Mike Krzyzewski

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, De La Rosa

In the wake of Frank Ntilikina‘s impressive performance in France’s World Cup upset of Team USA, a series of New York beat writers and columnists are making the case that Ntilikina – the subject of trade rumors earlier this year – has earned a longer look from the Knicks this season.

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News argues that the Knicks should exercise Ntilikina’s $6.2MM team option for the 2020/21 season (a decision is due on October 31) and give him a real chance to earn a role for this year’s squad. One scout suggests to Ian Begley of SNY.tv that Ntilikina is playing in the World Cup with a poise and confidence that he hasn’t showed yet in the NBA — if that confidence carries over training camp, it could bode well for his future in New York.

Meanwhile, Frank Isola of The Athletic writes that Knicks president Steve Mills hasn’t given up on Ntilikina despite the fact that the club has brought in several other point guards to compete for minutes. Elfrid Payton and other previous backcourt additions like Trey Burke are considered “[Scott] Perry guys,” says Isola, referring to New York’s general manager.

As we wait to see what the Knicks’ plan for Ntilikina is, let’s round up a few more notes on the team:

  • The differing opinions on Ntilikina within the Knicks’ organization aren’t unusual, given the organization’s current management structure, says Isola. League sources tell The Athletic that some of the scouts and executives brought in by Perry have clashed with the scouts and executives who worked under Mills and remain in the organization. “That’s always been the case,” a former Knicks exec tells Isola. “They keep a lot of people from different regimes and that causes some friction.”
  • After suggesting earlier this week that the Knicks’ ownership group is a deterrent for the team’s potential free agent targets, Enes Kanter clarified that he personally had a positive experience with James Dolan and doesn’t agree with players who avoid the team for that reason, tweets Begley.
  • Former Illinois big man Adonis De La Rosa is among the players working out with the Knicks this week in the hopes of securing a training camp invite from the team, a source tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
  • Knicks head coach David Fizdale issued an invite to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski to make an appearance at the team’s training camp this fall, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Coach K isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be able to attend, but said he expects former Blue Devil RJ Barrett to make a smooth transition to playing in New York.

And-Ones: Age Limit, Watson, Loyd, Overseas Signings

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is calling on the NCAA to develop a plan in response to the NBA’s expected rule change that would lower the draft eligibility age from 19 to 18, relays Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The NBA has submitted a proposal to its players union that would make the change effective in 2022.

“The NCAA is not prepared right now,” Krzyzewski said. “They need to be in concert with the NBA in developing a plan that is specific for men’s college basketball. And that should include what an athlete gets, how he’s been taken care of, whether or not there’s a re-entry if something – really, it’s deep. And if we only look at it shallow, then we’re doing a disservice to the kids. And that’s why I would hope that the NCAA has someone leading this to figure it all out.”

Krzyzewski asked whether the G League would start attracting blue-chip players and providing more competition for college basketball and how the NCAA will adapt once the one-and-done rule is gone. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo shared some of the same concerns and worried that too many players will be pressured to turn pro before they’re ready.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • Former Suns coach Earl Watson has interviewed for the head coaching position at UCLA, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN. A former Bruins player, Watson was fired by Phoenix three games into last season. Schultz reports that longtime college and NBA coach Larry Brown would join Watson as a top assistant.
  • Jordan Loyd is this year’s 2 Ways & 10 Days pick for NBA G League MVP, writes Adam Johnson. He’s the second straight player from the Raptors 905 to claim the honor, following Lorenzo Brown‘s MVP season in 2017/18. Loyd is playing on a two-way contract and has appeared in 10 games at the NBA level.
  • Three players with NBA ties have signed contracts overseas. Hollis Thompson, who played four NBA seasons and was with the Pelicans two years ago, is joining Crailsheim Merlins in Germany, according to Emiliano Carchia of SportandoXavier Rathan-Mayes, who appeared in five games for the Grizzlies late last season, has signed with Bnei Herzelia in Israel, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Brad Newly, whose rights are owned by the Lakers, has signed with Sydney in Australia, Smith adds (Twitter link). Newly was drafted in 2007, but has never played in the NBA.

Frank Jackson Declares For Draft

Frank Jackson has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The point guard will wait until after the pre-draft process before making a final decision on whether to stay in the draft or return to Duke.

Jackson’s father, Al, told Jones that had his son’s experience at the school was the only reason Jackson hasn’t hired an agent yet. “If he had gone anywhere else, we wouldn’t have had to struggle with this decision. Frank would’ve been a one-and-done player with no doubt,” Al Jackson said.

He added that he had a positive conversation coach Mike Krzyzewski about his son’s decision to test the waters. “The door is definitely open for Frank to return,” Al Jackson said. “Frank still may very well go back.”

The elder Jackson said he has received feedback from sources within the NBA, many of which have expressed interest in his son. “It’s clear to us enough teams consider Frank an NBA player,” Al Jackson said. “He has superior athleticism, he has high character and he has a high basketball IQ.”

The 19-year-old Jackson is the 45th best prospect in the upcoming draft, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He averaged 10.9 points and 1.7 assists in 24.9 minutes per game during his lone season at Duke.

Jones adds that the prospect is a native of Utah and has long been a fan of the Jazz. Jackson is hoping for a pre-draft workout with the organization and he also hopes to be invited to the pre-draft combine, which takes place in Chicago in May.

And-Ones: Krzyzewski, Griffin, Simmons, Patterson

Mike Krzyzewski desperately wants to win his final game as coach of Team USA, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Krzyzewski demonstrated he is putting victory over player egos by pulling DeMarcus Cousins from the starting lineup in Friday’s semifinal against Spain and inserting defensive specialist DeAndre Jordan. Voisin also suggests that the closeness of many of this year’s game displays the need for a different philosophy in picking players. Krzyzewski, whose team will face Serbia in Sunday’s gold medal game, has an 82-1 record and two gold medals since taking over as Team USA coach in 2005. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will assume control of the team after the Olympics are done.

There’s more tonight from around the world of basketball:

  • Former D-League All-Star Eric Griffin, who will reportedly play in Israel next season, has a buyout clause that allows him to sign with an NBA team, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Griffin was recently cleared of an attempted murder charge in Florida, and his agent contends the case cost him a chance to play in the summer league.
  • Ben Simmons is the rookie most likely to make an impact in the NBA from the beginning, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. Blancarte picks the No. 1 draft choice because of his combination of court vision, size, athleticism and opportunity. Simmons is expected to take control of the Sixers’ offense right away. Others on Blancarte’s list, in order, are the Timberwolves‘ Kris Dunn, the Sixers‘ Joel Embiid and Dario Saric and the Pelicans‘ Buddy Hield.
  • After being claimed off waivers by the Kings, one of Lamar Patterson’s concerns was whether he could bring his pet alligator, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. His mother had been watching the creature while he played for the Hawks because he couldn’t keep it as a pet in Georgia. Jones found that California only allows pet gators if a special permit is obtained.

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Kalamian, D’Antoni, Thomas

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who missed the end of the season after breaking his foot in February, is still very limited physically and may have to skip the Olympics, he said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper As (hat tip to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando). “I’m not going to lie; it’s very difficult,” Gasol said. “The training camp starts in less than a month and I still can’t run.” Gasol has been part of the Spanish national team since 2006 and won silver medals at the Olympics in both 2008 and 2012. It’s too early to say whether the injury will affect Gasol’s participation in Memphis’ training camp, which will start in late September.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • In the same interview, Gasol remains convinced that his brother should join the Spurs. Pau Gasol has a player option with the Bulls for next season worth less than $7.77MM, which he is expected to turn down. He has said the idea of going to San Antonio is intriguing and it’s one of the spots he considered during free agency two summers ago. “I think that the Spurs are the best option for him,” Marc Gasol said. “What that franchise represents, their winning culture, how they treat players. Everything is great there.”
  • The Rockets and Wizards are trying to lure Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. New coaches Mike D’Antoni in Houston and Scott Brooks in Washington are both working hard to add Kalamian to their staffs, but Dwane Casey wants to keep him in Toronto. James Harden is reportedly a fan of Kalamian, who was an assistant in Oklahoma City when Harden broke in with the Thunder (Twitter link).
  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski likes D’Antoni’s chances of succeeding with the Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Krzyzewski, who hired D’Antoni as part of his USA Basketball staff, thinks D’Antoni and Harden will be an effective pairing. “When you have plays and reads, it’s the best combination,” Krzyzewski  said. “It’s especially good if you have a special player, and they do in James. It will be interesting to see how that develops because James is not just a really good scorer; James is a heck of a passer. Who knows what their roster will be next year, but it will start with James.”
  • Adonis Thomas attended the Rockets‘ free agent camp and plans to be at similar events for the Spurs and Jazz, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. The 6’7″ small forward, who played for the Magic and Sixers during 2013/14, started last year with the D-League’s Grand Rapids Drive but was released in December with a season-ending wrist injury.

Gregg Popovich To Become Team USA Coach

Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich will succeed Mike Krzyzewski as head coach of Team USA, as USA Basketball announced via press release. He’ll retain his Spurs duties but expand his role with the national team once Krzyzewski steps down following the 2016 Olympics. Popovich served Team USA in the past as an assistant coach from 2002-04.

“I’m extremely humbled and honored to have the opportunity to represent our country as the coach of the USA National Team,” Popovich said in the USA Basketball statement. “What the program has accomplished over the last decade under the leadership of [USA Basketball Chairman] Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski is truly impressive. I will do my utmost to maintain the high standards of success, class and character established by Jerry, Coach K and the many players who have sacrificed their time on behalf of USA Basketball.”

Popovich, 66, will serve through the 2020 Olympics, and Colangelo, 75, will remain in his job through then, too, but it’s unclear if either will stay with USA Basketball beyond that. Krzyzewski, who confirmed earlier this week that he’s stepping down next year, will remain with the program as a special adviser.

Today’s news is no surprise, as a coaching source had told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that Popovich was the No. 1 choice for the job, though the swift timing of the announcement, almost a year before the transition will take place, was unexpected. He’ll have to balance his Team USA duties with coaching as well as his front office capacity as president of Spurs basketball, though GM R.C. Buford has long taken a leading role in personnel decisions.

Do you think Popovich should be taking the Team USA job, or should he simply focus on the Spurs? Leave a comment to let us know.

And-Ones: Krzyzewski, Ennis, Lakers, Bulls

Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski will step down from his national team duties after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, as he told Andy Katz of ESPN.com. The news is not surprising, since Krzyzewski had originally wanted to step away after the 2012 Games. He didn’t indicate a preference for any specific successor but said he’d like to see a coach experience with international competition step into the position.

“I think it’s time to move ahead. During the next season there will be a number of decisions made about the future of USA Basketball with Rio [the roster] and coaching,” Krzyzewski said to Katz. “There has to be a succession … a planned succession with really good people so we can keep the continuity of the program going.”

While we wait to see if the next USA Basketball coach has NBA ties, here’s the latest from around the league:

  • At least other two teams have interest in James Ennis of the Heat, scouts have told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, which complicates matters for Miami as it debates keeping Ennis for opening night, when his non-guaranteed salary would become fully guaranteed, Winderman notes.
  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said he believes his team has more assets it could throw into trades than it had last season, but people around the league are pessimistic on what the Lakers can offer, as Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com details. In any case, the Lakers player with the greatest trade value is D’Angelo Russell, according to the consensus of the insiders who spoke with Holmes.
  • New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t observed any tension between stars Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose and is confident they can mesh on the floor, as Hoiberg tells Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times recently heard from a source who said Butler was frustrated with the point guard’s approach to the game. “I think they’ve got a very good relationship and that’s from sitting down and talking to both of them individually, talking to them together,” Hoiberg said. “There’s no issue there. I think those two would be the first to tell you that everything that’s been reported out there is not true. I think it could be one of the most dynamic, best backcourts in the league. I think those two play very well off each other.”

And-Ones: Calipari, Izzo, Miller, Wizards

John Calipari wasn’t the only star college coach the Cavs reached out to, reveals Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal, who hears Kevin Ollie, Fred Hoiberg, Billy Donovan and Mike Krzyzewski all were contacted by Cleveland. Lloyd’s source adds that the Cavs offered Tom Izzo a coaching position that also would have given him total control of the franchise’s basketball operations, much like the role that the team proposed to Coach Cal. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cavs have contacted around 11 candidates in an attempt to fill their coaching vacancy, writes Lloyd in the same piece.
  • The decision on whether or not to bring back Andre Miller will probably be an easy one for the Wizards, opines J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.  Washington holds a $4.6MM option on his deal for 2014/15 or could buy him out for $2MM.
  • Former Marquette University forward Jamil Wilson, who had to cancel workouts with the Bucks and Pistons due to a sprained ankle, is expected to audition for the Wizards on Tuesday, tweets Gery Woelfel of the Journal Sentinel.
  • Tim Bontemps of the New York Post looked back at the performance of Nets‘ midseason acquisition Marcus Thornton.  Thornton turned into a key rotation player for Brooklyn down the stretch of the season and will earn ~$8.58MM in his walk year.
  • The Thunder are the NBA’s smartest spenders as they have gotten more success out of less money than anyone else in the league, writes Glenn Davis of USA Today.  OKC owns a 271-123 record over the last five seasons combined all while having payrolls that ranked in the bottom half of the league on average.
  • Sean Meagher of The Oregonian wonders if the Trail Blazers should hold on to Wesley Matthews, a free agent after the 2014/15 season.  Matthews is coming off of the best season of his career as a pro and is entering the final year of his five-year, $33MM deal.
  • Former UNC standout Sean May will attend mini-camps with the Spurs and Warriors this month, according to HoopsHype (via Twitter).
  • The Clippers will bring in Jordan Clarkson, Nick Johnson, Deonte Burton, and Sean Kilpatrick for workouts, reports Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.
  • The Celtics could eye offense in this month’s draft, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com explains.

Charlie Adams contributed to this post.

Lakers Intend To ‘Make A Splash’ With New Coach

3:18pm: The Bulls are likely to deny the Lakers permission to speak with Thibodeau, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link).

1:43pm: The Lakers will ask the Bulls for permission to interview Tom Thibodeau, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com (on Twitter).

1:08pm: The Lakers will interview George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, Ollie and Calipari, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

11:44am: The Lakers are going after marquee names and want to “make a splash” with their coaching search, with Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie and Kentucky’s John Calipari at the forefront, report Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. They apparently plan to reach out to Calipari even though he denied interest in the vacancy this morning. The Lakers nonetheless intend to hold back and focus on the draft and free agency while they gauge the coaching market, Stein and Shelburne write.

The Lakers are also considering the notion of holding off on a decision in case a high-profile free agent signals he wants to join the team, sources tell the ESPN scribes. In that case, the free agent would be able to influence the team’s choice of coaches.

Stein and Shelburne say the Lakers are also considering Derek Fisher, for whom the job reportedly holds “tremendous appeal.” Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who passed along the news of Fisher’s interest earlier, wrote that Kobe Bryant would not be the decision-maker for the team, but the Lakers are expected to consult with their 35-year-old star, according to Stein and Shelburne.

The Lakers plan to interview Mike Dunleavy Sr., who held the head coaching job for the team in the 1990s. Stein and Shelburne also mention the team’s interest in a number of candidates Shelburne listed earlier today. While the team is going after the two coaches from this year’s title game, Stein and Shelburne say the Lakers don’t have plans to reach out to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, whom they’ve targeted when the position has come open in the past.

Western Notes: Beasley, Grizzlies, Harden

Michael Beasley is entering the final fully guaranteed year of his contract, and he's in danger of seeing his NBA career come to an early end, as Jeff Caplan of NBA.com examines.

Caplan spoke with 33-year-old Suns GM Ryan McDonough about the their rebuilding efforts designed to add hardworking athletes who can run their up-tempo offense, led by their newest addition in the back-court, Eric Bledsoe

But when asked if the 24-year-old Beasley–who averaged career lows across-the-board last season in Phoenix–would be a part of the Suns' rebuilding efforts, McDonough's message was loud and clear for the maladroit former No. 2 overall pick:

"I guess what I’ll say generally about that is we’re going to treat everybody the same,” McDonough explained.

There won’t be any special treatment for anybody on the roster and as Jeff [Hornacek] and I told all the guys coming in, we don’t care how much money you’re making, where you were drafted, how long you’ve been in the league, what, if anything, you’ve been promised in the past. We’re going into this as an open competition, and when training camp comes, guys who buy in and play the right way and play hard will play, and those who don’t, won’t.”

Beasley signed a three-year $18MM contract with the Suns in July of 2012, but the 2014-15 season is only guaranteed for $3MM. According to Mark Deeks at ShamSports.com, the final year becomes fully guaranteed for $6.25MM if the Suns don't waive him on, or before, 5 p.m. Mountain Time on the second day after the team's final gaeme of the 2013-14 season, including playoffs, or June 15th.

Here's what else is happening around the Western Conference on Saturday night…