Scott Skiles

Olympiacos Parts With David Blatt, Eyeing Scott Skiles

Greek team Olympiacos recently parted ways with one former NBA head coach and now may be eyeing another to replace him.

Olympiacos confirmed in a press release earlier this week that David Blatt, former coach of the Cavaliers, would no longer be coaching the team. Blatt spent the 2018/19 season with the club, but left his post just one game into the EuroLeague season in 2019/20 in a departure the two sides classified as mutual.

“After a long and respectful discussion between the owners and myself, our two parties have decided it’s in the best interest of both sides to part ways,” Blatt said in a statement.

The veteran coach, who was diagnosed earlier this year with multiple sclerosis, spoke to Lenny Megliola of The Boston Globe about his decision, admitting that he “had to be honest about certain limitations” he had. There were no hard feeling between him and the team, Blatt added.

With the European season underway, Olympiacos is in the market for a new permanent head coach, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), former NBA coach Scott Skiles has been contacted to gauge his interest.

Coaching still interests Scott,” agent Keith Glass said of Skiles, who last worked in the NBA when he coached the Magic during the 2015/16 season. Skiles previously served as the head coach for the Suns, Bulls, and Bucks, compiling a record of 478-480 (.499) and winning a pair of playoff series in 14 NBA seasons. It’s not clear whether or not he intends to pursue the Olympiacos job.

Kęstutis Kemzūra, who had been an assistant coach under Blatt, is currently serving as Olympiacos’ interim head coach.

Magic Notes: Skiles, Hennigan, Vogel, GM Search

In the wake of Magic GM Rob Hennigan’s firing on Thursday, CEO Alex Martins admits that former coach Scott Skiles may have been correct in their much-publicized feud, writes Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel. Skiles resigned last May after one year as coach because of repeated disagreements with Hennigan. Skiles didn’t like the roster that had been assembled and he thought the front office was undermining the coaching staff by coddling young players. Martins acknowledges that Skiles had a point, but wishes he hadn’t left the organization. “There were things Scott could have done better and one of them is that he could have been more patient,” Martins said. “We were clearly having those conversations [about the culture] and working toward solutions, but Scott didn’t want to be patient about it.”

There’s more news out of Orlando:

  • Head coach Frank Vogel hopes the new GM will try to build a contender around the talent that’s already on the roster, relays John Denton of Orlando has the NBA’s second-worst record over the past five years, and Vogel thinks fans have waited long enough for a winner. “I think our mindset is to win now and I’m hopeful that whoever we bring in here shares that approach,’’ Vogel said. “I think our fans have endured enough losing and it’s time to get this thing into the playoffs as quickly as we can. That’s my mindset.’’
  • The playoffs will have a role in determining how soon the Magic hire Hennigan’s replacement, Denton adds in the same story. Some of the candidates that Orlando has in mind can’t be contacted while their teams are still active. “The factor that is going to dictate [the pace of the search] is that there are some individuals that we’re interested in who [have teams that] are playing in the NBA playoffs and we’re not going to be able to talk to them until their teams are eliminated,’’ Martins said. “And I think it’s in our best interests to identify the right individual and talk to those who are involved in the playoffs. That’s what is going to dictate the majority of the timeframe.” Interim GM Matt Lloyd will handle draft preparation and other organizational moves until a new GM is hired.
  • Martins doesn’t want one person to serve as coach and president of basketball operations, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. There were rumors recently that the Magic might have interest in bringing back Doc Rivers in a dual role.

Southeast Notes: Skiles, Wade, Combine

Scott Skiles has likely damaged his reputation around the league after resigning from his post as head coach of the Magic after one season, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes. But even if another NBA team were interested in hiring Skiles, his contract with Orlando included a non-compete agreement that would prevent such a move for approximately two seasons, Schmitz notes. Thunder coach Billy Donovan had a similar arrangement with the team after he backed out of an agreement to coach Orlando in 2007, the scribe adds.

One of the major issues between Skiles and the team was the lack of personnel input the coach had, Schmitz relays. GM Rob Hennigan has a clear plan in mind for the direction of the franchise, one that wasn’t apparently endorsed by the former coach, though the executive notes that communication was solid between the pair, Schmitz writes. “We had good dialogue throughout the course of the season and good dialogue means lots of different things,” Hennigan said. “It means disagreements, arguments, debates and jokes. We certainly had all of that.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Dwyane Wade‘s solid 2015/16 campaign and postseason makes it unlikely once again that he would agree to a discounted annual salary in the range of $12MM, which was the Heat‘s initial offer to the veteran last May, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. Wade, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, ended up inking a one-year, $20MM deal with Miami.
  • Kentucky sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis interviewed with the Hawks at the NBA combine in Chicago, Adam Zagoria of relays (via Twitter). Also interviewing with Atlanta was California freshman forward Jaylen Brown, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets.
  • Maryland junior power forward Robert Carter met with representatives from the Wizards at the combine this week and the player noted that one of the team’s focal points was him having a solid character, Daniel Martin of CSNMid-Atlantic relays. “They’ve seen me a lot. They say they’ve seen me play a lot,” Carter said. “Everybody was in there, pretty much everybody. The whole staff, GM, president, everybody was in there and they just talked to me about what type of person I am and I said, ‘Hopefully a good person.’ But they just talked to me about my game and that was pretty much it.

Magic Notes: Skiles, Hennigan, Draft

Magic CEO Alex Martins said he tried to talk Scott Skiles into staying Thursday morning, when the coach resigned instead, tweets Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. The DeVos family, who own the Magic, and Martins are backers of Skiles, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt notes, wondering whether GM Rob Hennigan was truly in charge of the decision to hire Skiles a year ago, despite the GM’s assertion Thursday that he was.

See more from Orlando after a surprising turn of events:

  • No coach can turn around the Magic if they don’t have a star player, Schmitz opines, believing the pressure falls on Hennigan to upgrade the roster as the team embarks on its third coaching search in Hennigan’s four-year tenure. The Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi concurs, calling Skiles’ hasty exit one of the darkest days in franchise history, given the coach’s longstanding ties to the team.
  • One Magic player said Skiles seemed “miserable” in the last few months of the season, and the coach has grown increasingly weary with the attitudes of NBA players, as The Vertical’s Chris Mannix hears. Ultimately, the coach’s resignation underscores the need for a tight bond between NBA coaches and front offices, Mannix believes.
  • Michigan State swingman Denzel Valentine and forward/center Deyonta Davis, Marquette power forward Henry Ellenson and Canadian prep school power forward Thon Maker are among the draft prospects the Magic have interviewed at this week’s combine, The Sentinel’s Josh Robbins reports.

Southeast Notes: Skiles, Felder, Swanigan, Chriss

Already fired three times in his NBA coaching career, Orlando resident Scott Skiles was concerned how it might impact his family if he met that fate with the Magic, says Adrian Wojnarowski in a video on The Vertical. Wojnarowski reports that some officials in the Magic organization were “livid” after Skiles announced his decision to resign from his post today after one season of a four-year contract. Others were relieved, saying “every day was a battle” with Skiles, who became less enamored with his roster as time went on.

Skiles was never a fan of point guard Elfrid Payton, according to Wojnarowski, which put him at odds with GM Rob Hennigan. Ownership and Magic CEO Alex Martins pushed hard to hire Skiles last summer in an effort to bring more discipline to the team, but he and Hennigan never meshed and their partnership was strained to the end.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have interviewed Kay Felder, a junior point guard out of Oakland, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Felder, who turned heads with his 44-inch vertical jump, said, “I never tested because I always felt I was a great leaper.” (Twitter link).
  • Purdue freshman power forward Caleb Swanigan plans a workout with the Hawks for after the combine, writes Nathan Baird of The Lafayette Journal & Courier. Swanigan suffered an injury to his left calf last week in a session with the Spurs and had to cancel workouts with other teams. He said he’s still deciding whether to stay in the draft or return to school. “If an NBA team tells me they think I have an opportunity to come and help their organization in the next few years, even if it’s not right away but it’s going to be soon and they have a vision for me, than I think that’s where I’ll go,” Swanigan said.
  • The Hawks met with Washington freshman power forward Marquese Chriss, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
  • Connecticut sophomore shooting guard Daniel Hamilton interviewed with the Hornets and expressed a desire to play with UConn alum Kemba Walker, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Magic Eye Vogel, Hornacek, Ewing, Griffin, Borrego

3:38pm: Frank Vogel is also among the Magic candidates, Berger writes in an updated version of his story.

2:15pm: Jeff Hornacek, Patrick Ewing, Adrian Griffin and James Borrego have emerged as early candidates for the Magic coaching job, sources told Ken Berger of The position became open earlier today when Scott Skiles resigned.

Hornacek is in high demand, having interviewed Tuesday with the Rockets, and the Pacers are believed to be strongly considering him, too, Berger hears. The Grizzlies also reportedly have him on their list of candidates, one that includes Ewing, too. Griffin is a Magic assistant coach, while Ewing, currently a Hornets assistant, and Borrego, an assistant with the Spurs, are former Magic assistants. Borrego served as interim head coach for the Magic last season after they fired Jacque Vaughn. Hornacek impressed the Orlando brass when he interviewed in 2012 for the head coaching vacancy that went to Vaughn, Berger notes.

The Magic have yet to contact any candidates at this point, GM Rob Hennigan said minutes ago in a press conference to address Skiles’ resignation, tweets Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders. Hennigan and Magic CEO Alex Martins took a trip with Skiles late last month in part to alleviate the concerns the coach had about the franchise, and while Martins and Hennigan returned thinking they’d been successful in doing so, Skiles’ resignation today was a clear signal they weren’t, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details. Hennigan said in the press conference that he didn’t think he and Skiles had a disconnect (Twitter link).

Skiles thinks the team struggled this season because the players are soft and lack a professional mindset, shortcomings he believes the Magic fostered because of an overemphasis on player development and lack of concern for winning in recent years, Robbins writes. Skiles was also upset that the Magic hadn’t picked up a team option on his contract, sources told Brian Windhorst of (Twitter link), presumably referring to the option on the final season of the four-year contract he signed last spring.

Orlando hired Skiles just last year after also interviewing Clippers assistant Mike Woodson, former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and Fred Hoiberg, who later took the Bulls head coaching job.

Scott Skiles Resigns As Magic Coach

Noah K. Murray / USA TODAY Sports Images

Noah K. Murray / USA TODAY Sports Images

Scott Skiles has stepped down as coach of the Magic, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link). The team confirmed the move via Twitter and a press release.

Skiles has been unhappy for a few months, Robbins hears. (All Twitter links). A disconnect existed between Skiles and GM Rob Hennigan, and they had a few disagreements on personnel and the team’s mindset, Robbins adds. Hennigan and the front office support Elfrid Payton as the point guard of the future and Skiles doesn’t, but that’s just one of multiple issues between the coach and his boss, Robbins says.

The coach blurted out to Hennigan in mid-January that he thought it was a mistake to take the job, but he quickly retracted the statement, as Justin Termine of SiriusXM NBA Radio hears (All Twitter links). The damage was nonetheless done, as Hennigan remained upset, according to Termine. Skiles also told assistant coach Adrian Griffin that he was having second thoughts, and Griffin went to management about it, Termine reports (Twitter link).

The news is nonetheless a shock, coming just one year into his tenure on the team’s bench. Magic players are surprised and haven’t been told the reason why, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter). Soon-to-be free agent Evan Fournier profanely expressed his shock in a tweet.

Skiles, 52, is an Indiana native, and the Pacers head coaching job came open a week ago, though it’s unknown at this point if he has interest in that position. He drew praise as the team started 19-13, but the Magic fell off sharply from there, finishing 35-47 and out of the playoffs for fourth straight year. Orlando was 23-29 when it traded Tobias Harris and Channing Frye at the February deadline in future-focused swaps that weakened the roster for the stretch run.

“After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team,” Skiles in a statement released through the team. “Therefore, effective immediately, I resign my position as head coach of the Orlando Magic. I realize this type of decision can cause much speculation.  The reality though is in the first sentence. It is simple and true. Any other rumors are pure conjecture.” 

“I sincerely apologize for any unintended consequences that may adversely affect anyone associated with this decision,” Skiles continued. “The Magic are a world-class organization that employs world-class people.  I wish them nothing but great success. I will always be thankful, especially to the DeVos family, for the opportunity.”

The coach has a reputation for wearing out his welcome in short order, but each of his three previous head coaching stints lasted significantly longer than his time in Orlando. He coached the Suns for parts of three seasons and the Bulls and the Bucks for parts of five seasons apiece. His all-time record is 478-480 in the regular season and 18-24 in the playoffs.

“While we understand it was a challenging season, we reluctantly have accepted Scott’s resignation,” Hennigan said in the team’s statement. “We appreciate Scott instilling a culture of accountability and certainly wish him and his family well.”

His resignation means the Magic are one of five NBA teams on the market for a head coach. The Pacers, Grizzlies, Rockets and Knicks are the others, though interim head coach Kurt Rambis is still working for New York. Orlando interviewed Clippers assistant Mike Woodson and former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson before hiring Skiles last year, as well as Fred Hoiberg, who later took the Bulls head coaching job, Robbins notes.

Southeast Notes: Wittman, Whiteside, McRoberts

The relationship between coach Randy Wittman and Wizards players isn’t what it used to be after in a season in which he’s endured criticism and public questioning of his authority, writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Marcin Gortat has simmered all year after Wittman criticized his lack of rebounding after a November game, and he and the coach went months without having a conversation to address the matter as Gortat chose to remain silent on the issue, Michael writes. The coach, who has only a partially guaranteed salary for next season, and the center had their ups and downs even before this season, as Michael points out.

See more from the Southeast Division:

  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines the improving offensive game of Hassan Whiteside, who’s No. 10 in our latest Free Agent Power Rankings. Whiteside has engendered himself to Heat brass as he’s given more deference to winning instead of statistics of late, as The Herald’s Ethan Skolnick examined this week, and he’s looking at ways to apply the influx of cash he’s expected to receive starting next season toward bettering his performance, as Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post relays. “It’ll help me do things to better myself and finally get to do some things I’ve wanted to do, different things like going to train at places I couldn’t afford,” Whiteside said. “I couldn’t afford them places. That’s why I was working out at the Y. I could get a nutritionist and a chef. I could get a massage therapist. Stuff I could use to better myself that are a little hard for me right now.”
  • Josh McRoberts will still have two years and more than $11.8MM left on his contract after this season, but Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel finds it tough to envision him remaining with the Heat for next year, given coach Erik Spoelstra‘s reluctance to use him.
  • Many have wondered whether the Tobias Harris trade signaled that coach Scott Skiles is usurping some of GM Rob Hennigan‘s influence within the Magic organization, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Decision-making power in Orlando looms large ahead of a summer that presents lots of key choices, as Bontemps examines.

Eastern Notes: Johnson, Frye, Noah, Brown

The Heat’s up-tempo offense was enough to convince Joe Johnson to choose Miami over Cleveland, according to Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. When he was hired to replace David Blatt, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue announced that he wanted to speed things up, but Johnson apparently preferred the fast-paced approach already established in Miami. “Style of play was probably the biggest difference,” Johnson said. “[The Heat] told me they wanted to get up and down the floor and run, and I mean it enticed me. I thought it was the best fit.” The Cavs will face Johnson on Saturday night for the first time since he made his decision.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Channing Frye‘s former coach in Orlando believes he will be a valuable asset for the Cavaliers in the postseason, Lloyd adds in the same piece. “When he’s on the floor, they’re looking for him,” Scott Skiles said. “So much attention is on other players, and that’s Channing’s game. He just kind of finds spots, and when he gets his feet set, he’s as good of a big man shooter as there is.” Cleveland picked up Frye from the Magic last month in a deal at the trade deadline.
  • The BullsJoakim Noah is unlikely to play again this season, but he tells K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune that his focus is on getting healthy, not his upcoming free agency. Noah had surgery on his separated left shoulder on January 19th, with a projected recovery time of four to six months. “It’s not about free agency right now,” the veteran center said. “People can say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t think about it.’ You’re always going to think about it. But out of respect for my teammates who are going through the grind, which I know very well, I’m trying to stay focused on what they’re going through.”
  • The NCAA Tournament gives Sixers coach Brett Brown a chance to look toward the future and provides a nice distraction from his 9-59 team, writes Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer“Watching all of the games and the spirit of the tournament and the excitement of trying to figure out who we might draft comes into play, but mostly I just love the time of year,” Brown said.
  • The Bucks sent guard Rashad Vaughn to Canton of the D-League, the team announced today. He averaged 2.4 points and 1.1 rebounds in 61 games with Milwaukee.

Southeast Rumors: Udrih, Skiles, Wizards

Heat point guard Goran Dragic praises former teammate Beno Udrih for accepting a buyout agreement, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Udrih’s buyout after suffering a season-ending foot injury eased the signing of swingman Joe Johnson and alleviated the team’s luxury tax issues, Winderman continues. “In the end, he helped a lot for this team with that buyout, what he did,” Dragic told Winderman. Udrih, who is still utilizing the Heat’s facilities during his rehabilitation, could re-sign with the Heat during the offseason, Winderman adds.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic‘s decision to hire Scott Skiles as head coach and bring in an experienced staff has not worked, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Orlando has a 9-24 record since New Year’s Day and doesn’t look much different than the team that Jacque Vaughn coached last season, Robbins continues. That makes Skiles’ rallying cry to make the playoffs ring hollow, Robbins adds. “The fact that we haven’t been able to consistently do the things that we need to do is not a good sign,” Skiles told Robbins. “But at any point we could do them. We just haven’t gotten it done.”
  • Reserve Magic big man Jason Smith has positioned himself to take advantage of the league’s rising salary cap this summer by emerging as a valuable bench piece, John Denton of the team’s website writes. Smith, who becomes an unrestricted free agent again this summer, is averaging 6.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14.9 minutes as a rotation player. He signed a one-year, $4.3MM contract with Orlando last offseason and is shooting 49.9% from the field despite being primarily a midrange jump shooter, Denton adds. “I just try to be a spark off the bench,’’ Smith told Denton, adding that he prefers a backup role at this stage of his career. “I can get a feel for the game and how [the opponent] is going to play and how we’re playing on defense.”
  • The Wizards lead the league in games lost due to injury but the front office and coaches are a bigger reason why they’ve had a disappointing season, Brett Koremenos of argues. The front office filled the back end of their roster with declining veterans and journeymen, while the coaches failed to make proper adjustments when injuries struck and the team needed to rely on its depth, Koremenos continues. The Wizards take too many low-percentage, long two-point shots because the playbook has a lot of complex, ineffective sets, Koremenos adds.