Nico Harrison

Southwest Notes: Harrison, Doncic, Pelicans, Green, Kidd

Newly-hired Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison hopes to make Dallas a compelling free-agent destination, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. The goal, Harrison said, is to instill a culture that players want to be a part of.

“My approach is really simple,” he explained. “It’s going to be about servant leadership that kind of empowers the team and the staff to be at their best.”

Harrison understands that leadership must start at the top of an organization. Dallas lost longtime president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle this offseason, replacing them with Harrison and new coach Jason Kidd.

The team finished with a 42-30 record this season and has an All-NBA superstar in Luka Doncic, a 22-year-old wunderkind that could aid in Harrison’s mission to entice players and build a culture.

There’s more from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News examined the Mavericks‘ plan for Doncic next season. “It’s tough to nitpick an All-NBA player,” Harrison said. “The best thing you can do is surround him by a Hall of Fame coach (Kidd) who played his position and let those two vibe off each other. I think that’s going to help him tremendously.” Doncic averaged 27.7 points, eight rebounds and 8.6 assists per game this season.
  • Christian Clark, Rod Walker and Scott Kushner of The Times-Picayune grade the Pelicans‘ hire of Willie Green as head coach. Green, a former NBA player, will finish the season as an assistant coach with the Suns before reporting for New Orleans.
  • Jason Kidd has been in discussions with former Mavericks players Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea about joining his coaching staff, according to All three players hold several years of playing experience and were on the team’s 2011 championship roster with Kidd.

Stein’s Latest: Paul, Holiday, Leonard, Harrison

The Bucks considered a trade for Chris Paul last offseason before deciding to make a run at Jrue Holiday, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. Milwaukee wanted to add a veteran guard who could fill a leadership role after a disappointing playoff loss to the Heat, and Paul was an obvious name to consider.

The Bucks opted for a younger alternative in Holiday, who has helped them reach the NBA Finals for the first time in 50 years. Stein believes the addition of Holiday helped convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to commit to the franchise with a five-year, $228MM contract extension.

Holiday finds himself matched up in the Finals against Paul, whom the Thunder promised to trade to a contender last fall as they began rebuilding. Paul wanted to be closer to his son in Los Angeles, so the Bucks would have been at a disadvantage if he’d been their preferred choice.

Stein offers more news from around the league:

  • There were rumors that Paul might be interested in opting out of his $44.2MM salary for next season and leaving Phoenix this summer, but that seems less likely after the Finals run. No matter what he decides on the option, Stein expects Paul to be back with the Suns next season, noting that he fits perfectly alongside Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and coach Monty Williams. Booker said recently that the team’s 8-0 record after the restart motivated management to pursue Paul.
  • Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has a $36MM option decision to make, and the ACL surgery he had this week will likely influence his thinking. League sources expect him to remain in L.A., according to Stein, but several teams will be interested if he hits the open market. Stein states that the Mavericks are willing to sign Leonard even if the ACL prevents him from playing next season.
  • New Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison said he has received offers from other teams in the past, but he chose to remain with Nike until the opportunity with Dallas arose. League sources tell Stein that the Spurs and Lakers are among the franchises that have shown interest in Harrison.

Mavericks Notes: Kokoskov, St. Jean, Front Office, Porzingis

The Mavericks are working on adding former Suns head coach and current Fenerbahce coach Igor Kokoskov to Jason Kidd‘s staff as an assistant, according to multiple reports. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) first reported that Dallas was targeting Kokoskov, while Marc Stein (Twitter link) said there’s “tangible optimism” the Mavs will be able to hire him.

As Stein explains (via Twitter), Kokoskov is technically still under contract with Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague, so the Mavs and the Turkish club would have to come to some sort of agreement releasing him from that deal.

In addition to coaching the Suns for one season (2018/19), Kokoskov has worked as an assistant for seven other NBA teams. He and Kidd never overlapped at any of those spots, but Kokoskov does have one noteworthy connection to the current Mavs — he was the head coach of the Slovenian team that won gold in the 2017 EuroBasket tournament, led by Luka Doncic.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The Mavericks are also expected to hire Greg St. Jean to their coaching staff, Stein reports (via Twitter). As Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group observes (via Twitter), St. Jean has been a player development coach and advance scout for the Lakers for the last two years and is tight with Kidd.
  • At a Mavs’ press conference on Thursday, Nico Harrison was introduced as both the team’s general manager and president of basketball operations, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News notes (via Twitter). However, team owner Mark Cuban said he’ll still be the one making the final call on basketball decisions, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. I always do because it’s a lot of money,” Cuban said.
  • Cuban declined to say whether Haralabos Voulgaris is still with the Mavs, according to Caplan (Twitter link). A report last month indicated Voulgaris had gained an outsized influence within the team’s front office but wasn’t yet under contract beyond 2020/21.
  • While there has been speculation that the Mavs may explore trading Kristaps Porzingis this offseason, the team gave no indications on Thursday that such a move is in the cards. Kidd raved about Porzingis’ fit in Dallas and said he expects to see “a different KP” going forward, while Cuban said the big man has been “unfairly maligned” (Twitter links via Caplan).

Mavs Hire Jason Kidd As Coach, Nico Harrison As GM

JUNE 28, 3:38pm: The Mavericks have issued a pair of press releases officially announcing Kidd as the team’s new head coach and Harrison as the new general manager.

JUNE 25, 12:29pm: The Mavericks have agreed to terms on contracts with Kidd and Harrison, reports MacMahon (Twitter link). Kidd will be Dallas’ new head coach, while Harrison will be the general manager and run the team’s basketball operations department.

Kidd will sign a four-year deal, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

JUNE 25, 5:53am: The Mavericks are in the process of finalizing a deal with Lakers assistant Jason Kidd that will make him the new head coach in Dallas, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon.

Sources tell ESPN that Kidd has begun the “early stages” of assembling a coaching staff in preparation for taking the Mavs’ job.

Reports on Thursday indicated that Kidd had emerged as the frontrunner for the Mavs’ coaching vacancy and had begun contract negotiations with the team as it also prepared to fill an opening in its front office.

Longtime Nike executive Nico Harrison, who has strong connections with players throughout the NBA – including Luka Doncic – as a result of his two decades at Nike, is expected to be a hired to a top basketball operations position and the hope is that current VP of basketball operations Michael Finley will remain with the team and work alongside him, per Wojnarowski and MacMahon. The plan is for the duo to take over responsibilities previously held by Donnie Nelson, who left the Mavs earlier this month.

Even before officially joining the franchise, Harrison – who is also close to Kidd – has had in-depth conversations with team owner Mark Cuban about head coaching candidates, according to ESPN. While assistant coach Jamahl Mosley and others were considered, those discussions led to Cuban and Harrison identifying Kidd as their top target. Finley and special advisor Dirk Nowitzki have also lobbied for their former teammate.

Kidd has two stints as a head coach under his belt, having led the Nets for a single season in 2013/14, then the Bucks from 2014-18. He had a combined regular season record of 183-190 (.491) during his four-and-a-half years as a head coach in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, with a playoff mark of 9-15 (.375), including a lone series win in 2014.

As a player, Kidd was a member of the Mavericks from 1994-96 and again from 2008-12, helping lead the organization to a championship in 2011. Rick Carlisle, who coached Kidd during the point guard’s second stint in Dallas, gave him an unsolicited endorsement for the job on Thursday, telling MacMahon that he believed it would be a great situation for both Kidd and Doncic.

Kidd’s exit from the Mavs in free agency in 2012 was a little messy – he changed his mind and went to New York after originally planning to re-sign in Dallas – his relationship with Cuban and the team has since been smoothed over, Woj and MacMahon say.

Assuming there are no last-minute snags in negotiations between Kidd and the Mavericks, Dallas will become the third team to hire a new head coach this offseason, joining the Pacers (Carlisle) and the Celtics (Ime Udoka). Searches are ongoing for the Magic, Pelicans, Trail Blazers, and Wizards. Those teams will have to remove Kidd from their list of candidates if he was under consideration — we know he at least interviewed with Orlando.

Kidd Emerges As Top Candidate For Mavs’ Coaching Job

7:45pm: The Mavs have had discussions with longtime Nike executive Nico Harrison about joining the front office, MacMahon tweets. Harrison has been pursued for front office jobs by other teams, MacMahon adds. He would work in tandem with current front office exec Michael Finley.

6:35pm: The Mavericks have begun contract negotiations with Kidd, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

6:00pm: Jason Kidd has emerged as the strong frontrunner for the Mavericks’ head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweet. Dallas is also close to hiring a new president of basketball operations, Woj adds.

The New York Times reported earlier in the day Kidd was a prime candidate to replace longtime coach Rick Carlisle.

The Mavs are expected to name a replacement for former president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson before hiring a head coach. Owner Mark Cuban and his unnamed choice to replace Nelson have held in-depth discussions about the coaching job and Kidd’s candidacy is supported by Dirk Nowitzki and others advising Cuban, MacMahon tweets. Nowitzki was recently named a special advisor to Cuban.

Kidd received an endorsement on Thursday from Carlisle, who coached Kidd from 2008-12. Carlisle, who was named the Pacers’ head coach on Thursday, believes there are many similarities between Kidd during his playing days and current star Luka Doncic.

Kidd interviewed for the Magic head coaching job after pulling himself out of the running for the Trail Blazers’ job.

Kidd’s record as a head coach — one season with the Nets and three-plus seasons with the Bucks — is 183-190. He was fired by Milwaukee midway through the 2017/18 campaign. He’s been one of the Lakers’ top assistants under Frank Vogel the last two seasons.