Trajan Langdon

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Langdon, Brand, Heat, Capela, Okongwu

With Mitch Kupchak shifting to an advisory role, the Hornets are seeking a lead executive with previous experience, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Sixers GM Elton Brand are considered the early frontrunners to replace Kupchak, Boone adds.

Charlotte is likely to hire both a president of basketball operations and a GM, according to Boone, who also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates for the lead executive job.

Bulls GM Marc Eversley is another name under consideration, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have won four of their last six games, following a seven-game losing streak. A team meeting in late January helped to turn their fortunes, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Numerous players spoke up, as well as coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Heat swingman Duncan Robinson said of the team’s improved play. “If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time in the NBA, it’s that a big part of playing well is not necessarily about Xs and Os, but putting your own whatever sort of things you’re going through aside and just giving into the team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”
  • The Hawks’ top two centers are banged up heading into the All-Star break, according to a team press release. Clint Capela is showing progress in his rehab from a left adductor strain but he’ll be listed as out for Wednesday’s game at Charlotte. He’s expected to return to practice following the All-Star break. Onyeka Okongwu left Monday’s game against Chicago late in the fourth quarter with a left big toe injury. Okongwu underwent an MRI on Tuesday and has been diagnosed with a left big toe sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.
  • In case you missed it, there’s an update on Miles Bridges‘ latest legal situation.

Mitch Kupchak Moving Into Advisory Role With Hornets

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak will leave his post to become an organizational advisor to the franchise, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The search for a replacement will begin immediately, and new owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin are expected to hire someone before the end of the regular season, Wojnarowski adds. Sources tell ESPN that Kupchak will continue his current duties until his successor is named.

Wojnarowski hears that several current general managers will be among the targets of the search, including the Sixers’ Elton Brand, the Pelicans’ Trajan Langdon, the Cavaliers’ Mike Gansey and the Clippers’ Trent Redden. Sources tell Woj that some assistant GMs will be considered too, such as the Nets’ Jeff Peterson, the Wizards’ Travis Schlenk and the Kings’ Wes Wilcox, all of whom worked for the Hawks when Schnall was a minority owner in Atlanta.

Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates.

Schnall and Plotkin began plotting a new course after purchasing a majority interest in the Hornets in August, Wojnarowski states. They are focused on rebuilding around a young roster as the team parted with veterans such as Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington in recent trades. Plans are also in the works for a $275MM arena renovation and a $60MM practice facility.

Kupchak will leave behind a mixed record during his time with the Hornets, Boone observes. He was able to fix the cap situation and make the team competitive after taking over as general manager in 2018, but his signature move — the signing of Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract in 2020 despite a history of injuries — didn’t pay off as Kupchak had hoped. Hayward was traded this week to Oklahoma City for a modest return.

Drafting LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller may leave the Hornets with a brighter future, but Boone notes that Kupchak had his share of draft misses, including in 2021 when Charlotte selected James Bouknight, Kai Jones and Scottie Lewis, who are no longer with the team.

Pelicans Notes: Medical Staff, Zion, Ingram, Gates

Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin, who spoke last month about having made player health a priority this offseason, said on Monday that the changes to the team’s player care and performance department were made after consulting with players, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

As Clark details, Aaron Nelson has been relegated to an advisory role, while physical therapist Amy Atmore was hired as New Orleans’ director of rehabilitation. Director of performance and sports science Daniel Bove and head athletic trainer Tom Maystadt will join Atmore in leading the medical staff, while general manager Trajan Langdon will replace Griffin as the front office executive with the most responsibilities in that department.

“I think we have been humble enough as an organization to make a lot of changes in the areas we needed to,” Griffin said, according to Clark. “One of those areas is Trajan is actually going to be the one on a day-to-day basis who is the key component to the medical team from our front office staff. He’ll be the one handling that.

“I’m already excited by the changes that have been made here because of it. I think when you have a former player, they bring a certain level of passion to it. A big part of that is listening a whole lot more and being less dogmatic and willing to be flexible.”

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Zion Williamson, of course, has been the Pelicans player most impacted by injuries in recent years, but the former No. 1 overall pick earned praise on Monday from Griffin for the adjustment he made to his approach this offseason. As Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes, Williamson heavily invested in his personal training staff, according to Griffin. “Zion is obviously in good condition,” Griffin said. “The thing I think is important is CJ (McCollum) and Brandon (Ingram), throughout their careers, have always employed people to take care of their body, to take care of their nutrition. They are really invested in their profession. This was the first summer where we’ve seen Zion take his profession seriously like that and invest in it off the court on his own in a way that I think is meaningful.”
  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ingram essentially confirmed a September report stating that he won’t pursue a contract extension prior to the season. Ingram could land a bigger payday by waiting until next year to extend his deal, especially if he makes an All-NBA team in 2024. “They handing a lot of people big money,” Ingram said, per Clark (Twitter link). “I’m trying to get some big money.”
  • Kaiser Gates‘ two-way contract with the Pelicans covers two seasons, running through 2024/25, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) first reported the terms of Gates’ deal.
  • The Pelicans issued a press release announcing a series of promotions and new additions to their coaching staff and front office. In addition to confirming the hiring of James Borrego as associate head coach and Aaron Miles as an assistant coach, the club announced several changes to its video team and named Dominic Samangy its basketball analytics coordinator. In the front office, Adam Barnes has been named the general manager of basketball operations for the Birmingham Squadron, New Orleans’ G League team, while Alex Kaufman has been named the Pelicans’ manager of player evaluation and basketball operations.

Former Warriors Exec Bob Myers Likely To Get Job Offers

Bob Myers indicated that he wanted some time away from the game when he stepped down as president of basketball operations and general manager of the Warriors, but fans should expect to hear his name mentioned in connection to any openings that arise in the next few months, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

The most obvious team for Myers, according to Fischer, is the Clippers because of his longtime association with team consultant Jerry West and the working relationship they developed during their time together with Golden State. Myers spent more than a decade with the Warriors and helped to win four championships, so Fischer believes he’ll be among the first names that any team will call if it decides to shake up its front office.

Fischer identifies a few other former general managers who may be in line for a second chance, including ex-Utah GM Dennis Lindsey, who is currently working in the Mavericks‘ front office, Kings assistant GM Wes Wilcox, who has rebuilt his reputation after his experience in Atlanta, and former Orlando GM Rob Hennigan, who is VP of basketball operations with the Thunder.

Fischer passes along more information about rising stars in NBA front offices:

  • Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon was among the candidates to become the Wizards’ president of basketball operations and he’ll likely be considered for similar jobs in the future, Fischer writes. Raptors GM Bobby Webster, Cavaliers GM Mike Gansey and new Clippers GM Trent Redden all appear headed for team president roles someday, Fischer adds.
  • Jeff Peterson, the Nets‘ assistant GM, is considered one of the league’s best young executives, according to Fischer. Peterson interviewed for the Pistons’ GM slot in 2020, and Fischer hears that he’s viewed as one of the favorites to take over the Hornets if they decide to replace Mitch Kupchak, who’s in the final year of his contract. Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham could be first in line to replace Langdon if he leaves, but league sources tell Fischer that he might get an opportunity with another team before that happens.
  • Tayshaun Prince is a valuable member of the Grizzlies‘ front office and has received overtures about running other teams, according to Fischer. Among other former NBA players, Jameer Nelson has built a strong reputation in the Sixers‘ front office for his work with their G League affiliate, and Acie Law appears headed for a promotion with the Thunder after Will Dawkins was hired by the Wizards.
  • Fischer identifies CAA’s Austin Brown as an agent who might move into a front office role, noting that he was a candidate to run the Bulls in 2020. Fischer also singles out agents Jason Glushon and Todd Ramasar, along with Kirk Berger, a legal counsel with the players’ union.

Wizards Interview Trajan Langdon For Front Office Job

The Wizards have formally interviewed Trajan Langdon for their head of basketball operations vacancy, sources tell Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).

A former first-round pick who spent three seasons in the NBA and several overseas, Langdon has been the Pelicans‘ general manager since 2019. He started his front office career with San Antonio as a scout from 2012-15, had a one-year stop in Cleveland, and was an assistant GM with Brooklyn from 2016-19.

Langdon currently works under Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin. The two have a longstanding work relationship, as Langdon was hired by Griffin when he was running the Cavs’ front office.

The 47-year-old was the first Alaskan to play in the NBA when he was drafted by Cleveland in 1999. Langdon was first identified as a potential candidate by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today after the Wizards fired president of basketball operations and general manager Tommy Sheppard.

Ava Wallace of The Washington Post reported a couple weeks ago that the Wizards had spoken to Langdon, but cautioned that the team was still in the “information-gathering” stage. Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was another candidate Wallace mentioned.

Trajan Langdon, Milt Newton Among Wizards’ GM Candidates

The Wizards are taking their time as they seek out a replacement for former president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard, who was let go last month. However, they have identified at least a couple initial candidates, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and a “small group of decision-makers” have spoken to Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon and Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, according to Wallace, who adds that the team is still believed to be in the “information-gathering” stage of its search.

Langdon has been with the Pelicans since 2019, when he left his role as an assistant GM with the Nets to work under David Griffin in New Orleans. He received consideration from the Timberwolves when they sought a new head of basketball operations in 2019 and from the Kings when they did the same in 2020.

Newton, hired by the Bucks in the summer of 2017, was the Timberwolves’ general manager from 2013 to 2016 and has also previously worked for the Sixers and the NBA’s league office. Perhaps most notably, he was employed by the Wizards as their VP of player personnel from 2003-13, so he’s no stranger to Washington. Newton was a candidate for the Bulls’ top front office job in 2020 before they hired Arturas Karnisovas.

Wizards VP of player programs John Thompson III and assistant GM Brett Greenberg are running the team’s basketball operations department while the search for a new head of basketball operations continues.

Southeast Notes: Young, Murray, Wizards, Bridges, Love

The Hawks still face long odds in their first-round series with the Celtics, but they have to be encouraged by the way Trae Young and Dejounte Murray played together Friday night, writes Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. Atlanta avoided a 3-0 deficit as the backcourt combination turned in one of its best games since Murray was acquired last summer. They combined for 57 points in the Game 3 victory, with 38 of those coming in the second half.

“At one point, I was just like, I should just keep quiet and let them do it,” coach Quin Snyder said. “They had some isolation situations where they created for themselves and for other guys, and a lot of that was them just figuring it out. People feed off that.”

Schultz notes that there have been questions about whether they can be effective together ever since the Hawks sent three first-round picks and other assets to the Spurs in exchange for Murray. Former general manager and team president Travis Schlenk reportedly didn’t support the deal, and the results hadn’t been positive during a 41-41 season.

A recent report indicated Atlanta will consider trading Young this summer, but Schultz states that Friday’s performance may show that he and Murray can find a way to make things work.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards may dream about landing a big name like Raptors president Masai Ujiri or Warriors general manager Bob Myers to replace fired GM Tommy Sheppard, but they’re better off pursuing someone who has succeeded in building a team in a mid-level market, contends Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. She names Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon, Knicks GM Scott Perry, Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton and Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly as potential targets.
  • The NBA was too lenient with former Hornets forward Miles Bridges when it agreed to reduce his 30-game suspension to 10 games for next season, argues David Aldridge of The Athletic. Aldridge disagrees with the league’s reasoning that Bridges would have served 20 games of that suspension if he had signed with a team this year and notes that the CBA gives commissioner Adam Silver the power to invoke a harsher penalty under its “misconduct” section.
  • Kevin Love is back in the Heat‘s starting lineup for tonight’s Game 3 against the Bucks, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Chiang observes that the new starting five of Love, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo has only played together for two minutes in the series and 13 minutes during the regular season.

Wizards Fire GM Tommy Sheppard

Tommy Sheppard has been dismissed as general manager and president of the Wizards, the team announced in a press release. The move comes after another disappointing season for Washington, which compiled a 35-47 record and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament.

Sheppard, 53, had been with the organization since 2003, starting as vice president of basketball operations. He had served as GM since 2019 when he was promoted to replace Ernie Grunfeld. He received an extension and a promotion to president of basketball operations after the club got off to a strong start in 2021/22.

The Wizards never won more than 35 games in a season under Sheppard’s tenure and they reached the playoffs just once, advancing through the play-in tournament in 2021 before losing to the Sixers in the first round.

“Failure to make the playoffs the last two seasons was very disappointing to our organization and our fans,” owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement explaining the move (Twitter link from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski).

Sheppard’s departure means someone else will handle key financial decisions in what should be an important summer for Washington. Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis are both expected to turn down their player options for next season and test free agency, although Porzingis is involved in extension talks with the team.

The new GM will also try to improve on Sheppard’s performance in the draft, as Washington holds the No. 8 spot heading into next month’s lottery.

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon and Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly are names to watch as the Wizards launch their search for Sheppard’s replacement, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

The front office shakeup won’t affect Wes Unseld Jr., who just completed his second season as head coach, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who hears from sources that Leonsis remains a strong supporter of Unseld.

Southwest Notes: Tate, Brooks, Buyout Market, McCollum, Williamson

Jae’Sean Tate remained with the Rockets, but that doesn’t mean there was a lack of interest in the young forward, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. A number of teams brought up Tate prior to the trade deadline but the Rockets obviously didn’t receive a strong enough offer. He’s averaging 12.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 3.1 APG this season.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks is expected to return early next month, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian tweets. Brooks has been sidelined since January 8 due to a left ankle injury.
  • The Pelicans emerged from the trade deadline with an open roster spot. They’ll likely target a defensive-minded wing on the buyout market, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune tweets.
  • CJ McCollum said he was involved in the process of the Trail Blazers’ negotiations to trade him, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. McCollum was intrigued with the idea of joining the Pelicans due to their young talent and the opportunity to play with Brandon Ingram.
  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will have more scans done on his injured right foot at the end of next week or the following week, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. GM Trajan Langdon visited with Williamson in Oregon last week and said Williamson “feels good.”

Redick: Pelicans’ Front Office Didn’t Honor Their Word

Former Pelicans guard J.J. Redick asked New Orleans’ front office for a trade back in November around the time the team dealt Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee, Redick said today on the latest episode of his Old Man and the Three podcast (video link).

As Redick explains, the opportunity to play with Holiday was one of the main reasons he initially signed with the Pelicans in 2019. Holiday’s departure – and an expectation that his own playing time would be cut back under Stan Van Gundy – played a part in Redick’s decision to ask for a trade. The distance from his family in Brooklyn was also a major factor, since various league and local COVID-19 protocols prevented him from getting many opportunities to see them.

Redick, now with the Mavericks, said he had “transparent” conversations with Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin and GM Trajan Langdon and felt as if they had reached an understanding.

“Griff basically says to me, ‘Come down for a month. If you still want to be traded, I give you my word, I’ll get you to a situation that you like,'” said Redick, who added that he had four conversations directly with Griffin after that point. “… Obviously he did not honor his word.”

Redick made it clear that his comments aren’t intended as a slight toward Dallas. He said he’s looking forward to bringing leadership and shooting to Dallasand playing alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, adding that he told team owner Mark Cuban, “In any other year, I’d be thrilled to be traded to the Dallas Mavericks.” However, the Mavs weren’t one of the teams that Redick and the Pelicans had discussed as a potential landing spot.

According to Redick, he thought that if he wasn’t going to be traded by the “aggregate deadline” of February 2 (the last day a player could be traded and still have his salary aggregated in a second trade at the deadline), he was headed for a buyout agreement with New Orleans. That would allow him to sign with any team, and he suggested he would have considered a handful of teams in the northeast.

“(My understanding was) if I was going to be traded, it was going to be a team in the northeast where I was closer to home and I’d be able to see my family for the last two or three months of the season,” Redick said. “Obviously that didn’t happen.

“… I look at the buyout situation not as me just specifically being like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get bought out and go to Brooklyn,'” he added. “I just wanted to be able, on an off day, to go see my family and to be within sort of driving distance. … Geographically, you can sort of think of the teams where that’s the case.”

Although Redick said he had an “amazing” year-and-a-half with the Pelicans, he admitted that the way the relationship ended was far from ideal.

“I don’t think you’re going to get honesty from that front office. Just objectively speaking — that’s not an opinion, I just don’t think you’re going to get that,” Redick said. “I don’t think what happened with me is necessarily an isolated incident either. I do think across the league, front offices, they act in their own best interest. I get that, I understand that.

“Truthfully, and it’s hard for me to admit this, but I think I was a little naive in thinking that because I was in year 15 and I had at least attempted to do things right throughout my career and I honored my end of the bargain (that the Pelicans would reciprocate)… but in terms of this front office, it’s not something where I would expect certainly the agents who worked on this with me to ever trust that front office again.”

Redick will speak to reporters in a Zoom press conference on Thursday and expects to be with the Mavs on Friday, though he said he’s still rehabbing his heel issue and is likely “a little ways away” from returning to the court.