Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical

  • Sources: J.B. Bickerstaff withdraws from consideration for Rockets job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 16 hrs ago

    After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Monday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.

    The Rockets are beginning to line up candidates in what promises to be a wide-ranging search, league sources told The Vertical.

    Houston owner Les Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey met with Bickerstaff on Monday, as well as Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Houston assistant Chris Finch, league sources said. The team also met with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Mike D'Antoni on Wednesday, league sources said.

    Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.

    Cassell is a popular former Rockets player for whom owner Les Alexander has a strong fondness. Cassell has been an assistant coach in Washington and Los Angeles for the past seven years.

    Former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy remains prominent on the organization’s list of candidates, league sources said.

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  • The Vertical Podcast with Woj: Jeff Bower

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 23 hrs ago

    Detroit general manager Jeff Bower joins Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj.

    Bower discusses the Pistons’ resurgence and return to the playoffs, executing the vision of coach and president Stan Van Gundy, and the franchise’s determination to correct the free-throw shooting issues of young star Andre Drummond.

    Bower lays out the details on the implementation of one of the NBA’s most elaborate scouting departments in Detroit, and how it dramatically differs from the mom-and-pop operation he ran in New Orleans.

    Bower also discusses his time as New Orleans general manager, when Hurricane Katrina forced the franchise to spend two seasons in Oklahoma City before returning home.

    Bower talks about his own personal journey, from a rural Pennsylvania kid who wanted to be a high school coach and history teacher to an NBA coach, GM and college head coach.

    Click here to download the podcast on iTunes, or listen here or on Yahoo Sports.

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  • Why a Spurs series rout could lead Kevin Durant to leave Thunder

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    SAN ANTONIO – Twenty-four months ago, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka threatened everything here. Twenty-four months ago, they were too explosive, too athletic, too spectacular to stop. For years, the Oklahoma City Thunder marked the beginning of the end of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. For years, it was a matter of time until the Thunder passed them in the left lane, leaving San Antonio in their wake.

    This is the frightening part for the Thunder. Once, the Thunder were the heirs to the Western Conference throne. The San Antonio run was ending, and Oklahoma City promised to own the conference for a decade.

    After Game 4 of the Western Conference finals in 2014 in which Durant and Westbrook had gone for 71 points and Ibaka had blocked everything, Manu Ginobili stood in the losing locker room and told me, “They're playing at a different speed, and it's like we are in slow motion. What we need to do is play a game of almost perfection.

    "All these things we need to do to have a chance to win, to just have a chance, and, still, they are so athletic.”

     

     

  • Sources: Kings to interview Patrick Ewing for head coaching job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    The Sacramento Kings will interview Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing for their head coaching vacancy this week, league sources told The Vertical.

    Ewing has progressed as a serious head coaching candidate in recent years, increasing in responsibilities and league-wide respect across his three seasons as Steve Clifford’s top assistant with Charlotte.

    Charlotte plays Miami on Sunday in a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.

    What makes Ewing an intriguing candidate for Sacramento officials is his potential ability to command the respect of mercurial All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, league sources said. Ewing, a Hall of Fame center, has the unique blend of his own physical and playing stature to go with a strong coaching pedigree as part of staffs with Clifford, Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Van Gundy.

    Ewing has helped to develop several top centers, including Yao Ming (Houston), Dwight Howard (Orlando) and Al Jefferson (Charlotte).

    Before joining Clifford in Charlotte, Ewing had been an assistant with Orlando (2007-12), Houston (2003-06) and Washington (2002-03).

  • Sources: Jacque Vaughn joining Nets staff as top assistant

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Former Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn is joining the Brooklyn Nets as the top assistant to new head coach Kenny Atkinson, league sources told The Vertical.

    Vaughn spent the 2015-16 season in the San Antonio Spurs’ front office as a pro personnel director.

    Vaughn, 41, was fired as the Magic’s coach in February of 2015, with a 43-121 record in three-plus seasons. He had been an assistant coach with the Spurs prior to taking the Orlando head coaching job in 2012.

    Atkinson, the top assistant with the Atlanta Hawks, will finish that franchise’s playoff run before starting his duties in Brooklyn.

    Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks worked closely with Vaughn during their shared time together with the Spurs.

     

  • How Michael Jordan's hire rescued his Hornets

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    MIAMI – It was 11:20 p.m., and Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford had slipped out the back door of his news conference and marched out to his seat on the bus. He had the dome light on, his ear to the phone and history's greatest NBA playoff closer on the line.

    “Michael was happy,” Clifford told the Vertical, “but …”

    A little later on Wednesday night, as his players waited to be whisked away from an improbable Game 5 victory on the shores of Biscayne Bay, Clifford was back outside and trying to get his mind on Game 6, the biggest of his coaching career.

    Yes, Charlotte owner Michael Jordan had been thrilled about the first road playoff victory of his ownership regime, but Clifford nodded with complete agreement now.

    “He knows Friday is going to be a lot harder,” Clifford told The Vertical.

    Only a week ago, this would’ve been hard to imagine: After leaving Miami with brutal losses in Games 1 and 2, the Hornets left American Airlines Arena on Wednesday night in a most improbable way: Holding the franchise’s first road playoff victory in 14 years, clutching a 3-2 series lead against the Heat.

    “Now, we’re there,” Clifford told The Vertical. “We’ve got to put one good game together.”

  • Kyle Lowry on Raptors advancing past first round: 'We have to do this'

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    Perhaps this Eastern Conference series shouldn’t be such a struggle for a No. 2 seed with 56 regular-season victories, but the truth is unmistakable: Winning a playoff series has transformed into a monstrosity for the Raptors.

    “The crowd is waiting,” Ujiri told The Vertical. “The fans are waiting. The city is waiting. The whole country is waiting. We hope we can do it for everybody. And the players, I know they feel it.”

    Hours earlier in the corridor of the arena late Tuesday, Ujiri had been chatting with the most famous Raptors fan of all. Drake had exhaled too, and shared a laugh with Ujiri and Raptors executive Jeff Weltman over a past postseason memory. Fifteen years of fervor since Vince Carter led the team past the New York Knicks in 2001, 15 years of regular-season futility and playoff failures linger like a fog rolling off Lake Ontario.

    “It’s there,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told The Vertical. “We can’t hide from it. … Listen, you’ve got to go through something as a program. Five years into our program [as a coaching staff], and the expectation level is through the roof.

    “For our program, this next step is the hardest one to get … one of the hardest things to do in sports.”

  • Sources: David Blatt meets with Knicks about coaching job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt met with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson on Monday to discuss the franchise’s coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.

    Interim coach Kurt Rambis has remained a strong frontrunner to become the full-time coach, and it is unclear if the Blatt meeting was more than a token appearance in a coaching search. Jackson has been determined to continue to run his triangle offense, and Rambis has been a loyal disciple of the system.

    Blatt, 59, has history with Knicks general manager Steve Mills. They played together at Princeton in the 1970s.

    After reaching the NBA Finals in his first NBA season and starting 2015-16 with a 30-11 record, Blatt was fired as Cleveland Cavaliers coach in January. He was 83-40 in his Cavaliers tenure. Blatt joined the NBA after an illustrious two decades of pronounced success in the Euroleague and with FIBA basketball as the Russian national coach.

    Rambis has a career record of 65-164, including a 9-19 mark as the Knicks’ interim coach following the firing of Derek Fisher this season.

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  • Woj Report: The Warriors without Steph

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
  • Sources: Kings interview Vinny Del Negro for head-coaching job

    Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    The Sacramento Kings interviewed Vinny Del Negro for the franchise’s head-coaching job on Monday, league sources told The Vertical.

    Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson is expected to meet with Kings officials as soon as Tuesday for an interview, league sources said.

    Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac has been conducting the meetings and is expected to have the strongest voice in the eventual hiring.

    The Kings are considering a large pool of candidates to replace George Karl, who was fired at the end of the regular season.

    After leading the Los Angeles Clippers to the best regular season in history at the time with 56 victories in 2012-13, Del Negro wasn't offered a new contract. The Clippers were eliminated in a first-round playoff series against Memphis – a year after beating Memphis to reach the conference semifinals.

    Del Negro, 49, was the 29th overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft by the Kings and played his first two NBA seasons in Sacramento.

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