Shane Battier

Latest On Pistons’ GM/Front Office Search

The Pistons continue to conduct separate searches for a new head coach and a new head of basketball operations, and while it’s possible they’ll hire a coach sooner rather than later, they prefer to address their front office opening first. That would allow the new head of basketball operations to have a say in the head coaching hire.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provides an update on Detroit’s front office search today, reporting (via Twitter) that NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, Grizzlies executive VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon are among the candidates the Pistons are eyeing to run their basketball operations department. Current GM Jeff Bower also remains a candidate to be promoted, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

Most of those executives have received consideration for top front office jobs in the recent past. Rosas, for instance, was cited as a contender for the Hornets’ GM opening this spring. Stefanski was said to be in the mix for the Bucks’ GM vacancy last summer, while Langdon received consideration for the Hawks job around the same time.

In addition to considering those aforementioned candidates for their top basketball operations job, the Pistons are also targeting TNT analyst Brent Barry and Heat director of basketball development and analytics Shane Battier for front office roles, according to Wojnarowski.

Although Bower is currently running the Pistons’ basketball operations department, his contract is set to expire on June 30, so Detroit could end up making several new hires this spring. Should Bower depart, the Pistons may hire a new president of basketball operations, a new GM, and a new head coach.

Gasol, Fizdale Tensions Went Far Beyond Benching

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and former coach David Fizdale had such a strained relationship that they rarely spoke to one another, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Geoff Calkins. Fizdale was fired on Monday, one day after he benched his leading scorer, rebounder and shotblocker in the fourth quarter against the Nets. The benching served as the breaking point and Gasol, who has a tight relationship with owner Robert Pera, had expressed major concerns about the team’s direction under Fizdale, Calkins continues.

Commercial Appeal beat writer Ronald Tillery confirms the longterm disconnect between coach and star player. A team source told Tillery that the tension between them and Sunday’s benching weren’t the only reasons that Fizdale was axed. That source said the team was “trending down in several categories.” However, Tillery tweets that as recently as Saturday, a source close to the owner said that Fizdale’s job was safe because of the team’s injury issues. That’s an indication that Sunday’s incident swiftly changed Pera’s thinking.

In other reactions to Fizdale’s dismissal:

  • Cavaliers stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both expressed their dismay on social media, demanding answers regarding the firing, as Joe Vardon of relays. Both played under Fizdale when he was an assistant with the Heat.
  • Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff is one of the potential long-term replacements for Fizdale but Sean Deveney of the Sporting News lists several other intriguing names. Former head coaches Mark Jackson, David Blatt and Monty Williams, former player Shane Battier, and several current college coaches such as Tony Bennett, Patrick Ewing and John Calipari are some of the candidates Memphis could look at, according to Deveney.

And-Ones: All-NBA Teams, Hayward, Kobe

The All-NBA teams were scheduled to be announced during the league’s inaugural award show on June 26th. However, because the selections may impact teams’ offseason plans, the league will unveil the winners in the weeks leading up to the draft, as Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes.

The newly created Designated Player Exception drove the change. Being selected on an All-NBA is a criterion for the massive extension and players such as Paul George and Gordon Hayward will be eligible for as much as $70MM more in an extension should they make one of the three teams.

The early unveiling arguably helps the Pacers the most. If PG13 lands on one of the teams, Indiana will have the inside track to signing him long-term as soon as this summer. If he doesn’t earn one of the spots, the organization can begin to seriously consider whether or not it should deal the small forward. George has long been linked to the Lakers and the Pacers may look to deal him rather than see him leave for L.A. without receiving any compensation in return.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives told Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News that they would choose Hayward over George if both were available to sign with their team. None of the executives said Hayward was the superior player based on talent alone, though they chose the Jazz star because he doesn’t come with the baggage that George comes with.
  • Kobe Bryant doesn’t miss playing the game of basketball, as he discussed on recent episode of Good Morning America (h/t James Dator of SB Nation). “No, I don’t,” Bryant said about missing the sport. “No, it’s crazy but I started playing when I was 2, and so after playing for 20 years in the league — what I have now is, everything I’ve learned from the game I carry with me to this day. So, the game’s never truly left me.”
  • Team USA announced who will be on the committees for the country’s men’s and women’s teams. Jerry Colangelo will continue to be the managing director of the Men’s National Team, while director Carol Callan will head the Woman’s National Team. Each committee will have an athlete representative. Shane Battier will serve as the men’s representative and Katie Smith will be the woman’s representative.

Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”

Heat Hire Shane Battier To Front Office Role

The Heat have hired Shane Battier as their Director of Basketball Development & Analytics, according to a team press release.

“We believe Shane is an incredible example of our Heat program, not only for the present, but also for the future,” team president Pat Riley said. “He embodies everything that we are looking for in our players and staff. We feel he will help us tremendously with his experience and knowledge of the game. Shane is an out-of-the-box thinker and will bring a fresh expertise that can help us evolve as a franchise.”

Battier, who played three seasons in Miami, will be involved with the development of analytics in evaluating talent and that will include college prospects, free agents, and current players, according to the team.

“I am thrilled to be joining the front office of the Miami Heat,” said Battier. “I look forward to working with the Arison family, learning from a Hall of Fame executive in Pat Riley, General Manager Andy Elisburg and of course my old coach, Erik Spoelstra. My goal, as is the entire organizations, is to bring another championship back to Miami.”

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Battier, Smart

Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony‘s willingness to reduce his role in the offense shows that he trusts in his teammates to execute, which is a major step forward from the Melo of last season, Ian Begley of relays. “I probably wouldn’t have been at ease because I was the guy who always had to go out there and score 30, score 40 points to even have a chance to win the basketball game,” Anthony said of his willingness to shoot less. “Now, with the makeup of this team, I don’t really have to do that. I feel a lot more comfortable now with … letting somebody else have a breakout game and letting other guys get involved [to] get their confidence up. I feel more comfortable with that now.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Retired forward Shane Battier met with members of the Sixers today, Derek Bodner of relays (via Twitter). Battier has a relationship with GM Sam Hinkie that goes back to their time spent together in Houston, and all indications are that the team was merely meeting with him to pick his brain, not to discuss a potential contract, Bodner adds.
  • Despite their offseason focus on improving defensively, the Raptors are struggling on that end of the court, and the issue goes beyond the loss of DeMarre Carroll to injury, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun writes. “We’ve got guys that have been here with us, that should know the defensive schemes, that do know the defensive schemes,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re trying to get guys back in, [but] health and injuries are part of this league,” he continued. “All those are excuses. Next man up, everybody wants an opportunity, that’s what it’s all about. One guy goes down, the next guy has to take up the slack.”
  • Celtics point guard Marcus Smart is rounding back into form after missing time with a leg injury, and his recent play has sparked the team on the defensive end, A. Sherrod Blakely of writes.

Sixers Talk With Elton Brand, Shane Battier

The Sixers are talking to Elton Brand and Shane Battier in the hopes they can serve as role models for the team’s slew of younger players, sources tell TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for It’s unclear whether the idea is for them to serve in a playing, coaching or front office capacity. Battier retired as a player after the 2013/14 season, while Brand, who spent the past two seasons with the Hawks, cast doubt on the idea of playing again during an interview this past summer. Zach Lowe of identified Brand on Friday as someone to keep an eye on as the team looks for veterans to add to its roster.

New chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo dismissed the idea that son Bryan Colangelo, the former Suns and Raptors GM, will join the Sixers front office, telling Aldridge that it’s mere speculation. Still, the team does plan to bring aboard Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach, Aldridge writes.

Former commissioner David Stern played a role in bringing the Sixers together with Jerry Colangelo, a source tells Aldridge. The NBA was “irate” at the way the Sixers handled the reports of Jahlil Okafor‘s various offcourt incidents, according to Aldridge. GM Sam Hinkie treated the news with his trademark silence.

“I would say I was present when decisions were made, but there are some things we can do better,” Hinkie said. “We purposely laid low, and I purposely laid low, for a number of reasons. And I’ve always been very comfortable, and [coach] Brett [Brown]‘s been very comfortable, being out front for us when need be, because we trust each other, and we’re attached at the hip in a lot of ways. But sometimes, another voice helps.”

Brand, a David Falk client who spent four years with the Sixers between 2008 and 2012, averaged 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game for a 60-win Atlanta team last season. This past spring represented the first time the former No. 1 overall pick appeared in the conference finals. Battier, a client of Jim Tanner, went to the finals in all three of his years with the Heat, with whom he last played, and twice won the championship. He averaged 4.1 points in 20.1 minutes and shot 34.8% from 3-point range in his final season on an NBA roster.

Heat Notes: LeBron, Bosh, Chalmers, Wade

The Bulls were among the teams with which agent Rich Paul took meetings to discuss LeBron James during the first week of free agency, as Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of reveal in a behind-the-scenes look at LeBron’s choice. Regardless, James was no longer willing to accept being underpaid, as Windhorst examines in a separate piece. James decided before free agency began that he’d take a max contract, and no matter where he would end up, he would demand a deal with a player option after year one, Windhorst writes. James wants to continue to sign short-term deals for the foreseeable future to maintain flexibility in case the maximum salary jumps or is eliminated in the next collective bargaining agreement, as Windhorst explains. He also wants to keep the pressure on Cavs brass to improve the team around him, the ESPN scribe adds. Here’s more on the Heat as they pick up the pieces after LeBron’s departure:

LeBron James Increasingly Mulling Cavs Return

LeBron James is thinking more and more about the Cavs as he decides where to sign, sources tell Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of Cleveland’s brass is confident that James is receptive to the pitch they made to agent Rich Paul last week, as the ESPN scribes detail. Still, the player atop our 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings harbors lingering ill feelings over Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s reaction to his 2010 departure, despite a degree of reconciliation between the two as time has passed, according to Windhorst and Stein.

The Cavs are centering their case for LeBron on their capability for growth and improvement not just this summer but in years to come, with as many as three first-round picks in 2015 and young, team-controlled talent, like Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, Windhorst and Stein write. Cleveland is planning to point to Brendan Haywood‘s contract as another of their weapons, as the ESPN duo explains. Haywood, who’s headed to Cleveland via trade, has a salary of more than $2.2MM for 2014/15, but the final season of his contract is a non-guaranteed salary of more than $10.5MM, a vestige of Haywood having been claimed off amnesty waivers in 2012. That bloated non-guaranteed salary makes Haywood’s deal a valuable expiring contract this coming season or, as Windhorst and Stein point out, a weapon for a sign-and-trade next summer.

The Cavs don’t possess the cap flexibility to give James a max contract as their books currently stand. Rather than waiving Anderson Varejao‘s partially guaranteed contract to create the necessary cap space, they prefer to deal Jarrett Jack, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday. They have a deal in place to trade Jack to the Nets provided the teams can find a third club willing to absorb Marcus Thornton, according to other reports.

Heat president Pat Riley will reportedly meet this week with James in an effort to keep him in Miami. The Heat have eyed significant free agents along the lines of Marcin Gortat, Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng and even Carmelo Anthony, but they don’t think they need to add a star to convince James, Wade and Bosh to re-sign, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Instead, they’re merely looking for upgrades in the roles that Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier have played in the past few years, Deveney writes.

Shane Battier Retires

Shane Battier confirmed last night that he’s retiring from the NBA, removing any sliver of doubt he may have left in previous statements foretelling the end of his 13-year career, notes Brian Windhorst of The 35-year-old Heat forward’s contract is up this summer, and he apparently has no intentions of signing a new one.

“I’ve given everything I can to the game and I don’t have any more to give,” Battier said. “And I’m OK with it.” 

Battier averaged career lows in points, rebounds, assists and minutes per game this season as he wound up an NBA journey that began when the Grizzlies made him the No. 6 overall pick in the 2001 draft. He also played for the Rockets before joining the Heat, earning praise as the “No-Stats All-Star” along the way for his subtle contributions best appreciated among members of the advanced metrics community. He finished with career averages of 8.6 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 30.7 MPG, numbers that belied his value.

The Jim Tanner client made nearly $56.6MM in the NBA, according to Basketball-Reference. He took in $3.72MM with the Heat this season, and Miami will likely renounce his Bird rights to clear his $6.213MM cap hold if the team elects to dip under the cap this summer.