Brian Keefe

Wizards Notes: Winger, Coulibaly, Poole, Coaching Staff

Wizards team president Michael Winger won’t use the word rebuild but he admits the franchise will take meticulous steps to become a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

“We want to build an organization that develops and can support a sustainably great team. We don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” he said. “We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. We want to build the right way. We’ve studied all the teams in the league, historically and currently, that have done it what we would characterize as the right way. And it is a very heavy lift. Hard decisions, a lot of patience, an intense focus on player development, an intense focus on research, and that’s what we are going to do.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • In the same story, Wallace reports that general manager Will Dawkins believes lottery pick Bilal Coulibaly should jump right into the rotation. “Being the third-youngest player in the league, he’s got a competitiveness on the defensive end that I think will allow him to get on the floor right away,” Dawkins said. “The biggest thing with him is not skipping any steps, not rushing him, allowing him to declare who he is as a player and understanding that his prime is five, six, seven years down the line from now.”
  • Jordan Poole will see his offensive role expand with the Wizards after playing mostly at the wing with the Warriors, Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network tweets. “You’ll see him play on the ball more,” Dawkins said.
  • The Wizards have officially announced their assistant coaching staff under Wes Unseld Jr. via a press release. As previously reported, they’ve added Brian Keefe and David Vanterpool as assistant coaches and Sammy Gelfand as assistant coach/analytics. They’ll join returnees Joseph Blair, Mike Miller, Zach Guthrie and James Posey. Landon Tatum will head the player development staff and Daniel Villarreal will serve as Washington’s head video coordinator. Cody Toppert has been named head coach of the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards’ NBA G League affiliate.

Eastern Notes: Harden, Wizards, Keefe, Bucks, Grimes

Daryl Morey‘s asking price for Sixers star James Harden so far has been “exorbitant,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during a Friday appearance on NBA Today (YouTube link). However, according to Wojnarowski, that’s not an uncommon starting point for Morey, who generally exercises patience when dealing with a high-profile trade candidate.

“That’s where Daryl Morey always starts in trade talks, really high,” Wojnarowski said. “And then over time, perhaps, you work him back down.”

Wojnarowski reiterates, as others have reported, that the Sixers seem to be holding out hope that Harden will reconsider his trade request and decide to remain in Philadelphia for the 2023/24 season. However, the former MVP has reportedly maintained his desire to be traded, so if he hasn’t been moved by the time training camps open in September, it may result in an unpleasant situation.

“They may get to training camp and it may look different to Philly,” Wojnarowski said. “They may have a James Harden who’s not as enthusiastic about his return as they are. And then maybe they get more serious about (trading him). But right now, I think the Harden talks – like (the Damian Lillard ones) – are going to linger into the summer.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Brian Keefe, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach in Brooklyn, is joining the Wizards‘ staff under Wes Unseld Jr., sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As our tracker shows, Keefe was among the candidates to interview for Detroit’s head coaching job this spring.
  • In a conversation with Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, general manager Jon Horst discussed several Bucks-related topics, including how the club is navigating the second tax apron, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s health, Bobby Portis‘ role on Team USA, MarJon Beauchamp‘s outlook, and more. Horst said that Antetokounmpo’s knee is “doing great” following a clean-up procedure in June.
  • Following the signing of Donte DiVincenzo, Zach Braziller of The New York Post wonders if Quentin Grimes – who started 66 games and averaged 29.9 MPG last season – will still play a significant role for the Knicks going forward or if he might become more valuable to the team as a trade chip in a deal that would help balance the roster and/or add an impact player.

Nets Coach Jacque Vaughn Won’t Retain Three Assistants

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn is shaking up his coaching staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Igor Kokoskov, Brian Keefe and Tiago Splitter will not be retained. Kokoskov, the former Suns head coach, is the most notable name in that group. He joined the staff last offseason after a stint with the Mavericks.

Keefe was added to the Nets’ staff in the summer of 2021. He was recently under consideration for the Pistons’ head coaching opening. Splitter, a former NBA center, has been on the Nets’ staff since April 2018.

Brooklyn was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by Philadelphia.

Vaughn took over as the Nets’ head coach following Steve Nash‘s dismissal in November and had his interim label removed about a week later. Vaughn inherited Nash’s assistants and will now surround himself with a staff of his choosing.

Vaughn agreed to a multi-year extension in February that is expected to keep him under team control through the 2026/27 season.

The three coaches that Vaughn is letting go will likely land on their feet soon. There are a number of teams undergoing coaching changes, which will open up more assistant jobs around the NBA as the new head coaches assemble their staffs.

Pistons Get Permission To Interview Brian Keefe, Jarron Collins

The Pistons have received permission to interview Nets assistant Brian Keefe in their head coaching search, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Wojnarowski mentioned Keefe as a potential candidate for the job last week.

Keefe has been with five NBA teams since joining the Spurs as a video coordinator in 2006. He worked with Detroit general manager Troy Weaver in Oklahoma City and has spent the last two seasons with Brooklyn.

Detroit was also granted permission by the Pelicans to interview assistant Jarron Collins, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Collins played 11 NBA seasons with the Jazz, Suns, Clippers and Trail Blazers and won three NBA titles as a member of the Warriors’ coaching staff. He came to New Orleans when head coach Willie Green was hired in 2021.

Interviews are expected to begin this week, Charania adds.

The Pistons are casting a wide net in their effort to replace Dwane Casey, who announced plans to transition to the front office after the regular season ended. They have already set up an interview with Kevin Ollie and have received permission to talk with Bucks assistant Charles Lee.

Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and Heat assistant Chris Quinn are also expected to be candidates for the job, and former Celtics coach Ime Udoka and Bulls assistant Josh Longstaff have been mentioned as well.

Central Notes: Pistons, Williams, Holiday, Antetokounmpo

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is expected to talk to two former Thunder assistant coaches he worked with in Oklahoma City — the Bulls’ Josh Longstaff and the Nets’ Brian Keefe — for Detroit’s head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Dwane Casey announced after the Pistons’ season finale that he would be moving to the front office.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee, former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse have already been mentioned as potential targets for the Pistons’ job.

Former Overtime Elite coach Kevin Ollie, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, Pistons assistant Rex Kalamian and former Villanova coach Jay Wright are some other potential candidates that may intrigue Weaver, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic speculates.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls big men Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic did something that has become an increasing rarity in the league. They appeared in all 82 regular season contests. Williams, who was injured most of last season, said he takes pride in being available, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s a blessing to play all 82,” Williams said. “It was something that I definitely wanted to do and something I want to continue to do throughout the course of my career.”
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday achieved all of his regular season bonuses, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. He earned a total of $1.65MM for reaching incentives in minutes played, games played, rebounds and assists, as well as making the All-Star team. He still has a chance make an additional $4.1MM in bonuses, ranging from making the All-Defensive team to postseason team success, Marks adds.
  • While team goals means more to him, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo believes he deserves the Most Valuable Player award, he told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. “Look, I will never try to create a narrative about the work I put in and maybe that might hurt me because I believe the last five years I’ve been the MVP,” he said. “Do I want a third MVP? Hell (bleeping) yeah I want a third one. I am extremely competitive. I try to make my team successful. …. I’m never going to be one who discredits anybody else’s work. That’s not who I am as a person. And I will never beg for an MVP award that I believe I deserve.”

Eastern Notes: Magic, Keefe, Giannis, Embiid, Dinwiddie, Wizards

The Magic intend on targeting veterans once free agency begins this week, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said, as relayed by Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Orlando currently has a roster filled with younger players — including Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter Jr. — making it imperative that the team also has some veterans by the time next season starts.

“Our goal would be to add experience to the roster,” Weltman said. “But it has to come in the right form and fashion. It has to be guys that we feel will help move our team forward, help our young guys navigate the early stages of their careers and can also help us on the court and show what hard work and preparation leads to.”

One veteran who spent time with Orlando the past two seasons, James Ennis, is set to reach the open market, though he recently told Hoops Rumors that his top priority will be finding a winning situation. The Magic finished with just a 21-51 record last season.

Here are some other notes from the East tonight:

  • The Nets are hiring Brian Keefe as an assistant coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Keefe, a veteran NBA assistant, was a finalist for the Thunder’s head coaching job one year ago, Wojnarowski notes. Keefe will replace Mike D’Antoni on Steve Nash‘s staff.
  • Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t need surgery on the knee he hyperextended during the playoffs, according to general manager Jon Horst“He’s fine,” Horst said, as relayed by The Associated Press. “I can’t explain it, but he’s fine.”
  • The Sixers are refusing to address questions about Joel Embiid‘s lingering knee injury, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid sustained the injury in Game 4 of the team’s first-round series against the Wizards, though he still went on to average 28.1 points and 10.5 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game during the postseason.
  • A potential sign-and-trade for Spencer Dinwiddie won’t be easy to figure out for the Wizards, as detailed by Fred Katz of The Athletic. Washington is operating over the salary cap, meaning Dinwiddie could only join the team via a sign-and-trade, and the Nets won’t be eager to take on any significant salary for a player they don’t love. Dinwiddie missed most of last season after suffering a partially torn ACL. He averaged a career-high 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game the season before, however, shooting 41.5% from the field.

Northwest Notes: Favors, Thunder, KAT, Nnaji

Jazz reserve center Derrick Favors didn’t need much convincing around before deciding to return to Utah, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune.

“I just came to the decision: ‘You know what, man? It feels better going back to Utah,’” Favors said in a Wednesday afternoon Zoom conversation. “Utah is like a second home to me — I’ve been there since I was 19, [since] around 2010. It just felt right. So once they came with the opportunity, I jumped on it.” 

Favors inked a three-year, $27MM contract with the Jazz to back up All-Star center Rudy Gobert at the start of free agency. Favors previously spent 8.5 seasons with Utah before being dealt to the Pelicans last season. He averaged 9.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 0.9 BPG in 24.4 MPG during the 2019/20 season.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Besides Maurice Cheeks, who already left for a job with the Bulls, Brian Keefe and Vin Bhavnani are the only Thunder assistants not returning to be part of Mark Daigneault‘s new coaching staff, notes Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman. The Thunder previously announced Daigneault’s group, which will include former Knicks interim coach Mike Miller.
  • The Timberwolves are playing a delicate balancing act, as they strive to keep star center Karl-Anthony Towns happy while taking pains to improve the team’s roster long-term, as Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star Tribune details.
  • New Nuggets rookie forward Zeke Nnaji hopes to become a lockdown defender in Denver, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post reports. “My ultimate goal is to be able to guard one through five consistently,” the 19-year-old out of Arizona said. “I want to be a lockdown defender no matter who I’m guarding. But the biggest thing right now is working on that three through five and just being versatile, no matter what role I’m playing.”

Charania’s Latest: Grant, Mavs, Pelicans, Thunder, Pacers

Denver forward Jerami Grant intends to decline his player option for 2020/21, and he and the Nuggets have “significant mutual interest” in negotiating a new contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. With Grant’s Bird rights in hand, the Nuggets are probably the favorites to sign him this offseason, but they’ll face competition from rival suitors.

A previous report singled out the Pistons, Suns, and Hawks as teams that will have interest in Grant. Charania adds a new club to that list today, writing that the Mavericks are also expected to show interest in the versatile forward.

Dallas likely won’t have much cap flexibility this offseason and is believed to be preserving its 2021 cap room in order to make a run at a star who can complement Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. However, if the Mavericks can acquire that third star in a trade, preserving cap room for next year wouldn’t be necessary. According to Charania, Dallas is willing to absorb larger salaries in order to land a star.

Here are a few more items of interest from Charania:

  • We know that Stan Van Gundy and Tyronn Lue are two of four finalists for the Pelicans‘ head coaching job. Charania says that the two other finalists are expected to interview with the club next week. While the identities of those two candidates is unknown for now, Jason Kidd – who has previously been linked to the position – isn’t part of the process for now, per Charania..
  • Spurs assistant Will Hardy and Thunder assistant Brian Keefe are receiving consideration for Oklahoma City’s head coaching vacancy, sources tell The Athletic.
  • The Pacers are expected to narrow their pool of coaching candidates and will conduct in-person interviews with a few finalists next week, according to Charania. Indiana will zero in on a decision after that, he adds.
  • Charania’s rumors round-up includes several more items, many of which we’ve already turned into full stories. Those include Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being expected to turn down their player options, the Bucks’ possible pursuit of Bogdan Bogdanovic, and the Warriors’ potential interest in Dwight Howard.

Coaching Rumors: Gentry, Vanterpool, Rockets, Pelicans, More

After being dismissed by New Orleans in August, Alvin Gentry hasn’t been linked to any head coaching openings, but he’s reportedly drawing interest from multiple teams for a potential assistant role.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday evening (via Twitter) that Gentry has emerged as a “serious possibility” to join Doc Rivers‘ staff with the Sixers. The two veteran coaches have a pre-existing relationship, as Gentry was the associate head coach under Rivers during his first year with the Clippers in 2013/14.

While Philadelphia is one possibility for Gentry, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) hears that New Orleans’ former head coach is also in the running to become the Kings‘ associate head coach under Luke Walton. Gentry and Walton were previously members of Golden State’s coaching staff during the 2014/15 season.

Here are a few more coaching rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool will be among the candidates interviewing for the Rockets‘ head coaching job, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Vanterpool is also believed to be a candidate for Indiana and Oklahoma City, and was considered by Chicago before the club hired Billy Donovan.
  • Confirming a previous report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that Tyronn Lue has meetings lined up with the Pelicans and Rockets. Lue is also a leading candidate for the Clippers‘ job, and Woj notes that L.A. is expected to begin meeting with candidates soon.
  • The Pelicans‘ head coaching search process is underway, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link), who hears that the plan is to eventually bring in two or three finalists for formal in-person interviews. It’s not clear when those face-to-face meetings will happen though, Lopez adds. A previous report on Lue’s meeting with New Orleans on Friday suggested it would be an “informal” discussion.
  • Some people with the Nets view Oklahoma City assistant Brian Keefe as a good fit for Steve Nash‘s staff in Brooklyn, writes Ian Begley of Keefe was in OKC with Kevin Durant from 2007-15 and returned to the team last year, but isn’t a lock to be back with the Thunder after the club’s head coaching change.

The Latest On Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson‘s surprising departure as coach of the Nets on Saturday may have been instigated by his players, but it was a mutual decision, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Sources tell Lewis that Kyrie Irving bears much of the responsibility for the move, but Atkinson has understood for months that a change might be necessary.

“Kenny and I had these pretty frank conversations. And it wasn’t last night, 24 hours; there wasn’t one game,” general manager Sean Marks said. “This was a culmination of events over the course of the year. Kenny’s brutally honest, and the humility he showed to admit ‘My voice is not what it once was here. It’s time.’ This is a compromise that Kenny and I and ownership came up with; it was time. Kenny grinded and did everything he could, but it was time for another voice in that locker room, and it’s our job to find it.”

Marks and owner Joe Tsai gave Atkinson credit for helping to turn around a franchise that was among the league’s worst when he took over in 2016. He has the Nets on track for their second straight playoff appearance, but what the organization wants in a coach apparently shifted after last summer’s free agency bonanza that brought in Irving and Kevin Durant. Neither of them offered comment on Atkinson’s departure, but the players who did insist that they weren’t involved in the decision.

“I absolutely [had] no ‘Fire Kenny’ conversations with Sean, so I don’t know, not a part of that,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “It’s not like I called Joe on the phone and was like, ‘Hey you making any moves?’ I like to think we’re cool, but not that cool.”

Lewis adds that one of the first actions from interim coach Jacque Vaughn was to talk to Irving and other players about what changes they would like to see.

“It’s a service business. I’m serving these guys. I’m just a vessel,” Vaughn said. “It’s today’s game and being able to adjust to that, getting the most out of talent on your roster, but also listening and hearing the voices of the No. 1, 2, 3, 4 guys on your roster. It’s crucial, and having that relationship is a must in today’s game.”

There’s more fallout from this season’s most surprising coaching change:

  • Irving would like to see the Nets hire Tyronn Lue, his former head coach in Cleveland, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Currently an assistant with the Clippers, Lue took the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals, including two with Irving as his point guard. Irving didn’t like Atkinson’s “rigid” coaching methods and clashed with him almost immediately, sources tell Goodwill. Multiple sources also say Atkinson didn’t mesh with his two new stars and wasn’t looking forward to coaching them next season when both will presumably be healthy. “Oh, it was definitely mutual,” a league source said.
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic talked to sources around the league and compiled a list of candidates to potentially become the Nets’ next head coach. Vaughn’s name is on the list along with some familiar candidates such as Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and former Nets star Jason Kidd. A few possibilities without head coaching experience are Darvin Ham, Ime Udoka, Brian Keefe and Adam Harrington.
  • Atkinson may be the perfect choice to take over the cross-town Knicks, suggests Greg Joyce of The New York Post. New York is trying to rebuild with a collection of unproven young talent, much like Brooklyn was when Atkinson was hired there, and he is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which was run by new Knicks president Leon Rose“It seems like he’s very well respected within players, within the league — players he coached and players he didn’t coach,” said Knicks forward Julius Randle. “I know I respected him.”