Matt Lloyd

Pistons Notes: Front Office Candidates, Weaver, Buzelis

Michael Blackstone, an executive who worked with new Pistons head of basketball operations Trajan Langdon in New Orleans, is considered the favorite to become Langdon’s second-in-command in Detroit, sources tell James L. Edwards and Shams Charania of The Athletic. Blackstone, the Pelicans‘ vice president of basketball administration, was an assistant general manager in Atlanta before coming to New Orleans in 2020.

Other prominent names to watch, according to the authors’ sources, are Matt Lloyd, senior vice president of basketball operations with the Timberwolves; Travis Schlenk, the Wizards‘ vice president of player personnel and former team president in Atlanta; Brock Aller, the Knicks‘ vice president of basketball and strategic planning; and Tayshaun Prince, vice president of basketball affairs with the Grizzlies. The authors note that Prince is a sentimental favorite among fans because he was a starter on Detroit’s last championship team in 2004.

There’s an opening in the front office after the Pistons parted ways with general manager Troy Weaver in what the team described as a mutual decision. Weaver, who served as GM for the past four years, lost decision-making authority with the addition of Langdon.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Poor draft decisions marked the biggest mistake Weaver made during his time running the organization, contends Andrew Birkle of The Detroit Free Press. Birkle acknowledges that seven of Weaver’s eight first-round picks look like they’ll have a future in the NBA, but he views them as a mismatched collection of talent that doesn’t fit together. He also questions whether the team has any potential stars other than Cade Cunningham, adding that it’s too early to fully evaluate the No. 1 overall pick in 2021 because he’s missed so much time due to injuries.
  • Shooting and rim protection are the most important assets in the NBA, and Weaver failed to provide the Pistons with either of those things, observes Shawn Windsor of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). Windsor adds that everyone should be considered expendable after a 68-loss season, starting with head coach Monty Williams, who will be Langdon’s next major decision before addressing the roster.
  • Keith Langlois of NBA.com examines Matas Buzelis as a potential pick for the Pistons at No. 5 in this year’s draft. Although the G League Ignite had a disastrous season, Buzelis showed promise with 14.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Langlois notes that his 6’10” size, floor-spacing and play-making ability, and his versatility on defense make Buzelis a good fit with the rest of the roster.

Timberwolves’ Lloyd Among Hornets’ Front Office Candidates

Timberwolves executive Matt Lloyd is among the “prime names” to watch as the Hornets seek a new head of basketball operations, Marc Stein reports in his latest article at Substack.

Lloyd is the senior vice president of basketball operations under Tim Connelly in Minnesota. He was one of Connelly’s first hires back in 2022 after having previously served in Orlando’s front office as an assistant general manager, interim GM, and VP of basketball operations. Lloyd also had a lengthy stint in the Bulls’ front office earlier in his career.

A report earlier this month indicated that Hornets president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak would be moving into an advisory role with the franchise. While Kupchak continues to serve as the head of basketball operations while the team searches for his replacement, the expectations is that Charlotte will make a hire by the end of the regular season.

Stein also names Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon and Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson as “prime” contenders for the Hornets job. Both Langdon and Peterson were identified as candidates in multiple previous reports, with Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer referring to Langdon as one of the potential frontrunners.

Langdon is the No. 2 executive in New Orleans’ front office under David Griffin and has been connected to other general manager jobs in the past. Langdon withdrew from the Kings’ front office search following some initial interest from Sacramento back in 2020 and interviewed for the Wizards’ top job in 2023.

According to Stein, the Nets are believed to have strong interest in retaining Peterson as a top lieutenant under Sean Marks and may offer him a promotion and/or a raise, which was previously reported. Peterson was in Atlanta’s front office when one of the new Hornets co-owners, Rick Schnall, was part of the Hawks’ ownership group.

Sixers general manager Elton Brand was named as another possible frontrunner for the Hornets’ position, but a report two weeks ago indicated that he would remain in Philadelphia rather than pursuing the top job in Charlotte.

Timberwolves Notes: Nuggets Rivalry, Lore, A-Rod, Lloyd, Jovic

The comments that Nuggets governor Josh Kroenke‘s made to the press last week about the Timberwolves‘ pursuit of longtime Denver executive Tim Connelly will fuel a rivalry between the two division rivals going forward, opines Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Kroenke spoke about Minnesota coming through the “side door” to land Connelly and suggested that it was a “desperate” move.

“Ultimately when you go to a stratosphere that some clubs, you say some desperate clubs, are willing to go to, there’s a tier out there that just kind of doesn’t make sense,” Kroenke said of the Nuggets’ decision not to match Connelly’s offer from the Wolves, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Rand notes that Denver has now decided to let its lead decision-maker walk twice in the last decade, first with Masai Ujiri, who left for the Raptors in 2013 and won a title with the team in 2019, and now with Connelly.

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore seem intent on using their money to improve the Minnesota front office, a ploy that Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune applauds. In addition to luring Connelly away from Denver, Minnesota has added Matt Lloyd and retained Sachin Gupta to the team’s decision-making brain trust.
  • The widely-respected Lloyd learned under a variety of scouting styles while with the Bulls and Magic, write Jon Krawczynski and Josh Robbins of The Athletic. He worked with Chicago from 1999-2012, and started with the Magic as an assistant GM in 2012 before becoming the team’s VP of basketball operations for the 2021/22 season.
  • 18-year-old NBA prospect Nikola Jovic, currently playing for Mega Mozzart of the ABA League, recently worked out for the Timberwolves, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). Wolfson is skeptical that the 6’10” wing will still be on the board in time for Minnesota to draft him with the No. 19 pick in the 2022 draft. He is currently listed as the No. 24 top prospect on the latest ESPN big board.

Timberwolves To Hire Matt Lloyd Away From Magic

The Timberwolves are finalizing a deal with Magic executive Matt Lloyd that will make him the senior vice president of basketball operations in Minnesota, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Lloyd, who had been the VP of basketball operations in Orlando, will be the first major hire for new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

Lloyd began his basketball executive career with the Bulls, earning a full-time role in 1999 and spending 13 years with the organization, eventually receiving a promotion to director of college scouting. He was hired as an assistant general manager by the Magic in 2012 and was responsible for overseeing the team’s professional, college, and international scouting departments. He briefly served as interim GM in 2017 between the dismissal of Rob Hennigan and the hiring of Jeff Weltman.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Lloyd is highly regarded around the NBA for his “tenacity and connections on the scouting trail and relationships with teams and agents in deal-making.” He’ll join an increasingly impressive Timberwolves front office that also still features high-ranking veteran executive Sachin Gupta, who was Minnesota’s interim head of basketball operations for the 2021/22 season.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report first said last week that Lloyd was a potential target for Connelly and the Wolves.

Timberwolves Exec Rumors: Demps, Arthur, Lloyd, Simon

After recently signing a five-year, $40MM contract that includes a kicker for ownership equity to become the Timberwolves‘ new president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly appears to be looking to add some co-workers. Sources tell Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) that Dell Demps and Darrell Arthur might join Connelly in Minnesota.

A former NBA player, Demps was the general manager of the Pelicans from 2010-19. He hired Connelly to be his assistant GM in New Orleans in 2010 before Connelly departed to run Denver’s front office in 2013. Demps is currently an assistant coach for the Jazz, having joined Utah in 2020.

Arthur is also a former player, having appeared in 503 games from 2008-18 with Memphis and Denver. His entire five-year tenure in Denver overlapped with Connelly’s stint, so clearly the two are familiar with each other. The 34-year-old recently joined the Nuggets‘ front office.

Following up on Singer’s news, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears that a couple other executives have been floated as possibilities to join Connelly’s front office: Magic vice president of basketball operations Matt Lloyd, and Heat VP of basketball operations/assistant GM Adam Simon.

Lloyd was with Chicago for 13 seasons prior to joining Orlando 10 years ago. He was just promoted to VP last October. Simon has reportedly been in the mix for top executive positions in the past, but has always stuck with Miami, having spent 27 seasons with the Heat.

Southeast Notes: Hachimura, Magic, Huerter, Walker

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has returned to D.C. after a weeks-long excused absence due to personal reasons, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Hachimura, 23, averaged 13.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 57 games for Washington during the 2021/22 season.

Hughes notes that the 6’8″ third-year player, a 2019 lottery selection out of Gonzaga, will now have to wait to clear COVID-19 protocols. He missed several weeks with the Wizards during the club’s 2021/22 training camp/preseason. The team expects him to return within a few days.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have announced several promotions within their front office, per a team press release. Matt Lloyd and Anthony Parker have been promoted to prominent roles for the club, with Lloyd upgraded to the title of vice president of basketball operations and Parker to assistant GM.
  • Hawks shooting guard Kevin Huerter appears to be confident he’ll receive a rookie contract extension before the October 18 deadline, following a terrific showing in the Eastern Conference playoffs with Atlanta, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Kirschner notes that, during the 2021 offseason, Huerter had a left ankle procedure to treat long-term soreness that had afflicted him throughout the 2020/21 season. “I think both sides are saying the right things and want to get something done,” Huerter said. “I’m as confident as I’ve ever been. I think both sides want to get something done. It’s obviously just coming up with the right value.” The 23-year-old, drafted with the No. 19 pick out of Maryland in 2018, averaged 11.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.3 RPG and 1.2 SPG in 69 games for Atlanta last year. He posted a shooting line of .432/.363/.781.
  • The Capital City Go-Go, NBA G League affiliate of the Wizards, will add rookie small forward Kyree Walkertweets Jordan Schultz of Boardroom. Schultz mentions that Walker could be considered for the Wizards’ open two-way player slot. The Wizards previously had been preparing to add Walker to their training camp roster and may still sign him to an Exhibit 10 contract to secure his NBAGL rights.

Southeast Notes: Young, Magic, Wizards, Biyombo

Unlike some other probable All-Stars who have expressed reluctance about playing in a potential March 7 All-Star Game in Atlanta, Hawks point guard Trae Young has said he would relish the opportunity to participate if he earns a second straight All-Star berth, according to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I understand both sides,” said Young, who is averaging 26.7 PPG, 9.2 APG, and 4.0 RPG for the 11-12 Hawks. “Obviously, it’s in Atlanta, I’d love to be a part of it, if there is a game.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Magic assistant general manager Matt Lloyd spoke with Josh Robbins of The Athletic about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Orlando’s scouting process. “We’ve gotten to the point with technology where we have so much to study,” Lloyd acknowledged. “Every game is on film… But there is still an advantage of being able to see how prospects look in person. There’s always going to be that one element of being in an arena or in a gym and being able to size players up to get some sort of sense of their real physicality, their size, their length and how fast they are.”
  • The Wizards have been performing better when $41.4MM point guard Russell Westbrook sits, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. In a somewhat alarming trend, Washington is 4-3 without Westbrook and 2-12 with him this season. Washington is 7.7 points per 100 possessions worse when Westbrook plays for the club this year.
  • Hornets center Bismack Biyombo is relishing his role as a mentor with a scrappy Charlotte team, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. Biyombo has become a key advisor to rookie guard LaMelo Ball, the No. 3 pick in the 2020 draft. “I was telling LaMelo when I first got to the league I was his age because I came from overseas as well,” Biyombo said. “The transition, how far you grow from playing overseas versus when you see kids who come out of college, it’s totally two different mindsets.”

Bulls Receive Permission To Interview Three GM Candidates

Having officially hired Arturas Karnisovas as their new head of basketball operations, the Bulls are now in the market for a new general manager. With Karnisovas leading that search, the club has received permission to interview three candidates so far, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, Chicago has been granted permission to speak to Sixers senior VP of player personnel Marc Eversley, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, and Magic assistant GM Matt Lloyd.

[RELATED: Bulls Part Ways With GM Gar Forman]

Those three executives were among the candidates initially identified by Wojnarowski for the job last Friday. At the time, Woj also said that Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth was a target, so his omission from today’s list is notable. There’s a belief that Denver will attempt to keep Booth after losing Karnisovas — he’s a candidate to be promoted to fill the Nuggets’ newly-opened GM role.

It remains to be seen whether Eversley, Hughes, and Lloyd are the Bulls’ top choices or whether the team’s search will continue to expand to include other candidates.

A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link) that Heat assistant GM Shane Battier won’t be interviewing with the Bulls, since Chicago recognizes that Miami values him and won’t be letting him go. Cowley adds (via Twitter) that despite some chatter, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon won’t be a candidate for the Bulls’ GM position either.

Cowley previously identified Mavericks VP of basketball operations Michael Finley and Thunder executives Troy Weaver and Nazr Mohammed as potential GM targets for Chicago. However, based on a subsequent report, it would be a surprise if Weaver has interest in the job.

Bulls Eye Several Assistant GMs For Their GM Job

Arturas Karnisovas, who is expected to be named the Bulls’ executive VP of basketball operations, will conduct interviews with a number of general manager candidates in the near future, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The Nuggets’ Calvin Booth, the Sixers’ Marc Eversley, the Clippers’ Mark Hughes and the Magic’s Matt Lloyd are among several assistant GMs around the league under consideration, Wojnarowski adds. The Bulls’ office will start seeking permission from other teams to conduct interviews with everyone on their list, Wojnarowski reports in another tweet.

However, Booth could be promoted by Denver to replace Karnisovas, who emerged as Chicago’s choice as its top front office executive on Wednesday.

The Thunder’s Troy Weaver and Nazr Mohammed and the Mavericks’ Michael Finley are also candidates for the GM job, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

No matter which executive that Karnisovas chooses, current GM Gar Forman will lose his title. It’s uncertain whether Forman will be reassigned or simply let go by the organization. Karnisovas will decide Forman’s future, according to another Cowley tweet.

Longtime Bulls executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson is expected to remain in an advisory position with Karnisovas and ownership making the final decisions.

The Bulls were reportedly denied permission by the Thunder to speak with Weaver, OKC’s VP of basketball operations, during the search process for an executive VP. Whether the Thunder have changed their stance on Weaver remains to be seen. The Bulls did hold an informal interview with Mohammed recently for another front office job.

Latest On Bulls’ Front Office Search

The Bulls have received permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Karnisovas was one of four men said to be on Chicago’s initial wish list for a top front office executive who will have full authority on basketball decisions. It’s not clear if the Bulls will get a chance to talk to any of those four potential candidates besides Karnisovas.

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan reportedly rebuffed the Bulls’ interest, opting to remain in Indiana. And there’s plenty of speculation around the NBA that the Heat will make an effort to retain assistant GM Adam Simon, according to Johnson (Twitter link).

As for the fourth candidate, Toronto’s Bobby Webster, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes that the Raptors may not grant the Bulls permission to speak to their general manager, who is under contract through 2021. With president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and head coach Nick Nurse also set to have their contracts expire after next season, and many of their players coming off the books in the coming months, the Raptors face some long-term uncertainty and might not want to risk losing a rising young executive. There’s a sense they’ll tell Chicago that “this is not a good time,” according to Grange.

Even if they’re only able to speak to one of their initial four targets, the Bulls have a longer list of candidates, per Johnson (Twitter link), who names Clippers GM Michael Winger, Clippers assistant GM Trent Redden, Magic assistant GM Matt Lloyd, and Jazz GM Justin Zanik as possibilities.

Chicago has received permission to talk to Zanik, Johnson reports, so the Utah GM will join Karnisovas in taking part in the first round of Bulls interviews.

The Bulls will conduct those meetings electronically due to the coronavirus pandemic and reportedly want to make a hire prior to the draft and free agency.