Tyronn Lue

Dan Craig Joins Billy Donovan’s Bulls’ Staff

Dan Craig is leaving the Clippers staff to become one of Billy Donovan’s top assistants with the Bulls, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link).

Craig, 43, spent the past four years on Tyronn Lue’s staff and was named the team’s associate head coach in November 2020. He spent the previous four seasons under Erik Spoelstra with the Heat, where he also had a stint as the head coach of the G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce.

He’ll team with former Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. as top assistants for Chicago. Unseld’s decision to join the Bulls was reported on Saturday.

The Bulls’ staff was been in a state of flux since the end of the regular season. Josh Longstaff departed to join the Hornets’ staff. Last month, a report surfaced that Chris Fleming would not be retained while Maurice Cheeks would transition to a different role in the organization.

Lakers Eyeing Nori, Adelman, Sweeney, Quinn In Coaching Search

The Lakers, who are in the process of searching for a new head coach, have interest in a handful of veteran assistant coaches around the NBA, Jovan Buha of The Athletic stated within a mailbag video (YouTube link; hat tip to Lakers Nation).

According to Buha, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori, Nuggets assistant David Adelman, Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, and Heat assistant Chris Quinn are among the head coaching candidates that intrigue the Lakers.

Nori has been with the Timberwolves since 2021, having previously served as an assistant in Detroit, Denver, Sacramento, and Toronto. Adelman, who has been an assistant under Michael Malone in Denver since 2017, was on the Wolves’ staff from 2011-15 and was with the Magic in 2016/17. Sweeney’s stint with the Mavericks, which began in 2021, was preceded by assistant jobs in Detroit, Milwaukee, and Brooklyn. Quinn has been on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff in Miami since 2014.

“To my knowledge, the Lakers are not at the stage of interviewing coaches yet, but that will be happening soon,” Buha said. “It’s a little tricky timing-wise because you have Adelman, Nori, and Sweeney all in playoff series right now. You have J.J. Redick who is on the top broadcast team at ESPN and is supposed to be calling the Finals, which would be about a week or so before the draft.

“So it’s going to be interesting to see how the Lakers end up doing their interviews and just the timing of it and if they request certain guys while they’re still in the playoffs, how that process works with the teams.”

[RELATED: 2024 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

As Buha observes, the logistics may be especially challenging with Nori, who is essentially functioning as a co-head coach for the Timberwolves in their series vs. Denver due to the knee injury that has affected Chris Finch‘s ability to occupy his usual spot on the sidelines. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like the Lakers are in a rush to make a hire within the next week or two, so if Nori is one of their top choices, they could be willing to wait for him.

“From what I’ve been told, the Lakers’ plan is to have a coach in place by the NBA draft, which is June 26,” Buha said.

According to Buha, Tyronn Lue is probably the Lakers’ top choice, but there has still been no indication that the Clippers‘ head coach will become available this offseason. Redick, Kenny Atkinson, and James Borrego have also been mentioned as possibilities for the Lakers; Charles Lee and Mike Budenholzer were too, but they’ve since taken head coaching jobs with other teams.

Appearing on ESPN’s NBA Countdown on Saturday (Twitter video link), Adrian Wojnarowski described Redick as a candidate that the Lakers have been “drilling down on” in their initial research. Woj adds that L.A.’s search is expected to be “wide-ranging” and “lengthy.”

Coaching Rumors: Hornets, Lakers, Redick, Billups

The Hornets expect to decide on their new head coach within the next seven days, co-owner Rick Schnall told Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer. While playing in the pro-am prior to the PGA’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, Schnall stated that the organization is nearing a final decision, but he wasn’t willing to tip his hand.

“We’re close. You’ll see us announce it certainly in the next week,” Schnall said. “We’re going to hire the best person that we can for our team.” 

The Observer has reported that Celtics assistant Charles Lee is considered the favorite to replace Steve Clifford, who agreed to move into a front office position after the season ended. Lee was one of several assistant coaches that the Hornets received permission to interview in early April. Zietlow notes that Lee is considered one of the best assistants in the league and he has a prior working relationship in Atlanta with Jeff Peterson, the team’s new vice president of basketball operations.

There are more coaching rumors to pass along:

  • The Lakers are moving slowly in their coaching search because two of their preferred options are unavailable, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required). Jason Kidd, a former assistant in L.A., signed a multi-year extension with the Mavericks this week. And even if Tyronn Lue‘s extension talks are unsuccessful, the Clippers hold an option on him for next season, so it’s unlikely they’ll set him free to sign with their cross-town rival. Stein adds that the Lakers are conducting internal meetings this week to set their priorities in finding Darvin Ham‘s replacement. However, they’ve yet to request permission to interview any assistant coaches who might be targets, such as Lee, the Warriors Kenny Atkinson or the Nuggets’ David Adelman.
  • In the same column, Stein wonders whether there’s any action ESPN can take to prevent losing J.J. Redick to the coaching ranks before the NBA Finals wrap up. Redick is considered a potential candidate for the Hornets and Lakers, but he’s also a member of the network’s prime broadcast team. Stein points out that Doc Rivers had a featured position with ESPN before leaving in late January to become head coach of the Bucks.
  • Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian adds credence to the claim that Chauncey Billups would have other options if he parts ways with the Trail Blazers. A source told Fentress before the playoffs began that Billups could become a candidate for teams that are eliminated in the early rounds.

Clippers Notes: Future Skepticism, Westbrook, Lue, Championship Window

The Clippers will play in a new arena next season but they’ll have to hope their current core group can produce a better playoff run, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes.

Team president Lawrence Frank declared on Monday that he’ll try to re-sign Paul George, who can opt out of his contract, and James Harden, who will be an unrestricted free agent.

Kawhi Leonard, who signed a three-year extension, only appeared in two games during the first round due to injury. Despite the age of the team, Frank said it’s not far-fetched to believe they’ll have better health during the next postseason.

“I understand the skepticism of, ‘Hey, this is another year where you haven’t had the group [whole],'” he said.“But I would guard against the cynicism. Just because it’s happened [four straight seasons] doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen next year.”

They will have to cling to that hope because they don’t have much choice except to run it back with Leonard, George and Harden, Youngmisuk adds.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • Russell Westbrook has a $4MM player option to ponder and stated in an Instagram post that he was just fine with being a key reserve for the team. “I, for one, enjoyed my year, and worked hard to bring the energy and provide a spark for each opportunity I was given,” he wrote in part, adding, “I hope to come back better, stronger, and remain eager to take on any role that continues to put us in the best position to win next season!”
  • The Clippers can’t afford to offer Westbrook significantly more if he opts out but Frank said the players would hate to lose him, Mark Medina of Sportskeeda.com relays. “Guys in the locker room love Russ,” Frank said. “Got a lot of respect for Russ, what he’s done for his career and what he’s done for the Clippers. He’s one of the game’s great players.”
  • The front office has, by all indications, prioritized an extension agreement with head coach Tyronn Lue, according to Medina. Lue has one year left on his deal. “He has a great way of connecting while still holding guys accountable,” Frank said. “He’s a truth teller without leaving scars or wounds. He’s an unbelievable strategist who makes terrific in-game adjustments. And he has a growth mindset in that he’s always looking to get better. So our hope is that Ty is here for a long time. We love Ty.”
  • The championship window for this group has closed, Law Murray of The Athletic opines. The conference is too strong and dotted with younger stars leading teams such as Oklahoma City and Minnesota, Murray notes. He adds that the past three years have proven that the team cannot seriously contend with aging, injury-prone stars in Leonard and George. However, Frank disagreed. “We are still big believers that the window is still open,” Frank said, as Murray relays. “But also acknowledge the fact that we can understand the skepticism with it, and there are no guarantees either way.”

Jason Kidd, Ty Lue Unlikely To Be Candidates For Lakers’ Job

Don’t expect Jason Kidd or Tyronn Lue to replace Darvin Ham as the Lakers’ head coach, Marc Stein reports in his latest Stein Line notes package.

Kidd, who has one year left on his contract with the Mavericks, will likely receive a contract extension in the near future after the team advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, according to Stein’s sources. Kidd was a top Lakers assistant coach under Frank Vogel.

As previously reported by ESPN, the Clippers are expected to pursue an extension with Lue, who also has one year remaining on his deal. Lue has stated he’s eager to sign an extension with their organization.

That would block not only the Lakers but the Suns from making a run at Lue. It’s also believed that the Cavaliers would be interested in a Lue reunion if they decide to change coaches. However, J.B. Bickerstaff strengthened his resume as the Cavs rallied to win Game 7 against Orlando on Sunday and advanced to the second round.

That’s why it’s not a far-fetched notion that J.J. Redick has a shot to replace Ham, Stein adds, despite Redick’s lack of coaching experience. Redick, who is also a candidate for the Hornets’ opening, is currently an ESPN analyst and podcaster after a long NBA career.

Like Kidd, Mavericks GM Nico Harrison is also on course for a contract extension from new Mavericks majority owner Patrick Dumont, Stein says.

Harrison’s trade-deadline acquisitions of P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford helped the team win 50 games again during the regular season and claim the No. 5 seed in the West. His risky acquisition of Kyrie Irving last season has worked out even better than most NBA observers anticipated.

L.A. Notes: Ham, LeBron, Pelinka, Harden, Ballmer, George

There were signs throughout the season that head coach Darvin Ham was going to take the fall if the Lakers couldn’t make another long playoff run, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Ham was officially fired on Friday after L.A. was dispatched by Denver in five games, but it had been clear that move was coming for a long time, Shelburne adds.

Sources tell Shelburne that LeBron James was resistant to Ham’s idea to limit his minutes early in the season. James’ wishes prevailed and that plan was discarded after a few games. Players also openly questioned Ham’s strategies throughout the season, culminating with Anthony Davis saying after the Game 2 loss to Denver, “We have stretches where we don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor.”

Shelburne notes that the Lakers have cycled through head coaches ever since Phil Jackson‘s retirement in 2011, with none lasting more than three seasons. That list includes Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, who both went on to win Coach of the Year honors with other teams after leaving L.A. To avoid another short-term hire, Shelburne advises Lakers management to approach this coaching search with a clear idea of its vision for the team.

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Ham was undermined internally, which made it impossible for him to succeed, contends Jim Alexander of The Orange County Register. Alexander speculates that anonymous complaints were leaked by general manager Rob Pelinka to deflect blame from his questionable personnel moves, along with James and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. The danger, according to Alexander, is that the front office may have fired Ham without having an obvious candidate in mind to replace him.
  • James Harden declined to speculate on his future after the Clippers were eliminated Friday night in Dallas, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Harden demanded a trade out of Philadelphia after president of basketball operations Daryl Morey refused to give him the long-term contract he was expecting, but it’s uncertain if the Clippers will be willing to meet his demands this summer. “I don’t even know,” Harden responded when reporters asked about his upcoming free agency. “You’re asking me a question that I don’t have the answer to. I haven’t even thought about it.”
  • Coach Tyronn Lue is working out his own future with the Clippers, but he was gratified that owner Steve Ballmer addressed the team after Friday’s loss, Turner adds. “You have the seventh-, eighth-richest man in the world and he’s a real fan. Like, he’s a real fan. Like, he treats us like family,” Lue said. “He actually genuinely cares about each individual and we’ve seen that time and time again. So, when you have an owner that really respects who you are, not as a basketball player, but a person and who you are, that means a lot. Not just putting you on a basketball court and saying, ‘OK, you work for me.’ Like, he really genuinely cares about each individual. He cares about the wins. He’s fired up. He’s passionate about it. And, so, that’s what I love the most about Mr. Ballmer. He treats everyone as equals.”
  • The Clippers‘ reluctance to guarantee a fourth year has held up extension talks with Paul George, sources tell Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints. George is eligible for up to $221MM over four seasons, but Azarly’s sources say the team’s latest offer falls short of that figure.

Clippers Notes: George, Harden, Westbrook, Lue, Tucker, More

Even after a disappointing exit in the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers are expected to make a strong push to bring back both Paul George (player option) and James Harden (unrestricted free agent) this offseason, Sam Amick and Law Murray of The Athletic write. Despite failing to advance past the first round since 2021, team owner Steve Ballmer still has faith in this core.

The Clippers’ poor injury luck during the Kawhi Leonard era prevented them from seeing this roster at full strength for long, but they did win 26 of 31 games from December to February at full health. That, according to The Athletic, is seemingly a big reason behind L.A.’s eagerness to run it back. Even though Ballmer wants to keep things going with this core as the Clips on their new home floor in Intuit Dome next season, the nuanced contract negotiations with George, Harden, coach Tyronn Lue and Russell Westbrook may complicate things, Amick and Murray write.

George has been eligible for an extension all season, and while negotiations have been extensive, the lack of a deal leaves the possibility open for the nine-time All-Star to depart for a cap-space team like Philadelphia or Orlando. Though George holds a player option worth $48.7MM, he’s widely expected to decline it and become an unrestricted free agent if no extension is reached. Los Angeles wants George to accept a deal similar in structure to what Leonard agreed on, which saved L.A. approximately $9.9MM. A non-max deal would help the team financially going forward as it surely crosses the restrictive second tax apron by bringing back George and Harden.

Harden wants to continue with the Clippers and he’s happy to be with the team, but it could get tricky to keep him if he seeks a max contract. Meanwhile, Westbrook accepted a reserve role in L.A. and while he found success in the regular season, he may look for an opportunity to start elsewhere.

As for Lue, while Clippers’ officials praise the work the veteran coach has done, there have been no discussions about an extension, according to Amick and Murray. Friday reports indicated the Clips plan to pursue an extension with Lue, but those conversations have not yet taken place. According to The Athletic, the Clippers know they can’t improve on Lue and expect him to be the coach next season, likely blocking other teams from trying to talk to him. For his part, Lue expressed an interest in making a long-term commitment to the Clippers during his series-ending media availability (Twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype).

I didn’t come here to bounce around and go all over the place,” Lue said. “Mr. Ballmer, Lawrence [Frank], Mark [Hughes], and Trent [Redden] have all been great to me. This is where I want to be. Hopefully, they feel the same way.

We have more from the Clippers:

  • Forward P.J. Tucker is expected to exercise his $11.5MM player option for next season, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. This comes as no surprise, as Tucker averaged career lows in minutes and points this season. Tucker was frustrated with his role this season and Los Angeles sent him home at one point. Scotto’s piece lines up with the reporting from The Athletic regarding the futures of George, Harden, Lue and Westbrook. In addition to writing about those four, Scotto speculates on what president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank‘s future with the organization looks like.
  • Including George, the Clippers have eight players eligible to sign extensions this offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes in his 2024 offseason guide. Role players Norman Powell, Terance Mann and Ivica Zubac are among the extension-eligible players. Mann, an unrestricted free agent in 2025, is eligible to sign a four-year extension worth $78.7MM.
  • Leonard missed games in the playoffs for the Clippers for the fourth straight season, but according to his teammates, he tried to play more in this series. “[Kawhi] wanted to be out there, wanted to be with us… it was more staff keeping him back,” George said, per The Orange County Register’s Mirjam Swanson (Twitter link). Leonard appeared in two postseason games this year, averaging 12.0 points per contest.
  • George didn’t speak much on his upcoming free agency after the Game 6 loss, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “Yeah,” George said on if he sees himself with the Clippers long term. “If it works that way, absolutely. … I’m not even focused on that yet. I got a lot to kind of digest myself, so I haven’t even got to that yet. Look forward to kind of going back, just letting everything kind of decompress, talk to my family, be around family support and then address the next step. … Yeah, it’s just not where I’m there. I’m not there yet.

Woj: Clippers Want To Retain Lue, George, Harden

After Darvin Ham was fired this afternoon, a report from The Athletic indicated the Lakers would be interested in Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue if he were made available.

Appearing on NBA Today with Malika Andrews (Twitter video link), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski downplayed the possibility of Lue becoming the Lakers’ coach, suggesting he could remain with Los Angeles’ other team for the foreseeable future.

I don’t believe it’s realistic based on this: Ty Lue still has a year left on his contract,” Wojnarowski said (hat tip to RealGM). “And the Clippers are determined to do a long-term deal with Ty Lue, I’m told. They want him to be their head coach for a very long time. That’s a conversation that will happen after the playoffs are over, but they love the job he did this season. They love the job that he’s done there.

This is an organization that, by all indications, however this series (with Dallas) ends up, wants to re-sign Paul George, James Harden. Try to improve that roster around those two and Kawhi Leonard. And Ty Lue will still be the head coach for them.”

Wojnarowski’s full story regarding Lue, George and Harden can be found right here.

The Lakers tried to hire Lue back in 2019, Wojnarowski noted, but the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a contract. At the time, it was reported that Lue was seeking a larger salary.

Wojnarowski also reiterated a point he previously made, that the Lakers might not go after the biggest available names, such as Mike Budenholzer, for financial reasons.

You may see other candidates who’ve had success as head coaches, a Kenny Atkinson, a James Borrego, coaches of that ilk certainly could be part of this conversation,” Wojnarowski concluded.

Warriors assistant Atkinson, formerly lead coach of the Nets, was another Lakers candidate recently mentioned by The Athletic. Borrego, Charlotte’s former head coach, is a new name to watch. He’s currently an assistant with the Pelicans.

According to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (Twitter link), Celtics assistant Charles Lee is a candidate for the Lakers’ coaching vacancy as well.

Lakers Fire Darvin Ham

1:17pm: Ham has officially been dismissed, the Lakers confirmed in a press release (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group).

1:09pm: The Lakers are firing head coach Darvin Ham, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, general manager Rob Pelinka recently broke the news to Ham over the phone.

Sources tell Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic that L.A. will soon begin an “extensive search” for a new head coach, with former Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former NBA player and current ESPN analyst J.J. Redick among the candidates.

Tyronn Lue is another name to watch, per Charania and Buha, though he is currently the Clippers‘ head coach. Lue has one year left on his contract, according to The Athletic.

Multiple reporters, including Marc Stein and ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, recently cited Redick as a candidate if Ham were to be fired. Redick co-hosts a podcast with Lakers superstar LeBron James. He’s also said to be a “serious candidate” for Charlotte’s head coaching position.

An eight-year NBA veteran as a player, Ham was a longtime assistant before getting his first head coaching job with the Lakers a couple years ago. He compiled a 90-74 regular season record (.549 win%) and a 9-12 playoff record (.429) in his two seasons at the helm. The team also won a play-in game in each of the past two seasons to advance as the No. 7 seed.

That postseason record is a little misleading, since L.A. made the Western Conference Finals last year before being swept by the Nuggets, who went on to win the championship. The Lakers lost to the Nuggets again in ’23/24, dropping their first-round series in five games.

It’s been a hell of a two years … I’ll tell you that,” Ham said Monday after L.A. was eliminated, per McMenamin. “Sitting in this seat, it’s been a hell of a two years. A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately, you want to win that ultimate prize.”

Wojnarowski first reported that Ham would be on the hot seat if the Lakers were quickly dispatched by the Nuggets, with multiple subsequent reports indicating that the 50-year-old’s job was in “serious peril.” On Thursday, Buha stated on The Athletic’s NBA Show podcast that Ham would likely be fired by the end of the week and perhaps sooner (hat tip to RealGM).

Ham had two years remaining on his contract, which reportedly paid him $5MM annually. He has “a lot of supporters throughout the NBA,” tweets Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com.

A two-time Coach of the Year with Atlanta and Milwaukee, Budenholzer won a championship with the Bucks in 2021. He was dismissed last summer following a first-round playoff exit.

Atkinson is another former head coach, having previously worked for Brooklyn. He backed out of Charlotte’s coaching vacancy a couple years ago after being offered the job.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, Bronny, George, Harden, Lue

LeBron James‘ desire to play with his son Bronny James next season may be overstated, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said during an appearance on NBA Today on Tuesday (YouTube link). Citing his conversations with agent Rich Paul, Wojnarowski suggested that if Bronny decides to remain in the 2024 draft, the James family is more focused on getting him into the right developmental situation rather than steering him toward the Lakers.

“The idea of them playing together is not a priority. It’s not foremost – at least any longer – in LeBron James’ mind,” Wojnarowski said. “… If (Bronny) does go in the draft, he very likely would spend next year in the G League.

“… I think that’s the priority for them as a family, what’s best for Bronny James. And if it ends up them together, that would be great, but I don’t get a sense it’s playing much – if any – role in LeBron James’ decision on next season.”

Wojnarowski’s comments on NBA Today represented the latest in a series of reports about LeBron’s motivations and potential player option decision entering the offseason. James, who shut down that line of conversation following Monday’s Game 5 loss to Denver, took to Twitter on Tuesday in another attempt to quell the speculation about his contract situation.

“I’ve seen, heard a lot of reports about my future,” James wrote. “I said it last night and I’ll say it again. I do not know yet as I’m only thinking about spending time with my family and friends! When I know after speaking with the fam, my counsel, as well as my representation about it then you guys will know.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:

  • The Lakers are spending the day on Wednesday conducting exit interviews with their players, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who tweets that the team is still going through the process of evaluating its season — and evaluating head coach Darvin Ham. Reporting earlier this week indicated that Ham’s job is very much in jeopardy but that the team will take a few days to finalize a decision.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Hoop Collective podcast with Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), Ramona Shelburne identified the Magic as another team (along with the Sixers) that is “paying very close attention” to Paul George‘s contract situation entering the 2024 offseason. Teammate Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers agreed to an extension worth a little less than the max earlier this year, but George has yet to reach an agreement on a similar deal and could become a free agent in July. “It’s just a matter of whether the Clippers are gonna give him the max, which is something they don’t want to do because they didn’t give it to Kawhi,” Windhorst said (hat tip to NBC Sports).
  • Weighing James Harden‘s underwhelming playoff history against his poised, disciplined performance during the Clippers‘ first four games against Dallas this spring, Jim Trotter of The Athletic considers whether or not it’s time to start believing in the postseason version of the veteran guard.
  • With Tyronn Lue seemingly unfazed by the absence of Leonard for much of the first round so far, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times explores how the rest of the Clippers have adopted the steady, even-keeled demeanor of their head coach.