Sergey Kushchenko

Atlantic Notes: Ainge, Colangelo, Calipari, Jackson

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talks weekly with Suns GM Ryan McDonough, as McDonough tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, and it’s clear that the pair maintain a strong relationship from their days in the Celtics front office. Boston and Phoenix hooked up on three trades last season.

“We worked together for a number of years and those guys have become some of my best friends,” McDonough said to Washburn about the Celtics brass. “Sometimes the calls are trade-related, sometimes the calls are social. I have a great relationship with those guys. I appreciate everything that Danny, [owners] Steve [Pagliuca], and Wyc [Grousbeck] did for my career, and regardless where I am the Celtics will always be my second-favorite team.”

See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s obvious that Sixers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo is doing all the major decision-making now instead of GM Sam Hinkie, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who wonders whether Hinkie will get credit should the team become successful in the near future.
  • A league source suggested to Fred Kerber of the New York Post that John Calipari will become a more appealing option to the Nets the longer they search for a GM and coach. The team isn’t seriously considering Calipari at this point, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck said Friday. Kerber also names team chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark and Prokhorov’s holding company president Irina Pavlova as members of the team’s search committee. That adds further confusion to an existing set of conflicting reports about who’s conducting the search.
  • Kristaps Porzingis unsurprisingly gets an A-plus in the midseason grades that Marc Berman of the New York Post hands out for the Knicks, but team president Phil Jackson receives only a C-minus, even though his decision to draft Porzingis has worked out. A record around .500 won’t cut it, and some of the team’s signings, including the addition of Kevin Seraphin that coach Derek Fisher lobbied for, have been duds, Berman opines, justifying the low grade for Jackson.

Nets Eye Danny Ferry For GM Job

FRIDAY, 8:31am: Ferry “isn’t the likeliest candidate” for the position, a source told Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

THURSDAY, 7:58am: The Nets are looking at Danny Ferry as they search for their next GM, sources tell Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Bondy words his report a bit differently in his full story, where he writes that two sources outside the direct search told him they expect the team to look at Ferry as well as Bryan Colangelo, whom Marc Stein and Mike Mazzeo of reported earlier that the Nets are considering. Bondy’s tweet says the team is indeed looking at both Ferry and Colangelo. In any case, no one has emerged as the top candidate and the search has just begun, Bondy hears.

It’s no shock to see Ferry emerge as a candidate, as TNT’s David Aldridge pointed to the ties between Ferry and former GM Billy King, who remains with the organization. The Nets are indeed consulting King about the candidates to replace him in the GM job, Bondy hears from sources, confirming an earlier report that owner Mikhail Prokhorov had downplayed. Ferry’s father, Bob Ferry, serves as a scout for the Nets, and Prokhorov interviewed Danny Ferry for the GM job in 2010 before hiring King.

The younger Ferry comes with the baggage of the racially charged comments he uttered in a 2014 conference call while GM of the Hawks that led to a prolonged leave of absence and ultimately a buyout that ended his three-year tenure in Atlanta this past spring. Ferry nonetheless earned plaudits for his construction of last season’s 60-win Hawks team, and his close ties to the Spurs organization, where he served as a player and later a front office official, can’t hurt. He put together rosters that won 66 and 61 games in back-to-back years as GM of the Cavs, a job he held from 2005 to 2010.

John Calipari has also drawn mention as a candidate for the Nets’ front office vacancy as well as their open coaching job, but Prokhorov indicated that he’d rather have separate people in those positions. CEO Brett Yormark, a Calipari advocate, is one of three Nets officials conducting the search, according to Bondy, along with team chairman Dmitry Razumov and board member Sergey Kushchenko, who’s a trusted aide to Prokhorov. That conflicts with a report from Brian Windhorst of, who wrote that Razumov and Irina Pavlova, president of Prokhorov’s ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment holding company, were in charge of the search. In any case, Prokhorov wants to hire a GM before he hires a coach, league sources tell Bondy.

Do you think the Nets should hire Ferry? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Latest On Nets, John Calipari

University of Kentucky coach John Calipari is the primary target of the Nets, who fired coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned GM Billy King on Sunday, several sources close to Calipari and the team told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News late Sunday. However, Calipari took to Twitter this morning to brush off that and other rumors connecting him to the Nets, writing, “You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time. I am not negotiating with ANYBODY. My total focus is on this team and winning the next game” (Twitter links). Calipari later said during a conference call that he appreciates the Kentucky job and is “humbled” to be in it, note Josh Newman and Adam Zagoria of

The remark about negotiation seemed to be in response to an overnight report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who heard from league sources who say Calipari has told the Nets, as well as the Kings, that it would take an offer of at least 10 years and $120MM. He’d also demand that he be head coach and have complete control of the front office, as Brian Windhorst of confirms. Prokhorov today indicated that he’d prefer a separate coach and GM. Assistant GM Frank Zanin is running the front office for the time being and assistant coach Tony Brown is the interim head coach.

Nets CEO Brett Yormark is reportedly prepared to give Calipari whatever he wants, but while he appears to have more influence than in the past, he’s not seen as a major contributor to the decision-making on the next Nets front office chief, according to Windhorst. People who have spoken to the Nets recently instead believe Nets chairman Dmitry Razumov and Irina Pavlova, president of Prokhorov’s ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment holding company and liaison between the owner and team management, will run the search for a new GM and coach, Windhorst hears. A belief is growing across the league that Nets board member Sergey Kushchenko increasingly has Prokhorov’s ear, according to Windhorst. Prokhorov said today that he’ll spend more time than usual in the U.S. while searching for a new GM and coach and told commissioner Adam Silver that he and Razumov intend to take a more hands-on approach during the transition and going forward, as Silver told Harvey Araton of The New York Times.

King, whom the Nets will reassign within the organization, won’t be directly involved in the club’s search for a GM, in spite of reports to the contrary, though he can offer suggestions “as a friend,” Prokhorov said today, tweets Chris Mannix of The ex-GM has a close relationship with Razumov, as Mike Mazzeo of points out, though the organization views the 2013 trade to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that happened on King’s watch as a “massive mistake,” Mazzeo writes. The scribe also intimates that King’s fallout with former Nets coach Jason Kidd prompted the GM not to re-sign Pierce, who shares agent Jeff Schwartz with Kidd.

The $120MM is figure that Calipari is reportedly seeking is up somewhat from the $11MM-plus that Calipari told minority owners of the Kings that he wanted this summer, as Wojnarowski also reports. The Cavs offered 10 years and $80MM in 2014, but he turned that down, Wojnarowski adds. Calipari receives nearly annual extensions from Kentucky, having signed one this past spring worth $54MM plus bonuses, Windhorst notes. Calipari’s previous coaching relationships with several prominent future free agents represent his allure to NBA teams, but some people close to his former Kentucky players say they’re reluctant to again endure the coach’s caustic style, according to Wojnarowski. Some around Calipari would prefer he join the Kings rather than the Nets, who have more limited maneuverability to improve, Wojnarowski also writes.

Many people around the league “believe there is more smoke than fire” when it comes to the idea of Calipari returning to the NBA, but his failed tenure with the Nets in the late 1990s is his greatest regret in basketball, sources tell Brian Lewis of the New York Post.