Sam Cassell

Eastern Notes: Cavs, Ott, Nets, Celtics, Hawks

After spending the past two seasons as a Lakers assistant, Jordan Ott has agreed to join Kenny Atkinson‘s coaching staff with the Cavaliers, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Ott, who previously worked under Atkinson in Brooklyn, interviewed for Charlotte’s head coaching position this spring. According to Wojnarowski, Ott was a finalist in that process before the Hornets ultimately chose Charles Lee.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype first reported that Ott was expected to land in Cleveland as an assistant if the Cavs decided to hire Atkinson.

Here are a few more notes from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Agents and league executives who have spoken to Brian Lewis of The New York Post don’t expect the Nets to opt for an extended rebuilding process that would see them slowly stockpile draft assets and sacrifice their projected 2025 cap room by taking on unwanted multiyear contracts. According to Lewis, the team is considered more likely to hang onto its biggest expiring contracts – including Ben Simmons‘ – and to pursue roster upgrades a year from now when could have upwards of $80MM in cap space.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic takes a wide-ranging look at the Knicks‘ free agent and trade options to add a backup center, suggesting that Precious Achiuwa might be the top free agent candidate to end up in New York, even though he’s not the sort of “conventional” shot blocker and rim protector that head coach Tom Thibodeau would prefer.
  • In a pair of stories for, Brian Robb examines what the Derrick White contract extension means for the Celtics going forward – from both a roster and cap perspective – and notes that Boston will have a couple holes to fill on its coaching staff after the Hornets announced that former Blaine Mueller and Jermaine Bucknor are joining Charles Lee in Charlotte. Mueller coached the Maine Celtics last season, while Bucknor was a player development coach in Boston. Another Celtics assistant, Sam Cassell, was “heavily targeted” by rival teams seeking an experienced assistant, but appears likely to remain in Boston, Robb adds.
  • The Hawks are being sued by longtime executive and former team president Robert “Bob” Williams, who has accused the team of breach of contract and claims he’s owed a $660K bonus. Rosie Manins of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the details in a subscriber-only story.

Pacific Notes: Redick, Van Gundy, Reaves, Suns, Fois

Building an experienced team of assistants will be vital for new Lakers head coach J.J. Redick, writes Khobi Price of The Orange County Register, who suggests Stan Van Gundy as a potential addition. Van Gundy hasn’t been mentioned in early rumors regarding Redick’s staff, but Price points out that he had extensive head coaching experience with Miami, Orlando, Detroit and New Orleans before becoming a TNT broadcaster, and Redick spent several seasons playing for him.

Price notes that since news of Redick’s hiring broke on Thursday, Scott Brooks, Sam Cassell and Jared Dudley have been the most prominent names mentioned as possible assistants. However, the Celtics want to retain Cassell and the Mavericks would prefer to keep Dudley, so they may be out of the Lakers’ reach.

Van Gundy spoke to Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel about Redick’s ascension to the head coaching ranks, saying it’s consistent with the way he always prepared.

“He took a cerebral, analytical approach to the game even as a player,” Van Gundy said. “He knew the game inside and out because he had to. He wasn’t an overly big athletic guy, so he really had to know the game and apply himself. It was clear how much he knew about the game just by listening to him talk. I didn’t know it, but even back in his playing days maybe he was preparing himself to be a head coach someday.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Austin Reaves is excited about the changes Redick will bring to the Lakers (video link from Cierra Clark of THV11 in Little Rock, Arkansas). “I’ve gotten to know J.J. a little bit, going on his podcast during the middle of the year,” Reaves said. “He’s a basketball genius, I think as everybody knows. I think he’s going to make a good coach, and I can’t wait to get to work with him. … I can’t wait to put our brains together and go have a good year.”
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports cites Providence guard Devin Carter, Colorado forward Cody Williams and G League Ignite wing Ron Holland as potential targets for the Suns if they try to trade up from the 22nd pick in Wednesday’s draft. Bourguet sees Carter as potentially the best defensive point guard in the draft, possessing an NBA-ready game with lots of upside. If Phoenix decides to move down, Bourguet views Swedish forward Bobi Klintman, Baylor wing Jalen Bridges, UC Santa Barbara guard Ajay Mitchell and Virginia guard Ryan Dunn as possibilities.
  • Riccardo Fois will become an assistant to Kings head coach Mike Brown next season, tweets Alessandro Luigi Maggi of Sportando. Fois has been an assistant coach with the University of Arizona since 2021.

Stein’s Latest: Hardaway, LaVine, Lakers, Cavs, Pistons, Spurs

Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. is a prime trade candidate to watch, according to Marc Stein, who says in his latest Substack article that Dallas is more likely than ever to find a deal this offseason involving Hardaway, who has been on the trade block during previous transaction windows. He’s entering the final season of his four-year contract and his cap hit is declining to $16.2MM, which should make him a little easier to move than he has been in the past.

Stein suggests that finding a deal involving Hardaway is a “key element” of the Mavs’ plans to re-sign Derrick Jones. The implication there is that moving off of Hardaway’s contract could free up the non-taxpayer mid-level exception for Jones, allowing Dallas to sign him for up to $12.9MM instead of up to $5.2MM (the amount of the taxpayer MLE).

It’s unclear if that means the Mavs will look to offload Hardaway without taking back any salary in return, or if they hope to take back a lesser-paid player in any deal.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest round-up of rumors from across the NBA:

  • While the Jazz and Sixers have both been linked to Zach LaVine as of late, Stein hears from league sources that Philadelphia has minimal interest in the Bulls guard and says he’s been “advised to dismiss” Utah’s reported interest as well.
  • The Lakers hope to hire two former head coaches as assistants on J.J. Redick‘s staff. Scott Brooks has been reported as one Lakers target, and Stein suggests James Borrego might be another, though he says the Pelicans are determined to keep Borrego on Willie Green‘s staff if he doesn’t get a head coaching job. The Celtics are likewise hoping to fend off interest from the Lakers and any other rivals for assistant Sam Cassell, with Charles Lee and Jeff Van Gundy having already been hired for new jobs this spring.
  • Speaking of Borrego, both he and Kenny Atkinson continue to be top candidates for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching vacancy, which Stein expects to be filled soon. Depending on who gets that job, either Borrego or Atkinson (or both, if Cleveland chooses another candidate, such as Micah Nori) are expected to be in the mix for the Pistons‘ head coaching position, according to Stein, who adds that Detroit’s search could extend into July.
  • According to Stein, rumblings about the possibility of the Spurs making a trade with the Hawks to move up from No. 4 to No. 1 haven’t gone away. The wording of this item from Stein makes it sound as if Alexandre Sarr might be the target in that scenario, but that seems unlikely, given that Sarr doesn’t look like a great fit next to the French big man already on San Antonio’s roster (Victor Wembanyama).

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Kings, Siakam, Gordon, Suns

While there was skepticism both inside and outside the Lakers‘ organization about how genuine the team’s pursuit of Dan Hurley earlier this month was, team owner Jeanie Buss was “highly motivated” to land the UConn head coach and was “genuinely disappointed” when it didn’t work out, sources tell Shams Charania, Sam Amick, and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

After missing out on Hurley, the Lakers circled back to J.J. Redick, reaching a four-year deal on Thursday with the analyst and podcaster that will make him the club’s new head coach. According to The Athletic’s reporting, Redick had a phone call with Anthony Davis on Monday, which was viewed as an important step in the process, since the Lakers “prioritized Davis’ voice” throughout their coaching search. Davis and other key players were supportive of Redick’s hiring, sources tell The Athletic — while LeBron James isn’t specifically named, it’s safe to assume he approves of the choice to bring aboard his podcasting partner.

As has been previously reported, Scott Brooks, Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell, and Jared Dudley are a few of the candidates on the Lakers’ wish list for spots on Redick’s new staff, per Charania, Amick, and Buha. However, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link) that the Mavericks will make a strong effort to retain Dudley, who has been an important part of Jason Kidd‘s staff in Dallas.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • A roundtable of ESPN writers discussed the Lakers‘ decision to hire Redick, sharing their thoughts on their former colleague getting his first NBA coaching job. All five panelists believe Redick will be the first Lakers head coach since Phil Jackson to remain in the position for more than three years.
  • The Kings pursued Pascal Siakam before he was sent to the Pacers, but ended those efforts after the forward reportedly conveyed that he likely wouldn’t sign with the team long-term. Appearing on The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross (YouTube link), Sam Amick of The Athletic explained why Siakam wasn’t enthusiastic about going to Sacramento. “There was an inference from his camp that over the years there were, behind the scenes, somewhat disparaging remarks made that came from the Kings about his game,” Amick said. “The way it was framed to me was that – in an attempt to drive down what it would to get him – some gossipy-type feedback on his game had gotten back to him. … That is the way it was put to me from his side.”
  • Responding to a report stating that Eric Gordon is “50-50” on exercising his player option with the Suns, plugged-in local reporter John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) says he doesn’t expect the veteran wing to be back in Phoenix next season.
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports takes a look at five guards who might make sense as Suns targets in next week’s draft, with Marquette’s Tyler Kolek topping his list. Kolek reportedly visited Phoenix this week for a workout.

Stein’s Latest: Van Gundy, Cassell, Lakers, Cavaliers

Current Celtics special adviser Jeff Van Gundy, who’s just one win away from claiming his first NBA championship, is being eyed as a possible assistant coach for recently extended Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, sources tell longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein (Substack link).

Van Gundy is being considered to replace former Clippers assistant coach Dan Craig, who is headed to the Bulls. According to Stein, L.A. team president Lawrence Frank has long been an appreciator of Van Gundy’s acumen. Van Gundy last coached in the NBA for the Rockets in 2006/07, though he has been serving on USA Basketball’s staff since 2017.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell, one of the remaining contenders for the Lakers’ head coaching vacancy, had been viewed as a possibility to reunite with Doc Rivers on the Bucks this offseason. Now, with ex-Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham back in Milwaukee, it is considered more likely that Cassell with remain in Boston, assuming he doesn’t get a head coaching job (the Cavaliers also have an opening). Rivers has worked with Cassell as an assistant off and on for nine seasons.
  • ESPN broadcaster J.J. Redick and Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego are still seen as the leading contenders to land the Lakers‘ head coaching gig, sources inform Stein. He adds that the Cavaliers, meanwhile, seem to be honing in on Borrego and Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson.

And-Ones: Tomjanovich, Cooper, Hezonja, SuperSonics

Rudy Tomjanovich, who won two NBA titles as head coach of the Rockets after a long playing career in Houston, is this year’s recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association, per ESPN. Tomjanovich led the Rockets to championships in 1994 and 1995, becoming one of just nine coaches with consecutive titles. At a press conference Sunday, he admitted being moved to tears after learning about the award from NBCA president Rick Carlisle.

“And the reason is, when something like this happens, I’m not thinking about the championships,” Tomjanovich said. “I’m not thinking about all the good stuff. I’m thinking about the dark days — the days when I doubted myself. Much like the coach here in Boston (Joe Mazzulla), I got a job out of the blue. Didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Tomjanovich touted two of his former players in his acceptance speech, pushing for Celtics assistant Sam Cassell to get a head coaching job and for Robert Horry to be voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“He’s proven it time and time again,” Tomjanovich said of Horry. “He’s made so many teams champions playing a role, and that’s so important. It isn’t about just the stats. It’s about getting results. I pray that one day he’s going to be able to stand up there and accept that honor.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Former Lakers great and WNBA head coach Michael Cooper talked to Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register about his upcoming Hall of Fame induction. Cooper, who won five NBA titles in L.A., sees his career as proof that flashy numbers aren’t necessary to earn a place among the game’s legends. “The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is not about how many points you had or how many dunks, it’s about what you’ve done to improve this game and help grow it,” he said. “And I’ve had an opportunity to do that at almost every level.”
  • Mario Hezonja is denying a report that he’s close to a contract extension with Real Madrid, Eurohoops relays. Speaking with ONDA Cero’s Radioestadio by Alberto Pereiro following Game 1 of the ACB Finals, the former NBA forward said, “It’s a lie. We are trying to reach an agreement, but now it’s not the time to talk about that.”
  • In a video segment for ESPN (Twitter link), Michelle Steele examined whether there’s an NBA future for the Seattle SuperSonics, who could be revived if the league decides to expand. A spokesperson told Steele that the arena the team would share with the NHL’s Kraken is NBA-ready, and Kraken co-owner Samantha Holloway “will pursue an (NBA) team when the time is right.”

Stein’s Latest: Lindsey, Williams, George, Bronny James, Cassell

The Pistons passed on Mavericks executive Dennis Lindsey and hired Trajan Langdon as their president of basketball operations. However, the Pistons would still like to bring in Lindsey for another front office role under Langdon.

Lindsey has been discussed as an ongoing target for the Pistons, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post. Lindsey was the other finalist for Detroit’s top front office job and met with team owner Tom Gores multiple times before Langdon was offered the position.

The Mavericks don’t want to lose Lindsey, who recently attended the NBA’s European draft combine in Italy with assistant GM Matt Riccardi.

Langdon is still mulling whether to retain head coach Monty Williams, who has five years remaining on his contract, Stein adds.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Paul George is a well-known free agent target for the Sixers if he fails to reach an extension agreement with the Clippers this month. George will have at least one Eastern Conference alternative in that scenario. The Magic will also be in the mix and Orlando additionally has designs on the Warriors’ Klay Thompson. How the Magic would fit George into their frontcourt of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner would be an intriguing side story, while Philadelphia has an obvious frontcourt need with Tobias Harris (and most of the rest of the roster) headed to free agency.
  • Bronny James worked out for the Suns on Wednesday and initially only made plans to visit the Suns and Lakers during the pre-draft process. However, that situation is fluid. Agent Rich Paul told Stein there are “a few more” workout invites under consideration.
  • Reiterating an item from last month, Stein says Bucks coach Doc Rivers will make a push to hire Celtics assistant Sam Cassell after the Finals. Cassell was one of the early candidates for the Lakers’ head coaching job.

Lakers Notes: Borrego, Brooks, Rondo, St. Jean, Redick, Prince

Pelicans assistant James Borrego had an in-person meeting with the Lakers on Wednesday about their vacant head-coaching position, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. Anthony Davis thinks highly of Borrego, Woike writes.

The Lakers had previously met with Borrego, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), that was more of a “get-to-know-you” session. Today’s meeting was more in-depth and Wojnarowski says Los Angeles will look to bring in more candidates for second interviews in the coming days and weeks.

Borrego was a longtime NBA assistant before being hired by the Hornets in 2018. He coached Charlotte for four seasons, compiling a 138-163 record.

As Woike writes, other staffing candidates linked to the Lakers include the previously reported Sam Cassell and Jared Dudley, as well as former Thunder and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. Cassell was interviewed by the Lakers for their head-coaching role while Dudley was reported to be under consideration for an assistant role, depending on who is hired as head coach. Woike points out that Cassell (Boston) and Dudley (Dallas) could receive promotions from their own organizations after the playoffs.

We have more from the Lakers:

  • Former Lakers guard Rajon Rondo and former Lakers assistant Greg St. Jean are among other names under consideration for staff roles, again pending the head coach hire, according to Woike. Rondo played with the Lakers from 2018-20, winning a ring with Los Angeles in 2020. He also played there briefly in ’21/22. St. Jean spent last season as an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Suns.
  • While the Lakers are doing their due diligence with a multitude of coaching prospects, J.J. Redick still seems to be the favorite for the position, according to TNT and Bleacher Report’s Chris B. Haynes (Twitter link). “I will be very surprised if their next head coach is anybody but J.J. Redick,” Haynes said. “Everything that I’m hearing is J.J. Redick. From what I know he’s doing some background, calling some assistant coaching candidates who might be able to join his staff.
  • Taurean Prince was thrust into a significant role with the Lakers under former coach Darvin Ham and while he was relatively productive offensively (8.9 PPG, .396 3PT%), his defense took a step back until he moved back to the bench, Lakers Nation’s Matthew Valento writes. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Prince expressed an interest in returning. “My family, the quality of life in Los Angeles is something that myself and my family haven’t had in probably three or four seasons,” Prince said. “So to stay here would be definitely number one. If not that, then I mean, wherever the dominoes fall and wherever it’s best, that’s where I’ll be. But I for sure want to be a Laker, 100%.

Stein’s Latest: Redick, Cavaliers’ Coaching Search, M. Brown, Kleber

J.J. Redick has several assistants in mind if he becomes the Lakers‘ next head coach, sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link). The ESPN broadcaster is believed to be the frontrunner to land the job, and Stein cites this latest rumor as more evidence that L.A. is leaning toward hiring Redick.

According to Stein, Redick hopes to add Celtics assistant Sam Cassell and Pelicans assistant James Borrego, who both interviewed for the head coaching job and were described by The Athletic as “the initial leading targets” along with Redick two weeks ago.

Redick would also like to land Mavericks assistant Jared Dudley, who finished his career with the Lakers in 2021, Stein’s sources say. Dudley reportedly built strong relationships with LeBron James and Anthony Davis during that time.

Stein offers more inside information from around the league:

  • Terry Stotts is among the head coaching candidates being considered by the Cavaliers, according to Stein’s sources. If Cleveland plans to keep Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland together, it could be beneficial to hire Stotts, who was successful in Portland with a similar small backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson is considered to be the leading candidate to replace J.B. Bickerstaff, but Stein confirms that Borrego, former Cavs coaching consultant Dave Joerger and Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant are among the other names under consideration. Bryant previously worked with Mitchell in Utah. Atkinson has reportedly received endorsements from Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, whom he coached in Brooklyn.
  • Mike Brown’s salary demands and the Kings‘ lack of postseason success have led to a stalemate in extension talks, Stein adds. Both sides recently agreed to table negotiations on a new deal, which means Brown could enter next season as a lame-duck coach. He has a four-year contract, but the final season is a mutual option, which means he and the team would both have to opt in.
  • Stein hears that the Mavericks remain optimistic about a potential Maxi Kleber return if they reach the NBA Finals. The versatile big man has been sidelined since separating his right shoulder May 3 in the final game of the first-round series against the Clippers.

Stein’s Latest: Hawks, Paul, Spurs, Lakers, Cavs, Keefe

The Hawks won the draft lottery a couple weeks ago, jumping all the way up from No. 10 in the pre-lottery order to No. 1.

Atlanta is “increasingly expected” to select either Alexandre Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher with the top overall pick, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Substack link).

Both French prospects turned 19 years old last month, but they took different professional pathways in 2023/24. Big man Sarr played for the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League, while 3-and-D forward Risacher has been playing for JL Bourg in France’s top basketball league, LNB Élite (previously known as LNB Pro A).

Risacher is No. 1 on ESPN’s best available list, while Sarr is No. 2.

It may not occur before the draft gets underway on June 26, but Stein continues to hear the Hawks are interested in adding a “seasoned personnel executive” to their front office, which is led by GM Landry Fields.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest article:

  • Warriors point guard Chris Paul‘s $30MM salary for 2024/25 is non-guaranteed. Sources tell Stein Golden State is currently weighing its options on what to do with Paul. One choice would be pushing back his June 28 early salary guarantee date into July, but that would require Paul’s consent, which isn’t a given. If both sides agree, that would give the Warriors more time to explore trades, Stein adds.
  • If Paul hits the open market as a free agent, the Spurs and Lakers “keep coming up as potential suitors” for the future Hall-of-Famer, Stein reports. As Stein writes, Paul is close with Lakers superstar LeBron James and his family lives in Los Angeles, so there are obvious connections to the team and area.
  • Could the Lakers‘ slow-moving head coaching search be accelerated by the Cavaliers‘ recent firing of J.B. Bickerstaff? Stein explores that question, writing that L.A. may face some competition for candidates like Kenny Atkinson and James Borrego, as previously reported. Celtics assistant Sam Cassell, one of the “initial leading targets” in L.A.’s search, is another name to watch for the Cavs, according to Stein.
  • Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe is viewed as the frontrunner to land the full-time job in Washington, per Stein. That echoes previous reporting from The Athletic.