Brian Keefe

Wizards Announce Brian Keefe’s New Coaching Staff

While Brian Keefe isn’t technically among this offseason’s new head coaches – he took over Washington’s job midway through the 2023/24 campaign when Wes Unseld Jr. transitioned to a front office role – the Wizards have revamped his coaching staff heading into Keefe’s first full season at the helm.

According to a press release from the team, veteran assistant David Vanterpool is the only member of last season’s staff who is returning for 2024/25. The new additions, some of whom were previously reported, are as follows:

  • Adam Caporn, a former G League head coach for the Long Island Nets who spent the past three seasons as an assistant in Brooklyn.
  • J.J. Outlaw, an assistant coach with the Cavaliers for the past five seasons who also had stints with the Lakers and Grizzlies.
  • Brian Randle, who spent last season as a Pistons assistant and previously worked for the Suns (as an assistant) and Timberwolves (as a player development coach).
  • T.J. Sorrentine, a longtime assistant coach at Brown University.
  • Alexis Ajinca, a seven-year NBA veteran who also played professionally in France and transitioned into coaching in 2023 as an assistant for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League affiliate.

Joseph Blair, James Posey, and Mike Miller (the former Knicks coach, not the former Heat champion) are among the notable assistants who were let go by the Wizards when the club cleaned house back in April.

Southeast Notes: KCP, Fultz, Okeke, Ware, Highsmith, McGowens, Wizards

The Magic‘s promising future played an important role in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s decision to join the team in free agency, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Caldwell-Pope won titles with the Nuggets in 2023 and the Lakers in 2020, and he likes his chances to pick up a third ring in Orlando.

“I’m always chasing the championship,” Caldwell-Pope said. “… Seeing their progress, they just made it to the playoffs, taking Cleveland to a Game 7. That was enough for me. They got a little bit of a taste of that pressure and what it takes to make it past the first round. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

Caldwell-Pope will become a veteran leader on a team that has amassed an impressive collection of young talent over the last few drafts. He’s looking forward to playing alongside Paolo Banchero, who became an All-Star in his second NBA season.

“His knowledge of the game,” Caldwell-Pope responded when asked what stands out about Banchero. “Him being patient in certain situations, making plays for his teammates to get his teammates involved. Being so much of a little bit of a leader that I’ve seen from him.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic renounced their free agent rights to Markelle Fultz and Chuma Okeke to clear up cap room for other moves, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Both players are still eligible to sign new contracts with Orlando.
  • The Heat want rookie center Kel’el Ware to gain weight before the start of the season, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). The first-round pick weighed in at 230 pounds when he arrived at Summer League camp, and he said the team would prefer him to be between 240 and 245.
  • Free agent forward Haywood Highsmith still has interest in returning to the Heat, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The Sixers were considered a potential landing spot for Highsmith, Chiang adds, but that seems less likely after Philadelphia signed Caleb Martin.
  • Bryce McGowens, who was waived earlier today, will continue to be part of the Hornets‘ Summer League team, tweets Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer.
  • Brown University assistant coach T.J. Sorrentine was thrilled to get the chance to join Brian Keefe‘s staff with the Wizards, relays Bill Koch of The Providence Journal. “My family was happy. I was in a great spot,” Sorrentine said. “But going through a day with coach Keefe and meeting with people, I left here and I called my wife (Emily) and I was like, ‘Man, it’s going to be really hard to come back to college.’  This was a unique opportunity. That’s when I knew it was time to go. I was ready. I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity.” Adam Caporn, director of development with the Nets’ coaching staff, has also accepted a job with Washington, according to NetsDaily (Twitter link). Caporn’s hiring had been anticipated.

Southeast Notes: Keefe, Gafford, Micic, Hornets, Pullin

After getting the interim tag removed, Wizards head coach Brian Keefe is focused on continuing to build relationships within the organization, according to the Washington Post’s Ava Wallace.

“This is a relationship business,” he said. “And when you develop these relationships, then you can really dig into the stuff that we need to improve on.”

The Wizards went just 8-31 after Keefe was named interim coach, but they were impressed by his forward-thinking approach.

“We’re always going to be looking for what’s best for our group now, but also what’s best for our group going forward,” Keefe said, per The Associated Press. “One of the things I think is, how can we best use our players? And that might not be right now. That might pay off in two years from now.”

Keefe faces a different set of challenges than coaches hired by contenders, Josh Robbins of The Athletic opines. Robbins notes that it won’t easy to convince his players to play with unselfishness on offense and with effort on defense when many of those players will attempt to stand out in order to earn more lucrative contracts. It will also be tough for him to keep veteran players positive as the losses accumulate.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • After being stuck on the going-nowhere Wizards, Daniel Gafford felt a huge sense of relief when he was traded to the Mavericks, he told David Aldridge of The Athletic. “It’s more like, with me, in all honestly, I felt, just, it was a lot of weight that was just lifted off of me,” Gafford said. “Because I felt it was a situation that was going to be better for me, of course. But I hated to leave a team where I’d built a lot of relationships with. It was a good atmosphere, always, when I was in D.C. … one door closed and another door opened for me.”
  • Vasilije Micic embraced the challenge of an expanded role with the Hornets in his first NBA season after getting traded by the Thunder. Micic, the former EuroLeague star, is entering the second year of a three-year contract. “It was good for me,” he told HoopsHype’s Cyro Asseo de Choch. “I was very happy to get the chance, and to be honest, since I came there, I came up with an idea to face all the challenges that I could potentially face even though I was 29, even though I settled myself so well in Europe. I just wanted that challenge, and so far, it’s going OK.
  • A more harmonious franchise structure from top to bottom and better player development are some of the keys to turning around the Hornets, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer opines.
  • University of Florida guard Zyon Pullin is working out for the Heat today and the Magic on Saturday. Currently ranked No. 90 on ESPN’s Best Available list, Pullin hopes to elevate his stock to second-round consideration, he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Definitely hope to go probably second round,” Pullin said. “Ultimately, I could see myself going somewhere in that ballpark. I’m pretty confident. I know my capabilities. I’m very realistic. I don’t like to live in a fictional world. Whatever that is at the end of the day, I’m confident that it’s just another stepping stone.”

Southeast Notes: Keefe, Suggs, Adebayo, Hornets’ Draft

Brian Keefe proved to be the right head coach for the Wizards after being named to the position on an interim basis when the team fired Wes Unseld Jr. in January, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The organization hired Keefe as its permanent coach on Wednesday in a move that was highly expected and welcomed by Wizards players.

The final decision was made after talking with four to six candidates, who participated in the process even though Keefe was viewed as a clear favorite for the job, sources tell Robbins. Team officials wouldn’t confirm who they interviewed, but as we noted in our head coaching search tracker, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, Rockets assistant Royal Ivey, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney were rumored to have received consideration.

The front office believes the Wizards showed improvement after Keefe took over, even though they were only 8-31. Robbins notes that the team displayed more discipline and resilience under Keefe, adding that the record isn’t an accurate measure because starting center Daniel Gafford was traded in February and point guard Tyus Jones was sidelined with an injury for the final month of the season. Keefe’s most impactful move was taking Jordan Poole out of the starting lineup and replacing him with rookie Bilal Coulibaly.

Keefe will begin working with general manager Will Dawkins to hire a coaching staff, Robbins adds. Most of the staff was fired after the end of the season, with assistant David Vanterpool as the only holdover.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Avoiding a major injury helped Magic guard Jalen Suggs make a breakthrough in his third NBA season, observes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Suggs was limited to 48 and 53 games his first two years, but he played 75 games this season and earned second-team All-Defensive honors as Orlando reached the playoffs. “This year was so much fun,” Suggs said. “I missed playing for something at the end of the year. I missed playing meaningful basketball games where it’s not just a set point to end the year. Now, it’s in your control, in your hands. We all learned a lot. It was good for us to go through this and carry this into the rest of our careers.”
  • A maximum extension for Bam Adebayo this summer seems like a foregone conclusion, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel, unless the Heat center opts to postpone negotiations for a year to see if he can qualify for a super-max deal by earning Defensive Player of the Year honors or making an All-NBA team.
  • In his Hornets-themed mock draft, Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer has the team selecting Connecticut guard Stephon Castle at No. 6 and Weber State small forward Dillon Jones at No. 42.

Wizards Name Brian Keefe Head Coach

The Wizards have hired former interim coach Brian Keefe as the franchise’s permanent head coach, according to a team release (Twitter link). Keefe was formerly named interim head coach in January after the Wizards moved Wes Unseld Jr. from his coaching position to a front office role.

We are excited for Brian to become our next head coach. Brian is a proven motivator and connector of people,” Wizards general manager Will Dawkins said in the team’s press release. “As a leader in the organization, he will continue to positively grow and invest into the development of our players. His wealth of experience will help move our team forward as we build for long-term sustained success.

Keefe joined the Wizards ahead of the 2023/24 season as an assistant coach. He also served the same role with Oklahoma City/Seattle (2007-15 and 2019/20), New York (2015/16), Los Angeles (2016-19) and Brooklyn (2021-23). He has earned a reputation as a good player development coach through his time in the league and inherits a roster with promising young players like Deni Avdija and Bilal Coulibaly.

I am grateful to [team president] Michael [Winger] and Will for the opportunity to lead the Washington Wizards,” Keefe said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with our players and helping them grow and develop. As a team, we are committed to a collaborative approach to build an environment of accountability and hard work that allows us to improve every day.

When Keefe took over as interim coach, Washington improved immediately on the defensive side of the ball and got marginally better results in the win-loss column, posting an 8-31 (.205) mark under Keefe after going 7-36 (.163) under Unseld. Holders of the No. 2 overall pick in the class, the Wizards look poised to build on their young core while continuing their defensive strength from the second half of the season.

Now that Washington has named a head coach, that leaves the Lakers and Cavaliers as the only teams yet to fill their head coaching positions for the ’24/25 season, barring any unforeseen changes.

Scotto’s Latest: Wizards, DeRozan, Hunter, Jazz, Magic, Thunder, More

After using a lottery pick last year to add Bilal Coulibaly, the Wizards may draft another Frenchman early in the 2024 event, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that the team expects to choose between big man Alexandre Sarr and forward Zaccharie Risacher.

Those prospects sit atop most 2024 big boards and mock drafts, so Washington may not actually get to “choose between” the two, given that one of them will likely be selected at No. 1. Still, Scotto’s report suggests the front office would be happy to add either Sarr or Risacher to its young core.

The Wizards’ long-term goal is to build its roster through the draft, Scotto writes, which is one reason why Brian Keefe – who has a reputation for being a strong player development coach – is considered the “heavy favorite” to be promoted from interim to permanent head coach in D.C.

According to Scotto, Washington would also like to retain free agent point guard Tyus Jones, who started 66 games in 2023/24 and could provide a stabilizing veteran presence for the Wizards youngsters. However, the expectation is that the Wizards will face competition for Jones if and when he reaches the open market.

Here are several more items of interest from Scotto’s latest aggregate mock draft at HoopsHype:

  • If the Clippers end up losing Paul George, they’re a team to watch as a potential sign-and-trade destination for Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan, Scotto reports. A team must remain below the first tax apron if it acquires a player via sign-and-trade — that would be a more viable option for Los Angeles with George’s maximum-salary contract off the books.
  • Rival executives anticipate that Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who has been mentioned in trade rumors in the past, will become available again this offseason, Scotto writes. Hunter, who set new career highs in 2023/24 with 15.6 points per game and a .385 3PT%, is owed approximately $70MM over the next three seasons.
  • The Jazz are expected to be open to trading their picks in this year’s draft, including No. 10 overall, and some people around the league believe team owner Ryan Smith is ready to add more high-level talent to the roster, Scotto writes, adding that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has “aggressively monitored” the trade market.
  • The Magic will focus on adding shooting in the draft and free agency, according to Scotto, who notes that rival executives are keeping an eye on the Thunder as a team that could be active in the free agent market for centers. Orlando ranked dead-last in the NBA this season in three-pointers made (11.0 per game), while Oklahoma City placed 28th in rebounding rate (48.4%).
  • The Raptors will likely exercise their $23MM team option on swingman Bruce Brown, league sources tell HoopsHype. A previous report from The Toronto Star suggested the team was a good bet to pick up that option with an eye toward trading Brown.
  • Former Weber State wing Dillon Jones has pre-draft workouts lined up with the Pacers, Hornets, Bucks, Celtics, Raptors, and Spurs, per Scotto.

Stein’s Latest: Hawks, Paul, Spurs, Lakers, Cavs, Keefe

The Hawks won the draft lottery a couple weeks ago, jumping all the way up from No. 10 in the pre-lottery order to No. 1.

Atlanta is “increasingly expected” to select either Alexandre Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher with the top overall pick, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Substack link).

Both French prospects turned 19 years old last month, but they took different professional pathways in 2023/24. Big man Sarr played for the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League, while 3-and-D forward Risacher has been playing for JL Bourg in France’s top basketball league, LNB Élite (previously known as LNB Pro A).

Risacher is No. 1 on ESPN’s best available list, while Sarr is No. 2.

It may not occur before the draft gets underway on June 26, but Stein continues to hear the Hawks are interested in adding a “seasoned personnel executive” to their front office, which is led by GM Landry Fields.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest article:

  • Warriors point guard Chris Paul‘s $30MM salary for 2024/25 is non-guaranteed. Sources tell Stein Golden State is currently weighing its options on what to do with Paul. One choice would be pushing back his June 28 early salary guarantee date into July, but that would require Paul’s consent, which isn’t a given. If both sides agree, that would give the Warriors more time to explore trades, Stein adds.
  • If Paul hits the open market as a free agent, the Spurs and Lakers “keep coming up as potential suitors” for the future Hall-of-Famer, Stein reports. As Stein writes, Paul is close with Lakers superstar LeBron James and his family lives in Los Angeles, so there are obvious connections to the team and area.
  • Could the Lakers‘ slow-moving head coaching search be accelerated by the Cavaliers‘ recent firing of J.B. Bickerstaff? Stein explores that question, writing that L.A. may face some competition for candidates like Kenny Atkinson and James Borrego, as previously reported. Celtics assistant Sam Cassell, one of the “initial leading targets” in L.A.’s search, is another name to watch for the Cavs, according to Stein.
  • Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe is viewed as the frontrunner to land the full-time job in Washington, per Stein. That echoes previous reporting from The Athletic.

Brian Keefe Top Candidate For Wizards’ Coaching Job?

The Wizards are expected to start interviewing candidates for their head coaching vacancy within the next few days, a team source told Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Brian Keefe, who finished out the 2023/24 season as interim head coach, is viewed by sources from three rival teams as the top candidate for the job, they told Robbins.

Robbins’ sources also speculated that the Wizards might be eyeing Heat assistant Chris Quinn, Rockets assistant Royal Ivey, and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney as potential candidates.

Washington’s coaching search has been very quiet since the regular season concluded. Multiple staff members were reportedly let go three weeks ago, but the Wizards retained Keefe and assistant coach David Vanterpool.

Multiple reports have stated Keefe will be in the running for the permanent job despite compiling a 8-31 record in his 39 games. He has a “strong player-development background,” Robbins writes, and players were very supportive of Keefe when the season ended. Jordan Poole, for instance, performed much better after Keefe decided to bring him off the bench to be a primary ball-handler and play-maker, Robbins notes.

I can really only just really speak on the stuff that B.K. has brought since he’s been here, and I think he’s been really good for our young team: the detail-orientedness that he brings, the structure that he brings,” Poole said after the regular season ended. “He loves the game, and that’s something that goes a really long way, especially at the highest level. And he’s willing and very genuine and authentic about putting our team (and) putting guys in positions to be successful and play to their strengths and really unlocking them because he cares about them as individuals. He’s done a really good job.”

Wizards Overhauling Staff, But Keefe, Vanterpool Remain

The Wizards fired “a number of staff members” yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN report (via Twitter).

However, that group did not include interim head coach Brian Keefe or assistant coach David Vanterpool, who remain with the organization.

According to ESPN’s duo, Washington’s front office is set to begin its “formal search” for a new head coach, with Keefe in consideration for the full-time position.

It wasn’t explicitly stated, but we’re assuming the report was referring to members of the team’s coaching staff, since Keefe and Vanterpool were singled out as coaches who were retained, at least for now. Several of Washington’s assistant coaches can be found right here.

The coaching staff had a mix of new and returning assistants entering the 2023/24 season. Former head coach Wes Unseld Jr. was moved to an advisory position in late January, which is when Keefe took over as interim coach. Instead of completely shaking things up mid-season, the Wizards decided to wait until their season ended to make additional changes.

Washington is reportedly looking for a “development-minded” head coach with a search officially underway. In the first season of their rebuild, the Wizards compiled the second-worst record in the NBA (15-67); that’s also the worst mark in franchise history.

Keefe was a longtime NBA assistant before becoming the interim coach, having made previous stops with the Thunder, Knicks, Lakers and the Nets. Wizards went 8-31 under Keefe in ’23/24.

A Maryland native whose lone NBA season as a player came with Washington, Vanterpool is another experienced assistant who has received head coaching consideration in the past. He has previously worked for Portland, Minnesota and Brooklyn.

Wizards Notes: Jones, Offseason, Coaching Search, Coulibaly

Most veteran free agents on rebuilding teams would prefer to play for a contender. Wizards guard Tyus Jones would rather stay put, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

Jones got a long-awaited opportunity to start for Washington after an offseason trade from Memphis. He started in all 66 games he played, averaging 12.0 points and 7.3 assists per contest.

“From the day I was traded, obviously, knowing that I’m on an expiring deal, just being in the league, anyone who pays attention to the NBA, you know what that can mean sometimes. But without saying what that means, that was never the plan from the front office with me,” Jones said. “They’ve said from the beginning: ‘We want you here. The plan is for you to be here long term, and when we get to that bridge, we’ll cross it.'”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • It will be a busy spring and summer in D.C., Wallace notes in her offseason outlook. The franchise is searching for a head coach, and while they only have two free agents, the Wizards will be evaluating their young roster and looking for ways to accumulate more assets.
  • Speaking of the coaching vacancy, The Athletic’s Josh Robbins reports that the front office plans to spend the next week or so mapping out and refining their search process before they begin the interviewing process. Interim coach Brian Keefe will receive consideration for the permanent position, per Robbins. The front office will focus on candidates who relate well to players and have a player-development focus.
  • Even though he didn’t post eye-popping stats, Bilal Coulibaly had a solid rookie season, Robbins writes in a separate story. Coulibaly played in 63 games until he suffered a season-ending fracture in his right wrist on March 16. Coulibaly showed a willingness to keep the ball moving rather than taking low percentage shots. “If you look back on young wings and young bigs getting on the floor, getting the minutes, getting the experience in Years 1 and 2, through our research, is the most important thing,” Washington general manager Will Dawkins said. “And he was able to get those consistently this year, which is very valuable for his future and predicted success.”