WNBA

Central Notes: Turner, Murphy, Cavs, Hammon, Marsh

Pacers center Myles Turner has been the subject of many trade rumors, but for now he’s still in Indiana. Turner told Marc J. Spears of Andscape that he’s got some things to prove next season as he enters a contract year.

“Whether that’s in [Pacers] training camp or whether that’s a training camp somewhere else, I’m going to go and be myself. And that’s all anybody, that’s all I can expect for myself,” Turner said. “It’s definitely a proving season for me. Just proving it to myself, what I’m capable of. “

Turner added that he’s “numb” to trade speculation at this point.

“This is my fifth offseason with trade rumors going on,” Turner said. “‘He’s going to land here; he’s going to do this. He going to do that.’ I am finally numb to it, in a sense.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons general manager Troy Weaver was initially interested in hiring Rob Murphy as the head coach of the G League’s Motor City Cruise, according to The Athletic’s James Edwards III. Murphy instead became that team’s GM as well as assistant GM with the Pistons. Murphy believes the NBA team is now set up for long-term success. “Our books are in order. We have young talent,” he said. “I think we’re set up for success over the next 15 years if this all continues to grow and pans out how we think it will.”
  • The Cavaliers added depth via the draft and three free agent signings. They also signed star guard Darius Garland to an extension but there’s still two big items on the agenda, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic notes. Collin Sexton remains an unsigned restricted free agent and they must also decide whether to pursue an extension with Caris LeVert. Those two unresolved issues are intertwined, Russo adds.
  • Becky Hammon, the former Spurs assistant and current head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, said former Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh has been an “invaluable” addition to her staff, she told Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files“He’s just another person who’s a rock-solid person, first and foremost,” Hammon said. “So it’s always nice to have those kind of people that you can fall back on as a coach. Because a lot of times you can feel exposed out there and those people that have your back, like Tyler and my other coaches, are something that’s really invaluable.”

Basketball Hall Of Fame Announces Full Class Of 2022

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has officially announced its 13 honorees for this year, including former players and coaches from the NBA, WNBA and NCAA, along with figures from different basketball committees.

As we previously relayed, Spurs legend Manu Ginobili and former Heat All-Star Tim Hardaway headline the class. They are joined by longtime NBA coach George Karl, former referee Hugh Evans and two-time NCAA National Coach of the Year Bob Huggins.

On the women’s side, three-time WNBA champion Lindsay Whalen, two-time Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash and former WNBA Coach of the Year Marianne Stanley will be inducted.

“Year after year, we are constantly reminded of the extraordinary and transcendent efforts of the remarkable men and women who have impacted the game of basketball from a global perspective,” Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame President and CEO John L. Doleva said in a statement.

“The Class of 2022 is ripe with individuals who have had a significant historical impact on the game we love. We congratulate and thank them for everything they’ve done to better the sport and look forward to honoring them during Enshrinement this fall.”

Lou Hudson (Veterans Committee), Theresa Shank-Grentz (Women’s Veterans Committee), Radivoj Korac (International Committee), Larry Costello (Contributor Committee) and Del Harris (Contributor Committee) will also be inducted. The full class will be enshrined on September 9 and 10 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Central Notes: LeVert, Marsh, Bey, Pistons

Cavaliers swingman Caris LeVert returned to action on Monday after a nine-game absence, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. LeVert sprained his right foot last month. LeVert averaged 13.3 PPG and 3.8 APG in his first four games since he was traded from Indiana to Cleveland.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh will be joining Becky Hammon‘s staff with the Las Vegas Aces, the WNBA team tweets. Marsh will remain in Indiana until the end of the season, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Another Pacers assistant, Jenny Boucek, turned down a chance to join Hammon’s staff late last month.
  • Saddiq Bey is one of five players who have appeared in every game this season. The second-year Pistons forward has earned great respect from his coach for his toughness, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “I love him,” Dwane Casey said. “He’s an iron man. He plays with bumps and bruises. He plays with hangnails. Some guys are out with a hangnail, but Saddiq is there every night.”
  • The Pistons have been much more competitive since the All-Star break but they still need another top three pick to facilitate their rebuild, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. The risk factor increases drastically outside of the top three in this year’s draft class, according to Edwards’ sources, and it’s possible for Detroit to wind up picking as low as sixth or seventh if the team doesn’t finish with the worst record. The Pistons currently have one more win than Houston and the same amount as Orlando.

Central Notes: Cunningham, Caruso, Boucek, Brogdon

Cade Cunningham got into early foul trouble the past two games and Pistons coach Dwane Casey says his prized rookie has to play smarter, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “We need him in the game. We don’t need cheap fouls, reaching fouls and fouling just to be fouling,” Casey said. “He’ll learn. We need his offense. We need his playmaking. We don’t need him sitting over there next to the coaches.” Cunningham has picked up four or more fouls in 19 games.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Alex Caruso is not close to coming back from wrist surgery, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Caruso is able to do some on-court work but needs to strengthen the affected area. Caruso can barely pass the ball with his right hand at this time and he won’t be cleared for contact for a couple more weeks.
  • Pacers assistant coach Jenny Boucek turned down a coaching job with the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, Scott Agness of FieldhouseFiles confirms. Marc Stein was the first to report the news regarding Boucek, a close friend of Becky Hammon, who is leaving the Spurs to become the Aces’ head coach.
  • The Pacers should look to trade Malcolm Brogdon this offseason after adding a young point guard in Tyrese Haliburton, Drew Maresca of Basketball News opines. He’ll turn 30 in December, so his timeline doesn’t align with Indiana’s rebuild. Brogdon signed a two-year, $45MM extension last offseason. The Knicks and Wizards are two teams that could have some interest in Brogdon, in Maresca’s view.

Spurs’ Becky Hammon Named Head Coach Of WNBA’s Aces

5:15pm: The Las Vegas Aces officially announced Hammon as their next head coach in a press release. “I am so excited to return to the WNBA and grateful for Mark Davis and Nikki Fargas having a vision for me to lead the Aces,” said Hammon. “This is where I come from, and I wouldn’t be me without the W. I’m thrilled to be able to give back and lead this next group of women.”

Becky has become an integral part of our program in every way, shape and form,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “This is a great opportunity for her to highlight her many skills. Her intuitive feel for the game and ability to teach will serve the Aces very well as she institutes her system and culture.”

I have so many incredible memories and proud moments in San Antonio from my time with both the Stars and the Spurs,” added Hammon. “From the fans and players to coaches and staff, everyone in the organization has treated me so well for so many years and the entire experience has been amazing.

“I’m especially thankful to Pop, who only cared about my potential, not my gender. He saw something special in me and was willing to invest the time and energy to help teach and develop a young coach.”

Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports TV (Twitter link) reported earlier today that Hammon would also get the title of general manager in Las Vegas. That wasn’t mentioned in the Aces’ press release.


8:41am: Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon is nearing a “landmark” deal with the Las Vegas Aces that will make her the WNBA’s highest-paid coach, sources tell Shams Charania and Chantel Jennings of The Athletic. Hammon, who was also pursued by the New York Liberty, will replace Bill Laimbeer in Vegas.

According to an ESPN report, Hammon will receive a five-year deal from the Aces. She plans to finish the 2021/22 season with the Spurs before officially transitioning to her new job.

A six-time All-Star as a WNBA player from 1999-2014, Hammon joined the Spurs following her retirement as a player, becoming the first woman to be hired as a full-time NBA assistant coach.

Hammon has since interviewed for a handful of head coaching openings, including the Trail Blazers’ job this past offseason, and has long been considered the best bet to become the NBA’s first female head coach — perhaps even as Gregg Popovich‘s successor in San Antonio. However, her new deal with the Aces will take her out of the mix for NBA positions in the short term.

NBA, WNBA To Launch Investigation Into Sarver’s Conduct

The NBA and WNBA issued a joint statement announcing that a “comprehensive investigation” will be launched regarding the conduct of Suns owner Robert Sarver, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

“The allegations contained in today’s ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton law firm to commence a comprehensive investigation,” the statement issued by NBA Communications stated. “The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees. Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action.”

ESPN published a detailed report regarding Sarver’s conduct on Thursday. It was based on interviews with more than 70 current and former Suns employees, and painted a picture of a toxic workplace culture under Sarver, who is accused of using racially inappropriate language and engaging in inappropriate and misogynistic behavior.

The law firm is the same one that conducted the 2014 investigation regarding former Clippers owner Donald Serling, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets.

The organization issued a statement from Sarver, who indicated he’d welcome an investigation while denying the allegations. Sarver also took shots at former head coach Earl Watson, stating that Watson created a “toxic atmosphere in our organization.”

“I continue to be shocked by the false reporting from (reporter) Baxter Holmes,” Sarver’s statement read. “While there is so much that is inaccurate and misleading in this story that I hardly know where to begin, let me be clear: The n-word is not part of my vocabulary. I have never called anyone or any group of people the n-word, or referred to anyone or any group of people by that word, either verbally or in writing.

“… Instead of reporting the truth, Holmes’ story is based on misrepresentations from former Suns coach Earl Watson and other unnamed “sources.” Mr. Watson created an unprofessional and toxic atmosphere in our organization. He is clearly not a credible source. Despite hearing from witness after witness that disputed Mr. Watson’s stories, Mr. Holmes completely disregarded the truth here. Now we are in the position of trying to disprove things that did not happen.”

The team’s president and CEO, Jason Rowley, also issued a statement which in part questioned Holmes’ integrity.

“The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury organization vehemently reject the claims made in today’s ESPN article,” it read. “Our two organizations have always worked hard to create an environment that is respectful and diverse; where racism, sexism and damaging behavior of any kind are not condoned. Today’s story contains false information and narratives perpetuated by a reporter who has struggled unsuccessfully to match the facts to a story he decided he wanted to tell a year ago. He twisted statements and circumstances to fit his preconceived narrative. He broke every rule of journalism by first deciding on his findings and then cherry-picking events and unreliable sources to prop up his demonstrably false claims.”

However, the team’s part owner and vice chairman, Jahm Najafi, struck a different tone in a statement of his own, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets.

“The conduct he is alleged to have committed has stunned and saddened me and is unacceptable,” Najafi said.

Western Notes: Hyland, Porter Jr., Towns, Russell, Toliver

Rookie Bones Hyland averaged 19.7 PPG across four games in Las Vegas and his Nuggets summer league coach believes he can play right away for the NBA club, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “His skill set is undeniable,” Charles Klask said. “… I think there’s always room for players like him that have great feel for the game. They find a way to get on the floor because they can do so many different things, and as long as he can bring it on both ends, night in and night out, I think he can be part of our rotation, for sure.” Hyland was drafted with the No. 26 pick.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • There shouldn’t be any serious concern about the Nuggets’ ability to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with Michael Porter Jr., Singer opines in a mailbag piece. Singer’s sources say there shouldn’t be too much read into the lack of news regarding negotiations, since the club has until the start of the season to extend Porter. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, had a number of other clients to focus on during free agency, Singer adds.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are determined to do what it takes this offseason to turn the Timberwolves’ fortunes around, coach Chris Finch told The Athletic’s Britt Robson. “There is a deep and genuine motivation by Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to have their best offseason ever. And that’s really where it begins and ends, because if your best players aren’t all-in and ready, then you are not going to go very far,” Finch said. “They’ve seen their contemporaries having success. Devin Booker’s in the Finals. Nikola Jokic wins MVP. These are guys who they feel they are every bit as good as, if not better than — or at one point have been better than — in the league.”
  • The Mavericks are hiring Kristi Toliver as an assistant coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Dallas had been seeking a female assistant for Jason Kidd‘s staff. Toliver, who remains an active player in the WNBA, spent two seasons in the Wizards’ organization.

And-Ones: Maldonado, Holmgren, Banchero, Fieldhouse

Team Dynasty Academy guard Emmanuel Maldonado has decided to sign with the Overtime Elite League, he announced on social media.

Maldonado, who stands at 6’4″, is the sixth player to sign with the league thus far, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). He’s also a candidate to represent Puerto Rico at the FIBA U19 World Cup in July.

The Overtime Elite league serves as an alternative pathway for players to turn pro. Top recruits Matt and Ryan Bewley became the first prospects to commit to the league last month, as we relayed in a separate story.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Top 2022 prospect Chet Holmgren has been named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, ESPN’s Myron Medcalf writes. Holmgren, a Gonzaga commit, averaged 20.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 4.7 blocks last season for Minnehaha Academy. As Medcalf notes, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and several other high-profile players have won the award in the past.
  • Paolo Banchero is unable to join Italy for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament this summer, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter links). Banchero, a Duke prospect, will reportedly miss the tournament due to school-related issues despite receiving his passport.
  • Renovations are ongoing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Pacers and the WNBA’s Fever, Scott Agness of FieldhouseFiles tweets. As a result, the Fever will be forced to play the remainder of their season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum — the original home of the ABA Pacers.

And-Ones: Rubin, LeBron, 2021 Draft, Roth

Michael Rubin, the founder of Fanatics and a current minority shareholder in the Sixers, is a good bet to take over majority control of an NBA team at some point, writes Jon Wertheim of SI.com. According to Wertheim, many people around the league believe it’s likely a matter of “when” – not “if” – Rubin will eventually own a franchise.

“Michael has all of the characteristics that we would look for in a team owner,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “He’s smart, innovative and passionate, wants to give back to his community and loves the game.”

If Rubin were to eventually buy a majority stake in another NBA franchise, he’d have to sell his shares of the 76ers.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In other team ownership news, LeBron James expressed interest (via Twitter) in putting together an ownership group to purchase the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. The team is currently co-owned by Kelly Loeffler, who lost a run-off election for a Georgia Senate seat on Tuesday. A number of WNBA players have called for Loeffler to no longer be involved with the Dream, but the league has said it won’t force her to sell.
  • The NBA updated its mental health guidelines on Wednesday, urging its teams to increase their commitments to providing mental health resources to players and staffers, reports Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The changes come in the wake of an ESPN report which suggested that many staffers are feeling overwhelmed with increased responsibilities due to all the new COVID-19 protocols in place this season.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes a look at some 2021 NBA draft storylines to watch, and explains why he believes the No. 1 spot is Cade Cunningham‘s to lose.
  • Former NBA player and coach Scott Roth, who was the head coach of the G League’s Iowa Wolves from 2017-19, has been hired as the head coach of the Tasmania JackJumpers, the team announced today in a press release. The JackJumpers are an expansion team in Australia’s National Basketball League and will play their inaugural season in 2021/22.

Straus Closing In On Purchase Of Timberwolves

An investment group headed by former Grizzlies minority owner Daniel Straus is in advanced talks to buy the Timberwolves, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania report.

The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx would also be part of the deal. However, there are still a number of issues to be resolved before the sides reach an agreement.

The initial report about Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor mulling the sale of the team surfaced on July 21.

While a group that included former Wolves superstar Kevin Garnett was reportedly interested, the Straus Group has shown serious interest from the start. Its representatives visited the Twin Cities two weeks ago for official meetings, toured the team facilities and reviewed financial documents, according to The Athletic duo.

It entered an exclusivity agreement that expired last week. That didn’t slow the talks, though a handful of other groups were also initially interested in purchasing the team.

Garnett has not had formal discussions with Taylor during the process. Their relationship deteriorated over the years. Garnett referred to Taylor as a “snake” as recently as this spring.

Taylor reportedly wanted assurances that the franchise will remain in Minneapolis and Straus has made that pledge, The Athletic duo adds.