From Boston to Portland: NBA coaching search update on every opening

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The coaching carousel is spinning fast around the NBA this offseason.

There are six openings, with most sources around the league expecting at least one more job to open up in the coming days or weeks. No new coach has yet been hired, and some of the top candidates in searches — Chauncey Billups with the Clippers, Ime Udoka and Mike D’Antoni with the Nets, Darvin Ham with the Bucks — are still busy working their day jobs. Teams are taking their time with the searches. There have been no Chris Finch-speed hirings. 

Here’s an update on where every NBA coaching search stands. Not included in this list is Atlanta, where Nate McMillan is technically an interim coach for the Hawks but is widely expected to be retained after the season.

Boston

New team president Brad Stevens is casting a wide net to replace himself as coach. It looks like it will be a long, thought out, detailed process, so pretty much exactly what you’d expect from Stevens. There is no reported strong frontrunner yet.

Stevens started by interviewing his former assistants, with longtime Celtic bench coach Jay Larranaga getting a lot of attention, as did Scott Morrison. Jerome Allen and Joe Mazzulla also were interviewed.

Then Stevens turned to potential coaches from outside the organization, primarily top assistants from several teams. Here is who we know Stevens has at least spoken with: Chauncey Billups (Clippers), Ime Udoka (Nets), Darvin Ham (Bucks), Charles Lee (Bucks), Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks). Other names linked to the search via rumors and reports include Jason Kidd, Sam Cassell, Kara Lawson, Lloyd Pierce, and Mike D’Antoni.

Following the recent discussion of racist treatment of players in Boston, multiple reports say hiring a coach of color is a potential priority for Stevens. Jaylen Brown‘s recent Tweet only added to that discussion.

Indiana

Former Portland coach Terry Stotts has been considered the frontrunner for this job since before it officially opened up, and there is no reason to doubt that has changed.

Several other former head coaches in the league have been linked on some level to this job, most prominently Mike D’Antoni but also Steve Clifford and Brian Shaw. If (maybe when) Mike Budenholzer is let go in Milwaukee, he is expected to get a look from the Pacers.

Since GM/president Kevin Pritchard interviewed around 20 people for this job a year ago, he has a lot of the research and legwork already done. While Pritchard will likely revisit that list and speak with a top assistant or two around the league, after the disaster of hiring a top assistant in Nate Bjorkgren last time around, it is expected the Pacers will go with an experienced head coach this time.

Orlando

It’s a rebuilding project in Orlando, and the Magic front office is looking at coaches they believe can help develop young players. Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. has been interviewed for the job and there is a growing buzz around the league linking him to Orlando. Spurs assistant Becky Hammon also has been interviewed.

A few other names to watch include current Clippers assistant Kenny Atkinson, the head coach during the Nets rebuild, and helped develop players such as Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jason Kidd’s name has come up, and remember that Magic general manager John Hammond hired Kidd in Milwaukee in 2014. Jaron Collins, who recently left Golden State looking for the chance to be a head coach or lead assistant, reportedly has had conversations with Orlando.

Other rumored targets include assistant coaches Udoka (Nets), D’Antoni (Nets), Ham (Bucks), Dan Craig (Clippers), and former Trail Blazers coach Stotts.

Portland

Since the moment Jason Kidd took himself out of the running for this job, Chauncey Billups has been the name most strongly linked to the job in the buzz around the league. He is reportedly on the interview list for the job.

D’Antoni reportedly has interest in the job and could be a good fit if GM/president Neil Olshey realizes he’s not going to change the roster much but wants to boost the offense (at his widely-panned postseason press conference, Olshey said he wanted the next coach to have a defense-first mentality). D’Antoni is expected to be interviewed, along with Hammon (Spurs) and Allen (Celtics). Also linked to this job are Jeff Van Gundy (unlikely), Dawn Staley, and Spurs executive Brent Barry.

Who should Portland hire? Whoever Damian Lillard wants. This hire is about keeping the superstar happy and in the Pacific Northwest. Lillard may not be injecting himself into the search, but at the very least he gets a Roman Emporer thumbs up/down on the pick of management.

New Orleans

It’s early in the process, but the early reports are GM/president David Griffin is interested in promoting from within and is seriously considering long-time Pelicans’ assistant Fred Vinson — he has been there 12 years, going back to Monty Williams — or potentially Teresa Weatherspoon (although Griffin seemed to throw cold water on that rumor in his press conference).

Other names linked to the job via rumors and reports are top assistants around the league, including Kidd (Lakers), Udoka (Nets), Lee (Bucks), Will Weaver (Rockets), and former Orlando head coach and current Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn. Griffin and the Pelicans interviewed nine people a year ago for this job, he can fall back on a lot of that research.

After hiring and firing Stan Van Gundy within one year — and now about to give Zion Williamson his third coach in three years — there is pressure on Griffin to nail this choice and provide some stability for the franchise.

Washington

It’s very early in the process — a process that reportedly will be diverse and inclusive — but you can bet both Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook will have some input on how that goes. Both superstars liked Brooks and general manager Tommy Sheppard decided to move on; now they will have some say in who the new coach is.

The one name that came up quickly: Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. Expect a lot more names in the coming days, including coaches from the international ranks.

Chase Hughes at NBC Sports Washington reports that a woman head coaching candidate — Hammon, Lawson, Witherspoon, and/or Dawn Staley — will get serious consideration for the job.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets, team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game, when will it be more?

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SEATTLE (AP) — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.