Josh Longstaff

Kemba Walker Returns To Hornets In Coaching Role

The Hornets have officially announced Charles Lee‘s staff for the new head coach’s first season in Charlotte, and the group includes one particularly notable name. According to a press release, former Hornets star Kemba Walker has been hired as a player enhancement coach.

Walker officially announced his retirement as a player on Tuesday and wasted no time transitioning into the next stage of his career. He hinted in Tuesday’s announcement that a new job in the NBA might be coming, writing, “Basketball will forever be a part of my life so this isn’t goodbye. I’m excited for what’s next.”

The ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Walker became the Hornets’ full-time starting point guard in his second NBA season and maintained that role through the 2018/19 campaign. He earned three All-Star berths and averaged 19.8 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.8 rebounds in 34.1 minutes per game across 605 total regular season games during his time in Charlotte before leaving for Boston in a sign-and-trade in 2019.

Lee is a former Celtics assistant, but his time in Boston didn’t overlap with Walker’s.

Most of the rest of Lee’s staff has been previously reported. It includes assistant coaches Lamar Skeeter, Josh Longstaff, Chris Jent, Blaine Mueller, Ryan Frazier, Matt Hill, and Jermaine Bucknor, the Hornets confirmed.

Zach Peterson has been hired as an assistant coach and director of player development, while Zeke Chapman has been named head video coordinator.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Outlaw, Caporn, Heat, Jovic

Not only did the Hornets have a head coaching change, the entire staff has been overhauled, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports.

As previously noted here, Lamar Skeeter, Chris Jent and Josh Longstaff have been hired away from other organizations to head up Charles Lee‘s staff with the Hornets. They’ll be joined by Ryan Frazier, Zach Peterson, Matt Hill and Blaine Mueller, according to Boone. The training staff is also undergoing changes, as the Hornets have decided to part ways with longtime director of health care and sports performance Joe Sharpe.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • In more coaching news, J.J. Outlaw, who spent the last three seasons as a Cavaliers assistant coach, and Adam Caporn, who spent the last two seasons as a Nets assistant, are strong candidates to join Brian Keefe‘s Wizards staff, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Heat own the No. 15 pick in the draft and The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang takes a deep dive into the prospects that might be available at that spot. The list is comprehensive, omitting only those prospects who seems likely to go in the top 10.
  • If finding another shooter is a priority, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Duke guard Jared McCain, Colorado’s Tristan de Silva and the University of Miami’s Kyshawn George are potential targets with the Heat‘s first-rounder, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  • In a separate draft-related piece, Winderman notes that virtually every position on the Heat roster could use a boost, with only shooting guard currently having enough quality depth.
  • Nikola Jovic suffered a postseason left ankle sprain and he’s still in recovery mode, which makes the Heat forward’s status for Serbia’s pre-Olympic matchups uncertain. “I’m doing great,” he told Mozzartsport, as relayed by BasketNews. “The injury I got is getting better, the swelling is almost gone. But we’ll wait a few more days for the control scan and after that we’ll see how things are. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure that I’ll play, but I really believe in it.

Scotto’s Latest: J. Smith, Toppin, Weaver, Hartenstein, Huerter, O’Neale, More

Early indications suggest that Pacers power forward Jalen Smith will decline his $5.4MM player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports in his latest aggregate mock draft. Sources tell Scotto that a final decision hasn’t been made, but Smith appears to be leaning toward testing the free agency waters. He has a June 29 deadline to opt in for 2024/25.

Smith, 24, appeared in 61 games this season and posted a career high in scoring at 9.9 PPG, along with 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 17.2 minutes per night. He was selected 10th overall by Phoenix in the 2020 draft and was acquired by Indiana at the 2022 trade deadline.

Scotto notes that rival teams are watching to see whether the Pacers will re-sign restricted free agent Obi Toppin. If the fourth-year power forward reaches a new deal, there’s a belief that Indiana might be willing to trade Jarace Walker, who was a lottery pick last June.

Scotto shares more inside information in his aggregate draft:

  • Washington is believed to be a potential destination for former Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, who recently parted ways with the team, Scotto writes, noting that Weaver was once part of Oklahoma City’s front office along with Wizards executives Michael Winger and Will Dawkins.
  • Scotto talked with some NBA executives who believe the Magic should be considered a threat to sign Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein. Orlando could have close to $50MM in cap space to work with.
  • Executives also expect the Kings to explore deals involving Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes, Scotto adds.
  • The Raptors plan to work out an extension with Scottie Barnes this summer, sources tell Scotto. The versatile swingman made his first All-Star appearance this year.
  • Scotto echoes other reports in stating that Royce O’Neale is likely to reach a new contract with the Suns. The 31-year-old forward, who was acquired from Brooklyn at the trade deadline, is expected to receive about $10MM per year, according to Scotto.
  • Vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry isn’t expected to return to the Spurs next season, sources tell Scotto. The longtime NBA player has been an executive with San Antonio since 2018.
  • Assistant coach Jason Love will likely leave the Sixers and join Doc Rivers’ staff with the Bucks, Scotto states. Love previously worked for Rivers in Philadelphia.
  • The Hornets are assembling a staff of assistants for new head coach Charles Lee. Scotto hears it will include Lamar SkeeterJosh LongstaffChris JentRyan FrazierZach PetersonMatt Hill and Blaine Mueller.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Schnall, Longstaff, Hawks

The Wizards will have plenty of draft options after landing the No. 2 pick in this year’s lottery, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. General manager Will Dawkins, who was inside the lottery drawing room to learn his team’s fate, admitted there was some slight disappointment in not getting the top selection, but he’s confident about adding another valuable piece to the rebuilding process.

“I would say that there’s a lot of optionality at the top of the draft, and there’s probably not the same level of instant gratification that you can see in year one with some of these rookies,” Dawkins said. “But if you really dive down and have some patience and have a forward-thinking outlook, these players are going to be pretty good players in the NBA a few years from now.”

Last year’s selection of Bilal Coulibaly, who Washington traded up one spot to get, indicates that the front office is prioritizing players who understand the game and possess a strong work ethic, Robbins adds. He identifies G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis, Connecticut center Donovan Clingan, French wing Zaccharie Risacher, French big man Alexandre Sarr and Serbian point guard Nikola Topic as players in this year’s draft class who fit that description.

Coulibaly offered a scouting report on Risacher, whom he faced in France last season.

“Risacher, he’s got a lot of talent, a lot of talent,” Coulibaly said. “I played against him, like, two times last year. A great shot-maker. He can create his own shot. Yeah, a really good player.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • There wasn’t any lottery luck for the Hornets, who had the third-best odds for the top pick but dropped to No. 6 when three teams leapfrogged them, notes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Even though he didn’t get the result he wanted, co-owner Rick Schnall enjoyed his first look inside the lottery room. “It happens really fast and they run it in an incredibly efficient way,” he said. “And your disappointment comes really quickly. But it was interesting and it was good to see who was in the room, watch how the NBA runs it and understand — it might be my last time in there.” Schnall expressed confidence that Charlotte can find a productive player at No. 6 and called the lottery “just another step” in the process of building a competitive team.
  • Assistant coach Josh Longstaff will leave the Bulls to become part of Charles Lee‘s staff with the Hornets, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He joins former Jazz assistant Lamar Skeeter, who was hired last week.
  • Hawks executive David Starkman, the team’s representative in the lottery drawing room, didn’t know how to react when Atlanta overcame long odds to win the No. 1 pick, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The vice president of player personnel wasn’t familiar with what is considered acceptable behavior inside the lottery room. “I wasn’t sure what the protocol is,” Starkman said. “This isn’t the room to celebrate.” 
  • The lottery win adds $7MM to the Hawks‘ projected team salary and pushes that figure above the first tax apron, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

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.

Central Notes: Pistons, Williams, Holiday, Antetokounmpo

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is expected to talk to two former Thunder assistant coaches he worked with in Oklahoma City — the Bulls’ Josh Longstaff and the Nets’ Brian Keefe — for Detroit’s head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Dwane Casey announced after the Pistons’ season finale that he would be moving to the front office.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee, former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse have already been mentioned as potential targets for the Pistons’ job.

Former Overtime Elite coach Kevin Ollie, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, Pistons assistant Rex Kalamian and former Villanova coach Jay Wright are some other potential candidates that may intrigue Weaver, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic speculates.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls big men Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic did something that has become an increasing rarity in the league. They appeared in all 82 regular season contests. Williams, who was injured most of last season, said he takes pride in being available, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s a blessing to play all 82,” Williams said. “It was something that I definitely wanted to do and something I want to continue to do throughout the course of my career.”
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday achieved all of his regular season bonuses, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. He earned a total of $1.65MM for reaching incentives in minutes played, games played, rebounds and assists, as well as making the All-Star team. He still has a chance make an additional $4.1MM in bonuses, ranging from making the All-Defensive team to postseason team success, Marks adds.
  • While team goals means more to him, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo believes he deserves the Most Valuable Player award, he told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. “Look, I will never try to create a narrative about the work I put in and maybe that might hurt me because I believe the last five years I’ve been the MVP,” he said. “Do I want a third MVP? Hell (bleeping) yeah I want a third one. I am extremely competitive. I try to make my team successful. …. I’m never going to be one who discredits anybody else’s work. That’s not who I am as a person. And I will never beg for an MVP award that I believe I deserve.”

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 Hiring Maurice Cheeks, Josh Longstaff As Assistants

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has begun to fill out his new coaching staff, as Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Maurice Cheeks will be an assistant under Donovan in Chicago. The team is also hiring Josh Longstaff away from the Bucks to be an assistant coach on Donovan’s staff, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Cheeks is a logical fit for the Bulls, having been an assistant under Donovan with the Thunder for the last five years. He’s also a Chicago native, so joining the Bulls will be a homecoming for him. In addition to his two stints in Oklahoma City as an assistant coach, Cheeks has been an assistant for the 76ers and served as a head coach in Portland, Philadelphia, and Detroit.

As for Longstaff, he’s another former Thunder assistant, though he worked for the team from 2010-14 and didn’t overlap with Donovan. Since then, he has been an assistant for the Knicks, the head coach of the G League’s Erie BayHawks, and – for the last two years – a member of Mike Budenholzer‘s staff in Milwaukee. He’ll get the opportunity to become a front-of-the-bench assistant in Chicago, Wojnarowski notes.

The Bulls announced last month that assistants Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, Nate Loenser, and Karen Stack Umlauf wouldn’t be returning to the team. Although the club is revamping its coaching staff for Donovan, it sounds like there will be at least one holdover in Chris Fleming.

Bucks To Hire Josh Longstaff As Assistant Coach

Josh Longstaff is nearing a deal to become an assistant with the Bucks under new head coach Mike Budenholzer, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Longstaff, who is currently head coach of the Hawks’ G League affiliate in Erie, has served as a player development coach with the Knicks and Thunder. He also took a position with the Latvian national team last summer so he could work with Kristaps Porzingis.

Longstaff is currently serving as an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy with USA Basketball.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Sixers, Hornacek, Longstaff, Knicks

Celtics guard Marcus Smart will miss two weeks after he suffered a hand laceration after he punched a picture frame in frustration. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has more information on Smart’s injury and how the 23-year-old could face discipline from the team.

Per Bulpett, Smart’s story about the incident taking place inside a Beverly Hills hotel room checks out. Smart was reportedly frustrated over a social media post of a female acquaintance, which has since been deleted.

A source tells Bulpett that it is within the organization’s right to issue a fine and/or a suspension to Smart due to the incident. However, head coach Brad Stevens downplayed the situation and said the matter will be handled “internally.”  In 46 games (10 starts) this season, Smart is averaging 10.1 PPG and 4.7 APG.

Check out other Atlantic Division news and notes below:

  • Mike Schmitz of ESPN Insider (Subscription required and recommended) writes that while the Sixers possess an impressive young core headlined by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, their future franchise star may be 22-year-old Australian Jonah BoldenBolden was Philadelphia’s second-round pick (36th overall) in the 2017 NBA Draft; he currently suits up for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League
  • While the Knicks went 3-4 on their recent road trip, head coach Jeff Hornacek took several positives out of the stretch, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. With the trade deadline approaching, several Knicks may be on the move, but Hornacek was pleased with Lance Thomasdefense, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke‘s tenacity, and Enes Kanter‘s toughness.
  • With the deadline close, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes that the organization should learn from former president Phil Jackson‘s past mistakes. Instead of trying for a quick attempt at competing with a patchwork roster, the team should stick with its build-and-grow approach.
  • The Knicks cut ties with assistant coach Josh Longstaff (a personal favorite of Kristaps Porzingis) in the offseason and he is now finding G League success as the head coach of the Erie Bayhawks, Bondy writes in a separate story.