Tom Thibodeau to the Knicks? Well…

11 Comments

Tom Thibodeau is represented by Creative Artists Agency. We have to start there.

CAA and the Knicks enjoy an extremely harmonious relationship.

The Knicks actually made Mike Woodson fire his agent and retain CAA, according to Howard Beck of Bleacher/Report. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

Once Woodson switches his representation to CAA, the agency will control the team’s best player, the head coach and front-office executives Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien — not to mention marketing and sponsorship partners and musical artists who can fill the Garden for important concert dates that otherwise might have gone to the spectacular new arena nearing completion in Brooklyn for the Nets.

The Knicks’ most-perplexing move of recent of recent memory – and that’s a deep competition – of signing Chris Smith? Yup, CAA was behind that, too. The John Calipari rumors? CAA-based also.

So, the only reason the idea of Thibodeau going to the Bulls is gaining footing is because he’s represented by CAA.

Marc Stein of ESPN lays out the case:

Don’t forget he’s another CAA star client who already has some Knicks history after his stint as an assistant on Jeff Van Gundy’s staff. No one I’ve consulted, furthermore, thinks that trying to bring in the famously demanding Thibodeau would dissuade Melo from re-signing with the Knicks, who, remember, can still pay their star forward $30 million more than anyone else to stay in a city he adores.

Thibs has two seasons left on his Bulls deal after this one, true, but there is said to be enough lingering friction between the coach and GM Gar Forman to the point that you can picture it eventually sparking some sort of mutual parting. Throw in the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Derrick Rose’s health, rising fears that Thibs’ beloved Luol Deng is a certainty to relocate in free agency next summer (if not sooner) and the occasional grumble in circulation about some of the Bulls’ players chafing at how hard Thibs pushes them in practice and there’s clearly something there when coaching insiders tip you to keep your eye on Thibs to the Knicks.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $10,000 Fantasy Basketball league that includes Thursday and Friday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 8pm ET on Thursday. Here’s the link.

The biggest obvious hurdle is Thibodeau signed a four-year contract extension that kicked in this season. So, how do the sides get past that?

1. Money. Thibodeau is one of the NBA’s best coaches, and if the Knicks want him, they’ll have to pay top dollar. First, they’ll have to offer Thibodeau a high salary. Then, they’ll have to offer the Bulls financial compensation for letting Thibodeau out of his contract early. Offering just draft picks, as the Clippers did to acquire Doc Rivers from Boston, probably won’t work, because the Knicks are already infamously short on picks.

2. The Bulls giving approval. Beck reports the Bulls would likely let Thibodeau out of his contract if he asks – though not before using their leverage to extract compensation from New York, I’m sure. The rift between Thibodeau and the front office is no secret, and if the they rebuild based on Derrick Rose’s health and Luol Deng’s free agency, the Bulls might prefer to do so with a new coach. Plus, Thibodeau’s demanding style must wear on players, and Chicago might just decide his message has become tired there.

3. The Knicks actually wanting Thibodeau. As long as James Dolan is running the Knicks, who knows what they’re doing? They’ll probably just keep Woodson or hire Allan Houston, who has no coaching experience.

But these are not huge obstacles. Though nobody is more likely than the field to coach the Knicks next season, this really could happen.

Thibodeau, via Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:

“I don’t pay any attention to any of that stuff. To me, the only thing I have to do is concentrate on our team, our next opponent, our improvement and never get away from that,” he continued. “There’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown out there that’s just B.S., so if you pay any attention, it does no good. It takes you away from what’s important, and what’s important right now is our improvement and getting ready for the next game.”

Allow me to read way too much into that statement. Thibodeau never denies his interest in New York. He never says he’s committed to the Bulls forever.

It sounds like he’s wisely leaving the door open, and there’s no good reason to believe he won’t eventually walk through it. At this point, though, there also aren’t enough reasons to assume he will, either.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

Getty Images
2 Comments

The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

Associated Press
1 Comment

David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

Getty Images
2 Comments

Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

1 Comment

Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.