Willie Green

And-Ones: Lingering Questions, Ref Vaccinations, Noel, Jenkins, Mathias

The NBA’s summer of player movement may be winding down, but there are still some questions looming over teams. An ESPN panel of insiders looked at some of them on Thursday (before the Lauri MarkkanenLarry NanceDerrick Jones Jr. three team deal broke).

Among the predictions that were made: Nick Friedell believes Damian Lillard will eventually end up with the Knicks, just not in the immediate future; Kirk Goldsberry thinks that J.J. Redick will end up with the Nets; Andrew Lopez predicts Paul Millsap will start the season not on a roster, but will be picked up mid-season.

The crew also looks at which new coaches have the hardest road ahead: Chauncey Billups with the Blazers and Willie Green with the Pelicans each received two votes, while Jason Kidd with the Mavericks received one.

And, of course, the much-discussed Ben SimmonsSixers impasse was the first topic of debate.

We have more news from around the world of hoops:

  • The NBA will require its referees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, barring medical or religious exemptions, the league announced today. A report from ESPN laid out the scope of the policy, including that referees will receive booster shots once those become recommended, and that refs without an approved exemption who aren’t vaccinated will not be eligible to work games.
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel‘s lawsuit has the potential to change the NBA-agent landscape, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Fischer writes that as opposed to the league’s tampering rules between teams and players, there are no such prohibitions on agents trying to poach clients, and that this unprecedented peek behind the curtain could give the league incentive to put some protections in place.
  • John Jenkins has signed with BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque in France, reports Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (via Twitter). Jenkins played eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 5.0 PPG while shooting 36.7% from three on 319 career attempts. Jenkins recently participated with the Team USA select team as Team USA prepared for their eventual gold medal run.
  • Dakota Mathias has signed with the G League Ignite, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 26-year-old played eight games for the Sixers as one of their two-way contracts last season, and Scotto reports that several teams have interest in him as a two-way player again this year. Mathias averaged six PPG and 1.6 APG in 15.4 minutes a night for Philadelphia.

Pelicans Notes: Hernangomez, Jones, Murphy, Marshall, Green

Willy Hernangomez‘s new three-year contract with the Pelicans will be fully guaranteed for the first two years with a team option for year three, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).

Lopez also provides the year-by-year breakdown of Hernangomez’s new deal. The Pelicans held the big man’s Non-Bird rights, giving them the ability to offer a starting salary worth 120% of his $1,939,350 minimum salary. That means Hernangomez will earn $2,327,220 in 2021/22, with 5% annual raises on that amount. The three-year contract will be worth about $7.33MM in total.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Herb Jones‘ three-year contract with the Pelicans will be worth more than the minimum for the first two seasons, according to Lopez, who tweets that the No. 35 pick will earn $1.7MM in 2021/22 and $1.785MM in ’22/23. Both of those amounts will be fully guaranteed, followed by a minimum-salary ($1.836MM) team option in ’23/24. New Orleans is using a small part of its mid-level exception on Jones.
  • William Guillory of The Athletic checks in on the Pelicans who have turned heads at the Las Vegas Summer League, writing that Trey Murphy and Naji Marshall look capable of emerging as regular rotation players on the wing. New head coach Willie Green has also done a good job emphasizing ball movement and defensive activity, according to Guillory, who says those are two areas the team needs to improve in 2021/22.
  • After reaching a deal with restricted free agent Josh Hart, the Pelicans look like they’ll be just about finished with their offseason business, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The team will have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and will have to rely heavily on internal growth from its young players in order to compete for a playoff spot in 2021/22.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Batum, Finley, Kerr, Green

The five-team trade the Spurs are involved in continues a trend of the teamstockpiling draft picks, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News notes. The Spurs will gain a 2022 second-round pick along with Chandler Hutchison from the Wizards in the agreed-upon multi-team swap, highlighted by the Lakers’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook. San Antonio is also acquiring three picks – a first-rounder and two second-rounders – in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade with the Bulls.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks were among the teams interested in Clippers forward Nicolas Batum before he agreed to re-sign with Los Angeles, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. The Warriors also checked in on Batum before he chose to take a two-year deal with a player option from the Clippers.
  • The Mavericks have officially announced the promotion of Michael Finley to assistant GM/VP of basketball operations, the team’s PR department tweets. Finley will work under new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison in his expanded front office role.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr is ecstatic that one of his former assistants, Willie Green, got the Pelicans‘ head coaching job and believes he’ll have little trouble growing into the role, Kerr told William Guillory of The Athletic. “There’s just kind of this quiet dignity and intelligence about him that the players will really appreciate,” Kerr said. “And then I think, like all coaches, he’s going to have to find his voice and find his style. I’m sure he’s going to hire a great staff to help him do that. And he’ll grow into the job, but I think he’ll be fantastic.”

Chris Paul Considered Likely To Remain With Suns

Chris Paul will likely remain with the Suns on a contract for at least three years and $90MM, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Fischer writes that the veteran point guard “appears all but destined to return to Phoenix.”

Paul holds a $44.2MM option on his contract for next season. He could opt out and become an unrestricted free agent, then re-sign with the club for multiple years. Alternatively, he could opt in and sign an extension.

The Pelicans were eager to acquire Paul, which would have given them a top-notch veteran floor leader to pair with franchise player Zion Williamson. Newly-hired head coach Willie Green has a close relationship with Paul and the perennial All-Star lobbied Houston’s front office to hire Green as an assistant when he played there. New Orleans tried to bring in Paul via a trade last off-season before he was acquired by the Suns from Oklahoma City.

An ESPN report this week also noted the connection between Green and Paul and the likelihood of CP3 staying put. Suns GM James Jones had expressed optimism that Paul would remain with the club.

There had been talk around the league this week about Paul potentially bolting from the Western Conference champions, Fischer adds. One of those avenues was closed when the Lakers opted to trade for Russell Westbrook.

Salary-cap issues, plus a rivalry between the two franchises, essentially made a potential Suns-Lakers trade a moot point.

Pelicans Notes: Lowry, Playoffs, Griffin, Williamson

Now that the dust has settled on Monday’s Grizzlies-Pelicans trade, William Guillory of The Athletic takes a look at why the Pelicans made the move, what it means for the future, and the man assumed to be at the center of the sudden push for cap space: Kyle Lowry.

After getting off of the contracts for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, the Pelicans project to have about $22MM in cap space, and if they renounce Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and their remaining free agents, that number could climb to $36MM, more than enough to make a competitive offer to Lowry.

But despite the obvious on-court and leadership appeal of Lowry, Guillory preaches caution when thinking that Lowry could have the same impact that, say, Chris Paul had on the Suns. Lowry, while a great player in his own right, has been limited by injuries the last three seasons, and doesn’t have quite the same track record of raising a team’s expectations as Paul.

Guillory also points out that because of the reported interest in Lowry from teams like the Sixers, Heat and Lakers, it’s likely that New Orleans, which is not a prime free agent destination, would have to overpay for the 35-year-old guard.

We have more news from the Pelicans:

  • New head coach Willie Green just finished a miracle run to the Finals with the Suns, and he’s looking to see a similar leap with the Pelicans next year, writes ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “We’re really close to taking the next step,” Green said. “I believe going into next season that’s our goal, that’s our mindset. That’s what makes us a sleeping giant. We have two young All-Stars. Putting a lot of talent around those guys and really just making this team go.”
  • Within the same piece from Lopez, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin lays out what he considered his vision for the offseason: “What we hope we’re able to do in the coming weeks in the offseason and heading up through the following years is build a sustainable winner that’s rooted in that gratitude and joyfulness led by Willie Green and the players… that leadership voice, that shooting we need to put around our great young stars. We’re heading towards that.”
  • While gameplans and racking up wins may be part of Green’s agenda, one priority stands out above all others, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst: ensuring Zion Williamson wants to stay in New Orleans long-term. Green has the reputation of creating deep bonds with his players, but this will be a new challenge as a first-time coach of a superstar in a small market. Williamson reportedly had some concerns with former head coach Stan Van Gundy, making Green’s ability to be a player’s coach even more crucial.

Western Notes: Green, Castlin, Jazz, Nuggets

Pelicans coach Willie Green‘s strong leadership traits were molded by people during his upbringing in Detroit, William Guillory of The Athletic writes.

Green, who was hired by New Orleans earlier this month, most recently spent time as an assistant with the Suns. He also played 12 seasons in the NBA, the last of which came in 2014/15 with Orlando.

“He’ll be the most humble, prepared coach you’ve ever seen in your life,” Suns star Chris Paul said of Green. “I can’t even imagine right now playing and him being a coach, but I’m unbelievably happy for the opportunity that he may get.”

That potential opportunity, of course, is now a reality. Green will have the task of leading a young core featuring Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson next season and beyond. New Orleans finished with just a 31-41 record last season, missing the play-in tournament.

Here are some other notes out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Kyle Castlin will play summer league with the Jazz, sources told Hoops Rumors. Castlin, a Columbia and Xavier product, played 11 games with Utah’s G League affiliate during the 2019-20 season. The NBA’s summer league is set to be held in Las Vegas from August 8-17. Utah will also play in its own league, the Salt Lake City Summer League, on August 3, 4 and 6.
  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post examines the Nuggets‘ upcoming free agency period. Singer also poses five questions that will help shape the team’s offseason. “Certainly we have a handful of free agents that we’re hopeful we can retain,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said in June. “We won’t have real certainty about what our roster might look like until post-draft. We really enjoyed this group. The more guys we can keep the better.”

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Pelicans Draft Choices, Pelicans Roundup

New Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd joined ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday to discuss his time with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, as well as what’s in store for his relationship with Luka Doncic in Dallas.

Asked about what he was focused on helping Doncic improve on, Kidd replied, “My job is to help make the game easier for him. Understanding the game within the game. Understanding how to get guys going, becoming a better leader.”

Kidd was also asked about Kristaps Porzingis. “Getting KP back to what he did in New York,” Kidd said. “Putting the ball on the floor, one dribble stop-and-pop… I remember a lotta highlights when he was putting the ball on someone’s head. So getting him back to that era in his basketball when he was having fun.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • In part one of his offseason mailbag, The Athletic’s Will Guillory explored some of the big questions of the Pelicans’ offseason. One such question regarded whether the disappointing seasons of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams were more about personal decline or bad fit with the team’s stars. Guillory maintained that Adams, who had trouble fitting in, has been serious about adding a three-point shot to extend his career, and that he’s been “shooting the snot out of the ball,” according to a source. But he also warns that Bledsoe could face boos at home if he’s still on the roster next season.
  • Guillory also confirms that many believe Jacque Vaughn was the favorite for the Pelicans’ head coaching position before withdrawing, but that Willie Green won many in the front office over immediately upon his first meeting with them.
  • In a piece for NOLA.com, Pelicans beat writer Christian Clark breaks down five prospects the Pelicans are likely to consider with the 10th pick in the draft. Clark quotes executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin on the need to improve the roster construction: “We need to make the pieces fit a little bit better. I think you could all see that this was a rather wonky group at times.” Clark names Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, Moses Moody and others, in a clear sign that wing shooting is going to be at a premium for New Orleans

Pelicans Officially Announce Willie Green As New Head Coach

The Pelicans have made their coaching hire official, announcing today in a press release that Willie Green will replace Stan Van Gundy as the team’s head coach. The team will formally introduce Green at a press conference next Tuesday.

Reports earlier in the month had indicated that Green, a Suns assistant under Monty Williams, was the Pelicans’ choice. As expected, New Orleans waited until after the NBA Finals ended to officially finalize the hiring of Green.

“Willie has established himself as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA. In large part, this is due to a tireless work ethic and authenticity of character,” Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “He brings a vast amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as both a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans alike. We could not be more excited to welcome Willie and his family to New Orleans.”

A former NBA shooting guard, Green transitioned into the coaching ranks in 2016, working with the Warriors as an assistant for three seasons before making the move to Phoenix in 2019. He had been on Williams’ staff for the last two years and reportedly talked to the Wizards and Magic about their head coaching vacancies before zeroing in on the Pelicans’ job.

One of seven head coaches hired since the regular season ended, Green is among the five who don’t have any previous NBA head coaching experience. Ime Udoka (Celtics), Chauncey Billups (Trail Blazers), Wes Unseld Jr. (Wizards), and Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks) are also first-time head coaches.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson were among the other candidates considered by New Orleans during the team’s search for a replacement for Van Gundy, who was let go after a single season. Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn was also at or near the team’s list early in the process, but withdrew from consideration to remain in Brooklyn.

Southwest Notes: Harrison, Doncic, Pelicans, Green, Kidd

Newly-hired Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison hopes to make Dallas a compelling free-agent destination, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. The goal, Harrison said, is to instill a culture that players want to be a part of.

“My approach is really simple,” he explained. “It’s going to be about servant leadership that kind of empowers the team and the staff to be at their best.”

Harrison understands that leadership must start at the top of an organization. Dallas lost longtime president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle this offseason, replacing them with Harrison and new coach Jason Kidd.

The team finished with a 42-30 record this season and has an All-NBA superstar in Luka Doncic, a 22-year-old wunderkind that could aid in Harrison’s mission to entice players and build a culture.

There’s more from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News examined the Mavericks‘ plan for Doncic next season. “It’s tough to nitpick an All-NBA player,” Harrison said. “The best thing you can do is surround him by a Hall of Fame coach (Kidd) who played his position and let those two vibe off each other. I think that’s going to help him tremendously.” Doncic averaged 27.7 points, eight rebounds and 8.6 assists per game this season.
  • Christian Clark, Rod Walker and Scott Kushner of The Times-Picayune grade the Pelicans‘ hire of Willie Green as head coach. Green, a former NBA player, will finish the season as an assistant coach with the Suns before reporting for New Orleans.
  • Jason Kidd has been in discussions with former Mavericks players Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea about joining his coaching staff, according to Mavs.com. All three players hold several years of playing experience and were on the team’s 2011 championship roster with Kidd.

Pelicans Plan To Hire Willie Green As Head Coach

JULY 16: Green is expected to be officially hired after the Finals, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets.

JULY 13: The Pelicans plan to hire Green as their next head coach, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. The two sides are working through the final stages of the process, Charania adds.

JULY 12: Current Suns assistant coach Willie Green appears to have become the strong favorite to nab the position of Pelicans head coach, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

Lopez is the latest to name Green as the frontrunner for the job. Christian Clark of NOLA.com said the same thing over the weekend, as did Fletcher Mackel of WDSU (Twitter link).

Green, 39, has served as an assistant with Phoenix during the past two seasons under head coach Monty Williams. He is currently facing off in the NBA Finals against the Bucks. Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee had been floated along with Green last week as one of New Orleans’ preferred candidates.

Green was also a Warriors assistant coach under Steve Kerr from 2016-19, winning two titles with the club in 2017 and 2018. Green has appeared in four NBA Finals as an assistant coach.

Lopez writes that Green’s skill in building relationships with players has made him an especially appealing contender for a head coaching position. Green was a 12-year NBA pro, and actually suited up alongside current starting Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe on the Clippers during the 2012/13 season. Green played for New Orleans during the lockout-abbreviated 2010/11 NBA season, prior to the club’s re-brand as the Pelicans.