Rob Babcock

Former NBA Exec Rob Babcock Passes Away

Former NBA executive Rob Babcock has passed away following a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Babcock began his NBA career in 1987 when he joined the Nuggets as a scout. After a handful of stops, he began working for the Timberwolves, where he spent 12 years in the team’s front office, including the last two as Minnesota’s vice president of player personnel.

After his time with the Wolves, Babcock was hired as the Raptors‘ head of basketball operations in the spring of 2004, but lasted just a year and a half with the franchise before being let go in January 2006. He was tasked with trading away disgruntled star Vince Carter during his brief tenure as Toronto’s general manager.

Babcock later returned to the Timberwolves’ front office, serving first as a consultant and then as an assistant GM. He was eventually promoted to the role of vice president of basketball operations before being dismissed in May of 2016.

Chris Babcock and Nate Babcock, Rob’s sons, are currently employed by the Sixers and Nets, respectively.

We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Rob’s friends and family.

And-Ones: Roberson, Babcock, Ujiri

Raptors executive Masai Ujiri noted that the decision to sign a multiyear extension with the team this offseason was an easy one, given his love for the city of Toronto, Lauren La Rose of The Toronto Star writes. “I love it here. I really do. Toronto is home for me,” Ujiri said. “We don’t go to another home in the States or somewhere else. This is our home. And I love the organization, I think they’ve treated me well. They’ve given it their all. It’s humbling for me for them to come to me and say: ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ And then the city, the fans, everybody — what else can you ask for?

Here’s more from around the league:

  • With the offseason addition of guard Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson, who is a natural shooting guard, will likely see extended time at small forward for the Thunder this season, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes. The potential shift doesn’t trouble Roberson because coach Billy Donovan’s offensive scheme, Horne adds. “With our offense, the way we want to run it, it doesn’t really matter what position you’re in,” Roberson said. “We all kinda work together, jell together and have the offense cutting, moving and just sharing the ball more. It’s definitely going to be a fun year and more ball-oriented stuff, so it should be fun.”
  • Former Raptors and Wolves executive Rob Babcock is currently doing some consulting work to pass the time, with the former executive hoping to land another NBA post in the future, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Minnesota fired Babcock, who was the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations, back in May.
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who is from North Carolina, has mixed emotions regarding all the events that have pulled from the state due to a controversial bill that many say will lead to discrimination for LGBT people, The Associated Press relays. “I think it’s unfortunate for our city and our state to be under the microscope with HB2 and how it’s unfolded,” Curry said. “I’m all for equal and fair rights and treatment for everybody. Until it gets addressed, until some changes are made, this could be a recurring theme in North Carolina. I don’t want that happen.

Wolves Announce Multiple Front Office Changes

The Timberwolves are under new management in Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden. As is often the case with new regimes, they wish to bring in their own people to surround themselves with. In keeping with that theme, the team has announced via press release that a number of front office personnel have been let go from their respective positions. The franchise did not name any replacements in its official statement:

Effective immediately, the following individuals will be relieved of their respective duties: previous General Manager Milt Newton, Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Babcock, Vice President of Sports Performance Arnie Kander, assistant coach Sid Lowe, Director of Sports Performance Koichi Sato, Manager of Team Travel/Facilities Coordinator Bill Hohenecker, Head of Video Department and Manager of Basketball Technology Brice Long and Scouts Milton Barnes and Jason Hervey. We Would like to thank all of these individuals for their contributions to our organization and wish them well in their future endeavors.

Team owner Glen Taylor had stated back in March that Newton would be in charge of the draft and free agency for the team this summer, but that was well in advance of Thibodeau being hired. Newton wasn’t assured of holding onto his post beyond this season anyway, after he inherited the role this past fall upon the death of president of basketball operations Flip Saunders. One potential landing spot for Newton is in Washington, where he had previously served as vice president of player personnel for the Wizards, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

Odds & Ends: Ellis, Pacers, Wilcox, Williams

Agent Jeff Fried sure sounded like he wouldn't be working with Monta Ellis anymore when news broke in July that the two were parting ways, as Fried was quoted giving his well-wishes to Ellis and his family. Fried now says those reports were incorrect, telling Shams Charania of that he and Ellis are "together for a lifetime." Fried, of the Peake Management Group, and Happy Walters of Relativity Sports are sharing representation duties for Ellis, according to Charania. We've duly noted the unusual arrangement in the Hoops Rumors Agency Database. Here's more from around the Association:

  • The Pacers' lease at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis doesn't expire until 2019, but the head of the city agency in charge of managing the arena says it's likely that by the end of the year there will be a new deal that will keep the team in Indy even longer. Jon Murray of the Indianapolis Star has the details.
  • Veteran center Chris Wilcox remains without a team, and he tells Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that he's still wearing a cast from surgery this summer to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb that he suffered while playing for the Celtics last season (Twitter link).
  • Former Nets center Jordan Williams has signed with Bilbao Basket of Spain, the team announced on Twitter (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). 
  • Stan Van Gundy talks Dwight Howard, identifies Mike D'Antoni as the most innovative coach in the league, and provides insight on the roster construction of his best teams with the Magic in a Q&A with Ethan Sherwood Strauss of
  • The Celtics would be well-advised to shop Rajon Rondo in advance of the trade deadline this year, but Rondo can do plenty to up his value if he displays maturity and leadership this season, HoopsWorld's Moke Hamilton opines.
  • In an updated version of his story on the Timberwolves' hiring of Milt Newton and Bobby Jackson, Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes that the team will promote assistant GM Rob Babcock to vice president of basketball operations.

Wolves Rumors: Pekovic, Prince, Henderson

As I explained last Friday, the Timberwolves have done a good job this summer managing the cap, allowing the team to add Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, and Ronny Turiaf, while locking up Chase Budinger. However, the offseason can't truly be viewed as a success until the T-Wolves re-sign free agent big man Nikola Pekovic. Here's the latest on that front, along with a few more noteworthy items out of Minnesota:

  • A source close to Pekovic tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that there has been no movement in negotiations with the Wolves. Minnesota still has an offer on the table, believed to be for four years and $50MM, and persumably Pekovic's camp feels comfortable that the offer isn't going anywhere.
  • Timberwolves president Flip Saunders still intends to hire a general manager and VP of basketball operations. According to Wolfson, two candidates we've heard mentioned before remain in play: Rob Babcock and Milt Newton. Wolfson's report suggests two candidates will be hired (or promoted), rather than one exec filling both roles.
  • While a Wolves source says a three-year, $21MM deal for Andrei Kirilenko was at least briefly discussed, a source close to Kirilenko tells Wolfson that there was never an offer on the table to bring the forward back to Minnesota.
  • Before they signed Brewer, the Wolves had a chance to acquire Tayshaun Prince from the Grizzlies, but passed, given Prince's price tag, according to Wolfson.
  • The T-Wolves had "heavy interest" in Gerald Henderson prior to agreeing to terms with Martin.
  • The Wolves like O.J. Mayo, but determined he wouldn't be a good fit with Ricky Rubio, since the team wanted to add a two guard who didn't need the ball in his hands a whole lot, says Wolfson. Minnesota also pursued J.J. Redick before landing Martin, but couldn't negotiate a sign-and-trade as beneficial as the Clippers' deal.
  • Reps for Nate Robinson and Delonte West called the Wolves to see if the club has interest in either player, but the answer appears to be no, writes Wolfson.
  • After being selected 58th overall in the 2012 draft, Robbie Hummel spent last season playing in Spain, but now that he's back with the Wolves' Summer League squad, he's eager to show that he's deserving of the team's final open roster spot, as he tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. "That’s the ultimate goal," Hummel said. "It always has been my dream to play in the NBA. I’m thankful for this opportunity and want to show I belong."

Wolves Rumors: Pekovic, Martin, Trades, Rubio

According to reports from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, the Timberwolves have formally extended a multiyear contract offer to restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic. Zgoda, who expects Pekovic to sign a four-year deal worth $12MM or more, says the offer was made on Friday and that the Wolves expect an answer from the big man's camp early this week.

Here's more out of Minnesota from Wolfson:

  • The Thunder have interest in signing-and-trading Kevin Martin to the Wolves, but an outright signing is more likely. Andrei Kirilenko's camp is also pushing for a sign-and-trade, says Wolfson, but the Wolves are more likely to simply renounce his rights.
  • In their search for a defensive-minded wing, the Wolves are exploring trades involving Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea. While Ridnour is drawing more interest, the team may prefer to move Barea, since head coach Rick Adelman likes Ridnour.
  • Prior to being waived yesterday, Greg Stiemsma was offered to every team in trade talks, but no clubs were willing to give up anything of value.
  • The Wolves have inquired on Chauncey Billups, but are focusing on other needs for now.
  • Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, Ricky Rubio will be offered a new five-year contract next summer, when he becomes extension-eligible.
  • While Wizards exec Milt Newton appeared to be a candidate for the Wolves' GM job, he'll likely remain in Washington. Wolves president Flip Saunders figures to promote internally for the team's GM job, with Wolfson citing Rob Babcock as a possibility.