There are “murmurs” that Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts may be fired after being swept by the Pelicans, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.
Stotts has five straight postseason appearances and a 272-220 record in his six years in Portland. However, this is the second consecutive season that the Blazers have been swept out of the playoffs in the first round.
If Stotts is dismissed, Stein says the Magic would have “immediate interest” in hiring him. Orlando fired coach Frank Vogel after the end of the regular season, but hasn’t been in a rush to find a replacement, with Jerry Stackhouse as the only scheduled interview.
Stotts, 60, had head coaching jobs in Atlanta and Milwaukee before joining the Blazers. He was also a longtime assistant, working with the SuperSonics, Bucks, Warriors and Mavericks.
After a period of virtually unprecedented stability in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, the coaching carousel started spinning again during the 2017/18 league year. Three teams made in-season coaching changes, installing interim replacements, and three more clubs have dismissed their head coaches since the regular season ended.
In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.
Updated 4-25-18 (1:46pm CT)
- Out: Steve Clifford (story)
- To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Ettore Messina (story), David Fizdale (story), Ime Udoka (story)
- The Hornets also made a change in their front office, hiring Mitch Kupchak as their new president of basketball operations and general manager. Kupchak will lead the search for a new head coach, with fellow UNC alum Stackhouse among the first of the candidates who will interview for the job.
- Out: David Fizdale (in-season change)
- Interim coach: J.B. Bickerstaff
- Bickerstaff is considered a viable candidate to keep the head coaching job on a permanent basis now that Robert Pera has retained control of the franchise. Grizzlies stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both endorsed Bickerstaff during their exit interviews with the media at season’s end.
- Out: Jason Kidd (in-season change)
- Interim coach: Joe Prunty
- As long as the Bucks remain alive in the playoffs, the team won’t actively move forward with its coaching search. If Prunty can get the club through the first round, he’d become a stronger candidate for the permanent job.
New York Knicks
- Out: Jeff Hornacek (story)
- Interviewed: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Mark Jackson (story), Mike Woodson (story), Kenny Smith (story), David Fizdale (story), Mike Budenholzer (story), David Blatt (story; additional details), James Borrego (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: Doc Rivers (story), Craig Robinson (story)
- Not in running: Jeff Van Gundy (story), Jay Wright (story)
- The Knicks are casting a wide net as they search for a new head coach, meeting with current and former head coaches, assistants, and even Smith, who has no previous coaching experience. Jackson, Fizdale, Blatt, and Stackhouse were initially considered part of the team’s “top tier” of candidates, though it’s possible another prospective hire emerges with a strong interview. Budenholzer, who reportedly wants to coach the Knicks, could be that emerging candidate.
- Out: Frank Vogel (story)
- To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: Nick Nurse (story)
- The Magic plan to take their time with their search, so there haven’t been a ton of rumors about their targets so far. They’ve been linked to a couple coaches in the Raptors organization, given president Jeff Weltman‘s connection to Toronto.
- Out: Earl Watson (in-season change)
- Interim coach: Jay Triano
- Interviewed or spoken to: David Fizdale (story), Igor Kokoskov (story), Frank Vogel (story), Steve Clifford (story), Jason Kidd (story), Vinny Del Negro (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: David Blatt (story), James Borrego (story), Kevin McHale (story)
- Not in running: Dan Majerle (story), Mike Budenholzer (Interviewed; withdrew from consideration), Jay Wright (story)
- The Suns have talked about conducting a “wide-ranging” head coaching search, so they’re unlikely to fill their vacancy right away. Triano is expected to receive consideration for the permanent job, along with several outside candidates, including a number of former NBA head coaches.
- The Magic are in no rush to hire a new coach after firing Frank Vogel following the regular season, John Denton of the team’s website reports. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman indicated that during a postseason press conference. “It is something that you’d rather do sooner than later so that we can get a guy in place and have our new staff around so that they can get their arms around our players, develop relationships and develop our young guys,’’ Weltman said. “All of that factors in. It would be better sooner, but as I always say … `we’re going to get it right before we get it fast.’ Hopefully, we can do both on this.’’
Having already lined up an interview with the Knicks, Jerry Stackhouse also plans to meet with the Magic and Hornets about their head coaching vacancies, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
Stackhouse, who had been serving as the head coach of the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate, has become a popular up-and-coming NBA head coaching candidate. In his last two seasons with the 905, Stackhouse led the team to back-to-back NBAGL Finals, winning the G League championship in 2017.
The Magic had been viewed as a potential landing spot for Stackhouse once Frank Vogel was fired due to Stackhouse’s link to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. Before being hired by Orlando last year, Weltman was the general manager in Toronto.
Meanwhile, the North Carolina connection that made Mitch Kupchak a logical choice as Michael Jordan‘s new president and GM in Charlotte may also help Stackhouse. Like Kupchak and Jordan, Stackhouse played his college ball at UNC.
Stackhouse is the first candidate reported to have an interview with the Magic. As for the Hornets, they also reportedly intend to meet with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, and have been cited as a possible destination for former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.
Despite some unsavory long-term contracts, the Magic have plenty of cap space lined up for the 2018/19 season. For that reason, and the obvious one that they haven’t sniffed a .500 record the last six seasons, the franchise is very much a blank canvas heading forward.
Last season was the first year at the helm for new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, and they played things rather safe, inking a handful of serviceable, if forgettable, veterans to modest deals and calling it an offseason. This summer we may get our first look at what their long-term plans for the franchise are.
Arron Afflalo, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
While the once-vaunted perimeter defender previously came with a hefty price tag, the Magic managed to snag Afflalo on a cheap deal this past season. You can’t fault the squad for the speculative leadership add considering the lack of identity on the roster, but there’s no obvious reason to expect the veteran to want to return after a forgettable 2017/18. Afflalo played just 12.9 minutes per game this season and literally can’t do any worse on the open market than he did last time when he landed a minimum contract on a terrible team that couldn’t even be bothered to give him consistent playing time. That’s not a knock on either party — sometimes things just aren’t a good fit — but I expect the journeyman to seek a more substantive role for the first time since his stint in Denver.
Aaron Gordon, PF, 22 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $18MM contract in 2014
The Magic have all the flexibility in the world to accommodate a sizable Gordon deal and the combo forward is intriguing enough to convince at least one other team to make a generous offer. While it’s hard to say with certainty that Gordon can carry this franchise on his back given that he hasn’t really done so in four seasons, it’s equally hard to fault a team for pouncing on the opportunity to lock in an All-Star-adjacent asset that hasn’t even turned 23 yet. Could Gordon yield the max contract that he’s said to be seeking? It seems within reach, even if the Magic or any other team that commits to it ends up slightly underwhelmed.
Mario Hezonja, SF, 23 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM contract in 2015
The Magic turned down the fourth-year option on Hezonja’s rookie contract and the swingman responded with the most memorable season of his young career so far. In 11 February contests Hezonja averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, briefly showcasing that he could potentially be relied upon as an offensive weapon if given the opportunity. Nothing precludes the Magic from putting an offer on the table to bring him back this summer, but they can’t give him a starting salary higher than the value of the option they turned down ($5.17MM). Regardless, declining that option suggests the front office may have already made up its mind about his future with the team. Hezonja should draw interest elsewhere and could end up as a modest rotation player.
Marreese Speights, C, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Speights went from chipping in for four straight Western Conference contenders to a decidedly less competitive Magic squad, but don’t overlook the fact that the veteran established himself as a leader on a team in his home state. While there won’t be a shortage of space or money to bring Speights back in 2018/19, it’s reasonable to believe he’ll at least consider offers that could put him back in a position to contend. Speights was, and remains, an intriguing stretch big capable of filling the stat sheet in limited minutes off the bench. He won’t be any team’s top priority but he’s worth more than what he made this year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Mannix also weighs in on the newly-opened Magic job, tweeting that Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov could be a dark horse candidate to replace Frank Vogel. Current Orlando GM John Hammond helped bring Kokoskov to the NBA, Mannix notes.
The Magic are making a change at head coach, announcing today in a press release that they’ve parted ways with Frank Vogel. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report that Vogel has been fired.
“We would like to thank Frank for his contributions to the Orlando Magic,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “We appreciate the sacrifices he made as head coach and certainly wish him and his family well going forward.”
In addition to Vogel, lead assistant coach Chad Forcier and assistants Corliss Williamson and Jay Hernandez have also been let go by the Magic, per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.
Like Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek, who was also fired once the 2017/18 regular season came to an end, Vogel was hired just two years ago but found himself on the hot seat after his team overhauled its front office during the 2017 offseason. Having been brought aboard by former head of basketball operations Rob Hennigan, Vogel will be replaced by Weltman and new GM John Hammond, who will hire their own candidate in the near future.
After compiling a 250-181 record (.580) with five playoff appearances during six years as the head coach of the Pacers, Vogel was unable to replicate that success in Orlando. His team failed to reach 30 wins in either of his two seasons — overall, the Magic had a 54-110 mark (.329) during Vogel’s tenure.
The Magic will begin a search for a new head coach immediately. Previous reports have linked the franchise to various candidates with Toronto connections — Raptors assistants Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian have been identified as possible targets for Orlando, and Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse has been cited multiple times as a viable candidate. Weltman was the general manager in Toronto before arriving in Orlando.
The Magic are the fifth NBA team known to be seeking a permanent head coach this offseason, joining the Suns, Grizzlies, Bucks, and Knicks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
More importantly for fans of most non-playoff teams, the end of the regular season means that the 2018 NBA draft picture is clearer than ever. The 2018 draft order is close to being set and – with a small handful of exceptions – most of this year’s traded draft picks with protections on them have now officially changed hands or officially stayed put.
However, there are still some major question marks surrounding the draft order, since several clubs finished the regular season with identical records, and draft tiebreakers don’t work like playoff tiebreakers do. In order to break these ties, the NBA will conduct random drawings this Friday, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN notes (via Twitter).
[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]
For lottery teams, such as the 24-58 Mavericks and Hawks, who finished tied for third in the lottery standings, the implications of those drawings are huge. Whichever team wins that tiebreaker will have ever-so-slightly better odds at the first overall pick (13.8% to 13.7%), and will be in position to claim the higher first-round pick if neither team lands in the top three.
For instance, if the Suns and Grizzlies remain at No. 1 and No. 2 in the lottery and another team leapfrogs the Mavs and Hawks, the winner of the tiebreaker between Dallas and Atlanta would claim the No. 4 overall pick — the loser would get No. 5. For the second round, the loser of the tiebreaker would receive the higher selection.
Here are the draft tiebreakers that will be conducted on Friday:
- Mavericks vs. Hawks for Nos. 3, 4.
- Kings vs. Bulls for Nos. 6, 7.
- Bucks vs. Heat for Nos. 16, 17.
- Spurs vs. Timberwolves for Nos. 18, 19.
- Pacers vs. Pelicans vs. Thunder vs. Jazz for Nos. 20-23.
Several of those tiebreakers will also affect this year’s traded picks. Most notably, the Bucks/Heat drawing has massive implications for Milwaukee and Phoenix — the Bucks’ first-round pick will head to the Suns if it lands at No. 16, but Milwaukee would keep it if it ends up at No. 17. In other words, each team has a 50/50 shot at the pick. If the Bucks keep it, they’d owe their 2019 first-round selection to Phoenix, albeit with somewhat similar protections.
Here’s a breakdown of the traded first-round picks for 2018. A check mark indicates the pick will definitely be sent to the indicated team:
- Nets pick to Cavaliers (✔️): Eighth in lottery standings
- Lakers pick to Sixers (97.1%) or Celtics (2.9%): 10th in lottery standings
- Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via the lottery.
- Pistons pick to Clippers (97.5%): 12th in lottery standings
- Note: Pistons will keep pick if it lands in top three via the lottery.
- Heat pick to Suns (✔️): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
- Bucks pick to Suns (50%): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
- Note: Bucks will keep pick if it lands at No. 17 via a random drawing.
- Timberwolves pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 18 or 19 (tie)
- Thunder pick to Timberwolves (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
- Pelicans pick to Bulls (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
- Cavaliers pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 25
- Raptors pick to Nets (✔️): No. 29
- Rockets pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 30
Here’s a breakdown of the traded second-round picks that will change hands in 2018:
- Bulls pick to Knicks (✔️): No. 36 or 37 (tie)
- Nets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 38
- Knicks pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 39
- Lakers pick to Nets (✔️): No. 40
- Hornets pick to Magic (✔️): No. 41
- Clippers pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 43
- Bucks pick to Nets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
- Heat pick to Rockets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
- Nuggets pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 47
- Trail Blazers pick to Mavericks (✔️): No. 54
- Cavaliers pick to Hornets (✔️): No. 55
- Celtics pick to Thunder (✔️): No. 57
- Warriors pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 58
- Raptors pick to Suns (✔️): No. 59
- Rockets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 60