Tag:Coaching Carousel 2010
Posted on: June 26, 2010 4:22 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2010 4:25 pm

Clippers focus on Del Negro, Casey

The Clippers, who have moved as deliberately as any team in their offseason coaching search, are leaning strongly toward hiring either Vinny Del Negro or Dwane Casey, three sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Unless something goes awry in the interview or negotiating process, the Clippers will be choosing between two former head coaches fired by their previous teams -- and the two finalists for the Bulls' head coaching job when Chicago hired Del Negro two years ago. Del Negro and Casey are expected to interview with team president Andy Roeser and GM Neil Olshey early next week.

Rather than bring in a half dozen candidates for interviews, the Clippers have conducted a thorough background search on candidates before sitting down face-to-face with them. It is anticipated, but not a foregone conclusion, that the Clippers will have a coach in place in time for the start of the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1. With an attractive young roster including Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and No. 8 pick Al-Farouq Aminu, plus about $27 million in cap space to attract free agents, the Clippers' job actually was one of the better opportunities available on the NBA's coaching merry-go-round this summer.

Besides the deliberative nature of the search, one of the sources with knowledge of the situation said persistent overtures from Bobcats coach Larry Brown have slowed the process. But it appears that Brown will remain in Charlotte -- and, in any event, Bobcats GM Rod Higgins presumably will require a firm commitment from his coach at some point. But Brown's inability to become a significant factor in the Clippers' search was "not for his lack of trying," the person familiar with the matter said. Another person directly involved in the process handicapped Brown's chances of landing with the Clippers as "one in a billion."

Posted on: June 5, 2010 5:23 pm

Source: Thibodeau accepts Bulls' offer

LOS ANGELES -- Tom Thibodeau has accepted an offer to become head coach of the Bulls, a person with close ties to the Celtics assistant confirmed to CBSSports.com Saturday.

The news, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, comes as Thibodeau is preparing for Game 2 of the NBA Finals with Boston trailing the Lakers 1-0.

Thibodeau, 50, architect of the Celtics defense that contained Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard during Boston's unexpected return to the Finals for the second time in three years, is not permitted to speak with the media due to team policy that muzzles assistant coaches. But the person with knowledge of the agreement called his decision to leave the Celtics for the opportunity to be the head coach in Chicago -- a marquee franchise with a solid roster and cap space to add a max free agent -- "a no-brainer."

No official announcement will come from either team during the Finals.


Posted on: June 4, 2010 10:26 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2010 2:18 pm

Hornets offer coaching job to Blazers' Williams

LOS ANGELES -- The New Orleans Hornets have offered their head coaching position to Portland assistant Monty Williams, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

The offer came Friday afternoon after talks broke down with Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau, whose indecision as he helps coach the Celtics in the NBA Finals bumped Williams from No. 2 on the Hornets' list to No. 1. Thibodeau also interviewed with Bulls officials in Los Angeles before the Finals began, signaling his desire to pursue jobs other than the one vacated in New Orleans when interim coach Jeff Bower returned to his full-time GM duties after the season.

Bower and Williams' agent, Steve Kauffman, are said to be in the preliminary stages of negotiations, with financial terms and certain key contractual details yet to be broached. But close friends of Williams, 38, who played for five teams during a nine-year NBA playing career and became Nate McMillan's most trusted assistant in Portland, say he is excited about the opportunity. No serious hangups are expected in the negotiations.

Thibodeau, who has a full plate with the Celtics down 1-0 in the Finals with Game 2 on Sunday, has now emerged as the leading candidate for the Bulls' job. After Thibodeau allowed a Thursday deadline to accept the Hornets' offer lapse -- a deadline that Bower has told friends he did not impose -- the Hornets conducted a lenghty second interview by phone on Thursday with Williams. The Blazers assistant performed well in the interview process, impressing Hornets officials with his preparation and enthusiasm for the job.

Posted on: May 27, 2010 9:18 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2010 1:07 pm

Thibodeau hires agent; series complicates search

LOS ANGELES – While Tom Thibodeau remains the front-runner for the Hornets’ head coaching position, the extension of the Celtics-Magic series has complicated efforts by both parties to close the deal.

Thibodeau, architect of the Boston defense that ousted LeBron James from the playoffs, is entrenched in a suddenly difficult Eastern Conference finals with Orlando as the Celtics’ 3-0 lead has dwindled to 3-2 heading into Game 6 Friday night in Boston. In preparation for a contract negotiation with New Orleans, Thibodeau hired leading sports representation firm Creative Artists Agency on Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. CAA has an expanding coaching business in addition to its dealings with top free agents James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Celtics’ difficulty in closing out the Magic also has affected the progress of other coaching searches, most notably Atlanta’s. The Hawks, who have twice interviewed Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, the leading candidate for the job, have been unable to schedule an interview with Mark Jackson due to his broadcasting and travel obligations in the Eastern Conference finals. That interview is expected to take place in the next couple of days, according to a person familiar with that situation.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have officially embarked on their search for a candidate to replace Mike Brown, who was fired after back-to-back 60-win seasons. At or near the top of the list is Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. But the Cavs have quietly begun conducting background checks on several other candidates and have been privately saying in those conversations that James, a soon-to-be-free agent, will not be making the decision, according to a person familiar with the Cavs’ search. James certainly will have input, but the person said James doesn’t want his fingerprints on the Cavs’ hire – in part because the organization doesn’t yet know if he will be staying or leaving as a free agent.

A person with close ties to James told CBSSports.com that he remains undecided, citing the complicated series of decisions league-wide on coaching hires and the movement of other top free agents. Wade told the Chicago Tribune in a story published Thursday that he plans to sit down with fellow CAA clients James and Bosh to jointly discuss their options.

The Bulls and Nets also are interested in Thibodeau, though in Chicago’s case, his hiring of an agent could complicate matters since the Bulls are one of the only teams in the NBA that do not negotiate with coaching agents. Portland assistant Monty Williams also remains on the radar for the Nets, Hornets and Clippers, who also are interested in Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin. A person familiar with the situation said Williams is believed to be the No. 2 choice in New Orleans if Thibodeau says no. Williams performed extremely well in the interview process and impressed incoming Hornets owner Gary Chouest and team president Hugh Weber.

The Clippers, according to sources, remain hopeful of persuading Larry Brown to leave Charlotte for L.A., but pressure is expected to mount on Brown to tell the Bobcats’ brass definitively if he’s saying or leaving so the team doesn’t get shut out in the search for qualified replacements.
Posted on: May 24, 2010 2:40 am
Edited on: June 5, 2010 2:16 pm

Cavs fire Brown; next up, LeBron (UPDATE)

The unraveling of the Cavaliers’ season came to its inevitable conclusion early Monday with a source confirming to CBSSports.com that coach Mike Brown has been fired.

Back-to-back 60-win seasons couldn’t save Brown from the backlash of another premature playoff ouster after the Cavs, with the best record in the league, were eliminated from the playoffs in six games by the Boston Celtics.

By firing Brown, the 2008-09 NBA coach of the year, by Sunday at midnight, the Cavs avoided his $4.5 million salary for next season becoming fully guaranteed. Since he was let go before the deadline, only half of Brown’s salary is guaranteed.

Brown, a strong defensive coach groomed in the successful Spurs organization, will immediately become a candidate for head coaching openings in New Orleans and Atlanta and perhaps elsewhere.

According to a second source familiar with the Cavs' strategy, Brown's ouster was the first -- and most important -- piece of the puzzle that had to be solved before Cleveland could proceed with its plan to persuade LeBron James to return to the Cavs once the free-agent negotiating period begins July 1. Recent reports have indicated that James recused himself from the decision on Brown, but decision makers in the organization were well aware that he was not pleased with the way the team failed to adjust to its opponent's style of play for the second straight postseason. Last season, it was Orlando foiling the Cavs' simplistic defensive rotations. This time, it was Boston shredding the Cavs' defense with Rajon Rondo's dribble penetration and mismatches on the interior, with Kevin Garnett exposing Antawn Jamison for the entire six-game series.

In a telling dose of doom for Brown after the Cavs' ouster in Game 6 of the conference semis, James was noncommittal about Brown and declined to come to his defense publicly when asked. Despite Brown's regular season success, it was only a matter of time before the playoff losses caught up to him. And in Cleveland, where an entire city is bracing for James' anticipated foray into unrestricted free agency, the regular season doesn't matter. Playoffs and championships do.

So with everyone from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to President Obama urging LeBron to weigh his chances of winning a title in another city, the process of sucking up to James begins anew. What coach would persuade him to stay? Or better yet, what coach and supporting cast would persuade him not to leave?

Despite the Cavs' best efforts to placate him with roster additions that have not worked -- Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal, Jamison -- there is a growing belief among those familiar with the situation that James is more open than ever to the possibility that he would be able to find a better supporting cast in Chicago. Several factors independent of the Cavs' playoff collapse have enhanced the Bulls' position. The possibility of playing with Derrick Rose, and the fact that the Bulls have left their coaching job vacant -- with James' buddy, John Calipari, lurking in the wings and with Phil Jackson's contractual situation with the Lakers still unresolved -- have conspired to make the Cavs' job of keeping him even harder.

Step one was firing Brown, whether LeBron was directly involved in the decision or not. The next set of dominoes will begin tumbling almost immediately, with Cleveland engaging in a coaching search and LeBron getting some clarity as to what he'd be returning to if he stayed in Cleveland.

Whether Brown deserved to be fired is hardly the issue. Given the expectations, and what was at stake for James' future, it's hard to argue with the decision. Under those circumstances, you can't bring a team with the best record in the league into the playoffs and lose as thoroughly as the Cavs did and expect to keep your job. All we know for sure, though, is that one shoe has dropped. The big ones -- the franchise-shaping ones -- are coming next.

Posted on: May 20, 2010 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2010 8:49 pm

Sources: Casey has inside track for Hawks job

Former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey has the inside track for the Atlanta Hawks' job, three sources familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Casey, an assistant for Rick Carlisle on the Dallas bench who's attracted interest from several teams in the market for a coach, has a strong relationship with Hawks GM Rick Sund from their days in Seattle together. Plus, considering the likelihood that Casey would fit under the Hawks' $2 million annual budget for a head coach, it looks like "his job to lose," one of the sources said. Casey and the Hawks' brass were planning to discuss the opening in Chicago during the pre-draft camp this week.

A second source familiar with the situation, however, noted that Sund is in the process of formulating a list of 4-5 candidates to interview for the position vacated when Mike Woodson's contract was not renewed after an embarrassing second-round sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Mark Jackson, the broadcaster and former player, is one of those expected to be interviewed, the source said. Sund also is interested in speaking with Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos, among others. Casey, one of the sources said, will have to earn the job.

While the Hawks are expected to target Casey and the Sixers have agreed to terms with Doug Collins, several other teams are in holding patterns in their coaching searches. The Bulls, Clippers and Nets are in no rush to hire a coach, particularly with all that is riding on their pursuit of LeBron James and other free agents when the negotiating period opens July 1. No team in the running for those elite players wants to give up the negotiating power of allowing the player to have input on the coaching hire. The Clippers, sources say, also are holding out hope that Larry Brown could be persuaded to take over a young, talented roster with cap space for a max free agent. And with Phil Jackson's future with the Lakers in limbo, there's a pie-in-the-sky theory that perhaps Jackson could be persuaded to move across the hall at Staples Center and take on a reclamation project -- especially if he can't come to terms with Dr. Jerry Buss on how much of a pay cut he's expected to take.

The other shoe to drop -- and it's a big one-- is Mike Brown in Cleveland. Brown and most of his staff are expected to be fired "sooner than later," according to a person familiar with the Cavs' organizational dynamics. According to that person, letting Brown go will come with a softer-than-expected financial blow because of an unusual circumstance in which Brown's salary for next season is only half guaranteed.

If and when Brown is let go, he immediately would become a candidate for any team with an opening that isn't a realistic destination for James. No team hoping to lure James would hire a coach who was just fired at his behest.


Posted on: May 6, 2010 6:36 pm

Postups: Wall breaks ranks with LeBron

John Wall played at Kentucky for John Calipari, a key player in the nexus of basketball power that also includes William “Wes” Wesley, LeBron James and LeBron’s agent, Leon Rose. So it was a huge upset when Wall broke ranks with Rose’s Creative Artists Agency and signed this week with agent Dan Fegan.

Or was it? By spurning CAA, Wall became the third straight Calipari guard to break away from the agency that everyone assumed he would join. Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans both played for Calipari at Memphis, and both signed with Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group.

So much for the conspiracy theories that CAA would steer LeBron and Calipari to New Jersey (and then Brooklyn) if the Nets got the No. 1 pick, and thus, selected Wall. The best player available in the draft since LeBron himself will enter the NBA with a clean slate, and with no entanglements beyond those already entrenched within his inner circle of close advisors.

In effect, Wall won’t be riding LeBron’s – or anyone else’s – coattails.

Fegan’s BEST agency was among four finalists to represent Wall, along with CAA (Rose), Wasserman (Tellem) and Happy Walters, who represents Amar’e Stoudemire. BEST’s Kentucky connections didn’t hurt – its parent company, Blue Equity LLC, is based in Louisville, Ky., – but other factors entered into Wall’s decision.

One of those factors, sources say, was Wall’s desire to chart his own course to superstardom and marketing supremacy, rather than join LeBron’s sports marketing company, LRMR, which was formed by his childhood friends – most notably front man Maverick Carter.

“Why would you want to be LRMR when you could do it on your own?” said an industry expert who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Wall’s business dealings.

What Wall does have in common with LeBron, however, is a desire to have his close circle of friends and advisors involved in his basketball and business dealings. To that end, sources say Dwon Clifton – the director of player development at Baylor and one of Wall’s former amateur coaches – is expected to become a certified agent and join BEST to advise Wall on a day-to-day basis. BEST also is in the process of setting up a multi-platform, collaborative marketing plan for Wall, the Sports Business Journal reported.

So just as Clifton’s presence at Baylor did not steer Wall to Waco, the Wesley-LeBron-Calipari triumvirate didn’t send him to the agency everyone expected. It was a coup for Fegan, whose stable of NBA players includes Shawn Marion, Anderson Varajeo, Jason Terry, Nene, Yi Jianlian ... and now, the player who has sent a strong message that he’s not simply trying to be the next LeBron.

And with that, here’s the rest of this postseason edition of Post-Ups:


This is always a time of uncertainty in the coaching and front-office ranks. But turmoil in Portland and Denver has rival executives even more on edge than usual, sources say. One executive with another team expressed dismay that Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard could be on the way out after he and former assistant GM Tom Penn – who was fired in March – built a team that won 50 games in the ultra-competitive Western Conference and won a road playoff without All-Star Brandon Roy. Two playoff starters were acquired in trades orchestrated by Pritchard – Andre Miller and Marcus Camby – that didn’t sacrifice future cap space. 

A popular slam against Pritchard – the selection of Greg Oden over Kevin Durant – falsely assumes that the then-Sonics wouldn’t have done the same thing. When Oden got hurt again this season, he was averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, finally showing signs of being the defensive force everyone thought he would be. When Oden’s backup, Joel Pryzbilla, got hurt, the Blazers went 27 games with 37-year-old Juwan Howard as their starting center – and still won 50 games. 

All of this was accomplished with the lowest effective payroll in the league – even lower than Oklahoma City if you exclude the $9 million occupied by Darius Miles following his cameo with Memphis last season. 

“If Kevin’s in trouble,” the rival GM said, “what does that say about the rest of us?” 

Pritchard makes roughly 20 percent of Blazers coach Nate McMillan’s $4 million salary and has two years left on his contract, including an option for 2011-12. If the Blazers fire him, his colleagues don’t expect him to be out of work for long. (Even those who don’t like Pritchard personally admit he’s done a good job.) One suggested the Knicks as a logical landing spot. Team president Donnie Walsh, 69, is expected to begin searching for an heir apparent once the free-agent frenzy dies down this summer. 


Another case in point is Denver’s Mark Warkentien, the 2008-09 executive of the year, who is muddling through a difficult offseason without a contract for next season. Sources say Denver planned to make a decision on whether to retain Warkentien within a week or two after the Nuggets’ season-ending first-round loss to the Jazz. But to date there has been no movement – and there appears to be no urgency on Denver’s part. The Nuggets don’t have a first- or second-round pick this year, and Warkentien’s contract is believed to expire Aug. 1. 

Other than the obvious – coach George Karl’s ongoing recovery from neck and throat cancer that caused him to miss Denver’s brief playoff appearance – the most pressing offseason matter for the Nuggets will be trying to negotiate an extension with All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. Since Anthony is not a free agent this summer, the window for such discussions opened as soon as Denver’s season ended. Warkentien declined to comment on the status of negotiations.

With so much attention on this summer’s free agent class loaded with some of Anthony’s closest friends and teammates from the 2008 Olympic team, it’s worth wondering if Anthony is ready to explore the marketplace next summer. For example, if the Knicks were to strike out in their bid to land two marquee free agents this July, they could preserve enough cap space to make a run at Anthony in 2011. Anthony has an early termination option after next season, and the ongoing battle over collective bargaining will play a significant role in his decision. By signing a three-year extension this summer, Anthony could lock himself in at the current max salaries, which almost certainly will be more favorable than under the new labor deal.

Are there any clues to be gleaned from Anthony’s last extension in 2006? Why, yes there are. Whereas contemporaries LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted for three-year extensions and the chance to become free agents in 2010, Anthony chose a four-year deal with an opt-out in the fifth year. He's faced this decision before, and chose money and security over free agency. But it’s worth noting that Melo was represented by BDA’s Calvin Andrews for that contract. Now, he’s with Leon Rose, under the same CAA umbrella that negotiated the three-year deals for James, Wade and Bosh. 


The Hornets are in the process of scheduling an interview with former player and current broadcaster Mark Jackson for their vacant head coaching position, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. GM Jeff Bower, team president Hugh Weber and prospective new owner Gary Chouest are hoping to meet with Jackson in Boston this weekend when the former point guard is in town for commentating duties for the Cavaliers-Celtics series. The New Orleans brass already have interviewed Avery Johnson and Mike Fratello, and also are interested in speaking with Mavs assistant Dwane Casey, Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, Rockets assistant Elston Turner and Celtics associate head coach Tom Thibodeau. 


Reports that Hall of Famer Doug Collins is “intrigued” by the Sixers’ head coaching job are accurate, according to a source who said Collins is “trying to get in there in the worst way.” The Sixers have interviewed Collins and Johnson, and are expected to meet with Blazers assistant Monty Williams next week, perhaps as early as Monday, sources say. Everything in Philly, including Ed Stefanski's team presidency, is up in the air while Larry Brown decides his next move.


While the Bulls would be wise to investigate Kentucky coach John Calipari’s interest in coaching Derrick Rose, the Chicago front office is moving deliberately in the wake of Vinny Del Negro’s firing. Casey and Turner, both candidates when Del Negro was hired, are expected to get another shot. Also moving glacially in their search for a head coach are the Clippers, who sources say are holding out hope that Brown could be persuaded to move West. Brown is believed to be going to Philly if he’s going anywhere, but that wouldn’t stop him from using the Clippers for leverage, sources say.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com