Sidney Lowe

Stein’s Latest: Capela, Gordon, Tucker, Lakers, Wolves, Grizzlies

When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Rockets were making virtually everyone on their roster besides James Harden available in trade talks, it was presented as general manager Daryl Morey doing his due diligence and being open to all options. Morey and owner Tilman Fertitta later praised Houston’s starting five and predicted it would return intact next season.

In his latest newsletter, however, Marc Stein of The New York Times paints a different picture. According to Stein, the Rockets are “actively” exploring the trade market for possible deals involving Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and/or P.J. Tucker. One source with knowledge of the club’s thinking tells Stein that Houston is operating as if at least one of those three players won’t be on the roster next season.

Gordon, who has one year and $14MM left on his contract, and Tucker, who has about $16MM+ left over two years, may be easier for the Rockets to move than Capela, since they’re veterans capable of fitting in anywhere and wouldn’t require a long-term salary commitment. However, Capela’s four years of team control may appeal to a club that’s looking for an answer at center and hoping to avoid overpaying a free agent.

As we wait to see what Morey has up his sleeve, here are a few more minor items from Stein:

  • While the amount of years and money the Lakers were willing to offer Tyronn Lue contributed to negotiations breaking down, a disagreement over his staff was also a factor. According to Stein, general manager Rob Pelinka and advisor Kurt Rambis wanted to be able to select Lue’s assistants.
  • The Timberwolves are taking a similar approach under new head of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, according to Stein, who notes that Rosas brought back Ryan Saunders but dismissed his entire staff. Stein writes that Saunders wanted to hire Sidney Lowe as his lead assistant, but was rebuffed by management.
  • The Grizzlies, the only team still seeking a new head coach, are believed to be considering a new bench model. Memphis wants to have at least one of its assistant coaches hold a dual title that includes some personnel responsibilities, says Stein.

Pistons To Hire Sidney Lowe As Lead Assistant

The Pistons have reached an agreement with veteran coach Sidney Lowe and will add him to Dwane Casey‘s new staff, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Lowe will be the lead assistant in Detroit.

Lowe, who has head coaching stints for the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and North Carolina State on his résumé, has primarily served as an NBA assistant coach for the better part of the last three decades. In addition to spending multiple stints with the Wolves since first joining the club as an assistant in 1991, Lowe has also worked for the Cavaliers, Pistons, Jazz, and Wizards.

Casey is still in the process of filling out his staff after being hired as the Pistons’ new head coach earlier in the offseason. The club reportedly struck a deal with Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney to bring him to Detroit, while DJ Bakker is also joining the Pistons as Casey’s new player development coach.

Central Notes: Wade, Bucks, Casey, Lowe

The signing of Dwyane Wade just before the start of the season led to jealousy in the Cavaliers‘ locker room, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were most affected, with Smith fearing Wade would take his starting spot and Shumpert believing Wade would cut into his playing time. Wade did start briefly, before asking to be moved to a bench role. Injuries limited Shumpert to just 14 games before he was traded to the Kings in February.

Pluto outlines other problems with the Cavs’ roster, including Tristan Thompson‘s distractions with the Kardashian family and his notoriety on gossip websites, Kevin Love‘s panic attacks and a team meeting where he felt he was being attacked by Wade and Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder‘s ineffectiveness without the structured offense he had under Brad Stevens in Boston.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks contemplated a pair of draft night trades before selecting Donte DiVincenzo at No. 17, reports Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. They talked about swapping picks with the Pacers and moving down to No. 23, and discussed a deal with the Hawks involving the 19th and 30th selections. Atlanta, which planned to take Kevin Huerter with the 17th pick, ended negotiations when word that the Bucks were drafting DiVincenzo leaked on Twitter. The Hawks expected the Spurs to grab Lonnie Walker at No. 18 and were confident that Huerter would fall to them at No. 19. DiVincenzo was happy to wind up in Milwaukee, which he and his representatives had singled out as a preferred destination.
  • Developing young players will be a priority for new coach Dwane Casey in his first season with the Pistons, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. The front office believes improvement from Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson is necessary for the team to return to the playoffs. “Three very talented young players,” Casey said at his introductory press conference this week. “That’s going to be on us, the coaching staff, to really draw as much of that as we can. The talent level on the roster is there. Getting it together and identifying how we’re going to play is very, very important. That’s the fun part of it because the talent base is there.”  The Pistons plan to experiment with Kennard as a point guard in summer league play, Ellis tweets.
  • After adding Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney to their coaching staff this week, the Pistons are now targeting Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Wizards Notes: Coaching Staff, Durant, Workouts

New Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is in the process of putting together his first coaching staff in Washington, and ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link) has an update on some of Brooks’ targets. In addition to confirming the Wizards’ interest in Tony Brown, with whom the team is reportedly finalizing a deal, Stein reports that Brooks is targeting Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe for his bench.

Iske, a former Kings assistant who wasn’t retained when Dave Joerger took over in Sacramento last month, has also drawn interest from Memphis. As for Lowe, he most recently served as an assistant in Minnesota — before that, he was an assistant in Utah and a head coach at North Carolina State.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Don’t count Jared Dudley among those who expect to see Kevin Durant return home and sign with the Wizards this summer. Dudley, a free-agent-to-be who spent the 2015/16 season in Washington, told Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980 that he doesn’t envision Durant leaving the Thunder for the Wizards. “I realistically don’t,” Dudley said, per Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post. “I hope for the fans they do, because he’s from there, and he would bring such excitement. They’d be right behind Cleveland, right there with them to be able to contend. I don’t see it though.”
  • More from Dudley on why he doesn’t expect superstar free agents like Durant to land in Washington this offseason: “It’s the system the NBA built. In general, no star player’s leaving to go to another team. … The system’s built for these guys to stay. Guys like Kevin Durant, Al Horford — the Wizards most likely will be going after these players, as they should. Are they really going to leave that money on the table?”
  • The Wizards are bringing in prospects D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown), James Webb III (Boise State), Tyler Harris (Auburn), and James Robinson (Pittsburgh) in for a pre-draft workout today, league sources tell Michael Scott of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link).
  • The Wizards are also keeping their eye on former Seton Hall and UConn guard Sterling Gibbs, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that Washington is looking at Gibbs for a second time on Monday.
  • We recently took a closer look at the Wizards’ salary cap situation for the coming offseason.

And-Ones: Lakers, Thibodeau, Duncan, Embiid

The Lakers never asked the Bulls for permission to interview Tom Thibodeau, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, who reported last month that they would. The L.A. brass is “all but sure” the Bulls would have asked for this month’s No. 7 overall pick, which the Lakers would be unwilling to give up, according to McMenamin. The ESPN scribe also believes that L.A.’s concerns about paying Thibodeau a lavish salary to coach a mediocre roster next season played a role, and suggests the Lakers are wary of the way their fans might react if Thibodeau rejected the team’s pursuit. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The deadline for Tim Duncan to decide on his $10MM player option for next season is June 24th, but the Spurs are operating under the assumption that Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich will return, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Most option clauses give players until June 30th to decide, though Duncan’s date can be pushed back if he and the team decide to do so, Stein notes, adding that Popovich’s contract runs through next season.
  • A source tells Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio that Joel Embiid checked out fine when he took a physical this week for the Cavs, contradicting an earlier report from Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland, who hears that the exam raised serious concerns (Twitter links).
  • It appears as though the Bucks will work out Andrew Wiggins twice, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com hears that he’s auditioning for the team today in California and again next week in Milwaukee (Twitter link).
  • A handful of top European teams have interest in soon-to-be free agent Nando De Colo, and it seems like they’re willing to give the Raptors guard a raise on the $1.463MM he made in the NBA this season, reports Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net.
  • The Timberwolves have hired Sidney Lowe as an assistant coach, the team formally announced (Twitter link), confirming an earlier report. He spent last season as an assistant with the Jazz.

Western Notes: Spurs, Lowe, Togashi

With the Spurs core of stars nearing retirement the team will need to look ahead to the future, writes Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. That future will begin with Kawhi Leonard, as well as having a wealth of cap room in 2015, when only Tiago Splitter is under contract, notes Beck. The franchise also has Livio Jean-Charles, a 6’9″ forward from French Guiana, who was drafted 28th in 2013, and Davis Bertans, a 6’10″ forward from Latvia, a 2011 second-round pick who was acquired from the Pacers, to help jump start the team’s next phase, according to the article.

More from the west:

  • The Wolves hiring of Sidney Lowe as an assistant coach could be announced as early as tomorrow, reports Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks are going to take a look at Japanese point guard Yuki Togashi, with the hope that he could be developed as a potential NBA player with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The 5’8″ Togashi is expected to attend the D-league draft camp next week, and isn’t expected to be selected in this year’s draft, notes Sefko.
  • Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman hands out grades for Reggie Jackson’s season with the Thunder. Jackson averaged 11.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG this season.

Flip Saunders To Coach Timberwolves

FRIDAY, 1:10pm: The Wolves officially announced that Saunders will serve as their head coach and held an afternoon press conference.

THURSDAY, 11:19am: The move doesn’t affect Love’s thought process regarding an exit from the Wolves, sources tell Stein, largely echoing an earlier report from Holmes, as we passed along below (Twitter link).

11:05am: The coaching agreement between Saunders and Taylor is “open-ended” in terms of length, meaning Saunders will have the opportunity to revisit a search for someone else to coach the team in the future, Zgoda writes.

10:41am: Sources tell Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe that they strongly doubt Saunders’ decision to coach the team himself will convince Love to stay in Minnesota (Twitter link).

10:23am: Mitchell and Sidney Lowe are expected to become assistant coaches under Saunders, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. There doesn’t appear to be a timetable for Saunders to coach, and neither Mitchell nor Lowe is a “coach in waiting,” Zgoda adds via Twitter. It’s unclear whether Billups will be a part of the staff, Zgoda also tweets, noting that he’s heard that Billups would prefer a basketball executive job, which falls in line with the guard’s assertion in March that several teams had gauged his interest in joining their front offices.

10:08am: Saunders has confirmed the news to Stein, and Saunders will continue to have the ultimate authority in the front office and work in concert with GM Milt Newton, Krawczynski hears (Twitter links).

9:54am: Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders will coach the team next season, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link). The news comes just minutes after Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that Saunders was strongly considering the move. The team failed to gain traction with several other coaching candidates, and while the prospect of Saunders returning to the team’s bench has been in play since before former coach Rick Adelman retired at season’s end, it never appeared to be the team’s first choice.

Saunders is likely to target Chauncey Billups for an assistant coaching position, even though Billups remains under contract as a player with the Pistons. Detroit has a $2.5MM team option on Billups for next season, but he’s indicated that he’s thinking about retiring. Saunders will also reach out to Israeli league coach David Blatt and one-time Wolves head coaching candidate Sam Mitchell for jobs on his staff, Krawczynski hears (Twitter link).

Saunders’ decision to coach is met with excitement from Ricky Rubio‘s camp, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, pointing out that negotiations over Rubio’s rookie scale extension will begin soon (Twitter link). Perhaps of greater concern to the Wolves and teams around the league is how Kevin Love will receive the move. The team had reportedly been holding off on trading Love, who appears to want out of Minnesota, until they named a new coach, ostensibly to allow the team to have its house in order before it lobbies a strong effort to convince Love to stay.

The Wolves had interviewed Mitchell, Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro and Lionel Hollins in addition to Dave Joerger, who seemed to come within a hair’s breadth of becoming the team’s coach before he patched up his relationship with the Grizzlies and signed an extension to stay in Memphis. The Wolves also reportedly went after high profile college coaches Fred Hoiberg, Billy Donovan and Tom Izzo, but apparently had no luck prying them from campus. The team also appeared to have interest in Stan Van Gundy, but it wasn’t mutual, and he wound up taking a dual front office/coaching role with the Pistons much like the one Saunders is embracing in Minnesota.

Saunders said “never say never” on multiple occasions this spring when asked about the prospect of coaching the team himself, though he had publicly downplayed the possibility. There were mixed messages about whether Saunders wanted to coach and whether owner Glen Taylor was on board with the idea, but Wolfson says Taylor was always going to proceed with whatever plan Saunders had in mind (Twitter link). Saunders returns to the role in which he took the Wolves to all eight of their postseason appearances during his tenure on the team’s bench from 1995-2005. He went on to coach the Pistons and Wizards before taking over the Wolves front office last year, and is 638-526 in parts of 16 seasons as an NBA head coach.