The NBA is getting close to Finals season! The Warriors can close out the Trail Blazers tonight, while the Bucks and Raptors are embroiled in a tough series after the Raptors pulled out a win in overtime last night. As the NBA season reaches its climax, news from around the league continues to pour in. The NBA draft is just a month away, and free agency starts 6 weeks from today. Teams are hiring staff, free agents to be are speaking out, and more. Here’s a brief roundup of news from the past week or so.
Pelicans bring in Trajan Langdon as GM: While the Pelicans are still faced with the task of trading superstar Anthony Davis this summer, the rest of their offseason has gone great. David Griffin, one of the most respected executives in the league, was hired as President of Basketball Operations (POBO), and now he’s found his number two in Trajan Langdon. Langdon was interviewed for the top position in several organizations, and has played a big role in the Nets’ scouting and development (which they’ve excelled at) over the past few seasons. The Pelicans will have Zion Williamson and a very talented front office to build around him. Watch out.
Connelly returns to Nugs, Wiz search continues: The Wizards are the last NBA team with an unresolved situation in the front office. They offered their top option, Tim Connelly, the POBO for the Nuggets, a fat four year deal to come over, but it was announced today that he rejected it to stay with the Nuggets. Connelly will probably get a large raise, while the Wizards are still looking for their guy. They are interviewing Danny Ferry (formerly of Cavs, Hawks) and Troy Weaver (longtime assistant GM for Thunder) as well as Tommy Sheppard, who has been in the Wizards’ organization for a decade. The Wizards need to get going, as draft workouts are starting and they’re still in limbo. Once they settle on a front office, there will probably be more clarity on the Bradley Beal situation, which could be of real importance to the Clippers.
Lakers not hiring a POBO: The Lakers announced last week that they are not hiring a POBO to replace the departed Magic Johnson, sticking with Rob Pelinka to run their operations as GM. Today, Johnson spoke out about Pelinka “betraying” his trust, shortly followed by a press conference with new coach Frank Vogel which the Lakers cut short. In other words, the Lakers remain a mess, though Vogel, a competent coach, could still help improve their team and organization.
Minnesota hires Ryan Saunders: The Wolves are nearing an agreement to hire interim coach Ryan Saunders full time, per Woj. Saunders didn’t show all that much in his half season with the Wolves, but he was also hamstrung by a mediocre roster and some bad injuries to key players. He probably wasn’t the best coach on the market, though he’s young and is by all accounts well liked. It’s the first move by new head honcho Gersson Rosas, and it will be interesting to see what direction they go for in Minnesota.
Cavs hired John Beilein: The Cavaliers hired John Beilein to be their head coach last week. Beilein was the head coach at the University of Michigan for over 10 years, and was widely regarded as one of the best basketball minds in the NCAA. He should bring a strong player development ethos to the Cavaliers, as well as phenomenal X’s and O’s.
Grizz still looking for head coach: With the Wolves, Lakers, Cavs, and Suns’ situations settled, the two teams searching for coaches are the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies should be a highly desirable situation, as they have a stud young big man in Jaren Jackson Jr and the second pick in the 2019 draft. Memphis will probably hire their coach sometime in the coming weeks, but it’s unlikely to affect the Clippers.
Terry Rozier on outs in Boston: While big-time free agents like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard haven’t given any real indication as to their plans, Terry Rozier has been trashing the Celtics’ situation for days, and seems unlikely to return. Rozier is not very good, but he’s still going to get some money this summer (hopefully not from the Clippers), and this is another potential domino in the Celtics’ offseason, which is one of the most fascinating in the NBA. Kyrie Irving might leave as well, and Al Horford could opt out of his contract (either to leave or re-sign on a longer deal), which could harm or improve their chances for an Anthony Davis deal. Clippers’ fans should stay tuned in to the Celtics, as they are one of the other key players this summer.
Arnovitz and Lowe: Kawhi less than 70-30 to go to Clips: The only piece of news that even kind of directly relates to the Clippers came on the Lowe post with Kevin Arnovitz on Friday. The two writers and reporters were discussing Kawhi Leonard on the Raptors, and agreed that while Kawhi could still leave, his coming to the Clippers is not nearly as set in stone as people have assumed. Both guys are plugged in to both the Clippers and Raptors, so they certainly have a good idea of what’s going on. They said the odds of him coming to the Clippers was less than 70-30 (though presumably still better than 50-50), which can’t make Clippers’ fans feel great. We will see how the Raptors’ series against the Bucks plays out, but the longer it goes on, the worse for the Clippers.
Well, that seems like about it! More news will start to occur as draft season gets truly underway. The Clippers have two picks and will certainly bring guys in for pre-draft workouts and interviews, a process which could start any day. Stay tuned!