Micah Nori

Northwest Notes: Topic, Jones, Mitchell, Nori, Nuggets

Newly-drafted Thunder rookie Nikola Topic has confirmed that he will have surgery to repair a partially torn ACL, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). This approach had been expected prior to the draft, but that didn’t stop Oklahoma City from selecting the 6’6″ point guard with its No. 12 selection late in the lottery.

Last year with Mega MIS in ABA league play, Topic posted averages of 14.5 points on a .523/.259/.855 shooting line, along with 7.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.

Whenever he does return – likely at the start of the 2024/25 season – he’ll join a loaded Thunder roster fresh off securing the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed and a 57-25 record in 2023/24. This year, Oklahoma City is no doubt hoping to build on that success. To wit, the team has already flipped underperforming young guard Josh Giddey for a two-time All-Defensive vet in his absolute prime, 30-year-old former Bulls guard Alex Caruso, as it looks to shore up its perimeter coverage.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • During their introductory presser, Thunder rookies Topic, Dillon Jones, and Ajay Mitchell seemed excited about joining such an impressive Oklahoma City squad, writes Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. Jones, a Weber State alum, is going to be a versatile fit on an exciting young Thunder team, per Lorenzi. Topic was impressed with the team’s professionalism. “As I said before, I’m really grateful for the time here, and it’s really probably the best organization I’ve been to,” Topic said. Mitchell, drafted out of Santa Barbara, is open to whatever roster role the team decides is best.
  • The Pistons‘ decision to hire J.B. Bickerstaff as their next coach has guaranteed that top Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori will stay with Minnesota next season, reports The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski (Twitter link). Nori has been with Minnesota under head coach Chris Finch since 2021. Nori stepped in to act as Finch’s legs after an injury forced Finch to stay static on the team’s bench during most of its run to the Western Conference Finals this spring. Not only will Nori stick around in Minnesota, he’ll likely earn a raise after going above and beyond the line of duty this postseason, reports Darren Wolfson of KSTP Sports (Twitter link).
  • As they approach the start of free agency this afternoon, a lot of the Nuggets‘ roster needs hinge on whether or not they’ll be able to re-sign unrestricted shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, writes Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. The team’s other free agent rotation wing, journeyman vet Justin Holiday, is not expected to return to Denver, reports Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. Wind notes that, after trading Reggie Jackson, the Nuggets will be in the market for a backup point guard as well as a veteran reserve center. Although the team has just re-signed backup big man DeAndre Jordan, it doesn’t appear to view him as an actual rotation piece, but more as a locker room leader.

James Borrego Pulls Out Of Pistons’ Coaching Search

Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego has removed his name from consideration for the Pistons‘ head coaching vacancy, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (via Twitter). Justin Napoli of Boot Krewe Media first tweeted on Thursday that he was hearing Borrego would remain in New Orleans.

Borrego, who also received serious consideration for the Lakers’ and Cavaliers’ head coaching jobs this offseason, was immediately identified as a candidate for Detroit following the dismissal of Monty Williams last week.

The veteran assistant, who served as the head coach of the Hornets from 2018-22, has spent the last two seasons on Willie Green‘s staff in New Orleans, overlapping with new Pistons president of basketball operations and former Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon.

One recent report from Marc Stein indicated that the Lakers would also have interest in Borrego as an assistant if he didn’t get a head coaching job, though Stein stressed that the Pelicans would be determined to hang onto him in that scenario.

With Borrego off the table, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, and former Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff are among the candidates to watch for the Pistons. All three have had interviews with the team, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

Stein’s Latest: O’Neale, George, Pelicans, Murray, Anunoby, Pistons

Rumors have begun to circulate that free agent forward Royce O’Neale will end up signing a four-year contract to remain with the Suns, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack story.

The Suns have long been expected to re-sign O’Neale, since they’ll be over the second tax apron and wouldn’t be in position to sign an equivalent replacement if he heads elsewhere. However, there has been a belief that they’ll likely have to go up to three or four years in order to retain the three-and-D wing to make up for the fact that other suitors may offer him a shorter-term deal with a more lucrative starting salary.

Phoenix has five more days left in its exclusive negotiating window with O’Neale. If he hasn’t agreed to terms by the time the free agent period opens on Sunday evening, he’ll be able to negotiate with other clubs.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest rumor roundup:

  • Securing a four-year contract is a goal for Paul George this summer, according to Stein, who suggests that chatter about George’s willingness to consider signing with a cap-room team or pushing for a change of scenery in an opt-in-and-trade scenario may be aimed at convincing the Clippers to put that fourth year on the table. There has been a sense that staying in Los Angeles would ultimately be George’s preference, but the club has seemingly only offered him a three-year deal thus far.
  • While it remains unclear whether the Hawks would prefer to trade Trae Young or Dejounte Murray this offseason, it’s worth noting that the Pelicans are “known to be longtime admirers” of Murray, Stein writes. New Orleans is believed to be open to a roster shake-up this summer, with forward Brandon Ingram viewed as a strong candidate to be dealt.
  • It’s still hard to find many people around the NBA who think OG Anunoby will leave the Knicks as a free agent, Stein writes, pointing out that Sam Rose – one of Anunoby’s agents at CAA – is the son of Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose.
  • The Pistons‘ head coaching search may move quicker than initially anticipated, Stein writes, adding that James Borrego, Sean Sweeney, and Micah Nori are the “foremost known candidates.” Borrego is believed to have a leg up due to his time together with new Pistons head of basketball operations Trajan Langdon in New Orleans, Stein notes. However, both Sweeney and Nori have spent time in the organization, having worked on Dwane Casey‘s staff from 2018-21.

Eastern Notes: Cavs, Atkinson, Bulls, Sixers, Knicks, Hawks

After previously reporting that James Borrego was viewed as the frontrunner for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching job, Marc Stein says (via Twitter) he heard multiple times on Friday that Kenny Atkinson‘s candidacy for the job is “gaining steam.”

Atkinson was identified early in the Cavs’ search process as the potential frontrunner, but multiple reporters – including Stein and Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com – have said in recent weeks that Borrego appeared to have the edge. Those two former head coaches have been linked to the job most frequently and it certainly seems like one of them will end up being hired, but that’s not a lock. According to Stein, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori also remains in the mix for Cleveland.

If the Cavaliers wrap up their search and make a decision soon, it will have an impact on their division rivals in Detroit. Both Borrego and Nori are expected to interview for the Pistons‘ head coaching vacancy.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bullsacquisition of Josh Giddey signals that the team isn’t sold on the idea of a Lonzo Ball comeback, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who adds that director of player development and shooting coach Peter Patton has an “important project on his hands” in Chicago’s new lead guard, a career 31.0% three-point shooter. In his own look at the trade, Jon Greenberg of The Athletic contends that it’s “inexcusable” for the Bulls to make this kind of deal without acquiring any draft picks.
  • USC guard Isaiah Collier visited the Sixers this week for a pre-draft workout, a source tells Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports (Twitter link). Once considered a possible top pick in this year’s draft, Collier has slipped to No. 23 on ESPN’s big board, so he could be available for Philadelphia at No. 16.
  • Yongxi Cui (China), David Jones (Memphis), Spencer Jones (Stanford), Ajay Mitchell (UCSB), and Antonio Reeves (Kentucky) were among the players to work out for the Knicks on Friday, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Bondy adds (via Twitter) that Arizona’s Keshad Johnson worked out for New York earlier this month.
  • The Hawks are hiring Ben Peterson away from the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and will make him their VP of player health and performance, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero’s report on Peterson, who was said to be “well-regarded” in San Francisco, has been confirmed by Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

Pistons Plan To Interview Bickerstaff, Borrego, Sweeney, Nori

7:14pm: The Pistons also intend to interview Borrego, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

6:27pm: The Pistons plan to interview former Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff for their head coaching position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Detroit has also received permission to meet with Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney and Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori.

Bickerstaff was just let go by the Pistons’ division rivals in Cleveland last month after he posted a 170-159 (.517) record across four-plus seasons with the Cavaliers, leading them to playoff appearances in 2023 and 2024 and a first-round series victory this spring. Bickerstaff also coached the Grizzlies from 2017-19 and was as an assistant for several teams before that, with stints in Charlotte, Minnesota, and Houston.

Sweeney, who began his NBA career in the Nets’ video room in 2011, has worked on Jason Kidd‘s staffs in Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Dallas, and was also an assistant in Detroit under Dwane Casey from 2018-21. Casey remains with the Pistons in a front office role.

Nori is another veteran assistant who was on Casey’s staff from 2018-21. He worked for the Raptors, Kings, and Nuggets before that, and has been with the Timberwolves since 2021. Nori shared some of Chris Finch‘s head coaching duties during Minnesota’s playoff run this spring when Finch was unable to roam the sidelines due to knee surgery.

Sweeney and Nori have been hot names on the head coaching carousel in the past couple months. Sweeney was linked to the Lakers’ and Wizards’ vacancies, while Nori reportedly interviewed with the Cavaliers and Lakers. Both men were high on the list of potential Pistons candidates published by James L. Edwards III of The Athletic on Wednesday following Monty Williams‘ ouster.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Pistons are expected to seek permission to interview more assistants from around the NBA.

One name to watch will be James Borrego of the Pelicans, who was atop Edwards’ list and was also mentioned by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) as a candidate who would receive serious consideration if he’s available. Multiple reports have suggested Borrego is the frontrunner for the only other available head coaching job, in Cleveland, so it’s unclear whether or not Detroit will get a chance to talk to him.

Latest On Pistons’ Decision To Move On From Monty Williams

The Pistons parted ways with Monty Williams on Wednesday morning following the franchise’s worst-ever season after signing him to a six-year, $78.5MM deal just one year ago.

The decision to move on from Williams came soon after hiring Trajan Langdon as president of basketball operations. According to reports, owner Tom Gores indicated Williams’ remaining money wouldn’t be an issue if Langdon ultimately decided to let him go, and the decision to move on from Williams came within the last 24 hours.

Pelicans assistant James Borrego, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori, former Pistons assistant Jerome Allen, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and former Nets assistant Will Weaver are among the candidates for the Pistons’ head coaching vacancy, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes. In a tweet, Edwards added that he believes Borrego, Sweeney and Bryant are the three primary names to watch for the position.

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show (Twitter link), Shams Charania suggested Borrego remains the favorite for the Cavaliers‘ vacant head coaching position. Borrego has also drawn interest from the Lakers, though it’s worth noting that the Pistons hired Langdon from New Orleans, where Borrego coached last season.

Sweeney served as an assistant on Dwane Casey‘s staff for three years in Detroit and helped develop Giannis Antetokounmpo while with Milwaukee. Helping the Mavericks to an NBA Finals appearance aids Sweeney’s case. Meanwhile, Bryant has been an assistant under Tom Thibodeau in New York since 2020 following a stint with the Jazz.

We have more from the Pistons’ decision to move on from Williams:

  • According to Edwards (Twitter link), the firing of Williams has no impact the team’s decision to bring in Fred Vinson as an assistant for next year’s staff. Vinson will be on the Pistons next season.
  • In order to fight to keep his job, Williams essentially went through an interview process with Langdon, Edwards writes in a separate story. The team was searching for complete synergy from its front office to its coaching staff, and wanted to know for certain if Williams was committed to coaching a rebuilding team. Ultimately, Langdon was given free rein, via Gores, to make whatever decision he saw fit, and the pair opted to clean house in tandem.
  • Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press echoes Edwards’ reporting in that Langdon and Gores were on the same page in regard to firing Williams (Twitter link).
  • Williams and Weaver aren’t solely to blame for Detroit’s woeful season, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports writes. There were “four factions” in the Pistons organization, with chairman Arn Tellem also serving as a prominent voice, according to Goodwill, who says that objective No. 1 this offseason should be getting everyone on the same page.
  • J.J. Redick could be a name to watch, Goodwill writes, but it’s unclear how much traction Detroit could gain with him since he’s widely viewed as the favorite for the Lakers’ position. Redick and Langdon have a Duke connection and crossed over briefly in New Orleans, though Redick’s time with the Pelicans didn’t end well. Tellem is also reportedly a fan of Redick’s.

Cavaliers Notes: Nori, Garland, Allen, Mitchell, Mobley

Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori is among the candidates scheduled for an in-person meeting with Cavaliers officials this week to discuss their head coaching vacancy, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer also cites Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego and Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, who were identified as finalists for the job in a report by Chris Fedor earlier today.

Fischer hears that the Cavs are continuing to hold interviews via Zoom as well, with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant and Bucks assistant Dave Joerger included in that group.

Nori has been an NBA assistant since 2009 and spent time in Toronto, Sacramento, Denver and Detroit before coming to Minnesota in 2021. He took on many of head coach Chris Finch‘s duties when Finch was immobilized due to knee surgery following the Wolves’ first-round playoff series.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers’ next coach will likely inherit a team with its current core intact, Fischer adds. Although Cleveland has received “a wealth of interest” in Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen on the trade market, sources tell Fischer that the front office isn’t expected to consider offers for them or for Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley. Expectations are growing that Mitchell will agree to an extension this summer, according to Fischer’s sources, while Mobley is still viewed as a vital part of the organization’s future.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst also hears that trade talk regarding Garland has cooled off around the league. In an interview with ESPN Cleveland (video link), Windhorst said potential suitors were discouraged by a recent statement from general manager Koby Altman. “There are now teams that are sort of backing off, saying, ‘Well, maybe Garland is not gonna be available,'” Windhorst said.
  • With Borrego reportedly a finalist for both the Cavaliers and Lakers, Ethan Sands of Cleveland.com compares the two franchises and asks which situation is better. He notes that both teams have an urgency to win right away and share an uncertain future regarding their best player as Mitchell is pondering an extension while LeBron James has until June 29 to decide whether to exercise a $51.4MM player option for next season.

Latest On Cavaliers’ Head Coaching Search

The Cavaliers‘ lengthy head coaching search appears to be nearing a resolution, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required), who reports that the team has narrowed down a group that initially consisted of about 10 candidates to four or five finalists who will have in-person interviews.

Fedor doesn’t name all four (or five) of those finalists, but confirms that Pelicans assistant James Borrego met with head of basketball operations Koby Altman and other Cavaliers officials on Tuesday and that Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson will follow suit this week, likely either Wednesday or Thursday.

While Atkinson was identified as the potential frontrunner early in the process, Fedor says Borrego has been considered the “leader in the clubhouse” since last week. A Tuesday report out of New Orleans suggested the Pelicans are bracing for the loss of Borrego, who is also a candidate for the Lakers.

Borrego and Atkinson both check two important boxes for the Cavaliers, Fedor notes — they have prior head coaching experience and they’re more offensive-minded coaches. Maximizing the club’s offensive production is a priority after its offensive rating (114.7) ranked just 16th in the regular season and plummeted in the playoffs (104.7).

However, Cleveland isn’t simply zeroing in on offensive specialists. A source tells Fedor that at least one of the team’s finalists is better known for his defensive acumen, signaling that management is focused on finding the best overall fit, regardless of a candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs’ search:

  • Although Cleveland would like to have a new head coach in place before the June 26 draft, that’s considered a “moving target,” according to Fedor, who says the primary goal is to simply get the hire right, no matter how long it takes.
  • There are several ties between the Pelicans and Cavaliers, with top executive David Griffin and big man Larry Nance Jr. among those in New Orleans who have roots in Cleveland. Those links have made it simpler for the Cavs to gather first-hand reports on Borrego. Everyone has spoken positively about the Pelicans assistant, Fedor writes, citing sources who have described Borrego as “humble, innovative, engaging and diplomatic” and as someone who is willing to “learn and listen.” Those qualities have come across in the Cavs’ multiple meetings with Borrego.
  • Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, who played for Atkinson in Brooklyn, have shared “approving” feedback with the Cavaliers about their former head coach, per Fedor.
  • Dave Joerger, Micah Nori, David Adelman, Johnnie Bryant, and Chris Quinn are among the other candidates who have been involved in the Cavaliers’ search, though it’s unclear which of them are finalists. As Fedor points out, Joerger is the only one in that group with period head coaching experience, which could be a factor given the pressure to win right away.

Cavs Granted Permission To Interview Wolves’ Micah Nori

The Cavaliers been granted permission to interview Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori for their head coaching vacancy, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

An Ohio native, Nori also interviewed for the Lakers’ head coaching job, Wojnarowski notes. The veteran assistant coach was first linked to Cleveland by Wojnarowski’s ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst.

Nori, 50, spent several years as a scout with Toronto before becoming an assistant coach with the Raptors in 2009. He was also an assistant with Sacramento, Denver and Detroit before joining Minnesota in 2021.

Known for his humor, wit and intelligence, Nori patrolled the sidelines for the Wolves and made many in-game decisions this postseason after head coach Chris Finch sustained a major knee injury in the team’s first-round victory over Phoenix. Nori has drawn high praise from stars like Anthony Edwards and Nikola Jokic.

As our tracker shows, Nori is at least the fifth candidate to interview for the Cavs’ lead coaching job, joining Kenny Atkinson (Golden State), James Borrego (New Orleans), Johnny Bryant (New York) and Chris Quinn (Miami). Of the five, only Atkinson and Borrego have previous NBA head coaching experience (with Brooklyn and Charlotte, respectively).

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported last week that the Cavaliers could meet with up to 10 candidates. Multiple reports have indicated that Atkinson is viewed as the frontrunner for the job after J.B. Bickerstaff was dismissed last month. Cleveland advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2023/24, ultimately losing to Boston in five games.

Cavs Notes: Mitchell, Garland, Morris, Bickerstaff, Nori

After previously reporting for The Athletic that people around the league expect Donovan Mitchell to sign an extension with the Cavaliers, Shams Charania reiterated on Thursday that Cleveland is optimistic about that outcome (Twitter video link via FanDuel’s Run It Back Show). That aligns with what president of basketball operations Koby Altman said on Friday about the star guard.

That same report also stated that if Mitchell inks an extension, Darius Garland‘s agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, “would have a conversation with Cavs officials on potentially finding a new home for the one-time All-Star.”

In an interview with Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, Paul didn’t exactly refute that rumor.

As of now, there’s nothing to discuss on that,” Paul said as part of a larger quote. “My job is to evaluate every situation for every guy that we as a company represent. I’m a representative of players, and I help advise them on business decisions. It’s a lot more to it than just negotiating a contract after four years. Some guys choose to do that and only focus on that. I’m different. I try to look at everything.

You try to position guys a certain way to continue to have value. … And so these guys have to make sure they understand that having the talent they have, and the production, allows them to maintain value.”

When asked about potentially splitting up the backcourt tandem, Altman said, “I don’t see why we should” (Twitter link via Danny Cunningham of Cleveland Magazine).

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Veteran forward Marcus Morris was only with the Cavaliers for about two months, but he admits he saw signs of disconnect between the team and J.B. Bickerstaff, he said on Run It Back (Twitter video links). Bickerstaff was fired on Thursday after leading the Cavs to the second round of the playoffs. The 34-year-old unrestricted free agent also said he expects Mitchell to stay with the Cavs. “I think Cleveland is a great place for (Mitchell)…I would be highly surprised if he left.”
  • Jason Lloyd of The Athletic argues that Bickerstaff deserved to stay on the job for another season, writing that the 45-year-old “consistently had his players’ backs, even when they didn’t have his.” Lloyd also contends that Altman didn’t want to fire Bickerstaff but felt forced to due to Mitchell’s contract situation — the five-time All-Star was one of the players who reportedly questioned the coach’s “tactics and strategies.”
  • Appearing on NBA Today (YouTube link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst agreed with Lloyd about Altman’s decision, pointing out that there’s an “extreme closeness” between the Bickerstaff family and Altman. J.B.’s father Bernie Bickerstaff has been a longtime advisor to the Cavs and Altman.
  • According to Windhorst, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori is a potential name to watch in the Cavaliers’ coaching search. The Cavs’ vacancy may be more attractive than normal due the strength of the Western Conference and perceived weakness of the East — Windhorst has heard player agents are trying to steer their clients to the East too.
  • In an Insider-only story, ESPN’s Bobby Marks outlines the options Mitchell and the Cavs will have this offseason. Marks also explores hypothetical trades from teams that would have interest in Mitchell if he becomes available.