Rex Kalamian

Clippers Notes: Free Agency, Dunn, Lue, Hiatus

The Clippers have a realistic opportunity to bring back their 11-man rotation next season, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Many of the decisions will come down to whether the organization wants to make a financial commitment to its current players or explore other options.

L.A. has Bird rights on Montrezl Harrell and can offer him a longer and more valuable contract than anyone else. The Clippers have Non-Bird rights on Marcus Morris, who was acquired from the Knicks last month, and can offer a new deal starting at $18MM per season. JaMychal Green has a $5MM player option, and the team might decide to use part of its mid-level exception to re-sign Reggie Jackson.

Buha adds that the loss of revenue from the shortened season could work in the Clippers’ favor by depressing a free agent market that’s already limited by the small number of teams with cap space. Harrell and Morris may not get the offers they would have under normal circumstances, while Green could decide to stick with his guaranteed money.

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • There may be something to the rumors that Doc Rivers would like to add Bulls guard Kris Dunn as a defensive specialist next season, Buha states in the same piece. Dunn will be a restricted free agent if Chicago makes a $4.6MM qualifying offer, and he could be a nice backcourt partner for Lou Williams coming off the bench. The downsides are Dunn’s poor 3-point shooting — 25.9% this year — and his season-ending knee injury.
  • Speculation regarding Tyronn Lue as the next head coach of the Nets has died down while the league has been on hiatus, but Buha understands why Brooklyn would be interested. During his time in Cleveland, Lue proved he could win a title and he developed a strong relationship with Kyrie Irving. Buha identifies two other members of Rivers’ staff, Rex Kalamian and Sam Cassell, who might get head coaching offers soon.
  • The Clippers may benefit as much as anyone from having several weeks off, Buha suggests in a separate column. They are among the league’s oldest teams and injuries have been a concern, particularly for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley. New additions Morris and Jackson will also get more time to learn Rivers’ system.

L.A. Notes: Gallinari, Kalamian, Berry, Kobe

After being slowed by injuries throughout last season, Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari has proclaimed himself healthy as he prepares for this weekend’s NBA Africa Game, relays Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Hand and glute issues limited Gallinari to 21 games in his first season with the Clippers after being acquired in an offseason trade. It’s a familiar story for Gallinari, who has only reached 70 games in a season twice in his career.

“Of course I will play. I got to show you some of the Gallo magic,” Gallinari joked in Wednesday’s conference call with reporters. “Yeah, yeah, everything is good. I’m very excited. I’m healthy now, body is good. So I can’t wait to start.”

Gallinari still has two years remaining on a three-year, $65MM deal he signed prior to a three-team trade that brought him from Denver to L.A. last summer. He will make $21,587,579 this season and $22,615,559 in 2019/20 with no team or player option on the final year. Gallinari fractured his right hand late in the season, but says it has fully healed.

There’s more this morning from Los Angeles:

  • Former Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian has officially joined the Clippers‘ coaching staff, the team announced on its website. Kalamian, who broke into the NBA as a scout with the Clippers in 1992, worked under Dwane Casey in Toronto for the past three years. L.A. also promoted G League coach Casey Hill to an assistant role with the NBA team.
  • Lakers guard Joel Berry has a huge goal for a player who wasn’t drafted. In an interview with Drew Ruiz of Hoops Hype, Berry said he hopes to be among the contenders for Rookie of the Year and talks about the feeling of being passed over on draft night. “It was pretty tough,” he recalled. “It’s always a dream to hear your name get called, but honestly, I’ve always taken the path where I was always overlooked and my game is not the flashiest – I just win – and that speaks more than being a flashy player.”
  • Kobe Bryant‘s wife is quashing any speculation that he might be thinking of a comeback, according to Alysha Tsuji of USA Today. Shaquille O’Neal sparked rumors of a return in a TMZ interview over the weekend, but Vanessa Bryant made it clear that it won’t happen. “Kobe will not be coming out of retirement to play again,” she wrote on Instagram. “He doesn’t want to play again and frankly we really enjoy spending time together as a family without the crazy game schedule interfering with birthdays, holidays and special events.”

Rex Kalamian To Join Clippers’ Coaching Staff

The coaching shakeup in Toronto continues as assistant Rex Kalamian has agreed to take a job with the Clippers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Kalamian will join Doc Rivers‘ staff after spending three years working under former head coach Dwane Casey with the Raptors.

Kalamian started his NBA career as a scout with the Clippers in 1992 and was promoted to assistant coach three years later. He also spent time with the Sixers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Kings and Thunder before coming to Toronto in 2015.

Kalamian reportedly interviewed for the Raptors’ head coaching job when Casey was fired last month, but wasn’t among the finalists for the position. The Clippers had an opening after assistant Pat Sullivan left to join David Fizdale’s staff with the Knicks.

Raptors Notes: Nurse, Casey, Messina, Valanciunas

Assembling a staff will be the first priority for Nick Nurse, who was officially hired as the Raptors’ new head coach earlier today, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. With many of Dwane Casey’s assistants possibly following him to Detroit, Nurse, an assistant in Toronto for the past five years, may have to build his staff from scratch.

One possibility, according to Wolstat, is Nate Bjorkgren, a longtime friend who worked on Nurse’s staff at Iowa in the G League. Bjorkgren landed a job as an advance scout with the Raptors last fall after being let go when Earl Watson was fired in Phoenix. Wolstat also cites a report out of Italy that Spanish National team head coach Sergio Scariolo and former German National Team head coach Andrea Trinchieri are being considered. Nurse was a successful coach in Europe for 12 years before coming to the United States.

Current Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian isn’t expected to remain on staff, according to Wolstat, and may take a job with the Clippers if he doesn’t go to the Pistons.

There’s more tonight out of Toronto:

  • The relationship between Nurse and Casey became severely strained after the Raptors were bounced from the playoffs, according to Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star, with a source telling Feschuk there’s “no love lost between ’em.” Casey gave Nurse his first NBA opportunity, hiring him out of the G League in 2013. Feschuk also questions whether it was the right choice to promote one of Casey’s assistants when fellow finalist Ettore Messina could have provided a new direction for the organization.
  • The Raptors’ front office was divided between Nurse and Messina over the weekend, tweets Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports. Messina, an assistant with the Spurs, reportedly performed well in both interviews.
  • The decision to hire Nurse means center Jonas Valanciunas is unlikely to be traded, relays Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Valanciunas worked frequently with Nurse during the season to try to develop a perimeter game, and that effort figures to expand now that Nurse is in charge.
  • The decision to replace Casey indicates that team president Masai Ujiri is feeling pressure to make changes, Deveney adds in the same piece. Ujiri’s job remains safe, but his preference to avoid major moves in the past hasn’t resulted in playoff success.

Raptors Interview Jerry Stackhouse For Coaching Job

The Raptors interviewed their G League head coach, Jerry Stackhouse, for their head coaching job last week in Chicago, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Familiarity could work in Stackhouse’s favor. He moved into a coaching two years after he retired in 2013, serving as an assistant to former coach Dwane Casey. He took over the head coaching job with Raptors 905 prior to the 2016-17 season and guided them to a championship. They lost in the finals to Austin this past season.

The Raptors were reportedly interested in hiring ex-Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer before he selected the Bucks. Stackhouse is just one of three in-house candidates being considered as Casey’s replacement. Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian also fall into that category.

Stackhouse is also considered a candidate for the Pistons’ head coaching position. Detroit was one of the teams Stackhouse played for during his long NBA career. He was one of many candidates interviewed by the Knicks before they chose former Grizzlies head man David Fizdale.

Budenholzer Was First Choice In Toronto?

Mike Budenholzer, who agreed tonight to be the Bucks’ next head coach, was also the Raptors’ top choice, tweets Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet. Budenholzer met with Toronto’s front office on Monday, but no job offer was extended, relays ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Assistant coach Nick Nurse appears to be the current front-runner for the Raptors’ job, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Nurse has spent the past five seasons as part of former coach Dwane Casey’s staff.

Lewenberg describes him as a “forward, innovative thinker,” which is an important quality to the Toronto front office (Twitter link). He adds that there’s a good chance someone else will hire Nurse if the Raptors don’t make him their head coach.

Toronto seems very focused on internal candidates, Lewenberg notes, as fellow assistant Rex Kalamian is being considered for the opening, along with Jerry Stackhouse, head coach of Raptors 905 in the G League (Twitter link). Other than Budenholzer, no one from outside the organization has interviewed for the position.

Stay current with all the latest coaching news with our 2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Raptors To Interview Nurse, Kalamian For HC Job

Although the Raptors reportedly have serious interest in Mike Budenholzer as a potential head coach, the club is also doing its due diligence on possible candidates within the organization. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), a pair of Raptors assistants will interview for the head coaching job on Tuesday, with Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian getting meetings.

Nurse, who has been linked to the Magic, Hornets, and Suns already this offseason, received the most votes in a poll conducted earlier this spring by Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports on the NBA assistants who most deserve a head coaching opportunity. Viewed as an offensive specialist on Dwane Casey‘s staff in Toronto, Nurse received much of the credit for helping to implement the Raptors’ new-look offense during the 2017/18 season.

As for Kalamian, he’s a more defensive-minded assistant, so the Raptors’ regressions on that side of the ball in recent months may hurt his candidacy, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic observes (Twitter link). However, Koreen adds that Kalamian is a smart, capable coach who is respected around the league. Before arriving in Toronto, Kalamian served as an assistant for the Thunder, Kings, Timberwolves, Nuggets, and Clippers.

It’s not clear yet if the Raptors will also meet with Jerry Stackhouse about their coaching vacancy. Stackhouse has received some head coaching buzz after leading the Raptors 905 – Toronto’s G League affiliate – to a G League championship in 2017 and another NBAGL Finals appearance in 2018.

Raptors Leaning Toward Head Coaching Change

It has been less than 24 hours since the Raptors’ 2017/18 season came to an end, so the team is still evaluating its offseason options. However, sources tell Josh Lewenberg of that the club is “strongly” leaning toward making a head coaching change and replacing Dwane Casey.

According to Lewenberg, if the Raptors do elect to part ways with Casey, it won’t be an indictment of his skills as a coach or what he has accomplished during his seven years with the franchise. After being eliminated from the postseason by the Cavaliers for a third straight year though, there’s a sense that it’s time for a “new direction and a different voice,” per Lewenberg.

Casey, who took over as the Raptors’ head coach in 2011, is the winningest coach in team history, leading the club to a 373-307 (.549) regular season record during his tenure. The Raps have enjoyed the best run in franchise history during the last five years, winning between 48 and 59 games each season and making five straight postseason appearances.

However, despite their regular season success, the Raptors have struggled to make deep playoff runs. After consecutive first-round exits in 2014 and 2015, Toronto has won at least one series in each year since then, but have been unable to mount a serious challenge against the Cavs, winning just two total postseason contests in three years against Cleveland.

If the Raptors make a coaching change, there are several internal candidates to take over, including Nick Nurse, Jerry Stackhouse, and Rex Kalamian, notes Lewenberg. Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun, who also hears that the team is leaning toward replacing Casey, tweets that Nurse may be the favorite. However, Toronto may also prefer someone with more head coaching experience, as Michael Grange of tweets.

Lewenberg expects the Raptors to make a decision soon, which would give Casey a chance to interview for other jobs if he moves on from Toronto.

Raptors Notes: Casey, Valanciunas, Lowry, DeRozan

Rival executives expect the Raptors to make a coaching change if they can’t rally from a 3-0 deficit against the Cavaliers, writes Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. Dwane Casey is a Coach of the Year candidate after leading Toronto to a 59-win season, but his lack of playoff success may have caught up to him.

Toronto has three qualified replacements in its organization in assistants Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian and G League coach Jerry Stackhouse. Nurse, who recently interviewed with the Suns and Hornets about their head coaching vacancies, would be the favorite to take over if Casey is dismissed, according to O’Connor, who adds that Nurse played a bigger role than Casey in the changes the Raptors made to their offensive system.

There’s more today out of Toronto:

  • The series with the Cavaliers is displaying the problems with Toronto’s roster, O’Connor notes in the same story. The Raptors are short on defenders at the wing and forward, their big men aren’t versatile enough for the modern NBA game and they don’t have a superstar who can be the best player on the court in a playoff series. O’Connor states that even if LeBron James heads to the Western Conference in free agency, the Raptors will have difficulty getting past the Celtics or Sixers in the future.
  • With Toronto already in tax territory for next season and this year’s draft picks dealt away, O’Connor points to trades as the only realistic way to improve. He notes that the Raptors had interest in DeAndre Jordan before this year’s deadline and may explore that route again if he opts in. O’Connor states that a young player like Jakob Poeltl or Delon Wright would have to be included along with Jonas Valanciunas to get the Clippers’ interest. He suggests offering Lowry, C.J. Miles and Pascal Siakam to the Wolves for Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins. That would free Minnesota from the cap-clogging contract it gave to Wiggins, and it would pair Lowry and Jimmy Butler, who became friends during their Olympics experience.
  • DeMar DeRozan had his worst postseason game Saturday with eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and was benched for the final 14 minutes, notes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Casey told reporters not to read too much into the move and expressed confidence that DeRozan will get back to normal. “He had a tough night,” Casey said. “He wasn’t the reason we lost. We are professionals, he’s a pro. He has had tough games before, he’ll bounce back. But we have one more game, our pride is on the line, basically our season is on the line, but I think he’ll bounce back.”

Stein’s Latest: Pistons, Knicks, Bucks, Magic, Suns

Earlier today, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Pistons have expressed interest in Chauncey Billups for a potential front office role, with an eye on possibly pairing him with Arn Tellem in their basketball operations department. The report quickly drew responses from multiple sides — Billups stated that he would “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while a Pistons ownership spokesman simply called the report “false.”

Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) also hears from a source that there’s “nothing whatsoever” to the idea of a Billups/Tellem team-up in the Pistons’ front office, but Stein doubled down on the report in his latest newsletter for The New York Times, citing league sources who say that Detroit has “great interest” in hiring Billups. According to Stein, the Pistons believe they have a real shot to convince Billups to leave his TV job for an executive role.

Stein’s newsletter includes a few more tidbits on coaching and front office situations around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • There’s a growing belief that Knicks GM Scott Perry will want to hire his own hand-picked head coach at season’s end, says Stein. According to Stein, if the club replaces Jeff Hornacek and makes a high-profile hire, Mark Jackson and David Blatt would be among the candidates to watch.
  • With a move to a new arena around the corner, the Bucks may want to make a big splash with their next head coaching hire. League sources tell Stein that Jeff Van Gundy and Kevin McHale are among the names on the Bucks’ list of potential candidates, while Monty Williams and David Fizdale have also been mentioned. Rick Pitino could even get an “exploratory look,” says Stein.
  • There’s a “widely held assumption” in coaching circles that the Magic will replace Frank Vogel, according to Stein, who identifies Nick Nurse, Rex Kalamian, and Jerry Stackhouse as possible targets for Orlando. All three of those coaches are in the Raptors organization, which is where Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman previously worked.
  • While Jay Triano will receive an interview as part of the Suns‘ head coaching search, Stein is hearing buzz that Triano is more likely to be asked to stay on as an assistant. Phoenix wants to explore the college ranks, and Villanova’s Jay Wright is one name that figures to come up during that search, per Stein.