Tyronn Lue

Sixers’ Ownership Wants Mike D’Antoni As Head Coach

Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue is scheduled to interview Tuesday for the Sixers‘ head coaching vacancy, but the ownership group is strongly in favor of hiring former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

What effect that endorsement will have on the process is uncertain, along with the question of who will make the final decision, Pompey adds. The stated plan was for general manager Elton Brand to be in charge of interviewing and to make a recommendation to ownership, which would approve or reject it. However, sources tell Pompey that D’Antoni met directly with team owners during the first round of interviews, although the Sixers are denying their involvement. Sources say D’Antoni had a meeting with Brand as well, as did Billy Donovan, who was hired by the Bulls this week.

Pompey cites leaks from the organization indicating that Brand and star center Joel Embiid are now on board with hiring D’Antoni. Embiid is looking forward to facing the basket in D’Antoni’s offense, rather than posting up. The coach also reportedly plans to make Tobias Harris a power forward again. The front office is willing to make trades to build a roster that fits D’Antoni’s style of play, and he will have input into choosing players, according to Pompey.

Pompey questions whether Lue is watching the situation in Philadelphia closely and if it would be worth his time to go ahead with the interview. Lue was considered the top candidate for the job when Brett Brown was fired in late August. There was mutual interest, Pompey adds, and negotiations were expected to intensify once the Clippers’ playoff run ended.

Lue was excited about the chance to coach Embiid and fellow All-Star Ben Simmons and wasn’t bothered by the perception that both star players would have a significant role in picking the next coach. Pompey notes that Lue has been around huge stars throughout his NBA career, dating back to his playing days with the Lakers.

Sources tell Pompey that Lue’s interactions with the Sixers have been limited to a few discussions with Brand. He hasn’t met directly with the GM like other first-round candidates and hasn’t been contacted by ownership. Pompey hears that D’Antoni would have to “bomb his interview” to not be offered the job, so Lue’s hopes of becoming a head coach again may have to happen elsewhere.

Windhorst’s Latest: Coaching Rumors

The Pacers have interviewed more than 20 candidates for their head coaching opening and are now scheduling second interviews, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Appearing on The Jump (video link) on Friday, Windhorst said that former Kings coach Dave Joerger, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka are among the candidates expected to receive second interviews with the Pacers. ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups is also in the mix.

Windhorst doled out a number of other tidbits regarding coaching vacancies:

  • The Sixers have focused in on two high-profile candidates, Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue, and that could impact what the Pelicans will do. New Orleans is “very interested” in Clippers assistant Lue, who won a championship in Cleveland with current Pelicans executive David Griffin. However, the Pelicans may have to wait until Philadelphia decides what it wants to do before pursuing Lue in earnest.
  • The Thunder appear to be going into rebuild mode and that increases the chances it will hire a first-time head coach. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and perhaps Spurs assistant Will Hardy have emerged as contenders for the job.
  • As previously reported, the Rockets are looking seriously at Clippers assistant and former Houston player Sam Cassell and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Sixers Rumors: D’Antoni, Brand, Roster, Harden

The Sixers‘ head coaching search is believed to be down to two candidates, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who says that Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue are finalists for the job. Pompey, who previously reported that D’Antoni appeared to be the frontrunner, continues to hear buzz linking the former Rockets coach to the job and suggests that he’s the preferred choice of team ownership.

According to Pompey, some league sources are wondering how much autonomy GM Elton Brand has in the 76ers’ coaching search. Although Brand has taken much of the criticism for questionable roster moves and draft picks during the last couple years, most of those were collaborative decisions, with executive VP of basketball operations Alex Rucker among those who was “heavily involved behind the scenes,” writes Pompey.

There was a belief that the Sixers were moving away from that collaborative approach, with Brand empowered to lead the coaching search and ownership set to simply approve or deny his recommendation, but Pompey’s sources suggest it’s not clear whether that has been the case so far.

Here’s more on the 76ers:

  • Brand met with Sixers ownership on Monday to discuss a new contract and is believed to be seeking a three- or four-year deal, sources tell Pompey. While there has been speculation that Philadelphia might look to hire a president of basketball operations above Brand, the latest intel from Shams Charania this week suggested that the club is only looking to fortify its front office under the GM, with Brand remaining in charge.
  • Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link) is starting to hear buzz that the 76ers are letting teams know they’d be more open to trade talks if they hire D’Antoni, since they recognize their personnel isn’t necessarily conducive to his preferred style of play.
  • John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter link) has heard that one of the reasons the Sixers are interested in D’Antoni is a feeling that he could potentially help lure Rockets star James Harden to Philadelphia. I’d imagine the club views that possibility as more of an added bonus than a key selling point for D’Antoni’s candidacy, but it’s worth noting that Harden can reach free agency as early as 2022.

Coaching Rumors: Donovan, Billups, Bjorkgren, Walton

Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas made a personal connection with Billy Donovan that helped him land his new coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this morning on “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” (video link). After Donovan left the Thunder two weeks ago, Karnisovas wanted to set up a meeting right away, according to Woj. The Bulls executive flew to Donovan’s Florida home a few days later and was able to sell him on the job.

Wojnarowski notes that Chicago has a recent history of taking chances on college coaches and veteran assistants, but has rarely hired someone with previous NBA head coaching experience. He adds that the Bulls have the talent to compete for a playoff spot in the East and Donovan could turn them into a desirable market for free agents.

Donovan said he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding job in OKC, but Wojnarowski believes that will be less of a concern in Chicago. He said the Thunder are “cycling down” with a lot of veteran players and draft picks and may bottom out for a while before becoming good again. The Bulls have “players on the uptick” and could become contenders with the right coach.

There’s more on the NBA’s coaching carousel:

  • Wojnarowski passed along a few other rumors today (video link). The Sixers are ready to start bringing in coaching candidates and have already started conversations with Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue. Chauncey Billups is a name to watch for the Pacers, who have shown a willingness to hire former players with no coaching experience and surround them with a veteran staff. The Pelicans have been doing a “ton of background” and haven’t started formal interviews yet. The Rockets like interviewing a lot of people whenever they have an opening and will consider various combinations of head coaches and lead assistants. Woj expects the interview process to be lengthy in both Houston and Oklahoma City.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told Sirius XM Radio that assistant Nate Bjorkgren has interviewed for the opening with the Pacers (Twitter link).
  • The Kings‘ front office shakeup shouldn’t affect the job security of coach Luke Walton, Sam Amick of The Athletic said on a recent HoopsHype podcast. Amick believes new head of basketball operations Monte McNair was told before he was hired that the organization is “pretty invested both financially and kind of spiritually in Luke.”

D’Antoni, Donovan, Lue Believed To Be On Sixers’ Short List

The Sixers, led by general manager Elton Brand, have met with a handful of top candidates for their head coaching job and are expected to bring a short list of candidates to the Philadelphia area within the next 10 days for a second round of interviews, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, Mike D’Antoni, Billy Donovan, and Tyronn Lue are expected to be on the 76ers’ short list and are “strongly vying” for the position.

The Sixers have been linked to several other potential candidates – including Dave Joerger, Darvin Ham, and Mike Brown – as they seek a replacement for Brett Brown. However, Lue was considered an early frontrunner for the position and D’Antoni and Donovan emerged as viable alternatives after they parted ways with their respective teams. It seems increasingly likely that Philadelphia’s next head coach will come from that trio.

Meanwhile, although a recent report suggested that the Sixers may be considering hiring a president of basketball operations to lead their front office, Charania says the organization remains committed to adding talent under Brand to “further strengthen the front office.” Brand, who is leading the head coaching search, continues to be the head of basketball operations in Philadelphia, according to Charania, who adds that the GM is well-respected by agents and executives around the NBA.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Nash, Raptors, Tatum, Sixers

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is confident that Steve Nash will succeed as the new head coach of the franchise, he told Shlomo Sprung of Forbes.com.

Dinwiddie discussed a variety of subjects in the interview, including Nash, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and more. Brooklyn announced the hiring of Nash last week with no prior media coverage of the possibility, surprising observers around the league.

“It was definitely out of left field,” Dinwiddie said. “I think overall, it makes sense from the relationship perspective.”

Nash shares a close relationship with Durant, having worked for the Warriors as a player development consultant during his run with the team. Brooklyn consulted Durant, Irving and others before hiring Nash, a decision that received positive reviews from those in the franchise.

“Obviously white privilege is a thing, 1000%,” Dinwiddie said. “But in this situation, he’s only one of the most qualified basketball players of all time and is friends with the stars of our team and the GM of the team [former teammate Sean Marks]. It kind of makes sense beyond the fact that he doesn’t have coaching experience.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines six takeaways from the Raptors‘ seven-game series loss to the Celtics. Toronto was 0.5 seconds away from going down 3-0 before OG Anunoby‘s buzzer-beating shot in Game 3, climbing back to force the hard-fought series to seven games. The Raptors have several key players set to reach free agency this offseason, including Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.
  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum passed his latest test to superstardom in leading the team over Toronto, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. Tatum has steadily improved on both ends since entering the league, recording 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the team’s Game 7 victory. “He’s a superstar. He showed it tonight,” teammate Kemba Walker said after that game. “Anyone have any question or doubt on that? He showed it.”
  • Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue remains the best option for the Sixers as they search for a new head coach, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines. Lue and the Sixers both share a mutual interest for the position, according to Pompey, which was vacated when the team fired Brett Brown after a disappointing 2019/20 season.

Mike D’Antoni Won’t Return To Rockets

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has informed team ownership that he intends to become a coaching free agent and won’t return to Houston next season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

D’Antoni had been on an expiring contract, having turned down extension offers from the Rockets prior to the season.

General manager Daryl Morey had said after Houston’s Game 1 win over the Lakers in the second round that the team wanted to retain D’Antoni. However, there was always a sense that the two sides may not continue their relationship, especially since Houston’s preseason extension offers were short-term and included incentives. That sense only increased after the Rockets lost four straight games to the Lakers and were eliminated from the postseason.

D’Antoni, who joined the Rockets in 2016, led the organization to a 217-101 (.682) record over four seasons and won at least one playoff series in each of those four years, earning Coach of the Year honors in 2017.

Despite championship aspirations during that time, the club never got over the hump and reached the NBA Finals, having been eliminated twice by the Warriors, once by the Spurs, and now once by the Lakers.

Having confirmed his departure from Houston in a statement (link via Woj), D’Antoni is now expected to be among the candidates considered by the Sixers as they seek a new head coach, per ESPN. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets that there have been rumblings for weeks that D’Antoni may be headed to the Pelicans, though an earlier report suggested those rumors may be overstated. He has also been linked to the Pacers.

The Rockets, meanwhile, are likely to take a close look at Tyronn Lue as they weigh potential replacements for D’Antoni, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Sixers, Lue, Raptors, Tatum

Having poached Kevin Durant from Golden State a year ago, the Nets have now hired away Steve Nash – a former Warriors player development consultant – to be their new head coach.

However, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers respects Nets GM Sean Marks professionally and personally and sees no reason to treat Brooklyn “like some kind of pillager,” writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Myers also understands why the Nets would target someone like Nash to coach Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“Steve Nash has the ability to walk out onto the court and earn the immediate respect of Kevin Durant or Steph Curry or Klay Thompson — and there aren’t too many people in the world who can do that,” Myers told Wojnarowski. “More than that, though, he can communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

“… There’s not a lot of teaching left for the most accomplished players in the world. Steph is not going to listen to many people about his jump shot. Steve might be one of the only people in the world outside of Dell (Curry) that he’d give an audience on that conversation.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After the Nets hired Nash and Villanova’s Jay Wright withdrew from consideration for the Sixers‘ head coaching job, Philadelphia appears likely to aggressively pursue Tyronn Lue for their head coaching position, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com (via Twitter). Mannix reiterates that there’s strong mutual interest between Lue and the 76ers, as we’ve heard before.
  • The Raptors had a better regular season record this year than they did in 2018/19, but without Kawhi Leonard to bail them out on offense, they’ll need scorers to step up in order to make another deep playoff run, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that he remains close with former teammate Kyrie Irving. “Ky is like my big brother,” Tatum said. “We still talk to this day, and we’ve talked a few times this playoffs. He always encourages me to be special. Having that relationship with him and having somebody like him in my ear at a young age, it means a lot.”

And-Ones: Sotto, Lue, Campazzo, Bubble

Kai Sotto, a 7’2″ center from the Philippines, is one of the prospects who will be part of the new G League Ignite select team, forgoing college for the NBAGL’s new professional path. Sotto spoke to Ajayi Browne of NetsDaily about his decision and the adjustments he’ll have to make after growing up in the Philippines.

“My challenge here in the States is how they play,” Sotto told Browne. “Being an international player from Asia they don’t really give you the respect right away, you have to earn it. They really have great players here. Every time I play I just have to earn everybody’s respect and play my hardest.

“For an 18-year-old player coming straight out of high school and playing in the G league is a really big thing for me, for a player like me. I know I’m gonna be playing against great players, stronger players, and faster players so I’m just trying to get ready to be better. That’s gonna be the best way for me to improve to play against players like them, to be around an amazing coaching staff and amazing teammates. I just can’t wait.”

Like the 2020/21 NBA season, next year’s G League season remains up in the air. But whenever it happens, Sotto will be part of an Ignite squad that also features guards Jalen Green and Daishen Nix, as well as forwards Jonathan Kuminga and Isaiah Todd.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • While he has appreciated having Tyronn Lue on his staff this season, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is rooting for Lue to get a head coaching job, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. “It’s a joke that he’s not a head coach, but it’s to my advantage that he’s not,” Rivers said, adding that he has no problem with Lue taking interviews during the playoffs. “… He’s been absolutely (great). He’s just a wonderful guy to be around. His IQ, his feel, he’s made this year really enjoyable for me.”
  • Argentinian point guard Facundo Campazzo is still hoping to make the leap to the NBA for the 2020/21 season, but with next season’s schedule up in the air, he’s sticking with Real Madrid for the time being, per Ricardo Gonzalez of AS.com (Spanish link; hat tip to Sportando). The plan is for the salary he earns in the interim with the EuroLeague club to be put toward his NBA buyout, Gonzalez explains.
  • As of this Saturday (September 5), the eight teams still playing in the Walt Disney World bubble will have the opportunity to add one staff member and swap one out for another, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Coaching Rumors: Lue, Sixers, Pelicans, Kidd, Lucas, Walton

Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue is expected to be one of the NBA’s most popular head coaching candidates this offseason, having already been connected to at least three job openings.

As we relayed on Wednesday, Lue reportedly sought $7MM per year when he was in negotiations with the Lakers last year about their head coaching job. And Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer cites a league source who says Lue will once again be looking for $7MM annually in his talks with the teams this time around.

[RELATED: Tyronn Lue, Chauncey Billups May Be Package Deal]

While Lue’s asking price remains high, it sounds like he could be more open to compromise this year. Pompey suggests that the former Cavaliers coach may end up settling for $5-6MM per year. That would be good news for teams like the Pelicans, who are reportedly budgeting about $5.5MM annually for their next head coach, and the Sixers, who will still have to pay Brett Brown $10MM over the next two years.

Here’s more on Lue, along with other NBA head coaching rumors:

  • We’ve heard that the Sixers and Lue have mutual interest, but Philadelphia will face plenty of competition. The Pelicans are expected to pursue Lue “hard,” according to Pompey, who adds that the former NBA guard is also “monitoring” the Bulls‘ coaching vacancy. Lue is considered a strong candidate for the Nets as well — he expects to receive an offer from Brooklyn, as Pompey has reported.
  • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd is interested in the Sixers‘ head coaching job, league sources tell Pompey. Pompey also reports that Rockets player development coach John Lucas is interested in the 76ers’ job. It’s not clear how seriously Philadelphia will reciprocate either coach’s interest.
  • The Kings are making it clear to potential GM candidates that they don’t intend to replace head coach Luke Walton prior to the 2020/21 season, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, Anderson notes that Walton’s position will still be somewhat precarious, as he’ll essentially be “auditioning for his own job” next season.