Sergio Scariolo

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Scariolo, OTE, 2022 Draft

Martin E. Dempsey has been reelected as the USA Basketball chairperson for 2021-24, the program announced on Monday in a press release. Dempsey, a retired U.S. General, was first named to the role in 2016.

USA Basketball also expanded its Board of Directors from 11 individuals to 15. Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes, Sue Bird, and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum are among the most notable members of the board. The board of directors is responsible for overseeing the program and making major USA Basketball decisions, such as naming Grant Hill the managing director of the national men’s team.

We’re still waiting on Hill to announce who will replace Gregg Popovich as the Team USA men’s coach for the next four-year cycle, which will include the 2023 FIBA World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. Steve Kerr is rumored to be the frontrunner.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In an interesting interview with Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com, former Raptors assistant and current Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo spoke about the challenges that European coaches face when trying to get high-level opportunities in the NBA. “I don’t recall many European coaches being there, which is something to think over,” Scariolo said. “‘We want you here, we want you to help, but we’re extremely cautious in giving front-of-the-bench responsibilities to European coaches.'”
  • Scouts came away from Overtime Elite’s Pro Day impressed by how the new developmental program is operating, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says it’s clearly being run professionally and the level of investment is “substantial.” Among OTE’s prospects, 2022 draft-eligible forward Kok Yat was a standout during the Pro Day scrimmages and figures to show up on more experts’ top-100 lists going forward, Hollinger says.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report recently released updated versions of their NBA mock drafts for 2022. Vecenie has Duke freshman Paolo Banchero as his No. 1 pick, while Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren is atop Wasserman’s mock.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Scariolo, Kemba, Knicks

After going 0-for-12 from the field in the second half of the Sixers‘ Game 4 loss to Atlanta on Monday, star center Joel Embiid admitted that the partially torn meniscus in his right knee is bothering him to some extent. That injury is limiting Embiid’s athleticism, which was an issue in particular on a last-minute layup attempt that would’ve tied the game, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” Embiid said. “… Usually, I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it. Try to get fouled and get an and-1. But … not being able to jump for obvious reasons. … It’s tough.”

Embiid didn’t show many ill effects of that knee injury in the first three games of the series, averaging 35.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG on .533/.364/.809 shooting. In Game 4, he put up 17 points and 21 rebounds, but was just 4-of-20 on field goal attempts. After the game, he said he doesn’t expect to be 100% healthy until next season, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Raptors may be losing another assistant, with reports suggesting that Sergio Scariolo will become the new head coach of Virtus Bologna in Italy. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets that nothing has been finalized yet, but confirms that Scariolo has had discussions with the Italian club. If Scariolo departs, he’d be the third top Raptors assistant to leave the team within the last year, joining Nate Bjorkgren and Chris Finch.
  • Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com considers some potential landing spots that would make sense for Kemba Walker if the Celtics trade him this offseason. Report last week suggested there’s a growing sense that Walker could be moved.
  • Mike Vorkunov and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take a deep dive into the Knicks‘ offseason, exploring the team’s primary goals, its cap situation, and the prospects that might be the best fits at Nos. 19 and 21 in the draft.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Scariolo, Offseason

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who left Saturday’s game vs. Memphis due to a left shoulder strain, said on Monday that he’s day-to-day and that he’s getting some imaging done on his injured shoulder later today, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Even if that imaging reveals no further damage to Siakam’s shoulder, the Raptors only have four games left in the season and are on the verge of being officially limited from the playoffs, so they’ll certainly play it safe with one of their long-term cornerstones. We’ll have to wait for an official update on Siakam, but it wouldn’t be a major surprise if we don’t see him back in action during the season’s final week.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Veteran Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo has agreed to a new multiyear deal with the team, according to a report from Chema de Lucas of Eurohoops. Toronto lost a top assistant a year ago when Nate Bjorkgren departed for Indiana and another earlier this season when Chris Finch left for Minnesota, but it appears Scariolo will be part of Nick Nurse‘s staff for the foreseeable future.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks examines the major decisions facing the Raptors this offseason, including how to approach Kyle Lowry‘s impending unrestricted free agency and how much to offer Gary Trent Jr. in restricted free agency.
  • If the Pacers win tonight in Cleveland, the Raptors will be officially eliminated from play-in contention, per the league (Twitter link). Still, Steven Loung of Sportsnet.ca contends that the final few games of the season remain meaningful for a handful of Toronto’s young players, including rookies Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris.

Raptors Notes: Scariolo, Trade Deadline, Lowry, Hall

Sergio Scariolo is prepared to serve as acting head coach of the Raptors for as long as necessary, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Scariolo got his new responsibilities Friday when Nick Nurse and five members of his staff were placed in health and safety protocols. The team responded with a victory over the Rockets.

The win capped a hectic week for Scariolo, who was in Poland last weekend with the Spanish national team for a pair of FIBA EuroBasket qualification games. He flew to Florida on Monday and entered quarantine, as required by league guidelines. Thursday afternoon marked the first rumors that Nurse and most of the coaching staff wouldn’t be available for Friday’s game.

“We are learning that we have tools and capacity to react to really weird situations, to emergency situations … like this, or I imagine a hundred more that happen all over the world to every person, to every company, every sports club, whatever,” Scariolo said. “We are learning that sometimes we love to have a great plan going from day one to the last one, (but) it’s good to know that we are able to react to different circumstances. We learned how not to panic and try to face what’s going on with a positive attitude.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto isn’t making an effort to move Kyle Lowry, Smith states in an examination of the team’s position ahead of the March 25 trade deadline. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby should be considered untouchable, Smith adds, and the team prefers to hold on to Norman Powell. That means any trade will have to involve the bench, where the Raptors hope to upgrade without taking on a lot of long-term salary.
  • Lowry’s agent disputes a report Friday that the point guard is eyeing a move to the Sixers. Appearing on Sirius XM Radio, Mark Bartelstein said there’s no truth to the story (hat tip to Brad Botkin of CBS Sports). “There was a story today that he’s pushing to go to Philadelphia. That’s just not true,” Bartelstein said. “That story came out today, and so I had to get on the phone with (Raptors president) Masai (Ujiri) and (general manager) Bobby (Webster) and make sure they knew that certainly wasn’t coming from us.”
  • For Donta Hall, signing a 10-day deal with the Raptors just meant going from one G League team to another, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Hall has been impressive in his first two games and may eventually get a chance in Toronto because he’s a natural center.

Siakam Out Due To COVID-19 Protocols; Scariolo To Coach Raptors

6:43pm: One Raptors coach is believed to have tested positive for COVID-19, while the others are ruled out due to contact tracing and are quarantining, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).

As for Siakam, Grange reports (via Twitter) that the forward returned an inconclusive rapid test and is awaiting the result of his PCR test. If it’s negative, he could be cleared to play in the Raptors’ next game on Sunday.


5:06pm: In addition to missing head coach Nick Nurse and five other members of their coaching staff, the Raptors will also be without star forward Pascal Siakam on Friday night vs. Houston due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, as Doug Smith of The Toronto Star tweets.

One key assistant will be available and will temporarily ascend to the head coaching role in Nurse’s absence, according to the Raptors, who announced that Sergio Scariolo will coach the club on Friday night (Twitter link via Marc Stein of The New York Times).

Scariolo recently coached the Spanish national team for qualifying games for the 2022 EuroBasket tournament and had been quarantining before being cleared to rejoin the Raptors, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Scariolo completed his quarantine period this morning, just in time to provide a much-needed veteran coaching presence on the depleted Toronto bench.

It remains unclear how much time Siakam and the Raptors’ coaches will miss. Some individuals affected by the protocols this season have been cleared after just a day or two if a contact tracing investigation determines they weren’t a close contact of someone who tested positive.

However, if they are determined to have been a close contact of someone who tested positive – or if they tested positive themselves – they may not be available until after the All-Star break.

And-Ones: Spain, Bryant, Nowitzki, Tampering

Following Spain’s 95-75 gold medal victory over Argentina in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Sunday morning, head coach Sergio Scariolo praised his team’s hard work, determination and efforts.

Spain wound up finishing first in the competition, despite not having the likes of Serge Ibaka, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol, surprising observers around the tournament.

“I can only be proud of what these guys did and feel that basketball was fair to these guys,” Scariolo said, as relayed by Sportando’s Nicola Lupo. “We weren’t the tallest, the most talented we weren’t in the odds when the competitions started but we worked hard. They worked hard, they prepared, they kept fighting in tough moments. There were some really tough moments during a couple of games and they didn’t lose faith in themselves. And then basketball rewarded them with this big award which they fully deserve.”

Spain was led by players such as World Cup MVP Ricky Rubio and veteran center Marc Gasol, among others, winning its first title since 2006. The team also did a tremendous job neutralizing red-hot Luis Scola in the gold medal game, limiting him to just eight points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Kobe Bryant believes it doesn’t matter which NBA team has the best duo entering the 2019/20 season, explaining his thoughts in a recent interview. “It doesn’t matter. I think it matters what they put around those two guys, and then what is the offensive and defensive system they’re going to be executing. You could have marquee names and put those marquee names together, and guess if they could play together or not, but it ultimately comes down to what system do you have them in and how does that affect the rest of the guys.”
  • Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki has been appointed Chair of the FIBA Players Commission for the 2019-23 term, FIBA Basketball announced. “Dirk is one of the greatest players to have ever played basketball, and is highly respected worldwide,” FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis said. “He has had an exceptional career both with the NBA and with his national team and will bring with him a huge amount of experience and knowledge.  He is the perfect person for this position and  we look forward to working closely with him over the next term of office.” 
  • The NBA is fighting a losing battle when it comes to the topic of tampering, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. “I think it’s pointless at the end of the day to have rules that we can’t enforce,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “It hurts the perception of integrity around the league if people say, ‘Well, you have that rule and it’s obvious that teams aren’t fully complying, so why do you have it?’ I think the sense in the (Board of Governors meeting) room was we should revisit those rules.”

Atlantic Notes: Scott, Knicks, Donaldson, Raptors Staff

The Sixers are investigating an altercation between forward Mike Scott and an Eagles fan outside of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, Enrico Campitelli of NBC Sports relays. Scott, who re-signed with the Sixers in July on a two-year contract, is a Washington Redskins fan and posted pictures of himself wearing a Redskins jersey on social media. The altercation was captured on video from at least two angles.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former University of Minnesota guard Dupree McBrayer, ex-Georgetown guard Trey Dickerson and guard Pe’Shon Howard, who played for the Capital City Go Go last season, worked out for the Knicks and scrimmaged against their players Monday, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype tweets. Franklin “Frank Nitty” Session, who played for the Killer 3’s of the BIG3, was also involved in the scrimmage.  The Knicks have a two-way deal and Exhibit 10 contracts to offer, Kennedy notes.
  • New Raptors assistant coach Brittni Donaldson, who had been in the team’s front office, was originally hired by the organization after a stint with STATS LLC, as Zach Lowe of ESPN details. Donaldson made such a good impression analyzing the data and producing specific reports for NBA teams that the Raptors hired her. She will take the lead in translating analytic data for players and coaches but she’ll also scout opponents, debate rotations and X’s and O’s, and pitch strategic ideas, Lowe adds.
  • The Raptors officially announced the addition of 26-yard-old Donaldson as well as Jon Goodwillie to Nick Nurse’s staff in a team press release. Adrian Griffin, Sergio Scariolo, Nate Bjorkgren, Patrick Mutombo and Jim Sann are the staff holdovers. Additionally, John Corbacio has been promoted to head video coordinator/assistant coach while Tyler Marsh, Fabulous Flournoy and Mark Tyndale will serve as assistant video coordinators/player development coaches. Goodwillie had been the team’s video coordinator since 2011.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Irving, Bolden, Scariolo

The Sixers‘ options with Markelle Fultz are limited, Chris Mannix of SI.com writes in the wake of this week’s news that the former No. 1 overall pick is dealing with shoulder and wrist injuries. After a report suggested Fultz would prefer a change of scenery, agent Raymond Brothers quickly denied that he had ever given any indication to the 76ers that his client wants to be dealt. Even if Philadelphia wanted to make a deal, it would be difficult to extract much value for the young point guard at this point.

According to Mannix, one rival executive suggested to him that the Sixers ought to make a call to the Suns – who badly need a point guard – to discuss a swap centered around Fultz and Trevor Ariza. Ariza would be a good fit for a Sixers team that could use another three-and-D wing, but he’s a 33-year-old veteran on a one-year deal — he wouldn’t exactly be a substantial return for a player who was drafted first overall just 17 months ago.

In Mannix’s view, the best path for the Sixers and Fultz, once he’s healthy, might be a G League assignment. A stint with the Delaware Blue Coats would give the 20-year-old an opportunity to run an offense and regain his confidence in a low-pressure environment. It would be a risk – if Fultz struggles in the G League, his value would decline even further – but Mannix contends that it makes more sense than having the second-year guard sit on the bench in Philadelphia.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said today that he only wants to play in the NBA until his early-to-mid-30s, tweets Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com. Irving is still only 26 years old, so it’s probably worth checking back in and gauging his stance again a few years from now.
  • Sixers rookie forward Jonah Bolden recently sustained a small cortical crack in the proximal fibula of his right leg during a G League game, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com. Bolden is expected to be sidelined for the time being, and will be re-evaluated next Thursday.
  • Following the Raptors‘ game on Friday against Washington, assistant coach Sergio Scariolo will head over to Europe to coach Spain for a pair of 2019 World Cup qualifying games next week, as Doug Smith of The Toronto Star details. It’s a rare opportunity for an NBA assistant like Scariolo, who said the Raptors approved the time off when he initially signed his contract during the offseason. “Without even myself working one hour on the floor, they had already given me this permission and I am really thankful,” Scariolo said.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Loyd, Nader, Knicks’ Plans

Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving fully expects to be ready for the start of training camp, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. Irving told Goodman he hadn’t yet participated in a 5-on-5 full contact scrimmage but he has been working out with his trainer. He underwent a surgical procedure on his left knee in early April in which he had two screws removed. At that time, the team provided a projected recovery time of four to five months.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Combo guard Jordan Loyd is finalizing a buyout agreement with Turkish club Darussafaka, which will allow him to sign a two-way contract with the Raptors, Sportando reports. Loyd, who played with the Raptors’ summer-league squad, spent last season in Israel after playing the previous season in the G League. The 6’4” Loyd made a strong impression on Toronto’s brass while mostly playing the point in Las Vegas, leading to the contract offer.
  • The Celtics will pay the Thunder $450K before December 2nd as part of the Abdel Nader trade, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The Celtics, who will get a trade exception at the same amount, will essentially be paying the guaranteed portion of Nader’s contract, Pincus notes. The swingman, who was on the verge of being waived, was dealt to OKC for guard Rodney Purvis.
  • The current Knicks’ front office is not fully committed to signing two top-level free agents next summer and that could be a good thing, as Sean Deveney of the Sporting News explains. The Knicks would have to clear a lot of cap space to get into that position and would likely have to give up a lottery pick to move a bad contract, Deveney continues. With a young core that includes Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, dumping a high pick to improve their free-agent market prospects sounds unwise, Deveney adds.
  • The Raptors have officially added Adrian Griffin, Sergio Scariolo, Nate Bjorkgren and Phil Handy to Nick Nurse’s coaching staff, the team’s media relations department tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Raptors’ Tax, Trier, Scariolo

Guard Marcus Smart seriously considered signing his $6.1MM qualifying offer from the Celtics and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets“I went back and forth internally, but it’s a problem a lot of people would like to have.” Smart said. “I definitely thought about taking the qualifying offer, but all my options were open.”

Smart wound up staying in Boston on a four-year, $52MM deal. “To be honest, I didn’t know where I was gonna end up. I was just enjoying this whole process,” he told The Associated Press. “It is a business, so things aren’t perfect. That’s why it’s called negotiations. You guys come together and you finally agree on something. We both agreed. Boston loves me and I love Boston.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors continue to explore moves to shed salary and get under the luxury-tax line, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. The Raptors still have over $137MM in salary commitments following the Kawhi Leonard deal and are nearly $14MM over the tax threshold.
  • Allonzo Trier has an outside chance to gain a spot on the 15-man Knicks roster after a solid showing in summer-league action, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Trier, an undrafted guard out of Arizona, has a two-way contract but if he makes a strong impression in training camp, it could be converted to a standard contract. The Knicks waived forward Troy Williams this week, trimming their 15-man roster to the league limit, and could open up another spot if they waive Joakim Noah and utilize the stretch provision for the remaining money on his bloated deal.
  • Italian head coach Sergio Scariolo is close to joining Nick Nurse‘s Raptors staff, according to a Sportando report. Scariolo, who is also the Spanish national team coach, has been offered a position but needs to work out a settlement with the Spanish federation, since he has a contract with it until 2020. The situation is expected to be resolved, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun relays. The Hornets were also interested in hiring Scariolo, Wolstat adds.