Raptors Interview Messina, Udoka For Head Coach Job

The Raptors officially interviewed Spurs assistant coaches Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka for the team’s vacant head coaching position, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Messia interviewed on Thursday while Udoka met with the Spurs on Friday, Wojnarowski notes.

With several teams seeking to fill head coaching vacancies, Messina and Udoka have been popular names this summer.

Messina interviewed with the Bucks and Hornets before those teams hired Mike Budenholzer and James Borrego, respectively. Messina received a second interview with Milwaukee before the team decided on Budenholzer. Long considered one of the top international coaches in basketball, the 58-year-old has served as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio the past four seasons. Messina stepped up to coach the Spurs for Game 3-5 during the first round of the playoffs after Popovich’s wife, Erin, passed away.

As for Udoka, he has interviewed with the Magic and Hornets about their openings. Udoka has been an assistant to Popovich the past six years after he finished his playing career with the Spurs in 2010/11. Udoka played seven NBA seasons, spending time with the Trail Blazers, Kings, Knicks and Lakers.

The Raptors fired Dwane Casey after another early postseason exit, despite finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Casey, who was named Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches after his dismissal, is also one of three finalists for the official award. Budenholzer was reportedly a top target for the Raptors before he accepted the Bucks job.

Toronto recently interviewed Jerry Stackhouse –– a former assistant to Casey — who coached the organization’s G League squad this season. Stackhouse was one of three internal candidates considered by the Raptors as Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian have also interviewed for the job.

Stay up to date with all the latest developments on the coaching front with our Coaching Search Tracker.

Lakers Notes: Ball Family, Allen, Workouts

LiAngelo Ball, the younger brother of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, will take part in a pre-draft workout with the team on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh, Virginia’s Devon Hall, Syracuse’s Tyus Battle and Arizona’s Dusan Ristic are also scheduled for the workout.

LiAngelo returned to the United States recently after completing his first professional season overseas with Vytautas Prienu of the Lithuanian league. He averaged 12.6 PPG during his stint. LiAngelo’s year got off to a rough start after he was arrested in China along with two other UCLA teammates on suspicion of shoplifting. Following his release, LiAngelo left the NCAA and, along with younger brother LaMelo, signed contracts with Vytautas.

“The Lakers are my priority, for sure,” LiAngelo said during a recent appearance on the Marcellus and Travis show on ESPNLA radio. “I want to play with my brother. Ever since I played with Zo, we went undefeated. When we get older, we will get stronger, faster and a better feel for the game. I’m willing to play for other teams, but my priority is to play with my brother.”

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • LaVar Ball, the patriarch of the Ball family, has never been shy to speak his mind when it comes to his sons and his latest comments are no different. During an interview with Hoops Hype’s Alex Kennedy, LaVar said that Lonzo’s health was compromised due to the Lakers’ training tactics. “My expectation for Lonzo is for him to be twice as good as he was this year, and to be more healthy,” he said. “He understands, he went through it. If you’re going to be doing those [workouts with] rubber-bands like that dude Gunnar has him doing, that [is] bulls–t training. That’s what I call it. S–t, he wasn’t like that when I brought him over there. When he first came [to the Lakers], he never got hurt. He was never hurt.”
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen, one of the more controversial players in this year’s NBA Draft, has shown on-court potential but his composure and attitude have long been questioned. Allen worked out for the Lakers on Friday and Bill Oram of the Orange County Register examined a potential fit between L.A. and the sharpshooting Blue Devil.
  • In addition to Allen, here is the latest list of players to have participated in pre-draft workouts for the Lakers.

Kevin Love Leaves Game 6 With Possible Concussion

Kevin Love left Game 6 of the Cavaliers‘ Eastern Conference Finals matchup against Celtics on Friday after a collision with forward Jayson Tatum.

The injury occurred about five minutes into the first quarter after Tatum’s shoulder struck Love in the head. Love remained on the floor for several minutes before being helped to the bench and later evaluated in the locker room. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons.

Love grabbed four rebounds before exiting due to injury.

There is concern about the severity of Love’s injury due to his history with concussions. The Cavaliers All-Star left a March 28 contest against the Hornets after an errant elbow knocked a tooth loose and caused him to feel concussion-like symptoms. Love also suffered a concussion during Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

While he has struggled at times, Love is still a vital piece to the Cavaliers’ lineup. In the postseason, he has averaged 14.8 PPG and 10.4 RPG for the club. After tonight’s 109-99 win, which forced a decisive Game 7 on Sunday, Love’s status remains unclear.

McDonough: Suns ‘Overwhelmingly Likely’ To Keep No. 1 Pick

While nothing has been officially ruled out, Suns‘ general manager Ryan McDonough said it is “overwhelmingly likely” that the team keeps the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes.

“There’s a very small grouping of players we’d consider trading it for,” McDonough said of the No. 1 pick. “It would have to be a proven young star player with multiple years on his contract or multiple years of team control. Once you start whittling down the list, that list probably shrinks to a handful of players, if not fewer players than that, so I think the overwhelming likelihood is that we keep the pick.”

We relayed last week that Phoenix is considering a “handful” of options in the draft. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton is the likely first overall pick and has been heavily rumored to be the Suns’ choice. However, international star Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III have also been mentioned as possibilities. Doncic has a relationship with the team’s new head coach, Igor Kokoskov.

It is difficult and I think people are jumping to conclusions as far as [thinking] there’s only one or two guys in the mix for us,” general manager McDonough said in an interview with ESPN. “There are more than that. There are a handful of guys.

If the Suns are comfortable with several of the perceived top choices, McDonough can follow in the footsteps of the Celtics last season. Boston traded down from the top pick to No. 3, using it to select Jayson Tatum. Markelle Fultz went to the Sixers first overall.

Barring a change of heart, however, it is widely expected that the Suns keep the No. 1 selection, with Ayton viewed as the frontrunner to head to Phoenix.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard Wants To Be With Spurs

Kawhi Leonard‘s future with the Spurs remains a mystery as the organization ponders whether or not to keep its superstar player in San Antonio beyond next season. Leonard is set to hit free agency after 2018/19 and if he reaches the open market, he will have no shortage of suitors.

However, at least one teammate believes that the two-time Defensive Player of the Year wants to stay in San Antonio. Spurs guard Danny Green recently made an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up!, where he addressed his mercurial teammate (via San Antonio Express-News).

“It’s up in the air right now,” Green said of Leonard’s status with the Spurs. “But I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that, he let me know verbally he wanted to be there, so we’ll see what happens.”

Leonard, soon to be 27 years old, appeared in just nine regular season games with the Spurs as he battled a troublesome right quadriceps injury. There were various points where it seemed Leonard was on the verge of an on-court return late in the season, but it never happened. Instead, Leonard rehabbed his injury in New York — with little to no contact with the Spurs —  while under the care of his own doctors.

As the Spurs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Warriors, Leonard was not even on the bench as a spectator.

Most recently, we relayed a report that the Spurs do not intend on trading Leonard and hope to mend the relationship. A healthy Leonard is a difference maker; he finished third in NBA Most Valuable Player award voting last season while averaging 25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 4.7 APG in 74 games.

Atlantic Notes: DeRozan, Lowry, Nets, Theis, Burroughs

DeMar DeRozan was named to the All-NBA team on Thursday, joining Vince Carter as the only Raptors players in history to make several All-NBA teams. While it’s a special honor for DeRozan, it does not mean he is a lock to return to Toronto next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes.

The Raptors began an overhaul after another early postseason exit, firing head coach Dwane Casey. Wolstat writes that Casey’s dismissal may not be the only significant move the team makes, but there is a strong chance that DeRozan remains. Sources tell Wolstat that the team will “explore all options.”

DeRozan earned All-NBA honors for good reason, as he enjoyed arguably his best season to date. He averaged 23.0 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go with a career-best 5.2 APG and 3.9 RPG in 80 games. The one-two punch of  Kyle Lowry and DeRozan has led Toronto to several successful regular seasons — including the best record in the Eastern Conference this season — but after repeated early playoff exits, general manager Masai Ujiri will look everywhere to improve.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Speaking of Lowry, the Raptors point guard missed out on several “unlikely” incentives in his contract by not making an All-NBA team, Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic details. Lowry could have maxed out his incentives at $2.17MM but will instead pocket just $200K in bonuses.
  • The Nets will have several choices to make when it comes to the roster for next season as several players are headed for either restricted or unrestricted free agency. Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) breaks down the Nets’ pending free agents and their individual likelihood of returning to Brooklyn.
  • Daniel Theis joined the Celtics roster hoping to be a valuable contributor to a potential championship winning team. Unfortunately, a torn left meniscus ended his season early and he just recently joined the Celtics as a spectator on the bench. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe detailed Theis’ recovery and the progress he has made. Theis hopes to join the German team for the FIBA World Cup before joining the Celtics for training camp next season.  “It’s a good preparation for me, too,” Theis said. “I think I can start basketball like full contact in August. Then if I can play high level in, like, September it’s good for me, it’s good for the team to see how I’m progressing in terms of training camp in September.”
  • Eugene Burroughs won’t return to the sidelines to coach the Sixers‘ G League affiliate next season, sources tell Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days. In two seasons as a head coach, Burroughs compiled a 42–58 record.

Five Key Offseason Questions: Dallas Mavericks

For several years following their title in 2011, the Mavericks pursued the top free agents on the market, looking to remain in contention for another championship as Dirk Nowitzki neared retirement. However, Dallas repeatedly struck out on those star free agents, finally resigning itself to embracing a rebuild in the summer of 2017, even as the clock on Nowitzki’s career continued to tick.

By keeping their 2017 lottery pick and using it to draft a long-term cornerstone in Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavs showed they have the ability to be patient when it comes to shaping their roster back into a contender. Heading into the 2018 offseason, it’s crucial that the team maintains that approach, avoiding the temptation to skip steps in the rebuilding process as they look to improve upon their worst record (24-58) in nearly two decades.

Here are five key questions facing the franchise this summer:

1. Is this Dirk Nowitzki’s last season?

After a 14-year stretch in which he earned 13 All-Star nods, Nowitzki has seen his production decline in recent years and hasn’t played in an All-Star Game since 2015. That’s to be expected — he turns 40 next month and will be entering his 21st NBA season in the fall, establishing a new record for most years spent with a single franchise.

Nowitzki remains relatively productive and even stayed healthy in 2017/18, averaging 12.0 PPG and 5.7 RPG with a .456/.409/.898 shooting line in 77 games. He’s certainly not wasting a roster spot, and the Mavericks will be happy to keep him under contract as long as he wants to play.

After a couple years when the Mavs made some questionable roster decisions in order to try to contend for one more title before Nowitzki retired, the team appears to have reconsidered that approach, which is the right move. If Nowitzki decides 2018/19 will be his last year, he’ll get a well-deserved farewell tour, but his decision shouldn’t have a real impact on the Mavs’ roster decisions this summer. Dallas needs to keep adding building blocks for the post-Nowitzki era, whether that era begins in 2019 or another year or two later.

2. Will the Mavericks be back in the market for an impact free agent?

The Mavericks’ list of failed free agent pursuits over the last several years is a long one. Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Mike Conley, and Hassan Whiteside were among the veteran stars the Mavs were unable to land. Of the major free agents the team did lock up, two are still on the roster and neither Harrison Barnes nor Wesley Matthews looks like a particularly great value at this point.

The Mavs probably lucked out by not signing any of the players on that first list. Williams is out of the league, Howard has worn out his welcome with multiple teams, and the Jordan, Conley, and Whiteside contracts range from decent to unwanted. As for Barnes and Matthews, both are solid players, but are probably overpaid — particularly Matthews, who never looked quite the same after his Achilles injury.

The lesson here? Throwing money at veteran free agents might not be the best way to build a team. Of course, the Mavs are loaded with cap room this summer at a time when most clubs around the NBA, so it may be hard not to go after a marquee free agent. If Dallas goes in that direction, the team should be very careful about who it spends its money on.

This may be a prime opportunity to finally land a long-term center, but is DeMarcus Cousins worth a big-money investment coming off an Achilles injury of his own? Would Clint Capela continue to thrive away from Chris Paul and James Harden? Are Jusuf Nurkic or Julius Randle capable of being franchise centerpieces? All those players have question marks, so the Mavs will want to think long and hard about how to use their cap room.

Read more

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, No. 9 Pick, Coaches, Workouts

Since being hired by the Knicks earlier this month, new head coach David Fizdale has talked repeatedly about making it a priority to connect with his new star, Kristaps Porzingis. On Thursday, Porzingis finally reciprocated some of Fizdale’s love, tweeting that he had a “great conversation” on the phone with Fizdale, and is “excited” about the hiring.

As Ian Begley writes at ESPN.com, Porzingis’ tweet isn’t a whole lot to go on, but it looks like a positive sign for the relationship between the big man and the Knicks’ new head coach. Porzingis didn’t always have the rosiest relationship with former head coach Jeff Hornacek, and skipped his exit meeting with Knicks brass – including Steve Mills – in 2017, so it’s important to get him on board with the franchise’s direction as he becomes extension-eligible for the first time this offseason.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While it’s possible that the nation’s leading scorer, Trae Young, could still be on the board when the Knicks pick at No. 9, they should resist the urge to draft him, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from sources that the club has “a genuine yen” for the Oklahoma guard.
  • In addition to being linked to Young, the Knicks are also believed to have interest in Miami guard Lonnie Walker. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype passes along a report connecting Walker to the Knicks, and confirms separately with a source that New York is “very interested” in the Hurricanes freshman.
  • Three Knicks assistants who were with the team last season – Jerry Sichting, Corey Gaines, and Dave Bliss – won’t be back next season as new coach David Fizdale reshapes the staff, per Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.
  • Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez and Michigan’s Charles Matthews had pre-draft workouts with the Knicks, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter links), who cites their respective Instagram accounts.

2018 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest Series

As we approach the 2018 NBA draft and free agent period, Hoops Rumors has been examining each team’s cap situation, breaking down the guaranteed salaries, non-guaranteed salaries, options, free agents, and cap holds on the books for each of the league’s teams.

We’re also previewing each club’s offseason in more depth, but these salary cap digests provide a bare-bones look at where teams are at with their spending, how much cap room they figure to have this summer, and which players may not be safe, given their contract situations.

You can find the link to your favorite team’s offseason salary cap digest below. If we haven’t covered your team yet, we’ll be doing so within the next week. You can find this post anytime on the right-hand sidebar of our desktop site under “Hoops Rumors Features,” or under “Features” in our mobile menu.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic

Central

Southeast


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Northwest

Pacific

Southwest

Draft Notes: B. Brown, Govan, Lakers, Bulls

Kansas State junior guard Barry Brown will be returning to the Wildcats for his senior year, he confirmed in an announcement today on Twitter.

“Although the process was more than enjoyable, I have decided to withdraw my name from the 2018 NBA Draft,” Brown wrote in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who supported me, and I am looking forward to finishing my senior season as a WILDCAT!”

Brown, who had workouts with the Lakers and Nets, averaged 15.9 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.8 SPG for Kansas State in 2017/18. He’ll look to build on those numbers in his senior season before becoming draft-eligible again next spring.

Here are more draft-related notes and updates: