Ryan Richman

Southeast Notes: Vucevic, Wagner, Richman, Bridges

Magic center Nikola Vucevic is showing progress as he rehabs an ankle injury, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Vucevic’s post-shootaround session on Monday included more running, jump shooting and some contact work, Robbins continues, but he’s still feeling some discomfort on certain movements from the bone bruise. The right ankle ailment, which he suffered November 20, is expected to sideline the big man for at least four weeks. He missed his ninth consecutive game on Monday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards coach Scott Brooks called out second-year big man Moritz Wagner after the team’s loss to the Clippers on Sunday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Wagner started the game but only played three minutes in the second half, mainly due to defensive lapses. “His head wasn’t in the game,” Brooks said. “When you’re a young player, you’ve gotta lock in. You have to do what we need to be done. We talked about it. We talked about it at halftime and he didn’t want to do it.”
  • The Wizards’ G League coach, Ryan Richman, is just 30 years old and they’re grooming him to be a head coach at the NBA level, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. He was moved from Brooks’ staff to the Capital City Go-Go this season. “I don’t look at him as a good, young coach. He’s a good coach,” Brooks said. “He’s gonna lead that team and be a big part of our organization and change things up. And we’re all one.”
  • Hornets second-year player Miles Bridges has bounced back and forth between power forward and small forward this season and it’s been a tough adjustment defensively, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes. “We’re throwing a lot at him. He’s having to adjust on the fly,” coach James Borrego said. “On the defensive end, he has a different (tough) matchup every night. He’s got to bring the urgency. I’ve seen growth on the defensive end. On offense (averaging 12.6 points on 45% shooting) he’s been solid.”

Wizards Announce Changes To Coaching Staff

The Wizards have formally announced a series of changes to Scott Brooks‘ coaching staff, issuing a press release to confirm the moves.

Tony Brown, who has been an assistant on Brooks’ staff since 2016, has been promoted to associate head coach, making him the lead assistant in Washington. The team also hired Mike Longabardi, Corey Gaines, and Dean Oliver as assistants.

Longabardi, a veteran coach who served as an assistant for the Rockets, Celtics, Suns, and Cavaliers, has won titles with Boston and Cleveland. Gaines served as a coaching consultant for the Pistons last season after spending time as an assistant for the Knicks and Suns. Oliver, whom the Wizards call a “pioneer in sports analytics,” comes to D.C. from Sacramento.

Ryan Richman, an assistant coach for Brooks last season, has been named the head coach of the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League affiliate. Jarell Christian, the Go-Go’s head coach in 2018/19, has joined the Wizards’ staff as an assistant. Interestingly, the Go-Go’s press release refers to both moves as “promotions.”

Despite all the incoming hires, the Wizards are also bringing back several members of last year’s staff, including assistants Robert Pack and Mike Terpstra, and developmental coach Kristi Toliver.

“Coach Brooks and I worked closely to pinpoint what areas we needed to improve and identify the best candidates, both internally and externally, to make the appropriate changes,” new permanent Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “We’re very confident that we have a strong staff in place that is in line with the vision we have for our rebuilding our culture and focusing on the overall development of our players.”

Southeast Notes: Heat, Clifford, McRae, Wizards

Heat president Pat Riley met with the team’s players this week and explained that he is “pulling the plug” on a potential Jimmy Butler trade, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Riley did not state a future trade was completely off the table.

The Heat and Timberwolves have discussed several packages centered around Butler in recent weeks, with Minnesota eager to acquire young players Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo in any potential deal. The Athletic’s Shams Charania (link) first reported the Heat’s plans to start the season with its current roster.

Butler played in the Timberwolves’ season opener in San Antonio on Wednesday, competing alongside Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in the starting five. His grit-and-grind style appeals to a hardworking team like the Heat, explaining their longstanding interest in his services. It’s unclear whether Miami will revisit these discussions with Minnesota before the NBA’s trading deadline.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division: