Tony Bennett

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Suns, Knicks

When Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports polled executives around the NBA recently on rising head coach candidates, Raptors assistant Nick Nurse and Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse were among the top names on the list. According to Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times, both Nurse and Stackhouse will likely be among the the candidates the Magic consider if the club elects to replace Frank Vogel this offseason.

In addition to the fact that current Magic president Jeff Weltman was formerly the GM in Toronto, Stackhouse also has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond, who was the GM in Milwaukee when Stackhouse played for the Bucks. Woelfel adds that some NBA officials believe the Magic are “leaning toward” replacing Vogel with Stackhouse, though Orlando’s list of preferred targets figures to become clearer if and when the club formally moves on from its current head coach.

Here are a few more coaching notes and rumors from Woelfel:

  • Multiple sources tell Woelfel that Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer would have “more than a passing interest” in the Bucks‘ position if they move on from their current teams this offseason. Some NBA officials believe that Budenholzer wouldn’t want to be part of an “extensive” rebuild in Atlanta, according to Woelfel.
  • While the Suns are expected to conduct a wide-ranging head coaching search, multiple NBA executives and coaches think David Fizdale, Jason Kidd, and Villanova’s Jay Wright will receive strong consideration, says Woelfel.
  • Besides Wright, Virginia’s Tony Bennett is among the college coaches expected to draw NBA interest. “Everybody knows he’s an exceptional defensive coach, but he does some really nice things offensively, too. He can flat-out coach.” one longtime NBA executive told Woelfel. “I think almost every team that is in the market for a new coach will take long, hard looks at Wright and Bennett. They’re both great coaches and they’re both great guys.”
  • A league source expects Mark Jackson and David Blatt to be among the finalists for the Knicks‘ job if the team dismisses Jeff Hornacek, according to Woelfel.

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.

Coaching Rumors: Rambis, Brown, Dolan

Within their story on the Knicks and Lakers coaching situations, Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of categorize the Lakers’ previously reported interview with Kurt Rambis as mere “discussions” along the same lines of the team’s informal phone call with George Karl. Still, a formal interview might not be necessary, since Rambis is already a Lakers assistant and has plenty of history with the Lakers franchise.

As noted yesterday, the Lakers also reportedly have Larry Brown on their radar. The former NBA and current SMU head coach spoke with Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer and offered some general comments about coaching in the NBA, but did not specifically mention anything about the L.A.’s interest. However, Brown implied what would be important to him if he were to consider a return to the Association.

“We can see the way the NBA is now…If you’re not really connecting with the owner, you’ve got no shot. I was so fortunate to be around (former 76ers owner) Mr. (Ed) Snider. I look now and I think it’s so simple: If the coach, the president, and the owner are all on the same page, it seems to me there’s no way you can fail. I don’t see that. When I look back at my life in pro sports, whenever I’ve been involved with an owner who cared about me and was there for me, it made it pretty easy.”

  • Knicks owner James Dolan told WFAN that Phil Jackson is in charge of the team’s coaching search, adding that he “has no idea who (Jackson’s) talked to” (Al Iannazonne of Newsday via Twitter).
  • In an appearance on ESPN 700, Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears said not to “sleep on Jim Boylen” becoming the next head coach of the Jazz (hat tip to David J. Smith of Salt City Hoops via Twitter).
  • University of Michigan’s John Beilein was unmoved by recent rumors linking him to the NBA’s head coaching carousel and plans to fulfill his current commitment to the Wolverines, reports Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. Beilein – whose contract with Michigan expires in 2019 – has drawn some attention with his program’s recent performance in the NCAA tournament as well as the success he’s had in coaching future NBA players.
  • College coach Tony Bennett reached a new deal with the University of Virginia that runs through 2021, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Beilein, Sterling, Wizards, Nets

Two college coaches are intriguing NBA executives, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  Michigan’s John Beilein and Virginia’s Tony Bennett seem to be drawing interest from clubs – some who have openings and some that don’t, according to Wojnarowski.  Here’s more from around the league..

  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement in response to Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN (from Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe on Twitter).  Within the interview, Sterling made several disparaging comments about the iconic Magic Johnson.
  • The Sterling saga is unlikely to come to full resolution anytime soon, and players union vice president Roger Mason Jr., speaking to Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling, once more raised the specter of widespread protest if Sterling isn’t ousted. “We could definitely boycott if that happens,” Mason Jr. said. “I could see not only Clippers players, but the league banding together.”
  • Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons says he has not yet spoken with either of the Sterlings, tweets Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News.  He added that he will likely speak with Shelly, but not with Donald.
  • Parsons also said he thinks “the outcome is inevitable” that the Clippers will eventually move into new ownership (link).
  • The Wizards think they’ll be able to re-sign Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza this summer, but bringing both of them back won’t be easy, as TNT’s David Aldridge observes amid his Morning Tip column for
  • A real estate development company that has a 20% stake in the Nets is putting its share of the team up for sale at $200MM, meaning its valuation of the full franchise is a record $1 billion, reports Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal. There’s been speculation that the Clippers could sell for more than $1 billion.
  • Eric Griffin, who was a late cut last pre-season with the Heat after playing for their Summer League team, will join the Raptors‘ Summer League squad, a source tells Shams Charania of RealGM. Griffin attended Campbell and played this season in Puerto Rico.
  • The Nuggets are seeking a long, defensive-minded shooting guard and locker room leadership this summer, as Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post details.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Coaching Rumors: Jazz, D’Antoni, Boylen

Executives, coaches and other league insiders struggle to come up with names of intriguing coaching candidates after last year’s record volume of new hires, but Kevin Arnovitz of was able to pry the identities of a few well-regarded potential hires. Some of them have been in rumors in recent weeks, but University of Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney, and Blazers assistant David Vanterpool are the names we haven’t heard. Potential head coaches with ties to the Spurs were already popular, and they’ve grown even more so this year, Arnovitz hears. Here’s more from the coaching rumor mill:

  • The Jazz plan to interview more than 20 candidates fitting virtually every description, team president Randy Rigby said Wednesday on The Zone Sports Network radio, notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Though a few candidates have reportedly emerged, Rigby insists the club hasn’t identified any potential targets. He also said the decision will be a group effort and won’t lie solely with GM Dennis Lindsey.
  • Mike D’Antoni won’t be coaching Marshall University next season, but his brother Dan D’Antoni will be, the school announced. Dan D’Antoni is leaving his job as a Lakers assistant coach to take the new gig.
  • The Pacers weren’t pleased when former assistant coach and current Jazz head coaching candidate Jim Boylen left last year to become a Spurs assistant, tweets Scott Agness of “He did us dirty,” one Pacers player told Agness.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson said Wednesday that his coaching search could extend into July, but he adds that it’s not because he’s waiting around to see which, if any, coaches working in the playoffs become available, notes Ian Begley of (on Twitter).
  • Nets GM Billy King said on NBA TV that he, and not coach Jason Kidd, made the decision to reassign assistant coach Lawrence Frank earlier this season, fellow scribe Mike Mazzeo observes.