Ryan West

Pistons Announce Front Office Additions, Promotions

The Pistons have announced a series of additions to their basketball operations department, confirming a pair of hires that had been previously reported. Here are those new additions and their titles, per the team:

  • Harold Ellis, pro personnel evaluator
  • Ryan West, pro personnel evaluator
  • Britta Brown, senior director of basketball administration
  • Tony Leotti, senior director of strategy and systems
  • Michael Lindo, director of player and family engagement

The hirings of Ellis and West in the scouting department were first reported last month by The Athletic. Ellis was previously the director of player personnel for the Knicks, while West – the son of NBA legend Jerry West – held the same role with the Lakers up until 2019.

According to the Pistons, Brown will oversee team operations and logistics, assisting in day-to-day management of the department; Leotti will assist the team with salary cap oversight and overall strategy; and Lindo will assist Pistons players and their families off the court.

Detroit also announced a handful of promotions, including Gregg Polinsky to senior director of player personnel, Dan Rosenbaum to senior director of analytics, and Eric Tellem (the son of Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem) to director of pro scouting.

The front office changes are among the first moves made by new general manager Troy Weaver, who was hired by the Pistons to run the basketball operations department earlier this year.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Hawks, West, Cavaliers

Jimmy Butler has fit in perfectly with the Heat’s culture, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. The Bulls and Timberwolves traded Butler away and the 76ers didn’t make him a priority in free agency. However, Miami has been a better spot for the sometimes abrasive swingman, since the front office and coaching staff welcomes a measure of friction, believing it can be a positive in the long run. It leads to more focus, camaraderie and trust, Windhorst adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers flameout in the first round of the playoffs could benefit the Hawks. Philadelphia could be willing to deal one or more of its starters, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, who joins forces with Peachtree Hoops’ Andrew Kelly to explore how various Sixers – along with some other potential trade targets from around the league – could fit in with Atlanta’s current mix.
  • The Pistons have finalized a contract with former Lakers executive Ryan West, Jerry West‘s son, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The news that Detroit was hiring West broke three weeks ago. He will concentrate on player evaluation with Detroit. West and the Lakers mutually agreed to part ways last summer after both sides felt he had reached a ceiling in his 10 years with their franchise.
  • The Cavaliers are likely to use their mid-level exception to upgrade the team, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If there’s a player worth signing, the Cavs are eager to upgrade the roster before next season and push for a playoff spot, Fedor adds. Fedor also explores the Cavaliers’ draft strategy in his mailbag column.

Pistons Adding Harold Ellis, Ryan West To Scouting Department

The Pistons are hiring Harold Ellis and Ryan West as scouts, sources tell James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). The moves come as part of a front office shakeup that has already included the hiring of Troy Weaver as GM and David Mincberg as an assistant GM.

It’ll be a reunion for Ellis, who previously served as an assistant coach for the Pistons in 2008/09 and was later a scout for the club. Since then, he has held a director of pro scouting position with the Magic and a director of player personnel role with the Knicks. Ellis was with New York up until this year, when the team reshaped its own front office following the dismissal of Steve Mills and the hiring of Leon Rose.

West, the son of NBA legend Jerry West, joined the Grizzlies under his father as a scout back in 2002. He later took on a similar role with the Lakers before being promoted to assistant director of scouting in 2012 and then to director of player personnel in 2015. The younger West parted ways with the Lakers a year ago and did some work with the Clippers during the 2019/20 season, albeit not in a formal capacity.

The Pistons have yet to make any formal announcements about Ellis and West, so it’s not clear yet whether they’ll receive titles similar to the player personnel ones they held with the Knicks and Lakers, respectively.

L.A. Notes: Leonard, George, Davis, West, LeBron

Clippers superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George hope to play for Team USA in the Olympics next summer, both players declared at the team’s Media Day on Sunday.

“I would love to. Hopefully, God willing, I can get through a season healthy,” George said, according to USA Today’s Mark Medina (Twitter link). “When that times comes, I’d love to be a part of the Olympics and represent. But this comes first obviously and getting through this year.”

Leonard, who’s coming off a historic championship run that saw him average 30.5 points per game in the playoffs with Toronto, shared the same sentiment as his new teammate.

“I do want to play. But I’m taking it one step at a time,” Leonard said, as relayed by Medina (Twitter link). “Right now, it’s about taking the Clippers to the Finals.”

Leonard and George join several superstars who have already expressed interest in playing for Team USA after a disappointing run in the FIBA World Cup, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis.

There’s more out of Los Angeles tonight:

  • The Lakers are doing their best to keep Anthony Davis from breaking their hearts by leaving next summer in free agency, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. Davis, who holds a $28.7MM player option for the 2020/21 season, will almost certainly opt out and seek a maximum salary contract. “I just want to focus on this year,” Davis said. “Coming here, the Lakers definitely welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like this was home, but at the same time, it’s about what we can do this year. We have a special team, special unit, special coaching staff, and we’re going to do whatever we can to focus on this year and try to come out victorious.”
  • Ryan West, son of Hall-of-Famer and current Clippers advisor Jerry West, will work with the franchise in a scouting role this season, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times. West recently left the Lakers after spending a decade with the organization, also holding eight years of prior scouting experience with Grizzlies.
  • LeBron James appears to be more engaging with his second stint on the Lakers right around the corner, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes. James, who turns 35 in December, is entering his 17th NBA season. “I’m very motivated, but I’m right now not in the talking-about-it mode,” James said. “I’ve been very quiet this summer for a reason. My mother always told me, don’t talk about it, be about it, so that’s where I’m at.”

Pacific Notes: Ballmer, Wright, West, Warriors

Steve Ballmer’s actions over the past year should end any speculation that he has a long-term strategy to move the Clippers to Seattle, writes Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. Ballmer has strong ties to the Pacific Northwest, where he made his fortune as CEO of Microsoft. He tried to buy the SuperSonics in 2008 and had a deal in place to move the Kings to Seattle in 2013 before it fell through.

However, Ballmer recognizes that the Clippers would drop in value if they were moved from the nation’s second-largest media market and has been taking steps to ensure their long-term future in Los Angeles. The team formally announced plans Thursday for a new 18,500-seat arena in Inglewood that will be built without public money. Ballmer also approved two bold moves this summer to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, making the Clippers legitimate contenders for the NBA title.

“We’re not moving the team to Seattle,” Ballmer declared recently. “We’re building a new billion-dollar-plus home in Inglewood.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers made an addition to their coaching staff this week by hiring Todd Wright, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Wright served as head of strength and conditioning as well as an assistant coach for the Sixers for the past four seasons.
  • The Lakers will part with director of player personnel Ryan West, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). The son of NBA legend Jerry West had been with the team since he was hired as a scout in 2009 and is given credit for identifying D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson in their respective drafts. West’s departure was a mutual decision that was reached in the past few days, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. His contract had expired and he and the organization agreed that he had “reached a ceiling” in his current role.
  • Salary cap expert David Kelly, who serves as general counsel for the Warriors, shares his perspective on an eventful offseason with Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Klay Thompson had assured Golden State officials that he was staying, which eliminated one worry when they got official notice that Kevin Durant was leaving for the Nets. The focus immediately shifted to Russell, whom the team had targeted as a potential option several months before. Kelly had to work through a complex series of maneuvers before a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn could be legally completed.

And-Ones: Lakers, Celtics, Lee

The Lakers have promoted Ryan West to director of player personnel, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports. West was formerly the team’s assistant director of scouting. West is the son of Lakers legend Jerry West. An official announcement won’t be made until September, according to Pincus.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Celtics have been hesitant to make long-term investments to secure cap space, but Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe speculates that the team might look to extend Tyler Zeller. The team could agree to what Washburn writes would be a modest extension. The center averaged 10.2 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game last season. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, in a recent report, wrote that Zeller has a better chance than Celtics teammates Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III to receive a contract extension before the start of the regular season.
  • David Lee is in a good situation now that he is with the Celtics, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes. While Boston likely won’t make as deep a playoff run as the Warriors, the Celtics should be a pretty good young team and Lee should find himself in a starting role, Brigham adds. The Celtics acquired Lee in a deal with the Warriors in July.

Pacific Notes: D’Alessandro, Lakers, Suns

With former GM Pete D’Alessandro on his way to a front office post with the Nuggets, Kings executive Vlade Divac is interested in Ryan West, the Lakers‘ assistant director of scouting, Sam Amick of USA Today relays (Twitter links). West is the son of former Lakers great Jerry West, and the younger West has been close with Divac since the big man’s playing days in Los Angeles, Amick notes. The Lakers have been grooming West as a potential replacement for GM Mitch Kupchak, so the Kings may have competition for his services, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Here’s more out of the NBA’s Pacific Division:

  • The L.A. D-Fenders, the Lakers‘ D-League affiliate, have named Conner Henry as the team’s new head coach, Pincus tweets.
  • The Suns held pre-draft workouts today for Ousmane Drame (Quinnipiac), Michael Frazier (Florida), Phil Greene (St. John’s), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Cady Lalanne (Massachusetts), and Aaron White (Iowa), Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports (Twitter link).
  • In discussing the Lakers‘ options with the No. 2 overall pick this June, Kupchak indicated that the team still hasn’t decided on a big man or a guard as its preference, Joey Ramirez of NBA.com relays. “You go back to the [Hakeem] Olajuwon, [Sam] Bowie, Michael Jordan draft. And in years past and maybe even today, it makes sense to build around a big,” Kupchak said. “But you don’t want to take a big because it’s a big and pass up on the No. 3 pick, which turned out to be Michael Jordan. So we’re going to look at the bigs and the guards and see if there’s a guard there that — despite being just a guard — you don’t want to pass on him.
  • Kupchak also indicated that Lakers star Kobe Bryant won’t have any impact on who the team selects in the Draft, Ramirez adds. “I don’t think it’s that big a factor,” Kupchak said. “Kobe is going to have a presence in training camp, and I’m sure he’ll try to impart his approach to the game on the players in camp. He’s never been great with rookies, and rookies have come to expect Kobe’s glare and ignoring them in the locker room and saying things.