Report: UConn’s Ollie will listen to Lakers’ offer, but probably stays

17 Comments

UPDATE 2:55 pm: Adrian Wojarowski of Yahoo Sports basically confirms this story but adds a twist — Ollie and UConn are talking about a contract extension.

University of Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has started discussions on a new contract with school officials, but hasn’t ruled out listening to NBA overtures, sources told Yahoo Sports….

Fresh off his masterful national championship coaching run this spring, Ollie is a consideration for the Los Angeles Lakers and is expected to move onto short lists as more NBA teams make coaching changes, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

2:24 pm: The best time to look at switching jobs is when you don’t need to.

When there is no pressure to take the next job, when you are comfortable and maybe even happy where you are at, you can evaluate any offers that come in evenly and compare them to what you already have.

That is where UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie is at — by all reports he is very happy as the Huskies’ basketball coach, leading his alma mater to the NCAA championship last season.

But because he has an NBA pedigree — 13 years in the Association as a player, at the end of it one of those great locker room veterans teams love to have — and has shown he can coach, NBA teams are going to come calling. Every year. Starting this year, reportedly with the Lakers who are interested now that Mike D’Antoni is out the door.

The guy who played his high school ball in Los Angeles would listen, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. But probably that’s all.

“He’ll listen, but he’s real committed to his alma mater,” said a person familiar with Ollie’s thinking.

NBA teams will come aggressively at him the next couple years because Ollie is a favorite of Kevin Durant — KD said Ollie showed him, Russell Westbrook and James Harden how to be professionals. Durant can be a free agent in 2016. You don’t need an advanced mathematics degree to draw the line there.

The Lakers need to think long term with their hire — don’t hire a guy to make Kobe Bryant happy, hire the guy to make the next face of the franchise happy. That said, you want to throw a rookie NBA coach in the shark tank with Kobe the next couple seasons?

I don’t see the Lakers as a fit.

But eventually Ollie will go pro and try his hand, almost all big time college coaches do (John Calipari, Rick Pitino, and the list goes on and on). If it doesn’t work out, you go back to college. Still, I expect Ollie to bask in the glow of UConn for a couple more years.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.

Hawks hire Travis Schlenk as general manager

Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Hawks picked Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk as their next general manager. All that was left was negotiating terms.

That’s done.

Hawks:

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Travis Schlenk as General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations. He will start leading Hawks basketball operations on June 1.

Schlenk worked his way up the latter and helped the Warriors become the envy of every other NBA team. He deserves this opportunity.

But the job won’t be easy.

The Hawks are stuck between two directions. On one side, they have veterans Paul Millsap (a 32-year-old pending unrestricted free agent whom the owner has basically promised a huge contract) and Dwight Howard (who sounds unhappy). On the other side, they have a youth movement featuring Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. Tim Hardaway Jr., who bridges the age groups, is about to enter a potentially tricky restricted free agency.

Keeping the core together offers the upside of a playoff-series victory or two annually, modest outcomes for the cost. But a fragile Atlanta fan base might not tolerate a rebuild.

Schlenk works for owner Tony Ressler, and Ressler sounds committed to maintaining the status quo by keeping Millsap. It’s now Schlenk’s job to execute that vision or convince his boss to approve a different direction.

Potential none-and-done first-rounder Hamidou Diallo returning to Kentucky

AP Photo/Gregory Payan
Leave a comment

The more I’ve looked into the 2017 NBA draft, the less impressed I’ve become. There are a few bright spots in the first round relative to an average draft – No. 2, 5ish-10ish, 17ish-22ish – but I’m not convinced this is the generationally strong draft it has been touted as.

In the absence of prospects who offer secure promise, why not turn to upside? Hamidou Diallo offered plenty and was increasingly viewed as a first-rounder.

Yet, he’ll return to Kentucky for his freshman season.

Diallo:

A highly ranked recruit, Diallo began last school year at a prep school then enrolled at Kentucky for the spring semester. He practiced with the Wildcats, but never played.

Then, he went to the combine and posted excellent measurables: 6-foot-5, 6-foot-11 wingspan, 44.5-inch vertical and strong agility and sprint scores. Just 18, Diallo might have been the second-youngest player drafted this year (behind only Ike Anigbogu).

It wouldn’t have taken long – likely somewhere in the middle of the first round – for a team to bite on all that potential.

Instead, Diallo returns to Kentucky and must now show his ability to actually produce in basketball games. If he does, there’s no limit on how high he goes in the 2018 NBA draft. If he doesn’t, he’ll regret missing the opportunity to get drafted before his game got picked apart.

Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to opt in

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
1 Comment

Dwyane Wade said he wants to see the Bulls’ plan for Jimmy Butler and the rest of the roster before deciding on a $23.8 million player option for next season.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I can tell you is most everyone associated with the Bulls believes Wade will pick up the option and remain in Chicago for a second season. More surprising things have happened in league history, though. So stay tuned.

This could be a tell that Wade will opt in. The Bulls could obviously be positioned to base their prediction on inside information into Wade’s thinking.

This could a tell the Bulls won’t trade Butler. If they know they’ll keep Butler, they can extrapolate what that’d mean for Wade.

Or the Bulls, like so many of us, just assume a 35-year-old Wade won’t turn down so much guaranteed money at this stage of his career.