Nancy Lieberman

Kings Notes: Joerger, Catanella, Assistants

New Kings coach Dave Joerger pledged today that he’d work in concert with GM Vlade Divac, in contrast to the discord between coach and front office that marked George Karl‘s Sacramento tenure and Joerger’s time in Memphis, as notes. The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, but Joerger, who took the Sacramento job despite openings in Houston and Indiana, is optimistic about the future for Sacramento, observes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee“The team’s on the rise,” Joerger said. “There’s still some heavy lifting to do but some of the heavy lifting has been done. This is not a blow it up, let’s start all over again situation. We’re on the road to recovery.”

See more from Sacramento:

  • Miscommunication disrupted the process that led to the hiring of Ken Catanella as Kings assistant GM, several league sources told Zach Lowe of A confused narrative exists on whether Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace was a candidate, and it seemed former Bucks and Pacers executive David Morway was headed for the job before talks broke off.
  • Some of the candidates for the head coaching job pulled out before the search was over, while others simply used the team’s interest to bolster their resumes, according to Lowe.
  • The Kings dismissed assistant coaches Chad Iske and John Welch but will keep fellow assistants Nancy Lieberman and Corliss Williamson, as Jones and The Bee’s Ailene Voisin relay (Twitter links).
  • One of the candidates who interviewed for the head coaching job gave Jake Fischer of an anonymous rundown of the visit, providing insight on the team’s approach and telling Fischer that before Joerger emerged, the Kings originally planned to narrow the field to two finalists who would meet with Ranadive. That essentially jibes with earlier reporting from Jones, who heard the team intended to name three finalists.

Pacific Notes: Lieberman, Ayres, Clarkson, Booker

George Karl has unofficially exiled Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman because Karl views her as a confidante to owner Vivek Ranadive, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. That’s created an extra plot twist with the Karl-DeMarcus Cousins saga because Ranadive has been loyal to Cousins and the mercurial center can’t help but notice the in-fighting among the staff, Amick adds. The Kings deny that Lieberman has Ranadive’s ear or that Karl has pushed her to the background, sources indicated to’s Dan Feldman, though Feldman notes that Amick is well connected and has reported out of Sacramento for many years.
In other news around the Pacific Division:
  • Power forward Jeff Ayres is relieved he can settle into one place now that the Clippers have signed him for the remainder of the season, Rowan Kavner of reports. The power forward, who played under two 10-day contracts with the Clippers earlier this season, played two games for the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders after being traded from Boise before the Clippers came calling again. “I was telling somebody this morning, I’ve been living out of my suitcase – like really living out of a suitcase,” Ayres told Kavner.
  • Lakers coach Byron Scott isn’t concerned about Jordan Clarkson‘s shooting slump, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. The second-year shooting guard has averaged 9.7 points, shot 29.5% from the field and made just two of 17 3-point attempts over the past three games. “I don’t put a whole lot of stock into it,”  Scott told Oram and other members of the media. “You’re going to have stretches of this season, which is a long season, where you’re going to have some bad games.”
  • Rookie shooting guard Devin Booker is being groomed as the Suns‘ go-to player at the end of games, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Interim head coach Earl Watson is putting the ball in his hands during those situations to see how he responds, as Watson relayed to Coro. “Devin has to learn how to finish games at the elbow like Kobe Bryant,” Watson said. “He knows that. We talked about that. That’s the progression of him finishing games.”

Pacific Notes: Kerr, Monroe, Kobe, Lieberman

Steve Kerr isn’t thinking at all about sitting out the entire season and believes he’ll return from his leave of absence at some point before it’s over, as he said to Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. The progress the Warriors coach has made of late in his recovery from two back surgeries is plain to see, observes Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“He’s acting more like himself and joking more like himself,” interim coach Luke Walton said Tuesday, as Simmons relays. “As far as what that means for his return, we still have no idea — but it’s nice to see more of his old self.”

See more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers focused on basketball in their free agent pitch to Greg Monroe, unlike their ill-fated business-oriented approach to LaMarcus Aldridge, Byron Scott said Tuesday, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News relays (Twitter link). “There wasn’t anything they did wrong. I just made the best decision for me,” Monroe said to Medina about his choice of the Bucks over the Lakers and others. “It wasn’t anything they didn’t do or did do.”
  • Kobe Bryant is playing much better of late, and that has to do with his greater comfort with the Lakers‘ young players, Scott believes, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register details. No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell is also looking improved, and that has Scott looking smart, at least for now, Oram writes. “So [Kobe]’s kind of … stepping to the side a little bit and letting them have a little more say in what they do out there,” Scott said. “There’s a lot of times in the game where he just kind of defers to those guys.”
  • George Karl had thought about hiring a female assistant coach for years before he and the Kings brought Nancy Lieberman onto the staff this past summer, notes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee“I think it’s been good,” Karl said. “Sometimes I think we [head coaches] have been too macho about this for too long. Everybody connects with people differently, and some players communicate better with women. That’s why you want three or four assistants. With Nancy, obviously she knows the game. But the best thing she does is connect one-on-one with the players. She can take hard subjects and go to a player, and that’s very unusual in a young coach.”

Western Notes: Gobert, Lawson, Lieberman

Rudy Gobert is out indefinitely after suffering Grade II sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during practice today, the Jazz announced, and history suggests he’ll miss more than a month. Marc Gasol missed a month and a half when he suffered the same injury two years ago, notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter links). It took Greg Stiemsma about the same length of time to come back from his Grade II MCL sprain in 2013, notes Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). That doesn’t necessarily mean Gobert is out that long, but with Jazz D-Leaguer Jack Cooley reportedly having just agreed to play in Spain, the timing of Gobert’s injury is poor, and Falk doesn’t expect the team to make a move in the immediate future (Twitter link). See more from the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets aren’t looking into deals for Ty Lawson, even though teams think they’ll be able to trade for him on the cheap, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitterlinks). Kyler believes the Rockets are interested in a change of some sort but hears that the focus isn’t on Lawson. The offseason trade acquisition indicated today that he’s on board with his reserve role, one he’s been in since J.B. Bickerstaff removed him from the starting lineup in his first game as interim coach, notes Calvin Watkins of (ESPN Now link). “It’s just whatever coach wants me to do, what the team needs me to do, I’m doing it,” Lawson said.
  • Kings assistant Nancy Lieberman believes her hiring as the NBA’s second female full-time assistant coach was necessary to maintain the momentum created when the Spurs made Becky Hammon the first, as Lieberman writes in The Players’ Tribune. She didn’t address a report that she would be owner Vivek Ranadive’s choice to become interim head coach in the event the Kings fire George Karl, but she did talk about the bond she’s quickly formed with the players. DeMarcus Cousins has been one of the most amazing young men from the time I met him in Vegas,” Lieberman wrote. “He just gave me this big old hug and said, ‘We’re happy you’re here.'”
  • The 2015 draft class is proving unexpectedly productive and deep, but No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves remains the leader for Rookie of the Year honors, argues Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

Pacific Notes: Kobe, Lieberman, Walton, Green

The Warriors keep on rolling, but the same can’t be said for Kobe Bryant, whose game has fallen off sharply in what figures to be his final season. Bryant matched the worst shooting performance of his career, going 1 for 14 Tuesday as the Lakers fell to the Warriors, 111-77, sending Golden State to the first 16-0 mark in NBA history. Bryant is shooting just 31.1% this season, a career low, but he leads the Lakers in field goal attempts per game.

“I’m not really worried about it, honestly,” Bryant said, according to Baxter Holmes of (Twitter link). “My shooting will be better. I could’ve scored 80 tonight. It wouldn’t have made a [expletive] difference. We just have bigger problems. I could be out there averaging 35 points a game. We’d be what, 3-11? We’ve got to figure out how to play systematically in a position that’s going to keep us in ballgames.”

The Lakers are 2-12, but coach Byron Scott said he still has “so much confidence” in Bryant, his former teammate, who remains the NBA’s highest-paid player at $25MM this season, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register relays. See more from the Pacific Division:

  • An agent with ties to the Kings predicts chaos if the team were to make Nancy Lieberman the interim coach in the event of a George Karl firing, reports Chris Mannix of, who writes in his Open Floor column. Mannix finds it difficult to envision Lieberman getting the nod, despite a report that owner Vivek Ranadive would favor such a move if he dismisses Karl.
  • Warriors interim coach Luke Walton reached out to Phil Jackson before the 2014/15 season to ask whether he should reach out to Steve Kerr, and Jackson, who’d wanted to hire Kerr for the Knicks, told Walton to do so, notes Marcia C. Smith of the Orange County Register. Kerr wound up hiring Walton as an assistant coach, setting in motion the events that would put Walton in charge of the team’s historic run.
  • Draymond Green is one of the six or seven most valuable players in the NBA, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group observed Tuesday before Golden State’s game. Green re-signed with the Warriors for $82MM over five years this summer, more than $14MM less than his five-year max.

Kings Would Make Lieberman Interim Coach?

1:36pm: There’s “no way” the Kings would replace Karl with Lieberman, tweets Chris Mannix of The team isn’t going after Calipari, either, a league source insists to Sean Cunningham of KXTV-TV in Sacramento (Twitter link).

11:55pm: Kings owner Vivek Ranadive would like to make assistant coach Nancy Lieberman the interim head coach if the team elects to fire George Karl during the season, sources tell Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher for a video report. Such a move would make Lieberman the first woman ever to serve as head coach of an NBA team. Vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac would lean instead toward Corliss Williamson, another current Kings assistant, in the event of a Karl firing, Bucher adds, though Divac said last week that Karl would remain the coach throughout the season. Ranadive continues to eye John Calipari as a would-be long-term successor to Karl and plans to make the Kentucky coach an “offer that Calipari simply cannot refuse,” according to Bucher.

Lieberman became just the second female ever to hold a full-time assistant coaching position in the NBA when the Kings hired her over the summer. She previously served as head coach of the Mavs D-League affiliate, leading the Texas Legends to the D-League playoffs in 2010/11, the only time the team has ever made the postseason. She also served as a head coach and GM in the WNBA after a decorated playing career.

Williamson is a former Kings player and teammate of Divac who rejoined the franchise as an assistant in the summer of 2013, a few months after Ranadive bought the team. Williamson served as a head coach at the University of Central Arkansas prior to joining Sacramento’s staff.

Ranadive’s interest in Calipari has grown stronger in recent months, as Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead reported last week. The Kings denied a report this summer that they reached out to Calipari, and while the one-time Nets coach has insisted time and again that he doesn’t want to leave Kentucky, rumors that he wants back into the NBA have been persistent.

Does Lieberman deserve a shot as an NBA head coach? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Pacific Notes: Prigioni, Dukan, Lieberman

Pablo Prigioni, who inked a one year deal with the Clippers this offseason, said that Los Angeles was his preferred destination all along, writes Rowan Kavner of “I didn’t even consider to choose another team or to go back to Europe,” Prigioni said. “’I said, I want to go there [to Los Angeles].’ This is a perfect team. This is a team that has a group of guys that are playing together the last four or five years. Now, same coach, add a couple of new guys. This is a perfect team to go to and try to give my best and help with whatever they need to do.

Here’s more from the NBA’s Pacific Division:

  • Grantland’s Zach Lowe figures the range of salaries on a would-be extension for the WarriorsHarrison Barnes would fall between those on DeMarre Carroll‘s four-year, $58MM deal with the Raptors and the 2016/17 maximum salary for players with Barnes’ years of experience, projected to come in at $20.4MM.
  • Duje Dukan‘s deal with the Kings will see him earn $525,093, which is fully guaranteed, for the 2015/16 campaign, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The forward is scheduled to make $874,636 in the second year of the pact, $200k of which becomes guaranteed on August 1st, 2016, Pincus adds.
  • New Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman, in a Q&A with David Aldridge of, said one of her biggest challenges will be in knowing when to chime in with her opinions, since all of her previous experience was as a head coach. “Summer League was really important for me. Summer League helped validate that I’m not a pushy broad,” Lieberman said. “I have been a head coach my whole life. I’ve never been an assistant, to be honest. I’m the one that has to do some of the growing here. I have got to learn when to speak, when my voice is required, and quite frankly, when to just shut the heck up. So that part is new for me. That will be new for me. But George [Karl] is a pretty easy guy to be around.”
  • The Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers‘ D-League affiliate, have hired Casey Owens as head coach, Pincus reports (via Twitter).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: McDonough, Kings, Brown

The month of August will see GM Ryan McDonough transition to a new role with the Suns, with him taking over the responsibilities of departing president of basketball operations Lon Babby, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “It’s good for everybody to make the change that we made,” Babby said. “In any good leader’s job, the most important thing you can do is plan for the next leader, the next succession. I think we’ve done that. This next year will give us a chance to transition, not only with Ryan but also with Trevor [Bukstein, assistant GM] and Pat [Connelly, assistant GM] and our entire basketball-operations staff. I would not have proposed this to Robert [Sarver, Suns managing partner] unless I had complete confidence in the leadership we had. Ryan is constantly going into the role and extraordinarily impressively.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Divsion:

  • The Kings have officially announced the hiring of Chad Iske as associate head coach and John Welch, Anthony Carter, and Nancy Lieberman as assistant coaches on George Karl‘s staff.
  • It would take a “massive breakdown” in Phoenix for the Suns to trade Eric Bledsoe, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Conflicting reports had painted a confused picture of whether the Suns were talking about trading Bledsoe around draft time, but Kyler hears there’s nothing to his trade candidacy.
  • Alec Brown, who was the No. 50 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Suns, has officially signed with the Spanish team Obradoiro, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Brown made 17 appearances during the 2014/15 campaign with Phoenix’s D-League affiliate in Bakersfield, averaging 6.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per contest.

Pacific Notes: Lieberman, Moreland, Durant

10:28pm: The Kings and Lieberman have reached an agreement, Lieberman tells Voisin (Twitter link).
7:29pm: The NBA will boast multiple female assistant coaches for the first time this season, as the Kings are expected to hire Hall of Famer and women’s basketball pioneer Nancy Lieberman to head coach George Karl‘s staff, reports Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Kings VP of franchise and basketball ops Vlade Divac told Voisin today that he’ll make Lieberman an offer, and she said to Voisin that she’ll accept it.
“George and I talked about bringing her back after she helped us at summer league,” Divac said. “She was terrific. She brings a different dimension. I think [it’s] a nice opportunity for her.”
She’ll join Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, the head coach of the Las Vegas Summer League champs, who became just the second female NBA assistant coach ever last summer, and the first to hold such a position full-time. Lieberman has previously served as head coach of the Mavs D-League affiliate. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
  • The Kings decided one-year veteran Eric Moreland‘s playing style was too similar to that of No. 6 pick Willie Cauley-Stein, helping prompt Sacramento to waive Moreland on Thursday rather than guarantee his salary, as Shams Charania of RealGM writes. Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee wouldn’t be shocked to see Moreland end up with Denver, where former Sacramento GM Pete D’Alessandro, who signed him to the Kings last year, works in the Nuggets front office, but Bill Herenda of CSN California heard early word suggesting that won’t happen (Twitter links).
  • The Warriors will surely chase Kevin Durant next summer, when he’s set for free agency, but realistically, they’d have to sign-and-trade for him, and such a deal would probably have to include Harrison Barnes plus more, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group posits in a look at Golden State’s chances for the former MVP.
  • Golden State has promoted Luke Walton to lead assistant to replace Alvin Gentry, the team announced. Gentry became the head coach of the Pelicans earlier this summer. Walton joined the Warriors coaching staff last year.
  • The Suns have officially added Earl Watson, Nate Bjorkgren and Jason Fraser to their coaching staff, the team announced. Watson and Fraser come from the Spurs D-League team while Bjorkgren had coached Phoenix’s D-League affiliate. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group first reported the addition of Watson, who helped with the Suns’ pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge, his former teammate with the Trail Blazers.