Lakers interview JJ Reddick for head coaching job

Per the LA Times:

The Lakers hosted former player and current broadcaster JJ Redick on Saturday in their most formal interview with him to date, with multiple members of the organization speaking to the former Duke star about the team’s head-coaching vacancy.

The step is an important one for Redick, who has been a central figure in the team’s coaching search as an external favorite, a presumed frontrunner after initial contact at the NBA draft combine and now as potentially the final candidate to meet with executive vice president and general manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and other key Lakers figures.

While some inside the organization have said the team doesn’t necessarily need to hire a coach before the NBA draft on June 26-27, there are major decisions that need to be made regarding the roster, including the possibility of trading up to three first-round picks (No. 17 this year and unprotected firsts in 2029 and 2031) on draft night.

The Lakers head coaching job is not the easiest role around. The team roster is good enough to squeeze into the playoffs, but their upside potential feels limited. They’re not a championship contender, but they’re not in a rebuilding model, either. But any job with the Lakers will always be high profile and one of the league’s most desirable places to be.

2024-25 Orlando Magic preseason schedule

The Orlando Magic 2024-25 preseason schedule has been announced.

The Magic will open preseason at New Orleans on Monday, October 7.

After playing at San Antonio on Wednesday, October 9, Orlando will host New Orleans on Friday, October 11, then finish the preseason schedule at home on Friday, October 18 vs. Philadelphia. Both games at Kia Center will tip-off at 7 p.m.

Suns hire Matt Tellem and Brian Gregory for basketball operations staff roles

The Phoenix Suns have hired Matt Tellem as assistant general manager and Brian Gregory as vice president of player programming.

“We’re excited to add Matt and Brian to our basketball operations team,” said James Jones, Suns president of basketball operations and general manager. “Matt’s insight and strategic thinking are highly regarded throughout the NBA and will elevate our team. Brian’s expansive coaching and development experience uniquely positions him to assist our coaches and players.”

Tellem joins the Suns front office after spending the past 13 years with the Brooklyn Nets organization, most recently as vice president of strategy for the 2023-24 season and as senior director of salary cap and strategy in 2022-23.

Gregory begins his role with the Suns following 19 seasons as a head coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, most recently serving as the head coach at the University of South Florida from 2017-23.

Utah Jazz coaching staff and basketball operations department update

Today, the Utah Jazz announced staff updates within the coaching staff and basketball operations department ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Shane Fenske, who previously served as Vice President of Analytics and Insights has been moved into the role of Assistant General Manager. Prior to his time with the Jazz, the Blackduck, Minn., native spent six seasons with the Boston Celtics as a basketball operations and salary cap analyst and basketball operations technology developer. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Yale.

Assistant Coach Sean Sheldon, who has been with the organization for two years, will move to the front of the bench for Will Hardy’s staff. He began in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs, starting as a quality assurance assistant in the video department, before being promoted to assistant video coordinator and then head video coordinator. The Traverse City, Mich., native was a graduate assistant at Michigan State after playing professionally in Switzerland for a season. He was a four-year player at William & Mary from 2012-16.

Andrew Warren, who has served as an assistant video coordinator for the team for the past two seasons will transition into the role of Assistant Coach. A native of Indianapolis, he served as a video coordinator for the Birmingham Squadron during the 2021-22 season, after an exceptional 10-plus year international and G League career, playing in Argentina, Australia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Japan, and New Zealand as well as for the G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors and Stockton Kings (then Reno Bighorns). He played collegiately at Bradley (2006-11).

Justin Mazzulla, who served as Assistant Coach and Video Coordinator for the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s G League affiliate, will be moving to the Jazz video room as an Assistant Video Coordinator. The Johnston, R.I., native, briefly served as a Graduate Assistant at Rhode Island and played five collegiate seasons at George Washington (2017-20) and Vermont (2020-22).

Torin Dorn joins the Jazz video room as Assistant Video Coordinator, after serving as Assistant Coach and Player Development Associate for the Salt Lake City Stars. The Charlotte, N.C., native began his playing career at North Carolina-Charlotte before transferring to N.C. State, where he spent three seasons (2016-18). Following his time with the Wolfpack, Dorn went on to play professionally in the Polish Basketball League (2019-20) and Czech Basketball League (2021-22), before returning to N.C. State as a Graduate Manager.

Katie Benzan, who joined the Jazz as a Basketball Operations generalist in 2022-23, will now serve as Salt Lake City Stars Assistant General Manager/Coordinator of Pro Scouting. The Wellesley, Mass., native played one professional season with the Washington Mystics of the WNBA in 2022 after a standout collegiate career at Harvard (2016-19) and Maryland (2020-22), where she set a program record for three-point percentage (.474).

Brian Pauga, who served as a scout for the organization has been promoted to Director of College Scouting & Basketball Intelligence, with another former scout, Shenton Wai, being elevated to Manager of Pro Scouting. Zach Paige will now serve as Manager of Basketball Operations and Scouting after serving as Coordinator of Basketball Operations. Spencer Siegel has been added as a Data Scientist in the front office after recently finishing his master’s degree in statistics from Stanford, with the team also adding Alec Moore as Full Stack Software Engineer earlier this season.

Additionally, Lynzie Sorenson is being promoted to Director of Family Relations, Josh Raia has been named Executive Chef, Anela Davis has been added as a Basketball Operations Generalist-Analytics, and Bernard Webb is being elevated to Team Operations Coordinator.

Celtics take 1-0 NBA Finals lead on Mavericks

Per Boston.com:

In just of matter of minutes, Kristaps Porzingis quelled any questions and concerns about how effective he could be in his first game back from a calf injury.

The Celtics’ star big made plays on both ends of the court in the first quarter of Game 1, scoring 11 points to go with two blocks in the opening frame of Thursday’s 107-89 win. He wound up finishing with 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting to go with six rebounds and two blocks in just 21 minutes of action.

Even though Porzingis was quite effective on Thursday, even he had some questions on just how good he could be after missing the last 10 games due to a soleus strain in his calf. Porzingis hesitated Tuesday when asked if he was 100 percent, admitting Thursday that he wasn’t sure how his calf would feel in Game 1.

“I want to say I’m fine, but obviously, I haven’t played,” Porzingis told reporters. I haven’t had the feel of like, ‘Am I 100 percent?’ But tonight was an affirmation that I’m pretty good. Maybe I’m not perfect, but I’m pretty good and I can play like this. I can definitely add to this team.”

Per the Boston Globe:

As he entered the media room after the Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Celtics, one of his worst playoff performances in recent years, Kyrie Irving kept things light. He dribbled a basketball into the press conference and feigned like he was going to hand it to a media staffer before keeping hold of it, joking: “I need [the ball] right now. Didn’t shoot particularly well tonight.”

“Man, this is the best time of the year to be playing,” Irving said after Dallas fell, 107-89, to open the NBA Finals. “There’s two teams left, let’s put it in perspective. The environment’s going to be what it is, but my focus is on our game plan, making sure my guys feel confident and I feel confident and continue to shoot great shots.”

Irving finished with just 12 points on 6 of 19 shooting, missing all five 3-pointers he took. Irving heard loud boos every time he touched the ball and louder cheers on all 13 misses. It was his worst playoff shooting night (taking at least 10 shots) since his infamous final game as a Celtic, when he shot a paltry 6 of 21 in a blowout Game 5 loss to the Bucks in the second round of the 2019 postseason before bolting for Brooklyn.

Per the Boston Globe:

Jaylen Brown, meanwhile, picked up where he left off in the conference finals, in which he won series MVP. He finished with 22 points and six rebounds which sounds unremarkable, but his impact was hard to overstate.

Off the opening tip, Brown hit the floor and salvaged the first possession for the Celtics. He guarded Luka Doncic and played excellent 1-on-1 defense against the Mavericks star. He made numerous hustle plays, blocked three shots, and picked off three steals. When the Mavericks cut into the lead in the third quarter (more on this in a minute), Brown was the driving force (pun somewhat intended) as they pushed the lead back up.

“What you saw tonight is kind of the challenge he took for himself coming into the year,” Joe Mazzulla said. “Not wanting to be defined by one thing. Wanting to make plays. Wanted to be a well-rounded player and get better and better. So his spacing, his ball movement, his defense on ball and off ball.”

Per the Dallas Morning News:

And the Celtics’ fans did their part, too. Booing Irving every time he touched the ball, for both his failure to make an impact in Boston and his stomping on the leprechaun at midcourt during a Brooklyn playoff series a few years back, they got their money’s worth. Irving had 12 points, going 6-of-19 while missing all five 3-point tries in the contest.

Doncic led everyone with 30, as you might expect, but his 12-for-26 night was far from special by his standards, and his one assist gives an indication of how others were shooting and how disjointed this team seemed for much of the evening. Boston’s 37-20 lead after one quarter told most of the story as all five Celtics starters plus Porzingis scored in double-figures led by Jaylen Brown’s 22.

By the end, Boston’s 38% from 3-point range was not far from their norm, so it’s not as if the Mavericks can’t expect similar performances the rest of the way. Maybe the scariest thing for Dallas is that the Celtics played exemplary defense against Irving — much of it from specialist Jrue Holiday — and you would expect that to continue. Oklahoma City kept Irving in check in the second-round series and the Celtics have the same depth of talented defensive perimeter players along with much greater scoring ability.

Former NBA player Chase Budinger is now a beach volleyball Olympian

Per Field Level Media at ESPN.com:

Former college basketball standout and seven-year NBA veteran Chase Budinger will head to Paris next month to compete for the United States’ beach volleyball team in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Budinger and partner Miles Evans qualified Wednesday for the U.S. men’s team. They are tied for 13th in the most recent world rankings and are the No. 2 U.S. team behind Miles Partain and Andy Benesh, ranked No. 5.

Budinger’s NBA career stats were 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 11.8 minutes per game.

Mavericks sign General Manager Nico Harrison to contract extension

The Dallas Mavericks have signed General Manager Nico Harrison to a multi-year contract extension.

“Nico Harrison has demonstrated his leadership and capabilities in the Dallas Mavericks organization,” stated Dallas Mavericks Governor Patrick Dumont. “His vision, along with his efforts on behalf of our players and staff have propelled our team to two playoff appearances in three seasons and of course this year’s NBA Finals. We are proud to have him as part of our team for the long term, and we are excited to watch him continue to build on the foundation of success he has helped establish.”

“I am incredibly grateful to Patrick and the entire Dumont and Adelson family for their continued trust and confidence and to Mark for his willingness to hire an unconventional candidate,” stated Dallas Mavericks General Manager Nico Harrison. “Patrick and his family have accepted me as their own from day one and I am honored to work alongside them, as well as Jason Kidd, as we continue to build a winning culture in Dallas.”

Nico Harrison was named general manager of the Dallas Mavericks on June 28, 2021. Harrison’s tenure, which saw the August 2021 signing of Luka Dončić to his record-setting rookie supermax extension deal and the 2023 NBA Draft selections of Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper, also includes the recent 2023-24 trade deadline acquisitions of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington Jr., which helped propel Dallas to its fifth division title in team history and third NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.

Harrison joined the Mavericks after spending 19 years at Nike, where he most recently held the title of Vice President of North America Sports Marketing. Prior to joining Nike in 2002, Harrison played professional basketball in Europe for over six years.

Nets coaching staff for 2024-25 season announced

The Brooklyn Nets yesterday named Steve Hetzel, Juwan Howard, Deividas Dulkys, Connor Griffin and Travis Bader as assistant coaches on Head Coach Jordi Fernández’s staff.

They join Jay Hernandez, Adam Caporn, Ryan Forehan-Kelly and Corey Vinson on Brooklyn’s bench.

Hetzel comes to Brooklyn from Portland, where he was an assistant coach on the Trail Blazers’ staff for the past three seasons (2021-24). He previously served as an assistant coach for three seasons (2018-21) with the Orlando Magic following a four-year stint (2014-18) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets. Hetzel was also the head coach of the Canton Charge in the NBA G League for one season (2013-14) while Fernández served as his lead assistant coach. The pair helped guide the Cavaliers’ affiliate to a 28-22 record and second-place finish in the East division while allowing the fewest points per game (101.5) of any team in the league. Before his time with the Charge, Hetzel served as a player development coach for four seasons (2009-13) in Detroit. He began his NBA career in the video room, first as an assistant video coordinator with San Antonio for the 2005-06 season and then spending three seasons (2006-09) as a video coordinator in Cleveland. The Allen Park, Mich., native is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he served as a student manager for the men’s basketball team.

Howard joins the Nets’ staff after serving as the head coach of his alma mater, the University of Michigan, for the past five seasons (2019-24). While at the helm in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines compiled an 87-72 record, which included trips to the Sweet 16 (2022) and Elite Eight (2021) in the NCAA Tournament and a regular season Big Ten Conference championship. At the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, Howard earned National Coach of the Year honors. Before his stint leading Michigan, Howard spent six seasons (2013-19) as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. During his tenure, Miami made three postseason appearances, including securing an Eastern Conference championship in 2014. He joined the coaching ranks after a 19-year (1994-2013) NBA career, where he was a two-time champion (2012 and 2013) as a player for the Heat. In 1,208 career games with Washington, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Houston, Charlotte, Portland and Miami, Howard recorded averages of 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 30.3 minutes per game. Selected fifth overall in the first round of the 1994 NBA Draft by Washington, Howard earned an NBA All-Rookie Second Team nomination in 1995 and achieved an All-Star appearance and All-NBA Third Team honors in 1996 as a member of the Bullets. The Chicago native played three seasons (1991-94) at the University of Michigan, where he was a member of the famed “Fab Five” and helped lead the school to back-to-back Final Four and national championship game appearances (1992, 1993). As a junior, he was a unanimous All-Big Ten First Team recipient and an All-America Third Team awardee.

Dulkys joins Brooklyn’s bench after spending the last two seasons (2022-24) as an assistant and player development coach for the Sacramento Kings. The Šilutė, Lithuania, native also spent one season (2021-22) as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. Before becoming a coach, Dulkys played professionally overseas, competing with teams in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey, Italy and Spain over the course of his nine-year playing career (2012-2021). He spent four seasons (2008-12) at Florida State University, where he helped lead the program to the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons, including a run to the Sweet 16 as a junior. He ranks third all-time in Seminoles’ history with 203 career 3-pointers made.

Griffin arrives in Brooklyn after three seasons (2021-24) with the Denver Nuggets. He spent the last two seasons (2022-24) as head video coordinator/player development while assisting a postseason run in 2023 that resulted in the Nuggets’ first NBA championship. Griffin originally joined Denver ahead of the 2021-22 season as an assistant video coordinator. The Lake Oswego, Ore., native began his coaching career at Pepperdine University, where he started as a graduate manager for the men’s basketball team for two seasons (2018-20) before transitioning to video coordinator for the men’s and women’s basketball programs (2020-21). Griffin was a walk-on player at Gonzaga University, where he played in 29 games over two seasons (2013-15) and helped the Bulldogs to a pair of West Coast Conference championships. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he joined the football program as a tight end and wide receiver for two seasons (2015-16), during which the Huskies won the 2016 Pac-12 championship game and earned a berth to the College Football Playoff. Griffin concluded his collegiate career in the NAIA at Vanguard University and played on the Lions’ basketball team in 2017-18.

Bader begins his fifth season as part of the Nets organization and his first as an assistant coach. He spent the last two seasons (2022-24) as the team’s head video coordinator following a two-year stint (2020-22) as a video seasonal assistant. Bader played basketball professionally in the NBA G League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2015) and Austin Spurs (2019) and internationally in France, Lithuania, Italy, Greece and Spain. He also competed in The Basketball Tournament (TBT), an annual winner-take-all single elimination tournament, with Overseas Elite, helping lead the squad to three-straight tournament championships (2015-17). The Okemos, Mich., native spent five years (2009-14) at Oakland University, where he set the then all-time NCAA career record for 3-pointers made (504). His marks currently rank fifth all-time, and he is still just one of five players in NCAA history to make 500 or more 3-pointers in a career.

Hernandez (second season), Caporn (fourth season with the organization and third as an assistant coach), Forehan-Kelly (ninth season with the organization and fifth as an assistant coach) and Vinson (second season) return to Brooklyn’s bench and will join Fernández and the newly appointed assistants to round out Brooklyn’s coaching staff ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Pistons hire Trajan Langdon as new President of Basketball Operations

The Detroit Pistons announced yesterday that Trajan Langdon has been named President of Basketball Operations.

Langdon will report to Pistons owner Tom Gores and will expand the current team by recruiting additional innovative and experienced executives, with an emphasis on strategy, player personnel and operations.

“I have committed to building a front office in Detroit that brings together the most advanced capabilities and creative basketball minds,” said Gores. “Trajan is an accomplished front office executive with an impressive track record. He’s worked his way up and seen it all as a player, scout and executive. He’s been successful at every level. I’m confident he will very swiftly get us to the standard of excellence I expect from every business.”

Langdon, 48, joins the Pistons with 12 years of front office and scouting experience, including most recently as General Manager of the New Orleans Pelicans from 2019-2024. Prior to his time in New Orleans, Langdon served in front offices for the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs.

Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver is leaving the organization

The Detroit Pistons announced today that General Manager Troy Weaver is leaving the organization.

“I very much appreciate all the dedication Troy displayed to our Pistons franchise,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “As much as we have struggled lately, we will look back and see Troy as an important person in the remaking of the Pistons. He took the pain of rebuilding head on and he did the hard work to get us the flexibility we have today. He also assembled a great core of young men with tremendous skill and character to give us a path to the future. Make no mistake, I have real appreciation for who Troy is as a person and what he has meant to the organization. I wish him the very best as he pursues his ventures.”

The decision was agreed upon mutually and comes after the Pistons recently appointed Trajan Langdon President of Basketball Operations.