Rich Kleiman

Nets Notes: Lue, Kidd, Durant, Martin

Many around the league believe Tyronn Lue, who is rumored to be in the running to coach the Nets next season, would be the best fit for Brooklyn, as Eric Pincus writes for Bleacher Report. Lue previously coached Irving in Cleveland and the Lakers’ guard has a reputation for managing top talent well.

“He can handle egos,” one former executive told Pincus. “[They] need a guy with rings … Ty all day.”

Jason Kidd would be another choice, as he has won a ring in the past and has the respect of players.

“I think Kyrie and KD would need a championship coach (Lue) or a Hall-of-Famer (Kidd),” said another executive. “I think both (players) have personalities that are mercurial and require different aspects from their coaches.

“I like Kidd. He’s very charming … LeBron speaks highly of him…Some people around the league say that’s his game: Be very nice, then get in while your guard is down.”

Kidd previously coached the Nets, where he reportedly lobbied for a title that would place him above the team’s GM in the organization’s hierarchy. The franchise opted not to allow this to happen and Kidd ultimately moved to Milwaukee to coach the Bucks. However, it’s worth noting that ownership has changed in Brooklyn since Kidd’s most recent stint. Still, even if there are no leftover issues within the club, some believe the former point guard isn’t made out for the position.

“Kidd can’t coach,” a different Western Conference executive told Pincus.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Nets‘ new head coach could come down to Kevin Durant‘s preference, Pincus adds in the same piece. Durant and his manager, Rich Kleiman, are expected to have influence on the selection.
  • Durant and Irving might be “too new-school” for the team to bring in Mark Jackson as the coach, an executive tells Pincus (same piece). Regardless of who the Nets choose, a decision isn’t expected for quite some time.
  • Ajayi Brown of NetsDaily breaks down the game of Jeremiah Martin, 6’2″ scoring guard who had just received a two-way contract with the Nets prior to the league’s hiatus. Martin only played 16 minutes for the Nets but was making strides while playing for the franchise’s G League affiliate.

Kevin Durant Will Consider Olympics

As Kevin Durant continues to rehab his torn Achilles tendon, there’s a chance his return to the court might happen at the Summer Olympics, according to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. Durant was among 44 finalists on a list released by USA Basketball earlier this month, and his business partner, Rich Kleiman, says the Nets star is giving it serious consideration.

“[Tokyo is] definitely a possibility,” Kleiman said. “He allowed his name to be in the group of finalists. But there are other benchmarks in front of him that are more important before he makes those decisions.”

Kleiman doesn’t specify what those benchmarks are, but one is presumably a return to full health. Durant has made “significant progress” lately, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who states that he has been holding regular workouts with teammates who aren’t part of Brooklyn’s rotation.

“I have no question he’ll be back better than ever,” Kleiman said. “By next season, I expect nothing but KD. Great things will happen. Injuries are a part of the game, and it’s obviously been a bit frustrating. The Nets are still in playoff position. The players are developing and getting better. I expect things to pick up. Everyone knows what [Durant and Kyrie Irving] can do when they’re playing and healthy.”

Durant is a two-time Olympian, winning gold medals at the 2012 Games in London and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Lewis notes that 2016 is when Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan formed a bond as Olympic teammates and began talking about playing for the same NBA franchise.

Golliver adds that Durant’s playing career may have been interrupted by the injury, but his business ventures are still on track. His video series titled “The Boardroom” returned this week for its second season on ESPN Plus.

Knicks Notes: Miller, JVG, DSJ, Front Office

Although Mike Miller‘s hold on the Knicks‘ head coaching job beyond this season looks tenuous, multiple people within the organization support the idea of keeping Miller around in some capacity even if the team hires a new head coach, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley and Marc Berman of The New York Post both point out that Miller is on good terms with Jeff Van Gundy, who is expected to receive consideration for the head coaching job from new president of basketball operations Leon Rose. Berman, who suggests Miller could stay on as an assistant coach if Van Gundy were to be hired, notes that JVG expressed support for the current interim coach during an appearance on NBA SiriusXM Radio.

“Mike Miller, to me, deserves every opportunity to finish this season out and win the job,” Van Gundy said. “And I think anybody plotting as a coach to try to undermine that opportunity is doing it wrong.”

Talk of Miller’s job security was reignited this week when brand consultant Steve Stoute suggested during an ESPN appearance that the Knicks will be looking to replace Miller this spring. The team and Stoute himself released statements hours later disavowing those comments. Interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry was among those “particularly bent out of shape” by Stoute’s comments on ESPN, a source tells Berman.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that Marcus Morris lobbied earlier this season for Dennis Smith Jr. – with whom he shares an agent – to receive more playing time. Smith, who lost an advocate when the Knicks traded Morris last week, has appeared in the team’s last eight contests, but logged fewer than eight minutes in each of the last two games.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday suggests (via Twitter) that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas may be a name to watch as the Knicks seek an experienced basketball executive to work with Leon Rose in their new-look front office. However, Popper cautions (via Twitter) that Karnisovas signed an extension with Denver last year.
  • Before the Knicks decided on Rose for their president of basketball operations opening, there was speculation that Kevin Durant‘s manager Rich Kleiman could be a candidate for the job. That wasn’t the case, according to Kleiman, who tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv that he never heard from the club.
  • Tom Thibodeau has been cited as a potential head coaching candidate for the Knicks, and while Taj Gibson isn’t openly campaigning for his former coach, he believes Thibodeau can have success in today’s NBA. “He’s been misunderstood,” Gibson said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “A lot of players have different mindsets. His mindset is winning. To win games you got to go through a lot of hard work. Sometimes young players don’t understand it.”

Knicks Have Had Exploratory Kyle Kuzma Talks

The Knicks and Lakers have had exploratory discussions about a possible Kyle Kuzma trade, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Charania follows up by tweeting that several contending teams are expressing interest in Marcus Morris. He doesn’t explicitly state that the Lakers are among those teams, but it seems safe to connect those dots.

While Morris could be a nice fit for the Lakers, it would be a challenge for the club to build a trade package for him with Kuzma as a centerpiece. Los Angeles would need to send out at least $10MM in salary and Kuzma makes just under $2MM. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope unlikely to waive his no-trade clause to accept a trade to New York, that means the Lakers would have to package three or four players to get up to $10MM.

The Knicks added several veteran power forwards during the 2019 offseason, signing Morris, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson in free agency. However, there’s no guarantee that any of those players will be with the franchise for the long term. Only Randle has a fully guaranteed salary for next season, and the man that signed off on all those deals – former president Steve Mills – was dismissed today by the team. It’s possible new interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry envisions a young player like Kuzma as a more logical long-term investment at the four.

Let’s round up a few more Knicks-related items…

  • While it remains to be seen what sort of compensation the Raptors would want for Masai Ujiri, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that a team in a similar situation last year asked for two first-round picks when another club inquired about a top executive under contract. That exec was considered to be a tier below Ujiri, according to Begley, who suggests that any Knicks’ discussions for the Raptors’ president of basketball operations would probably have to start with a baseline of two first-rounders.
  • Within that same story, Begley identifies several other veteran executives who could make sense as targets for the Knicks, including Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon. Sources tell Begley that Langdon has fans within the organization.
  • Kevin Durant‘s manager Rich Kleiman could be a candidate for the Knicks’ front office opening, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. A longtime fan of the team, Kleiman has previously expressed interest in running the Knicks. Sources tell Berman that Kleiman would likely want to hire Mark Jackson as New York’s head coach if he were in position to do so.