Lindsey Hunter

Latest On Wolves Coaching Search

9:33am: Izzo is still “very high” on Saunders’ list of candidates, according to Chris Mannix of, who seconds Zgoda’s take that the Michigan State coach’s denial of interest in taking an NBA job this year left some wiggle room (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 9:02am: The Wolves haven’t yet abandoned their pursuit of Hoiberg, Wolfson tweets. That’s in spite of Saunders saying last week that Hoiberg wouldn’t be jumping to the NBA. Wolfson doesn’t expect the team to pursue Karl (Twitter link).

WEDNESDAY, 12:22pm: A source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that Stan Van Gundy won’t reciprocate the Timberwolves’ interest in him for their coaching vacancy, and Tom Izzo says he’s not jumping to the NBA this year. There are other candidates for the job, but the search has been slow-going, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports.

The Wolves have been primarily eyeing college coaches, though top targets Izzo and, as we passed along earlier, Fred Hoiberg are apparently out of the running. There are candidates with NBA experience in the mix, too, including George Karl, and Wolfson hears that Karl would indeed have interest and is hoping that the Wolves contact him, contradicting an earlier report that he wouldn’t want the job. Still, the Wolves haven’t reached out to Karl or Lionel Hollins, another among the previously mentioned candidates for the position, Wolfson writes.

The Wolves wouldn’t have interest in Scott Brooks of the Thunder, if he came available, and Wolfson reiterates that Minnesota wouldn’t want Frank Vogel, either. Former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell would like the Wolves job, but Minnesota isn’t interested, Wolfson writes. The Wolves probably won’t go after Warriors assistant Lindsey Hunter, Wizards assistant Sam Cassell, or Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff in spite of their ties to the organization, according to Wolfson.

President of basketball operations Flip Saunders is still a “name to monitor,” Wolfson writes, even though he’s downplayed the idea that he’d take over the coaching position. He’s said he’d “never say never” to the job on multiple occasions. Saunders and, even in his comments today, Izzo have been somewhat vague in their insistence that they won’t be on an NBA bench next season, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune notes (on Twitter).

Odds & Ends: Hunter, Extensions, Lin, Thibodeau

Here are some odds and ends from around the NBA on Wednesday:

  • The Warriors have officially added Lindsey Hunter to Mark Jackson's staff as an assistant coach, the team announced today in a press release. Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game initially reported last week that the former Suns head coach was finalizing a deal with Golden State.
  • It wouldn't be a shock if none of the 16 extension-eligible players from the rookie class of 2010 signed a deal before hitting restricted free agency next summer, writes Mark Deeks of SB Nation.  Deeks opines that teams would rather let external offer sheets set the market for their own hard-to-project players than committing big dollars prematurely. Of course, based on a report this afternoon, it seems that Paul George will be extended this offseason.
  • While he has certainly been through a lot, it is important to remember that Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin is still in the early stages of his career, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, who notes that Lin has had less starts (107) than fellow young point guards Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight.  Assuming he isn't traded, Lin will return to the team he was on the year before for the first time in his career.
  • The Luol Deng situation in Chicago has put Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau in a "vortex of drama," writes Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, who says that the list of coaches who dislike distractions more than Thibs is very short.  

Western Notes: Hunter, Rockets, Melo, Ellis

Let's round up a few Friday afternoon items from around the Western Conference….

  • Ex-Suns coach Lindsey Hunter is in the process of finalizing a deal that will land him on the Warriors' coaching staff, reports Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (via Twitter). Hunter was considered by the Suns and Pistons for head coaching openings this summer, but both teams went in other directions.
  • The Rockets are engaged in discussions with Villanova assistant Billy Lange about making him the head coach of their D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. As Wojnarowski notes, the Vipers' last two coaches, Nick Nurse and Chris Finch, have since been hired as NBA assistants.
  • Fab Melo's contract with the Mavericks is fully non-guaranteed, according to Mark Deeks of (via Twitter). Regardless of whether or not he earns a spot on Dallas' regular-season roster, Melo will still be paid by the Grizzlies under his previous contract.
  • Although many observers believe adding a high-volume shooter like Monta Ellis won't improve the Mavericks, Lang Greene of HoopsWorld plays devil's advocate, arguing that perhaps Ellis is exactly the sort of scorer the team needs.

Jeff Hornacek Has Offer To Become Suns Coach

The Suns and Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek are working over the weekend to finalize a deal that would make him Phoenix's new head coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Suns have offered Hornacek the position, and the two sides have already begun working on assembling a staff of assistants. Phoenix never formally parted ways with interim coach Lindsey Hunter, who remained a candidate for the full-time Suns job even after interviewing for the Pistons coaching vacancy, but it appears they'll soon be doing so.

Hornacek met with Suns owner Robert Sarver, president Lon Babby, and new GM Ryan McDonough this week. Phoenix also sat down Friday with Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, according to Wojnarowski, but it appears Bickerstaff will join Hunter on the list of candidates who came up short. Phoenix was also reportedly set to interview fellow Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson, and appeared to have interest in Quin Snyder. The Suns received permission from the Lakers to interview assistant Steve Clifford, though it's unclear if they followed through with a meeting. 

The 50-year-old Hornacek spent the first six seasons of his playing career with the Suns, who dealt him to the Sixers in the Charles Barkley trade. He interviewed Thursday for the Bobcats coaching job and was also rumored to be a candidate for the Sixers vacancy as well.

Latest On Pistons Coaching Search

After interviewing Maurice Cheeks yesterday, it appears the Pistons are done bringing in coaching candidates, reports Vince Goodwill of the Detroit News. According to Goodwill, Detroit's front office appears likely to decide on a new head coach "relatively soon."

In addition to Cheeks, the Pistons have interviewed a list of candidates that is believed to include Nate McMillan, Lindsey Hunter, Mike Budenholzer, J.B. Bickerstaff, and Darrell Walker. One report suggested the team also planned to interview Brian Shaw, but the Pacers reportedly aren't allowing Shaw to formally meet with any clubs until after Indiana's playoff run ends.

According to Goodwill, the Pistons likely won't wait for the Eastern Conference finals to finish to formally interview Shaw or Heat assistant David Fizdale, though that won't necessarily preclude the club from talking to one or both candidates via phone.

Goodwill also notes that there could have been mutual interest between the Pistons and Larry Drew. Drew, who technically remains under contract with the Hawks for a few more weeks, impressed the Pistons by taking a roster with nine expiring contracts to the playoffs, says Goodwill.

As for Phil Jackon's involvement in the process, Goodwill speculates that the advisory role may have merely been a way for Jackson to get his name back out there, as opposed to an attempt to push one of his preferred candidates to Detroit or strong-arm his way into the Pistons' front office.

"He was in town for a couple days, we spent time together in those couple days," Pistons GM Joe Dumars said of the Zen Master. "We've had a couple conversations since he left town."

Western Notes: McDonough, Hunter, Wright

Not long after being officially introduced as the Suns' new general manager, Ryan McDonough addressed the topic of his head coaching search, saying that several people on his list of ideal candidates for the job have matched up with the list that had been in place before he was hired, adding that Lindsey Hunter still remains as "one of the top guys" (Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic via USA Today). McDonough also underscored the draft as a franchise's "lifeblood" for "sustainable success" and was complimentary of some of the current players on the roster. Here's more out of the Western Conference tonight: 

  • Both Kevin Sherrington and David Moore of SportsDayDFW put themselves in Mark Cuban's shoes and give their theoretical free agent pitches to Chris Paul. Sherrington points to the differences in the Clippers' and Mavericks' ownership, while Moore emphasizes the opportunity to play with a shooter like Dirk Nowitzki and for a proven coach in Rick Carlisle
  • Tim Cowlishaw of SportsDayDFW has his doubts about the Mavericks keeping Brandan Wright, noting that coach Rick Carlisle had issues with Wright's rebounding and inconsistency. With only six players under contract for next season as of right now, Cowlishaw expects the makeup of the team to be drastically different. 
  • Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News makes the argument that the Warriors are a much more dangerous team now than they would have been with a healthy David Lee.
  • Lee told CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher that he plans to return to action again this postseason and hasn't ruled out the possibility of getting surgery to repair his torn right hip flexor once the season is over (Sulia link). 
  • Aaron J. Lopez of describes Masai Ujiri's journey toward becoming one of the league's top executives after humble beginnings ten years ago. 

Latest On Pistons, Bobcats Coaching Searches

3:21pm: The Bobcats have also requested permission to interview Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Sampson's Rockets remain active in the postseason, though the team is one loss away from elimination.

2:19pm: According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), Pistons GM Joe Dumars met with McMillan last week. Ownership is expected to be involved in today's formal interview, says Wojnarowski.

1:02pm: While the Cavaliers struck quickly to fill their head coaching opening, two other Eastern Conference lottery teams appear to be moving at a more deliberate pace. The Pistons have begun to interview candidates, according to Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News, who tweets that Lindsey Hunter interviewed with the team yesterday, while Nate McMillan will do so today.

McMillan and Hunter appear to be the early favorites for the Pistons' coaching job, but they're unlikely to be the only candidates interviewed by the club. With 14 teams still alive in the postseason, teams searching for a new head coach may have to wait until later in the spring to seek permission to interview assistants on those playoff clubs.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats have asked for the Cavaliers' permission to talk to assistant coach Nate Tibbetts, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). If that story sounds familiar, it may be because the Bobcats interviewed the Cavs assistant a year ago, before eventually hiring Mike Dunlap.

The Bobcats seem to be revisiting a number of past candidates, having also been linked this month to Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and former Lakers assistant Quin Snyder, both of whom were interviewed by Charlotte last spring.

Hunter To Interview With Pistons, Still Considered By Suns?

THURSDAY, 5:16pm: Paul Coro of AZ Central confirms that Hunter will be interviewed by the Pistons for their head coaching job, though there remains a possibility that he could return to the Phoenix. 

As per Suns president of basketball of operations Lon Babby, Coro writes that Hunter is still seen as a strong candidate to keep his position despite the recent departure of Lance Blanks, the former GM who appointed Hunter as the interim coach this past season. 

“From talking to (Babby), I do feel that way…I think he still feels I’m a strong candidate. Although Lance and I were really close, I felt like I was equally respected in the organization by all parts. I was hurt for my friend but I wasn’t concerned about anything.”

WEDNESDAY, 6:45pm: The Suns are likely to grant interim coach Lindsey Hunter his request for permission to interview for the Pistons coaching vacancy, reports Matt Dery of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit (Twitter link). Hunter appears on shaky footing in Phoenix following the departure of GM Lance Blanks. Suns also recently made a pitch to Mike Brown, who wound up returning to coach the Cavaliers, so Hunter may simply be trying to get out ahead of an impending dismissal.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press suggested two days ago that Hunter could become a candidate in Detroit, noting his ties to the organization that include a close relationship with president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, a former teammate of Hunter's during their playing days. Hunter spent the majority of his career as a player with the Pistons, who drafted him 10th overall in 1993. He was a member of their 2004 NBA championship team.

A report surfaced earlier this week naming Nate McMillan the front-runner for the Pistons opening, but McMillan later said he hasn't had contact with any team. Dumars is in charge of the search, but it doesn't sound like he's in any rush to make a decision.

Pistons Rumors: Hunter, Budenholzer, Cheeks

For most of the 2000s, the Pistons were playoff regulars, but in the 2010s, the only way the team has drawn headlines at this time of year is through the draft lottery or with a coaching change. That's the case again in 2013, as we detail in the latest dispatches from the Palace. 

  • If the Suns let go of Lindsey Hunter, a move that seems increasingly likely, he could become a candidate for the Pistons coaching vacancy, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press suggests. Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and former Sixers and Blazers head coach Maurice Cheeks, who's believed to want another head coaching job, could also emerge as candidates, Ellis believes.
  • Two coaches who apparently won't have a shot at the Pistons job are Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson and Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, according to Ellis.
  • Zeljko Obradovic, who spent 13 seasons coaching Panathinaikos in Greece, tells El Juego de Naismith that he would consider taking a coaching job in the NBA this summer if a team with a chance to make the playoffs reaches out to him, (translation via Sportando). Obradovic pointed to his relationship with the Pistons, who invited him to observe training camp last fall and attend the team's game against the Knicks in London this past season. Still, Obradovic's agent, Alexander Raskovic, tweets that they won't negotiate any deal until after the season. It's unclear if Raskovic means the end of the NBA's postseason or the end of European play.
  • Pistons assistant GM George David is excited about having won a pair of draft-order tiebreakers, particularly the one that gave the Pistons the No. 7 overall position heading into next month's lottery, writes Keith Langlois of "The difference between having six or seven, or seven or eight, or five or six, becomes – as Pistons fans, I’m sure, recognize – extremely valuable to our team over the last three or four drafts," the executive said. "If we were one slot lower than where we were in Andre (Drummond)’s draft, Brandon (Knight)’s draft or Greg (Monroe)’s draft, there’s a very, very high probability that none of those guys are on our roster. When you’re picking that high, the difference between one slot is really, really big."

Suns Part Ways With GM Lance Blanks

The Suns have announced they're parting ways with general manager Lance Blanks. The move puts the future of interim coach Lindsey Hunter in doubt, since Blanks has been Hunter's primary ally in Phoenix, notes Marc Stein of (Twitter link). USA Today's Sam Amick tweets the same, adding that Blanks had a year left on his contract.

"Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague," said Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby, in a statement released by the team. "I thank him personally and professionally for his hard work on behalf of the Suns. We will continue to prepare for the offseason even as we look for his replacement."

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News wrote in January that Blanks could be on shaky footing, along with Babby, who wound up getting a new two-year deal with the team earlier this month. It was in January that the Suns parted ways with coach Alvin Gentry, and around that time, Amick noticed Blanks seemed unsure about his future (Twitter link). Still, the timing of today's move comes as something of a surprise, since outgoing GMs often remain with their teams through the draft, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer points out, via Twitter.

Both Blanks and Babby came aboard in the summer of 2010. Without Amare Stoudemire, who left for the Knicks that offseason, the Suns went from a Western Conference finalist in 2010 to a mediocre team the next two seasons. Last summer, Phoenix sent Steve Nash to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade, and the Suns finished 25-57 this year, their worst winning percentage since their inaugural season of 1968/69.

The Suns vacancy is the first front-office position to come open so far this offseason. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports volunteers the name of Mark Warkentien, a Knicks executive and former Nuggets vice president of basketball operations, as a possible candidate (Twitter link).