Phil Jackson

More On Clippers-Doc Rivers Breakup

The Clippers’ decision to part ways with Doc Rivers could be the riskiest coaching change in NBA history, Kevin Pelton of ESPN opines. The team is rolling the dice with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George potentially opting out and becoming unrestricted free agents after next season. L.A.’s collapse against the Nuggets can be attributed to poor shooting, Pelton adds, as the Clippers took higher percentage shots than the Nuggets but made substantially fewer of them.

We have more on Rivers and the Clippers:

  • The Clippers’ front office concluded that issues that had cropped up during the season surfaced under the stress of the playoffs, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. That led to the assessment that Rivers had to be held accountable for the team’s collapse.
  • By severing ties with Rivers, the Clippers indeed are blaming him for their playoff flop, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated opines. Could Phil Jackson be the answer? Jackson is 75 but he’s had time to recharge his batteries and this wouldn’t be a long-term job anyway, Mannix notes.
  • Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are reportedly two of the former head coaches the Clippers will consider. Dan Loumena of the Los Angeles Times speculates that the Clippers might also consider assistant coach Sam Cassell, Chauncey Billups, Mark Jackson, Stan Van GundyMike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Kenny Atkinson, Alvin Gentry, Jason Kidd and Becky Hammon.
  • Lue is the 3-2 favorite to get the job, according to Bet Online, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. Van Gundy is the second choice at 3-1 with Billups surprisingly listed as the third choice at 4-1.
  • Add the Rockets to the list of teams interested in Rivers, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Pelicans and 76ers have already made contact.

New York Notes: Team Options, P. Jackson, Russell, Dinwiddie

ESPN’s Bobby Marks predicts all 29 players with options will exercise them this offseason, potentially creating a favorable situation for the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Huge losses in revenue are expected, even if the season can completed, and a reduction in the salary cap and luxury tax threshold could benefit New York, which holds several team options that it will likely decline.

“If I was the Knicks I would want the cap and tax to crash,’’ Marks said. “It would give them a huge advantage. They can collect the tax money and also have flexibility while few do.’’

The Knicks have a $15MM team option on Bobby Portis and would owe $1MM each to Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock and Taj Gibson if they are let go. Marks also notes that New York will be in a group of four teams that will have enough cap room to take advantage if players sign for less than their normal market value.

There’s more from New York City:

  • Phil Jackson was warned not to take the job as Knicks president by writer Charley Rosen, his biographer and longtime friend, Berman adds in a separate story. Rosen was concerned that Jackson would tarnish his legacy by going into a “crazy” atmosphere and believes the failure to find the right coach doomed any chance of success. Rosen also states that Carmelo Anthony could have been a huge star under the triangle offense, but refused to embrace the system. “Carmelo undercut him, telling (Kristaps) Porzingis not to say anything in public about how good the triangle was,’’ Rosen said. “Carmelo refused to run the triangle — which is why Phil re-signed him: There was a lot of pressure from (owner James) Dolan. But if Carmelo would’ve run the triangle, he’d be open on the weakside. … He’d be a killer. He’d be Michael Jordan. He’d be unstoppable. But Melo was catch and shoot and didn’t want to do other things.’’
  • Even though former Nets guard D’Angelo Russell refuses to credit coach Kenny Atkinson with helping him become an All-Star, D-Lo’s time in Brooklyn was positive for both him and the team, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “Brooklyn was a place that he needed as well as Brooklyn needed him,” said his older brother, Antonio Russell Jr. “They were able to mold each other and build each other up.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is willing to let fans choose his next team, but only if they meet a Bitcoin goal of $24,632,630 on GoFundMe, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. “Shoe companies and endorsers influence team decisions all the time,” Dinwiddie said in explaining the semi-serious offer. “My/our biggest endorsers will always be the fans, so I want to have some fun with this while we’re all under quarantine. I hope no owners/team personnel participate so there’s no impropriety on this one-of-a-kind endorsement deal.”

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, Creek, Diaw, P. Jackson

The Ball brothers – Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball, and LiAngelo Ball – intend to sign with Roc Nation Sports for representation, LaMelo’s manager Jermaine Jackson tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Lonzo had previously been represented by CAA, but parted ways with the agency earlier this year. Now, he appears set to make the move to Roc Nation along with his two younger brothers, including LaMelo, who is one of the top prospects in the 2020 draft.

“This was a family decision,” Jackson told ESPN. “… We talked to several agents, but the family had good vibes with Roc Nation. I’ve known Jay-Z since I played for the Knicks, but this is what the kids wanted to do. Jay-Z is a master at what he does. He’s global. It’s power beyond power.”

While Jay-Z launched Roc Nation Sports in 2013, he obviously won’t be the one handling basketball matters for the Ball brothers. Veteran agent Raymond Brothers will be the Balls’ lead agent at Roc Nation, according to Givony.

Here are more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • Australian forward Mitch Creek, who spent this past season in Australia after appearing in five games for the Nets and Timberwolves in 2018/19, was in “advanced talks” with a Western Conference team this winter, says Shayne Hope of The Australian Associated Press. However, as Hope explains, a knee injury and the coronavirus pandemic ultimately derailed Creek’s plans to return stateside.
  • Former NBA forward Boris Diaw has stepped down from his position as president of French team Metropolitans 92, the club announced in a press release (French link; hat tip to Sportando). The team suggested in its announcement that difficulties arose this season in the way the club operated and Diaw’s relationship to certain members of the executive board.
  • Following episodes three and four of The Last Dance on Sunday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne explores how former Bulls head coach Phil Jackson continues to have an impact on today’s NBA head coaches, despite the fact that Jackson hasn’t coached in the NBA since 2011.

Atlantic Notes: Claxton, Porzingis, Ennis, Sixers

Spencer Dinwiddie, speaking after the debut of Nets rookie center Nicolas Claxton on Friday night in a 119-115 victory against Portland, called the 20 year-old the team’s second-most talented player. Claxton, drafted 31st by Brooklyn this summer, scored eight points on three-of-five shooting from the field and pulled down six boards in just 12 minutes of action.

“So, I still believe [starting center Jarrett Allen] is going to be an All-Star, but Nic is the second-most talented player on this team,” Dinwiddie said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “[First] is [Kevin Durant], either the first or second most talented scorer of all-time. But Nic’s got game. He’s got a chance [to be great].”

Those comments reflect just how high Dinwiddie is on the rookie, considering he apparently has him ahead of Kyrie Irving on his informal list of Brooklyn’s most talented players. Irving, the Nets’ only healthy current All-Star, is averaging 31.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game for the 4-4 squad.

Meanwhile, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson lauded Claxton’s defensive awareness: “Just understanding the coverages,” Atkinson noted. “I think one time in the first half we were switching everything and he handled that fantastically. That was part of the reason we drafted him, that he was versatile and could guard five positions, so he proved that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • As Kristaps Porzingis prepared to suit up last week against the team that drafted him in 2015, The Athletic’s Frank Isola explored the Knicks front office’s alienation of the team’s former franchise player. Trouble began to brew when Porzingis blew off an April 2017 season exit interview with then-team president Phil Jackson and then-GM (now team president) Steve Mills. When pressed about the messy breakup Thursday, Porzingis said, “I’ll probably get in more trouble if I start talking about that stuff.” Isola observes that the Knicks’ returns in the deal have yet to bear much fruit: center DeAndre Jordan joined Brooklyn over the summer, point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was booed in the team’s first home game, and the Knicks have yet to use their two Dallas future first-rounders acquired in the deal.
  • It’s been a season of streaks for the Sixers. After starting out 5-0, the 76ers have lost three straight games on a Western Conference road trip, falling to the fifth seed in the East. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer posits that the Sixers’ current troubles can be credited to their summer roster overhaul, and that they have too many new faces for continuity at present. New power forward Al Horford and long-term starting center Joel Embiid are still developing their on-court chemistry. When questioned about the team’s recent struggles, Horford observed, “What’s going to help us is the more games we continue to play, the more we get used to playing with one another, everything is going to come together.”
  • Veteran point guard Tyler Ennis made his triumphant return to a basketball game for the Raptors‘ G League affiliate, Raptors 905, 13 months after suffering a gruesome leg injury for Turkish team Fenerbahce. Doug Smith of The Toronto Star has the story and the details on Ennis, who feels that the time off had some unexpected developmental benefits. “I had six, seven, eight months of nothing, so I was able to think, ‘When I get back this is what I want to work on,’ ” Ennis said. “I want to be able to shoot better off the dribble and that’s how we kind of did it, in stages.” Though Smith observes that the parent Raptors could use a third point guard and liked Ennis as far back as the 2014 draft, Ennis is nursing a zen calm about the prospect of a callup: “I kind of just want to let it manifest.”  

Derrick Rose Says Phil Jackson Ruined His Knicks Experience

Derrick Rose blames former Knicks president Phil Jackson and his insistence on running the triangle for messing up his time in New York, relays Marc Berman of the New York Post. The paper published a segment from Rose’s new book, “I’ll Show You” in which he is highly critical of the way the organization was run during his lone season there in 2016/17.

Rose explains that he was excited for a fresh start after being traded to the Knicks in the summer of 2016. He thought teaming up with Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah gave the team a chance to be successful, but he quickly realized it was a bad situation.

“I played through it, 60-some games, but I could tell right away it wasn’t the season I was expecting,” Rose wrote. “Lot of different priorities. Melo’s there. You know how he plays. Can’t change that. That’s what I realized being there. And he’s a great dude; I loved being around Melo. He ain’t gonna rub you the wrong way. Great dude, great spirit, great person, great teammate. … I liked Phil, but, come on, man, you’re still running the triangle? He was still forcing them to run it. I’m a slasher, a driving point guard. The triangle is okay, but not for the personnel we had. Melo couldn’t play that way, didn’t want to.”

Rose adds that coach Jeff Hornacek seemed to understand that an up-tempo style was a better fit for his personnel, but he was reluctant to challenge the front office because he was new to the job and had just been fired by the Suns. He believes Hornacek got tired of having meetings about the style of play, so he just accepted what Jackson wanted.

Rose also addresses the incident in January of 2017 when he failed to show up for a game and didn’t notify anyone from the organization. He explains that he was considering retirement and needed to go home to talk to his family.

“I had decided I was done playing,” Rose wrote. “I saw the same thing that was happening with the Bulls was going on with New York. I could tell that the season wasn’t going to be the season everyone thought, that I thought. I didn’t know if I wanted to hoop anymore. Especially when it started to feel like a business. Of course, you know it’s a business. They always say that. But you know it’s also hoopin’. But it had started to feel like all business, no joy. That’s when I wanted out. I wasn’t having fun.”

Rose admits that he handled the situation poorly and it probably cost him the trust of the organization. New York drafted point guard Frank Ntilikina after the season, and Rose headed to Cleveland in free agency.

“I loved New York,” Rose concluded. “We were losing but I felt I was playing great. I felt like they still could have built something — or attempted to. They got rid of me but I definitely wanted to stay there. It was a new way of basketball life for me, to not be sure where I was going to play next. I knew I’d be playing, so I just focused on working out, keep up with rehab, get in shape, and have to show you again.”

Lakers Hire Frank Vogel As Head Coach

MAY 13, 7:47pm: The Lakers have officially signed Vogel to a multiyear contract, according to a team press release.

“We are excited to add Frank Vogel as the next head coach of the Lakers,” Pelinka said in a statement. “Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA Playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities we were looking for in a head coach – including, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work, and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards.”

MAY 11, 6:13pm: Vogel has accepted a three-year deal to be the Lakers’ next coach, Wojnarowski tweets. Kidd has agreed to join his staff in a “prominent assistant coaching role” (Twitter link).

Vogel probably won’t have a top assistant, with the entire staff being considered equal, Woj adds. A team source called it “the Phil Jackson model,” another indication that Jackson and Rambis had a hand in Vogel’s hiring.

4:14pm: Frank Vogel has become “a front-runner” in the Lakers’ coaching search after interviewing with the team on Thursday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Sources say the team plans to hire Jason Kidd as an assistant to work with Vogel.

GM Rob Pelinka has been talking to people who have experience with Vogel and Kidd to determine if they can comfortably fit together on the same staff, the authors add. The Lakers admire how Kidd developed young talent in Milwaukee and view him as a mentor for Lonzo Ball.

Vogel, 45, was previously a head coach with the Magic and Pacers, compiling a 304-291 record with five playoff appearances. He has been out of coaching since being fired in Orlando at the end of last season.

Vogel’s interview included “detailed discussions” on how he would handle a volatile situation in Los Angeles. The Lakers underachieved in LeBron James‘ first year in L.A., then saw team president Magic Johnson resign on the final day of the season, followed by a chaotic coaching search with assumed favorite Tyronn Lue turning down an offer this week.

[Related: 2019 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

The move toward Vogel underscores the influence of adviser Kurt Rambis and former coach Phil Jackson, according to Wojnarowski and Youngmisuk, who note that Vogel was the second choice when Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek to coach the Knicks three years ago.

Mike Woodson and Lionel Hollins were also rumored to be in the running for the Lakers’ job after negotiations with Lue ended. Their status is unclear in light of the latest news on Vogel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Vogel, Kidd, Front Office

The Lakers are in position to dictate the terms of an Anthony Davis trade and should make an offer with a firm deadline, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. L.A. made a strong push for Davis before the February deadline, reportedly offering several packages of young players and draft picks for the Pelicans star, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer.

Marks believes getting past the constraints of the regular season could work in the Lakers’ favor as they no longer have to take on an unwanted contract such as Solomon Hill‘s to complete a deal. He suggests offering Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, this year’s lottery pick plus an unprotected first-rounder in 2021 and giving New Orleans a June 30 deadline to complete the deal so it will be resolved before free agency.

Under that proposal, L.A. would use some of its cap space to absorb Davis’ salary, eliminating the opportunity to offer a max deal on the free agent market, but the Lakers would get their second star and still have enough left over to chase second-tier free agents.

There’s more this morning from Los Angeles:

  • If the Lakers can’t land Davis or sign an elite free agent, Marks recommends following the Pacers’ approach and improving the roster through two-year contracts. He identifies T.J. McConnell, Danny Green, Bojan Bogdanovic and Dewayne Dedmon as players who might be willing to take a portion of the available $35.6MM on short-term deals.
  • Because he had to take on Jason Kidd as an assistant, new Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is walking into a situation similar to what LeBron James‘ former coach, David Blatt, faced in Cleveland, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Blatt wasn’t able to earn respect from James, who bonded with former player Tyronn Lue, his top assistant, setting the stage for a coaching change a year later. James and Kidd already have a strong relationship, Windhorst notes, that began when they won Olympic gold medals together in 2008.
  • The Lakers’ awkward coaching search exposes the danger of having too many people trying to run the organization, writes Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. Kurt Rambis is expanding his power as an adviser, and his wife Linda has become a “shadow owner” because of her friendship with Jeanie Buss. Ex-coach Phil Jackson is also contributing ideas, while former team president Magic Johnson has reconciled with Buss and is offering advice as well.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Burke, Jackson, Trier

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina suffered a strained tendon in his left ankle Friday night that could lead to a prolonged absence, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. X-rays were negative, but Ntilikina was in a walking boot after the game. Berman adds that an MRI is being considered to determine the full extent of the damage.

The injury occurred in the first quarter on a steal by the Lakers’ Josh Hart. Ntilikina explained that his foot “rolled” as he was stepping backward and trying to protect the ball.

“I’m trying to be positive and get that ankle to be OK real quick,” he said. “We’re going to see day-to-day. Thankfully the X-rays of the bones were OK. Now we’re going to see and do the best to get back on the court real quick.’’

While Ntilikina is sidelined, Trey Burke is expected to return to the rotation as the backup point guard. He had barely played since returning from a sprained knee eight games ago, but scored 16 points in 19 minutes against L.A.

There’s more today from New York:

  • The crowd at the Staples Center last night included Knicks owner James Dolan, who doesn’t usually accompany his team on the road, Berman notes in a separate story. Dolan was seated next to entertainment executive Irving Azoff, who encouraged him to hire Phil Jackson as team president five years ago. “He came in [the locker room] and gave everybody ‘dab’ like the coaching staff would do after a game,’’ Tim Hardaway Jr. said of Dolan. “He brought it in with us. He was just happy how we competed on both ends of the floor and said, ‘get the next one.’”
  • Jackson has stayed out of the spotlight since being dismissed in 2017, and former Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis explained why in a radio interview, Berman relays in another piece. Rambis said Jackson, who is serving as a special adviser for the Lakers, is having trouble moving after knee and hip replacements. Jackson remains on the Knicks’ payroll through March, and sources tell Berman he plans to speak out about his experience in New York once his connections are completely severed.
  • The Knicks hold a team option on Allonzo Trier for next season and must exercise it by June 20, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Trier started the season on a two-way contract before agreeing to a two-year deal last month. He will make $3.55MM next season if the Knicks keep him on the roster.

James Dolan Won’t Rule Out Possibility Of Selling Knicks

While there are no indications that Knicks owner James Dolan plans to sell the franchise anytime soon, he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility during a recent discussion with Ian O’Connor of ESPN.com. Noting that his family has no interest in selling the Knicks, Dolan told O’Connor that he has a responsibility to his shareholders to keep that option open in case the right offer comes along.

“You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks,” Dolan said. “Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote.

“As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either,” Dolan continued. “As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.”

When Forbes released its NBA franchise valuations early in 2018, the Knicks were once again viewed as the league’s most valuable team, with an estimated value of $3.6 billion. In his discussion with O’Connor, Dolan acknowledged that there have been some “feelers” of offers that would far exceed that number. However, those feelers never led to any concrete offers for the franchise.

“You hear numbers all the time,” Dolan told O’Connor. “… I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it’s like a stock price. It’s only important if you’re going to buy or sell.”

Dolan also addressed a handful of other topics during his wide-ranging conversation with O’Connor, so the piece is worth checking out in full for Knicks fans.

Here are some of the other notable comments from the Knicks’ owner:

On Phil Jackson’s unsuccessful stint as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations:

“I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got ‘yessed’ a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”

On Jeff Van Gundy telling ESPN that he had interest in the Knicks’ head coaching job this past spring:

“I never heard that. He wanted the job? Look, I’ll do whatever’s necessary to help the team. If [GM] Scott [Perry] and [president of basketball operations] Steve [Mills] said Jeff’s the right guy, fine, but it was really their call. I didn’t meet anybody else other than [David Fizdale]. They said, ‘Look, he’s our pick, I want you to meet him.’ So I did. I wasn’t involved in the selection process at all.”

On whether he has any regrets about having Charles Oakley ejected from Madison Square Garden during a 2017 game:

“He was out of control. Anybody else who went even half the way that he went would have been ejected from the venue. It just got too bad. He had to be taken out.”

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Knicks, Brown, Crabbe

The Sixers need to make some hard decisions this offseason on where top pick Markelle Fultz fits into their future plans, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues. Now that they’ve established themselves as a playoff team, they have to decide how to get as deep as possible in future seasons with Fultz playing a bigger role. If Fultz isn’t a playoff-caliber two-guard by this time next year, the dream of a championship season could be dashed, Murphy continues. Ideally. Fultz will soon establish himself as a legitimate third option but they have guard against the possibility it never happens, Murphy adds.

In other news and musings around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry have taken a much more thorough, well-thought-out approach to their coaching search, unlike predecessor Phil Jackson, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The amount of candidates interviewed has reached double digits and the duo has traveled across the country and over the Atlantic Ocean in order to find the right fit, Berman continues. They don’t pretend to know everything and that’s a stark contrast to Jackson, who stopped listening and learning, according to Berman.
  • Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown vows to play Game 2 of the series against the Sixers on Thursday, as he told A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports. Brown, who was a game-time decision in the opener, is nursing a right hamstring injury. “I’ll be back. I’m playing,” he told Blakely, though he added, “I’m basically trying to come back in two days from a two-week type injury.”
  • Nets guard Allen Crabbe promises to improve his efficiency and production in his second season with the club, according to BrooklynNets.com. Crabbe averaged a career-best 13.2 PPG and set the team record for most 3-pointers made, but his long-range percentage dropped from 44.4% to 37.8%. “I didn’t have the consistent season I wanted to have,” Crabbe said. “But I got one year under my belt [in Brooklyn] and I know where I can be effective on this team and what I can bring – what I can do. Just go into off-season and come back a completely different player.”