San Antonio Spurs

Draft Updates: Rabb, Boatwright, Ball, Diallo

While our friends at Pro Football Rumors cover this week’s NFL draft, we’ve still got nearly two months until NBA draft day. However, that doesn’t mean there are no draft-related stories worth following in the NBA at the moment.

For instance, as Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com tweets, each NBA team has now voted for its top 70 candidates for 2017’s draft combine, and the league figures to announce this year’s invitees next week. That list will be crucial for many prospects, especially for early entrants who are testing the draft waters — they don’t have to decide whether or not to withdraw until 10 days after the combine, so getting a chance to talk to and work out for NBA teams in Chicago could significantly impact those decisions.

Here are a few more 2017 NBA draft notes:

  • As expected, former Cal forward Ivan Rabb is staying in the draft. Rabb, who is viewed as a possible lottery pick, has agreed to hire Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management for representation, per Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • USC’s Bennie Boatwright, who had been testing the draft waters, announced (via a Twitter video) that he’ll head back to school for his junior year, removing his name from the draft pool.
  • Speaking to Shams Charania of The Vertical, top prospect Lonzo Ball said that – while he’d love to be drafted by the Lakers – he’s ready to play for any NBA club and is prepared for “the challenge of helping turn around any team in the league.”
  • A handful of NBA teams are doing their homework on Kentucky prospect Hamidou Diallo, who is testing the draft waters without an agent. As Adam Zagoria details at FanRagSports.com, Diallo’s former coach Andy Borman has fielded calls from the Spurs, Hawks, and Thunder, among other teams.
  • Sam Vecenie of Vice.com decries the practice of “concern trolling” when it comes to the high number of early entrants declaring for the draft. According to Vecenie, those early entrants are well aware that only 60 players are drafted each year, but many of them have their own personal reasons for exploring the possibility of going pro.

Poll: Which 2-2 Series Will End In Upset?

Last year’s NBA Finals combatants, the Cavaliers and Warriors, made quick work of their first round playoff opponents, dispatching the Pacers and Trail Blazers respectively in four games apiece. However, many of the other first round series around the NBA remain very much up in the air.

Currently, four series are tied at 2-2, with two of those Game Fives scheduled for tonight, and two more on tap for Wednesday. The Clippers and Jazz have each split their home games, resulting in a 2-2 tie, while the No. 7 seeded Grizzlies won two home games over the Spurs following David Fizdale‘s post-Game 2 “take that for data” rant, pulling even in that series. Those four teams will be in action tonight.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 seeded Celtics find themselves tied with the No. 8 Bulls in an unusual series in which road teams are 4-0 so far. Meanwhile, the Hawks ripped through the Wizards‘ defense in two games in Atlanta, evening that series at 2-2. Both of those series will resume on Wednesday.

In each of those four series, the higher seed maintains the advantage, with two of the final three games on their home court. But most of those higher seeds don’t look as formidable as they did entering the postseason.

What do you think? Will any of these series result in upsets? If the Jazz are able to knock off the Clippers, should that series even be viewed as a legit upset, given the absence of Blake Griffin and the teams’ identical regular season records?

Vote below on which lower seeds will make it through the first round — you can pick as many as you want. After placing your vote, share your thoughts in the comments section!

Clippers Notes: Griffin, Paul, Redick

Blake Griffin, who was ruled out for the remainder of the postseason with a toe injury, can become a free agent this summer, but he may not have many teams lining up to give him a long-term max deal, Kevin O’ Connor of The Ringer contends. O’Connor details Griffin’s injury history, which includes several ailments on each of his legs, and believes it will cause rival teams to be cautious when making the big man a multi-year offer in free agency. Griffin could always elect not to activate his ETO and stay with the Clippers, though the $21.4MM he would receive in the 2017/18 season is less than the annual salary he’s likely to receive on the open market.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The window to trade Griffin closed over a season ago and the Clippers missed their chance at getting value for him, O’Connor notes in the same piece. The scribe argues that if GM Doc Rivers had pulled the trigger years ago, the team would have much more depth today and players such as Paul Pierce and Raymond Felton wouldn’t be soaking up significant playoff minutes.
  • Chris Paul is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but O’Connor (same piece) wonders if the team should be worried about Paul finding a more attractive option in free agency. He speculates that the Spurs could be a threat should the franchise open up the necessary cap space to give Paul a maximum-salary contract.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today (video link) isn’t sure owner Steve Ballmer is going to sign off on paying luxury tax payments again for a team that doesn’t have a clear path at a championship. In addition to Paul and Griffin searching for max deals this summer, J.J. Redick will be a free agent and Amick estimates that the Duke product will warrant a deal that pays him $18MM per year.

5 Candidates To Replace Rob Hennigan As Magic GM

Interim GM Matt Lloyd is among the leading candidates to take over for Rob Hennigan in Orlando, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Lloyd, who was named to the position after Hennigan was fired on Thursday, has been running the Magic’s scouting department for the past five years. He has also served as director of college scouting for the Bulls. Owner Alex Martins is keeping his list of potential Hennigan replacements confidential, but he has said Lloyd will be among those considered.

Robbins lists four other potential candidates:

  • Travis Schlenk — The vice president of basketball operations and assistant GM in Golden State, Schlenk has spent the past 13 years with the Warriors. He also worked as an assistant coach and video scout. Schlenk has ties to Orlando, breaking into the NBA in 1997/98 with the Magic’s basketball operations department.
  • Brian Wright — The assistant GM in San Antonio started as a summer intern with Orlando in 2006. He spent eight years with the Magic and served as director of college scouting before leaving to take an assistant GM’s role with the Pistons.
  • Pat Garrity — A former Magic player, Garrity is among the league’s rising stars in the front office. He is currently associate GM in Detroit.
  • Michael Zarren — Boston’s assistant GM was recently tabbed by ESPN as among the top candidates to land a full-time GM job. He is a Harvard Law School graduate and serves as lead in-house counsel for the Celtics.

Magic Rumors: G. Hill, Wright, Cousins, Hennigan

Shortly after the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan this morning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reported that team officials have interest in pursuing Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms Orlando’s interest in Hill, but tweets that the former Magic forward currently has no plans to leave the Hawks‘ ownership group.

As we wait to see if Hill’s stance changes, here are several more Magic-related notes, with a focus on today’s front office shakeup:

  • Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright is on the Magic‘s preliminary list of potential GM candidates, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski also notes that the leaked white board that went viral last week ultimately didn’t affect Orlando’s decision to replace Hennigan — the team had already decided to move on from him at that point.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Sam Amick of USA Today expressed surprise that the Magic dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry along with Hennigan (Twitter links). Both reporters note that the two men had different voices in the front office, suggesting that Perry would have likely been able to complete a trade for DeMarcus Cousins if Hennigan had been on board with it.
  • Although Hennigan didn’t have a ton of success in Orlando, he remains widely respected around the NBA and will likely have “attractive offers” to choose from when he looks for a new job, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
  • In non-Hennigan news, the Magic‘s D-League affiliate, which will begin play next season, will be called the Lakeland Magic, as Robbins details for The Sentinel.

Spurs Assistant Turns Down NCAA Job, Open To NBA Head Coaching Opportunities

1:35pm: New Mexico attempted to re-engage Borrego with a head coaching offer today, but the Spurs assistant will stay in San Antonio, as expected, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

12:59pm: According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link), two of New Mexico’s top head coaching candidates are now out of the mix, and Borrego is “back in the fray,” so perhaps the school is making a renewed push to hire the Spurs assistant away from San Antonio.

12:22pm: Spurs assistant James Borrego had been considered a potential frontrunner for the University of New Mexico’s head coaching vacancy, but Borrego has decided to withdraw from the school’s search and remain in San Antonio, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Although Borrego will stick with the Spurs for now, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll remain in San Antonio for years to come. The 39-year-old assistant was interviewed by the Rockets and Grizzlies for their head coaching jobs last spring before those teams hired Mike D’Antoni and David Fizdale, respectively. Borrego made a good impression on both clubs and will likely remain a top coaching candidate going forward, according to Wojnarowski, who suggests that the veteran assistant will continue to explore head coaching opportunities as they arise.

After joining the Spurs in 2003 and spending seven seasons with the franchise, Borrego spent time with the Hornets and Magic between 2010 and 2015. In Orlando, he was Jacque Vaughn‘s top assistant and even served as the Magic’s interim head coach in 2015 after Vaughn was dismissed. The Magic had a 10-20 record in Borrego’s 30 games as head coach.

Borrego returned to the Spurs as an assistant on Gregg Popovich‘s staff in 2015 and has spent the last two seasons with the team.

While the NBA’s head coaching carousel this offseason likely won’t be as active as it was a year ago, when one-third of the league’s teams made changes, I’d still expect at least a couple teams to be in the market for a new coach in the coming weeks, so Borrego may draw interest once again.

Popovich: No More Resting Players

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich won’t rest anyone during the team’s final two games, tweets Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Popovich made the comments after tonight’s loss to the Clippers, adding that he was upset that his team wasn’t physical enough.

Borrego Talks To New Mexico

  • New Mexico contacted Spurs assistant James Borrego regarding its head coaching job, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. Borrego, an Albuquerque native, was the interim coach of the Magic in 2015 before joining Gregg Popovich’s staff.

Pau Gasol On Verge Of Breaking Record

  • Offseason addition Pau Gasol added the 3-pointer to his game and Jeff McDonald of the Express News notes that the big man has made over 54% of his attempts from downtown. That figure, which isn’t likely to decrease severely over the next few games, is by far the best percentage for a 7-footer in NBA history. Gasol has fit in well since coming to the Spurs and he has one more season on his contract after this one.
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