Joe Dumars

And-Ones: Dumars, Nwaba, Vildoza, 2024 Draft

Last week, the Nets became the first team to get fined for resting healthy players since the NBA introduced its new player participation policy in September. Joe Dumars, the league’s executive vice president and head of basketball operations, told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps that the rules will continue to be enforced when teams try to sit multiple players who are not legitimately injured.

“We are serious about this,” Dumars said. “We talked to people, we talked to everyone, all parties we talked to before the season started. And to not follow through with this would not be right of us. It would not be the thing to do, to not follow through. So yeah, we are very serious about this. We communicated, we overly communicated with everyone about this, and we made very clear that if your guys can play or we feel that your guys can play, they should be on the court. And it’s gone over extremely well this year.”

We have more from around the international basketball world:

  • The London Lions have officially signed former NBA guard David Nwaba, Sportando relays. The Lions’ interest in Nwaba was reported by BasketNews last week. Nwaba’s last NBA stint was with Houston in 2021/22. The six-year veteran appeared in 237 regular season games during his NBA career, averaging 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game.
  • Luca Vildoza, who played seven games with Milwaukee in 2021/22, suffered a ruptured lateral meniscus in his left knee while playing for Greece’s Panathinaikos, according to Sportando’s Allesandro Maggi. The Argentinean guard will undergo surgery on Tuesday, according to the Greek club.
  • In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman has the Pistons taking French big man Alexandre Sarr with the top pick. Wasserman compares Sarr, who’s playing in Australia with the Perth Wildcats, with Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. Point guard Nikola Topic, who recently suffered a knee injury while facing EuroLeague competition, goes at the No. 2 spot to the Spurs in Wasserman’s mock, while another European, French wing Zaccharie Risacher, comes off the board at No. 3 to the Wizards.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo (Insider link) have put out another roundup of notes on 2024 draft prospects, exploring what’s gone wrong for UCLA’s top three NBA prospects (Aday Mara, Adem Bona, and Berke Buyuktuncel) and whether recent injuries to Sarr and Topic will hurt their stock, among other topics.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Tibbetts, J. Jackson, Load Management, Vasiljevic

Veteran NBA assistant Nate Tibbetts, who had been employed by the Magic as part of Jamahl Mosley‘s staff, is finalizing an agreement to become the new head coach of the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, the deal will make Tibbetts the highest-paid coach in WNBA history.

Tibbetts, who was hired Orlando in 2021, previously served as the associate head coach in Portland and was also an assistant for the Cavaliers. He has head coaching experience at the G League level and has interviewed for the top coaching job for several NBA teams over the years.

Interestingly, one of those NBA head coaching interviews that Tibbetts received was from the Suns back in 2019, before the team hired Monty Williams. Four years later, with the Suns and Mercury under ownership, Tibbetts will be the named the head coach of Phoenix’s other basketball franchise.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA forward Josh Jackson, the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft, has been accused of raping a woman and then sending two other women to break into apartment to threaten her, according to Shreyas Laddha and Luke Nozicka of The Kansas City Star, who share details from a federal lawsuit filed by Jackson’s accuser. The former Kansas Jayhawk last played in the NBA in 2021/22, when he appeared in 51 games for Detroit and Sacramento.
  • While Joe Dumars and the NBA have publicly stated that their data doesn’t support the benefits of “load management,” some coaches around the league are skeptical of that conclusion, according to Joe Vardon and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “It’s just PR,” one coach told The Athletic. “There are plenty of other studies that prove load management makes sense from an injury and recovery standpoint.”
  • Australian guard Dejan Vasiljevic signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Wizards in September and was waived a couple weeks ago, but it seems he won’t be joining the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League affiliate. Olgun Uluc of ESPN reports that Vasiljevic is headed back to his home country and is set to officially sign with the Adelaide 36ers after the Sydney Kings renounced their right of first refusal.
  • In a pair of features for The Athletic, John Hollinger makes win-loss predictions for the eight teams he projects to finish at the bottom of the West and his bottom eight teams in the East. Of note: Hollinger has the Kings (39-43) and Bulls (33-49) finishing out of the play-in picture in their respective conferences.

NBA Says Its Data Doesn’t Support Load Management

NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars says the league’s data no longer shows the benefits of load management, according to Joe Vardon and Sam Amick of The Athletic. As Vardon and Amick write, the term “load management” has become ubiquitous in recent years, but it generally refers to the practice of resting players — particularly stars — to theoretically reduce the risk of injury.

Before, it was a given conclusion that the data showed that you had to rest players a certain amount, and that justified them sitting out,” said Dumars. “We’ve gotten more data, and it just doesn’t show that resting, sitting guys out correlates with lack of injuries, or fatigue, or anything like that. What it does show is maybe guys aren’t as efficient on the second night of a back-to-back.”

Dumars added players should be striving to play all 82 games on the regular season schedule.

Obviously everybody’s not going to play 82 games, but everyone should want to play 82 games. And that’s the culture that we are trying to reestablish right now,” he said.

In September, the league instituted its new player participation policy, which will impact 49 players who have made All-Star or All-NBA teams over the past three seasons. Stars sitting out games when they were healthy, plus the extremely lackluster All-Star game in February, evidently reached a tipping point for the league.

You get here by not addressing it,” Dumars said. “You get here by slippage, by just slowly – year after year after year…just slowly over time – you see all this slippage in missing of games during the regular season, the All-Star Game devolving into what it did this past year. And none of that happened just like after one year. And so at some point, you have to stop the slide. You have to address it.”

The NBA is also in the process of negotiating a new media rights deal — the current contract expires after 2024/25. Obviously marquee players missing nationally televised games has been an issue in negotiations, as was the poorly-rated All-Star game, which turned off fans and broadcast partners. Dumars admitted all of those things played a factor in the participation policy, which he said the NBPA agreed to.

Yeah, yes … I can’t [lie],” Dumars said with a laugh, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “That’s a part of it. To pretend it isn’t would just be dishonest.”

Evan Wasch, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball strategy and analytics, was also on the call and offered his opinion on the matter.

I also think we don’t need our TV partners to tell us that when teams sit players and players don’t try in an All-Star Game,” Wasch said, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “That makes for worse competition. Right? It’s incredibly obvious to us, and ultimately, we’re trying to serve fans. Yes, it’s the case that because we’re negotiating TV deals in the next year or two here, it takes on an even greater importance because we’re in the middle of those conversations; but we can self-identify that these were issues that need addressing independent of any outside.”

Dumars and Wasch said they’ve been meeting with teams ahead of the 2023/24 season to stress the importance of playing as many games as possible, creating a more competitive All-Star game, and promoting buy-in for the new in-season tournament.

NBA Reveals Dates, Groups For In-Season Tournament

The NBA has announced the five-team groups that will used for the league’s first-ever in-season tournament, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The unveiling took place Saturday during a special episode of ESPN’s “NBA Today” held at “NBA Con” in Las Vegas.

The groups were determined in a draw similar to what is used in soccer’s World Cup. There are six groups — three each from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference — and each conference was split into five pots based on last season’s standings. One team was randomly selected from each of the pots to determine the opening-round matchups.

The results are:

  • Group 1: Sixers, Cavaliers, Hawks, Pacers and Pistons.
  • Group 2: Bucks, Knicks, Heat, Wizards and Hornets.
  • Group 3: Celtics, Nets, Raptors, Bulls and Magic.
  • Group 4: Grizzlies, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Trail Blazers.
  • Group 5: Nuggets, Clippers, Pelicans, Mavericks and Rockets.
  • Group 6: Kings, Warriors, Timberwolves, Thunder and Spurs.

The tournament will start with group play, which will match each team with the other four in its grouping. Those games will take place on Nov. 3, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24 and 28.

The winner of each group will advance to a knockout round, joined by the team with the best record in each conference among those who didn’t win a group. Quarterfinal games will be played Dec. 4 and 5, hosted by the higher-seeded teams. The four winners in that round will move on to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the Dec. 7 semifinals and the Dec. 9 championship game.

Bontemps points out that all teams will play within their conference until the last game, which guarantees an East vs. West matchup, just like the NBA Finals.

“Everybody’s not going to buy in right away,” admitted Joe Dumars, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations. “So that can’t be the goal that everybody’s going to buy in from day one. These things take time. And I think, as time goes on, I think you can build this up and people can really get into it.”

The championship trophy will be called the NBA Cup, and players will receive $500K each for winning it. Other prize money includes $200K for second place, $100K for losing in the semifinals and $50K for losing in the quarterfinals. The league opted not to provide other incentives, such as a guaranteed playoff spot, for the tournament winner.

We passed along more details on the in-season tournament right here.

NBA VP Dumars Explains Thinking Behind Draymond Suspension

After the NBA announced late on Tuesday night that Warriors forward Draymond Green would be suspended for Game 3 against Sacramento for stepping on Domantas Sabonis in Game 2, NBA vice president and head of basketball operations Joe Dumars has done the media rounds on Wednesday to explain the thinking behind the controversial decision.

Speaking to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, Dumars stressed that league officials spent much of Tuesday deliberating their response, noting that it was “not some snap-of-the-finger decision.” In a phone interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Dumars said there were three primary factors that went into the ruling to suspend Green for one game.

“Here’s what it came down to: Excessive and over-the-top actions, conduct detrimental (to the league), and a repeat offender,” Dumars said. “That’s what separates this where you end up with a suspension.”

As Dumars notes – and as the NBA mentioned in its initial announcement – the league weighed Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts in its decision. He has racked up 162 career technical fouls, 17 ejections, and now four suspensions, per Wojnarowski. Asked if someone with a cleaner record might have received a lesser punishment, Dumars didn’t offer a definitive answer.

“It may have been, but the act itself still would have been looked at in a serious way — stomping on a guy’s chest,” he told ESPN. “On the back end of this act, you add repeat offender and that’s how you end up getting to a suspension.”

During the moments when the play was being reviewed on the court in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game, Green responded to the vitriol he was receiving from fans in Sacramento by standing on a chair, egging them on, and taunting them back. Although that wasn’t a primary reason for the suspension, Dumars acknowledged to both Reynolds and Wojnarowski that it was a factor, referring to Green’s behavior as “not helpful.”

“The stuff that happened afterward, that doesn’t help the situation,” Dumars told The Associated Press. “But if it was just that alone, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I focused on the act itself, the fact that it’s a repeat offense, those were the two main things.”

Within an hour of the NBA’s announcement on Tuesday night, the Kings made an announcement of their own, issuing a press release to say that Sabonis had been diagnosed with a sternum contusion and would be listed as questionable for Game 3 (Twitter link via Sean Cunningham of FOX 40 Sacramento).

The league was aware of that diagnosis before announcing Green’s suspension, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Sabonis’ injury wasn’t a major factor in the decision, though Dumars did tell Wojnarowski that “you don’t ignore that.”

As for why Sabonis didn’t face any additional penalty of his own for grabbing Green’s leg just before being stepped on, Dumars said the NBA determined that the game’s referees made the correct ruling on the court and felt that no further punishment was warranted for the Kings center.

“Sabonis was penalized in the game with a technical foul and Golden State gets the free throw,” Dumars told ESPN. “It wasn’t like (Sabonis) didn’t get off without any punishment, but we didn’t think that rose to the level of excessive and over-the-top, conduct detrimental and repeat offender. That’s why you separate those two and deal with one act on the court — and then another act.”

And-Ones: Tanking, Expansion, Ignite, Dumars, Mekel

After Baxter Holmes of ESPN reported on comments Adam Silver made during a Q&A with Suns employees, the NBA commissioner appeared on ESPN’s NBA Today on Monday to further discuss some of the points he made during that session. In addition to clarifying that he wasn’t “deadly serious about relegation” when he broached that subject, Silver explained why he believes the league’s revamped draft lottery system reduces the incentive for teams to tank (link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).

“You’re dealing with a 14% chance of getting the first pick,” Silver said. “I recognize at the end of the day analytics are what they are and it’s not about superstition. A 14% chance is better than a 1% chance or a no percent chance. But even in terms of straightforward odds, it doesn’t benefit a team to be the absolute worst team in the league, and even if you’re one of the poor-performing teams, you’re still dealing with a 14% chance.

“It’s one of these things where there’s no perfect solution, but we still think a draft is the right way to rebuild your league over time. We still think it makes sense among partner teams, where a decision was made where the worst-performing teams are able to restock with the prospects of the best players coming in. So we haven’t come up with a better system.”

Silver also addressed the topic of expansion. As Marc Stein relays (via Twitter), the commissioner said that Las Vegas would “make a great location from a franchise someday,” but repeated his usual line about the need for patience. Expansion won’t be on the table, according to Silver, until after the league has a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and television deal in place. The current CBA will expires in 2024, while the TV deal runs until 2025.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Senegalese guard Babacar Sane, a graduate of the NBA Academy, has signed with the G League Ignite, according to a press release from the team. Sane, 19, has represented Senegal in World Cup qualifiers and played in the Basketball Africa League. He signed with the Ignite for two years and will be eligible for the 2024 draft. Marc J. Spears of Andscape talked to the young guard about his G League deal and a potential path to the NBA.
  • NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars spoke to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today about his new role, explaining how he has adjusted to acting in the best interest of the league instead of any particular team. Dumars, whose position was previously held by Kiki VanDeWeghe, is in charge of player discipline — he was the one who announced, for instance, Grant Williamssuspension on Wednesday.
  • Veteran Israeli point guard Gal Mekel, who attended Wichita State and played for the Mavericks and Pelicans from 2013-14, has retired, according to agent Misko Raznatovic (Twitter link). Although Mekel’s time in the NBA was brief, he has enjoyed a 14-year professional career, playing in Israel, Italy, Russia, Serbia, and Spain during that time.

Kings Interviewing Coaching Finalists This Week

The Kings are in the process of conducting the second round of interviews with the three finalists for their head coaching opening and owner Vivek Ranadive is heavily involved, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.

Steve Clifford, Mark Jackson and Mike Brown were revealed as the finalists on Saturday.

Clifford, the former Hornets and Magic coach who mostly recently has done consulting work with the Nets, interviewed Sunday and continued his visit Monday, according to Amick. Jackson, the former Warriors coach and now longtime ESPN/ABC analyst, will then come to Sacramento for his follow-up interview.

Brown, now the Warriors’ associate head coach, is expected to speak with the Kings’ brass later this week. Brown’s interview(s) may take place in San Francisco as well as Sacramento, since the Warriors remain active in the playoffs.

The first round of interviews were conducted via Zoom and Ranadive wasn’t involved, Amick reports. GM Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox and now former chief strategy officer Joe Dumars handled those interviews. Dumars was named on Monday the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

Dumars’ contract was expiring and he wanted more direct control over the front office if he was going to stick around, sources told Amick. He wanted McNair to report to him rather than Ranadive but the owner was not interested in doing that. It does not appear Dumars’ role will be filled.

As noted by Marc Stein in a Substack piece and affirmed by Amick, the Kings are seeking a defensive-minded coach.

Joe Dumars Leaves Kings For NBA League Office

Veteran basketball executive Joe Dumars is leaving his position with the Kings for a job in the NBA’s league office, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The league has confirmed in a press release that Dumars is its new executive vice president of basketball operations.

According to the NBA, Dumars will begin his new role next Monday and will oversee all basketball operations matters for the league, including “the development of playing rules and interpretations, conduct and discipline, and policies and procedures relating to the operation of games.”

Dumars, a Hall-of-Famer as a player, joined the Kings as a special advisor to then-GM Vlade Divac in 2019. When Divac was fired a year later, Dumars became Sacramento’s interim head of basketball operations, then transitioned into a chief strategy officer role following the hiring of Monte McNair. He had held that position for the last two years.

Dumars previously spent 14 years as the president of basketball operations in Detroit, winning an Executive of the Year award in 2003 and building the Pistons team that earned a championship in 2004.

“Joe’s extensive track record of accomplishment as an NBA player and team executive and the leadership and expertise that he has demonstrated in various roles make him a natural fit to drive efforts to further enhance the game,” NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said today in a statement. “As a respected longtime member of the NBA family, Joe has developed strong relationships across the league that will set the foundation for success in his new position.”

Dumars is replacing Kiki VanDeWeghe, who transitioned into an advisory role for the NBA last August after spending eight years as the EVP of basketball operations.

Kings’ McNair Talks Walton, Fox, Dumars, Hield

When new Kings general manager Monte McNair was introduced to the media earlier this week, one of the first things he did was confirm that head coach Luke Walton will remain in his current position for the 2020/21 season, as we relayed on Wednesday.

While McNair admitted he had no preexisting relationship with Walton, he told reporters – including Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee – that the two men have a number of mutual friends and have been in contact within the last few days. McNair added that he has heard “great things” about the Kings’ head coach and is “really excited” to begin working with him.

McNair’s introductory press conference didn’t include any bombshells, but Sacramento’s new head of basketball operations shared a few more interesting observations and comments about the club. Here are a few highlights from the former Rockets executive, as detailed in a pair of Sacramento Bee articles by Anderson:

On whether he intends to push for a playoff spot or take a step back in the Kings’ rebuilding process:

“I think our goal is going to be to compete hard and start building these winning habits. We need to be more consistent and going forward we’re going to maintain our flexibility. Obviously we want to compete for the playoffs but we know we have some work to do, so my goal is to keep that flexibility and be aggressive whenever the time comes to improve the team.

“In Houston I learned a lot. We went through many different stages and ultimately became a contender, so I’ll learn from that. I think No. 1, we have to stay flexible and we can’t pigeonhole ourselves. There are a lot of ways to improve the team and what we need to do is be ready for whatever the opportunity and whenever it arises so we can capitalize.”

On the style of play he envisions for the Kings:

“I think (De’Aaron Fox‘s) speed and ability offensively to create really is going to be a huge catalyst for how Coach Walton and I envision this team being up tempo, creating the space to shoot threes and attack the rim, and I think we’re excited to get going on that.

“… I think in Houston, obviously, we pushed some things to the extreme. That was partly due to our personnel there. There are some tenets that will apply here. We’re definitely going to play fast. We’re going to space the floor. But there’s a lot of versatility and talent on this roster, so I think that will dictate how we build the team.”

On Joe Dumars’ new role as the Kings’ chief strategy officer:

“Joe’s going to assist (team owner) Vivek (Ranadive) in all aspects of the organization – business, basketball … I was hired to be head of basketball operations. That’s what I’m going to do. But Joe’s been a great player on the court. He’s been a general manager and he’ll be a great resource for me.”

On Buddy Hield, who has been the subject of trade speculation:

“I think we all know in this league spacing is of the utmost importance and Buddy is one of the absolute elite shooters in this league, and we’re going to be able to utilize that skill set as we implement our system.”

Kings Hire Monte McNair As Head Of Basketball Operations

SEPTEMBER 17: The Kings have officially announced the hiring of McNair as their new general manager, confirming that he’ll be responsible for basketball decisions and will report directly to team ownership.

“Monte is one of the NBA’s top basketball minds who has played an instrumental role in building several winning teams in Houston,” Ranadive said in a statement. “I am excited to bring his extensive experience and vision onboard to lead our basketball operations department, and it is my pleasure to welcome Monte and his family to Sacramento.”

Meanwhile, the Kings announced in a separate press release that Dumars has been named the club’s chief strategy officer and will “drive strategy” across several areas of the organization, including both business and basketball operations.

SEPTEMBER 16: The Kings are hiring Rockets assistant general manager Monte McNair as their new head of basketball operations, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

McNair has worked for the Rockets under general manager Daryl Morey for over a decade, having originally been hired to the basketball operations department in 2007.

After initially working as an analyst and spending time with the franchise’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, McNair was elevated to a director of basketball operations role in 2013. He became the Rockets’ vice president of basketball operations in 2015 before being promoted to assistant GM in 2018.

Following the dismissal of general manager Vlade Divac, the Kings made Joe Dumars their interim executive vice president of basketball operations, but had been on the lookout for someone to run the front office on a permanent basis.

McNair was one of six candidates identified by Sacramento as the team sought a replacement for Divac. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon, Nuggets GM Calvin Booth, and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon withdrew from consideration, leaving McNair, Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, and former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox as finalists.

While we’ll have to wait for an official statement and more details from the Kings, the expectation is that McNair will have the final say on basketball decisions and will report directly to team owner Vivek Ranadive.

This represents the second consecutive year that Houston has lost a top executive to a rival organization. Gersson Rosas left the Rockets to become the Timberwolves’ head of basketball operations in 2019.