NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Knicks to talk with Fisher soon; Lakers cooling on him as coach — After Oklahoma City lost in Game 6 of the West finals, Thunder backup point guard Derek Fisher didn’t sound like he was as ready to make the jump into NBA coaching as most thought he’d be. As such, the teams most associated with being interested in him — the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers — backed off a bit to allow him time to decompress after OKC’s loss. The Knicks, according to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, remain interested in Fisher and plan to talk with him this week about their opening. Out in L.A., though, interest in the ex-Lakers fan favorite may be cooling, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Phil Jackson‘s first substantive chat with Derek Fisher about the New York Knicks’ coaching job is scheduled to take place this week, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com Monday that Jackson is planning to connect with Fisher by week’s end, giving the Oklahoma City Thunder guard some time to decompress after his team was eliminated by San Antonio Saturday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
One source cautioned that the discussion shouldn’t be classified as a formal interview, given the long and close working relationship between Jackson and Fisher during their two stints together as coach and player with the Los Angeles Lakers. But another source close to the process told ESPN.com that he thinks Fisher will ultimately find the allure of coaching in New York under Jackson too difficult to pass up.
As ESPN.com reported May 19, Jackson essentially put his coaching search on hold to wait to speak to Fisher first after missing out on initial top target Steve Kerr, who spurned the Knicks to coach the Golden State Warriors.
Fisher said Sunday he remains undecided about retirement, but sources say Jackson continues to hold out hope he can persuade the 39-year-old to make the immediate jump to coaching — as Jason Kidd did last season with Brooklyn — after Fisher’s 18 seasons as a player.
“I’m still struggling with the results of [the series],” Fisher told local reporters Sunday. “I haven’t [had] a chance to talk to my wife and kind of step back emotionally from the end of the season. That’s important to do, so that whatever is next, there has to be a separation from the end of the season and what just happened and then I can go from there.”
As the Los Angeles Lakers remain cool on the pursuit of Derek Fisher as a coaching candidate, the New York Knicks continue to cement themselves as the strong frontrunner to hire him, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
So far, the Lakers have expressed an exclusive desire to explore experienced head coaches in their search, and there isn’t yet an indication that team officials plan to seriously consider Fisher for the job, league sources said.
Los Angeles has so far interviewed four coaches about replacing Mike D’Antoni – Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis, Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins.
Knicks president Phil Jackson has been eager to sell Fisher, 39, on the possibility of Jackson mentoring him as part of a direct move from Fisher’s playing career into the Knicks head coaching job. Fisher is taking a few days to finalize his thoughts on the likely end of his 18-year playing career before fully engaging in talks to become a head coach.
No. 2: Rondo talks about Love’s visit to Boston — Kevin Love‘s visit to Boston over the weekend sent Celtics fans into a tizzy and when a photo of he and star point guard Rajon Rondo shaking hands hit Twitter, things really caught on fire. What did the pair talk about? Are they gearing up to unite forces in Beantown? Rondo says don’t count on any of that yet, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com reports:
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo said he didn’t put a hard sell on Kevin Love when the two NBA superstars crossed paths Sunday at Fenway Park, but he acknowledged that the Timberwolves forward is the sort of player who could help restore Boston to contender status.Rondo, meeting with reporters Monday at the Celtics’ training facility after watching the team work out 12 draft prospects, said his meeting with Love was brief and he held off on making a sales pitch on why Love should be in green.
“No, the only pitch that was thrown I think was [Boston Red Sox pitcher] Jon Lester, he threw out a couple pitches,” Rondo joked. “I didn’t pitch anything. I just told [Love] to enjoy his time here.”
Rondo had fielded questions about his offseason for less than a minute Monday before the conversation swung to Love, causing the point guard to quip, “You get right to it, huh?”
Rondo playfully added: “I talked to Kevin for about 39 seconds. It wasn’t too long. We didn’t talk a lot.”
The Twitter photo, which spread like wildfire on social media, was referenced to the point guard.
“Did it make TMZ? It’s all over the web?” Rondo asked. “We do work together, we play against each other, we compete.
“So when I saw Kevin, I spoke to him. I wished him good luck here — his time in Boston. He spent a couple days here in Boston. I told him I was spending a couple months here in Boston.”
Rondo was asked if Love could help a team like the Celtics.
“I think we’d be a lot better if you add a guy like Kevin,” Rondo said. “He’s a range-shooting 4, he’s going to help on the glass — obviously we haven’t been the best on the glass the past couple years. But he’ll do a better job in that aspect.
“But this is all speculation. Nothing is happening, nothing is set in stone. So we could talk about Kevin all day, or we could mention Carmelo [Anthony‘s] name. Nothing’s happened. We have a couple [weeks] left before the draft, things might shake up around that time, you never know. It’s a long summer until the beginning of training camp.”
No. 3: Report: Pistons working to hire Bower as GM — Shortly after the season ended, the Detroit Pistons began their front-office/coaching remodeling project by removing Joe Dumars as team president and hiring Stan Van Gundy to fill that role as well as be the team’s coach. Van Gundy and the team are reportedly close to hiring ex-Hornets coach and executive Jeff Bower to be their GM, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The deal isn’t done yet, but Bower has resigned as coach at Marist College and it seems only a matter of time before he officially lands in the Motor City:
Detroit Pistons president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy said that his general manager would have experience running a front office.
Former New Orleans Hornets general manager Jeff Bower fits the criteria.
Two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed this morning that the Pistons are working on an agreement with Bower to become the No. 2 guy in the front office. The sources requested anonymity because the deal wasn’t finalized.
This evening, Bower left his position as head coach of Marist College, the school announced.
“I have a lot of respect for Jeff and the job he did in his time at Marist,” Marist athletic director Tim Murray said. “He laid the foundation for the program moving forward and I feel that this is a great opportunity for our next head coach. I wish Jeff the best of luck as he leaves Marist for a very specific and compelling NBA opportunity.”
Though Bower’s resignation was made official, his move to the Pistons has not yet.
“I can’t comment on what everyone wants me to comment on right now, because it’s not at that stage yet,” Bower told the Poughkeepsie Journal earlier today.
Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the news.
Bower, 53, would oversee the front office while Van Gundy concentrates on coaching duties. But Van Gundy will have final say over personnel decisions.
No. 4: Report: Bulls’ Griffin, Hawks’ Snyder get second interviews with Jazz — As is their usual wont, the Utah Jazz are being quiet about their offseason maneuverings (in this case, finding a coach to replace Tyrone Corbin, whose contract was not renewed at season’s end). Utah reportedly had a list of candidates that stretched to 20 and included names such as Hall of Fame Jazz point guard John Stockton, but a handful of names may be separating themselves from the pack. Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune has more:
The Utah Jazz coaching search could be nearing the home stretch, with at least a few candidates separating themselves from the pack, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.
Multiple sources tell The Tribune that Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin will interview a second time for Utah’s head coaching vacancy. The interview is scheduled to take place sometime in the next week.
Griffin originally interviewed two weeks ago. And while he is drawing significant interest from the Jazz, he also is a candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching vacancy and has interviewed there as well. Additionally, Griffin is apparently on the radar of the New York Knicks, who were forced to hit the reset button on their search after unexpectedly losing Steve Kerr to the Golden State Warriors.
A former NBA player, Griffin is seeking his first head coaching position. But he has been an assistant coach under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and has been assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks.
And there is apparently another candidate drawing high interest from the Jazz.
The Tribune has confirmed that Atlanta Hawks assistant Quin Snyder has interviewed once with Utah, and like Griffin, has been called back for a second interview.
Sources also say there may be another candidate who hasn’t yet surfaced publicly.
Both Griffin and Snyder are considered young, up and coming coaches, with Snyder having college (Missouri) and pro pedigrees. Snyder also has coached at the international level.
Griffin is known as a defensive guru, and would be counted on to come in and guide a team that finished near the bottom of the NBA in several defensive categories.
And while Griffin and Snyder may be high on the list, don’t count out former Suns, Clippers, Pistons and Heat coach Alvin Gentry for Utah’s opening:
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The ankle injury Ty Lawson suffered late in the season is turning out to be worse than expected … Ex-Bulls and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro interviewed for the Cavaliers’ job over the weekend … Pressure may be building on coach Monty Williams to get the Pelicans in the playoffs already … Warriors forward Harrison Barnes says he’s working on his handle this summer … Banned L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling faces a lawsuit from a former employee who alleges he created an offensive workplace … Great read on how the Spurs built their renowned, international player-laden bench, the “Foreign Legion” … Elton Brand says he’ll be returning for a 16th season
ICYMI of The Night: Three days and counting until The 2014 Finals, so take a little time and relive the exciting East (see above) and West finals series …