Author: Kurt Helin

Monty Williams

Report: Billy Donovan targeting Monty Williams as part of Thunder staff


Monty Williams is an incredibly well-respected coach — Mike Krzyzewski asked him to be part of the Team USA staff — who did a solid job as coach of the Pelicans. He did get them to the playoffs despite Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson missing large parts of the season.

From the second New Orleans let him go, you could be sure his phone would be ringing from teams looking to offer him a job, most likely as a lead assistant.

Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder are on the top of that list, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Donovan has a targeted interest in several potential candidates, including ex-New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams, Chicago Bulls assistant Andy Greer and Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts, league sources said.

Another possibility could be the return of New York Knicks assistant Brian Keefe, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Keefe left ex-Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder staff to join Derek Fisher in New York a year ago. Keefe is well-regarded among Thunder management and players. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are among the players partial to Keefe.

Former Cavaliers and Lakers coach Mike Brown turned down a chance to interview for the staff, according to the report. Also, Donovan is keeping current Thunder assistants Mark Bryant and Darko Rajakovic on staff, and added former Alabama coach Anthony Grant as an assistant.

Donovan still needs a veteran NBA guy at his right hand, just to help him through the adjustments to the NBA game. It’s why David Blatt got Tyronn Lue to be next to him in Cleveland this year, while Steve Kerr pried Alvin Gentry away from the Clippers.

Williams would be a perfect fit, plus he has a relationship with Durant and Westbrook through Team USA. It’s a matter of fit and if the Thunder are willing to pay — Williams will not come cheaply.

Why didn’t Marcin Gortat play much during Game 6? Food poisoning.

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game Five

Marcin Gortat started the second half for the Wizards in Game 6, played 4:10, then never set foot on the court again. Ultimately, the Wizards were eliminated by the Hawks. Washington could have used Gortat’s rebounding, his defense in the paint, his big picks, but he never got back in the game, coach Randy Whittman calling Kevin Seraphin’s number.


Food poisoning, reports our friend J. Michael at

“March was sick all night last night, throwing up all day today, IVs last night, IVs all day today, he tried to do what he could do but he didn’t have any energy,” coach Randy Wittman said. “I appreciate him giving me the effort and trying.”


Seraphin played fairly well, with 13 playoff points. Nene played in crunch time for the Wizards, he had five points in what had been a challenging series for him. But the Wizards missed what Gortat brings in the biggest game of the season.

Just another tough break in what had been series of tough breaks for the Wizards.

With Grizzlies out of playoffs Marc Gasol’s free agency starts. But he’s not going anywhere. Probably.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Six

He’s one of the two biggest names on the free agent market this summer.

Marc Gasol’s free agency doesn’t officially begin until July 1. Unofficially, the speculation was bound to start to ramp up the second the Grizzlies were eliminated from the playoffs Friday night.

Few around the league think Gasol is leaving Memphis — this is the city where he went to high school (he and his parents moved there when his brother Pau Gasol went there), he’s on a borderline contender that fits his style, and the Grizzlies can offer more money than any other team.

That’s the feeling in Memphis. Well, sort of, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

The Spurs are the wild card that should make fans in Memphis and Portland nervous. There are a lot of things that would need to fall in line — basically Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have to retire — but if they do they are going to be a very attractive offer.

Think of it this way: Your Duncan/Aldridge and on July 1 your phone rings, you pick it up and hear “This is Gregg Popovich, how would you like to come play for me, next to Kawhi Leonard, in our system on a max deal, and you can contend for a title for the next four years.”

Tempting. It’s the only real temptation people around the league think can sway Gasol, who is not going to consider the Knicks or Lakers in a serious way, or any other rebuilding project.

But most likely Gasol is suiting up next season next to Zach Randolph, playing the grit and grind, forcing a league that increasingly wants to go small to pay the price against a powerful front line.

PBT Extra with Bulls lack of shooting did them in

chicago bulls

Cleveland’s defense isn’t that good. It certainly improved mid-season with the additions of Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert (as well as system changes to play to their strengths) but it was never more than a little above average.

Not that you would have known that watching them against the Bulls this past series.

But the issue was more the Bulls’ lack of shooting and how that made things easier on the Cavaliers than anything the Cavs did brilliantly. And the stats at bear that out.

PBT has partnered with the fantastic to break down the Sports VU Camera data and look more closely at the advanced stats of the NBA playoffs and what decided a series.

Cleveland’s defense is still going to get exposed; it just may be the Finals before the run into a team that can do it. The fact Chicago couldn’t should raise a lot of red flags in the Windy City.

PBT Extra: It’s time for a coaching change in Chicago

Cleveland at Chicago, Game 6

Watching the Chicago Bulls lay down for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6, it became clear:

The Chicago Bulls need a new coach.

It’s time for Tom Thibodeau to move on (likely to New Orleans). It’s not that Thibodeau isn’t a good coach, but this team clearly needs a new voice and a new direction.

Beyond that, whoever comes in will have a lot of roster questions to answer: Just how much can Derrick Rose really give anymore? What about Joakim Noah? Can Tony Snell and Doug McDermott be real contributors on a regular basis? There are many more.

Just getting a new coach is not enough in Chicago.