Monte McNair

Pacific Notes: Schroder, George, McNair, Gasol

Dennis Schröder wants to stay with the Lakers but there’s still a good chance he’ll test the free agent market this summer, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Schroder likes his current situation, stating, “I want to be a part of this organization for a long time.”

However, Schroder has yet to sign an extension, even though he’s eligible for one. Schroder admits he’s conflicted, knowing the Lakers’ salary situation and the fact they can go over the cap to retain him in unrestricted free agency.

“So, we’re kind of, between these: Should we just sign the extension? Or should we wait until the summer? Because at the end of the day, I want to be a Laker for a long time,” he said. “I always say I want it to be fair.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers forward Paul George has drawn a $35K fine from the league for criticizing the officials to the media after a loss to Dallas on Wednesday, according to an NBA press release. George said of some non-calls, “We’re putting a lot of pressure at the rim. It’s insane that we’re not getting these calls.” He also characterized the officials’ explanations for the lack of whistles as a “bunch of lies,” according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
  • Kings GM Monte McNair has the final say in personnel moves as the trade deadline approaches, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports. Ownership will be consulted, but McNair will be the one making roster decisions and related basketball moves, Anderson adds. However, it’s worth noting owner Vivek Ranadive has to sign off on any major deal, so the Kings organization may be trying hard to downplay Ranadive’s involvement in basketball operations.
  • Lakers center Marc Gasol remains under the league’s health and safety protocols but he’s out of isolation, Goon writes in a separate story. He still has a “few steps to clear” before he’s allowed to play, coach Frank Vogel said. Gasol hasn’t played since February 28.

Pacific Notes: Green, Wiseman, Whiteside, Clippers, More

The Warriors haven’t publicly announced which two players on their roster tested positive for the coronavirus, but head coach Steve Kerr “spelled it out pretty plainly” on Monday, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Seventeen of the team’s 20 players participated in the first practice of the season. Besides Klay Thompson, the only players missing were Draymond Green and James Wiseman.

“I will not comment on that any further,” Kerr said, per Slater. “I’m not allowed to comment on that. You can make your own deductions … I’m just trying to figure out which one of you has put all the pieces together and has figured out what is happening here.”

Assuming Green and Wiseman are indeed the two players who tested positive for COVID-19, the Warriors are expected to be without them until at least next week, Slater notes. That will give some of Golden State’s other frontcourt players a chance to play more significant roles during the preseason as they potentially audition for regular season minutes.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • New Kings center Hassan Whiteside is dealing with a mild calf strain and likely won’t be available for the team’s preseason opener, head coach Luke Walton said on Monday (Twitter link via Jason Jones of The Athletic).
  • Analytical data provided by new Kings general manager Monte McNair is expected to influence Walton’s new uptempo offensive system, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. “It’s been great working with Monte,” Walton said. “We’ve talked and he’s going to bring ideas analytically to what he sees, and then at the end of the day I can take what ideas I want and leave the ones I don’t.”
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said that assistant coach Larry Drew is focusing on the team’s offense, while Dan Craig is leading the defense with the help of Roy Rogers. Chauncey Billups is focusing on both sides of the ball, while Kenny Atkinson is leading player development, Lue added, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • Abdel Nader isn’t concerned about being considered “the other guy” sent to Phoenix in the Chris Paul trade and is looking forward to playing for the Suns, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I haven’t really spent time in Phoenix but I knew (the Suns) had a nice, young unit with a lot of talent,” Nader said. “Ability to grow. Also the city sounds like a nice place to me. I wasn’t complaining too much.”

California Notes: Bogdanovic, Clippers, Gasol, McNair

The Kings may have been savvy to let shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic walk in restricted free agency, Jason Jones of The Athletic posits. The addition of promising rookie shooting guard Tyrese Haliburton via the 2020 draft made Bogdanovic superfluous to Sacramento’s long-term team-building plans.

The replacement of former Kings GM Vlade Divac with Monte McNair this summer also yielded a different assessment of Bogdanovic’s value with the still-developing club, Jones writes. Bogdanovic’s four-year, $72MM contract extension also would have put Sacramento, a team that has not made the NBA playoffs since 2006, well above the salary cap.

There’s more out of California:

  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic assesses the current roster depth of the Clippers and speculates about how Los Angeles could still upgrade its club, most likely through trading point guards Lou Williams or Patrick Beverley for a ball-handler upgrade.
  • New Lakers center Marc Gasol discussed his fit with his new club, especially with regard to how he intends to contribute on the defensive end of the floor, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “I know we’re going to have great communication,” Gasol said. He also discussed his expected on-court meshing with Finals MVP LeBron James“I’m a first pass kinda guy. But somebody — he’s gonna score too at his will whenever he decides to score, he’s gonna be able to score.”
  • Jason Jones of The Athletic takes stock of Kings GM Monte McNair‘s patient approach to his first offseason in Sacramento. Jones suggests that McNair’s reticence to make a big splash on the free agent or trade market indicates a confidence in the development of the club’s young core.

Kings’ McNair Talks Walton, Fox, Dumars, Hield

When new Kings general manager Monte McNair was introduced to the media earlier this week, one of the first things he did was confirm that head coach Luke Walton will remain in his current position for the 2020/21 season, as we relayed on Wednesday.

While McNair admitted he had no preexisting relationship with Walton, he told reporters – including Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee – that the two men have a number of mutual friends and have been in contact within the last few days. McNair added that he has heard “great things” about the Kings’ head coach and is “really excited” to begin working with him.

McNair’s introductory press conference didn’t include any bombshells, but Sacramento’s new head of basketball operations shared a few more interesting observations and comments about the club. Here are a few highlights from the former Rockets executive, as detailed in a pair of Sacramento Bee articles by Anderson:

On whether he intends to push for a playoff spot or take a step back in the Kings’ rebuilding process:

“I think our goal is going to be to compete hard and start building these winning habits. We need to be more consistent and going forward we’re going to maintain our flexibility. Obviously we want to compete for the playoffs but we know we have some work to do, so my goal is to keep that flexibility and be aggressive whenever the time comes to improve the team.

“In Houston I learned a lot. We went through many different stages and ultimately became a contender, so I’ll learn from that. I think No. 1, we have to stay flexible and we can’t pigeonhole ourselves. There are a lot of ways to improve the team and what we need to do is be ready for whatever the opportunity and whenever it arises so we can capitalize.”

On the style of play he envisions for the Kings:

“I think (De’Aaron Fox‘s) speed and ability offensively to create really is going to be a huge catalyst for how Coach Walton and I envision this team being up tempo, creating the space to shoot threes and attack the rim, and I think we’re excited to get going on that.

“… I think in Houston, obviously, we pushed some things to the extreme. That was partly due to our personnel there. There are some tenets that will apply here. We’re definitely going to play fast. We’re going to space the floor. But there’s a lot of versatility and talent on this roster, so I think that will dictate how we build the team.”

On Joe Dumars’ new role as the Kings’ chief strategy officer:

“Joe’s going to assist (team owner) Vivek (Ranadive) in all aspects of the organization – business, basketball … I was hired to be head of basketball operations. That’s what I’m going to do. But Joe’s been a great player on the court. He’s been a general manager and he’ll be a great resource for me.”

On Buddy Hield, who has been the subject of trade speculation:

“I think we all know in this league spacing is of the utmost importance and Buddy is one of the absolute elite shooters in this league, and we’re going to be able to utilize that skill set as we implement our system.”

California Notes: Clippers Offseason, Fox, Dwight, McNair

After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals, the star-studded Clippers face an uncertain offseason, Danny Leroux of The Athletic writes. Leroux unpacks the potential fates of three Clipper big men worth tracking during Los Angeles’s offseason.

The team can re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Marcus Morris at a 20% annual raise using his Non-Bird Rights. However, Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, also an unrestricted free agent, may command more money than Los Angeles is comfortable paying him after a lackluster postseason performance, while JaMychal Green will most likely opt out of his $5MM player option for the 2020/21 season in search of a more lucrative payday. In Leroux’s view, the Clippers may look elsewhere for centers than small-ball options like Green and Harrell.

There are more notes from the NBA’s California teams:

  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox is eligible for a maximum extension of his rookie contract this offseason. Jason Jones of The Athletic assesses the pros and cons of such a deal being completed sooner rather than later, one of the big decisions facing new Sacramento general manager Monte McNair.
  • 34-year-old Lakers reserve center Dwight Howard has emerged as a legitimate antagonist against All-Star Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during the two teams’ Western Conference Finals series, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Howard was able to use his strength and length to impede Jokic’s passing ability in a Game 2 win. “As soon as I step onto the court, I’m gonna let him know that I’m there,” Howard said after the first game of the series, also a Lakers win.
  • During his introductory team press conference today, new Kings GM Monte McNair asserted that head coach Luke Walton will remain on the sidelines for the 2020/21 season, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets.

Pacific Notes: Howard, Warriors, Kings, Kawhi

A year after Dwight Howard‘s NBA career appeared to be on life support, the veteran center is once again healthy and making an impact for a Lakers team that has become the strong favorite to win the 2020 championship, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com.

As Mannix details, Howard wore out his welcome at several of his other recent NBA stops, including in Charlotte. The Hornets believed the big man “didn’t impact winning,” according to one team official, and were worried about the influence he might have on the team’s young players, including Malik Monk.

In Los Angeles, Howard has accepted a complementary role that suits him and is part of a locker room whose veteran leaders are capable of quelling any chemistry issues that may arise, according to Mannix, who suggests that the eight-time All-Star should be able to extend his NBA career by a few years if he’s willing to play a similar role going forward.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

Pacific Notes: Rivers, George, Harrell, Catanella, Suns

Doc Rivers will likely coach the Clippers next season, but his future with the organization beyond that is sketchy, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The way the 2020/21 season plays out will determine Rivers’ future with the franchise, Buha continues. There will be even more pressure for the Clippers to finally reach the Finals for the first time, Buha adds, and if it doesn’t happen then there could be a mutual parting of ways.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns hope their $45MM practice facility will be finished in October, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The courts are still being installed and painted, team officials told Rankin. Team owner Robert Sarver originally targeted August for the completion of the privately-financed facility.
  • New Kings GM Monte McNair is expected to retain assistant GM and salary cap expert Ken Catanella, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Catanella has been in the Sacramento front office since 2016 following a five-year stint with the Pistons.
  • Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Paul George got into a heated verbal exchange during a timeout of Game 2 against Denver, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. George committed a turnover on an attempted half-court pass to Harrell, which was intercepted by Jamal Murray. George told Harrell the pass could have been caught if he made the right play and that made Harrell angry.

Pacific Notes: McNair, Achiuwa, Clippers, Johnson

New Kings general manager Monte McNair will be bringing an impressive resume to Sacramento, per Kyle Ramos of Kings.com. McNair served in various capacities with the Rockets for over a decade, mostly recently as vice president of basketball operations under general manager Daryl Morey.

McNair puts a special emphasis on using analytics in his player assessments, thanks in large part to his tenure with Houston. Ramos cites McNair’s discussion of this very topic at various MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conferences. “Organizationally, it helps to have that philosophy where it’s like ‘Hey, we’re going to try stuff until it works’ and you can look across other sports to see what they’ve done to innovate,” McNair said at the 2020 Sloan Conference.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Pacific Division:

  • Energetic Memphis big man Precious Achiuwa could be a great fit for the Kings with the No. 12 pick in this year’s NBA draft, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Andrew Greif of the LA Times examines what went wrong for the Clippers‘ ignominious early playoff exit. An executive who spoke with Greif opined that Los Angeles will remain vulnerable without a play-making point guard. “Running it back is great, but the Clippers are beatable,” the executive told Greif. “They need a point guard. They’ve got to get one. They need better chemistry. They’ve got to do a better job scheming and adjusting.”
  • Suns rookie forward Cameron Johnson, the No. 11 pick in the 2019 draft, detailed his experiences on the NBA’s restart campus with Gina Mizell of Valley Tales. He also reflected on what it means to ascend to the next level of basketball talent. “When you get [to the NBA], now everybody kind of has to play their role, but we still all push to get better in every category,” Johnson said. “For me, it’s a lot of ballhandling, shooting off the dribble, understanding defenses from an offensive perspective and how to attack them.”

Kings Rumors: McNair, Fox, Bogdanovic, Giles, More

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has long admired Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, so hiring away one of Morey’s top lieutenants – assistant GM Monte McNair – filled a “certain fixation” for Ranadive, according to Jason Jones and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

There had been a growing sense around the NBA that the Kings would pick Timberwolves executive Sachin Gupta to run their front office – Minnesota was preparing to have to replace Gupta, sources tell The Athletic – but the final selection of McNair was driven by Ranadive.

McNair’s first interview with Sacramento took place over video conference, with Ranadive and consultant Mike Forde running the meeting. The second interview occurred in person on Monday, with Joe Dumars and Ranadive’s son Aneel taking part in that session, according to The Athletic. Aneel Ranadive, a member of the Kings’ executive board, was “very involved in the process,” Jones and Amick report.

Although McNair ultimately beat out fellow finalists Gupta and Wes Wilcox, both Gupta and Wilcox made strong impressions on the franchise too. One source described Wilcox as a “sharp interview,” per The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Kings in the wake of their major front office hire:

  • Former general manager Vlade Divac believed the Kings were on the verge of becoming a playoff team, but that sentiment wasn’t shared by everyone around the league, say Jones and Amick. As such, it’s possible McNair won’t hesitate to break up the core of a roster that hasn’t yet produced a winning season.
  • According to The Athletic, Divac had been expected to offer De’Aaron Fox a maximum-salary rookie scale extension, re-sign restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic – even if meant paying $18MM-ish per year – and attempt to retain free agent big man Harry Giles despite previously turning down his team option for 2020/21. It remains to be seen whether McNair will follow a similar playbook in his first offseason with the organization.
  • The Kings have long faced criticism for not having a well-staffed front office, according to Jones and Amick, who say that McNair is expected to make more hires within the basketball operations department. Assistant GM Ken Catanella will also likely remain in his current position.

Kings Hire Monte McNair As Head Of Basketball Operations

SEPTEMBER 17: The Kings have officially announced the hiring of McNair as their new general manager, confirming that he’ll be responsible for basketball decisions and will report directly to team ownership.

“Monte is one of the NBA’s top basketball minds who has played an instrumental role in building several winning teams in Houston,” Ranadive said in a statement. “I am excited to bring his extensive experience and vision onboard to lead our basketball operations department, and it is my pleasure to welcome Monte and his family to Sacramento.”

Meanwhile, the Kings announced in a separate press release that Dumars has been named the club’s chief strategy officer and will “drive strategy” across several areas of the organization, including both business and basketball operations.


SEPTEMBER 16: The Kings are hiring Rockets assistant general manager Monte McNair as their new head of basketball operations, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

McNair has worked for the Rockets under general manager Daryl Morey for over a decade, having originally been hired to the basketball operations department in 2007.

After initially working as an analyst and spending time with the franchise’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, McNair was elevated to a director of basketball operations role in 2013. He became the Rockets’ vice president of basketball operations in 2015 before being promoted to assistant GM in 2018.

Following the dismissal of general manager Vlade Divac, the Kings made Joe Dumars their interim executive vice president of basketball operations, but had been on the lookout for someone to run the front office on a permanent basis.

McNair was one of six candidates identified by Sacramento as the team sought a replacement for Divac. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon, Nuggets GM Calvin Booth, and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon withdrew from consideration, leaving McNair, Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, and former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox as finalists.

While we’ll have to wait for an official statement and more details from the Kings, the expectation is that McNair will have the final say on basketball decisions and will report directly to team owner Vivek Ranadive.

This represents the second consecutive year that Houston has lost a top executive to a rival organization. Gersson Rosas left the Rockets to become the Timberwolves’ head of basketball operations in 2019.