Kiki Vandeweghe

And-Ones: Bates, Olympics, Free Agents, VanDeWeghe

Emoni Bates, who is considered the best high school prospect in the country, will reclassify into the Class of 2021  but still won’t be eligible for the NBA draft until 2023, writes Jeff Borzello of ESPN.

A 6’9″ small forward from Ypsilanti, Michigan, Bates committed to Michigan State last summer, but reconsidered in April. The Spartans are still among the options he is considering, along with Oregon, Memphis and the G League. Wherever Bates goes, he may stay for two years.

NBA draft rules require players to be a year removed from their high school graduating class and turn 19 in that calendar year. Bates’ 19th birthday isn’t until January of 2023.

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

  • Tuesday’s losses by Argentina and Spain probably ended the long Olympic careers of Luis Scola, Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, notes Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. All three players had success in the NBA, but they’re equally famous throughout the world for what they accomplished in international competitions. “I’m 41,” said Scola, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2004 and a bronze in 2008. “I don’t see that many people playing that are my age.”
  • French teammates Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum were both in Tokyo when their contract agreements were being finalized, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. They are among a handful of players who are having the unprecedented experience of focusing on the Olympics and NBA free agency at the same time. “This morning I woke up at 3:30, I called my agent, like, ‘You gotta get a deal done right now so I can move on from it,’” said Batum, who got a new two-year contract from the Clippers.
  • Long-time NBA league office executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe has moved into a new role as special advisor, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

And-Ones: Restart Changes, Mayo, College Scouts

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel applauds several of the league innovations introduced during the NBA’s summer restart on the Orlando Disney World campus.

Winderman has special praise for the play-in game option ahead of the playoffs between the eighth and ninth seeds of either conference, if they are within four games of each other. He also cites the league’s wider court layouts and sideline buffers as excellent innovations. Winderman hopes to see these changes for the NBA restart permanently implemented ahead of the 2020/21 season.

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

  • Shooting guard O.J. Mayo will remain in the Chinese Basketball Association for the 2020/21 season, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Mayo will re-sign with Liaoning, for whom he averaged 28 PPG, 6 RPG, 3 APG and 2 SPG. The 32-year-old, drafted with the third pick in 2008 by Memphis, spent eight years in the NBA, playing for the Grizzlies, Mavericks, and Bucks. Mayo was suspended in 2016 for two years after violating the NBA’s Anti-Drug Program.
  • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA college scouts will not be permitted in team practices during the 2020/21 season, per Adam Zagoria of Additionally, scouts will only be allowed into games that the general public can also view in-person. NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe alerted league personnel to these developments in an email today.
  • As we previously mentioned, recently retired eight-time All-Star Vince Carter was gifted with the 2019/20 NBA Sportsmanship Award.

Knicks Eyeing Masai Ujiri, Sam Presti For Potential Front Office Opening?

Knicks management has reportedly been put on notice with owner James Dolan expecting the front office to make “progress” in order for several members of the front office to keep their jobs. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News hears that if New York finds itself hiring a new head of basketball operations, the team’s wish list begins with Raptors team president Masai Ujiri and Thunder GM Sam Presti.

Dolan has long been a fan of Ujiri’s. The Wizards took a stab at prying the executive from Toronto this past offseason with no success. Perhaps Dolan believes the Knicks will have better luck.

Presti has been with Oklahoma City for 12 seasons and he has arguably the most unique resume of any GM in the league. He drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden to build a true contender and after each player left has molded a different team, ranging from contender to mid-tier playoff team to one in a rebuild again.

Bondy also mentions Trajan Langdon – who helped the Nets turn their franchise around before moving onto the Pelicans – and Kiki Vandeweghe – who currently works in the league office – as potential targets. Bondy hears that Vandeweghe would have interest in the job.

Latest On Sixers’ GM Search

After working their way through the NBA draft and the first wave of 2018 free agency without a general manager, the Sixers figure to shift their focus to filling that open front office position in the coming weeks. However, principal owner Josh Harris cautions that the search may not be completed quickly, as Keith Pompey of details.

“I think it’s going to take a while to find the right person,” Harris said on Monday. “I hate to keep talking about it, but we really need to find the right person who can develop the special culture. It’s very consensus-oriented.

As Pompey explains, the Sixers want to take a collaborative approach to key personnel and roster decisions, meaning any serious candidate for the GM opening will have to be willing to surrender total power on those decisions. The team’s goal is to find a candidate that will mesh with head coach Brett Brown, vice president of basketball operations Ned Cohen, and other front office executives like Alex Rucker and Sergi Oliva.

“Certainly there are other ways to do it, where there’s a big, strong leader,” Harris said. “He or she makes every decision, and there’s many roads to run. That’s just not the road we are going to take.”

The Sixers’ reluctance to give total decision-making control to their next GM may turn off some top candidates, but Pompey still identifies a handful of noteworthy names receiving consideration. Multiple sources tell Pompey that former Nets and Nuggets GM Kiki VanDeWeghe has expressed interest in the job. Spurs GM R.C. Buford has also been cited as a possible target, according to Pompey, who notes that it would be difficult to lure Buford out of San Antonio. Of the Sixers’ internal candidates, Cohen probably has the best case, Pompey adds.

Harris suggested that the Sixers would like to hire a general manager who has previous GM experience, adding that a proven “track record” is a plus, though he acknowledged that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker.

Philadelphia has been on the lookout for a new general manager since a scandal involving multiple burner Twitter accounts ultimately led to Bryan Colangelo‘s ouster. Brown is serving as the team’s interim GM.

Community Shootaround: Sixers’ GM Job

Nine days after The Ringer published a fascinating report linking Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to a handful of anonymous Twitter accounts that had seemingly revealed sensitive information about the franchise, Colangelo announced his resignation on Thursday, confirming that he and the club had agreed to part ways.

It was an extremely unusual way for a top executive to lose his job, but the upshot is that the Sixers have become the third NBA team this spring in the market for a new head of basketball operations. The Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as their new GM and president of basketball ops, while the Pistons’ search remains active.

While Detroit’s list of candidates has included several executives who recently retired as NBA players and don’t have extensive front office experience, the early – and informal – list of options in Philadelphia looks a little heavier on former GMs and seasoned top lieutenants.

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has been cited most frequently, viewed as an ideal fit not just due to his résumé in Cleveland, but due to his connection to a certain Cav — LeBron James figures to be the Sixers’ top target in free agency this summer, so bringing aboard a GM LeBron liked could boost the team’s chances of landing him.

League sources have also identified Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren as a top candidate for the 76ers, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Zarren has received consideration for several GM jobs over the years – including the Philadelphia gig before Sam Hinkie was hired in 2013 – but has always opted to remain in Boston. His track record suggests he won’t leave the C’s, but the Sixers, armed with a pair of potential franchise players, a top-10 pick, and significant cap room, would be an extremely appealing landing spot.

O’Connor indicates that Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley and VP of basketball operations Ned Cohen are two internal candidates that may receive consideration for the position, and says Kiki VanDeWeghe‘s name has been floated as a possible target too. A former GM, VanDeWeghe currently works in the league office.

Malik Rose, who is said to be receiving interest from the Pistons for their front office opening, is a Philadelphia native, which could make him an appealing target for the Sixers. If the team wants to dip into Houston’s front office again, Gersson Rosas would be a strong candidate. The 76ers’ list of candidates may grow even further, though it’s probably safe to assume that Hinke – the club’s previous hire from the Rockets – won’t be returning to Philadelphia, despite the wishes of many Sixers fans.

What do you think? Which GM candidate would you like to see replace Colangelo in Philadelphia? Which candidate do you believe the Sixers will ultimately hire?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Latest On Pistons’ GM/Front Office Search

The Pistons continue to conduct separate searches for a new head coach and a new head of basketball operations, and while it’s possible they’ll hire a coach sooner rather than later, they prefer to address their front office opening first. That would allow the new head of basketball operations to have a say in the head coaching hire.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provides an update on Detroit’s front office search today, reporting (via Twitter) that NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, Grizzlies executive VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon are among the candidates the Pistons are eyeing to run their basketball operations department. Current GM Jeff Bower also remains a candidate to be promoted, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

Most of those executives have received consideration for top front office jobs in the recent past. Rosas, for instance, was cited as a contender for the Hornets’ GM opening this spring. Stefanski was said to be in the mix for the Bucks’ GM vacancy last summer, while Langdon received consideration for the Hawks job around the same time.

In addition to considering those aforementioned candidates for their top basketball operations job, the Pistons are also targeting TNT analyst Brent Barry and Heat director of basketball development and analytics Shane Battier for front office roles, according to Wojnarowski.

Although Bower is currently running the Pistons’ basketball operations department, his contract is set to expire on June 30, so Detroit could end up making several new hires this spring. Should Bower depart, the Pistons may hire a new president of basketball operations, a new GM, and a new head coach.

And-Ones: Turner, Vandeweghe, Horford

Hawks big man Al Horford is entering the final season of his current deal and will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. But Horford’s eye is on the coming season, and he won’t discuss his future until next summer, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution relays.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The NBA officially announced today that Kiki Vandeweghe has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations for the league, a move that had seemed likely for months. He moves up from vice president of basketball ops and replaces the retiring Rod Thorn. Vandeweghe’s new position puts him in charge of player discipline, among other duties. “Kiki is one of the sharpest basketball minds in the NBA,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “In addition to his storied UCLA and NBA playing career plus his extensive experience as a general manager, coach, and TV analyst, he has most recently helped drive innovations in analytics that are reshaping the league in areas such as scheduling, game statistics, and player health.”
  • Myles Turner has transformed from an injured high school junior who was an afterthought to college recruiters into a candidate to start at center for the Pacers this season, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders details. This year’s No. 11 overall pick performed well at summer league, leading to some thought of him as a Rookie of the Year contender, but coach Frank Vogel has reminded the big man not to get carried away, as Turner tells Kennedy.
  • The Rockets have officially hired Matt Brase as the coach of Rio Grande Valley Vipers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced (via Twitter). Brase replaces former coach Nevada Smith, who spent two seasons with the Vipers and compiled an overall record of 60-46, including a mark of 27-23 last season.

Kings Reach Out To John Calipari

11:39am: The Kings deny Wojnarowski’s report, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

11:02am: Calipari, as he’s done in the past, took to Twitter to say that he’s not looking for another job and that the Kings haven’t offered him one. He acknowledged talking to Ranadive about Cousins and No. 6 overall pick Willie Cauley-Stein, but wrote in all capital letters, “I will be at Kentucky.” (All five Twitter links here).

10:16am: Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and other members of his ownership group have spoken with Kentucky coach John Calipari to feel out his interest in coaching the team and running its front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. It would require a multiyear contract worth at least $10MM a year to lure him, Wojnarowski adds, but Sacramento has had lawyers examine the contract of coach George Karl to see if he can be fired with cause for reportedly speaking to other teams to see if he can arrange DeMarcus Cousins a trade, as Wojnarowski details. It’s a long shot that the Kings would be able to terminate Karl in such a way that would allow them to recoup the nearly $10MM in guaranteed money left on his deal, which runs another three years.

Ranadive is going after Calipari in part to see if he can convince Cousins to change his mind about his desire to be traded to the Lakers, according to Wojnarowski, a desire that has reportedly come about amid Karl’s apparent quest to see him traded. Calipari coached Cousins during the center’s lone season at Kentucky.

Hiring Calipari would represent yet another shift for the Kings under Ranadive, who’ve already employed three coaches and two front office chiefs since he took control of the franchise two years ago. League officials and confidants of the owner have tried to prevail upon him to stop his frequent shakeups, sources tell Wojnarowski. Ranadive replaced former GM Pete D’Alessandro atop the front office structure this spring with vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac, but executives and agents grew frustrated in dealing with Divac at draft time, as the newly minted executive is unfamiliar with salary cap and collective bargaining agreement rules, Wojnarowski hears. Ranadive considered hiring NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe to lead the front office before turning to Divac, Wojnarowski reports.

Calipari has consistently maintained he’s satisfied at Kentucky even as he continues to listen to overtures from the NBA. He had a level of interest in the Pelicans this spring, but New Orleans didn’t want him to lead its entire basketball operation, according to Wojnarowski.

Rod Thorn To Retire From League Office

2:18pm: Vandeweghe will likely hold the job next, Thorn also said to the gathered media, Beck notes (on Twitter).

2:05pm: Thorn has confirmed his retirement plans to reporters, including Howard Beck of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

9:58am: NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn plans to retire in August, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The longtime league and team executive is in charge of day-to-day matters, including most player suspensions, for the NBA, a role to which he returned in 2013 after a 14-year run in the position that ended in 2000. NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe is a strong candidate to replace the 73-year-old Thorn, Wojnarowski hears.

The news is no major surprise to the NBA, since the plan when Thorn rejoined the league office was for him to serve only two years while the NBA transitioned to someone who would fill the position for the long run, Wojnarowski reports. Still, Thorn will leave behind a lengthy legacy that includes time as a player, coach and, most prominently, an executive. Thorn was GM of the Bulls when they drafted Michael Jordan, Wojnarowski points out, and he later ran basketball operations for the Nets and the Sixers. Thorn was head coach of the Bulls for part of the 1981/82 season, and he was also a head coach in the ABA with the Spirits of St. Louis in 1975/76, a few years after he finished an eight-year NBA playing career.

Thorn’s most recent stop with a team was in Philadelphia, where he oversaw the team’s personnel moves as president and chief operating officer from 2010 to 2013. The club moved Tony DiLeo into the GM role in September 2012 as Thorn transitioned into more of a consultant for the team. Still, Thorn was at the controls in August 2012, when the Sixers pulled the trigger on their ill-fated acquisition of Andrew Bynum. Thorn nonetheless made plenty of moves that worked out during his time, earning Executive of the Year honors with the Nets in 2002 as that team made its first of back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals.

Pistons Considering Griffin, Zarren, Vandeweghe

With Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars’ announcement that he was “stepping aside”, the speculation as to who would take over his post began. The team intends to conduct a comprehensive search for their next GM, report Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today. According to the article, there are several names are on the Pistons’ radar.

The latest names to be mentioned in connection with Detroit are Cavaliers acting general manager David Griffin, Celtics assistant GM and team counsel Mike Zarren and NBA senior vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe.

Other names connected with the search per the article, are Magic assistant GM Scott Perry, who is from Detroit and used to work for the team, Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk, and former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo.

It was also reported earlier this week that Grant Hill, a former Pistons player who is now working for Turner Sports, is also a possibility for the post. The Pistons may also look into an arrangement similar to the one Doc Rivers has with the Clippers, the article notes. Rivers is both coach and senior vice president of basketball operations and works with vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks on personnel decisions.

The other wild card here could be former Pistons great Isiah Thomas, who was reported to be openly campaigning for the job, despite the team shooting down those rumors. There has also been talk that the team may want to hire Chauncey Billups for the front-office, but the exact role hasn’t been revealed.

Currently Pistons director of basketball operations Ken Catanella and assistant GM David George are preparing for the draft and free agency. They report to ownership executives Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth, both of whom are partners is Gores’ private equity investment firm, Platinum Equity, write Zillgitt and Amick.