Lloyd Pierce

Pacers Head Coach Rick Carlisle Out Next Two Games

Head coach Rick Carlisle will miss the Pacers‘ upcoming road games at Memphis on Thursday and at Toronto on Sunday due to personal reasons, the team announced. Assistant coach Lloyd Pierce will serve as acting head coach in Carlisle’s stead.

As Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files observes, this is the second time that Carlisle has been away from the team this season. He contracted COVID-19 in December and missed four games, with Indiana going 2-2 with Pierce at the helm.

I encouraged Lloyd to follow his instincts,” Carlisle said in December. “He’s an experienced head coach — and when you’re on the sidelines and you’re making the play calls and you’re calling the timeouts and things like that, there’s a feel element to it. And you can’t have that interrupted just because you work for the guy that’s not there.”

In other Pacers news, rookie Isaiah Jackson was unable to play the second half of Wednesday’s game against Sacramento due to a headache, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star.

Jackson suffered a concussion last week and missed two games. Carlisle said he didn’t know whether Jackson’s headache was related to the concussion.

I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen,” Carlisle said, per Boyd. “Doctors felt it was best to keep him out of the game. … The hope is that this is not anything serious, but we’ll know more (Wednesday night) or (Thursday), and whenever we can let you know where things are at, we will.”

Jackson has been ruled out of Thursday’s game, Boyd tweets.

COVID-19 Updates: Pacers, Kidd, Fultz, Tre Jones, Daigneault, A. Brooks

Justin Anderson and Torrey Craig have become the latest Pacers players to enter the league’s health and safety protocols, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). The Pacers now have six players in protocols. Craig signed a two-year, $10MM deal with Indiana last summer, while Anderson just signed a 10-day hardship contract with the team last week.

On the bright side, Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce has cleared the protocols and has returned to the team, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Here are some more COVID-related updates:

  • Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has entered the protocols, with assistant coach Sean Sweeney set to take over his duties Friday night in Houston, sources tell Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). Kidd is the 13th head coach to enter the protocols.
  • Markelle Fultz isn’t ready to return from his torn ACL yet, but he has exited the protocols for the Magic, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • The Spurs‘ outbreak continues, with Tre Jones being the sixth player currently in the protocols, tweets Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has cleared the protocols and will resume his duties Friday vs. Minnesota, the team tweets.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has exited the protocols and is listed as available for Friday’s game against the Mavs, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 (KRIV) relays (Twitter link).

Jeremy Lamb Enters Protocols For Pacers

Pacers reserve swingman Jeremy Lamb tested positive for COVID-19 and has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, including Boyd, that lead assistant coach Lloyd Pierce returned an inconclusive test and will miss the team’s game against Charlotte Wednesday night.

Lamb, 29, suffered a torn ACL in February 2020 and has struggled to regain the same level of play post-injury. In 26 games this season (14.3 MPG), Lamb is averaging 6.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 1.4 APG on .361/.342/.932 shooting. He’s earning $10.5MM this season and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2022.

There were rumors over the summer that the Pacers were looking to trade Lamb, but they haven’t found any takers yet, with his play not matching his salary. He could potentially be used as salary matching as part of a larger deal, with the Pacers reportedly looking to be active on the trade market. The Pacers hold a 14-20 record, 13th in the East.

Pierce is in his first season with the Pacers after being fired as head coach of the Hawks last season.

Lamb will be out for at least six days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Boyd writes that rookie two-way guard Duane Washington Jr. could receive more minutes in Lamb’s absence. Boyd also notes that with Malcolm Brogdon sidelined (sore Achilles), Keifer Sykes, whom the Pacers recently signed, should receive his first NBA action Wednesday.

Rick Carlisle Tests Positive For COVID-19, Will Miss Several Games

A PCR test confirmed that Pacers coach Rick Carlisle has COVID-19, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Carlisle will miss several games, starting tonight against Dallas, with lead assistant Lloyd Pierce taking over in his absence.

Carlisle was place in the league’s health and safety protocols on Thursday after returning a positive result on a rapid test. He took the PCR test later in the day, but the results weren’t available until this morning.

The 62-year-old coach is experiencing “mild symptoms” of COVID-19, according to an ESPN report. He is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot.

With the virus now confirmed, Carlisle will be required to isolate for at least 10 days or until he has two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart. If he’s away from the team for 10 days, he will miss four games, including tonight’s. He could be able to return for a December 21 game in Miami.

The Pacers canceled practice Thursday, citing an “abundance of caution” relating to the protocols. After a relatively calm start to the season, COVID-19 is starting to create havoc throughout the league, with the Bulls, Sixers and Hornets among the teams most affected.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Mayo, Mejri

Grant Hill has taken over as USA Basketball’s managing director and one of his first tasks is to find a replacement for coach Gregg Popovich. Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that he plans to hire a new coach before the NBA season begins on October 19.

Candidates that have previous experience with USA Basketball will have the upper hand, according to Spears. That group would include Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Wright, Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra and Jeff Van Gundy.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo has reached an agreement with Russia’s Unics Kazan, Sportando relays. Sport-Business.ru was first to report the news. Mayo was banned by the NBA in 2016 for violating the league’s drug program. Mayo has recently played in China.
  • Former Mavericks big man Salah Mejri has reached an agreement with Al Jahra in Kuwait, according to Sportando. Mejri appeared in 204 games with Dallas from 2015-19.
  • In case you missed it, Jarrell Brantley is expected to sign with a Russian team after being waived by the Jazz. Get the details here.

Central Notes: Love, Pistons, Pacers’ Staff, Sexton

Kevin Love‘s decision to withdraw from the Olympics raises more questions for the Cavaliers about his future, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Love is still bothered by the right calf strain that limited him to just 25 games this season, an alarming development for Cleveland, considering Love still has two years left on his contract. Rather than using his experience with Team USA as a springboard to a career revival, Love may be facing the prospect of seeing his career come to an abrupt end. The Cavs will soon have conversations with Love about his health issues, Fedor adds, though retirement has not been discussed or considered.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • While there has been plenty of speculation about whether the Pistons are sold on Cade Cunningham as the No. 1  pick, it’s in their best interests to keep their intentions secret, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. If GM Troy Weaver has any desire to trade the pick, it’s best the others come calling with increasingly better offers, rather than Weaver openly shopping it.
  • The Pacers officially announced in a press release that former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, Ronald Nored, Mike Weinar and Jenny Boucek will be assistant coaches under Rick Carlisle. Pierce is currently an assistant with Team USA. Nored spent the past three seasons as an assistant with the Hornets, while Weinar spent 13 seasons with the Mavericks, four as an assistant coach. Boucek was also on Carlisle’s staff in Dallas the past three seasons.
  • Although the Cavaliers have made Collin Sexton “very available” according to a recent report, they’ve put a hefty price tag on him, Fedor writes in a separate story. The Knicks have had discussions with the Cavs about Sexton but they’re just one of many teams monitoring the situation, according to Fedor. Cleveland may ultimately be better off holding onto Sexton next season and not signing him to an extension, then allow him to become a restricted free agent next summer. In that scenario, another team can set the price tag for Sexton and Cleveland can choose whether or not to match it.

Lloyd Pierce Finalizing Deal To Be Carlisle’s Top Assistant

The Pacers are finalizing a contract with Lloyd Pierce that would make him Rick Carlisle’s top assistant, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Pierce was reportedly under consideration for a similar job with the Warriors. Pierce was replaced by Nate McMillan as the Hawks’ head coach on March 1 after the team began this season with a 14-20 record. Multiple players reportedly pushed for a coaching change.

Pierce previously served as an assistant coach in Cleveland, Golden State, Memphis, and Philadelphia before being hired as the Hawks’ head coach in 2018. Pierce led Atlanta to a 63-120 (.344) record in two-and-a-half seasons, with no playoff appearances.

Pierce is also on Gregg Popovich’s Team USA staff for this month’s Olympics.

Former Knicks coach David Fizdale reportedly turned down an offer from Indiana to join Frank Vogel’s staff with the Lakers.

California Notes: Jackson, KCP, L. Pierce, Warriors

Clippers starting point guard Reggie Jackson appears to have discovered a good NBA fit in L.A. after several prior stops, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Jackson emerged as the club’s clear starting point guard since being inserted into the starting lineup in Game 3 of the team’s first-round series against the Mavericks. He is averaging for 17.8 PPG, 3.2 APG and 3.0 RPG across 17 games in these playoffs.

Shelburne notes that Jackson has been red-hot since becoming a starter during the postseason, and he has made his impact felt in a big way with L.A. Shelburne notes that the Clippers are plus-104 with Jackson on the floor, and he joins just two other players in league history to connect on at least three 3-point shots across 14 playoff contests.

“I’ve gone through my career trying to make the right play and not necessarily just being myself and coming out and playing the game,” Jackson said of his career before the Clippers. “But the more I just continue to be myself, the more this team empowered me to be myself, I’ve been able to find success.”

Jackson admitted that he contemplated retirement from the NBA last summer, before the Clippers came calling for a return appearance after he joined the club late in the 2019/20 season. “I was ready to leave. I was ready to give up,” Jackson said. “I thought I was going to retire because I just couldn’t get healthy.” Jackson inked a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal during the 2020 offseason, and should be in line for a major raise this summer thanks to his playoff output.

“It’s just about being positive and showing him that he’s wanted,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “One thing about Reggie, he’s always going to come in, speak to everybody, shake everybody’s hand… Whoever’s in the gym, general managers, the president, the owner, the equipment guys.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Lakers starting wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was robbed of an estimated $150K in belongings at gunpoint in front of his Los Angeles-area home, per TMZ Sports (h/t to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). Caldwell-Pope and his friends at the scene were not physically harmed. The LAPD is currently looking into the theft.
  • Former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce is being eyeballed for a potential position as an assistant coach under Warriors head coach Steve Kerrtweets Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole notes that both coaches will serve on the US Olympic Team’s bench under Gregg Popovich this summer. Pierce was let go by Atlanta after the team began the 2020/21 season with a disappointing 14-20 record. He had been the head man for the Hawks since 2018. A longtime NBA assistant, Pierce previously logged time as a Warriors assistant during 2010/11 under then-head coach Keith Smart.
  • With Klay Thompson poised to return after missing two full seasons due to lower-body injuries, the Warriors appear to be gearing up for a deep playoff run once again. Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area considers four free agent wings the team could add on affordable deals to fill out its bench.

Celtics Will Start Coaching Search With Internal Interviews

The first step in the Celtics‘ search for a new head coach to replace Brad Stevens will begin with several internal candidates, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Chris Mannix of SI.com suggested as much earlier today.

Boston’s head coaching position opened up this morning when Danny Ainge resigned as president of basketball operations and Stevens was chosen to replace him.

Weiss notes that Stevens’ staff has several strong candidates. Jay Larranaga interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching spot before James Borrego was hired, and Scott Morrison and Brandon Bailey both coached at the team’s G League affiliate in Maine. Jerome Allen is a former NBA player with college head coaching experience at the University of Pennsylvania, while Jamie Young has been with the team since 2008.

Among external candidates, the most interesting name is Kara Lawson, who would become the first female NBA head coach if she gets the job. Lawson spent a year as an assistant in Boston before leaving in 2020 to become head coach of the women’s team at Duke. Others to watch, sources tell Weiss, include former Celtics players Sam Cassell, currently an assistant with the Sixers, and Chauncey Billups, who is on the Clippers‘ staff.

Weiss also expects interest in former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Nets assistant Ime Udoka, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee. According to Weiss, another potential outsider is Juwan Howard if he’s willing to leave Michigan.

Brad Stevens Named Celtics’ Head Of Basketball Operations, Will Lead Search For New Coach

10:06am: The Celtics have officially announced that Stevens is the new president of basketball operations. Despite at least one report suggesting that Ainge isn’t expected to retire from basketball (as noted below), the club’s statement says the veteran executive is “retiring” from his role as president of basketball ops. Ainge will continue to work with the team through its offseason transition, per the C’s.

“Helping guide this organization has been the thrill of a lifetime, and having worked side-by-side with him since he’s been here, I know we couldn’t be in better hands than with Brad guiding the team going forward,” Ainge said in a statement. “I’m grateful to ownership, all of my Celtics colleagues, and the best fans in basketball for being part of the journey.”

Stevens issued a statement of his own, as follows:

“I’m grateful to ownership and to Danny for trusting me with this opportunity. I’m excited to tackle this new role, starting with a wide ranging and comprehensive search for our next head coach. I love the Celtics, and know the great honor and responsibility that comes with this job. I will give it everything I have to help us be in position to consistently compete for championships.”

9:24am: A major shakeup is taking place in Boston, as Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will indeed step down from his current role, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski had reported earlier in the morning that Ainge was seriously considering such a move.

The Celtics won’t go outside the organization for Ainge’s replacement, however. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links), head coach Brad Stevens will be making the move from the sidelines to the front office and will become the club’s new president of basketball operations.

Rather than holding a dual role, Stevens will become a full-time front office executive and is expected to lead the search for the Celtics’ new head coach, Charania reports.

Celtics players were informed of this potential change late on Tuesday night after the team was eliminated from the playoffs, says Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Ainge had been contemplating leaving his job as the Celtics’ president of basketball operations for the last several months, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who adds that Ainge had discussed possible succession plans with ownership.

While Stevens is a surprising choice as Ainge’s successor, Wojnarowski points out that Ainge made a similar move early in his post-playing career, having coached the Suns from 1996-99 before later transitioning into a front office role. According to Woj (Twitter link), Stevens has been described as feeling “worn down” with coaching since last summer and welcome the opportunity to shift into an executive position.

This major basketball operations overhaul comes on the heels of the Celtics’ early exit from the postseason. After making the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four years, Boston entered the season with aspirations of competing for a title.

However, due to COVID-19 issues, injuries, and inconsistent play, the team never built any real momentum toward legit contention, finishing seventh in the East. Although the C’s earned a postseason berth via the play-in tournament, they were eliminated swiftly in the first round by the Nets.

Despite the Celtics’ disappointing season, Stevens and Ainge – one of the longest-tenured coach/executive duos in the NBA – weren’t thought to be in any real danger of being fired. It appears Ainge’s exit is of his own volition after he spent the last 18 years calling the shots in the team’s front office.

Even though his time with the Celtics is ending, Ainge isn’t believed to be leaning toward retirement, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who tweets that the Jazz have been rumored as a possible landing spot for the veteran exec.

Meanwhile, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce are expected to be among the candidates to fill Boston’s newly-created head coaching vacancy, according to Haynes (Twitter link).

In his eight seasons as the Celtics’ head coach, Stevens led the team to a 354-282 (.557) regular season record, with a 38-40 (.487) mark in the playoffs, including those three Eastern Finals appearances. As for Ainge, the C’s made the postseason in all but three of his 18 seasons running the front office, taking home a title in 2008.

Ainge’s trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen helped lead the Celtics to a title in 2008. Additionally, the blockbuster deal that sent an aging Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for a boatload of draft picks in 2013 is considered one of the biggest NBA heists of the century, putting Boston in position to land Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in subsequent drafts.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.