Sergio Scariolo

And-Ones: China, Filipowski, Williams, Mock Draft, Scariolo

Nets owner Joe Tsai believes the NBA is interested in resuming its relationship with China, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. In an interview Friday with CNBC, Tsai said previous tensions have thawed and preseason games may return to the country.

“I think the NBA is in a very good place with respect to its relationship with China,” Tsai said. “China is actually the NBA’s biggest fan base. So what happened before, I think it’s water under the bridge.”

China’s leaders were upset in 2019 when Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who was with the Rockets at the time, tweeted his support for anti-government protesters. Beijing responded by pulling the NBA off state-sponsored CCTV for almost two years, and commissioner Adam Silver estimated in 2021 that the dispute cost his league $400MM.

Tsai believes the NBA needs to include China as part of its appeal to a global market.

“I think just having the fans have real, in-person sort of interaction with the stars,” Tsai said. “I think that’s going to be important.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Projected lottery pick Kyle Filipowski of Duke suffered a sprained ankle Saturday when Wake Forest fans stormed the court after a victory over the Blue Devils, per Aaron Beard of The Associated Press. The incident, combined with Iowa star Caitlin Clark being knocked down under similar circumstances last month, have sparked a debate about banning students from running onto the court. “Just trying to get my way off the court, and you know, you’ve got these crazy college students just doing whatever they want,” Filipowski said. “It’s got to be a little more protective when things like that happen.”
  • Jeremy Woo of ESPN (subscription required) examines the case for Colorado’s Cody Williams as the top pick in this year’s draft. Woo notes that the 6’8″ Williams has “viable guard skills” and often takes on a play-maker role in the Buffaloes’ offense. He’s connecting at 47.1% on three-pointers in limited attempts, and Woo sees him developing into an above average shooter. NBA scouts tell Woo that Williams would be a mid- to late-lottery pick in a stronger draft, but the absence of standout talent has him in consideration to be the first player off the board.
  • French center Alexandre Sarr tops the latest mock draft from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Rounding out Wasserman’s top five are Nikola Topic, Zaccharie Risacher, Matas Buzelis and Ron Holland.
  • The new president of the Spanish Federation wants former Raptors assistant Sergio Scariolo to continue coaching the national team for the next four years, according to Eurohoops.

And-Ones: Scariolo, Player Participation Policy, Silver

At the introductory press conference for new head coach Luca Banchi on Monday, Virtus Bologna’s Massimo Zanetti – the owner of the Italian team – spoke about the decision to dismiss veteran coach Sergio Scariolo just before the 2023/24 season began.

As Orazio Cauchi of relays, Zanetti’s comments suggest he felt slighted by Scariolo’s decision to interview with the Raptors and Real Madrid this offseason while under contract with Virtus Bologna. Zanetti suggested that Scariolo treated the Italian club like a “second-division” team.

It’s unclear what the next step is for Scariolo, who was a Raptors assistant from 2018-21 before returning to the EuroLeague and coaching Virtus for the last two seasons. He has compiled a long, impressive résumé overseas, having also coached Baskonia, Real Madrid, Khimki Moscow, and Olimpia Milano before making the move to the NBA five years ago.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes a look at the NBA’s new player participation policy, exploring whether or not it’s the right solution to address the league’s load management issue. As Krawczynski notes, the league is implementing the new rules before completing a new media deal, a signal that it wants to ensure its best product is on the court as often as possible during those negotiations.
  • Sarah Todd of The Deseret News and Zach Harper of The Athletic contend that the player participation policy doesn’t get to the root of the issue, which is that the regular season is too long. Harper suggests a 70-game schedule would be an improvement over the current 82-game slate, but acknowledges it’s extremely unlikely to happen, since it would require teams to sacrifice revenue.
  • Because the new player participation policy was the focus of Adam Silver‘s press conference last week, the commissioner wasn’t asked to address some other key issues, says Marc Stein in his latest Substack article. Specifically, Stein would’ve liked Silver to explain the specific reasoning behind James Harden‘s $100K fine and to discuss the sudden retirement of veteran referee Eric Lewis, whose connection to a burner Twitter account was being investigated by the league. The timing makes it hard not to assume Lewis agreed to resign in exchange for the NBA suppressing the details of the investigation, Stein writes.

International Notes: Parker, W. Hernangomez, Lin, Scariolo, NBL

Spanish club Barcelona added a couple NBA veterans this offseason in Jabari Parker and Willy Hernangomez. Parker, the former No. 2 overall pick, was out of the league last season, while Hernangomez played for the Pelicans.

Álex Biescas of has some highlights from the team’s introductory press conference (hat tip to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops).

It was an opportunity in every way,” Parker said. “I was talking to a couple of teams but I didn’t feel like I had to go there. Only when I arrived here did I feel the opposite. I don’t have years to wait. I want to be here and do great things.”

As for Hernangomez, he’ll be returning to his home country and the Liga ACB, Spain’s top league. He played for Sevilla and Barcelona’s longtime rival Real Madrid prior to his seven-year NBA stint.

I knew I was coming to a great club, but I’m better than I expected,” Hernangomez said, per Biescas. “Super at ease, adapted and very happy with the reception. I noticed the enthusiasm of the fans.”

Here are a few more international notes:

  • Jeremy Lin is continuing his playing career with the New Taipei Kings of Taiwan’s P.League+, as Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. Lin, who holds nine years of NBA experience, last played in the league for Toronto back in 2018/19. The 35-year-old guard has spent three of the past four seasons in China, with a G League stint in-between. Former second-rounder Tony Mitchell, who had a brief NBA stint with Detroit in 2013/14, will also be joining the Taipei Kings.
  • Italy’s Virtus Bologna has dismissed head coach Sergio Scariolo ahead of the upcoming season, the team announced in a press release. A Raptors assistant from 2018-21, Scariolo received two interviews this spring for Toronto’s lead coaching vacancy, which was filled by Darko Rajakovic. The EuroLeague’s head coaches board expressed support for Scariolo, who is also the head coach of the Spanish national team. Bologna has hired Luca Banchi as a replacement (Twitter link). Banchi is head coach of Latvia’s national team, winning the Best Coach award at the World Cup after a fifth-place finish. It was Latvia’s first-ever appearance at the World Cup.
  • The National Basketball League and the Australian Basketball Players’ Association announced the completion of a new CBA ahead of the upcoming NBL season, tweets Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Uluc passes along some details from the agreement.

Raptors Notes: Rajakovic, Scariolo, Coaching Search

The Raptorsdecision to hire Darko Rajakovic as their next head coach doesn’t provide any clues about what they plan to do with their roster, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Rajakovic is versatile enough to handle either direction, Koreen states, whether it’s trying to win right away with the current core or leading a rebuilding project focused on younger players.

Toronto had a lot of individual talent this season, especially once center Jakob Poeltl was acquired at the trade deadline, but the team couldn’t put together any sustained success, which led to the dismissal of Nick Nurse after the play-in tournament. The Raptors have a decision to make on Poeltl as he enters free agency, along with Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr., who are both expected to turn down their player options and test the market. The team also must decide whether to explore potential trades involving Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby after opting to keep both of them at this year’s deadline.

Regardless of what happens with the team’s stars, Rajakovic will be counted on to develop young players who are able to contribute. Koreen notes that Nurse played his starters more than any other coach this season as draft picks such as Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton weren’t able to earn rotation roles.

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Rajakovic will be a huge loss for the Grizzlies‘ coaching staff, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. He spent three seasons with Memphis, and as the lead assistant, he filled in whenever Taylor Jenkins was unavailable. Rajakovic also guided the Grizzlies’ Summer League team in 2021, encouraging Desmond Bane to handle the ball more often and working to develop Ziaire Williams in his first NBA experience. “His basketball knowledge is very good, especially on the offensive end,” Williams said. “His schemes and the way he reads the game, it’s pretty different. I haven’t seen it before honestly.”
  • Sergio Scariolo, who was one of the coaches to receive a second interview in Toronto, tweeted a congratulatory message after news of Rajakovic’s hiring broke Saturday afternoon.Congrats and good luck to my good friend coach @DRajakovic!” Scariolo wrote. “Good choice, it’s great to see a European coach having an opportunity to prove his value as an NBA HC ! A heartfelt thank you to the Raptors, receive this consideration from what has been my team was very meaningful!”
  • Many people around the league were perplexed by the length of the Raptors’ coaching search, according to Michael Grange of Toronto’s interview process was largely conducted in secret, and it took nearly two full months to choose a replacement after Nurse was fired.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Mitchell, Raptors, Niang, Nurse

Having made the All-NBA Second Team this year, Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown is eligible for a five-year, $290MM super-max contract extension. According to Steve Bulpett of, Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, a longtime Brown advisor, has some pointed advice for the young star.

“Take the money,” Thomas said. “He’s had a great career there, and he’s become one of the best players in the league. They’ve done well, and he’s done well there. It’s been a win-win, I think, for him and for the Celtics.”

Thomas went on to suggest that the departure of 2021/22 head coach Ime Udoka and lead assistants Will Hardy and Damon Stoudamire seems to have had an adverse influence on Brown, who had an uneven performance in the 2023 playoffs.

“Hey, I don’t care how talented your team is, when half of your coaching staff walks out of the door, that’s going to affect you,” he said. “That’s just how it goes. You lose your head coach and your top two assistants, you’re going to be impacted by that.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks may still pursue a trade for Cavaliers shooting guard Donovan Mitchell at some point, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Botte notes that New York team president Leon Rose will likely explore other options when it comes to trying to trade for a superstar this summer, but that Mitchell, a native New Yorker, could remain a target down the line. The Knicks eliminated Mitchell’s higher-seeded Cavaliers in a five-game first round playoff series.
  • Sixers forward Georges Niang offered up a rave review for Philadelphia’s new head coach Nick Nurse on ESPN’s Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube video link). “Obviously (the Sixers are) bringing in a guy that is a basketball savant,” Niang said (h/t to Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice for the transcription). “He knows how to junk up games, he knows how to draw ATOs, run offense, and then junk defenses, how to play defense, he’s done a great job. His Toronto teams were always tough to guard, and they were always tough to score against. So I was extremely pleased to see that they hired him and see they’re moving in that direction.” Niang, an unrestricted free agent this summer, clearly still seems interested in the future his current club.
  • The Raptors are currently the lone team still in the market for a new head coach. Per Marc Stein, Toronto nixed plans for a second face-to-face conversation with Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo due to his team’s continued presence in the Lega Basket Serie A finals. Scariolo could be out of commission until June 23 if the series lasts seven games. The Raptors had hoped to have a new head coach in place in time for June 22’s NBA draft. According to Stein, there’s speculation in league circles that Scariolo could have something of an edge for the job, while others believe Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson is the favorite. Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic is considered the third favorite, per Stein, with all three gaining separation from Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez.

Atlantic Notes: Scariolo, Bridges, Knicks, Cassell

Sergio Scariolo, the head coach of Virtus Bologna in Italy, has interviewed for the Raptors’ head coaching opening a second time, according to Repubblica-Bologna (hat tip to The interview reportedly took place via Skype on Monday.

Scariolo has a contract with Virtus until the end of the 2023/24 season. He initially interviewed with the Raptors in Italy last month. He was an assistant with the Raptors for three seasons and is also the head coach of the Spanish national team.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In response to a fan’s proposal of trading Mikal Bridges to the Trail Blazers for Anfernee Simons or Shaedon Sharpe and the No. 3 overall pick, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic said the Nets aren’t interested in dealing the top player they received in Kevin Durant blockbuster with Phoenix. Schiffer notes the Nets turned down a proposal of four first-rounders from the Grizzlies for Bridges. If they considered trading Bridges, they’d want more than two assets for him, especially since they owe their 2024 first-round pick to Houston.
  • Jalen Brunson turned into a star after signing with the Knicks, justifying his four-year, $104MM contract. Now the Knicks need to pursue another star, Fred Katz of The Athletic argues. Brunson can thrive in any system, so the Knicks can cast a wide net and they have enough quality young players and extra draft picks to dangle in trade talks for an All-Star talent.
  • The Sixers are losing top assistant Sam Cassell to the Celtics and it’s a big blow, Kyle Neubeck of writes. Cassell was the only member of his coaching staff to sit in for coaching meetings on offense and defense. He was also instrumental in player development and was a highly respected leader.

Kenny Atkinson A Finalist For Raptors’ Coaching Job?

Kenny Atkinson, who is currently an assistant coach with the Warriors, recently traveled to Toronto for an in-person interview for the Raptors‘ head coaching job, reports Marc Stein at Substack.

A longtime NBA assistant who has spent time with the Knicks, Hawks and Clippers, Atkinson was the head coach of the Nets from 2016-20, accruing a 118-190 record (.383) over parts of four seasons. He has been with the Warriors for the past two seasons.

The Nets improved their win total in each of Atkinson’s first three seasons, making the playoffs in ’18/19. Known as a player development guru, the 55-year-old had a verbal agreement to become Charlotte’s head coach last offseason, but backed out of the arrangement before it was finalized, citing family considerations as a factor in his decision.

Atkinson was a finalist for Milwaukee’s coaching vacancy, which ultimately went to Adrian Griffin, and also interviewed or was expected to interview this spring for the previous openings in Houston and Phoenix.

The Raptors have been very secretive about their search for a new lead coach this offseason after dismissing Nick Nurse. However, they are reportedly in the final stages of interviews and are expected to hire a new coach relatively soon.

According to Stein, since Atkinson interviewed at this juncture, he’s believed to join a group of finalists that includes Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo, Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez, and Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic. Sources tell Stein that Scariolo’s second interview was set for “as early as Monday,” though it isn’t clear if he’ll be traveling to Toronto, since his Italian team is about to begin its championship series Friday.

As Stein writes, there’s no real consensus about which coach the Raptors might favor. Some view Scariolo as the frontrunner due to his ties to the organization, having served as an assistant under Nurse for three seasons, but Stein hears Fernandez is also a “name to watch.”

Coaching Rumors: Raptors, Suns, Fizdale, Jack, Pistons, Jazz

The Raptors are now the only NBA team conducting an active head coaching search and shouldn’t face any real competition for any targets on their wish list. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be content to have their search drag on for a few more weeks.

According to Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link), the Raptors have scheduled their final round of interviews for this weekend and are expected to make a decision soon on Nick Nurse‘s replacement.

While specific groups of finalists were reported for certain head coaching searches in recent weeks, the Raptors have been pretty tight-lipped throughout their process, so we don’t have a clear picture of which candidates remain in the mix.

Lewenberg confirms that Sergio Scariolo is believed to be a finalist, as previously reported, and says Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez seems to still be in the running too. A separate report this week indicated that the Raptors also continue to consider Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic, but there may well be other finalists besides those three men.

Here are a few more coaching-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Plugged-in local reporter John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) identifies veteran coach David Fizdale as a prime candidate to watch for one of the top spots on Frank Vogel‘s new Suns coaching staff.
  • Former NBA point guard Jarrett Jack, who was an assistant under Monty Williams with the Suns for the last two seasons, is believed to be a “priority” for Williams’ new staff with the Pistons, tweets Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
  • Former Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski will take over as the head coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Jazz’s G League affiliate, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The team issued a press release officially confirming the hiring. Former Stars head coach Scott Morrison will take a spot on Will Hardy‘s staff in Utah next season, as previously reported.

Sergio Scariolo Reportedly Among Raptors’ Head Coaching Finalists

Sergio Scariolo, the head coach of Virtus Bologna in Italy, is reportedly among the finalists in the Raptors‘ head coaching search.

International outlet passes along a report from Andrea Tosi of Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport that states Scariolo has a second meeting lined up with the Raptors. He initially interviewed with the team in Italy earlier this month.

A veteran coach who has spent the majority of his career in Europe, Scariolo is the current head coach of the Spanish national team and has previously led European teams such as Baskonia, Olimpia Milano, Khimki, and Real Madrid. He reportedly has one year left on his contract with Virtus Bologna.

Scariolo had a three-year stint as an assistant in the NBA as well, serving as a member of Nick Nurse‘s staff in Toronto from 2018-21, so the Raptors were already familiar with him. He won a championship with the franchise in 2019 and was briefly the club’s acting head coach when Nurse tested positive for COVID-19 in 2021.

A report on Sunday indicated that the Raptors were advancing to the second round of their head coaching interviews but didn’t clarify which candidates were still in the running to replace Nurse on the club’s bench.

While it remains unclear exactly who Scariolo is up against, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez was identified over the weekend by Marc Stein as a legitimate candidate to land the Raptors’ job, so Fernandez may be another one of the team’s finalists.

Raptors Interview Sergio Scariolo For Coaching Job

The Raptors interviewed Sergio Scariolo on Thursday for their head coaching position, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando, who relays reports from multiple Italian outlets, including Il Resto del Carlino and Corriere di Bologna.

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster reportedly traveled to Italy to meet with Scariolo.

A veteran coach who has spent the majority of his career in Europe, Scariolo is the current head coach of Virtus Bologna in Italy, as well as the Spanish national team. He has previously coached European teams such as Baskonia, Olimpia Milano, Khimki, and Real Madrid.

Perhaps most notably, Scariolo had a three-year stint as an assistant in the NBA, serving as a member of Nick Nurse‘s staff in Toronto from 2018-21, so the Raptors were already familiar with him. He won a championship with the franchise in 2019 and was briefly the club’s acting head coach when Nurse tested positive for COVID-19 in 2021.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports first reported that Scariolo might get an interview as part of the Raptors’ head coaching search.

Toronto is casting a wide net and considering outside-the-box candidates as it seeks a replacement for Nurse, having also spoken to ESPN analyst JJ Redick among many others.