Juwan Howard

And-Ones: Scoring, NBA Cup, 2024 Draft, Two-Ways, Howard

In a memo obtained by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA told teams the league office “did not deliver a directive to reduce scoring” during a competition committee call earlier this week, but the post-All-Star break trend “will continue to be monitored.” As Wojnarowski writes, teams are scoring about four fewer points per game on average since resuming play at the end of February.

Slower pace, style of play, competitive intensity, officiating focus have been contributing factors identified so far,” the NBA said.

According to Woj, the league also stated one focus area for the meeting was centered on offensive players “hunting for fouls and veering off paths into defenders.” That has also been a point of emphasis for officials — and a “contributing factor” in the reduced scoring output of late.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA also informed teams that it was considering a couple of changes to tiebreakers for next season’s NBA Cup, which was called the In-Season Tournament during its debut in 2023/24, Marc Stein reports (via Twitter). Changes under consideration would impact tiebreakers for point differential and head-to-head results, per Stein.
  • Unlike in 2023, when there was a consensus No. 1 overall pick for well over a year, there’s a huge variance in where players are projected to be drafted in 2024, as Michael Scotto relays in the latest aggregate mock draft for HoopsHype. Scotto spoke to several NBA executives to get a feel for some of this year’s top prospects, including Alexandre Sarr, who is ranked No. 1 in aggregate but as low as No. 7. “I think Sarr has everything to his game,” one executive said. “He needs to go somewhere that’s patient with him. He can be a really good two-way player you can build around in two years. I believe in his shooting and shot blocking.”
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype ranks the most successful players who have previously been signed to two-way contracts. Austin Reaves (Lakers), Duncan Robinson (Heat), Alex Caruso (Bulls), Naz Reid (Timberwolves) and Luguentz Dort (Thunder) make up the top five of the 15-player list.
  • Former NBA player and assistant coach Juwan Howard has been fired as head coach of Michigan, the school announced in a press release. Howard compiled a 82-67 record in five seasons at his alma mater, making the NCAA Tournament twice (in 2021 and ’22), but the Wolverines went just 8-24 this season and were eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

And-Ones: J. Howard, Canada, Player Participation

Former NBA big man and current Michigan head coach Juwan Howard underwent successful heart surgery on Friday, writes Tom Wywrot of the team’s website.

After a routine medical exam, it was discovered that Howard had an aortic aneurysm, which was successfully resected. His aortic valve was also repaired. The surgeon who performed the operation said Howard is expected to make a full recovery in six-to-12 weeks and could return to coaching in four-to-six weeks.

Associate head coach Phil Martelli will be the interim head coach while Howard recovers, according to Wywrot.

Howard, 50, played 19 years in the NBA, making his lone All-Star appearance in 1995/96. He won a pair of championships in a minor role with the Heat at the end of his playing career.

Howard’s son, Jett Howard, played under his father at Michigan and was selected 11th overall in June’s draft by Orlando.

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

  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca recently sat down for a lengthy interview with Canadian national team executive VP and GM Rowan Barrett following Canada’s historic bronze medal at the World Cup. When asked if the team would change its roster ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Barrett said it would be “irresponsible” to speculate at this point, because there are external factors at play, including the long NBA season. However, he did discuss what the national team would be looking for in broader terms. “Our focus is not to create an All-Star team,” Barrett said, per Grange. “We need to create the best team. And I think the proof of that was this summer. Our team was not an All-NBA, All-Star team. We had guys mixed in from the summer core and the winter core. There were some guys that just set screens; some guys, they were there just to pass the ball. Some guys weren’t going to play a lot, but they were there to scream out assignments and coverages to help guys execute the game plan. Some guys, the majority of their energy was in practice to make sure the practice level was high. And you can have subtraction by addition, too. So, we’ve got to be very careful, and very thoughtful and very strategic about how we’re going to build this team.”
  • Will the NBA strictly implement its new player participation policy? Or will the league take a lax stance under certain circumstances? Brian Windhorst of ESPN explored that topic on NBA Today (YouTube link), noting that the rules will drastically impact some teams but others won’t have to worry about it at all, since those clubs haven’t had any All-Stars or All-NBA players for the past three seasons.
  • In case you missed it, we published another And-Ones post yesterday and also passed along some international notes.

Stein’s Latest: Portis, J. Howard, Lakers, Celtics, Hornets

Bucks forward/center Bobby Portis has the ability to become an unrestricted free agent this summer by turning down his $4.56MM player option for 2022/23. However, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack article that some teams with interest in Portis are extremely pessimistic about their chances of luring the veteran out of Milwaukee.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Portis will exercise his player option. Because he has spent the last two seasons with the Bucks, they now hold his Early Bird rights and would be able to offer him a raise if he opts out. There’s an expectation that Portis will sign a multiyear deal with Milwaukee if he declines his option, according to Stein.

Assuming the Bucks use Portis’ Early Bird rights to re-sign him, they’ll have to offer him a deal covering at least two seasons, since Early Bird contracts can’t be for just one year. They can also offer up to 105% of the league-average salary from the previous season — that should result in a maximum starting salary in the vicinity of $11MM.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Based on the rumors circulating in coaching circles, it sounds as if Juwan Howard was the Lakers‘ preferred candidate in their head coaching search, according to Stein. Los Angeles made such “strong overtures” to Howard that it appeared the team preferred him to other long-shot targets like Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers and was willing to offer him the job if he wanted it, Stein adds. Howard wasn’t interested in leaving the University of Michigan, and L.A. ultimately hired Darvin Ham.
  • The Celtics also had strong interest in Howard a year ago after Brad Stevens moved from the sidelines to the front office and before the team hired Ime Udoka, says Stein. The Lakers will be hoping their new hire works out as well as Udoka has in Boston.
  • Stein continues to hear that the Hornets are likely to choose between Mike D’Antoni and Kenny Atkinson as they near the end of their head coaching search. D’Antoni and Atkinson were previously identified as finalists for the job, but it wasn’t clear if they were the only candidates still in play.

Pacific Notes: Howard, Lakers, Green, Ayton, Kings

The Lakers expressed interest in former NBA player and current Michigan coach Juwan Howard for their head coaching job, but Howard declined the overture, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Los Angeles reportedly has Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts and Kenny Atkinson advancing to the final stage of interviews. Howard has experience coaching Lakers superstar LeBron James as an assistant with the Heat, but he’ll stay at Michigan and coach his two sons next season instead, Wojnarowski reports.

Howard interviewed for the Lakers’ head coaching job in 2019 before joining Michigan. The Lakers ultimately hired Frank Vogel, who guided them to a championship in 2020 and was fired last month after the team finished 33-49.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN examines why this is the best version of Draymond Green yet. Green has been productive for the Warriors, averaging 7.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists with his usual versatile defense. He’s also shot a career-high 52% from the floor and a below-average 25% from deep.
  • The Suns may be willing to pay Deandre Ayton what he’s seeking in restricted free agency, but Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic says the team first needs to determine whether he actually wants to stick around. Ayton only played 17 minutes in the team’s season-ending loss to Dallas last round, attempting just five shots. He did, however, average 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds for Phoenix this year, helping the club win 64 games.
  • James Ham of The Kings Beat examines whether the Kings would consider moving up in the draft. Sacramento currently owns the No. 4, No. 37 and No. 49 picks in the event.

California Notes: Green, Wiggins, Kings, Howard

Warriors power forward Draymond Green is convinced that he has reached a new level in these playoffs, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Youngmisuk notes that, as the main defender on a Mavericks shooter in Game 2, Green limited Dallas players to 4-of-15 shooting from the floor. That stat also includes those Mavericks players going 0-of-9 from long range against Green. The Warriors currently lead the Mavericks 2-0 in their Western Conference Finals series.

“[Opposing players] had a hard time dealing with me before,” Green said of his performance in prior playoff runs, which include three titles. “[But] I’m in a space now that’s a totally different, better space. Not even close. Much, much better than I was in before.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, dealing with a sore left ankle, will suit up for this evening’s Game 3 contest against the Mavericks despite the injury, per Marc Stein (via Twitter). “It was just a little tweak, I just came down on it wrong,” Wiggins told reporters in remarks this morning, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter video link).
  • The Kings saw several top draft prospects during some recent agency pro day workouts, per Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 (KTXL) (Twitter link). Cunningham reports that LSU forward Tari Eason, Mega Soccerbet forward Nikola Jovic, Duke center Mark Williams, Milwaukee guard Patrick Baldwin Jr., and Iowa forward Keegan Murray all participated.
  • Michigan head coach and former All-Star big man Juwan Howard turned down recent interest from the Lakers to interview for the team’s vacant head coaching position, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Howard intends to remain in Ann Arbor to coach his two sons next year. Howard last interviewed for the gig in 2019, before the Lakers ultimately hired Frank Vogel.

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Westbrook, M. Jackson, Coaching Candidates

LeBron James may be leaning toward playing out his current contract and making a decision on his future next summer, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. In August, James will become eligible for a two-year extension that would pay him $97.1MM and tie him to the Lakers through the end of the 2024/25 season.

Although that’s more than he could get from any other team, the organization’s turmoil and lack of success on the court could make him think twice about extending him commitment to the Lakers. James, who said in February that he would like to someday be on the same team with his son, Bronny, could return to playing on one-year contracts the way he did during his second stint in Cleveland, Amick adds, citing sources close to the situation.

James is intrigued by by the idea of setting the all-time scoring record in a Lakers’ uniform, but he also wants to contend for championships, which may be out of reach in L.A. When asked about the extension on Monday, he didn’t offer a direct answer.

“The conversation hasn’t been talked about,” James responded. “Technically it’s because (with) the collective bargaining agreement (it) cannot even be discussed until later on in the year. So, you know, I know what’s out there. But we can’t even — myself and (agent) Rich (Paul) — can’t even begin to talk with (GM) Rob (Pelinka), or the front office at all, because of the collective bargaining agreement. So (when) we get to that point, we’ll see.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • If Russell Westbrook remains with the team next season, there will be “significant pressure” for him to become a sixth man, according to Amick, who states that “some key Lakers figures” thought that should have been his role this year. Westbrook clashed repeatedly with just-fired head coach Frank Vogel, so it’s possible that he would be more accommodating to a new coach.
  • James would be “very enthused” to see Mark Jackson become the team’s next head coach, Amick adds. Jackson, a broadcaster for ABC and ESPN, has been out of coaching since the Warriors fired him after the 2013/14 season. Amick notes that the Lakers haven’t always taken coaching advice from James, who preferred Tyronn Lue and Jason Kidd before Vogel was hired in 2019.
  • Many of the prominent names mentioned in the Lakers’ coaching search are already under contract and may be out of reach, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Quin Snyder‘s deal with the Jazz runs for at least another year, and sources tell Turner that Snyder has less interest in the L.A. job after seeing how the organization mishandled Vogel’s firing. Nick Nurse has two years left on his contract in Toronto and it’s assumed around the league that the Raptors won’t let him leave, Turner adds, while Juwan Howard reportedly wants to stay at Michigan and coach his sons. However, even though he has three years left on his contract with the Sixers, Doc Rivers “should not be discounted as a candidate,” a source familiar with the situation tells Turner.

L.A. Notes: Lakers’ Roster, Howard, Rondo, George, Powell

The Lakers‘ hopes of reaching the play-in tournament were extinguished this week, but these final games are still important for a few players, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team’s roster figures to look much different next season, and young players such as Mason Jones, who finished third in the G League MVP race, see the late-season contests as a chance to shape their future.

“At the end of the day, I want to be a good player in the league,” he said. “From this day forward, you’ve got to continue to take steps. I was with South Bay earlier and I took that as the right mindset. And I’ll continue to take steps. From here, I want to continue to take the steps and learn from them because possibly, they could be my teammates next year.”

Beyond LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the Lakers have only a few players under contract for next season, Goon notes. Talen Horton-Tucker is signed for two more years and Kendrick Nunn for one more, and the team has 2022/23 options on Austin Reaves and Stanley Johnson. That may create an opportunity for Wenyen Gabriel, whose two-way contract was converted to a standard deal on Friday.

“Obviously we didn’t get a lot of wins this month and we obviously wish we could have won more,” Gabriel said. “But I played with a lot of energy, and I feel I showed some things – some tools that the front office thinks can help the next following season. So it’s just them believing in my potential.”

There’s more NBA news from Los Angeles:

  • Michigan coach Juwan Howard has been mentioned as a possibility to replace Frank Vogel as head coach of the Lakers, tweets Steve Bulpett of Heavy, who adds that if that happens Rajon Rondo could join him as an assistant. Rondo, 36, is currently playing for the Cavaliers.
  • There appears to be no concern about Paul George‘s elbow as the Clippers head toward the play-in tournament, according to Joe Reedy of The Associated Press. George, who missed three months with a torn ligament, has been excellent since returning last week and the team has gone 5-1 in the games he has played. “The elbow’s fine. It feels pretty good,” George said. “Overall, I’m trying to take each possession for what it is and trying to make the best play possible.”
  • Norman Powell is happy to back in time for the postseason after fracturing a bone in his left foot shortly after being traded to the Clippers, per Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “I’m excited for what we’re building here,” Powell said after returning Wednesday. “Playing along PG, it still doesn’t seem real to me. He was a guy that I looked up to growing up, a guy, we had some battles in Toronto in the playoffs, and early on in my career he gave me some words of encouragement – my rookie year, that stuck with me. So being able to play alongside with him, and Kawhi (Leonard) when he gets back healthy, it’s going to be fun.”

And-Ones: Howard, Banchero, UAE, Underperforming Teams

The University of Michigan has agreed to a long-term contract extension with men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard, the program announced on Tuesday in a press release. Howard’s new deal will run through the 2025/26 season, locking him up for the next five years.

Howard has been identified as a potential NBA head coaching candidate in recent years, but the former Heat assistant has repeatedly shot down rumors that he’d be interested in returning to the league. If he changes his mind during the next five years, Howard could probably negotiate an exit from his deal with the Wolverines. But the fact that he agreed to that extension in the first place suggests he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

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

  • Duke’s Paolo Banchero, a projected top-two pick in the 2022 NBA draft, was arrested on Sunday for aiding and abetting DWI, according to Steve Wiseman of The Raleigh News & Observer. Blue Devils guard Michael Savarino, who was driving a vehicle registered to Banchero, was charged with DWI. Both players have December court dates.
  • NBA games will be played in the United Arab Emirates for the first time next fall, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, who reports that the league will schedule two exhibition games in Abu Dhabi in October 2022. The NBA has previously played exhibitions in the Middle East in Israel, but this will be the league’s first trip to the UAE.
  • A handful of ESPN writers took a closer look at some underperforming teams to assess how concerned those clubs should be about their slow starts. The Hawks, Bucks, and Celtics are among the teams that shouldn’t be too worried quite yet, but the panic meter is already high for the Pelicans.

Penny Hardaway Drawing Interest As NBA Coaching Candidate

NBA teams are making calls to gather intel on University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Hardaway is expected to get offers to interview for NBA jobs this offseason.

A four-time All-Star as an NBA player, Hardaway has slowly been climbing the coaching ladder over the last decade. After several years in the high school ranks, he was hired by Memphis in 2018 and has landed top recruits like James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa in recent years. The Tigers haven’t made the NCAA tournament since Hardaway joined the program, but had a 20-8 record and were NIT champions in 2020/21.

It’s not clear which teams might offer Hardaway an interview – or if he’d be open to leaving Memphis – but the Celtics, Pacers, Magic, and Trail Blazers currently have head coaching openings.

Another noteworthy college coach, Juwan Howard of Michigan, continues to draw NBA interest as well, but he has been telling teams that he has no interest in leaving the Wolverines, according to Wojnarowski. Howard, who was specifically identified as a potential Blazers candidate, also rebuffed NBA interest in 2020.

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.