” said Warriors assistant Leandro Barbosa. “Mike is one of the best coaches that I ever played for. He’s also one of the best from an offensive standpoint. He knows a lot of plays, he knows a lot of tricks, I think he’s going to be awesome for Kyrie (Irving) and (Kevin) Durant.”
  • Darren Erman, who coached the Celtics’ G League affiliate last season, will join the Knicks as an assistant to Tom Thibodeau, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Erman spent four years as associate head coach with the Pelicans.
  • The Nuggets will receive $110K from the Pistons in the sign-and-trade that sent Jerami Grant to Detroit, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). The Pistons shipped $250K to the Jazz in the deal for Tony Bradley, Pincus adds (Twitter link).

Nets Officially Announce Coaching Staff

The Nets have officially announced the coaching staff for new head coach Steve Nash, confirming in a press release that Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka will be assistants, while Amar’e Stoudmire is coming aboard as a player development coach. Those hires were all previously reported.

In addition to the newcomers, Nash will retain former interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, as expected. Assistant coaches Adam Harrington, Jordan Ott, and Tiago Splitter will also remain with the team, as will player development coordinator Ryan Forehan-Kelly.

“We’ve assembled an experienced staff of high-character individuals with varied backgrounds, both on and off the court, that will help create a solid foundation for me and our players,” Nash said in a statement. “When I set out to build this staff, I wanted to put together a committed group that would connect with our players and help put them in the best position to succeed as a team. With coaching and playing experience at the highest level and a deep background in player development, I’m confident that we’ve put the right people in place to lead us forward.”

Nash, a first-time head coach, has plenty of veteran experience on his new staff, including a pair of former head coaches in D’Antoni and Vaughn. He’ll likely lean on D’Antoni to help run the offense, while Udoka focuses primarily on Brooklyn’s defense, as Chris Milholen of NetsDaily writes.

Nets To Hire Mike D’Antoni, Ime Udoka As Assistants

A pair of notable coaches are joining Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn as assistants, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka are finalizing deals with the Nets.

D’Antoni, who parted ways with the Rockets following the team’s elimination from the postseason in September, ranks 20th among head coaches on the NBA’s all-time list of wins. In addition to coaching the Rockets, he has been on the sidelines for the Lakers, Knicks, Nuggets, and – most notably – the Suns, where he lead two-time MVP Nash to back-to-back appearances in the Western Finals.

By joining the Nets, D’Antoni will reunite with Nash and provide the sort of veteran experience that the first-time head coach could use on his staff.

As for Udoka, he has never been an NBA head coach, but he has proven his bona fides as an assistant, serving on Gregg Popovich‘s staff in San Antonio for seven years before joining the Sixers for the 2019/20 season.

There was a time when it looked like Udoka would receive a shot at a head coaching job this year — he was linked to the Nets, Bulls, Pacers, Knicks, and 76ers jobs, but was passed over in each instance. Now he’ll get the opportunity to work under Nash in Brooklyn, as the Nets – led by a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – look to make a deep playoff run in 2021.

Nash’s staff will also include former Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, who was retained as an assistant after missing out on the permanent coaching job. When word broke that the Nets were retaining Vaughn, Wojnarowski reported that he would be the highest-paid assistant in the NBA — it’s not clear if that’s still the case, but it’s probably safe to assume Brooklyn spared no expense bringing in D’Antoni and Udoka.

Latest On Pacers’ Head Coaching Search

After conducting initial interviews with a lengthy list of head coaching candidates, the Pacers are expected to bring back three finalists to meet with team ownership before the end of the month, reports J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

It’s not clear yet which three candidates will be part of that group of finalists. However, Michael hears that Mike D’Antoni thinks he’ll be one of the three. Michael also believes that – despite reports he’ll join Tyronn Lue‘s staff in Los Angeles – Chauncey Billups remains in the running for Indiana’s top job and could be a finalist.

Pelicans assistant Chris Finch and former Grizzlies and Kings coach Dave Joerger look like other contenders to be finalists for the Pacers’ coaching vacancy. A report earlier this week indicated that Finch may be Indiana’s frontrunner, while Joerger was identified earlier this month as a strong contender for the position.

[UPDATE: Dave Joerger joining Sixers’ staff as assistant]

Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn were reportedly scheduled to meet with the Pacers this week and may also still be in the mix.

For what it’s worth, Scott Agness of VigilantSports tweeted 12 days ago that the six names he continued to hear connected to the Pacers’ head coaching opening were D’Antoni, Billups, Finch, Joerger, Craig, and Quinn. It sounds likely that Indiana’s three finalists will come from that group, though the team has considered no shortage of other candidates, as our tracker shows.

Mike D’Antoni A Candidate To Join Steve Nash’s Staff?

Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is a candidate to join Steve Nash‘s new coaching staff with the Nets, a source tells Frank Isola of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link).

D’Antoni and Nash obviously have an extensive history — Nash played for D’Antoni for four years in Phoenix, earning four consecutive All-Star berths and a pair of MVP awards during that time. The veteran point guard later played for D’Antoni again in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that D’Antoni and Nash remain “tight.” Berman also refers to D’Antoni as an “X’s and O’s offensive master,” suggesting he’d be a good match for a first-time head coach like Nash, who admitted last month that he was hired more for his relationships and culture-building skills than his tactical acumen.

D’Antoni has been linked to head coaching openings in Indiana and New Orleans and would presumably favor one of those jobs over an assistant position. However, it’s unclear if he’s a finalist for either the Pacers’ or Pelicans’ vacancy.

If he’s willing to accept an assistant role, D’Antoni makes sense as a target for the Nets, given his connection with Nash and the franchise’s deep pockets. Brooklyn made Jacque Vaughn the NBA’s highest-paid assistant, so presumably the team would be amenable to making an aggressive offer for D’Antoni as well.

Isola also mentions Lakers assistant Phil Handy as a possible candidate for Nash’s staff. Handy has previously been identified in multiple reports as a possible target for the Nets.

Sixers Hire Doc Rivers As Head Coach

OCTOBER 3: The Sixers have made the hiring of Doc Rivers as the team’s new head coach official, announcing the move today in a press release.

“We are thrilled to welcome Doc Rivers to Philadelphia as the new head coach of the 76ers,” Sixers general manager Elton Brand said. “Doc is one of the most respected and accomplished head coaches in the NBA,” Brand said. “I believe Doc can help us unlock our full potential on the floor and further our pursuit of an NBA championship. I also respect and appreciate that his impact extends far beyond the basketball court as he truly embraces the platform he has to drive positive change in society. Doc is a great fit for our team and city, and I’m excited for what the future holds with him as our head coach.” 

For his part, Rivers expressed excitement with joining Philadelphia, marking his newest coaching opportunity since he parted ways with the Clippers after another early postseason exit.

“I am really excited about the opportunity to be joining a world-class franchise, a franchise whose legend inspired my nickname,” Rivers said. “This is a city that loves sports and loves their teams. It’s a city that values hard work and that is exactly what we are going to do and who we are going to be. We are ready to do good things in Philadelphia.”  


OCTOBER 1, 5:21 : The Sixers and Rivers agreed to a five-year contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).


OCTOBER 1, 4:41pm: Just three days after word broke that he was parting ways with the Clippers, Doc Rivers has reached an agreement to become the new head coach of the Sixers, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Rivers will take over on the 76ers’ bench following the team’s August dismissal of Brett Brown, who had been the head coach in Philadelphia for the last seven seasons. Rivers spent those same seven years in Los Angeles, leading the Clippers to a 356-208 (.631) record during that time, including six playoff berths and three postseason series wins.

After a heavily favored Clippers team blew a 3-1 lead over Denver in the second round of this year’s playoffs, Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer had multiple meetings and ultimately decided not to continue their relationship.

Rivers’ availability upended the Sixers’ in-progress coaching search, which at that point was reportedly between Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue, with D’Antoni widely believed to be the frontrunner. The club quickly reached out to Rivers and got him to Philadelphia for an interview on Wednesday, at which point he supplanted D’Antoni as the favorite for the job.

Rivers – who was intrigued by Philadelphia’s roster, marketplace, and organization, per Wojnarowski – “connected quickly” with general manager Elton Brand and the 76ers’ ownership group during Wednesday’s meetings, according to Woj (Twitter link), who says the former Clippers coach is signing a multiyear deal. According to Jason Dumas of KRON4 News (Twitter link), Sixers ownership had initially wanted D’Antoni while Brand preferred Lue — Rivers represented a candidate that both sides agreed upon.

With two years still left on his contract with the Clippers when he was let go, Rivers didn’t necessarily have to rush into a new coaching job, but the fact that he only took about 72 hours to find a new NBA home suggests he had no desire to take any time off. The 2020/21 season will represent Rivers’ 22nd consecutive year in an NBA head coaching position — he coached the Celtics and Magic before arriving in L.A. in 2013.

In Philadelphia, Rivers will be tasked with taking an underachieving Sixers roster to the next level after the club was eliminated from the playoffs in just four games this summer. He’ll also have to determine how best to unlock the full potential of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, whose offensive games haven’t always meshed smoothly in recent years.

Meanwhile, having been beaten out by Rivers for the Philadelphia job, D’Antoni and Lue will remain on the head coaching market, with five job openings still available. D’Antoni has been linked to the jobs in New Orleans and Indiana, while Lue is expected to meet with the Pelicans and Rockets and has been cited as the potential frontrunner to replace Rivers with the Clippers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Doc Rivers Supplanting Mike D’Antoni As Sixers’ Favorite?

The growing belief in NBA circles is that Doc Rivers has supplanted Mike D’Antoni as the frontrunner for the Sixers‘ open head coaching job, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Rivers met with 76ers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer in Philadelphia on Wednesday evening after having talked to general manager Elton Brand in a virtual session earlier in the day, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Brand also participated in Wednesday night’s meeting.

While the Sixers’ coaching search was previously believed to be down to Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue – with D’Antoni considered the favorite – Rivers’ availability has shaken up the process. Philadelphia is now focusing on Rivers and D’Antoni, with a decision expected at some point this week, a source tells Wojnarowski.

Rivers is no stranger to overseeing star-studded rosters, having coached Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill in Orlando; Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen in Boston; and Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George with the Clippers. If he earns the Sixers’ head coaching job, he’d be tasked with figuring out how best to unlock the potential of the Ben Simmons/Joel Embiid duo and maximize the roster around them.

If the Sixers choose Rivers, D’Antoni and Lue would have other options as they continue to seek head coaching jobs. D’Antoni has been linked to the vacancies in New Orleans and Indiana, while Lue has reportedly drawn interest from the Pelicans, Rockets, and Clippers.

Doc Rivers To Meet With Sixers

Doc Rivers will meet with the Sixers in the Philadelphia area to discuss the team’s head coaching position, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As we outlined this morning, Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue – who interviewed with the team on Tuesday – were considered last week to be the two finalists for Philadelphia’s coaching vacancy. However, Rivers’ split with the Clippers on Monday created a wild card in the team’s search process. The Sixers reached out to Rivers shortly after word broke of his exit from L.A.

Rivers still had two years left on his contract with the Clippers when the two sides parted ways and there’s no set plan yet for when the 2020/21 NBA season will begin or what it will look like, so it’s been unclear whether the veteran head coach will seek another job right away. The fact that Rivers is meeting with the Sixers does suggest he’s interested in another coaching job for ’20/21 though.

The belief as of this past weekend was that 76ers ownership prefers D’Antoni, but Rivers wasn’t available at that point. Rivers’ coaching résumé includes a higher winning percentage (.581) than D’Antoni’s (.560), a championship, and a reputation as one of the league’s most popular head coaches among players.

If Rivers, D’Antoni, and Lue are all interested in the Philadelphia job, it would create a fascinating decision for the franchise. There’s an expectation that a decision will come this week, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

If Rivers and the Sixers don’t come to an agreement and he wants to coach in 2020/21, he should have other options. The Pelicans reportedly contacted him and the Rockets are said to have interest as well.

Tyronn Lue Interviews For Sixers’ Coaching Job

Tyronn Lue‘s interview with the Sixers took place as scheduled on Tuesday, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who reports that the Clippers assistant also toured the club’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey as part of the meeting.

Lue met with Sixers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, as well as general manager Elton Brand, Pompey adds.

Last week, Pompey reported that the 76ers’ coaching search appeared to be down to two candidates: Lue and Mike D’Antoni. The belief is that team ownership prefers D’Antoni, but Lue remains in the running and is interested in the job. If he’s going to land it though, he may have to beat out not just D’Antoni but a new contender — Pompey confirms that Philadelphia has reached out to Doc Rivers‘ representatives following his exit from the Clippers.

It remains to be seen how serious the Sixers are about Rivers, or vice versa. Rivers appears to be happy living in Southern California, according to Pompey, who speculates that the uncertainty surrounding the 2020/21 schedule may increase the odds that the former Clippers coach sits out the season. Rivers’ contract with L.A. still had two years left on it, so he’ll be comfortable financially for a while.

Before Rivers and the Clippers parted ways, sources told Pompey that the Sixers would prefer to name a coach this week.

If the Sixers don’t act soon on Lue, he’ll have plenty of other options to explore. Sources tell Pompey that the Pelicans are expected to have an informal meeting with Lue on Friday and that he’s scheduled to interview with the Rockets next week. He’s also believed to be a candidate to replace Rivers in Los Angeles.