Monte McNair

Pacific Notes: A. Davis, McNair, Clippers, Warriors

After being limited to just 76 in the last two seasons, Anthony Davis is determined to have a healthier year in 2022/23. Speaking to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, The Lakers star said he’s so excited for the coming season that he has “goosebumps,” adding that he’s “looking forward to a healthy year.”

“I went into this summer focusing on strengthening my body,” Davis told Haynes. “I have to be on the court and at my best to put us in position to be our best. I’m ready to do that.”

Davis has played more than 70 regular season games just twice in his 10-year career, so the Lakers would likely be thrilled to see him surpass that benchmark. However, the eight-time All-Star told reporters this week that he has loftier expectations for himself.

“I want to be able to play all 82 (games),” Davis said, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “And if I’m not, I don’t want it to be injury-based where I can’t play. That’s my goal. The more I’m on the floor, the more I can help my team and its chance of winning when I’m playing.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • With Monte McNair entering the final year of his contract, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive said on Wednesday that he’s happy with the job the general manager has done, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, the two sides have been “too focused on the season” to discuss a possible contract extension, according to Ranadive. “Monte, (assistant GM) Wes (Wilcox), the whole front office, the coaches they hired, the coaching staff, the process they went through, the trades they made, the rookie they picked, I’m very pleased with everything that’s happened,” Ranadive said. “I think right now the focus is: Let’s win.”
  • The Clippers are taking a cautious approach this preseason with a handful of veteran players, with head coach Tyronn Lue announcing on Thursday that Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall, and Reggie Jackson won’t play in the team’s preseason opener in Seattle on Friday (Twitter link via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times). The Warriors are going the same route with Klay Thompson, holding him out of the club’s two preseason contests in Japan, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • The Warriors‘ preseason opener on Friday showed the new simplified offensive role the team envisions for center James Wiseman, who was primarily used as a slasher and roller en route to a 20-point, eight-rebound game, Slater writes for The Athletic.
  • Logan Murdock of The Ringer takes a look at the Warriors‘ efforts to balance their title defense in the short term with their vision of the franchise in the long term.

Pacific Notes: Crowder, Ayton, McNair, Murray, Wall

Suns forward Jae Crowder was informed over the summer that he might lose his starting job in 2022/23, which prompted him to ask for a trade, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Crowder has been a key member of a Suns team that made the NBA Finals in 2021 and won 64 regular season games last season, but Phoenix appears prepared to grant his trade request, having agreed to have him remain away from the team for training camp.

“Jae brought a number of intangibles to the team, I think all of our guys would speak in that way about him,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said on Monday, per Windhorst. “At the same time, these things happen and you have to transition and move forward. I totally am behind (GM) James (Jones) and how we are handling this.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • According to Windhorst, there seems to be some scarring following the Suns‘ offseason standoff with Deandre Ayton, which ended when the team matched the four-year, maximum-salary offer sheet he signed with Indiana. Windhorst writes that there was a “complete lack of enthusiasm emanating” from the “usually jovial” Ayton during Monday’s Media Day when he discussed his experience in free agency.
  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Kings general manager Monte McNair expressed confidence in the team’s new-look roster and brushed off questions about his contract situation as he enters the final season of a three-year deal. “Is my deal, like, on the internet or something?” McNair joked, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “Look, for me and my group, we’re excited about what we’ve done. We’re excited that coach (Mike) Brown is in here. I’m the GM right now and I’ve got a bunch of work to do, so I’m going to do that until they kick me out, and I hope I’m here for a long time.”
  • Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee takes a look at how No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray is dealing with high expectations as he joins a Kings team attempting to snap a 16-year playoff drought.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is looking forward to taking advantage of the element of speed that newly added point guard John Wall will bring to the team this season, writes Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times. “I think with John, adding John, his pace is tremendous. That’s going to allow us to get easy baskets,” Lue said. “Guys get open threes, easy shots, him getting downhill, getting to the basket changes our team dramatically. His pace, the way he plays, brings a different dimension to our team.”

Kings Notes: Brown, McNair, Draft Strategy

With the Warriors’ title run out of the way, Mike Brown finally got to have his introductory press conference as the Kings‘ new head coach, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Brown is leaving his spot as associate head coach with the NBA’s latest dynasty to take over a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs in 16 years, and in Tuesday’s session with reporters he charged directly into the challenge that awaits him.

“There ain’t no elephant in the room,” Brown said. “You can speak on it. We’re going to embrace that. I’m not coming here to have fun, be excited, join the area. I’m coming here to win. So we’re going to embrace anything that’s in front of us that talks about winning. So, we look forward to it.”

Although Brown accepted his new job more than six weeks ago, his duties with Golden State prevented from formally joining the Kings until this week. He said he has already talked to all his new players and staff members, some on Zoom and some in person, and expressed optimism about the talent that he’s inheriting.

“The potential here, I truly believe the potential is off the charts,” Brown said. “It gets me excited thinking about it. … The players here, I’m excited about. There’s just a lot of opportunity here for this place to explode, and I want to be a part of it.”

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Brown said he dealt mainly with general manager Monte McNair and assistant GM Wes Wilcox during the hiring process. Brown, who previously worked with Wilcox in Cleveland, said the working relationship with those front office officials is vital to success. “You can go ask (Warriors general manager) Bob Myers,” Brown said. “Throughout my six years with the Warriors, he would ask me, ‘What would be the one thing that you look for if you were to get a head (coaching) job in the future?’ I’d say, ‘The relationship has got to be there with the GM and the head coach.’ ‘If that relationship is not there, you have no chance. You have no shot.”
  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee examines how McNair’s tenuous hold on his job might affect the team’s approach to draft day.
  • The Kings’ decision on the No. 4 pick will likely go “right down to the wire,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on the network’s Mock Draft Special (video link). Purdue guard Jaden Ivey may be the best player available, but he doesn’t fit a need in Sacramento, so Wojnarowski expects the team to consider trade offers while it’s on the clock.

Pacific Notes: Ham, Lakers, Kings, Warriors

Newly-hired Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is earning high praise from those who know him, according to Broderick Turner and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

Ham, who was a Lakers assistant coach from 2011-13 and won a title against L.A. as a player on the Pistons in 2004, has served as an assistant under head coach Mike Budenholzer with the Hawks and Bucks for the past nine seasons. The Bucks won the 2021 NBA championship with Ham on Budenholzer’s staff.

“His work ethic in practice and when we put him in the game, he always seemed to deliver,” former Knicks head coach and current Indiana University coach Mike Woodson said of Ham. “So, you knew that the fact he got into coaching, I knew it would work because that’s a big part of being a good coach. You got to work.”

Metta Sandiford-Artest, who played on the Lakers teams where Ham first cut his coaching teeth as a development assistant under Mike Brown, also had high praise for Ham.  “He definitely understands modern basketball,” Sandiford-Artest said. “He also is capable of communicating in a way where you can receive it the right way.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers held workouts on Saturday for six NBA hopefuls, per Matthew Barrero of Lakers.com. Baylor guard James Akinjo, Connecticut guard Tyrese Martin, Syracuse forward Cole Swider, USC guard Drew Peterson, Texas A&M guard Quenton Jackson, and Alabama guard Keon Ellis all got a look from the L.A. front office brass. Though Los Angeles does not possess a draft pick this season, the team could trade into the second round or sign an undrafted rookie as a free agent. “There is a good side to it if you’re able to choose your team,” Ellis said. “Even if it happens to be myself, you can’t get too down on it or overthink it. There’s been guys who have gone undrafted and come back with great stories.”
  • The Kings, who possess the fourth pick in the 2022 draft, had at least two key representatives take a look at several high-level prospects during recent pro day workouts in Southern California, writes Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Team owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Monte McNair attended a CAA pro day workout for Purdue shooting guard Jaden Ivey and Duke small forward AJ Griffin. McNair attended an additional pro day with another top-10-level player, Arizona shooting guard Bennedict Mathurin, Anderson notes, examining the potential fit of each player.
  • Injured Warriors role players Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala will be gradually included in team practices ahead of the 2022 NBA Finals this week as they continue to recuperate from their respective ailments, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). The club has leaned on 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody for help in the absence of Payton, Porter and Iguodala.

Pacific Notes: Westbrook, McNair, Christie, Lue

While many Lakers fans hope they’ve seen the last of Russell Westbrook in a Los Angeles uniform, the front office is proceeding as if Westbrook will remain a part of the team.

Head coaching candidates that the Lakers have interviewed have been asked to discuss how they would use the enigmatic point guard in their system, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports. It appears that maximizing Westbrook’s impact after his disastrous 2021/22 season is considered an important part of the job, Amick adds.

This could be an indication of Phil Jackson’s input on the Lakers’ search, since Jackson is known to have an affinity for Westbrook.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • In the same story, Amick writes that Kings general manager Monte McNair is entering the final season of his contract and there have been no talks about a possible extension. That leads to an awkward situation with their new coach, Mike Brown, having a significantly longer deal (four years) than the GM who played a major role in hiring him. McNair’s contract status was a concern for some of the coaching candidates Sacramento interviewed, Amick adds.
  • Among the priorities that the Kings established before hiring Brown was that the new coach would retain Doug Christie on the staff, Marc Stein reports in a Substack article. Sacramento is also hoping for an improvement mirroring the Timberwolves’ success with their young core to end a league-record 16-season playoff drought.
  • Klutch Sports has many high-profile athletes as clients — they’ve also got another prominent coach now in the Clippers Tyronn Lue. He’s signed up with the agency, Klutch tweets.

Bulpett’s Latest: D’Antoni, Hornets, Hayward, Kings, Irving

The Hornets‘ head coaching search is still in progress, but three league sources who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com said they believe Mike D’Antoni is the frontrunner to land the job.

“I don’t think it’s a done deal or anything, but I know they like the idea of what he can do with LaMelo (Ball) and their running game,” a source told Bulpett. “If D’Antoni can get those guys on his wavelength, that’s going to be an even more fun team to watch.”

D’Antoni has coached a total of 1,199 regular season games for five different teams. If he were to be hired by the Hornets, he would be the second-oldest NBA head coach of all-time, behind only Gregg Popovich. D’Antoni turned 71 on Sunday.

Here’s more from Bulpett:

  • According to Bulpett, chatter around the NBA indicates that the Hornets would like to get off Gordon Hayward‘s contract, which has two years and $61.6MM left on it. “I know Gordon’s situation has been super frustrating,” one executive said to Heavy.com. “He’s such an important player when he’s healthy. He’s talented and he plays the right way. But him staying healthy is a big if.”
  • While Kyrie Irving faced plenty of criticism for his end-of-season comments about “managing the franchise” along with Kevin Durant, GM Sean Marks, and team owner Joe Tsai. However, a source close to the situation suggests Irving was merely stating a fact. “When Kyrie signed as a free agent, he basically said, ‘I’ll come and I’ll bring Kevin Durant,'” that source told Bulpett. “And in return, the Nets agreed that he could have a say in the roster decisions. … With Kyrie, they talked this out beforehand. He wanted a situation like LeBron (James) has — or like he thinks LeBron has.”
  • Bulpett has heard that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who has had an outsized voice in some basketball decisions in the past, chose to listen to his basketball operations executives in the head coaching search, which led to Sacramento hiring Mike Brown. In addition to general manager Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox was involved in that coaching decision, Bulpett notes.

Pacific Notes: Wiseman, Lakers Draft, Brown, Kerr

Warriors center James Wiseman plans to play in the Summer League if he doesn’t suffer any more setbacks in his recovery from a right knee injury, Kerith Burke of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Wiseman was ruled out for the season in late March. “I’m never going to give up, no matter how hard it gets,” said Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft. The big man has been doing stationary work but hasn’t returned to contact, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are bringing in six draft prospects on Tuesday, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. That group will include DeVante’ Jones (Michigan), Jeriah Horne (Tulsa), Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu (UT Arlington), Jamaree Bouyea (San Francisco), Jordan Usher (Georgia Tech) and Grant Golden (Richmond).
  • Kings fans will have to wait to hear from their new head coach. A press conference to introduce Mike Brown as Sacramento’s coach, which will also include GM Monte McNair, won’t occur until the Warriors are eliminated from the playoffs or win the championship, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets.
  • Until then, the Kings can take comfort in Steve Kerr‘s endorsement of his associate head coach, Kendra Andrews of ESPN tweets“He’s an amazing coach and an amazing friend. Sacramento made a great choice,” Kerr said. “It’s a loss for us, but this is how it’s supposed to go.” Brown filled in for Kerr in Game 4 of Golden State’s playoff series against Memphis after Kerr tested positive for COVID.

Kings To Make Head Coaching Decision By Week’s End?

The Kings, who are completing a second round of interviews with the three finalists for their head coaching job, are expected to make a decision by the end of the week, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic.

According to Amick, Mark Jackson and Steve Clifford have completed their final interviews, while Mike Brown had an informal visit with Kings officials on Wednesday and will have his formal sit-down with the team on Thursday.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated earlier this week that Jackson appears to be team owner Vivek Ranadive‘s preferred choice for the position, and Amick has heard the same thing from sources close to the situation. However, the Kings insist Ranadive isn’t putting his thumb on the scale and that general manager Monte McNair will be given the opportunity to make the final decision, says Amick.

There have been recent reports indicating that McNair has been given more authority and power in the Kings’ organization than previous heads of basketball operations under Ranadive. Amick suggests that the team’s decision to let Joe Dumars walk rather than promoting him to a level above McNair is a signal that Ranadive is showing support for his GM.

One of three teams currently seeking a new head coach, the Kings appear on track to finalize a hire before the Hornets or Lakers complete their respective searches.

Mark Jackson Frontrunner To Become New Kings Coach?

The Kings are interviewing the three finalistsMark Jackson, Steve Clifford and Mike Brown — for their vacant head coaching position this week, and it looks as if one might have the upper hand. League sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report that Jackson appears to be the frontrunner for the job and the favored choice of owner Vivek Ranadive.

Ranadive, who was the vice chairman of the Warriors when Jackson was their head coach from 2011-14, has long been an admirer of Jackson and pushed Sacramento’s front office to consider him for the lead assistant/associate head coach position that ultimately went to Alvin Gentry in 2020, sources tell Fischer.

It has been previously reported that the Kings are searching for a defensive-minded coach with previous head coaching experience, and all three finalists check those boxes. However, Ranadive is said to be looking for a vocal, public face for the franchise to create a day-to-day identity, according to Fischer, who notes that Jackson is popular among players.

A report last month indicated that LeBron James would be “enthused” to see Jackson as a candidate for the Lakers‘ vacancy, and sources tell Fischer that LaMelo Ball also favors Jackson for the Hornets‘ opening.

One major wrinkle to the notion that Jackson appears to be the favored choice of Ranadive is that the owner has repeatedly told colleagues around the league that general manager Monte McNair has full authority over the team’s basketball operations. Fischer points out that the decision to fire Luke Walton early in the season came from McNair, not Ranadive.

McNair appears to be leaning toward Brown as his top candidate for the position, multiple sources tell Fischer. Brown also has Warriors ties – he has been an assistant coach for Golden State for the past six years – and used to work with Kings assistant GM Wes Wilcox when the two were with Cleveland.

Fischer writes that if Jackson isn’t selected for the position, it could be partly because Joe Dumars left the organization to work in the league office — Dumars wanted to hire Jackson to become Detroit’s head coach in 2011. Dumors reportedly wanted more control over Sacramento’s front office, with McNair reporting to him instead of Ranadive, but the owner wasn’t interested in that arrangement.

As for former interim head coach Gentry, sources tell Bleacher Report that he’s been offered a role in Sacramento’s front office, but Gentry is looking into pursuing a job as a consultant, similar to the role Clifford recently held with the Nets.

Kings Interviewing Coaching Finalists This Week

The Kings are in the process of conducting the second round of interviews with the three finalists for their head coaching opening and owner Vivek Ranadive is heavily involved, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.

Steve Clifford, Mark Jackson and Mike Brown were revealed as the finalists on Saturday.

Clifford, the former Hornets and Magic coach who mostly recently has done consulting work with the Nets, interviewed Sunday and continued his visit Monday, according to Amick. Jackson, the former Warriors coach and now longtime ESPN/ABC analyst, will then come to Sacramento for his follow-up interview.

Brown, now the Warriors’ associate head coach, is expected to speak with the Kings’ brass later this week. Brown’s interview(s) may take place in San Francisco as well as Sacramento, since the Warriors remain active in the playoffs.

The first round of interviews were conducted via Zoom and Ranadive wasn’t involved, Amick reports. GM Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox and now former chief strategy officer Joe Dumars handled those interviews. Dumars was named on Monday the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

Dumars’ contract was expiring and he wanted more direct control over the front office if he was going to stick around, sources told Amick. He wanted McNair to report to him rather than Ranadive but the owner was not interested in doing that. It does not appear Dumars’ role will be filled.

As noted by Marc Stein in a Substack piece and affirmed by Amick, the Kings are seeking a defensive-minded coach.