Chris Fleming

Central Notes: Mitchell, Allen, LeVert, Bulls, Sheppard, Beverley

With the season on the line, the Cavaliers have plenty of question marks heading into Game 5 at Boston on Wednesday. Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert are all listed as questionable with their team down 3-1 in the series, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps tweets.

Mitchell missed Game 4 due to a calf strain. Allen hasn’t played in the series due to a rib injury, while LeVert is dealing with a bone bruise in his knee. LeVert, who reportedly aggravated his knee issue on Monday, scored 19 points in 39 minutes while starting in place of Mitchell.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls are looking for more than draft help at the combine this week. Coach Billy Donovan is seeking a lead assistant with head coaching experience, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports. They’re looking for a replacement for Chris Fleming, who was not retained after the season. The Bulls also have another vacancy to fill since Josh Longstaff is leaving to join Charles Lee‘s staff in Charlotte.
  • Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard could be the best option for the Pistons at the No. 5 pick, according to Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press. Sheppard would provide much needed scoring punch alongside franchise player Cade Cunningham. He made 52.1% of his 3-point attempts during his lone college season.
  • On his podcast (video link), veteran guard Patrick Beverley said his preference would be to re-sign with the Bucks. Whether Milwaukee will pursue Beverley, who will turn 36 this summer, is a big question mark. His season ended in controversy, as he fired a basketball multiple times at Indiana spectators and received a four-game suspension that he’ll serve next season. Beverley will be an unrestricted free agent.

Changes Coming To Billy Donovan’s Bulls Staff

Veteran Bulls assistant coach Chris Fleming won’t return next season as part of Billy Donovan‘s staff, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that assistant Maurice Cheeks also won’t be back in a full-time role on the bench.

Confirming Charania’s reporting, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago says that Cheeks is expected to have a position elsewhere in the organization. That decision was solely Cheeks’, Johnson adds.

In other Bulls coaching news, second-row assistant John Bryant is expected to move to the front of the bench for the 2024/25 season, according to Johnson, who notes that Josh Longstaff will be in the mix to become Donovan’s new lead assistant. Longstaff isn’t the only candidate receiving consideration for that role, however, per Johnson.

Fleming, formerly an assistant in Denver and Brooklyn, was the lone assistant on the Bulls’ staff who held that role prior to Donovan’s arrival in 2020. Fleming joined the team in 2019 after stints in Denver (2015-16) and Brooklyn (2016-19).

Cheeks was hired by the Bulls along with Donovan in 2020. The former All-Star guard has had head coaching stints with the Trail Blazers, Sixers, and Pistons and worked for several years as an assistant in Oklahoma City.

Jazz Notes: Bulls’ Scuffle, Collins, Hendricks, Dunn

The Jazz’s 119-117 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday included a scuffle in the closing seconds, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic reports.

With Utah down one and nine seconds left, Collin Sexton fouled DeMar DeRozan next to the Bulls’ bench. Sexton and injured Bulls forward Torrey Craig exchanged words, leading to an escalation. Bulls assistant coach Chris Fleming shoved Utah big man John Collins, who reached for Fleming’s neck before they were separated.

“I ran over. I’m standing there. And the coach comes over and just shoves me for no reason,” Collins said. “Y’all can go watch the film. And I just protected myself. I’m literally just standing there, and the dude puts a forearm in my chest and is pushing me back. So I don’t know. He needs some more self-control. But it’s whatever. I don’t know what to say about that. That was weird.”

A technical foul was called on Craig, while Collins and Fleming were handed double technicals. DeRozan’s free throws proved to be decisive but Bulls coach Billy Donovan was upset with his team and staff.

“We’ve got to be able to do a better job than that all the way around,” he said. “And I’m not just saying the players. On the bench. Everybody. We’ve got to be better in those moments.”

We have more Jazz news:

  • Rookie forward Taylor Hendricks will be reevaluated next week after injuring his left big toe, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News tweets. Hendricks, whose playing time has expanded since the trade deadline, was injured during the second quarter of the Jazz’s game against Washington on Monday. An MRI confirmed a ligament sprain to the toe.
  • Kris Dunn has revived his career with the Jazz after stints in the G League during the 2021/22 and ’22/23 seasons. The 2016 lottery pick never lost faith that he’d return to the NBA, he told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I always knew I was going to get back,” he said. “The main thing with me was the health part. I had to get my body back and then my shooting. I had to clean those two things up.” Dunn will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
  • In case you missed it, Isaiah Thomas has joined the Jazz’s G League, the Salt Lake City Stars, with the aim of getting another NBA contract.

Central Notes: LeVert, Cavaliers, Bulls, Pacers, Westbrook

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert hopes to sign a contract extension and remain with the team long-term, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. LeVert, who was acquired by Cleveland in February, averaged 13.6 points on 43.5% shooting in his 19 games with his new club.

“Yeah, this is where I want to be. They know that,” LeVert said. “The front office knows that, my teammates know that. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen with that contract extension, but I know where my heart is.”

LeVert, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, is set to earn $18.8MM next season in the final year of his current deal, and will be extension-eligible this summer. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 20.2 points with Brooklyn and Indiana in 2020/21, shooting 44% from the floor and 33% from three-point range.

There’s more from the Central Division today:

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Fleming, White, Ball, Caruso

With buzzer-beating shots on Friday and Saturday to pull out a pair of thrilling road wins, DeMar DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to accomplish that feat on back-to-back nights. He has done something even more valuable, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, changing the culture of the Bulls, who now have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s an honor to be trusted in the fourth quarter,” DeRozan said. “Whether things are going or going bad, my teammates always lean on me to be that calm presence to kind of bring us home. I always bring that calm presence as much as I can in the fourth quarter, letting guys understand as long we got time, we got a chance.”

The addition of DeRozan during the offseason was a huge step in transforming a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017. He began talking to Zach LaVine about teaming up during free agency, Johnson adds, and their partnership grew during preseason workouts in Los Angeles and Chicago.

“The chemistry came really, really fast and really easy,” LaVine said. “We don’t have any egos. Regardless of who has it going that night or who has it going in a quarter, we’ll both come together and look for other guys and get them involved throughout the game and just try to figure out how to win the game. That’s been the first and foremost thing that has helped this team.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Chris Fleming has guided the Bulls to five straight victories while head coach Billy Donovan is in health and safety protocols, but he won’t mind going back to being an assistant when Donovan is ready to return (video link from NBC Sports). “Very fortunate enough to be able to experience this from a head coaching standpoint, and see the guys from maybe a little bit different side,” Fleming said after Saturday’s game.
  • Coby White has turned in his best performances of the season with Lonzo Ball in protocols and Alex Caruso sidelined with a sprained foot, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. White is averaging 18.5 points, 5.3 assists and 1.5 steals over the past four games.
  • There’s a good chance that Ball and Caruso will return for Monday’s game with the Magic, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. He adds that the Bulls are getting close to having a full team available after being hit hard by COVID-19 over the past month.

Latest On Wizards’ Head Coaching Search

1:10pm: Bulls assistant Chris Fleming has also interviewed for the Wizards’ head coaching position, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

12:28pm: The Wizards are continuing through their first round of head coaching interviews this week, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears that the team could move onto the next stage of the process by the end of the week.

An earlier report indicated that Washington’s search for Scott Brooks‘ replacement will be “lengthy and thorough.” Only a handful of candidates have been reported so far, but Scotto adds a couple more names to that list.

According to Scotto, Hornets assistant Ronald Nored and Heat assistant Chris Quinn are receiving consideration from the Wizards and were in the mix for the team’s first round of interviews.

Nored, who played for Butler from 2008-12 and coached the Long Island Nets from 2016-18, is also drawing interest from the Pacers as a possible assistant on Rick Carlisle‘s staff, Scotto adds. Quinn, meanwhile, has been a member of Erik Spoelstra‘s staff in Miami since 2014 and reportedly interviewed for Indiana’s head coaching job in 2020.

Nored and Quinn join a group of candidates that includes Wes Unseld Jr., Scott Morrison, Jamahl Mosley, and Sam Cassell. As we relayed earlier today, Cassell interviewed with the Wizards on Tuesday.

Bulls Name Coaching Staff Under Billy Donovan

The Bulls have added assistant coaches Maurice Cheeks, Josh Longstaff, John Bryant, Damian Cotter and Billy Schmidt to serve under recently hired head coach Billy Donovan, the team announced Saturday.

Chicago has also brought on Henry Domercant, Ronnie Burrell, Ty Abbott and Max Rothschild as player development coordinators.

Cheeks is the biggest name of the bunch to join the Bulls’ staff. The former 15-year NBA veteran most recently served under Donovan for five seasons with the Thunder in his second stint with the organization. A native of Chicago, Cheeks not only gets to reunite with Donovan after working closely for half of the past decade but he gets to return home.

In addition to a stellar playing career, the four-time All-Star brings a wealth of coaching experience as he was the head coach for the Blazers (2001-05), Sixers (2005-08) and Pistons (2013-14). In addition to his first Thunder tenure, Cheeks has also been an assistant coach with the Sixers.

Longstaff, 38, joins the Bulls after spending the previous two campaigns under Mike Budenholzer with the Bucks. The Maine native brings a strong coaching resume in his own right, which includes assistant coaching stops with the Thunder and Knicks. Longstaff also has G League head coaching experience with the Erie Bayhawks from 2017-18.

As for Bryant, Cotter and Schmidt, they bring varying degrees of experience of coaching within basketball. Bryant joins the Bulls after spending four years with the Sixers, two of those in an assistant coach capacity. Cotter has been an assistant coach in the G League with several organizations and Schmidt has most notably served as Thunder as a director of quality control the past five seasons.

Chris Fleming is the lone holdover from last year’s staff who remains with the club in an assistant coaching capacity.

Bulls’ Donovan Overhauling Coaching Staff

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has informed multiple assistant coaches still under contract with the team that they won’t be part of his staff for the 2020/21 season, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, and Nate Loenser won’t be returning to to the club after working on Jim Boylen‘s staff last season, Johnson reports. Karen Stack Umlauf has also been let go, per an official announcement from the Bulls.

“I appreciate the time that I was able to spend with Dean, Nate, Roy and Karen. I really want to thank all of them for their service and commitment to the Chicago Bulls,” Donovan said in a statement. “This is the tough side to our business, and I wish all of them the best moving forward.”

Rogers had only completed one season on his three-year deal and Loenser had his team option for 2020/21 exercised in the spring, but Bulls ownership continues to give the team’s new decision-makers the green light to make changes even if they’ll cost the organization some money, per Johnson.

It’s possible the Bulls will make additional changes to their coaching staff, but for now it sounds as if Chris Fleming is sticking around. Fleming worked with new Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas in Denver during the 2015/16 season, and Johnson has previously reported that there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

It remains to be seen who will join Donovan’s revamped staff in Chicago, but Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times speculates that Maurice Cheeks could be a candidate. Cheeks is a Chicago native and has been an assistant under Donovan for the last five years in Oklahoma City.

Bulls Begin Interviewing Head Coaching Candidates

The Bulls‘ search for a new head coach is underway, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team has received permission to speak to a number of candidates and has begun conducting interviews.

Several candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been previously reported as potential targets for Chicago. That group includes former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, and Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool.

In addition to those candidates, Wojnarowski reports that the Bulls have also been granted permission to talk to Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley and Heat assistant Dan Craig.

Finally, current Bulls assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers – holdovers from Jim Boylen‘s staff who remain under contract – may receive consideration for the top job, according to Wojnarowski. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago indicates that Fleming could have a role on the new staff if he isn’t promoted, since he has previously worked with Bulls executive VP Arturas Karnisovas in Denver and there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

Following Boylen’s dismissal, Karnisovas suggested that Chicago is seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator.” The Bulls, who appear to be conducting a wide-ranging search, could be competing with the Pacers, Sixers, Nets, and Pelicans for certain candidates, since all of those clubs are also in the market for new head coaches.

While Karnisovas has said there’s no set timeline for finalizing a new hire, it will be interesting to see whether Chicago tries to have a new head coach in place for its organized offseason team activities, which are scheduled to take place from September 14 to October 6.

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Silas, Vanterpool, Assistants

More than five months after he last coached a game for the Bulls, Jim Boylen was relieved of his duties on Friday morning, with the team announcing it will launch a formal search to identify and hire a new permanent head coach.

A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter links) that Boylen displayed some behavior that was considered “detrimental to the organization” during his tenure with the team, including a verbal run-in with a team chef.

While Cowley’s report suggests those incidents may have played a part in the Bulls’ decision to move on from its head coach, head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a conference call today that “it was strictly a basketball decision” to fire Boylen, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) adds another name to the list of potential candidates for the Bulls’ head coaching job, reporting that Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas is expected to receive consideration. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool is also a name to watch, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). We’re keeping tabs on all the rumored candidates right here.
  • According to Karnisovas, the Bulls will be seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator,” tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. The Bulls exec added that there’s no set timeline to finalize a hire.
  • The Bulls’ assistant coaches are expected to remain in place for now and can continue working with individual players at the team facility, notes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As Woj points out, top assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers are under contract beyond this season.