Nick Nurse

Latest On Bucks’ Coaching Situation

The Bucks have reached out to Doc Rivers to discuss having him take over their head coaching job, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms.

As reported earlier in the day, Rivers is the top choice to replace first-year coach Adrian Griffin, who was abruptly fired on Tuesday.

CNN Sports, as relayed by the NBA on TNT, reported on Tuesday night that Rivers had accepted the position (video link). However, that report has yet to be corroborated by other media outlets.

Rivers already has a connection to the Bucks, having informally served as a consultant for Griffin this season at the behest of the club.

Here’s more on the Bucks’ coaching situation:

  • Griffin offered a diplomatic answer to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report regarding his dismissal: “I appreciate the opportunity the Bucks gave me. You can’t control everything,” Griffin said in a phone interview. “I feel good about the job we did. I appreciate my coaching staff for all their hard work. I always wanted to be a head coach in this league. I couldn’t have asked for a better roster. I got to coach Giannis (Antetokounpo), Dame (Lillard), Khris (Middleton), Brook (Lopez). Dream come true. Hopefully, I get another shot at it, but overall, I’m just thankful.”
  • Bucks general manager Jon Horst and assistant GM Milt Newton began closely observing practices and shootarounds in the last 10 days or so, Haynes reports in the same story.  That began raising the eyebrows of the coaching staff and players. If they don’t land Rivers, the Bucks also have Jeff Van Gundy and Nate McMillan on their short list of candidates, Haynes adds.
  • Griffin met with his top four players after the team’s loss to Indiana during the in-season tournament last month and they all spoke about what was working, what wasn’t working and how they could best be utilized. Griffin told the players that sacrifices were required, but bickering in the locker room continued shortly thereafter.
  • Griffin was hired at the endorsement of Antetokounmpo, but that endorsement had more to do with whom the two-time MVP didn’t want as head coach, writes Marc Stein at SubstackNick Nurse was high on the Bucks’ list of candidates before he was hired by the Sixers, according to Stein, who says Antetokounmpo wanted the franchise to go in a different direction and chose to back Griffin. Moving on from Griffin now was a far easier move than finding a difference-making trade, given Milwaukee’s limited assets, Stein adds.
  • When Lillard’s former head coach, Terry Stotts, chose to resign from the Bucks’ staff just prior to the season opener, the reason was that Griffin felt that he was being undermined by Stotts, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Stotts was brought in to mentor Griffin but they clashed on scheme and philosophy.

Atlantic Notes: Dolan, Embiid, Sixers, J. Porter

Knicks owner James Dolan has been accused of sexual assault, according to reports from Ben Sisario of The New York Times and Marjorie Hernandez and Selim Algar of The New York Post.

Dolan’s accuser, Kellye Croft, filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday claiming that he pressured her into unwanted sex with him and that he coordinated an encounter with Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly sexually assaulted her. Croft worked as a masseuse on a 2013 tour headlined by The Eagles that also featured Dolan’s band, J.D. and the Straight Shot. The incidents with Dolan and Weinstein are said to have taken place in 2013 and 2014.

One of Dolan’s attorneys issued a statement saying that there is “absolutely no merit” to the allegations: “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims. Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court.”

Asked today about the lawsuit, commissioner Adam Silver didn’t have much to tell reporters so soon after the publication of the reports, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. “I saw the article and don’t know anything else about it other than I read the article so we’ll stand by and wait to find out more information,” Silver said.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers star Joel Embiid, who returned on Monday from a three-game injury absence, said he’s not worried about meeting the 65-game requirement to qualify for end-of-season awards such as MVP. “It doesn’t matter how many games I play,” Embiid said (story via “The goal is to be healthy the rest of the year.” Embiid isn’t on the injury report for Tuesday’s contest vs. Denver, so it appears he’ll square off on the second night of a back-to-back set against fellow MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a look at how Daryl Morey‘s and Nick Nurse‘s time together in Houston laid the groundwork for them to reunite with the Sixers. Nurse tells Mizell that he believes his history with Morey has given him a leg up during his first year in Philadelphia. “Where the relationship enhances what’s happened is the speed at which we can move things along,” the head coach said. “Because we know each other, it’s not this, ‘Where’s this guy coming from?’ six-month process. That part I think has been a big plus.”
  • Jontay Porter didn’t open the season on the Raptors‘ roster, but the two-way big man has appeared in each of the team’s past seven games and earned his first start on Monday vs. Boston. Given how Porter has performed so far in Toronto, he could turn out to be a developmental win at a key position for an organization that has lacked those under-the-radar success stories in recent years, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

Sixers Extend Daryl Morey Through 2027/28

10:22am: The extension is official, the Sixers have announced in a press release.

“Daryl is one of the best front office executives in sports and I greatly value his leadership,” team owner Josh Harris said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have reached an agreement to extend his contract and look forward to working together to maximize our chances of competing for an NBA title.”

10:07am: The Sixers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey have agreed on an extension that will keep Morey under contract through the 2027/28 season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Morey has been the head of basketball operations in Philadelphia since the 2020 offseason, following his departure from his longtime position in Houston’s front office.

The 76ers went 154-82 (.653) in Morey’s first three seasons on the job, winning a playoff series each spring before being eliminated in the second round of the postseason. The team is off to a 16-7 start this fall.

Drafting Tyrese Maxey and extending Joel Embiid have been among the highlights of Morey’s tenure in Philadelphia. He also had to navigate Ben Simmons‘ trade request, eventually sending the former No. 1 overall pick to Brooklyn in a multi-player deal for James Harden, who subsequently demanded a trade of his own and was dealt to the Clippers last month.

While he was waiting to be traded, Harden referred to Morey as a “liar,” claiming that the Sixers’ front office hadn’t delivered on their promise to resolve his situation quickly. Given today’s news, it doesn’t appear that Harden’s criticisms of Morey negatively impacted the executive’s standing in the organization at all.

One of Morey’s other notable recent moves was hiring Nick Nurse to replace Doc Rivers as the 76ers’ head coach this past spring. As Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter), Morey’s new extension means that his and Nurse’s contracts are now aligned — both will expire in 2028.

Morey’s initial contract with the Sixers was for five years, so the extension will add three new years, notes Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports (Twitter link).

Sixers Notes: Trade Targets, Harden, Maxey, Embiid, Harris, Martin

Raptors forward OG Anunoby is a player to watch as the Sixers try to remake their roster following the James Harden trade, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says in a conversation with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Scotto states that Nick Nurse is a huge fan of Anunoby after coaching him in Toronto, and he would be a good fit with the current roster on both offense and defense. Scotto also points out that the Sixers would have plenty of cap room to re-sign Anunoby when he becomes a free agent next summer.

Sources tell Scotto that Philadelphia may eye a few other trade targets such as Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell and Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic. He hears the Sixers aren’t interested in pursuing Karl-Anthony Towns to play alongside Joel Embiid because he hasn’t meshed well with Rudy Gobert on the Timberwolves. Bulls swingman DeMar DeRozan would provide scoring punch, but he also brings spacing issues to the offense. Scotto doesn’t believe Philadelphia currently has interest in either Raptors forward Pascal Siakam or Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant.

Pompey doesn’t see another ball-dominant scorer as an ideal fit because of Tyrese Maxey‘s strong play to open the season. Anunoby’s defense and Bogdanovic’s outside shooting would be more valuable, according to Pompey, and they’re likely to cost less than some of the other hypothetical targets.

Scotto and Pompey offer more on the Sixers:

  • The Clippers‘ offer that president of basketball operations Daryl Morey accepted for James Harden was the only legitimate one he received, according to Pompey. He speculates that the organization wanted to unload Harden before he was reintroduced to the team and possibly caused a distraction, and there was concern that L.A.’s interest in Harden might lessen if the team got off to a strong start. Scotto hears that the Knicks called about Harden but never made a serious offer, while the Heat weren’t involved at all.
  • The Sixers believe it will take a max contract to keep Maxey in free agency next summer, Scotto hears. The fourth-year guard has excelled as the leader of the offense with Harden sidelined, but Scotto believes the organization has to determine whether he’s best suited as a point guard or shooting guard.
  • Embiid is “monitoring the situation” to see if Morey can build a legitimate contender before making any decisions about his future, Pompey states. The Sixers are currently optimistic about keeping him happy, but Pompey warns that another early playoff exit could prompt him to ask for a trade during the offseason.
  • The Sixers will be interested in re-signing Tobias Harris, but they can’t give him close to a max contract because of how much they’ll have to pay Maxey and possibly others, Pompey adds. He points out that Philadelphia has Harris’ Bird rights, which will help with his next contract but would eat into the club’s cap room.
  • Sources tell Scotto that the Sixers are “intrigued” with Kenyon Martin Jr., who was part of the return from the Clippers in the Harden deal, and may consider re-signing him next summer if he plays well.

Sixers Notes: New Additions, Oubre, Trade Targets, Harden

The four players the Sixers acquired in their James Harden trade with the Clippers – Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, and Kenyon Martin Jr. – arrived at the team’s facility on Wednesday but are unlikely to play on Thursday vs. Toronto, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Saturday’s home game against Phoenix is a more realistic target for those newcomers, Mizell adds.

Meanwhile, even though Harden hadn’t played yet this season for the 76ers, the deal removes a starter from the team’s lineup — since arriving in Philadelphia in 2022, P.J. Tucker had started all 89 regular season and playoff games he’d played for the club.

Forward Kelly Oubre will start in Tucker’s place for now, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters on Wednesday, but that may not be a permanent change. As Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports explains (via Twitter), Nurse has said he likes the spark Oubre has provided off the bench, so he may want to return Oubre to that role once Morris, Batum, Covington, and Martin are up to speed, with one of those ex-Clippers moving into the starting five.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype and Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscriber link) each identified some players the Sixers may target on the trade market using their newly acquired draft assets, weighing the likelihood of those players becoming available this season and evaluating whether Philadelphia has the pieces to land them. A pair of Bulls (Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan) and Raptors (Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby) show up on both lists, which also feature a few other names.
  • The draft assets the Sixers are receiving and their ability to move on from the Harden saga have been frequently cited in the last 36 hours as the most important aspects of Philadelphia’s trade with the Clippers. But the deal will also improve the 76ers’ depth, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who notes that Tucker’s role had declined, Filip Petrusev wasn’t ready for rotation minutes as a rookie, and Harden – of course – had yet to actually suit up for a game this season.
  • When Harden showed up for the Sixers’ team flight last Wednesday after the team asked him to stay behind in Philadelphia and he wasn’t permitted to board the plane, it “inflamed the situation” on both sides and represented the “final straw” in the club’s efforts to reincorporate him, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Trade discussions with the Clippers resumed a couple days later and picked up steam after that, per Shelburne.
  • Shelburne’s story on Harden’s final days is chock full of interesting tidbits, including the fact that Harden communicated directly with head coach Nick Nurse, general manager Elton Brand, and owner Josh Harris after making his trade request, but would only communicate with president Daryl Morey through agent Michael Silverman.
  • Shelburne also hears from sources that Harden’s camp became convinced ahead of free agency in June that if he declined his option, Morey and the 76ers only intended to offer him a two-year deal with a second-year team option. The team, wary of gun-jumping after being penalized for it in 2022, insisted it would make a strong offer once free agency opened, but Harden “didn’t buy it,” Shelburne writes.

And-Ones: Resting Stars, Flagg, Doncic, Rookie Scale Extensions

The NBA enacted a new player participation policy during the summer, but it hasn’t been effective in keeping stars on the court during the first week of the season, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Many of the league’s top players have already sat out games, either for rest purposes or minor injuries.

Vardon points to Sixers center Joel Embiid, who was nearly rested for the team’s home opener on Sunday. It was only the third game of the season, but Embiid played 35 minutes Saturday at Toronto, so coach Nick Nurse considered giving him the night off. Because it was a back-to-back situation, that wouldn’t have violated the new policy.

“There’s nothing injury-wise. We just played last night, traveled and all that stuff,” Nurse explained.

NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars has talked about wanting to re-establish the culture of an 82-game season, but Vardon notes that James HardenJimmy ButlerDevin Booker and Donovan Mitchell are among the players who have already missed games.

However, the policy is at least making teams think twice about keeping their best players out of action. Nurse admits it factored into his decision making when he opted to play Embiid on Sunday, and a source tells Vardon that the Heat checked with the league office before resting Butler in Saturday’s game.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Cooper Flagg, who is expected to be the top pick in the 2025 NBA draft, has announced that he will play college basketball at Duke, per Jeff Borzello of ESPN. The 16-year-old high school star revealed his choice in a commitment video, choosing the Blue Devils over Connecticut. Flagg opted to reclassify in August and will head to college next fall. “After I got on campus, I really started to envision myself in Durham,” Flagg said in his video. “All the love I felt made me really excited, seeing all the Crazies and the atmosphere in Cameron. I’m honored that I have the opportunity to join the Brotherhood.”
  • NBA executives chose Mavericks guard Luka Doncic as the league’s best player under 25 years old, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Doncic narrowly edged Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama for the honor, with one executive calling him “an elite offense all by himself.” Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley rounded out the top five.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report grades this year’s rookie scale extensions, which had to be finalized by last Monday, based on their benefit to both the players and their teams.

Sixers Notes: Nurse, McDaniels, Maxey, Embiid, Melton

Making his return to Toronto tonight, Sixers coach Nick Nurse explained why he decided to leave after five years with the Raptors, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Nurse’s time with the organization included a championship in his first season, a Coach of the Year award and a 227-163 record. However, he hadn’t won a playoff series since 2020 and the team’s progress was stagnating.

“It felt like it was time from both sides,” Nurse told reporters before Saturday’s game. “It still feels that way to me, just looking around. I look at them play and they look like they’re playing great and I’m really enjoying coaching this team. So everybody is where they’re supposed to be.”

There were complaints in Toronto that Nurse was overplaying his starters and neglecting player development while pursuing every possible win, writes Michael Grange of Players were also unhappy with the level of communication, Grange adds, with some saying they learned about changes to their roles through the media instead of directly from Nurse.

Nurse was complimentary toward his former team at tonight’s press gathering, saying, “They look good to me. It’s a new coach, a new system and they’re going to need some growth time. But I think in general they seem like they’re playing really hard, they’re playing really well together, they seem really focused and they’re doing a lot of good things.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Jalen McDaniels got a much better offer when he decided to leave the Sixers and sign with the Raptors this summer, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). McDaniels landed a two-year, $9.2MM contract in Toronto, while Philadelphia was only offering a minimum-salary deal. “Yeah, I couldn’t do that, you know?” McDaniels said.
  • Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid have shown off a much crisper two-man game early in the season, observes Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports. With James Harden still out of action, the Maxey-Embiid connection has become the focus of Philadelphia’s offense, and Neubeck states that Maxey has become a noticeably better passer over the summer. Neubeck also wonders how much the Sixers’ front office really wants Harden to return, since it would bring a ball-dominant guard into an equation that’s working well without him.
  • P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton appear “lost in the shuffle” in Nurse’s offense, Neubeck adds. While Tucker was expected to decline without Harden creating shots for him, Neubeck sees Melton’s slow start as a greater concern. He believes Melton has been miscast as a lead guard when Maxey is on the bench and suggests he would be more comfortable off the ball if the Sixers can sign a backup point guard.

Sixers Notes: Morey, Harden, Maxey, Harris

The Sixers‘ standoff with James Harden is the latest challenge for president of basketball operations Daryl Morey as he faces a career-defining season, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Former head coach Doc Rivers took most of the heat for the team’s second-round exit in last season’s playoffs, but the blame for another disappointing finish will fall on Morey, Pompey adds. He made a coaching change this summer, bringing in Nick Nurse, who’s more aligned with Morey’s approach to the game. However, the roster remained largely the same, and the Sixers appeared to lose ground in the Eastern Conference arms race as the Bucks traded for Damian Lillard while the Celtics added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday.

“I do believe what Milwaukee and Boston have done is very good,” Morey said, “but this is why we play the games. We’ve got the MVP of the league (Joel Embiid). We have an up-and-coming, star-level player in (Tyrese) Maxey. We’ve got great, great winning-type players on this roster.”

The Sixers’ fortunes will depend heavily on how Morey resolves the situation with Harden, who has been demanding a trade ever since he picked up his $35.6MM option in late June. Harden has indicated that he plans to make things uncomfortable in Philadelphia until he gets his way, and he has already publicly called Morey a liar and stated that he’ll never play for him again. Morey has mostly remained silent about their broken relationship.

“This year, regardless of what happens with James, we’re going to be a very (bleeping) good team,” Morey told Pompey. “If James is here, we’re going to be even better. If James isn’t here or we trade him for something, we’re going to be very good.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Harden is still away from the team and there’s no clarity on whether he will be available for Thursday’s season opener, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • Embiid believes Maxey is ready to take over the playmaking duties if Harden doesn’t show up, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “If he wants to lead the league in assists, he can, but that was great to see,” Embiid said after Maxey handed out 12 assists in Friday’s preseason finale. “I just wanted to get everybody going and just work on our two-man game, the timing of everything. I thought we did a pretty fine job. … The ball wasn’t sticking. It was just moving.”
  • Nurse may be the right coach to turn Tobias Harris into a star, just as he did with Pascal Siakam in Toronto, Pompey suggests in a separate story. Nurse wants Harris to have a larger role in the offense, and Harris is enjoying the changes that he’s brought. “Every day we’re in the lab, working on different looks, different reads, different options,” Harris said. “And I think this is probably the most excited I’ve been throughout my whole career of a team and a great situation. Every day that we come on that court, I’m generally being pushed and coached and excited for the opportunity.”

Atlantic Notes: Nurse, Harden, Sharpe, Walker, Knicks

Head coach Nick Nurse is determined to prevent James Harden‘s standoff with Sixers management from becoming a distraction as he prepares the team for the start of the season, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harden went through all of training camp without incident, but was held out of Sunday’s preseason opener. With his trade request still looming, Nurse and the rest of his players aren’t sure if Harden will be on the roster when the season tips off in two weeks.

“I think that we knew (that) in the interview process, and the whole time James was a free agent,” Nurse said. “They talked to me, ‘How do you feel about if he’s here or if he isn’t?’ He certainly could have turned down his option and gone somewhere else. That was a possibility. But, like, you know my job is (to) work together with the front office. I believe in those guys. They got a track record of bringing in players, putting good teams together and my job is to coach the guys that are there. And that’s what I will do.”

Pompey notes that Nurse had other opportunities after his success in Toronto, as he interviewed with the Bucks and Suns and was considered the leading candidate for both jobs. Those teams are considered title contenders after major offseason acquisitions, but Nurse didn’t mind accepting the challenges in Philadelphia.

“I’ve got a job to do, and sometimes that job has a few things you’ve got to work through,” he said. “It’s not perfect on a lot of professional sports teams, right? You are paid to work through some things. That’s what we are trying to do.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets coach Jacque Vaughn plans to use more drop coverage this season, which could mean a larger role for backup center Day’Ron Sharpe, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The change in philosophy, plus having another big man on the court, could solve Brooklyn’s long-standing problems with rebounding. “When we switch 1-through-5 … it wasn’t so much Nic (Claxton) or I was getting cooked every play,” Sharpe said. “It was more so we’re out on the perimeter, they’re shooting the ball, the other guys (are) down there getting the rebounds. So, personally, I like to drop better. I like getting boards, I like being physical. And I don’t like when I feel like my matchup is killing me, either. So at the end of the day, I feel like it’s going to help us a lot.”
  • After spending last season with the Lakers, Lonnie Walker will face his former team Monday night as he tries to earn a spot in the Nets‘ rotation, Lewis adds in a separate story. Vaughn said he wants to see Walker attack the rim and stretch the floor with his outside shooting.
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau admits it will be a “tough call” to make the final roster cuts, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Bondy examines the candidates who will be fighting for spots throughout the preseason.

James Harden Skips Sixers’ Media Day

James Harden has decided to skip the Sixers‘ media day to protest the team’s failure to meet his trade request, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harden could be fined for missing the event, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link). After the session with the media wraps up, the Sixers will depart for training camp at Colorado State University, and it’s not clear whether Harden intends to accompany them.

The Clippers remain Harden’s preferred destination, but sources tell Wojnarowski that although the teams engaged in recent trade discussions, there’s no traction on a Harden deal to Los Angeles or anywhere else.

Bobby Marks of ESPN points out that Harden could be found in violation of his contract under the CBA’s “withholding services” clause if he stays away from the team for more than 30 days, which could endanger his free agency for next summer (Twitter link). The fine for not appearing at media day could be added to fines for missing practice as well as 1/91.6 of his salary ($389,083) for each preseason or regular season game he sits out.

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey opened media day with a statement about Harden (Twitter link from Tim Bontemps of ESPN), telling reporters, “He continues to seek a trade and we are continuing to work with his representation to find the best solution for the 76ers and all parties. In terms of a trade, I will continue to work on those fronts and, if he’s here, then coach will work with him on the court. I think it’s pretty straightforward.”

Asked about potential fines, Morey said Harden will be treated “like every other player under the rules of the CBA” (Twitter link).

New head coach Nick Nurse said he has a “Plan A” and “Plan B,” depending on whether Harden eventually decides to be part of the team. Nurse’s immediate concern is getting a foundation in place to start the season.

Harden has been feuding with the Sixers, and Morey in particular, over what he believes are promises that weren’t lived up to. Harden expected to sign a lucrative long-term deal with the team after giving up money last summer, but he didn’t get the offer he was expecting. He made a surprising choice in late June to pick up his option for next season and ask for a trade, but hasn’t been gotten dealt as he’d hoped. He has indicated that he will continue to be disruptive as long as he remains in Philadelphia.