Rex Kalamian

Bucks Notes: Coaching Staff Changes, Giannis, Lillard, Beverley

The Bucks have parted ways with assistant coaches DJ Bakker, Sidney Dobner, and Josh Oppenheimer, sources confirmed to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report first broke the news.

All three coaches were assistants under Adrian Griffin who finished the season with the Bucks after Griffin was dismissed in January and replaced by Doc Rivers. As Nehm notes, Rivers brought in a few new assistants after his arrival in Milwaukee, resulting in a super-sized coaching staff, so it seemed likely that changes would be coming this offseason.

Following the changes, the Bucks now have seven assistants on their staff, per Nehm: Dave Joerger, Rex Kalamian, Joe Prunty, Patrick Mutombo, Vin Baker, Trevor Gleeson, and Pete Dominguez. With new head coaches filling their staffs around the NBA it’s possible Rivers’ staff will undergo more tweaks before the 2024/25 season tips off in the fall.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Rivers said that he usually takes a bit of a break at the end of his team’s season, but that’s not the plan for his first offseason with the Bucks. The veteran head coach “can’t wait to get started” on preparations for 2024/25, as Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. “This summer is a very important summer for us. I have a lot of work to do,” Rivers said. “I’m going to take a break at some point, but not right away. Right now, I have some work to do that I have to get things right to make sure we’re ready for next year.”
  • Last offseason, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez entered the summer as free agents and Damian Lillard wasn’t acquired by the Bucks until late September. This year, with all the team’s core players under contract, Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking forward to a greater level of stability, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re not questioning and trying to figure out how it’s going to look moving forward. You know and now that you know, you just gotta work, strategize to the best of your abilities,” Antetokounmpo said. “Dame’s going to be here. Khris is going to be here. Brook (is) going to be here. Bobby (Portis is) going to be here. I hope I’m here. And then we go and try to find out what we have.”
  • Within the same Owczarski story, Antetokounmpo said he plans to visit Portland this offseason to spend some time with Lillard. “Go work out together, talk, sit down, just spend time,” Giannis said. “It doesn’t have to be basketball. Just spend time together. I’ve done it with Khris in 11 years. I’ve done it with Brook. It’s just what you gotta do.”
  • On the latest episode of his Pat Bev podcast, veteran guard Patrick Beverley said that before he repeatedly fired a basketball at Pacers fans in the last game of the Bucks’ season, he was called a word that he’d never been called before, per The Associated Press. However, Beverley acknowledged that his actions were “still inexcusable.” He was suspended for four games by the NBA. “That should have never happened,” he said of the incident. “Regardless of what was said, that should have never happened. Simple as that.”

Dave Joerger, Rex Kalamian Set To Join Bucks’ Coaching Staff

The Bucks and new head coach Doc Rivers are on track to add two veteran assistant to their coaching staff, according to reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

Dave Joerger and Rex Kalamian are finalizing deals to become Bucks assistants.

A former NBA head coach in Memphis and Sacramento, Joerger was an assistant under Rivers in Philadelphia from 2020-23. He didn’t return to the Sixers for the 2023/24 season after Rivers was let go by the franchise.

Kalamian didn’t work with Rivers in Philadelphia, but was part of his staff with the Clippers from 2018-20. A longtime assistant coach at the NBA level, Kalamian has also spent time with the Nuggets, Timberwolves, Kings, Thunder, Raptors, and Pistons over the past couple decades. He had been working this season as a pro player personnel scout with the Nets.

Rivers has yet to be officially announced as the Bucks’ new head coach following Tuesday’s dismissal of Adrian Griffin, but he reportedly has an agreement in place with the team, which should be formally confirmed soon.

A report on Wednesday indicated that Rivers and general manager Jon Horst would work together to finalize new additions for Milwaukee’s coaching staff.

Pistons To Interview Rex Kalamian For Head Coaching Job

The Pistons will interview assistant coach Rex Kalamian this week for their head coaching vacancy, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Kalamian is a veteran assistant coach who is currently in his 26th NBA season in that role. He has made previous stops with the Clippers (twice), Nuggets, Wolves, Kings (twice), Thunder and Raptors, and has been with the Pistons for the past two seasons.

It was previously reported that Kalamian might receive some consideration from GM Troy Weaver for the head coaching job after Dwane Casey decided to transition to a front office role. Kalamian previously worked with Weaver while they were with Oklahoma City.

Kalamian, who is also the head coach of the Armenian national team, served as acting head coach earlier this season when Casey missed some time due to personal reasons.

While conceding that it’s still early in the process, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack piece (subscriber link) that he’s heard “consistent buzz” that Weaver might favor Bucks assistant Charles Lee and former UConn coach Kevin Ollie for the opening. However, Stein notes that Arn Tellem, Detroit’s vice chairman, is thought to have “considerable influence” in the coaching search.

Central Notes: Pistons, Williams, Holiday, Antetokounmpo

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is expected to talk to two former Thunder assistant coaches he worked with in Oklahoma City — the Bulls’ Josh Longstaff and the Nets’ Brian Keefe — for Detroit’s head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Dwane Casey announced after the Pistons’ season finale that he would be moving to the front office.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee, former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse have already been mentioned as potential targets for the Pistons’ job.

Former Overtime Elite coach Kevin Ollie, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, Pistons assistant Rex Kalamian and former Villanova coach Jay Wright are some other potential candidates that may intrigue Weaver, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic speculates.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls big men Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic did something that has become an increasing rarity in the league. They appeared in all 82 regular season contests. Williams, who was injured most of last season, said he takes pride in being available, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s a blessing to play all 82,” Williams said. “It was something that I definitely wanted to do and something I want to continue to do throughout the course of my career.”
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday achieved all of his regular season bonuses, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. He earned a total of $1.65MM for reaching incentives in minutes played, games played, rebounds and assists, as well as making the All-Star team. He still has a chance make an additional $4.1MM in bonuses, ranging from making the All-Defensive team to postseason team success, Marks adds.
  • While team goals means more to him, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo believes he deserves the Most Valuable Player award, he told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. “Look, I will never try to create a narrative about the work I put in and maybe that might hurt me because I believe the last five years I’ve been the MVP,” he said. “Do I want a third MVP? Hell (bleeping) yeah I want a third one. I am extremely competitive. I try to make my team successful. …. I’m never going to be one who discredits anybody else’s work. That’s not who I am as a person. And I will never beg for an MVP award that I believe I deserve.”

Coaching Changes May Be Coming In Detroit, Toronto, Houston

The Pistons, Raptors and Rockets are the main teams to watch for head coaching changes once the NBA season ends, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Detroit’s Dwane Casey met with ownership to discuss his future after Wednesday’s game, and sources tell Fischer that some staff members are preparing for a change to take place. Fischer cites a source with knowledge of the situation who says Casey may be given the option of returning as head coach for the final year of his contract or moving into an advisory role with the front office.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee, who has interviewed for numerous head coaching positions in the past, is a top candidate if the Pistons’ job opens up, according to Fischer, who hears that Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin may be given consideration as well. Griffin previously worked under general manager Troy Weaver as an assistant coach in Oklahoma City.

Nick Nurse amplified questions about his status in Toronto last weekend when he said he plans to take some time after the season to evaluate his future with the organization. There were already rumors that the Raptors were considering a coaching move following a disappointing season that will result in a spot in the play-in tournament.

Former Celtics coach Ime Udoka is considered a leading candidate to replace Nurse if he either decides to move on or is dismissed by the team. Udoka was a finalist for the job before Nurse was hired in 2018, and he has a strong relationship with executive Masai Ujiri through the Basketball Without Borders program.

Nurse could wind up in Houston, where Stephen Silas appears likely to be replaced after three years of rebuilding, Fischer adds. Nurse was the Rockets’ G League coach from 2011-13, but he’s not the only potential candidate with ties to Houston or to James Harden, who will reportedly be an offseason target in free agency.

Fischer notes that Trail Blazers assistant Scott Brooks coached Harden in Oklahoma City, while Pistons assistant Rex Kalamian worked on Brooks’ staff with the Thunder. Fischer states that Kalamian has been mentioned by several NBA sources as a potential addition in Houston, possibly as an assistant.

Elsewhere, Fischer hears that league personnel are watching Steve Clifford’s future with the Hornets. The current leadership isn’t considering replacing Clifford, who’s still on the first season of his new contract, Fischer adds, but that could change if Michael Jordan sells enough of his interest in the team that there’s a new primary governor.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, White, Kalamian, Holiday, Sexton

Rookie Ayo Dosunmu and third-year guard Coby White have expanded roles in the absence of Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine and they’ve performed well, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Ball is out six-to-eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery and LaVine didn’t join on the Bulls on their three-game road trip due to a less serious knee injury.

Dosunmu and White have started the last three games, with Dosunmu averaging 18.0 PPG, 8.0 APG and 5.7 RPG and White posting 17.0 PPG, 4.3 APG and 4.3 RPG.

DeMar DeRozan has been impressed with Dosunmu’s maturity. “He accepts his mistakes,” DeRozan said. “He holds himself accountable. And that’s big for a young guy to be able to do that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons assistant coach Rex Kalamian has agreed to become the head coach of the Armenian national team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaworski tweets. Both of Kalamian’s parents are Armenian-Americans. Kalamian, who recently served as acting coach when Dwane Casey missed some games for personal reasons, will continue in his duties in Detroit.
  • Jrue Holiday returned to action on Wednesday after missing six games due to left ankle soreness. Though he only scored nine points in 22 minutes, he gave the Bucks a boost in numerous areas, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. “Wish I had a little more (time on the floor), but I think just trying to get my timing back, get my legs back, get my feel for the game back,” Holiday said. “I feel like I haven’t played in a long time, so just trying to get back right.”
  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, who underwent season-ending knee surgery two months ago, will be a restricted free agent after the season. Bryan Fonseca of Basketball News explores the pros and cons of Cleveland trading Sexton before next month’s deadline. Fonseca ultimately concludes the Cavs should retain Sexton, providing another shot-creator and catch-and-shoot option on a team with playoff aspirations beyond this season.

COVID-19 Updates: Oubre, Casey, Satoransky, Garuba, More

Hornets forward Kelly Oubre has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). Oubre will miss the team’s Monday night game vs. Milwaukee and will likely be sidelined longer than that unless he registered a false positive or inconclusive test. There are now two Charlotte players in the protocols, with Oubre joining Vernon Carey.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has entered the protocols and will be replaced in the short term by assistant Rex Kalamian, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Half of the NBA’s 30 head coaches have now been placed in the protocols at some point this season.
  • Pelicans guard Tomas Satoransky has cleared the health and safety protocols and was back with the team today, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Rockets rookie Usman Garuba has exited the COVID-19 protocols and is no longer listed on the team’s injury report, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe and Heat two-way player Marcus Garrett are among the other players who have cleared the protocols, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, respectively (Twitter links).
  • The Bucks are listing Pat Connaughton as questionable to play on Monday night and he posted an emoji of a plane today on Twitter, strongly signaling that he has exited the protocols and is flying to meet the team in Charlotte, as Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes (via Twitter). Whether or not Connaughton is available tonight, it sounds like he’s no longer in the protocols.

Central Notes: Cavs, Matthews, Kalamian, McKinnie

Appearing on the HoopsHype Podcast alongside Michael Scotto, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com said he believes the Cavaliers will look to be buyers at this season’s trade deadline, and could be open to surrendering their 2022 first-round pick, which may not end up in the lottery as initially anticipated.

Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Terrence Ross are among the players who could appeal to the Cavaliers, per Fedor, though some of those players may be more attainable than others. While LeVert and Ross are believed to be available, I’d be surprised if Brooklyn parts with Harris.

Fedor also addressed several more topics during his conversation with Scotto, suggesting that Ricky Rubio has become more likely to be extended than traded and noting that the Cavaliers are comfortable going into restricted free agency with Collin Sexton. Cleveland recognizes that only a handful of teams will have cap room available in 2022 and is skeptical that any of those clubs will make it a top priority to pry away Sexton from the Cavs, Fedor explains.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • Bucks wing Wesley Matthews is no longer listed in the health and safety protocols, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Milwaukee still has three players in the protocols, including Giannis Antetokounmpo.
  • Rex Kalamian, who has been an NBA assistant coach for 28 years, got a chance to serve as the Pistons‘ acting head coach on two occasions in the past week – including on Tuesday – when Dwane Casey was away from the team for personal reasons. As James L. Edwards III of The Athletic details, Kalamian appreciates the opportunity, but remains happy in his role as an assistant. “As an assistant coach, you do a lot more development with the players than the head coach,” he said. “The head coaches are not nearly as involved with the day-to-day development of players. But as an assistant, that’s something that has always been fun for me and a challenge to step in and get on the court every day with players.”
  • Carving out a role with the Bulls has been a “dream come true” for Alfonzo McKinnie, who is currently on his second 10-day contract with his hometown team. “I’m a West Side kid. I grew up like 10, 15 minutes down the way,” McKinnie said on Monday, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “House was a Bulls house. Watched the Bulls growing up. So just being able to compete on the highest stage in my hometown, on my favorite side of the city, the West Side, it’s been surreal to be honest. Just putting that jersey on has been everything for me.”

Eastern Notes: Portis, Parker, Casey, Oladipo

Forward Bobby Portis is the latest Bucks player to be placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo and Wesley Matthews are already listed out for Friday’s game against the Pelicans for the same reason. Brook Lopez and Semi Ojeleye are injured and Thanasis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful due to a right soleus strain. That will leave the Bucks with 10 players if there are no more developments.

We have more Eastern Conference news:

  • Celtics forward Jabari Parker has also been placed under health and safety protocols, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. Parker has only appeared in nine games this season, averaging 4.6 PPG in 9.3 MPG in those outings.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey will miss tonight’s game against Indiana due to personal reasons, Keith Langlois of the team’s website tweets. It’s not due to a COVID-19 issue. Assistant Rex Kalamian will run the show in Casey’s absence. It’s unknown whether Casey will return to coach the team in two home games this weekend.
  • Guard Victor Oladipo is traveling with the Heat during their four-game trip and coach Erik Spoelstra believes that’s a significant development, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “It’s a big step,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not about a step of when he’ll be back. It’s more about just the emotional and mental boost for him. He has been doing all this work behind the scenes, at the arena while we’ve been on the road. And we’ve been on the road virtually the entire season. So he hasn’t been with us for a large part of it.” Oladipo signed a one-year veteran’s minimum deal during the offseason. He had surgery in May to repair a quad tendon in his right knee.

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Hayes, Coaching Staff

Figuring out how to maximize the backcourt of lottery picks Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham may be most important element of Cunningham’s integration into the league, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That process will start in training camp and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey is known for preferring multiple ballhandlers on the court. Cunningham’s versatility makes it both easier and more challenging to find the right balance between the two young backcourt partners, Langlois adds.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • The team has officially named Rex Kalamian, Jerome Allen, Jim Moran and Bill Bayno as assistant coaches, and Andrew Jones as a player development coach in a press release. The news that the club was hiring Kalamian, Allen and Bayno was reported in June. Allen was on Brad Stevens’ Celtics staff, while Bayno had been on Indiana’s staff. Kalamian worked the Kings last season. A report surfaced in July that Moran, a former Portland assistant, would be joining Casey’s staff. Jordan Brink and Austin Dufault have been promoted to player development coaches, the release adds.
  • Hayes may not be a legitimate building block, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic opines in a Q&A session with colleague James Edwards III. His struggles to gain separation make it very difficult for him to create anything as a lead guard and he’s always been turnover-prone, according to Vecenie, though it would unfair to give up on him too quickly. Vecenie does believe the club is being built the right way, though it needs a couple more elite players to be a true contender.
  • In case you missed it, there’s been speculation that second-round rookie Luka Garza, who has signed a two-way deal, could be promoted to a standard contract. Get the details here.