Spurs Rumors

Latest On Knicks’ Head Coaching Search

9:00pm: The Knicks will meet with Mike Budenholzer on Sunday, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets.

7:48pm: Add James Borrego to the list of candidates scheduled to interview with the Knicks regarding their coaching vacancy. Ian Begley and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN report that the current Spurs assistant has been granted permission to interview for the position.

Borrego was previously linked as a potential Suns candidate although it wasn’t known at the time whether he had been granted permission to interview there.

Worth noting is that Borrego worked with Knicks general manager Scott Perry in Orlando between 2012 and 2015, serving as an assistant and eventually interim head coach prior to joining San Antonio.

Here’s more on the search for a new Knicks’ coach:

  • Representatives from the franchise will travel abroad to interview David Blatt this week. Wojnarowski and Begley write that Blatt has a strong relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills but doesn’t have a relationship with Perry.
  • For what it’s worth, the ESPN scribes say that Jerry Stackhouse and David Fizdlae both made strong cases for themselves in their previously conducted interviews.
  • And finally, Kenny Smith‘s interview with the franchise is now in the books, although the ESPN piece gives no indication of how it went. Smith is a native of New York but has no coaching experience.

Hornets' Meeting With Messina May Take Place Next Week

As we relayed last weekend, the Hornets have been granted permission to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their open head coaching position. With Messina’s Spurs still alive in the postseason – and Gregg Popovich away from the team to be with his family following the death of his wife – the veteran assistant isn’t currently available for that interview. But he may be soon.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes, the Hornets intend to move quickly to meet with Messina once the Spurs’ season is over. With San Antonio trailing Golden State 3-0, that series could end as early as Sunday. And according to Bonnell, the meeting between the Hornets and Messina is currently on track to take place in the middle of next week, unless the Spurs can win a couple games against the Warriors and extend the series.

Lakers To Pursue Kawhi Leonard Trade?

The Clippers apparently aren’t the only L.A. team considering pursuing a trade for Kawhi Leonard during the coming offseason. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, front-office sources around the NBA believe that the Lakers will also make Leonard a top target over the summer.

Leonard remains under contract with the Spurs for at least one more season, but a season-long saga has seemingly created friction between the two sides, as Spurs doctors and Leonard’s doctors have disagreed on the status of the forward’s quad injury. While there has still been no indication out of San Antonio that the Spurs will seriously explore trading their best player, teams are keeping a close eye on the situation and will be ready to inquire on Leonard’s availability.

As Deveney writes, the Lakers are viewed as a top candidate to pursue Leonard given their future cap flexibility. The Lakers are expected to have enough room for two maximum-salary free agents this offseason, but could also use that cap flexibility to sign a top free agent in 2019 or to trade for a star.

Additionally, Leonard is a Los Angeles native and at least one executive who spoke to Deveney believes that Leonard is angling to eventually land in his hometown. A separate general manager suggested that the Lakers look like the most logical landing spot if Leonard is moved.

“He’s going to be their target any way you look at it, this summer or next summer,” the GM told Deveney. “There’s not many other ways to explain what’s been going on with that situation other than him trying to get out of San Antonio.

“That’s the thing to watch,” the GM continued. “It might be a pipe dream for them to get two max guys this summer, but if they have a player like Leonard who wants to be in L.A.? They’d have to make that happen now.”

It’s hard to imagine Leonard making an explicit trade request that goes public like Paul George did with the Pacers last summer, but it’ll still be interesting to see whether the way the Lakers handled the George situation impacts the way they go after Leonard. The Lakers were viewed as a prime trade suitor for George, but there were questions about whether to give up much for him since he could sign with the team outright as a free agent a year later. Now, he’s a member of the Thunder and he’s no lock to leave Oklahoma City. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka may find themselves in a similar situation with Leonard during the 2018 offseason, weighing just how hard they should push for a trade if the Spurs are really willing to listen.

Of course, the Spurs and Leonard could put trade and free agency speculation to rest entirely if they agree to a contract extension this July. If Leonard doesn’t accept an extension offer right away though – or if the Spurs don’t put that offer on the table at all – the trade rumors surrounding him only figure to grow louder.

Ettore Messina To Coach Spurs In Game 3

The Spurs have announced that top assistant coach Ettore Messina will coach the club on Thursday night for Game 3 of San Antonio’s first-round series vs. the Warriors, taking Gregg Popovich‘s spot on the bench.

Popovich will be away from the Spurs after his wife Erin passed away on Wednesday. The team will surely give him as much time as he needs to mourn and to be with his family, so it’s not yet clear whether he’ll be back on the sidelines for Game 4 on Sunday.

Messina, long considered a top candidate to become a permanent NBA head coach, has reportedly received interest from the Hornets, who are on the lookout for Steve Clifford‘s replacement. The Spurs granted Charlotte permission to interview Messina, but that meeting figures to take place later, with the veteran Euroleague coach focused on getting San Antonio into the win column against Golden State on Thursday.

Billboard Asks Manu Ginobili For One More Season

Chandler Parsons has given the Grizzlies a few reasons for optimism, writes Michael Wallace of NBA.com. Parsons continued to battle knee problems in the second season of a four-year, $94MM contract, but he appeared in 36 games, two more than a year ago, and may have reached 50 if the team hadn’t fallen out of contention so quickly, Wallace adds.

Former coach David Fizdale switched Parsons to power forward and reduced his playing time early in the season, but that changed when J.B. Bickerstaff took over, and Parsons was able to spread the floor and use his playmaking skills. He also shot a career-best .421 from 3-point range.

“I had moments this year where I felt good and felt like myself, and I had moments where the soreness and stiffness were just too much,” Parsons said. “I want to play. I want to be healthy. And I’m doing everything in my power to get there.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • In taking a 2-0 series lead over Portland, the Pelicans are getting the production they were counting on from Jrue Holiday when they re-signed him to a five-year, $126MM deal last summer, notes Mark Schwarz of ESPN. Holiday had 33 points and nine assists Tuesday as New Orleans won its second straight road game. “I may be a bit biased, but if you can tell me a better two-way player in the league right now, I’m willing to listen,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “But what we ask him to do and the things we ask him to do offensively, he was just great tonight.”
  • Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute is healing quickly after dislocating his shoulder late in the season, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Mbah a Moute hinted that he might be able to play against Minnesota if the first-round series lasts long enough. “I wouldn’t say ‘no.’ But I also want to be smart and do the right thing,” he said. “It’s feeling better. Continue to do the rehab, get the strength back and see what happens.”
  • LeBron James isn’t the only NBA player being targeted by billboards, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. An “Uno Mas Manu” billboard has been posted near downtown San Antonio, urging Manu Ginobili to return for another season. “I don’t know why, ‘One more?’” he joked. “What’s up? I was thinking about signing a five-year deal, and now they are throwing me down. Very disappointing.” Ginobili, 41, recently said he will take some time this offseason before deciding whether to play a 17th season.

Wife Of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich Dies

The Spurs have announced that head coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died today. They had been married for 40 years and had two children and two grandchildren.

“We mourn the loss of Erin,” Spurs GM RC Buford said. “She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us.”

Erin Popovich had been battling an extended illness, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

There’s no immediate word on how her death will affect coach Popovich’s availability for the rest of the playoffs, but assistant Ettore Messina is the most likely choice to take over while he’s gone, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Game 3 of the Spurs’ series with the Warriors is tomorrow night.

Joffrey Lauvergne Out Because Of 'Personal Business'

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, LeBron, Leonard, Oladipo

Most of Tristan Thompson‘s recent headlines have been for his off-court behavior, but that isn’t why he has fallen out of the Cavaliers’ playoff rotation, writes Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report. Thompson, who played just two minutes at the end of the Game 1 loss to Indiana, is coming off his worst statistical season since he was a rookie and may still be hampered by a torn calf muscle he suffered in November.

According to Swartz, Thompson’s playing time has declined because of his inability to handle the two priorities of a modern center: protecting the rim and shooting from long distance. He averaged just 0.3 blocks per game this season and hasn’t made a 3-pointer in his seven-year NBA career.

Kevin Love has taken over as the starting center, with Jeff Green at power forward. The back-up minutes in Game 1 went to Larry Nance Jr., who was acquired from the Lakers in a February trade. Thompson is a huge expense to keep on the roster if he doesn’t play, with two seasons and more than $36MM left on his contract.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • LeBron James believes the Cavaliers’ roster uncertainty throughout the season may have impacted them in the playoff opener, relays Dave McMenamin on ESPN Now. “I think we spent so much time trying to figure out who we were in the regular season and getting the right lineups and guys in and out and things of that nature, we could never build for the playoffs,” James said. “It was kind of like, build for the next game. So the postseason finally hit us and it hit us very well. And I think that can be the best teacher for us to know exactly what we should be ready for tonight.”
  • If the Spurs decide to trade Kawhi Leonard, that could affect James’ strategy in free agency, suggests Brian Windhorst of ESPN. In a video posted on Twitter, Windhorst says if the Cavaliers fail to reach the NBA Finals, James and Leonard will have about six weeks to discuss their future and plot a way to end up on the same team. Windhorst names the Sixers and Lakers as teams with the assets to acquire both.
  • With Victor Oladipo shredding the Cavs for 32 points in Game 1, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert wanted Oladipo instead of Anthony Bennett with the top pick in the 2013 draft, but decided to listen to the front office. Bennett, who is now out of the NBA, played just one season for the Cavaliers before being traded to Minnesota.

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs continue to insist they won’t consider trading Kawhi Leonard this summer, but it’s getting harder to believe, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Stein suggested last month that coach Gregg Popovich should have a one-on-one discussion with Leonard after the season to repair the relationship. Now he writes that it may be too late for that to make a difference.

Rumors of strained feelings between Leonard and the Spurs have escalated in the playoffs as he chose to remain with his doctors in New York rather fly to California to support his teammates. Popovich, who has taken veiled shots at Leonard before, raised them to a new level in responding to a question about LaMarcus Aldridge after Monday’s game.

“He plays through everything,” Popovich said of Aldridge. “I can’t imagine being more proud of a player as far as playing through adversity and being there for his teammates night after night after night. He’s been fantastic.”

While Aldridge is deserving of the kind words, the double meaning was clearly aimed at Leonard, who hasn’t been with the Spurs despite receiving medical clearance from team doctors in February. He remains in New York after traveling there last month to consult with his personal physicians about treatment for a lingering quad injury that limited him to nine games this season.

San Antonio will face a major decision in July when Leonard becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension that would pay him more than $200MM. If Leonard doesn’t agree to an extension and the Spurs refuse to trade him, the clock will being ticking toward next summer when he can opt out of a $21.33MM salary and become an unrestricted free agent.

There’s more news today regarding Leonard:

  • The Spurs have expected for weeks that Leonard wouldn’t return for the playoffs, relays Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Bontemps expresses similar doubts about Leonard’s future in San Antonio, although the relationship with Popovich remains solid. Nearly every team will be interested if Leonard becomes available in trade, but Bontemps expects the Lakers and Clippers to be among the most active, along with the Sixers, who could offer Markelle Fultz and two first-round picks in this year’s draft. He also mentions the Celtics, who are stocked with young talent, and the Cavaliers, who might be willing to part with the unprotected Nets’ pick in an effort to convince LeBron James to stay.
  • Popovich denied his comments on Aldridge were directed at Leonard, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Told that a lot of people were interpreting his words that way, Popovich responded, “Who are these lots of people? Who are they? Did you count them? I think you just made that up.”
  • Aldridge serves as a reminder that broken relationships between teams and players can be repaired, notes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Aldridge issued a trade request last summer, but Popovich smoothed things over in an offseason meeting that led to Aldridge signing a three-year extension and turning in his best season since coming to San Antonio.
  • Don’t forget to vote in our poll on what the Spurs should do about the Leonard situation this summer.

Latest On Suns’ Head Coaching Search

We passed along several updates on the Suns‘ search for a new head coach on Tuesday night, relaying reports on the club’s plan to interview former Magic coach Frank Vogel, along with details on an upcoming meeting with former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. We also noted that Phoenix’s interview with Mike Budenholzer took place on Monday and Tuesday this week, as the current Hawks coach sat down with Suns GM Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over those two days.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes, the Hawks and Budenholzer are open to ending their partnership, so if the Suns decide he’s their man, there could be a path to making it happen. Still, there are roadblocks that would need to be cleared, as Atlanta would likely require compensation in order to let Budenholzer out of his contract with the team, which still has two years and $13MM left on it.

Here’s more on the Suns’ head coaching search:

  • While the Suns have mostly focused on getting to know Budenholzer so far this week, they’re considering several other candidates, including Steve Clifford and David Blatt, according to Wojnarowski, who says the team has been in contact with both of those former NBA coaches.
  • Confirming the Suns’ contact with Clifford, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes that the ex-Hornets coach is expected to interview with Phoenix. A source tells Bordow that the club hasn’t yet ruled out any candidates, and expects to have “many conversations” with prospective hires.
  • Spurs assistant James Borrego has drawn interest from the Suns as a potential target, per Bordow. It’s not clear whether the team has received permission from San Antonio to meet with Borrego, or if Phoenix’s discussions about the veteran assistant remain internal for now.