Dave Wohl

Pacific Notes: Knight, Clippers, Lakers

As expected, Suns guard Brandon Knight will miss the entirety of the 2017/18 NBA season. The 25-year-old underwent successful ACL surgery on Friday, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops writes, after initially tearing the ligament last month.

While Knight’s name has been a mainstay in trade rumors over the course of the past few seasons, he remains a relatively valuable reserve asset. Last year Knight posted 11.0 points per game, shy of the 15.2 point career mark he’s posted across stints with the Pistons, Bucks and Suns.

Per Amico, the Suns could look to apply for an injury exception in order to free up room for a new backcourt option behind Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers have shuffled around their executive team this summer. Most recently, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets, the Clips have named Michael Winger their new general manager and Dave Wohl (their previous GM) a special advisor to the team.
  • The Suns have doubled down on their young core but aren’t exactly sure what they’re going to get out of it, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. The scribe also wonders if the club may have put too much stock in fourth-overall pick Josh Jackson, refusing to include him in a possible Kyrie Irving trade package.
  • The Lakers had a productive summer, NBA.com’s Shaun Powell writes. The club did well to position itself for the future by scrubbing Timofey Mozgov‘s contract off their books and, of course, drafting Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Stephenson, Smith

The specter of the Donald Sterling saga hurt the Clippers in free agency last summer, Doc Rivers says, but after this past offseason, one in which Rivers had owner Steve Ballmer behind him, the onus is on Rivers the coach to deliver on what Rivers the executive set up, writes Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times.

“The first summer was tough. We didn’t have an owner in place. Recruiting was near-impossible,” Rivers said. “You go in and talk to free agents and their agent would say, ‘Well, we don’t even know who’s going to own your team. Why would we commit to you guys?’ That was a hard summer for us.”

Ballmer’s riches didn’t play too much of a role this year, since Paul Pierce taxpayer’s mid-level exception deal was the only outside signing for more than the minimum that salary cap rules allowed the Clippers to make, but Rivers also made noise via trade, as we examine more closely amid the latest on the Clips:

  • Rivers still held out hope that his Spencer Hawes signing from 2014 would pan out and didn’t want to mess with his team’s strong play at the time when he passed on a deal that would have brought in Lance Stephenson midway through last season, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Rivers ultimately traded Hawes in this summer’s deal for Stephenson.
  • Clippers offseason signee Josh Smith is enthusiastic about what Stephenson can do for the team, calling him a “walking triple-double” who was simply misplaced in Charlotte, as Woike notes in the same piece. “I think it was the wrong fit,” Smith said of Stephenson on the Hornets. “It’s all about a player being comfortable and happy in a situation. Me in Detroit, it was kind of a similar situation. I think he looks at this as a breath of fresh air.”
  • The Clippers were the first team to contact Smith in free agency this summer, and that helped impress upon him that the Clippers wanted him more than the Rockets, who also made an offer, Smith said, according to Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com. Persistence from GM Dave Wohl also paid dividends, according to Rivers. “I give Dave credit,” Rivers said. “He didn’t stop. He called every single day, like 21 days in a row. He kept calling, and Josh called Dave and said, ‘I’m coming.’ Then Dave called me. That’s how we got the news. I just think the opportunity, he looked at our team and what we had, and I think that’s what sold him.”

Clippers Want New Deal With Austin Rivers

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers would like to re-sign son Austin Rivers this summer, as Doc made clear during his end-of-season press conference and as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com relays. Doc Rivers said he regretted putting up resistance to GM Dave Wohl‘s urging that he trade for Austin Rivers this past summer before finally allowing Wohl to win him over in January, when the Clips acquired him from the Celtics in a three-team trade with the Suns.

“People who want to criticize him don’t [realize he’s 22],” Doc Rivers said of his son. “That’s the way I always look at them. He’s young and he clearly helped us, I think we all have to agree with that. And I think he loved it here. I even think he liked the coach at times. You know, it’ll be interesting. I really want him back and I think it would be great to have him back and I think he’s a great fit for this team. But business is business and it’ll be an interesting thing this summer.”

Doc Rivers quipped that his son will be the easiest of the team’s free agents to re-sign since it would simply require putting in a call to Austin Rivers’ mom, but the Clips are financially hamstrung in part by a decision they didn’t make. Before the season, the Pelicans declined the team option on his rookie scale contract, worth $3,110,796, for 2015/16. New Orleans traded Austin Rivers to the Celtics, who flipped him to the Clippers, but the Clips are nonetheless barred from re-signing him to a contract with a starting salary of any more than that option amount.

Austin Rivers, who reportedly split with agent David Falk earlier this season, had his moments in the playoffs, but it’s nonetheless unclear if the former No. 10 overall pick would warrant a salary greater than what the Clippers could pay him. Still, Doc Rivers seemed to indicate Sunday in comments to Sam Amick of USA Today that his son is in the team’s long-term plans, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe observes (Twitter link).

“You’ve got to give [Chris Paul] just some more support, you know?” Doc Rivers said to Amick. “I think bringing Austin here helped us. We’ve got a 22-year-old [Austin], and now to me we’ve got to get another guard who’s in the middle age group. So now you’re growing with Austin and C.J. [Wilcox], and we need another defensive guy, too.”

L.A. Notes: Kobe, Dudley, Rivers, Wohl

Both Los Angeles teams enter their next games having come off wins, with the Clippers having dusted off their eighth straight on Monday against the Suns and the Lakers topping the Kings on Tuesday. Still, the dichotomy between the two Staples Center tenants couldn’t be more stark. Here’s the latest from L.A.

  • A source close to Kobe Bryant says the Lakers star was “adamant” this past offseason about retiring in the summer of 2016, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Bryant hasn’t publicly ruled out the idea of playing beyond next season, even as he’s signaled that he has no plans to do so.
  • The Lakers would be hard-pressed to build a championship-level team before the time that Bryant is poised to walk away, but the Black Mamba believes there’s a decent chance that the team’s fortunes will change in a hurry, as he tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post. “I’ve been in this situation before. I don’t fret about it. I don’t think nothing about it,” Bryant said. “I’ve seen, where it seems like this organization is in dire straits and then all of a sudden, we make a couple of moves, make a couple of trades and boom, we’re right back in it. So I just stay patient.” 
  • The Bucks didn’t make the best offer to the Clippers for Jared Dudley and the first-round pick that the Clips wound up trading to Milwaukee this summer, but Doc Rivers and his staff felt they had to act quickly, multiple sources suggested to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. Arnovitz’s insider-only piece delves into the front office dynamics for the Clippers, where executives and agents rely on GM Dave Wohl as a conduit to Rivers, Arnovitz hears.

Clippers Hire Dave Wohl As GM

The Clippers have reorganized their front office, pushing Gary Sacks out of his position as General Manager, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter links).  Dave Wohl, a longtime league exec and assistant coach, will take over as GM with Sacks being bumped down to assistant GM.

In other changes, Doc Rivers has ascended from senior VP of basketball operations to president of basketball operations.  Kevin Eastman, an assistant on Rivers’ staff, will move into the VP of basketball ops role.  Rivers has had final say on personnel say on personnel matters since he was hired last summer in his coach/executive role and while it’s not explicitly outlined in the press release, that will presumably stay the same.

I am extremely excited to work closely with Kevin, Dave and Gary in their new roles as we continue to move the culture of the Clippers forward,” Rivers said in the press release.  “Our goals are not only to become a championship team, but a championship organization as well. I feel with the new structure of the Basketball Operations Department, we have taken a positive step in that direction.

Wohl becomes General Manager of the Clippers after working as the team’s Director of Professional Scouting last season.  Wohl has more than four decades of NBA experience under his belt, including a stint as an assistant coach for the Wolves from 2009-2011 and serving as the Assistant GM of the Celtics from 2007-2009.  He has also worked in various capacities for Orlando, Miami, Sacramento and the Lakers in addition to serving as the head coach of the Nets from 1985-1988.

Eastern Rumors: Pacers, Rivers, Cheeks, Kidd

Echoing what we've heard out of Indiana for weeks, team president Donnie Walsh told reporters, including Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, that re-signing David West this summer is "priority number one" for the Pacers.

"We want him back as much as you can want anyone back," Walsh said. "We think he’s one of the anchors of the team."

Here's more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald brings us a few more details on the decision facing Doc Rivers, writing that the Celtics coach is torn between wanting to carve out a long career with a single franchise and worrying about losing effectiveness if he remains too long in Boston. Multiple sources tell Bulpett the odds are still "overwhelmingly" in favor of Rivers returning to the C's.
  • From GM Joe Dumars to advisor Phil Jackson to owner Tom Gores, there was no dissension when it came to the hiring of Maurice Cheeks as the Pistons' new head coach, Dumars told reporters today (Twitter links via the Detroit Free Press).
  • ESPN.com's Marc Stein is hearing that Cheeks would like to add former Thunder colleague Rex Kalamian as the top assistant on his Pistons staff (Twitter link).
  • Jason Kidd spoke to Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News about entering the next phase of his career in the NBA, and coming "home" to the Nets.
  • In addition to talking to Lawrence Frank and others about joining Kidd's staff in Brooklyn, the Nets have talked about pursuing longtime NBA assistant Dave Wohl, says Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.