Stephen Silas

Knicks Notes: Fizdale Fallout, Potential Long-Term Replacements

The Knicks fired David Fizdale earlier today while also relieving Keith Smart of his duties as assistant coach. The move comes after a 4-18 start, which ties a record for worst in franchise history.

While Fizdale repeatedly told reporters that he had owner James Dolan’s backing, Jabari Young of CNBC.com hears from an agent who represents coaches around the league that the firing was “inevitable.” Assistant coach Mike Miller will now take over as the interim head coach with 60 games to go in the season.

Former Warriors coach and Knicks guard Mark Jackson has been linked to the team as a long-term candidate for the role (any major hire is likely to come in the offseason) and Young reports that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon would be interested in the job should the team be willing to offer her a long-term deal. Young mentions four or five years as the necessary length of the contract.

Young also mentions former Coach of the Year (2007) Sam Mitchell as a good candidate for the short-term, as Mitchell has a reputation for getting top effort out of players.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jeff Van Gundy, Jason Kidd, and Tyronn Lue are among the former NBA coaches that Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic names as options for the Knicks. Vorkunov also lists several potential candidates without former head coaching experience, such as Jarron Collins, Stephen Silas, and Ettore Messina.
  • The firing of Fizdale won’t clean up the Knicks’ issues, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explains. Zillgitt believes that the front office should shoulder the blame for putting together this roster and simply expecting Fizdale to produce results with it.
  • Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post argues that the Knicks should fire team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. The regime put together a plan of signing big-name free agents and failed to deliver.

Mavericks Hiring Stephen Silas As Assistant

Former Hornets assistant coach Stephen Silas has agreed to a multiyear deal with the Mavericks and will join Rick Carlisle‘s staff in Dallas, the Mavs head coach confirmed today (Twitter link). A source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Silas will be Carlisle’s lead assistant.

Silas’ move to Dallas is part of a game of musical chairs among NBA assistants. With Steve Clifford replaced by James Borrego in Charlotte, Jay Triano was hired by the Hornets as the new top assistant on Borrego’s staff, displacing Silas. Silas, in turn, will join the Mavericks, who lost their own lead assistant Melvin Hunt to the Hawks.

A longtime assistant for New Orleans, Cleveland, Golden State, and Charlotte, Silas received head coaching consideration from the Hawks this spring before Atlanta hired Lloyd Pierce. Silas also stepped in as the Hornets’ head coach for over a month during the 2017/18 season when Clifford took time away from the team for health reasons.

Hawks Narrow Coaching Search To Four Finalists

MAY 7, 10:44pm: Pierce’s previously-reported second interview with the Hawks will take place on Tuesday, Marc Spears of The Undefeated tweets.

MAY 6, 6:39pm: The Hawks have narrowed down their list of head coaching candidates to four finalists, reports Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Cunningham, Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce, Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts, Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, and Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga remain in the running.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Pierce has emerged this weekend as a frontrunner for the position, with a Saturday report indicating he’d get a second interview for the job. Earlier today, we heard that Pierce would meet with Hawks ownership early this week, and could receive a job offer if that meeting goes well.

However, the Hawks are considering three other assistants from around the NBA, including Tibbetts, who has already met with team owner Tony Ressler, according to Cunningham. A source with knowledge of the Hawks’ plans tells Cunningham that Pierce’s own meeting with Ressler hasn’t yet been officially scheduled, adding that it’s premature to view him as a lock for the job over Atlanta’s other finalists.

As Cunningham details, David Fizdale interviewed with the Hawks and met with Ressler as well, but reached an agreement on Thursday to become the Knicks’ new head coach, taking him out of the mix for Atlanta.

Shortly after the Hawks parted ways with Mike Budenholzer, a report indicated that the team was looking to find an up-and-coming coach who could evolve along with Atlanta’s young roster. As such, it’s perhaps no surprise that none of the team’s finalists – Pierce, Tibbetts, Silas, and Larranaga – have held a permanent head coaching job in the past.

Hawks Interviewing Stephen Silas For HC Job

Another interviewee has emerged for the head coaching job in Atlanta, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that the Hawks are meeting with Hornets assistant Stephen Silas on Tuesday. Silas previously worked with current Hawks GM Travis Schlenk when both men were with the Warriors, Wojnarowski notes.

A longtime assistant for New Orleans, Cleveland, Golden State, and Charlotte, Silas has never held a permanent head coaching job in the NBA. However, he did step in for Steve Clifford for over a month during the 2017/18 season when Clifford took time away from the Hornets for health reasons.

After Clifford was dismissed by Charlotte at season’s end, there was a sense that both Clifford and Silas would be considered for some of the head coaching vacancies around the NBA. Silas has yet to meet with any other teams, but was immediately identified as a potential candidate for the Hawks after Mike Budenholzer‘s departure from the franchise.

Silas joins David Fizdale, Nate Tibbetts, Jarron Collins, and Darvin Ham among head coaching candidates who have interviewed – or will interview – for Atlanta’s job. Ime Udoka, Jay Larranaga, and James Borrego are also said to be on the Hawks’ radar, though interviews for those three have to be reported.

Hawks Expected To Consider Fizdale, Tibbetts, Others

2:13pm: Vanterpool won’t be among the Hawks’ head coaching candidates after all, tweets Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

9:30am: The Hawks are the latest NBA team to embark on a search for a new head coach, having confirmed on Wednesday that they’ve parted ways with Mike Budenholzer, who had held the position since 2013. While there’s no presumed frontrunner to replace Budenholzer yet, a number of potential candidates have already emerged for Atlanta.

The Hawks are expected to talk to former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale and current Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts about their head coaching position, a source tells Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Fizdale has been one of this spring’s most popular head coaching candidates, having previously been linked to the Knicks, Suns, and Hornets. It’s the first time we’ve heard Tibbetts connected to one of the ongoing searches, however.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski adds a few more names to the Hawks’ list of candidates, reporting that the club is also expected to consider Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and James Borrego, and another Trail Blazers assistant, David Vanterpool.

Borrego has been another assistant whose name has frequently popped up in coaching rumors this spring — he has been linked to the Knicks and Suns. Meanwhile, Silas was identified as a possible head coaching candidate in the wake of Steve Clifford‘s ouster in Charlotte. As Amick and Zillgitt note, Silas is “widely respected” around the NBA and was with the Warriors at the same time as current Hawks GM Travis Schlenk.

It’s no surprise that the initial group of candidates for the rebuilding Hawks includes a number of NBA assistants. Wojnarowski writes that the team wants to hire an up-and-coming coach who can evolve along with Atlanta’s young roster. Vanterpool, Silas, and Tibbetts all showed up near the top of a recent list of NBA assistants who should receive head coaching consideration — that list was voted on by about three dozen executives around the league.

Hornets Fire Steve Clifford

The Hornets have relieved head coach Steve Clifford of his duties, the team announced today (via Twitter). Clifford had been scheduled to meet this morning with new Hornets president and GM Mitch Kupchak, and he and his staff had been expecting this move, per Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Clifford, who was hired by Charlotte in 2013, had been the NBA’s seventh-longest-tenured head coach. He led the franchise to a 196-214 record (.478) during his five years on the sidelines. The Hornets earned playoff berths twice during those five years, but were eliminated in the first round in both 2014 and 2016.

Since the regular season ended on Wednesday, three head coaches of Eastern lottery teams have been dismissed, with Clifford’s firing coming on the heels of the Knicks and Magic parting ways with Jeff Hornacek and Frank Vogel, respectively.

In each instance, a new management team has been installed within the last year, and those front offices will now have the opportunity to hand-pick their own head coaches. In Charlotte, Kupchak was formally hired just days ago, so finding a new coach will be his first major task with the franchise. It’s not yet clear what the list of candidates may look like for the Hornets.

Clifford stepped away from the Hornets for a little over a month earlier this season for health reasons. However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Clifford has “fully recovered” from the headaches and insomnia that forced him to take a leave of absence.

Despite his rough year in Charlotte, Clifford remains well regarded in coaching circles, and it may not take him much time to find a new job elsewhere. As Mannix notes, there’s a chance that both Clifford and lead assistant Stephen Silas will be in the mix for head coaching openings this spring.

In addition to the Hornets, Knicks, and Magic, the Suns, Bucks, and Grizzlies are also expected to conduct head coaching searches this spring — those three teams currently have interim coaches in place.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Mavs, Gasol, Paul

The Mavs have benefited from the across the board contributions of role players Dwight Powell and Yogi Ferrell this season, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. The pair have thrived as much-needed team worker bees.

[Powell] always gives us amazing energy,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of his 26-year-old backup center. “He is just so into the team and winning. Guys like him, you just can’t get enough of.”

In 17.9 minutes per game, Powell has posted 6.2 points and 5.3 rebounds, a stat line that works out to be 12.5 and 10.5 per-36. Ferrell, in contrast, has served the Mavs out of the backcourt, stepping up noticeably well as a spot starter for Dennis Smith Jr.

In five starts with the lottery pick sidelined, Ferrell has averaged 12.5 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Mavs.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets have thrived under head coach Mike D’Antoni but for a while there, Hornets assistant Stephen Silas was in the running for the position. As Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle writes, the Charlotte coach still gets ribbed by friends and family when Houston, the best team in the NBA two months into the season, does something particularly impressive.
  • The Grizzlies haven’t officially declared that they’re looking to trade Marc Gasol but the big man’s name has been a topic of speculation anyway considering Memphis’ poor 2017/18 start. Chris Herrington of the Commercial Appeal has come up with six hypothetical trade scenarios that he thinks are reasonable, including one that would send the Spaniard to the Raptors in exchange for a Jonas Valanciunas package.
  • Offseason acquisition Chris Paul seems to be enjoying his new role with the Rockets, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN breaks down in a recent feature. That, coupled with the fact that Houston is 12-0 with Paul on the floor this season, bodes well for the franchise ahead of the veteran’s free agency this summer.

Steve Clifford Away From Hornets For Health Reasons

Hornets coach Steve Clifford will leave the team “for the immediate future” because of health concerns, the team announced this morning on its website. Associate head coach Stephen Silas will be the acting head coach while Clifford is out.

The team didn’t elaborate on the coach’s condition “out of respect for Clifford’s privacy.”

This is Clifford’s fifth season as Charlotte’s coach after spending 13 years as an NBA assistant. The 56-year-old has compiled a 169-181 record, including 9-13 this season, with two playoff appearances.

Silas, 44, is in his 18th year as an assistant. He started in the NBA as a scout with the Hornets in 1999 and rejoined the organization as a coach during the 2010/11 season.

Southeast Notes: D’Alessandro, Batiste, Smith Jr.

The Magic will hire Pete D’Alessandro as their new assistant general manager, Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical tweets. D’Alessandro last served as an executive with the Nuggets, having previously served as the general manager of the Kings.

Just last month we wrote about the Magic adding Bucks executive John  Hammond to fill their general manager role following the departure of Rob Hennigan.

D’Alessandro will return to the basketball operations side of a franchise for the first time since his stint with the Kings which ranged from 2013 to 2015.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Morris, Heat, Draft, Batiste

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is suffering through a severe left ankle injury, but says there’s no chance it will prevent him from playing in Monday’s Game 7 against the Celtics, relays J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Morris was able to play 39 minutes in Game 6, putting up 16 points and 11 rebounds in a thrilling 92-91 victory. He has been fighting through the pain ever since landing on Al Horford‘s foot on a jump shot in Game 1 and hasn’t practiced since the injury. “I don’t shoot at all. I just go back to treatment every day,” Morris said. “It’s not swollen as much, but the pain is still there. It’s the worst injury I’ve ever had.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat should consider trading down in the draft if they don’t get lucky in Tuesday’s lottery, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After barely missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker, Miami has the worst odds of any lottery team. The Heat have just a 0.5% chance to land the No. 1 pick and only a slightly better shot at slots two and three. While options such as Justin Jackson, Ivan Rabb, John Collins or T.J. Leaf might be tempting at No. 14, Winderman believes Miami would be better off trying to rebuild its draft future. The Heat owe their first-round picks in 2018 and 2021 to Phoenix and don’t have a second-round pick until 2022.
  • The Heat have some important contract dates in the next few weeks, Winderman notes in the same piece. Josh McRoberts, Dion Waiters and Willie Reed all have a June 29th deadline to decide whether to opt out for next season. Josh Richardson‘s $1,471,382 salary for 2017/18 becomes fully guaranteed a day later, as does Okaro White‘s $1,312,611 figure on July 1st. Winderman expects McRoberts to opt in for $6MM, Waiters and Reed to both opt out and the team to guarantee Richardson’s salary while getting White to defer his guarantee date.
  • The Hornets added Mike Batiste to their coaching staff this week, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. An opening was created when Patrick Ewing gave up his role as associate head coach to take over at Georgetown. Stephen Silas was promoted to lead assistant, and Batiste will become a regular assistant. Batiste played for the Grizzlies in 2002/03, but spent most of his career in Europe.