Posts Tagged ‘Kelvin Sampson’

Hawks’ Drew Left On Coaching Carousel

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Every time the music stops in this latest game of NBA coaching musical chairs, former Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew finds himself looking for a seat.

And yes, he is now officially a “former” Hawks coach as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s when the Hawks announced that they hired Mike Budenholzer, the longtime assistant to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, to take over Drew’s old job. Budenholzer joins Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix) and Steve Clifford (Charlotte) as assistants who move over to the first chair next season. And there are still several more big-name assistants — Indiana’s Brian Shaw is the biggest, and he is not being allowed to interview for other jobs during the Pacers’ run — who could be in line to move up.

There are still vacancies in Milwaukee, Detroit, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Los Angeles (Clippers) that need to be filled. Drew is a candidate in Milwaukee (he’ll interview for a second time this week) and is interested in the Clippers’ opening.

But as of this morning he’s still twisting in coaching no-man’s land after the Hawks filled his job without ever officially severing ties with the man who led them to three straight playoff appearances during his tenure. Drew was a Hawks assistant for six seasons before that, the final three of those culminating in playoff trips under then-coach (and now-Knicks coach) Mike Woodson.

Drew’s contract expires June 30 and he went into this process with a complete understanding of what Hawks GM Danny Ferry was doing. It’s not like someone snatched the rug from underneath him. Ferry is going for the complete franchise makeover, complete with 12 or 13 roster spots to fill in addition to Budenholzer and whatever staff he can put together.

Ferry made it clear that while he didn’t mind dancing with the coach he inherited last summer when he took over Atlanta’s basketball operations, he was going to keep an eye out for his own guy. His history with Budenholzer, both as a player and executive with the Spurs, was an obvious connection.

Drew understood that the chance of him returning to the job he did so well the past three seasons was slim at best. He fielded questions about his status all season, never once bristling at a process with an outcome that many of us saw coming the day Ferry was hired. All that said, it’s still bizarre for some to see a coach under contract, at least for another month, replaced by someone whose current job (at that time) required him to help prepare the Spurs for another long playoff run.

Bucks general manager John Hammond has to make the next move where Drew is concerned. His pool of candidates to take over in Milwaukee shrinks every time the music stops. Clifford and Budenholzer were reportedly on Hammond’s short list before being taken off of the market. And now Drew and Houston Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson are believed to be the finalists.

Drew has 128-102 record as a coach and those three playoff appearances in three seasons working in his favor … not that it served him very well in whatever attempt was made to keep his job with the Hawks. Sampson has history with the Bucks, having worked as an assistant under former coach Scott Skiles for three seasons.

Drew’s coaching experience is going head-to-head with Sampson’s connection and the trend of assistants being elevated to top jobs. How much longer Drew remains on the coaching carousel depends on the which set of factors carry more weight in Milwaukee and perhaps elsewhere.

The coaching vacancy landscape can change in an instant — just ask former Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. The Memphis Grizzlies have to decide what they’re going to do with Lionel Hollins, whose contract is up. He’ll be a hot candidate for several of these remaining openings if he and the Grizzlies decide to part ways.

That’s why if you are Drew, you want a seat now … before that music stops again.

Unheralded Parsons Is Humming Now

HOUSTON — The man from the radio station has him running through a list of the familiar questions: favorite restaurants and foods and things to like about Christmas, when suddenly here comes a curveball.

“Do you know the words to Rudolph?”

Chandler Parsons grins while looking around for a way out.

The second-leading scorer on the Rockets? It's Chandler Parsons, at 15.3 points a game. -- Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Chandler Parsons is the Rockets’ second-leading scorer, at 15.3 points a game. — Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

“I guess the smart answer for me at this point would be to say no,” he replies.

Then a few seconds later, his head is bouncing up and down as he’s singing: “… and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.”

Why not? Parsons is having the time of his life.

In a season when the first verse of every song about the Rockets centers on the high-profile backcourt pairing of James Harden and Jeremy Lin, Parsons has been in the background providing the chorus. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. The fact is he scores significantly more than the heralded Lin (11.3) and ranks 12th in the league in average minutes played (37.6).

“Where would we be without Chandler?” asked Rockets’ assistant Kelvin Sampson, who served as interim coach for nearly a month when Kevin McHale took a sabbatical. “Not as much in the mix of a lot of games.”

Parsons has been the stirrer, whether by making 3-point shots, driving to the hoop or hitting the boards. He’s one of those players who finds a way to get a rebound, a tip-in, a loose ball, anything to make something happen. The kind of role-filler that every good team seems to have.

So how does that kind of player have workouts for 17 different teams prior to the 2011 draft and have all but one pass on him? How does a live wire not make a spark to be selected until the 38th pick of the second round?

“Because he’s not great at any one specific thing,” Sampson said. “He doesn’t seem to have a discernible talent. I don’t know if enough people in the NBA value intangibles when it comes time to draft or acquire players.”

Parsons first opened Sampson’s eyes early last season during a practice when after a defensive switch he was suddenly matched up against 6-foot point guard Jonny Flynn.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, this will be interesting,’ ” Sampson said. “But I’m telling you Jonny Flynn did everything he could to get by Chandler and he couldn’t. He moved his feet and he kept in front of him. Left, right. Time after time. Jonny Flynn couldn’t find a way around.

“Then I noticed that in our 2-on-2, drills, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, 5-on-5, Chandler’s team always won. There’s a value to that. That’s a big deal to me. After all, winning is what we’re supposed to be all about.”

General manager Daryl Morey says the non-traditional analytics used by the Rockets actually rated Parsons high.

“I think often teams believe that guys that play roles in college can’t translate that over to the NBA,” he said. “But the truth is we’ve got him doing the same things here that he did at Florida.

“It’s hard to know for sure what happened. It’s not an exact science. Obviously, he shouldn’t have made it to 38.”

When the lockout hit a year ago, Parsons signed to play in France to stay active and upon his return was forced to miss just about all of the abbreviated training camp while bureaucratic details with his contract were being worked out. Yet Parsons quickly found his way into the lineup, starting 57 of the 66 games and watched over the summer as the Rockets did a purge of almost their entire roster, trying to land Dwight Howard, and eventually bringing in free agents Lin and Omer Asik. But there were several weeks when he was one of the few holdovers and the Rockets sent him out into the community as a face of the franchise.

“I was watching all of the things that were going on, seeing what Daryl was doing and it got me excited,” Parsons said. “I kept thinking that I was glad that I was staying. Or at least I hoped to be staying.”

He spent the offseason in the gym working religiously on his outside shooting. He knew the only way he would ever get to do the things he liked in the NBA — attacking the basket to make plays for himself and his teammates — was to make defenses honor him on the perimeter.

“I was always shooting the ball differently last season,” Parsons said. “I had no arc on my shot. It was flat. Everything was a fadeaway. I wouldn’t hold on my release. It took thousands and thousands of shots in the summer, but now I feel comfortable.”

His 3-point shooting has improved from 33.7 percent to 37.5 and his free throws from 55.1 to 72.6. He’s scored in double figures 17 times in the 23 games he’s played and had his biggest games against high profile teams — 25 vs. the Heat, 24 vs. the Lakers and 31 vs. the Knicks, 20 vs. the Spurs.

“I think the best thing I do on the court is my playmaking,” Parsons said. “And I think now that teams are respecting me more for my shot, it opens up the floor for me. Now I’m shot-faking, making plays for other guys and having the time of my life playing ball for a living and doing anything they want. I’ll sing. I’ll dance.”

For now, the Rockets will be content to keep Parsons humming.

McHale Returns To Rockets: ‘It’s Time’

— It was time.

Time for Kevin McHale to think about Xs and Os instead of the unspeakable tragedy of losing a daughter.

Time to deal with the tension of trying to win games rather than cope with the lingering grief.

McHale returned to the sidelines on Saturday night nearly one month since taking a leave of absence to be with his 23-year-old daughter in the last days of her life.

Sasha McHale died of complications from Lupus on Nov. 24.

“I feels good to be back,” McHale said in the hallway of the Toyota Center a short time before his Rockets played the Mavericks. “I’ve been gone a pretty long time. It’s good to rely on the players to make plays and the coaches to help me out a lot.

“It’s been a while, but hopefully it’s the right time. I don’t know if there ever is a right time. Don’t know if there’s a playbook by this. I’m excited to be back. I think it’s gonna be good. It’s been, needless to say, a terrible month. But you know, it just felt like the time to come back and go to work and be around the guys.”

When McHale left the team to fly to Minnesota to be with his family on Nov. 10, the Rockets had just lost at Memphis. The team went 7-6 in his absence under the guidance of acting coach Kelvin Sampson.

“I thought Kelvin [Sampson] did a tremendous job, I really did,” McHale said. “I left after the Memphis game. We went there and got beat up pretty good by Memphis. We had a two-point game for a while, but they exposed some stuff and I had talked to Kelvin and the coaching staff about trying to do some other things. I thought they did a great job implementing that.

“With a new team, with a bunch of new guys, your first 20 games — I feel bad I wasn’t around to really be here and help with the guys, because everything works on the white board when you’re drawing stuff up and a lot of stuff works in the exhibition season. But all of a sudden the regular season starts and everything doesn’t work as good as I thought it would. We have to do this or we have to do that. There’s just a ton of adjustments to be made, and I thought they did a really good job.”

From a distance, McHale had both analyzed and admired his team, the youngest in the NBA.

“They fight hard, they do. I mean, last night San Antonio put it on us pretty hard, but the guys have battled. That win we had against the Lakers was an amazing win. That just felt like there was no chance that we’re going to win that game. They just battle hard.

“We’re a young group of guys. We coaches are still trying to figure out how to fit everybody into the mold together. And then, inside of that, you have Carlos [Delfino] miss 6, 7 games with his groin. There’s always stuff that’s happening in the NBA. When you’ve been together for a while, you just fall into a rhythm as a team. ‘Oh this guy’s not playing, so this guy’s role increases.‘ We’re still trying to figure a lot of that stuff out.”

It was coincidental that McHale’s return came against the Mavs, coached by his long-time friend Rick Carlisle. They were teammates for three seasons in Boston and won a championship together in 1986.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people,” McHale said. “That’s been tremendous. I had a lot of guys that I didn’t know that well that really reached out, and I spent a lot of time talking to them. It’s a terrible situation. It’s a terrible situation to even think about. To comprehend the whole thing, it’s almost incomprehensible.

“I’ve known Rick [Carlisle] since we were kids. It was good to see him. It was good to talk to him.”

Carlisle and McHale spoke before the game and the Mavs coach expected the return to the sidelines to be an emotional experience for his old friend.

“I’m sure it will be,” he said. “I just talked to him about it and I can’t imagine the emotions he’s gone through in the last month. All of us that know him have been thinking about him and his family and praying for them a lot over the last several weeks. And this represents him stepping back into the fray here and it’s an important deal.”

When the Toyota Center public address announcer noted after the starting lineups that McHale was back on the bench, the crowd rose to its feet and applauded warmly, but he did not acknowledge it. McHale’s head was down inside a team huddle as he drew up plays on his whiteboard.

It was time to be a coach again.

What was important to McHale through the ordeal was keeping in touch with his team through his daily conversations with Sampson.

“I don’t want to get into the whole thing, but it was hard,” McHale said. ‘Your mind’s a million miles away and yet you’re still watching the games, still pulling for the guys so hard. You want them to win and you literally just ache with every loss and rejoice with every win. It’s just different. We would just talk basketball. A lot of times, that hour of the day was the best hour of the day.”

Rockets Spend Emotional Day With Their Coach At Daughter’s Funeral

OKLAHOMA CITY — One night after receiving a “thank you” text from grieving coach  Kevin McHale after their win in Houston, and just hours before James Harden‘s reunion on his old turf Wednesday night, the Houston Rockets stood by their coach in Minnesota to pay their respects at the funeral of McHale’s daughter, Sasha.

“It was tough, from the standpoint of being there with his family, watching them grieve for their daughter, seeing the look in their eyes, everyone tearing up, everyone crying in their family,” Rockets forward Patrick Patterson said. “It was also good for us to be there to support them, and also the NBA allowing us to do such a thing.

“We’re all eternally grateful to the McHale family and what they do for us as a team, so we felt like we had to be there for them, support them, show them that we still care, show them that we still love them.”

Sasha McHale died Saturday after a long battle with lupus, an auto-immune disease. She was 23.

“Just to see our faces, I think it kind of game him some kind of joy, just to show him that we were there,” Harden said. “Our whole, basically, entire organization was there to support him. No matter if it was for five minutes or 30 minutes, he just wanted to see our faces. I’m glad we got that opportunity to go up there and share that moment with him.”

It was a whirlwind 18 hours or so for the Rockets leading up to Wednesday’s tip-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving some question as to how much gas would be left to play basketball, how much emotion the team would be able to muster — even on such an anticipated night as Harden’s return to face Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the team he was traded from just five days before the start of the season.

The Rockets flew from Houston to Minnesota after Tuesday’s win, arriving around 2 a.m.

“We were back up at eight [o’clock], had a brunch and went for a little scouting report, so we treated this morning like a back-to-back. But, we were all in suits and ties because we were headed to the funeral, and that was very emotional,” acting coach Kelvin Sampson said. “When Kevin and [wife] Lynn saw the team walk in, that was tough. They had a beautiful picture of Sasha and a collage of her baby pictures up to when she was 23 years old.

“That’s tough. I’m a father, I have two beautiful children, and most everybody here is probably fathers, have kids, and you can imagine — maybe you can’t, I can’t — what that’s like.

“Then we got back on the plane. I think we got to Oklahoma City around, I don’t know, two o’clock maybe … and we’ve been at the arena since. We’ll play a game tonight and when the game’s over we’ll fly back to Houston.”

The Rockets wore a green stripe on the shoulder of their home jersey Tuesday and again on their road red jersey Wednesday.

McHale left the team on Nov. 10 to be home with Sasha and his wife. It is uncertain when he will return.

Few words were spoken Wednesday afternoon in Minnesota, but the players said they were glad they could be in the presence of their coach on such a sad and difficult day.

“We wished him and his family the best and let them know that they’re in our thoughts and our prayers every single day,” Patterson said. “It was a time for mourning, a time for everyone to be together and reconnect. There really wasn’t too much talking. There’s not too much you can really say in a situation like that.”

Struggling Lin Ready To Face Knicks

HOUSTON Jeremy Lin knows very well the kind of headlines that he’d be waking up to each morning if he were putting up the same numbers in New York.




Less than a month into his first full season away from the Linsanity of last February, Lin is averaging just 10 points per game and shooting only 33.3 percent for the Rockets.

“I’ve only started about 36 or 37 games in three years,” he said. “There are sophomores in the league with a lot more experience than me. So in a lot of ways that takes pressure off. It makes it easier.

“I’m very happy in Houston. It’s really low key. When I walk around, I don’t have to wear a hat or glasses or anything, unless I want to.”

Of course, that stark contrast in lifestyle that he enjoys today would not have been possible without that over-the-top experience of being the Knicks’ starter last February. If Lin didn’t reinvent the game while ringing up 38 points against Kobe Bryant one night, breaking the hearts of the Raptors with a game-winning jumper on Valentine’s night and scoring more points (136) in his first five starts than any player since the NBA merger in 1976-77, he at least gave the fans that jammed into Madison Square Garden a different way of enjoying it.

“It was a whole lot at once,” he said. “It’s overwhelming and at times it feels like it’s going to swallow you up. That’s why I had to eventually kind of shut down in terms of the outside world and just saw my family and my closest friends and that’s it. There was a lot of outside noise I was trying to tune out.”

Now the noise is back, at least for a night. Lin lines up against the Knicks (8 p.m. ET, League Pass) for the first time since they cut him loose by failing to match the three-year, $25-million free agent contract he was offered by the Rockets.

“God has a perfect plan and this is where He wants me to be,” Lin said. “He wants me here. I know that and it’s why I’m so thankful to be here. It’s a different challenge and a different kind of experience from what I went through in New York, but it’s exciting.”

It will be a return to the Big Apple media maw as every dribble, pass and shot will be compared to Raymond Felton, the Knicks’ current point guard. The measurement will be sharpened by the fact that the Knicks sport the NBA’s best record (8-2) and Felton has been solid, averaging 13.4 points and 6.7 assists per game.

However, Lin places no added significance on his New York return and maintains that he sought out this return date when the schedule came out. (more…)

Rockets’ McHale Thankful To Spend Holiday Time With Family

HOUSTON — At the start of any other holiday season, Kevin McHale would have been thankful to spend part of his day with his team, going over Xs and Os and looking ahead to their next game against the Knicks.

This year, however, the Rockets’ coach is hundreds of miles away with his family at Thanksgiving as they continue to work through a “personal family matter” that caused him to take an indefinite leave of absence.

McHale’s youngest daughter, Alexandra, has been hospitalized for several weeks, but the team and the family have not revealed details of her illness.

Acting coach Kelvin Sampson has kept in daily contact with McHale by phone and says that there is more reason for optimism.

“His situation is improving,” Sampson said. “It’s not out of the woods yet. There’s still a lot of concern, but it is improving.

“He’s beginning to want to talk more and more about the team. He’s watching the games mostly on a computer at the hospital. He and his family have not been home. They have a hotel room, and they’re bouncing back and forth between the hospital and the hotel.

“Kevin’s a pretty strong guy and he has his entire family there. There’s a lot of strength to be gained from being with your family.”

Another reason to be thankful.

Linsanity Is Jeremy On The Bench Late

HOUSTON — It’s becoming a habit. For the second time in four games, Jeremy Lin spent the decisive minutes on the bench.

Talk about your Linsanity.

First he watched Toney Douglas try to stem the tide against Damian Lillard during overtime of a loss at Portland. Then at home on Wednesday night, Lin simply watched all but two minutes of the fourth quarter as Douglas lifted the Rockets to a 93-89 win over the Bulls.

“I’m happy because we lost three in a row and needed a win. That’s for sure,” Lin said.

Team camaraderie aside, the Rockets need their point guard of the present and future to be able to stay on the floor to run the offense down the stretch. But to do that he’s going to have to make significant defensive strides.

When the Blazers were making their comeback in the fourth quarter last week, Lillard drove around and shot over Lin as if he wasn’t there. At the start of the final period against the Bulls, it was Nate Robinson who got on a roll and devoured Lin. Acting Rockets coach Kelvin Sampson watched Robinson stick a 3-pointer in Lin’s face and then drove for a dazzling 360-degree layup when he had enough and turned to Douglas.

On one hand, it was Nate being Nate, taking off on one of those sprees that has occasionally made him a marvel in the league. On the other, it was Lin being Lin, bedeviled and bewildered defensively.

“You have to go with your instincts,” Sampson said. “You’re not always right with that stuff. But I felt like Toney gave us our best chance to win. Yeah, a much better matchup with Nate.”

Lin’s troubles putting the ball into the basket this season have been well known. He shot just 2-for-9 from the field against the Bulls and is now 42-for-126 (33.3 percent) on the season.

It’s one thing to try to straighten out a wayward shot. That’s an individual thing. But if he has to constantly be replaced for a capable stopper on defense, then he’s not going to be on the floor to play quarterback on offense and isn’t helping at either end of the floor at crunch time. The Rockets need a guy they invested $25 million in to be more than a part-time player and a late-game spectator.

“Yeah, I think that’s for reasons of defense,” Lin said. “I’m not really sure. Ask Coach. But I think it’s a defensive thing. I didn’t do a very good job of making Nate Robinson uncomfortable. I’ve got to do a better job.”

Rockets’ White AWOL Again

HOUSTON — The difficult path to a successful NBA career for rookie Royce White keeps getting harder.

After it was announced that the Rockets forward was among three rookies — also Donatas Motiejunas and Scott Machado — who were being sent to the NBA Development League, White once more did not attend practice on Tuesday.

White has been inactive for most games this season, including Monday night against the Heat when he did not sit on the bench.

“That’s tenuous and it’s tough to talk about something like that, but I think we can handle it internally,” said Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. “If he doesn’t work out, well, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.

“I feel bad for Royce and I feel very bad for the team. We’ve had internal repercussions which I’m not going to talk about.”

The Rockets knew that White suffers from generalized anxiety disorder when they chose him with the No. 16 pick in the draft last June.

Problems first surfaced when White did not show up for the start of training camp, which was held at the home of the Rockets’ D League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers. During that time, White and his representatives worked out a plan with the Rockets and the NBA which would allow him to travel to many road games by bus, since a fear of flying exacerbates his anxiety disorder.

It is believed White has missed other practices, though it is not known whether Tuesday’s absence was related to anxiety.

When asked why White did not attend practice, acting coach Kelvin Sampson said: “I haven’t talked to (general manager) Daryl (Morey). I didn’t realize he (White) wasn’t here today until we got to practice. I guess after this little deal, I’m going to find out what’s wrong. I’m not sure what’s wrong right now. We talked to Scott and D-Mo last night. Royce wasn’t at the game last night as far as I know.”

White,  in a statement released by his publicist Tuesday night, said: “In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder — due to the current situations at hand that involve the nature of actions from the Houston Rockets. As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.”

White claimed he is not AWOL.

“Any other response is inaccurate,” he said in his statement. “This is important to me, it is a health issue. I must advocate for my rights, it is a player-commodity league — the failure to meet my requests for support will end with me being unhealthy and that is not a consequence that I am willing to accept to play any sport.”

It has been customary for all Rockets rookies to spend some time in the D League. First-round picks Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris have been there the past two seasons and made the most of the experience. In addition, point guard Jeremy Lin said he used it to resurrect his career.

“For me personally, my experience in the D League helped my career go a little longer,” said Lin. “If I didn’t go to the D League when I got cut by Golden State, I’m not sure if Houston and New York pick me up if I never played in the D League the year before. It can be used as a positive in the right way.

“I think we’re all worried for (White). But he’s a tough kid and the best part about it is he’s a really good basketball player. So if he gets on that basket and he just is himself, you don’t have to worry about anything.”

Wolves (Finally) Fire Rambis

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — Exactly 90 days after the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season ended, GM David Kahn has announced a decision regarding his head coach. The Wolves announced Tuesday that they have relieved Kurt Rambis of his coaching duties.

The timing of the announcement is curious, to say the least. Hang Time head honcho Sekou Smith has been blogging about Rambis’ status regularly since April, and the idea that he wouldn’t be back for the 2011-12 season has been out there for quite awhile.

Yet Kahn chose to wait until now to make the official announcement. And in doing so, he’s lost the opportunity to interview some of the best available candidates, guys like Mike Brown and Dwane Casey, who have already been scooped up by teams that decided not to let their current coach twist in the wind for three months. The timing will also make it difficult for the Wolves’ next coach to fill out his staff with available assistants.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, who first broke the news of Rambis’ dismissal, writes that candidates to replace Rambis include Bernie Bickerstaff and Kelvin Sampson.

But Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the Rockets have hired Sampson and J.B. Bickerstaff (Bernie’s son) as assistants under Kevin McHale.

With the Detroit Pistons still yet to name a new coach, former head guys Lawrence Frank and Mike Woodson are still on the market as well.


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Pistons Add Ewing To List

The Detroit Pistons have expanded their head coaching search by interviewing Orlando Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing, according to league sources.

Ewing, 49, has long desired to be a head coach, and has decried what he viewed as pigeonholing him as a “big man” assistant, a role he has undertaken while an assistant coach in Houston with Yao Ming and in Orlando with Dwight Howard. Ewing has said that he does a lot more than just work with bigs and is ready to run a team. He badly wanted to get a shot with the Knicks, the team for whom he became a superstar after being taken first overall in the 1985 Draft.

“It’s disappointing that I haven’t moved to the next step to getting a head coaching job, but all I can do is keep working hard and keep on preparing myself for whenever that opportunity arises,” Ewing told the New York Daily News earlier this month. “A lot of people try to pigeonhole me into just a big man’s coach and I’m just not a big man’s coach. I’m a coach.”

He is the fifth known candidate to replace John Kuester, joining former Hawks coach Mike Woodson, former Nets and current Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, former WNBA coach and current Timberwolves assistant Bill Laimbeer and current Bucks assistant coach Kelvin Sampson, a former college coach at Indiana and Oklahoma. Each has interviewed once with team president Joe Dumars. It is not known if second interviews will be conducted with the Pistons’ new majority owner, Tom Gores.