Milt Newton

Latest On Pelicans’ GM Search

The Pelicans continue to make progress in their search for a new general manager, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic, who reported this morning (via Twitter) that the team was starting to conduct in-person interviews. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), New Orleans interviewed former Cavaliers GM David Griffin today.

Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune (Twitter link) has confirmed that, in addition to Griffin, the following candidates are on the team’s list:

  • Interim GM Danny Ferry
  • Warriors assistant GM Larry Harris
  • Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon
  • Rockets VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas
  • Wizards interim GM Tommy Sheppard

Meanwhile, while his name doesn’t show up on Duncan’s list and hadn’t been previously reported, Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton is also in the mix for the GM job in New Orleans, tweets Jabari Young of The Athletic.

It’s not clear whether all of those candidates reciprocate New Orleans’ interest, or if they’ll all interview with the team. Several of them are believed to be options for some of the other clubs around the NBA who are seeking new heads of basketball operations, including the Wizards, so the Pelicans won’t necessarily be able to hire their top choice.

Still, it appears as if the franchise is moving quickly in the hopes of installing a permanent head of basketball operations sooner rather than later. A big offseason looms for the Pelicans, as Anthony Davis‘ future will almost certainly be decided in the coming months.

Wizards Notes: Grunfeld, Leonsis, GM Search

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said he alone made the call to relieve Ernie Grunfeld of his duties. “No one made this decision other than me,” Leonsis said (Twitter links via Candace Buckner of the Washington Post).

“My main goal is to right now as fast as I can bring in an outside firm to provide some services for us,” Leonsis said. “I want to do what’s called ‘best practicing.’ What do the best organizations look like? What do they spend?

“Maybe I made the mistake in the way we spent and invested out money. I have to be open-minded.”

Leonsis does not believe the organization will have issues attracting a top candidate for the GM gig, a sentiment echoed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Resources and geography are among the reasons to expect the position to be highly sought after.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Tommy Sheppard, the team’s interim GM, is a strong candidate for the position, per Leonsis. Sheppard is the senior vice president of basketball operations and has been with the organization for 14 years.
  • Leonsis called both Bradley Beal and John Wall shortly after making the move to notify them of the change, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports tweets.
  • Scott Brooks’ job status will be determined after a general manager is hired, Leonsis added (via Hughes in a separate tweet). The new GM won’t be restricted in terms of the direction the franchise goes in, as Leonsis is open to all ideas.
  • Hughes (in a full-length piece) identifies 10 possible candidates for the GM position, including Sheppard and former Cavs GM David Griffin. Hughes also speculated that Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, who was with the Wizards from 2003 until 2013, could be a candidate for the position.

Stein’s Latest: Lakers, GM Openings, Sixers

Marc Stein of the New York Times released his latest newsletter today (subscribe here) and it’s filled with a handful of nuggets on coaching and front office movement. We passed along the latest on the Timberwolves’ management earlier today. Here’s the rest of the highlights from Stein’s latest newsletter:

  • The Lakers have interest in nabbing Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle to the same position, Stein writes. Los Angeles is widely expected to let Luke Walton go at the end of the season.
  • Tyronn Lue is believed to be a top candidate for the Lakers‘ job, Stein hears from coaches within the league, citing Lue’s “presumed acceptance” from LeBron James. Lue coached James for two-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland, helping to bring the franchise its lone NBA championship.
  • Mike Zarren of the Celtics and Bucks executive Milt Newton are two names to watch out for with GM positions opening up, Stein hears. Zarren figures to be considered by the Pelicans (currently being run by interim GM Danny Ferry), and could also be a candidate for the Wizards, should owner Ted Leonsis decided to dismiss longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld.
  • The Sixers would be smart to keep the core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris together if they win the Eastern Conference, though Stein believes the chatter to break them up will intensify if they fail to reach that goal. Both Butler and Harris will be free agents this summer.

Bucks Hire Milt Newton As Assistant GM

AUGUST 9: The Bucks have officially hired Newton as their assistant general manager, confirming that move and announcing several more front office changes today in a press release.

AUGUST 7: The Bucks are finalizing a deal with former Timberwolves general manager Milt Newton, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who reports that Newton is poised to join Milwaukee’s front office as an assistant GM.

Newton, who also previously worked for the Sixers, Wizards, and the NBA office, was the GM in Minnesota from 2013 to 2016. He was dismissed by the Wolves after president Flip Saunders passed away and team ownership made the decision to give Tom Thibodeau full control over basketball operations. Newton has been seeking a return to an NBA front office over the last year.

While Newton won’t get the opportunity to run the show in Milwaukee, he figures to work closely with new GM Jon Horst. A surprise hire this spring, Horst doesn’t have much experience as the lead man on basketball decisions, so the Bucks had been in the market for a veteran executive to share some of his responsibilities.

A report last month indicated that the Bucks had interviewed several candidates for the assistant GM opening, with a focus on executives who had previously served as a general manager or worked closely with a GM. Newton was named in that report as a “serious candidate” for the job in Milwaukee.

Although it has been a fairly quiet offseason so far for the Bucks, they’re currently the frontrunners in our poll from earlier today on which Central club has had the best summer — many of Milwaukee’s division rivals are believed to have taken a step backward in the last couple months.

Kings Seek VP Of Basketball Ops; Otis Smith Withdraws

JULY 28, 2:05pm: Otis Smith has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Kings’ job, a source tells Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). According to Turner, Smith met with the club twice this month, and still has interest in a front office role, but determined that Sacramento wasn’t the right fit for him.

JULY 26, 2:39pm: In the wake of Scott Perry‘s departure for the Knicks, the Kings are seeking a new vice president of basketball operations to report to Vlade Divac in their front office. And according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, team officials have met with former Magic general manager Otis Smith to discuss the job.

Smith, who appeared in 375 NBA games as a player between 1986 and 1992, transitioned into a front office role after his playing career ended, and eventually became the GM in Orlando in 2006. He held that position for six years, and has since worked out as a G League head coach and an NBA assistant with the Pistons.

Perry was believed to have played a major role in the Kings’ offseason this year after joining the franchise in April, following his dismissal from Orlando’s front office. Perry’s reputation around the NBA – and his solid work in Sacramento – attracted the attention of the Knicks, who sent cash and a second-round pick to the Kings in exchange for the right to hire Perry as their new GM.

With Perry out of the picture, the Kings had been expected to hire a new VP of basketball ops. In addition to Smith, Milt Newton and Troy Weaver were believed to be candidates, but they’re no longer in play, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. However, Jones adds (via Twitter) that former Lakers assistant GM Ronnie Lester is worth keeping an eye on.

Latest On Bucks’ Assistant GM Search

The Bucks are looking to add an experienced front office executive to pair with new GM Jon Horst, Gery Woelfel reports on his blog. Sources tell Woelfel that the team has interviewed several candidates with extensive front office experience for its open assistant GM position.

“They want someone who has either been a GM or who has worked closely with a GM,’’ a source tells the scribe.

Milwaukee has shown interest in former Cavs GM Jim Paxson. Paxson, who is currently a consultant for the Bulls, recently met with the Bucks about their open position.

Woelfel adds (in another post) that Milt Newton, who previously served as the Wolves GM, also met with the team and is a serious candidate for the position.

And-Ones: Newton, Oden, Execs, Camp Deals

Former Timberwolves general manager Milt Newton departed from the franchise last year, when Flip Saunders‘ passing led to an overhaul of the club’s front office and coaching staff. However, he remains interested in returning to an NBA front office, telling Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he wouldn’t be opposed to an assistant GM role. No teams have approached him about executive positions since his departure from Minnesota though, according to Milton.

“A young guy like Milt should have teams calling him if not to be a GM, to be a part of their organization,” Former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars told Spears. “He did a great job in Minnesota. He built a young team. He’s a great dude. He works well. He’s one of the best young talents in the league. What more can you ask for?”

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

  • Former first overall pick Greg Oden has returned to Ohio State to finish working toward his college degree, a source tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). While the former Trail Blazers center is in Columbus, he’ll also help out at Buckeyes’ practices, says Rothstein.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders lists six top basketball executives who could find themselves on the hot seat at some point in the not-so-distant future if their respective teams don’t play well in 2016/17.
  • With training camps around the NBA having gotten underway this week, Bobby Marks of The Vertical delves into the training camp contract, explaining how they work and how different language in deals affects a players’ preseason earnings and injury protection (or lack thereof).
  • The Lakers‘ signing of Timofey Mozgov has received plenty of criticism this offseason, but Los Angeles won’t be the only team with buyers’ remorse this fall, according to Mitch Lawrence of Forbes.com, who identifies five other clubs that may come to regret their summer deals.

Wolves Notes: Rubio, Lucas, Pinckney, Newton

Ricky Rubio is clarifying remarks he made to a Spanish radio station over the summer that led many to believe he wants to be traded, writes Kent Youngblood of The Star-Tribune. In the June interview, Rubio noted that he had been in the league five years without making the playoffs, adding that he would have to “start thinking about teams that can get into the playoffs and win in the finals” if the Timberwolves don’t make the postseason this year. Minnesota’s best record in the five seasons Rubio has been with the team is 40-42 in 2013-14. “I didn’t say I wanted to get traded,” Rubio explained. “I want to play with a winner. I think we have the right mentality. It’s changing.”

  • Veteran point guard John Lucas III sounded very confident at today’s practice and clearly expects to win a roster spot, tweets John Krawczynski of the Associated Press. Lucas, who played 21 games with the Pistons in 2014/15, signed with the Wolves in August.
  • Ed Pinckney is attending the Timberwolves’ camp as a guest, but he is likely to be added to the coaching staff by the end of the week, according to Krawczynski (Twitter link). Pinckney served as an assistant with the Nuggets last season.
  • Former Minnesota GM Milt Newton hopes to eventually hold that job again with another organization, relays Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Newton, who was let go as part of a front office shakeup in May, said he believes race is a factor in a league that now has just two black GMs. “I would be naïve to think that it’s not a problem,” said Newton. “At the end of the day, I don’t want to concern myself with that. I know it’s difficult for us African-Americans to have opportunities to interview for these jobs, to have opportunities to be part of these management teams.”

Wolves Announce Multiple Front Office Changes

The Timberwolves are under new management in Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden. As is often the case with new regimes, they wish to bring in their own people to surround themselves with. In keeping with that theme, the team has announced via press release that a number of front office personnel have been let go from their respective positions. The franchise did not name any replacements in its official statement:

Effective immediately, the following individuals will be relieved of their respective duties: previous General Manager Milt Newton, Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Babcock, Vice President of Sports Performance Arnie Kander, assistant coach Sid Lowe, Director of Sports Performance Koichi Sato, Manager of Team Travel/Facilities Coordinator Bill Hohenecker, Head of Video Department and Manager of Basketball Technology Brice Long and Scouts Milton Barnes and Jason Hervey. We Would like to thank all of these individuals for their contributions to our organization and wish them well in their future endeavors.

Team owner Glen Taylor had stated back in March that Newton would be in charge of the draft and free agency for the team this summer, but that was well in advance of Thibodeau being hired. Newton wasn’t assured of holding onto his post beyond this season anyway, after he inherited the role this past fall upon the death of president of basketball operations Flip Saunders. One potential landing spot for Newton is in Washington, where he had previously served as vice president of player personnel for the Wizards, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

Wolves Interviewing Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau

9:58pm: Taylor discussed the job with Thibodeau and Brooks the same night the Wolves ended their season, shortly before announcing the team was looking for a new coach and president of basketball operations, a person close to the situation told Jerry Zgoda of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The head coaching position and president of basketball operations opening will likely be filled by one man, Zgoda adds.

5:27pm: Sources who spoke with Stein downplayed Thibodeau’s interest in personnel power, saying the Timberwolves and not Thibodeau first raised the idea of a dual coach/executive role. Stein’s sources add that Thibodeau considers the strength of a team’s roster and its commitment to winning as the most important factors, presumably meaning Thibodeau is more concerned with those elements than with front office control (Twitter links).

2:17pm: The job appeals to Thibodeau in large measure because it’s the only one currently available that would give him full player personnel authority, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Van Gundy isn’t as determined to have front office control, Wojnarowski and Mannix hear. Taylor is expected to be willing to go as high as $7MM a year for the right candidate, according to the league sources who spoke with the Vertical reporters. The Korn Ferry search firm has pegged Spurs assistant GM Scott Layden and Grizzlies executive VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski as potential candidates for the GM job should the team hire either Thibodeau or Van Gundy as coach/president of basketball operations, as Wojnarowski and Mannix detail, adding that the fate of existing GM Milt Newton remains up in the air.

11:26am: The expectation is growing in coaching circles that Minnesota will hire either Van Gundy or Thibodeau, who have become co-favorites for the job, Stein and Windhorst write in a full story.

MONDAY, 11:15am: Taylor interviewed Thibodeau this weekend and is set to meet with Van Gundy today, report Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 4:59pm: The Timberwolves have meetings scheduled regarding their vacant head coaching position with Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau, league sources have informed Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The meetings are expected to take place within the next few days, Wojnarowski adds. Minnesota’s coaching targets also reportedly include Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger and Scott Brooks. Brooks hasn’t yet up a meeting with Minnesota at this time, but there are tentative plans for Wizards officials to visit with him next week, Wojnarowski relays. The former Thunder coach is Washington’s top priority, Wojnarowski notes.

Minnesota team owner Glen Taylor will be a part of the interviews that will include the executive firm Korn Ferry, which has been coordinating the coaching search, Wojnarowski writes. The owner hired the firm to help in the hunt for a new coach as well as a new president of basketball operations, though the team may elect to hire one person for both slots, as Wojnarowski and Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press reported previously. Korn Ferry played a major role in the hiring of Stan Van Gundy as the top basketball executive and coach with the Pistons and Taylor has been pushing for the firm’s research and input into the possible recreation of the Pistons’ model with the Timberwolves, the Vertical scribe also relays.

The franchise parted ways with interim coach Sam Mitchell on Wednesday, with Taylor saying in his official statement, “The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves has never been brighter. It’s important that we find the best leaders to shape our talented team and help them realize their full potential. We owe it to our fans, our community and to our players to ensure our team has the best possible chance at winning an NBA title.” Minnesota went just 29-53 this season under Mitchell, which was a significant improvement over last season’s 16-66 record.