Wes Wilcox

Bulpett’s Latest: D’Antoni, Hornets, Hayward, Kings, Irving

The Hornets‘ head coaching search is still in progress, but three league sources who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com said they believe Mike D’Antoni is the frontrunner to land the job.

“I don’t think it’s a done deal or anything, but I know they like the idea of what he can do with LaMelo (Ball) and their running game,” a source told Bulpett. “If D’Antoni can get those guys on his wavelength, that’s going to be an even more fun team to watch.”

D’Antoni has coached a total of 1,199 regular season games for five different teams. If he were to be hired by the Hornets, he would be the second-oldest NBA head coach of all-time, behind only Gregg Popovich. D’Antoni turned 71 on Sunday.

Here’s more from Bulpett:

  • According to Bulpett, chatter around the NBA indicates that the Hornets would like to get off Gordon Hayward‘s contract, which has two years and $61.6MM left on it. “I know Gordon’s situation has been super frustrating,” one executive said to Heavy.com. “He’s such an important player when he’s healthy. He’s talented and he plays the right way. But him staying healthy is a big if.”
  • While Kyrie Irving faced plenty of criticism for his end-of-season comments about “managing the franchise” along with Kevin Durant, GM Sean Marks, and team owner Joe Tsai. However, a source close to the situation suggests Irving was merely stating a fact. “When Kyrie signed as a free agent, he basically said, ‘I’ll come and I’ll bring Kevin Durant,'” that source told Bulpett. “And in return, the Nets agreed that he could have a say in the roster decisions. … With Kyrie, they talked this out beforehand. He wanted a situation like LeBron (James) has — or like he thinks LeBron has.”
  • Bulpett has heard that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who has had an outsized voice in some basketball decisions in the past, chose to listen to his basketball operations executives in the head coaching search, which led to Sacramento hiring Mike Brown. In addition to general manager Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox was involved in that coaching decision, Bulpett notes.

Kings Interviewing Coaching Finalists This Week

The Kings are in the process of conducting the second round of interviews with the three finalists for their head coaching opening and owner Vivek Ranadive is heavily involved, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.

Steve Clifford, Mark Jackson and Mike Brown were revealed as the finalists on Saturday.

Clifford, the former Hornets and Magic coach who mostly recently has done consulting work with the Nets, interviewed Sunday and continued his visit Monday, according to Amick. Jackson, the former Warriors coach and now longtime ESPN/ABC analyst, will then come to Sacramento for his follow-up interview.

Brown, now the Warriors’ associate head coach, is expected to speak with the Kings’ brass later this week. Brown’s interview(s) may take place in San Francisco as well as Sacramento, since the Warriors remain active in the playoffs.

The first round of interviews were conducted via Zoom and Ranadive wasn’t involved, Amick reports. GM Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox and now former chief strategy officer Joe Dumars handled those interviews. Dumars was named on Monday the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

Dumars’ contract was expiring and he wanted more direct control over the front office if he was going to stick around, sources told Amick. He wanted McNair to report to him rather than Ranadive but the owner was not interested in doing that. It does not appear Dumars’ role will be filled.

As noted by Marc Stein in a Substack piece and affirmed by Amick, the Kings are seeking a defensive-minded coach.

And-Ones: Kerr, 2022 Draft, Mitchell, 10-Day Contracts, Kings

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is pushing for fouls committed to prevent fast breaks to be upgraded to technicals, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. That would mirror the FIBA rule regarding transition-stopping take fouls. “It’s terrible,” Kerr said. “It’s terrible for the game. It’s terrible for the fans.”

Kerr added that the NBA is “very serious” about changing its current rule. The league’s competition committee has discussed an increased penalty for take fouls.

We have more from around basketball world:

  • The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has posted his latest mock draft and the first player taken doesn’t play for Gonzaga of Duke. He projects Auburn forward Jabari Smith going off the board first due to his superior shooting ability for a big man, giving him a slight edge over Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren.
  • Smith is also No. 1 on the latest rankings from Chad Ford of NBABigBoard.com. Ford even goes as far to say that’s he’s a consensus No. 1 among scouts and GMs he’s talked to, with Holmgren ranking No. 2.
  • Former Pistons forward Tony Mitchell is signing in Uruguay with Club Trouville, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The 29-year-old last played in Venezuela. He saw action in 21 NBA games with Detroit during the 2013/14 season.
  • What has it been like for NBA executives to try to bring in players when members of their 15-man roster enter protocols? ESPN’s Brian Windhorst takes an in-depth look at the frenzy of free agent signings on 10-day deals to fill in for players who test positive.
  • The Kings have been fined $50K for violating league rules prohibiting team owners and executives from interacting with scorer’s table personnel during game play, NBA Communications tweets.  Assistant GM Wes Wilcox was fined $15K.

Kings’ McNair Revamping Front Office, Hires Wilcox As Assistant GM

OCTOBER 14: The Kings have officially issued a press release confirming the new hires and titles detailed below. In addition to his director of basketball operations role, Johnson will also serve as the new general manager for the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate.

According to the team, Wilcox will assist McNair in front office duties such as “roster construction, strategy and player evaluation,” Jabour will be responsible for overseeing the scouting department, and Johnson will lead Stockton’s front office in addition to contributing to aspects of the Kings’ basketball operations.

“I am excited to have Wes, Phil and Paul join the front office,” McNair said in a statement. “Wes’ background as an executive in the league combined with Phil’s veteran leadership through the scouting ranks and Paul’s proven experience in evaluating talent will be strong additions to the basketball operations group. Their diverse skill sets and unique perspectives will add valuable knowledge and innovative thinking as we focus on executing our vision of building a winning culture in Sacramento.”


OCTOBER 13: Less than a month after being hired, new Kings general manager Monte McNair is making major changes to the team’s front office, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Kings are hiring Wes Wilcox as an assistant general manager, Phil Jabour as vice president of player personnel, and Paul Johnson as director of basketball operations, sources tell Wojnarowski.

Wilcox is the most noteworthy name among Sacramento’s new additions, having previously served as Atlanta’s general manager from 2015-17. He interviewed for the Bulls’ top basketball operations job and was a finalist for the Kings’ job this summer before the team opted to hire McNair. Prior to his stint in the Hawks’ front office, Wilcox worked for the Heat and Pelicans and spent several years with the Cavaliers.

Jabour arrives in Sacramento after having worked as the Sixers‘ director of scouting last season. He also previously held positions in the scouting departments in Orlando and Houston, overlapping with McNair during his time with the Rockets.

Johnson, meanwhile, was named the assistant GM of the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder‘s G League affiliate, just two weeks ago. However, his new director of basketball operations role in Sacramento represents a promotion.

McNair had been expected to fortify the Kings’ front office after the team parted ways with several executives this offseason. In addition to the departure of former GM Vlade Divac, assistant GM Peja Stojakovic resigned and G League GM Anthony McClish was let go. Sacramento is reportedly expected to retain assistant GM and salary cap expert Ken Catanella.

Kings Rumors: McNair, Fox, Bogdanovic, Giles, More

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has long admired Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, so hiring away one of Morey’s top lieutenants – assistant GM Monte McNair – filled a “certain fixation” for Ranadive, according to Jason Jones and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

There had been a growing sense around the NBA that the Kings would pick Timberwolves executive Sachin Gupta to run their front office – Minnesota was preparing to have to replace Gupta, sources tell The Athletic – but the final selection of McNair was driven by Ranadive.

McNair’s first interview with Sacramento took place over video conference, with Ranadive and consultant Mike Forde running the meeting. The second interview occurred in person on Monday, with Joe Dumars and Ranadive’s son Aneel taking part in that session, according to The Athletic. Aneel Ranadive, a member of the Kings’ executive board, was “very involved in the process,” Jones and Amick report.

Although McNair ultimately beat out fellow finalists Gupta and Wes Wilcox, both Gupta and Wilcox made strong impressions on the franchise too. One source described Wilcox as a “sharp interview,” per The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Kings in the wake of their major front office hire:

  • Former general manager Vlade Divac believed the Kings were on the verge of becoming a playoff team, but that sentiment wasn’t shared by everyone around the league, say Jones and Amick. As such, it’s possible McNair won’t hesitate to break up the core of a roster that hasn’t yet produced a winning season.
  • According to The Athletic, Divac had been expected to offer De’Aaron Fox a maximum-salary rookie scale extension, re-sign restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic – even if meant paying $18MM-ish per year – and attempt to retain free agent big man Harry Giles despite previously turning down his team option for 2020/21. It remains to be seen whether McNair will follow a similar playbook in his first offseason with the organization.
  • The Kings have long faced criticism for not having a well-staffed front office, according to Jones and Amick, who say that McNair is expected to make more hires within the basketball operations department. Assistant GM Ken Catanella will also likely remain in his current position.

Latest On Kings’ Front Office Search

As expected, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth has withdrawn from the Kings‘ search for a new head of basketball operations, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Following a weekend report that Booth would remove his name from consideration, word broke on Sunday that he had met with Sacramento after all, but his level of interest in the position was unclear and he didn’t move on to the second round of interviews.

With Booth – along with Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon – out of the running, Sacramento is expected to make a hire from a group of finalists that includes Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, Rockets assistant GM Monte McNair, and former Hawks executive Wes Wilcox, according to Wojnarowski, who tweets that a decision may be finalized this week.

As Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes, Gupta, McNair, and Wilcox advanced to the second round of interviews with the Kings this week. It’s unclear exactly which Kings executives are participating in those interviews — Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Sunday that interim head of basketball operations Joe Dumars isn’t taking part, but Carmichael Dave of KHTK hears that Dumars is, in fact, sitting in on the in-person meetings.

It’s also not clear whether there’s a frontrunner in the process. Dave hears that there’s “strong movement” in Sacramento toward hiring Gupta as head of basketball operations, with McNair coming aboard as his top lieutenant. However, a source tells James Ham of NBC Sports California that the Kings haven’t made any final decisions yet.

Ham adds that whoever Sacramento ultimately hires will have the option of hiring another executive to “help fill the gaps in the front office.” While that person could be McNair, the decision will be up to whoever lands the top job, says Ham.

On one key point, all reporters appear to be in agreement — the Kings’ new hire will gain full control of basketball decisions and will report directly to team owner Vivek Ranadive.

Western Notes: Kings, Atkinson, Pelicans, Thunder

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon reportedly informed the Kings on Wednesday that he will not be involved in their search for a new head of basketball operations.

With Langdon pulling his name out of the Kings’ search, that leaves Sachin Gupta, Adam Simon, Calvin Booth, Monte McNair, and Wes Wilcox as potential replacements for Vlade Divac. Jason Jones of The Athletic looks at each candidate’s resume, exploring why they would make sense for Sacramento.

As Jones points out, the Kings head into the offseason with four picks in the 2020 NBA draft, including the 12th overall selection, but do not have a lot of cap space. Therefore, whoever Sacramento chooses will have a tall task ahead of them to break the team’s 14-year playoff drought.

Here’s more from across the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans are one of the many teams looking for a brand new head coach after firing Alvin Gentry. One potential candidate who could be of interest to New Orleans is former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who evaluates Atkinson’s fit in New Orleans. As Guillory details, Atkinson has a relationship with Langdon, who was the Nets’ assistant general manager, and could help further the development of New Orleans’ young roster like he did with Brooklyn.
  • After just missing out on the playoffs, the Pelicans hold the 13th overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft. But unlike the other teams in the lottery, New Orleans does not necessarily need its first-round pick and could use it to acquire veteran players. William Guillory of The Athletic draws up three trades that the Pelicans could execute to upgrade their roster. One trade Guillory created has the Nets giving up Taurean Prince and their 2020 first-rounder for Darius Miller, Nicolo Melli, and the No. 13 pick.
  • The Thunder will be looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Billy Donovan on Tuesday. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman takes a deep dive into potential replacements, listing 50 possible candidates for OKC’s vacancy. Outside of the known options, Mussatto mentions multiple internal candidates, including Maurice Cheeks and Mark Daigneault.

Kings Set To Begin Interviews In GM Search

Having parted ways with longtime general manager Vlade Divac last month, the Kings have now formally launched their search for a new head of basketball operations, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. Sources tell The Athletic duo that Sacramento is expected to begin interviews as soon as this week.

The Kings have requested permission to speak to Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon, Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, and Rockets assistant GM Monte McNair, according to Charania and Amick, who report that the club will also talk to former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox.

It’s not clear if all those teams have granted Sacramento permission to talk to their executives, but none of the candidates identified by The Athletic are heads of basketball operations for their current clubs. If the Kings truly offering decision-making power in their front office, that would represent a promotion for everyone on their list, so I wouldn’t expect any teams to stand in the way.

As we noted on Monday when we previewed the Kings’ offseason, the organization’s plan for its front office has been a little hard to follow. Multiple reports suggested that Divac’s ouster occurred as a result of team owner Vivek Ranadive asking him to surrender control of basketball decisions to Dumars, and Dumars has since been named Sacramento’s interim executive VP of basketball operations.

However, a subsequent report suggested that Dumars won’t be a candidate for the Kings’ permanent general manager job. That report indicated that Dumars would be involved in the hiring process and would interview candidates along with Ranadive. However, it sounds like the plan is for the newly-hired GM to gain full control of roster moves and report directly to Ranadive.

At the time of Divac’s dismissal, there were reports that the Kings’ search for a new GM could take a while, perhaps extending beyond the draft and free agency and into next season. With interviews set to begin soon, perhaps the franchise has decided to accelerate the process.

The Kings have some major roster decisions to make this offseason, including potentially re-signing Bogdan Bogdanovic, extending De’Aaron Fox, making a lottery pick, and considering the possibility of trading Buddy Hield. Any GM candidate seriously considering taking the reins in Sacramento’s front office would likely want to have a voice in those decisions and may also seek clarity on Dumars’ role going forward.

Pistons Notes: Prince, GM Candidates, Offseason

As the Pistons get their search for a general manager underway, Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link) hears from multiple sources that the team hasn’t requested to interview Tayshaun Prince. Currently the VP of basketball affairs for the Grizzlies, Prince was part of Detroit’s 2004 championship team and there was speculation he’d be a GM candidate, but he wasn’t on the team’s initial interview list, according to Woodyard.

As for candidates who might actually be on the Pistons’ list, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that former Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, former Atlanta GM Wes Wilcox, and current Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes are among those receiving some consideration. However, Bondy cautions that the search will likely be “extensive,” so that list is far from exhaustive.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • With the Pistons’ season on the verge of coming to an end, Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a player-by-player look at some of the offseason decisions facing the franchise. Only Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya have fully guaranteed salaries for next season, though as Beard notes, it’s a safe bet that a few other players will be back.
  • In his latest mailbag, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com addresses the timeline for the Pistons’ GM search and how the team will handle not being part of the NBA’s resumption, among other topics.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we passed along word that the Pistons are becoming the 29th of 30 NBA teams to reopen their practice facility for individual player workouts — they’ll do so on Thursday.

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.