Shareef Abdur-Rahim

And-Ones: UCLA Coach, Withey, Delfino, NBAGL

With Steve Alford out as the head coach at UCLA, and the program launching a search for Alford’s replacement, a pair of former NBA head coaches have already been linked to the position.

Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets that there have been “persistent rumbles in NBA coaching circles” that the Bruins would pursue Fred Hoiberg, though it’s not clear if Hoiberg would be open to returning to the NCAA. After he was let go by Chicago earlier this season, reports indicated that Hoiberg wanted to remain in the NBA.

Meanwhile, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that former UCLA guard Earl Watson would have interest in the job. Watson, who coached in Phoenix from 2016-17, has strong AAU ties and was close with Bruins legend John Wooden, Spears notes.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA big man Jeff Withey had been playing in Turkey this season, but he and Tofas Bursa have parted ways, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Withey, who has logged more than 200 regular season NBA appearances, played in nine games for Dallas in 2017/18.
  • An NBA forward from 2004 to 2013, Carlos Delfino had been playing with Fiat Torino this season, but his time with the Italian club came to an abrupt end last week. According to Carchia, Delfino had a heated argument with Fransesco Forni, who is Fiat Torino’s VP and the son of the team’s owner. Forni issued a statement saying that Delfino “almost assaulted” him, and the club opened disciplinary proceedings against the veteran after cutting him. Delfino disputed the notion that there was any sort of physical confrontation and explained his side of the story to Carchia.
  • Former first-round pick Rashad Vaughn has changed NBA G League teams, with the Delaware Blue Coats acquiring him today from the Texas Legends, per a press release.
  • Speaking of the G League, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days recently took a look at some of the challenges facing Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who is taking over as the NBAGL president.

And-Ones: Van Gundy, G League, Cole

Former Knicks coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy discussed a variety of subjects with Justin Terranova of The New York Post, including his opinions on David Fizdale, his brother Stan, and whether he’d ever want to coach in the NBA again.

Van Gundy, who last coached in the NBA with the Rockets in 2007, didn’t rule out a possible return to the sidelines in the future. He currently coaches the USA Basketball men’s national team, a roster comprised of mostly G League and former NBA players, doing his best to stay active outside of his job at ESPN.

“It’s been about the same. I always missed it,” Van Gundy said when asked about NBA coaching. “With any job you take the good with the bad and it’s hard to find the right fit. I am really fortunate to have a really good job that I enjoy. So, there’s no angst about coaching. If it happens, great. That’s why I like the Team USA and I’ve really enjoyed it. … I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s next.”

Jeff’s brother, Stan Van Gundy, also joined ESPN this past summer to become an analyst. Stan was head coach and president of the Pistons last season, with both brothers working several different jobs with NBA teams across their respective careers. When asked about the possibility of the brothers calling an NBA game together for ESPN, Jeff gave an honest response.

“If we did, that’d be great. If we didn’t, that’d be fine, too,” Jeff said, according to Terranova. “I talk to [Stan] enough on the phone. It’s not like the only form of communication is if we do a game together. He’s doing his thing, and he’s doing really well. If we do a game it’d be a lot of fun.”

Here are a few other basketball odds and ends:

  • New G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim hopes that every NBA team will have a G League affiliate by 2022, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated. Abdur-Rahim is set to officially take over as G League president on Jan. 11, replacing Malcolm Turner. “I’ve seen the evolution of the league and the great work that Malcolm and has group has done,” Abdur-Rahim said. “To see where we are sitting now. … Going towards 30 teams, the professional path, the rebranding, it’s such a great situation with so many opportunities. You’re positioned really with a great team around it. There is so much opportunity to help craft with folks, craft a vision, craft ideas, move forward.”
  • Despite Abdur-Rahim’s goal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes the league can have 30 affiliates within “the next two years or so,” as we detailed in a recent story. Currently, 27 NBA franchises have a G League team.
  • Former NBA guard Norris Cole is leaving Sidigas Avellino in Italy, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Cole will join Buducnost Voli as a free agent, a team located in Montenegro, Carchia reports. He last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season.

Abdur-Rahim Named G League President

Former NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim will take over as president of the G League next month, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The move will become official January 11 as he replaces Malcolm Turner, who has been hired as the new athletic director at Vanderbilt, adds Adam Johnson of Two Ways and 10 Days (Twitter link).

G League officials confirmed the move this morning (Twitter link), with Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum explaining why Abdur-Rahim was selected.

“Shareef’s unique experiences as a player, team executive and member of the NBA’s Basketball Operations Department make him a fantastic fit to be the next president of the NBA G League,” Tatum said. “He is well prepared to build on the tremendous progress that the NBA G League has made under Malcolm, who deftly oversaw a pivotal period of expansion and transition. We thank Malcolm for his lasting contributions to the NBA and the NBA G League and wish him the best at Vanderbilt.”

Abdur-Rahim played 12 NBA seasons with the Grizzlies, Hawks, Trail Blazers and Kings before retiring in 2008. He was an assistant coach in Sacramento for two seasons and was promoted to an assistant GM role. In 2013, Abdur-Rahim became GM of the G League Reno Bighorns and later joined the NBA league office as VP of basketball operations.

L.A. Notes: Rivers, Clippers, Maggette, Lakers

After Friday’s announcement that Doc Rivers will surrender his front office role to solely focus on coaching, it was the crescendo to a tumultuous dual role for the NBA champion coach, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes.

Rivers, for four seasons, was tasked with both assembling a quality roster and then leading it to success on the court. As Oram writes, despite winning 50+ games each year with Rivers at the helm, the Clippers failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs. So, while Rivers is often viewed as one of the NBA’s elite head coaches, his career in the front office is “spotty,” Oram adds.

“Given final say on personnel moves, something Rivers coveted and chased all the way across the country to L.A., the career coach struggled annually to find the right mix of role players,” Oram writes about the man who led the 2007/08 Celtics to the NBA championship.

Despite the controversy that came with it, Rivers’ acquisition of his son, Austin Rivers, was a good move that yielded a quality role player for a team filled with superstar talent. Besides that, the obvious turmoil within the team became obvious, highlight by notable departures of J.J. Redick and Chris Paul this offseason. While Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan remain with the team, the direction of the Clippers with Lawrence Frank assuming Rivers’ former role and it will take a while before a prognosis on that move is available.

Read more about news surrounding the Los Angeles teams:

Western Notes: Thunder, Clippers, Bledsoe

The Thunder revealed that the name for their new D-League team will be the Oklahoma City Blue in a press release they issued earlier today. As for why that name was chosen, Brian Byrnes, the Thunder’s senior vice president of Sales and Marketing said, “Blue is one of our primary Thunder colors, but it has become more than just a color for us. It has come to represent the passion, loyalty and unity of our fans and our community in their support for our team. Our players wear it proudly on their uniforms, our fans sport Thunder blue shirts, Thunder blue flags fly across Oklahoma and our statewide Blue Alliance fan groups show their connection to our team and what it stands for.”

Here’s more from out west:

  • Clippers president and head coach Doc Rivers praised the offseason addition of Spencer Hawes, and said the center turned down larger offers to come to Los Angeles, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register writes. Rivers said, “I thought he was a great fit. Because of salary and where we’re at, I didn’t think we could get him.” The coach also noted in the article that the franchise getting to the point where players will take less money to play there is a positive sign.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer hopes to have a team president who will handle day-to-day operations of the team in place soon, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link).
  • Ballmer also announced that Eric Miller, former owner Donald Sterling’s son-in-law, has left his position as director of basketball administration, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register tweets.
  • The Suns are reportedly set to re-sign Eric Bledsoe to a five-year, $70MM extension, and Steve Kyler and Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders debate whether it was a mistake on Phoenix’s part.
  • Shareef Abdur-Rahim is no longer with the Kings, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. Abdur-Rahim was the director of player personnel and GM of of the Reno Bighorns, the Kings’ NBA D-League team.

Washburn On Bucks, Johnson, Wilcox

In today's column, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes that much of the Bucks success lies on the capable shoulders of Larry Sanders.  The big man inked a four-year, $44MM deal with Milwaukee this offseason that will put him at the center of a very different team than the one that went to the playoffs this past season.  “He’s one of the key, if not the key, piece for us moving forward,” GM John Hammond said of Sanders. “Larry is one of the top shot-blockers in our business. And I think he’s only going to get better defensively. We’re really excited to have him part of our organization, moving forward long term.”  

In an Eastern Conference where the Celtics and Hawks in rebuilding mode, and the Magic, 76ers, and Bobcats are lottery-bound, teams like the Bucks , Cavs , Pistons, Wizards, and Raptors will have an opportunity to take a step forward, in Washburn's estimation.  Here's more from today's column..

  • The fact that former Hawks forward Ivan Johnson couldn't land a mini mid-level deal despite being a solid 29-year-old rebounder is an indication that it will be a tough market for the remaining free agents looking for more than the minimum. Teams with salary-cap space would much rather invest money in younger players and prospects than veterans while contenders have filled their rosters, leaving only training camp invitations.  There's also speculation that teams are wary of the luxury-tax threshold with the increased penalties brought on by the new CBA.  The Celtics are one team that has been in the process of shedding salary – like Shavlik Randolph and Terrence Williams – for that reason.  
  • Former Celtics veteran Chris Wilcox is still without a club as September gets underway and he'll have to find a home rather quickly.  While he wants to play in the NBA, he's open to other possibilities.  “I am open to going overseas,” Wilcox said. “At the same time, I would love to stay here in the NBA. If it’s something that I have to do, then I’ll do it.
  • Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who was appointed as GM of the Kings' D-League affiliate, could be an NBA GM candidate in the coming years.  The retired forward has been in the Sacramento front office the past three seasons and has been considered a rising exec.  It's worth noting that Abdur-Rahim stayed in the Sacramento front office in the face of the team’s ownership and coaching change.

Odds & Ends: Abdur-Rahim, Kazemi, Butler

According to a team press
release
, former NBA All-Star and Kings' director of player
personnel Shareef Abdur-Rahim has
been named as the general manager of the Reno Bighorns, which serves as Sacramento's D-League affilliate. Abdur-Rahim will be joined by Chris Gilbert,
who was named assistant general manager. Here are some more of this evening's miscellaneous news and notes:

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the 76ers could still send second-round pick Arsalan Kazemi overseas for the coming season. 
  • Caron Butler is "thoroughly excited" about returning home to Wisconsin to play for the Bucks, writes Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times
  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough issued a statement about the team's trade agreement with Milwaukee, saying that the deal was about creating more cap space (Paul Coro of AZCentral.com). 
  • Yannis Koutroupis of Hoopsworld profiles this year's rookie head coaches and identifies some challenges that may lie ahead for each of them. 
  • Later in the same piece, Koutroupis wonders if Marcin Gortat is the next player in Phoenix to be on the move. 
  • The newly created Delaware 87ers of the NBDL acquired the rights of 16 players via the D-League's expansion draft last night (NBA.com). Among the more notable names on that list with NBA experience are Ish SmithSean Williams, Willie Warren, Jerome Dyson, and Josh Akognon. Smith and Akognon remain on NBA rosters, but if they were released and wanted to play in the D-League, Delaware would hold their rights.

Kings Rumors: Cousins, Evans, Execs, Muhammad

New Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro provided the media with plenty of information today about the issues facing the team as it turns its focus away from ownership and management changes and toward typical NBA offseason business. Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee passed along several highlights, as we round up here:

  • Dan Fegan, the agent for Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, appears to be going after a maximum-salary extension for his client this summer, and D'Alessandro says he has a good relationship with Fegan and plans to meet with Cousins in person. Fegan has advised Cousins to stay quiet about the Kings, but his silence doesn't mean he wants to be traded, Jones writes.
  • D'Alessandro has already met with soon-to-be restricted free agent Tyreke Evans.
  • Former Nuggets executive Mike Bratz will be D'Alessandro's assistant GM with the Kings, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a holdover from the previous regime in Sacramento, is in talks to join them in the front office, as Cowbell Kingdom's Jonathan Santiago tweets. If D'Alessandro had wound up with the Nuggets GM job, he said he would have tried to keep Bratz in Denver and recruit Abdur-Rahim.
  • An ankle injury kept Shabazz Muhammad from working out as scheduled with the Kings today, but he met D'Alessandro for lunch.
  • D'Alessandro also spoke about new scout George McCloud, who worked for D'Alessandro when they were both with the Warriors.