Scott Brooks

L.A. Notes: Westbrook, Hayward, Lakers’ Coach, Clippers

After a disappointing first season in Los Angeles, it may seem like the Lakers would take whatever they can get in a trade this offseason for Russell Westbrook and his $47MM+ salary, but that’s not the case, Marc Stein writes at Substack.com. According to Stein, Los Angeles will have “more boundaries than advertised” when weighing potential Westbrook deals.

For one, the Lakers will seriously consider a player’s injury history as they explore the trade market for Westbrook. Given how costly injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in 2021/22, the team doesn’t want to bring on another high-priced veteran who has been unable to stay healthy in recent years.

In Stein’s view, that means the Lakers are unlikely to be very interested in a trade with the Hornets that includes Gordon Hayward, who has missed 61 of 154 regular season games in Charlotte over the last two years, plus both play-in games. If the Lakers and Hornets discuss Westbrook, it’s possible Hayward could be moved to a third team or Terry Rozier could be substituted as a headliner, but those scenarios would be less appealing from Charlotte’s perspective.

Here are a few more items on the NBA’s two L.A. teams:

  • Outside of the previously-reported big-name targets who are currently coaching other teams – including Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers, and Quin Snyder – the Lakers may consider candidates such as Scott Brooks, Terry Stotts, former Lakers coach Mike Brown, and Jazz assistant Alex Jensen for their head coaching vacancy, per Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.
  • According to Woike and Turner, people with knowledge of coaching situations around the NBA believe the Lakers‘ open coaching position isn’t looked upon especially favorably, due to concerns about possible front office meddling and the roster/cap situation. “Is the Lakers’ job that attractive?” one coaching agent said. “I’m not so sure it is. But someone will take the job.”
  • Getting Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back in their lineup next season will significantly increase the Clippers‘ ceiling, but there are still areas to improve if the team wants to ensure it’s a title contender, says Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group. Fortifying the point guard spot will be an offseason goal, and replacements will be necessary if key rotation players like Isaiah Hartenstein (UFA) and Nicolas Batum (player option) don’t return.
  • While Leonard’s and George’s injuries limited the Clippers‘ potential in 2021/22, their absences allowed a handful of young players to step in and grow up fast, Swanson writes in a separate story. Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Ivica Zubac, Hartenstein, Amir Coffey, and Brandon Boston Jr. – all of whom are 25 or younger – had bigger roles than they would have if the team had been healthier, which could pay off for the club down the road.

Lakers Rumors: Westbrook, Vogel, Front Office, More

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook “never respected” head coach Frank Vogel, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

“The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run,'” the source told Woike and Turner. “Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen (Horton-Tucker). We have Austin (Reaves). We have Malik (Monk). We have LeBron (James). We have AD (Anthony Davis). They can all bring the ball up.’ He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s–t. Everybody get out the way.’

“From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”

Both the Times’ report and an in-depth Insider-only story from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN paint Vogel as one of Westbrook’s bigger supporters, resisting pushes from staffers and players to pull him from the starting lineup as the season went on. According to Shelburne, there were people in the organization who felt that only “humiliation” would prompt Westbrook to change his playing style to better fit in, but Vogel wanted to stand by him and give him the chance to figure things out.

However, Shelburne hears from team insiders that – in addition to being a poor on-court fit – Westbrook wasn’t a good “personality fit” alongside a non-confrontational coach like Vogel and a passive-aggressive star like James.

According to Woike and Turner, some Lakers staffers began to wonder during the season if the club had made a big mistake by not re-signing Jared Dudley to be a “locker-room buffer” who could help integrate Westbrook. The team had also wanted to hire Westbrook’s former coach Scott Brooks as an assistant on Vogel’s staff, but didn’t have the spot or the money for him after giving Mike Penberthy a promotion and a raise to prevent Jason Kidd from poaching him for his staff in Dallas, says Shelburne.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Although Vogel appears likely to be replaced after the season is over, the front office leadership group – led by Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis – is expected to remain intact and in power going forward, sources tell Shelburne.
  • The Lakers, who were unwilling to attach their 2027 first-round pick to Westbrook at the trade deadline to grease the wheels on a deal, appear similarly reluctant to waive him this offseason and stretch his $47MM salary across three seasons, reports Shelburne. Releasing Westbrook might appeal more to the team if he were willing to give up money in a buyout agreement, but sources close to the guard have expressed pessimism that he’ll do so, Shelburne writes.
  • One reason the Lakers acquired Westbrook rather than DeMar DeRozan last summer was timing-related — the team was able to move on Westbrook around the draft since he was under contract, whereas working out a sign-and-trade for DeRozan would’ve meant waiting for free agency (and coming up with a package that the Spurs would accept). However, sources close to the situation say that James’ and Davis’ enthusiasm for Westbrook were a significant factor in L.A.’s shift in focus as well, per Shelburne.

COVID-19 Updates: Magic, Trail Blazers, Rockets, Pacers

Here are the latest updates on players and coaches entering and exiting the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols:

  • Four Magic players have cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will suit up for Orlando against the Celtics. The team has announced (Twitter link) that center Mohamed Bamba, shooting guard Mychal Mulder, swingman Terrence Ross and point guard Hassani Gravett are all now available.
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who has been unavailable since December 27, has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Portland lead assistant Scott Brooks, who had been serving in Billups’s stead as acting head coach, has entered COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Hardship signee Cameron McGriff has entered the protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). Combo guard Anfernee Simons has left protocols after just three days, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 13-22 Trail Blazers could certainly use all the help they can get, and the return of the 6’3″ guard will help shore up a team still missing seven players to health and safety protocols, with McGriff now replacing Simons in coronavirus protocols.
  • Rockets wing Garrison Mathews has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Houston rewarded Mathews for a solid performance early in the 2021/22 season by converting his two-way contract into a fresh four-year, $8MM deal last month.
  • Pacers small forwards Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, plus center Goga Bitadze, have entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Warren has been dealing with a major foot injury since the start of 2020/21, and has only played in four games over the past two seasons. Today’s news brings Indiana’s total count for players in protocols to eight.
  • After exiting the protocols on Friday, Pistons guard Cory Joseph has re-entered them, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

COVID-19 Updates: Wizards, Billups, Thunder, Hornets, Raptors, More

The Wizards now have five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who told reporters today that Anthony Gill and Thomas Bryant are the latest players to enter the protocols (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).

Bryant is coming off an ACL tear and has yet to play this season, so being in the protocols won’t affect his availability. However, Gill will no longer be an option in the short term for the Wizards after appearing in eight of the team’s last 11 games.

Here are more COVID-19 updates from around the NBA:

  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has entered the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links), who reports that assistant Scott Brooks is expected to become Portland’s acting head coach as long as Billups is unavailable.
  • Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of the Thunder have entered the health and safety protocols, according to the team (Twitter link via Wojnarowski). Aaron Wiggins also briefly entered the protocols, but has since been listed as available, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City now has four players in the protocols.
  • The Hornets announced some good news and some bad news on Monday. While Cody Martin has exited the protocols and has been cleared to play on Monday vs. Houston, rookie Scottie Lewis is now in the protocols, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Three Raptors players – Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch, and Gary Trent Jr. – have exited the protocols and are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Philadelphia as they go through a reconditioning period, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Toronto still has seven players in the protocols, but may finally be trending in the right direction.
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams boarded a flight to Minnesota earlier today and expects to play tonight vs. the Wolves, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Williams has been in the health and safety protocols since December 17.
  • Although Ziaire Williams remains on the shelf due to an ankle sprain, he’s no longer listed in the protocols in the Grizzlieslatest injury report, suggesting he has been cleared.

Western Notes: J. Jackson, Gasol, Blazers, Kings, Christie

A total of 56 free agents reached contract agreements with teams around the NBA on Monday, but not a single one of those players is signing with the Grizzlies. That’s by design though, according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who writes that Memphis’ plan was always to have a quiet free agent period and focus on negotiating a potential contract extension with Jaren Jackson Jr.

One of 24 players eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, Jackson won’t get a maximum-salary deal like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman has suggested that the former fourth overall pick remains very much in the franchise’s long-term plans.

“I think we’re going to be our best selves over time with Jaren,” Kleiman said after the draft, per Barnes. “Spacing the floor, attacking, creating, defensively taking advantage of the versatility he brings to the table.”

Here’s more from around the West as we wait for day two of free agency to start heating up:

  • When Marc Gasol signed a two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Lakers last summer, there was some speculation that he might decide to retire after the 2020/21 season. That’s not his plan though. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets, Gasol told reporters following Spain’s elimination from the Olympics on Tuesday that he intends to continue his NBA career and finish his contract with L.A.
  • The Trail Blazers formally announced Chauncey Billups‘ coaching staff in a press release on Monday, confirming that previously-reported assistant coaching hires such as Scott Brooks, Roy Rogers, Steve Hetzel, and Edniesha Curry are now official. Former Long Island Nets assistant Milt Palacio will also be part of Billups’ staff, according to the team.
  • Doug Christie is moving from the broadcast booth to the sidelines, as the Kings officially announced the former NBA player and veteran TV analyst will be joining Luke Walton‘s staff as an assistant coach. Christie, who played for Sacramento from 2000-05, said in a statement that coaching for the Kings has been a “dream of mine.”

Blazers Finalizing Deal To Hire Scott Brooks As Top Assistant

The Trail Blazers and Scott Brooks are finalizing a deal that will make the former Wizards coach the top assistant on Chauncey Billups‘ new coaching staff in Portland, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

A report earlier this week indicated that Brooks was in the mix along with Vinny Del Negro and Lionel Hollins to become the lead assistant on Portland’s staff. The Blazers had been looking to pair Billups – a first-time head coach – with an experienced lieutenant, and Brooks certainly qualifies.

Brooks, who worked as an assistant for the Nuggets, Kings, and SuperSonics/Thunder early in his coaching career, eventually took over as head coach in Oklahoma City in 2008. He led the team to a 338-207 (.620) regular season record in seven years at the helm, making the NBA Finals in 2012.

After taking a year off, Brooks was hired as the Wizards’ head coach in 2016. During his five-year tenure in D.C., the club went 183-207 (.469) in the regular season and made the playoffs three times, winning one series in 2017. Washington didn’t retain Brooks when his contract expired at the end of the 2020/21 season.

The Blazers figure to continue filling out Billups’ staff in the coming days and weeks.

Wizards Notes: Nored, Coaching Search, Beal, Workouts

The Wizards recently conducted a second interview with Ronald Nored for their head coaching job, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

A report last week indicated that Nored was close to leaving his position as a Hornets assistant for a role on Rick Carlisle‘s staff in Indiana. Haynes’ report today suggests Nored may still be in the running for Washington’s top job — presumably, if he isn’t hired by the Wizards, the 31-year-old will pivot to finalizing a deal with the Pacers.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Besides Nored, the Wizards’ top head coaching candidates are believed to be Wes Unseld Jr., Charles Lee, Darvin Ham, and Jamahl Mosley (who may be hired by the Magic). Fred Katz of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at those four contenders for the job to assess what they could bring to the organization.
  • Before the Wizards finalize their head coaching hire, general manager Tommy Sheppard will meet with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook to get their feedback on the finalists, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Within the same NBC Sports Washington story, Beal says he appreciated the five years he spent playing for Scott Brooks. “When I first got the news (Brooks wouldn’t return), it was tough,” Beal said. “Scotty was great. This is my second coach I’ve played for and even when I talked to him afterwards, (I said) how grateful I was towards him. He helped change my game and evolved my game to what it is now.”
  • The Wizards are working out a pair of guards today, according to Hughes, who tweets that Arizona State’s Josh Christopher and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are visiting the team. Christopher and Dosunmu rank 33rd and 34th, respectively, on ESPN’s big board for the 2021 draft, so it seems like a long shot that the Wizards would select either with the No. 15 pick.

Del Negro, Brooks, Hollins Candidates To Be Lead Assistant In Portland

Three names have emerged as candidates to be the lead assistant to new Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. They are former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, former Wizards and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks, and Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins.

Del Negro, 54, is an analyst with NBA TV and hasn’t coached in the league since the 2012/13 season. He served as director of the draft combine in 2019.

Brooks, 55, has been head coach of the Wizards for the past five years, but the team decided last month not to extend his contract. He also spent seven years as the head coach in Oklahoma City.

Hollins, 67, is a former head coach with the Grizzlies and Nets and has been with the Lakers since Frank Vogel took over as head coach in 2019. He started his playing career in Portland and was part of the team’s only NBA championship in 1977.

Billups is a first-time head coach, so it makes sense that the Blazers would be looking to pair him with experienced assistants. Del Negro, Brooks, and Hollins all certainly fit the bill.

Scott Brooks Interviews For Assistant Coaching Job With Lakers

Former Wizards coach Scott Brooks has interviewed with the Lakers for an assistant coaching position under Frank Vogel, veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein tweets.

Brooks would be the second high-profile former head coach to join Vogel’s staff if he reaches an agreement with the Lakers. Former Knicks coach David Fizdale is expected to be one of Vogel’s top assistants, though no formal announcement has been made. Jason Kidd departed the staff to become the new Mavericks head coach.

Washington announced on June 16 that Brooks wouldn’t return as its head coach despite a trip to the playoffs. Washington lost in the first round to Philadelphia, 4-1. Brooks’ contract expired at the end of the season and he was unable to negotiate a new one.

Brooks, formerly the coach of the Thunder, joined Washington ahead of the 2016/17 campaign. He compiled a 183-207 regular-season record (.469) with the Wizards.

Wizards Notes: Brooks-Westbrook, Beal, Coach Search, Unseld

Russell Westbrook wanted the Wizards to keep Scott Brooks as head coach, but his endorsement wasn’t enough to save Brooks’ job, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Westbrook and Brooks have a long relationship that dates back to Oklahoma City, where Brooks coached him for seven seasons.

Westbrook endorsed Brooks after Washington was ousted from the playoffs and spoke to general manager Tommy Sheppard about the coaching situation during his exit interview. However, Sheppard doesn’t think Westbrook will be affected by the change on the bench.

“Moving forward, Russell’s career does speak for itself. He was fantastic with Scotty in (Oklahoma City),” Sheppard said. “He won MVP in (Oklahoma City) under a different coach. Last year, he was All-NBA under a different coach. This is part of the business that we all struggle with, but it’s a certain part of the business that is something we know when we get into this business, that the only constant thing is change.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • The Wizards’ decision to move on from Brooks is all about trying to ensure that All-Star guard Bradley Beal sticks around long-term, per Fred Katz of The Athletic“What we gotta do as an organization is continue to do whatever it takes to put ourselves forward to have sustainable winning,” Sheppard said in comments to reporters about the decision. Katz notes, however, that it may behoove Washington to add a new voice on the bench who could be open to a rebuild, should Beal opt to leave ahead of the 2022/23 season.
  • Because Wizards stars Westbrook (soon to be in his age-33 season) and Beal (an All-Star in his prime) both have player options in their deals for 2022/23, it may make sense to make a win-now hire, adding someone with a prior head coaching track record, opines Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Sheppard seemed open to adding a first-time head coach if he deemed the fit appropriate. “You want the qualities that you think are going to amplify the needs of your team,” Sheppard said. “You look at the modern NBA and what’s going on, who’s in the [playoffs], who’s still playing. It’s a great snapshot of what the NBA is. You have very diverse coaches, you have former players, you have people that came from Division II colleges. It’s just a reminder that there’s no clear path of how to get there, there’s no magic formula.” Less experienced coaches can also be significantly more cost-effective, Hughes notes.
  • The Wizards would be wise to consider longtime Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr., writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Aldridge notes that Unseld has significant roots in D.C., from his Hall of Fame father to the years he logged between stints as a scout and assistant coach for the Mystics and Wizards. Given the precarious nature of Beal’s future with the franchise (he can sign a long-term extension in the fall or opt out in 2022), nailing this hire will be crucial for Sheppard, Aldridge writes.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.