Niele Ivey

Southwest Notes: Jackson Jr., Ivey, Rivers, D’Antoni

The Grizzlies will have to defend their playoff position if the NBA can salvage a significant amount of its regular season, but Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t mind as long as he can get back to basketball, writes Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis held a three-and-a-half-game cushion over the Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings for the eighth spot when the hiatus began. The NBA has discussed scenarios that include going straight to the playoffs or fitting in a few more regular-season games.

“I mean, whatever. I’m down just to play, honestly,” Jackson said. “I know there’s talks about if they need games before the playoffs to get us ready for the playoffs, or they just want to hop right into (the postseason). I would be cool with either, honestly. We’re in the playoffs (if the regular season ended today), so I’m biased. I’d rather just run it.”

Jackson, who is among the many players without access to a basketball hoop during the shutdown, also addressed the potential adjustment of playing in empty arenas.

“I think we’ve all, at some point, played AAU or some form of it,” he said. “Whether you were overseas or not, like, you played a certain type of amateur basketball that is kind of like that. So it will definitely remind you of that and bring back memories. I think everybody will be fine, honestly.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies assistant Niele Ivey is the new women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame, the team announced today. She came to Memphis in the offseason after 12 years as an assistant with the Fighting Irish. “In her first year with the Memphis Grizzlies, Niele made a lasting impact on the floor, but even more so off the floor through her relationships with the players, fellow coaches and staff, including the relationship we built coach-to-coach,” said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins.
  • Rockets guard Austin Rivers is likely to opt out of his $2.4MM salary for next season and test free agency, states Danny Leroux of The Athletic, who previews Houston’s offseason along with Kelly Iko. The Rockets hold Early Bird rights on Rivers and can start his new contract at nearly $10MM per season without having to use their mid-level exception.
  • If Houston decides to part with head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is in the final year of his contract, Leroux suggests the Pelicans might be his best destination. Of course, that could only happen if New Orleans decides to fire coach Alvin Gentry. Leroux notes that D’Antoni has connections with Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin from their time together in Phoenix and might bring the best offensive philosophy to help develop Zion Williamson.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Roby, Ivey, Westbrook

Callie Caplan of SportsDay reports that 2018/19 NBA Rookie of the Year, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, is working his tail off this summer to become better conditioned as he becomes a focus night in and night out for Mavs’ opponents during the 2019/20 season.

Per Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, “it’s just a natural progression that every player needs to have going from Year 1 to Year 2, especially someone like Luka that had such a great first year. People are really going to be coming for him in his second year, and the continued work on body and conditioning and developing his game is going to keep moving him in the direction of becoming a really great player.”

Doncic, who is training in his native Slovenia this summer, has not yet returned to Dallas to join his Mavericks teammates, but Carlisle, assistant coach Jamahl Mosley and teammate Dwight Powell all visited him this offseason and liked what they saw. “I know he’s working his butt off this summer,” Carlisle added. “I know he’s very motivated for this (upcoming) season.”

There’s more news from around the Southwest Division this afternoon:

  • Newy Scruggs of NBC5 Dallas-Fort Worth (h/t to SportsDay) suggests that although the $1.5MM first-year salary for rookie Isaiah Roby may seem high, it was not an overpay by the Mavericks because of the lack of guaranteed salary in years three and four. Moreover, at least one source told Scruggs that Roby has Kyle Kuzma-type potential. If so, his contract will be a steal.
  • Niele Ivey, the first female assistant coach in Grizzlies history, believes that outside of being a head coach, a move to the NBA was the next step in her professional career, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. “I was like, ‘you know what? I felt like I’ve worked really hard and I’m at a great point in my career now and — outside of being a head coach — this would be next level for me.'”
  • As we noted yesterday, Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook agreed to alter his payout dates when he was traded from Oklahoma City in order to ease the initial/upfront financial burden on Houston ownership.

Grizzlies Announce New Coaching Staff

After hiring first-time head coach Taylor Jenkins to replace J.B. Bickerstaff in June, the Grizzlies have officially announced Jenkins’ staff, which features a series of new hires.

According to a press release, Niele Ivey, Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Scoonie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko, and Neven Spahija will serve as Jenkins’ assistants for the 2019/20 season. Of the six, only Potapenko was on the team’s staff last season.

Ivey, who has spent the last 12 seasons at Notre Dame, including the last four years as the associate head coach of Fighting Irish’s women’s team, is the first female assistant in Grizzlies history, as David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal notes.

Jones, a veteran of the NBA and G League, most recently served as the head coach of the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBAGL affiliate. The team has named Jason March as its new G League head coach.

McClure spent the last three seasons as a player development coach for the Pacers; Penn comes to Memphis from Ohio State, where he was the director of player development since 2017; Spahija has coached internationally in a handful of countries since the mid-1980s, and was a Hawks assistant from 2014-17, working alongside Jenkins under Mike Budenholzer.

“Their experiences at the collegiate, international, G League and NBA levels will benefit everyone in our organization,” Jenkins said of his new assistants. “Above all else, I am thrilled to work with great people who will help build a competitive, unselfish, development-focused, and positive environment for our players.”