Sam Cassell

Latest On Kidd, Bucks’ Coaching Job

Former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale is considered the early favorite to get the Bucks job after this season but there are some other viable candidates, according to Hoops Hype’s Bryan Kalbrosky.

Milwaukee fired Jason Kidd on Monday and replaced him on an interim basis with lead assistant Joe Prunty. Fizdale was fired in late November, in part because of a strained relationship with the team’s star, Marc Gasol.

Former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, Raptors G-League coach Jerry Stackhouse, Hawks assistant Darvin Ham, Thunder assistant Adrian Griffin, Clippers assistant Sam Cassell and Spurs assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka are some of the other candidates that Milwaukee may consider, Kalbrosky adds.

Here are some nuggets regarding Kidd and the Bucks job:

  • Bucks franchise player Giannis Antetokounmpo offered to help Kidd save his job, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets. Kidd and the All-Star starter spoke 15 minutes before Kidd was officially notified he’d been fired, Shelburne adds.
  • Milwaukee’s front office had been mulling over a coaching change for at least two weeks, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports.
  • Williams, who has been working in the Spurs’ front office, has been patiently waiting for another opportunity and is a name to remember, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.
  • Kidd leaves with no regrets and added “we took an organization that was in a bad place and shined a light on it,” according to another Shelburne tweet.
  • Tensions between Kidd and the front office had been building for months, according to the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps. There was friction between Kidd and forward Jabari Parker, Bontemps continues. Kidd also rubbed management the wrong way by lobbying for roster changes and harping on the lack on experience among the front office staff, Bontemps adds.
  • Jeff Van Gundy and Rick Pitino are two other candidates the Bucks might consider, Forbes’ Mitch Lawrence reports. However, the organization does not have a stellar reputation and potential replacements for Kidd will likely want to know who’s calling the shots on personnel, Lawrence adds.

Latest On Rockets Coaching Search

9:46pm: The Rockets are intrigued by college coaches Shaka Smart (Texas) and Bill Self (Kansas), and also may seek to interview former Rocket and current broadcaster Kenny Smith, Stein relays (Twitter links).

9:08pm: Sixers associate head coach Mike D’Antoni will interview for the vacant post this week, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Houston will also desire an interview with Frank Vogel if he is let go by the Pacers, Stein adds.

8:00pm: Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has withdrawn from consideration for the team’s head coaching position after meeting with team ownership and front office personnel on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. Other NBA teams have now begun reaching out to Bickerstaff about available lead assistant positions, which is what he is now focusing on, the Vertical scribe adds, though Wojnarowski makes no mention of which teams have been in contact with the coach.

Houston intends to conduct a wide-ranging search for its next head coach, Wojnarowski relays. GM Daryl Morey and team owner Les Alexander met with Bickerstaff on Monday, as well as with Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Rockets assistant Chris Finch, league sources informed Wojnarowski. The Rockets are trying to arrange interviews with Jeff Hornacek and Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, league sources told Wojnarowski. The franchise also reportedly plans to interview former Cavs coach David Blatt, though reports peg former Rockets and Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy as the front-runner for the vacant post.

Bickerstaff posted a mark of 37-34 after taking over for the fired Kevin McHale, who got off to a 4-7 start to the campaign. Houston indicated that Bickerstaff would receive consideration to have his interim tag removed, but apparently guiding the team to the playoffs wasn’t enough to sell ownership on him as a viable long-term option.

Wizards Plan To Contact Scott Brooks, Thibodeau

MONDAY, 11:19am: Washington is the front-runner to land Brooks, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Stein suggests the Rockets are Brooks’ top alternative but are at a disadvantage because they’re in the playoffs and their focus is on that.

5:18pm: The Wizards have made Brooks their top priority, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical relays.

FRIDAY, 9:59am: The Wizards plan to meet with Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau as they conduct their coaching search, a source tells Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. John Wall has said in the past that he would want the team to hire Brooks if the coaching job were to come open as it did Thursday, Castillo also hears. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first identified Brooks as a strong candidate for the position in the wake of the news that the team was firing Randy Wittman, though reports conflicted on Thibodeau’s candidacy. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said that he’ll head up the search to replace Wittman, whom the Wizards formally dismissed earlier Thursday.

Brooks’ most obvious attractive quality is his relationship with Kevin Durant, the Washington, D.C. native whom the Wizards have long planned to pursue when he becomes a free agent in July. Durant made a point Thursday of praising the job Brooks did as his coach from 2008 to 2015, as The Oklahoman’s Erik Horne relays. Still, the prevailing sentiment is that Brooks alone wouldn’t be enough to woo Durant to his hometown team, Castillo writes. Brooks is also reportedly believed to be waiting to see if the Lakers job opens.

A Wizards player who spoke to Castillo expressed concerns about the heavy workload Thibodeau is known for demanding from his players, and the former Bulls coach figures to command a high salary. Strong indications exist that Thibodeau is seeking player personnel power, as Chris Mannix of The Vertical reported earlier this week, and that would be tough to come by in Washington, where Grunfeld is apparently staying in charge of the front office. Still, the Wizards are prioritizing defensive acumen and NBA head coaching experience as they sort through candidates, as both Castillo and J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic hear, and Thibodeau checks both boxes.

Thibodeau won Coach of the Year honors in 2011, a year after Brooks took home the same award. Grunfeld has a history with both Brooks and Thibodeau, who served as a Knicks assistant coach for three of the years that Grunfeld was in charge of New York’s basketball operations, Castillo notes. Grunfeld agreed to hire Thibodeau as an assistant for then-Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan in 2007, but Thibodeau backed out of the deal before signing a contract, as Castillo also points out. Grunfeld acquired Brooks as a player for the Knicks in 1996 and traded him away a year later, Castillo recalls.

The Wizards also want their next coach to command accountability, as Wittman irritated players with his selective accountability, according to Castillo, who also mentions Jeff Hornacek, Mike D’AntoniSam Cassell, Mark Jackson, Kevin McHale, Nate McMillan, and Jay Wright as potential candidates. The team is indeed interested in Hornacek and D’Antoni, as previous reports have indicated.

Which coach do you think is the right fit for the Wizards? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Eastern Notes: Davies, Weems, Rondo

Sixers coach Brett Brown isn’t happy that Brandon Davies was traded to the Nets, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com reports. Brown will miss Davies because of the player-coach relationship the two had, which helped ease the sting of enduring the Sixers’ escalating loss totals, Lynam adds. “When you start losing people that you are very fond of and have tremendous respect for … there is a human side of it that bothers me because you are trying to grow chemistry, you are trying to grow a culture,” Brown said. “That takes a hit when teammates lose teammates. There is a respect, effort-wise, of how they go about their business. There is a reality to our job that is just business in the NBA, but it doesn’t mean it has to feel right.”

Here’s more from the East:

  • Sonny Weems turned down multiple offers from NBA teams this past offseason, including a fully guaranteed deal from the Hawks, as he tells David Pick, writing for Basketball Insiders. Weems instead remains overseas on a long-term deal with CSKA Moscow that will pay him $10MM over the course of the contract, according to Pick. Money, contract length and timing were some of the stumbling blocks that kept Weems out of the NBA, Pick writes, adding that Weems is widely accepted as the best small forward not in the NBA.
  • Rajon Rondo has been receiving his fair share of criticism for the Celtics‘ struggles this season, and he’s been benched late in games recently, but it is something he has downplayed, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes. “I’ve been playing here for nine years, I’m one of the best at what I do, and I’m human,” Rondo said. “I make mistakes. I own up to my mistakes and that’s just part of the game. It’s not weighing on me at all. It’s a team effort. I am the captain, but there are 15 guys on this team and we’re all in this together.”
  • Prior to leaving Washington, current Clippers assistant Sam Cassell played a major role in helping the Wizards land Paul Pierce this past summer, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. “I talked to him [Pierce], told him how well he’ll do with them two guys John Wall and Bradley Beal] and he viewed it and made his decision,” Cassell said. “He took it seriously. He looked at the roster that we had and he realized it was a pretty good roster. He saw where he could fit in and do well at. Why wouldn’t he come and be a part of the Wizards?

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Rumors: Clippers, Lee, Thompson

Forbes revealed its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans today, and new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer ranks as the richest NBA owner at number 18 overall. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers announced the additions of Sam Cassell, Lawrence Frank, and Mike Woodson to their assistant coaching staff in a team release.
  • David Lee told reporters including Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group that he’s not upset with Warriors brass, who floated his name for much of the summer in trade talks for Kevin Love that never came to fruition. “There was no hard feelings,” Lee said. “There can’t be. Our front office is trying to improve the team, and Kevin Love is a great player. It happened, and I’m not mad at anybody. I don’t feel bad. It’s just this is a business.” 
  • Warriors point guard Steph Curry backed up Klay Thompson‘s insistence that the Love trade talks, which also heavily involved Thompson’s name, did not anger him as reported. “[Thompson] showed me the little link on his phone and then started laughing,” Curry said, as quoted by Leung on Twitter.

Western Notes: Cuban, Pleiss, Sterling

In the wake of Paul George‘s terrible injury Friday night, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blasted the IOC, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Cuban hopes the injury will spur the NBA into creating its own international tournament where the league has more control as well as receives the benefits of holding such competitions. Cuban also said, “I think it’s a bigger issue than star players. We are being taken advantage of by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and to a lesser extent FIBA (International Federal Basketball Association). We take on an inordinate amount of financial risk for little, if any, quantifiable gain. It’s like our guiding principle is to lose money on every game and make it up in volume. There is no logic to our position. (We) just hope we get value somewhere in the future.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Thunder 2010 draft-and-stash pick Tibor Pleiss is expected to sign a two-year deal with Barcelona, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Oklahoma City had made an attempt to bring the German big man to the NBA this season but his buyout amount became an issue, but the team was still hoping to work out a deal for the 2015/16 campaign. Details of Pleiss’ potential deal with Barcelona and buyout amount haven’t yet been announced.
  • Sam Cassell is leaving the Wizards to join Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff with the Clippers, reports Michael Lee of The Washington Post. Los Angeles’ bench had recently lost Tyronn Lue to the Cavs and Alvin Gentry to the Warriors.
  • Donald Sterling built an empire but words were his undoing, write Nathan Fenno, Kim Christensen, and James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times. The trio profile the seemingly soon-to-be former Clippers owner’s rise and fall.

Latest On Wolves Coaching Search

9:33am: Izzo is still “very high” on Saunders’ list of candidates, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who seconds Zgoda’s take that the Michigan State coach’s denial of interest in taking an NBA job this year left some wiggle room (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 9:02am: The Wolves haven’t yet abandoned their pursuit of Hoiberg, Wolfson tweets. That’s in spite of Saunders saying last week that Hoiberg wouldn’t be jumping to the NBA. Wolfson doesn’t expect the team to pursue Karl (Twitter link).

WEDNESDAY, 12:22pm: A source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that Stan Van Gundy won’t reciprocate the Timberwolves’ interest in him for their coaching vacancy, and Tom Izzo says he’s not jumping to the NBA this year. There are other candidates for the job, but the search has been slow-going, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports.

The Wolves have been primarily eyeing college coaches, though top targets Izzo and, as we passed along earlier, Fred Hoiberg are apparently out of the running. There are candidates with NBA experience in the mix, too, including George Karl, and Wolfson hears that Karl would indeed have interest and is hoping that the Wolves contact him, contradicting an earlier report that he wouldn’t want the job. Still, the Wolves haven’t reached out to Karl or Lionel Hollins, another among the previously mentioned candidates for the position, Wolfson writes.

The Wolves wouldn’t have interest in Scott Brooks of the Thunder, if he came available, and Wolfson reiterates that Minnesota wouldn’t want Frank Vogel, either. Former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell would like the Wolves job, but Minnesota isn’t interested, Wolfson writes. The Wolves probably won’t go after Warriors assistant Lindsey Hunter, Wizards assistant Sam Cassell, or Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff in spite of their ties to the organization, according to Wolfson.

President of basketball operations Flip Saunders is still a “name to monitor,” Wolfson writes, even though he’s downplayed the idea that he’d take over the coaching position. He’s said he’d “never say never” to the job on multiple occasions. Saunders and, even in his comments today, Izzo have been somewhat vague in their insistence that they won’t be on an NBA bench next season, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune notes (on Twitter).