Pablo Prigioni

Wolves Hire Pablo Prigioni As Assistant Coach

Pablo Prigioni will leave the Nets to become an assistant coach with the Timberwolves, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He becomes the second addition to Ryan Saunders‘ staff in two days, joining former Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool, who agreed to join the Wolves yesterday.

Prigioni spent four years as an NBA player, including a brief stop in Houston in 2015 while new Minnesota president Gersson Rosas was an executive there. Prigioni will focus mainly on the Wolves’ offense, according to Wojnarowski.

The 42-year-old was a long-time star in Argentina and Europe become coming to the NBA. After retiring in 2016, he became head coach of Baskonia in Spain and joined Brooklyn’s staff prior as a player development coach to the start of this season.

Nets Notes: Atkinson, Assistants, Free Agency

Kenny Atkinson’s obsessive focus on individual player development led to his contract extension, Michael Scotto of The Athletic reports. ESPN reported on Monday that the Nets head coach would receive an extension, which Scotto confirms. Brooklyn is in playoff contention after winning 20 and 28 games the last two seasons.

“He has done arguably as good of a job as any coach in the league when you look at his improvement each year,” swingman Joe Harris said. “Obviously, I’m again biased just because I’m around him day in and day out and I see his approach and his competitiveness, his toughness, what he’s preached to us has trickled down to each one of the guys. He embodies what we are as an organization. We’re obviously not getting to this point without a leader like that.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Members of Atkinson’s staff received two-year extensions, Scotto tweets. Atkinson’s staff include Bret Brielmaier, Chris Fleming, Jordan Ott, Pablo Prigioni, Jacque Vaughn, Adam Harrington and Travon Bryant.
  • The Nets will be an attractive free agent destination even if their playoff bid comes up short, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Kyrie Irving will give them consideration, a source told Lewis. There’s also a general feeling that free agents respect what Brooklyn has built and the culture around the franchise. “We’ve competed and won enough games this year that they know that all we need is another All-Star, another dynamic player to take the franchise over the top,” forward Ed Davis told Lewis. “I think that’s what those top-tier free agents that’s what goes through their minds. That’s how they think.”
  • Allen Crabbe underwent knee surgery on Thursday, likely ending his disappointing season.

Nets Hire Pablo Prigioni, Tiago Splitter

A pair of former NBA players have joined the Nets’ organization, the team announced today in a press release. Pablo Prigioni has been hired as an assistant coach on Kenny Atkinson‘s staff, while Tiago Splitter had been named a pro scout with additional duties related to on-court player development.

Prigioni, whose hiring was first reported by Brian Lewis of The New York Post, also received interest from the Knicks, with whom he spent two and a half seasons as a player. However, he ultimately chose to join the city’s other NBA team.

The longtime point guard transitioned to coaching after retiring as a player — he was named the head coach of Spanish team Baskonia last summer, but stepped down after just eight games, reportedly due to family issues. In Brooklyn, Prigioni will have an opportunity to work with promising young guards like D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Whitehead, and Caris LeVert.

As for Splitter, he announced his retirement as a player due to health issues earlier this year, and had expressed an interest in coaching in the past. While the former Spurs center won’t technically be a member of Atkinson’s staff in Brooklyn, it sounds like he’ll get the opportunity to work with some Nets players in addition to his scouting duties.

New York Notes: Prigioni, Knicks, Ntilikina, Nets

The Knicks are considering a reunion with old friend Pablo Prigioni, but as a developmental coach rather than as a player, two industry sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post. Prigioni, who played for the Knicks from 2012 to 2015, has retired as a player and was named the coach of Spanish team Baskonia last summer, but had to step down after just eight games due to family issues, a source tells Berman.

Now, Prigioni is back in New York, with a source telling Berman that the former NBA point guard is spending the week with the Nets to learn about Brooklyn’s basketball operation. While it’s unclear whether the Nets are also interested in hiring Prigioni, the 40-year-old is “exploring” whether he wants to become a personnel man, says Berman.

As we wait to see whether Prigioni returns stateside to take a job with one of the NBA’s New York teams, let’s round up a few more notes on those two clubs…

  • New Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is excited to develop alongside rookie Frank Ntilikina, as Berman details for The New York Post. “We’re going to grow together,” Mudiay said. “At least that’s what I know is the plan right now. He’s 19, I’m 21, so we’re both kind of close in age. He speaks French. I speak French. It’s going to be fun, just trying to see how we feel each other out on the court.”
  • Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report outlines why the two trades the Knicks made last week are representative of GM Scott Perry‘s plan for the franchise. Weitzman also cites league sources who say that the Knicks turned away numerous trade proposals for Ntilikina prior to last Thursday’s deadline.
  • The Nets‘ acquisition of Dante Cunningham last week was a move that flew under the radar, but GM Sean Marks says he expects Cunningham to fill a key positional need in Brooklyn. Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com has the story.

And-Ones: Saunders, Gordon, Prigioni

It’s been two years since Timberwolves icon Flip Saunders, then the franchise’s president of basketball operations, passed away from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The man’s impact on the organization is still felt to this day, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

Saunders played a vital role in the club’s recent return to relevance both from a business and personnel perspective. The celebrated executive’s touch can be seen at all levels of the organization from the new practice facility that Saunders helped design to the transactions he made in the wake of David Kahn‘s time at the helm from 2009 to 2013.

Saunders remains the only head coach in franchise history to lead the team to the playoffs, having done so eight times from 1997-2004 during his first run with the franchise. Since 2006, the team has cracked a .400 win percentage only once.

I made a promise to Flip Saunders that we would win and end the playoff drought,” current franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns said on the media day of his rookie season shortly before Saunders passed. “And I intend to keep that promise.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Former NBA player Ben Gordon has run into trouble with the law, Jonathan Bandler of The Journal News writes. The 34-year-old wasn’t ultimately charged following a confrontation between himself and a woman at his business but police were called to the scene and he was hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation.
  • The journey into the business world continues for Kobe Bryant. As Darren Rovell of ESPN writes, Bryant has approached his investments with the same obsessiveness that he did his NBA career.
  • Retired NBA guard Pablo Prigioni is stepping down from his role as the head coach of Liga ACB team Baskonia, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando writes. The team has gotten off to a rocky start and it’s said that Prigioni has lost control of the situation.

Pacific Notes: Wilcox, Reed, Looney, Warriors

Neither Pablo Prigioni nor C.J. Wilcox currently has an NBA contract, with Prigioni transitioning to coaching and Wilcox having agreed to a two-way deal with the Trail Blazers. However, before Wilcox reached an agreement with Portland, it appeared he may reunite with Prigioni, who was his teammate with the Clippers during the 2015/16 season.

As international basketball reporter David Pick details (via Twitter), Prigioni – now the head coach of Baskonia in Spain – had been recruiting his former Clippers teammate in the hopes of signing him to a $500K contract. Wilcox will earn less than that on his new two-way deal, so remaining stateside and getting the opportunity to see a little NBA action was likely a key factor in his decision.

Here’s more on the Clips and their Pacific rivals:

  • New Clippers center Willie Reed was charged on Sunday with misdemeanor domestic battery, but his wife has issued a statement through her attorney saying she doesn’t want to press charges against her husband, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “This incident has been totally blown out of proportion. I did not call the police and I did not ask anyone to call the police on my behalf. Willie is a good man and a great father. I have no intention of pressing charges and I have asked the authorities to immediately dismiss all charges against Willie,” Jasmine Reed said in her statement. Willie Reed’s arraignment is currently scheduled for September 8.
  • In a piece for The Athletic, Danny Leroux examines the Warriors‘ options for their 15th man, exploring whether the club should simply keep Kevon Looney or go in another direction with that final roster spot.
  • The Warriors earned the No. 1 spot on David Aldridge’s list of offseason rankings, as he details in a piece for NBA.com. Aldridge’s list is based on each team’s summer roster moves, rather than its overall roster strength, so the Kings and Lakers rank in his top 10 as well.

And-Ones: Russell, Fultz, Chriss

Eleven-time NBA champion Bill Russell will be honored with the NBA’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award, an Associated Press report states. The Hall of Fame center will be presented with the award during the NBA’s award show on June 26.

With five NBA MVPs to his name, the Celtics Hall of Famer is a living legend with an endless resume of historic achievements. Not only has Russell remained a visible representative of the Boston franchise and league in general’s sustained success, he lays claim to the title of being the first player to win an NBA title, an NCAA crown and an Olympic gold medal.

Per the Associated Press, Russell was also the first African American to coach a team in one of the major professional sports leagues.

Across 13 NBA seasons as a player, Russell averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

There’s more from around the NBA:

Knicks Part Ways With Assistant Coach Josh Longstaff

Despite the fact that the Knicks’ relationship with Kristaps Porzingis is already tenuous, the organization chose not to renew the contract of an assistant coach that he’s particularly close with, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

The second-year big man had bonded with Josh Longstaff through his first two years in the league, the pair even training overseas together last summer.

The Knicks didn’t specify why they decided to part ways with the 34-year-old player development specialist, one of several holdovers from Derek Fisher‘s coaching staff prior to the 2016/17 campaign, but the decision is curious. Per Bondy, the Knicks are said to be moving forward with a heavy focus on the triangle all throughout the organization.

Knicks fans have already seen their front office clash with the 7’2″ budding star this offseason. Porzingis ditched his exit meeting with the team last month to head back to his native Latvia. Just this week, team president Phil Jackson and Porzingis’ brother supposedly connected to discuss the apparently strained relationship but the sit down isn’t said to have been very effective.

All told, the move is the latest questionable one out of a front office that has spent the better part of the past year denigrating Carmelo Anthony, though a top-down effort to more seriously implement the triangle may put things in perspective.

Rumored to be a candidate to fill the vacancy is former Knick Pablo Prigioni. The 40-year-old played in Europe this season but served with the Knicks for three seasons ending in 2014/15.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Fultz, Prigioni

According to Nets guard Jeremy Lin, a total of five of his former teammates across stints with the Knicks, Rockets and Hornets asked him if Brooklyn would be willing to make a trade for them, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes.

Kalbrosky breaks down a Nets Daily report based on a translation of an interview that Lin gave to Chinese website JD.com.

The combined appeal of the Nets’ willingness to play together, the culture unfolding in Brooklyn and the presence of head coach Kenny Atkinson makes the franchise an intriguing one as the free agency period approaches.

The Nets are projected to have approximately $26MM of cap space this summer to fortify their roster and, yes, several of Lin’s former teammates will be available, including Patrick Patterson, Donatas Motiejunas, Thomas Robinson, Aaron Brooks and Omri Casspi.

There’s more out out of the Atlantic Division:

  • It didn’t take long for Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas to reach out to Markelle Fultz, the expected No. 1 draft pick that could suit up in green next season, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes. The two players currently play the same position but Thomas thinks the pair could thrive together.
  • Managing owner of the Sixers, Josh Harris, is confident in the direction of the franchise, even after this week’s lottery results that didn’t exactly work out in their favor, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “We now are stacked for the future,” Harris said. “We have a young team already. So that leaves some slots for some vets to put around our young guys and teach them about what it’s like to be in the NBA.”
  • The Knicks are said to be interested in hiring former point guard Pablo Prigioni as an assistant coach, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays.
  • The Knicks will hope that Malik Monk is available to the at the No. 8 spot in next summer’s NBA Draft, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. College basketball analyst Wally Szczerbiak sees him as a good fit as a playmaker in Phil Jackson‘s triangle offense.

And-Ones: Seattle, Summer League, Ledo, Prigioni

Ray Allen has been in the news lately for his beef with his former Celtics teammates, stemming from his move to the Heat. Before he played for either of those clubs though, Allen was a four-time All-Star for the Seattle SuperSonics. The longtime marksman was at his best during his time in Seattle, averaging 24.6 PPG in 296 regular season contests, and he still has a fondness for his old home. As Alysha Tsuji of USA Today details, Allen suggested in a recent Instagram post that he wants to see the NBA back in the city.

“I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle!!” Allen wrote on an Instagram post that featured the hashtag #bringbackoursonics. “This city is too great not to have a hoops squad. Come on everybody we need to rally and bring the NBA back to Seattle. let’s make this happen people!!! The NBA misses traveling to Seattle, I know I certainly do!!!!!”

As we wait to see if Allen follows Russell Wilson‘s lead and officially joins a group trying to bring the NBA back to Seattle, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • The NBA officially announced today that a record 24 teams will compete in the Las Vegas Summer League from July 7-17 this summer. While multiple Summer Leagues take place in July, the event in Vegas continues to be the most popular.
  • As David Pick reports (via Twitter), Spanish team Baskonia made a roster move involving a former NBA player earlier this week, signing Ricky Ledo, a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft. According to Pick (via Twitter), the move to add Ledo was made because Baskonia feared that former NBA sharpshooter Chase Budinger would miss the rest of the season with an injury.
  • Pick has another update on Baskonia, tweeting that the Spanish club is considering the possibility of hiring Pablo Prigioni as its future head coach. Although he played four seasons in the NBA, Priginoi spent most of his career in the Euroleague, spending a long stint with Baskonia in the 2000s. He recently retired as a player, and it appears coaching may be the next step for him.