Jeff Van Gundy

Stein’s Latest: USA Basketball, Wood, B. Griffin

Multiple reporters have confirmed the news — originally reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — that Pistons guard Cade Cunningham was offered a spot on Team USA’s World Cup roster. Cunningham said last week that he declined the invitation to manage his workload for the upcoming 2023/24 season after being to 12 games in ’22/23 following shin surgery.

According to Marc Stein at Substack, USA Basketball had a longstanding interest in Cunningham joining the senior men’s team, but the organization also recognized that it was an “extreme long shot” to land him.

As Stein explains, Cunningham would have needed to commit to the full six-week time frame, which includes several exhibition games and lengthy international travel. Given how long he was sidelined, it makes sense that the 2021 No. 1 overall pick decided to be cautious; Detroit wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea either, according to Stein.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Why was USA Basketball so interested in Cunningham? As Stein observes, he fits the mold of a physical guard that was a priority for the roster, which includes Jalen Brunson, Anthony Edwards, Austin Reaves and Josh Hart (though Hart is more of a wing than a traditional ball-handling guard).
  • The lack of physicality may explain why Hawks guard Trae Young isn’t on the World Cup roster, despite USAB managing director Grant Hill being a part owner of Atlanta, Stein writes. Young was disappointed to not make the team and recently said he’d welcome the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Stein adds.
  • Former ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy will serve as Team USA’s scouting director for the World Cup, Stein reports. Van Gundy has been associated with USAB for several years, including serving as head coach from 2017-19 when the team was comprised of non-NBA players during qualifying rounds, Stein notes.
  • The Lakers remain interested in free agent big man Christian Wood, sources tell Stein. However, they used most of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Gabe Vincent and their bi-annual exception on Taurean Prince, so they can basically only offer Wood the veteran’s minimum. While the Mavericks are open to a Wood sign-and-trade, neither the Lakers nor the Heat are believed to be viable partners in that scenario, according to Stein.
  • The Celtics are interested in re-signing free agent big man Blake Griffin, league sources tell Stein, but it’s unclear if that interest is mutual. Griffin appeared in 41 regular season games with Boston in ’22/23, averaging career lows of 4.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 13.9 MPG. He also only played one game for six total minutes in the playoffs, despite the Celtics having 20 postseason contests.

Wizards Notes: Kuzma, Poole, Rebuilding, Van Gundy

After trading Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, the Wizards have decided to build their future around Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Both players were part of championship teams early in their careers, and Hughes points out that they were able to learn the game from NBA legends.

It appeared Washington’s new management team might opt for a full rebuild, but the Wizards made a strong push to keep Kuzma, who signed a four-year deal worth at least $90MM. The 27-year-old forward said he received indications that the franchise wanted to re-sign him during his exit interview with chairman Ted Leonsis.

“Ted (made) an emphasis that he wanted me to be here, I knew that,” Kuzma said. “I think over my past two years here I’ve been very transparent as a person. The whole entire organization from Ted, the past regime and then the new regime, they’re very transparent people, too. I never really had much to worry about on that front. I still wanted to go through the process. I think and believe I made the right decision.”

Poole, who’s about to start the first year of the extension he signed with Golden State, feels fortunate to have entered the league on a team that had Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

“Those are the two greatest shooters of all time in my opinion, personally,” he said. “There’s just things that you learn in practice, on the road that you wouldn’t be able to learn not being in the mix. I’m thankful for that.” 

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • During a press conference Saturday, Poole deflected questions about the end of his relationship with the Warriors and about being punched by Draymond Green, relays Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’re in Washington now,” Jordan Poole told reporters. “Playing with (Kuzma) now, great duo. Being able to really flourish, expand your game. Like I said, it’s a new team with an entirely new group of guys. It’s a challenge that we’re up for. We have a new front office and a lot of people are invested. Everybody is locked in and wants to be here to start something we can have that should be special.”
  • Wizards officials are focused on creating a positive culture around the team, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Sources tell Robbins that the front office won’t consider a full rebuilding project for at least two years. They re-signed Kuzma and brought in Poole and Tyus Jones to help develop first-round pick Bilal Coulibaly and give the team a strong foundation to build around. Robbins adds that the best draft class on the horizon appears to be in 2026, and the Wizards might consider bottoming out to take advantage of that, depending how the current plan works.
  • If Jeff Van Gundy decides to return to coaching, there’s “some mutual interest” with the Wizards, who have openings on Wes Unseld Jr.‘s staff, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

Stein’s Latest: RFAs, Washington, Mavs, Bol, JVG, Bojan

There has been more buzz in recent days about restricted free agents Grant Williams and Matisse Thybulle – who reportedly intends to sign an offer sheet with Dallas – than Hornets RFA P.J. Washington, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. As Stein explains, there are a couple reasons for that.

For one, the Hornets are in a better position to a match a rival offer sheet than Boston or Portland. The Celtics project to be well over the luxury tax line, while the Trail Blazers still aren’t certain what their books will look like after they finalize a Damian Lillard trade.

Additionally, while the Celtics and Trail Blazers would both have to weigh whether or not to match offer sheets signed using the mid-level exception, such a deal would presumably be an automatic match for the Hornets with Washington. According to Stein, Washington is believed to be seeking a deal in the range of $18MM per year.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Following up on a report that the Magic and Mavericks discussed a trade involving Bol Bol around the time of the draft, Stein explains that Dallas pitched the idea of taking on Bol as a salary dump along with Orlando’s No. 36 overall pick. The Magic turned down that proposal and ended up moving No. 36 for a 2030 second-round pick and cash.
  • Jeff Van Gundy, who was recently let go by ESPN, told the Mavericks he wasn’t interested in a job as an assistant on Jason Kidd‘s coaching staff, according to Stein, who says that it’s not yet known whether Van Gundy will attempt to return to coaching in some form or seek another broadcasting opportunity.
  • While teams around the league remain interested in acquiring forward Bojan Bogdanovic, the Pistons have held firm on their stance that they plan to keep the sharpshooting veteran, says Stein. There seems to be little concern about the Achilles issue that sidelined Bogdanovic for Detroit’s final 18 games, Stein adds, noting that the general sense is that the Pistons were just being “extra cautious,” with little to play for.

And-Ones: J. Van Gundy, J. Rose, Two-Way Rules, Free Agents

The NBA broadcasts on ESPN and ABC will look a little different next season, according to Andrew Marchand and Ryan Glasspiegel, who report in a pair of stories for The New York Post that the network is letting go of game analyst Jeff Van Gundy and studio analyst Jalen Rose as part of a series of layoffs.

According to The Post’s reporting, ESPN is letting go of about 20 on-air personalities in a cost-cutting move. Van Gundy and Rose had both been earning millions per year in their roles on the network’s marquee broadcasts. Rose was generally on the panel for pregame and halftime shows, while Van Gundy was part of ESPN’s and ABC’s top TV broadcast team alongside play-by-play man Mike Breen and fellow analyst Mark Jackson.

According to The New York Post, JJ Redick, Doris Burke, and Richard Jefferson are among the top candidates to replace Van Gundy on the top ESPN/ABC broadcast team.

Here are a few more odds and ends ahead of a busy NBA weekend:

  • The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement includes a rule change that will be informally known as the “Harry Giles III rule,” writes Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. As Haynes explains, the tweak will allow a player to sign a two-way contract if he has four years of NBA service but missed an entire season during those four years due to an injury. Previously, players with four years of NBA service were ineligible to sign two-way deals even if they hadn’t actually played in NBA games during each of those four seasons (a player earns a year of service if he’s on a standard or two-way contract for at least one day during the regular season). Giles is among the players who fits this bill, having missed his entire rookie season in 2017/18.
  • In an Insider-only article for, Bobby Marks takes a shot at projecting the starting salaries for all of this year’s free agents, from Kyrie Irving ($38-40MM) and Fred VanVleet ($30-35MM) all the way down to the probable minimum-salary recipients.
  • Chris Herring of identifies nine players who could benefit most from a change of scenery this summer, in his view. Herring’s list includes some unsurprising picks like Damian Lillard and Deandre Ayton, as well as some outside-the-box choices such as Jarrett Allen.

Mavericks Notes: LeBron, Irving, Van Gundy, Draft

Although Kyrie Irving‘s desire to have the Mavericks trade for LeBron James is unrealistic, Dallas is a market the Lakers star would consider if he ever decides to leave L.A., Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column.

Sources tell Stein that the Mavs began investigating their chances of landing James last season before they acquired Irving in February. The organization understands that James would have to take the initiative in asking for a trade to Dallas for the move to become possible, according to Stein’s sources.

There’s no indication that James will consider requesting such a deal, Stein adds, with his family settled in Los Angeles and his oldest son committed to play for USC. Stein also points out that instead of trying to break up the team’s foundation of James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers opted to rebuild around them and wound up in the conference finals.

Stein’s theory is that it benefits Irving to show the Mavericks that he might have some value as a recruiter who can attract high-level talent to Dallas. It’s believed throughout the league that Dallas wants to re-sign him to a team-friendly contract, so reaching out to James may be a negotiating ploy.

Stein adds that not much has changed for either the Mavericks or the Lakers since their seasons ended. L.A.’s priority will be to keep free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, while the Mavs plan to re-sign Irving and try to trade their first-round pick for veteran help. Stein cites two sources who told him Monday that Irving is happy in Dallas and wants to stay there.

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Dallas will reach out to ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy to see if he is interested in returning to the sidelines as an assistant coach, Stein reports in another Substack piece. Van Gundy’s last NBA coaching job was 16 years ago, but he has done some international work with Team USA since then. League sources tell Stein that the Mavericks still have interest in adding Jeff Hornacek to Jason Kidd’s staff.
  • Tim Cato of The Athletic looks at seven potential trades the Mavs could make with their No. 10 pick. He proposes deals with the Raptors, Hawks, Nets, Kings and Pelicans.
  • If the Mavericks keep their pick, the new front office will focus more on athleticism and physicality more than shooting or other skills, Cato adds in a separate story. Team and league sources tell Cato that Dallas isn’t likely to have interest in Kansas sharpshooter Gradey Dick, who may still be on the board in that range.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Mayo, Mejri

Grant Hill has taken over as USA Basketball’s managing director and one of his first tasks is to find a replacement for coach Gregg Popovich. Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that he plans to hire a new coach before the NBA season begins on October 19.

Candidates that have previous experience with USA Basketball will have the upper hand, according to Spears. That group would include Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Wright, Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra and Jeff Van Gundy.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo has reached an agreement with Russia’s Unics Kazan, Sportando relays. was first to report the news. Mayo was banned by the NBA in 2016 for violating the league’s drug program. Mayo has recently played in China.
  • Former Mavericks big man Salah Mejri has reached an agreement with Al Jahra in Kuwait, according to Sportando. Mejri appeared in 204 games with Dallas from 2015-19.
  • In case you missed it, Jarrell Brantley is expected to sign with a Russian team after being waived by the Jazz. Get the details here.

Jason Kidd Won’t Seek Trail Blazers’ Coaching Job

Jason Kidd has decided not to be a candidate for the Trail Blazers’ vacant head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

“Portland’s a first-class organization and will have great candidates for its head coaching job, but I’ve decided not to be one of them,” Kidd said. “Whoever they choose will have big shoes to fill from Terry (Stotts).”

According to Wojnarowski, Kidd became uncomfortable with seeking the Trail Blazers’ job after star guard Damian Lillard said Friday that Kidd was his top choice. Kidd was concerned that Lillard’s public comment would put the team in an awkward position if he interviewed for the post.

“Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” Lillard said after news broke that Stotts won’t be returning next season.

Kidd, a former head coach with the Nets and Bucks, has been the top assistant to Frank Vogel with the Lakers for the past two seasons.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Blazers haven’t talked to any potential candidates yet or reached out for permission to interview anybody, but that process should begin once the last first-round series wraps up today.

Portland is expected to consider Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, former Knicks and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and Michigan coach Juwan Howard, sources tell ESPN.

Terry Stotts Won’t Return As Trail Blazers Coach

10:01pm: The team has confirmed in a press release that Stotts will not return.

“I have the utmost respect for Terry and what he has accomplished these past nine seasons,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision on both a personal and professional level but it’s in the best interest of the franchise to move in another direction. Terry will always hold a special place in the Trail Blazer family and the Portland community. We relied on the integrity, professionalism and consistency he brought to the job every day and we wish he and Jan nothing but the best.”

9:40pm: The Trail Blazers and longtime head coach Terry Stotts have mutually agreed to part ways, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Stotts, 63, has been the team’s head coach since the 2012/13 season. Portland has qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons but only made the conference finals in 2018/19, when they were swept by the Warriors. The Blazers have been eliminated in the first round in two consecutive years, and four of the last five.

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, ABC broadcaster and former Rockets/Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach and current Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, and University of Michigan head coach and former Heat assistant Juwan Howard are expected to receive consideration for the job, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet.

The Blazers’ quick exit in this year’s playoffs was unexpected. They were facing a depleted Nuggets team, missing starting guards Jamal Murray and Will Barton, while all of their own starters were healthy. Despite some stellar performances from Damian Lillard, Portland was eliminated in six games.

Lillard has played under Stotts throughout his career. The All-Star point guard will have a major say on Stotts’ replacement, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

In his nine seasons with Portland, Stotts accumulated a regular-season record of 402-318 (.558). However, the Blazers went 22-40 (.355) in those postseason appearances. Stotts had one more guaranteed year on his contract, with a team option for 2022/23.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rockets Notes: Clemons, Wall, Cousins, Wood, Harden, JVG

A few of Chris ClemonsRockets teammates know exactly what the second-year guard is going through, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Like Clemons, who tore his Achilles tendon on Tuesday, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, and David Nwaba have all had to attempt to make their way back to full health after suffering a torn Achilles.

“I spoke with him last night after the game,” Cousins said. “My only message was just take your time. One thing I noticed with professional athletes and injuries, we love our craft, we love the game itself. Once you have tough off, you’re always itching to get back and play that game.

“… We’re so used to playing through pain. Sometimes, we feel like we’re in a good place when it’s not necessarily the case. My only message is take his time, get everything right, he has a lot of basketball left to play in his career.”

The only silver lining of the injury for Clemons is that he’ll now be assured of his $1.52MM salary for 2020/21 — it was previously non-guaranteed. The Rockets, who are up against a hard cap, figure to keep Clemons on their roster since they don’t currently have the flexibility to replace him with a free agent if they cut him.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details (via Twitter), Houston could attempt to make room for another player by trading Clemons (along with a second-round pick) to another club. If the Rockets are uninterested in such a move, they’ll likely have to waive either Gerald Green or Bruno Caboclo before the regular season begins in order to stay below the hard cap.

Here’s more from out of Houston:

  • John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins will sit out the Rockets’ preseason finale on Thursday vs. San Antonio, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The club is handling both players carefully, since they’re coming off major injuries. Meanwhile, Christian Wood – who missed Houston’s first three preseason contests with a sore left elbow – is considered questionable to play.
  • It’s a bit of a worrisome sign that James Harden said during his media session on Wednesday that he hasn’t had a conversation at all with new Rockets GM Rafael Stone, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Even if Harden remains dead-set on being traded, a deal of that magnitude will require some communication between the superstar guard and the Rockets’ head of basketball operations, Iko says.
  • Sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post that Jeff Van Gundy probably could have had the Rockets’ head coaching job this offseason, but “was indifferent toward it.” Van Gundy was said to be owner Tilman Fertitta‘s top choice, though it seemed as if the team’s front office and players preferred other candidates. Either way, Van Gundy sounds happy with his current job, telling Berman that he’s  “real fortunate to be able to work at ESPN/ABC.”

Rockets Notes: Lucas, Van Gundy, Harden, More

Although new Rockets general manager Rafael Stone opted for Stephen Silas over John Lucas as the team’s new head coach, Stone has been Lucas’ “biggest backer” within the organization in recent years, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. Stone was a driving force in bringing Lucas back to coaching in 2016, when Houston hired him as its director of player development, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The Rockets and Silas are working hard to keep Lucas on the team’s staff and to install him in a more prominent role, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. A source tells Feigen that, as of Tuesday, the two sides were in “extensive talks” on a deal that would keep Lucas in Houston as a member of Silas’ staff. While no deal is in place yet, there’s optimism one could get done on Wednesday, Feigen notes.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post that Jeff Van Gundy “sent mixed vibes” regarding his interest in the Rockets’ job after interviewing with the team. Berman speculates that Van Gundy may have had concerns about the James Harden/Russell Westbrook fit or that he was just comfortable with his role as an analyst for ABC and ESPN.
  • According to Berman, some Rockets players were pulling for Lucas to get the team’s head coaching job. Marc Stein, meanwhile, says Harden’s top two endorsements for Lucas and Tyronn Lue. Rival teams are wondering if Harden is at all perturbed by the club’s eventual hire and whether the Rockets will become open to trading their superstar guard, Stein adds. Based on other recent reports, it sounds like that’s not an option Houston will consider this offseason.
  • In a pair of stories for The Athletic, Kelly Iko and John Hollinger evaluated a series of hypothetical trades involving the Rockets.