Clippers reportedly close to hiring Kenny Atkinson, Larry Drew and Dan Craig as assistant coaches

New Clippers head coach is reportedly close to filling out his staff of assistants. Here’s the Los Angeles Times:

Tyronn Lue’s first coaching staff with the Clippers is taking shape, with the team nearing agreements with several key assistants.

Miami assistant Dan Craig, former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson and Larry Drew, a former head coach who most recently served on Lue’s Cleveland staff, have committed to join the Clippers as assistants, though their hiring is not yet official because deals have not been finalized, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Additionally Chauncey Billups, a former All-Star guard and close friend of Lue who most recently worked as a television analyst for the team, is considering whether to join.

Heat assistant coach Dan Craig will reportedly take job with Clippers

The new Clippers coaching staff is starting to come together, as new head coach Tyronn Lue picks his assistants. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

For the second time in as many offseasons, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will be altering his coaching staff, with an NBA source confirming Monday to the South Florida Sun Sentinel that assistant Dan Craig will be joining Tyronn Lue’s coaching staff with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Craig, 38, who had filled in for Spoelstra when the Heat coach left in recent seasons for the births of his two sons, has spent the past 17 seasons with the Heat, including the past four alongside Spoelstra on the Heat bench.

Among the leading candidates for Craig’s spot are former Heat video coordinator Eric Glass, who coached the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, this past season, and former Heat guard Anthony Carter, who was listed as a Heat player development coach the past two seasons.

The Heat and Clippers are two of the NBA’s top teams. The Heat were eliminated by the Lakers in the NBA Finals, while the Clippers were a playoff disappointment but possess one of the league’s best rosters. A coaching job with either squad is a good one these days.

In order to be great, you have to win, says new Clippers coach Tyronn Lue

The Clippers have themselves a new coach. The team recently made their hiring of Tyronn Lue official. Here’s the OC Register reporting some of his words today:

Seated in the media room Wednesday at the Clippers’ practice facility in Playa Vista, Lue expressed a blend of humility – “it feels good to be wanted,” he said – and confidence during a half-hour introductory Zoom session with reporters off site.

“I want to be one of the greatest coaches,” Lue said. “In order to be great, you have to win. So to me, when you start talking about pressure and all that it means, it just means that you’re in position to win a championship.”

Steve Ballmer, the team’s governor, and Lawrence Frank, its president of basketball operations, also joined the remote session, with Ballmer unequivocal in his desire to see his team figure it out fast: “I think it’s probably fair to say my personality is all about winning and we didn’t get the job done that we expected to get done at the end of the season.”

“I tell you,” Ballmer added. “Ty’s my kind of guy, he wants to move, move, move! Learn new things, absorb, think new thoughts – which I think is essential to be better, to grow.” Ballmer also noted that Lue is “a guy I have come to understand holds himself and others accountable, which is a key part of being good in the sports business.”

And here’s the LA Times:

Lue has never shied away from crediting Rivers as the biggest influence for why he entered coaching, and he called Rivers’ dismissal “tough.” But he also described the ways in which he is not a Rivers clone on the sideline, emphasizing that his style has been influenced by Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Stan Van Gundy and Scott Skiles, among others.

Tactically, where Rivers’ offenses often relied on individual playmakers more than set plays, Lue is expected to run a more controlled offense that will hinge on speed and moving the ball.

“I learned a lot from Doc, but I’ve also learned a lot from a lot of other coaches around the league because I’m always studying, I’m always trying to get better,” Lue said. “I want to be better. So, not just learning from Doc, but I learned from other coaches like [Erik Spoelstra] and Brad Stevens and watching Nick Nurse last year, thinking outside the box of playing box-and-one and triangle-and-two [defenses] and bringing something new to the NBA. And if you stop learning, if you stop being willing to learn from other people then you won’t be successful.”

The Clippers were a disappointment at the Disney NBA bubble, but it was also the first year that Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and company played together, so it’s not the biggest surprise ever that the squad wasn’t able to maximize their overall talent in the postseason. Also, multiple Clippers players wound up having to leave the Disney bubble over the course of the postseason, which also certainly isn’t a positive.

It should be relatively easy for Lue to have the team play better than the vast majority of the league next season. The question is if he can help make them reach that difficult next level.

Clippers officially name Tyronn Lue new head coach

The L.A. Clippers have named Tyronn Lue as the team’s head coach, it was announced today by Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Lue will become the franchise’s 26th head coach after serving as an assistant coach for the Clippers during the 2019-20 season. Before joining L.A., he was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2016-18, amassing a 128-83 record, taking the team to three consecutive NBA Finals, and winning the franchise’s first NBA title in 2016.

“Ty has been where we want to go. He is a championship head coach with an extraordinary feel for the game and the people who play it,” Frank said. “He’s one of the great minds in our league, and he’s able to impart his vision to others, because he connects with everybody he meets. We conducted a thorough search and spoke with fantastic candidates. We found that the best choice for our team was already in our building. As head coach, Ty will put a unique imprint on the organization, and drive us to new heights.”

“The pieces we need are in place – committed ownership, smart management, and elite talent, on and off the court, in the NBA’s best market,” Lue said. “My familiarity with the organization, particularly Mr. Ballmer and Lawrence, confirmed this is where I want to be. We have work to do to become champions, but we have the motivation, the tools, and the support to get there. I’m excited to get started.”

During the 2015-16 season, Lue became the fourth head coach since 1980 to win an NBA Championship during his first year, and the 14th person to have won a title as a head coach and as a player. During that same season, Lue was also selected to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Over the next two seasons, he led the Cavaliers to two more Finals appearances, becoming the third head coach in NBA history to lead his team to three straight NBA Finals in his first three seasons. Lue previously worked on the Clippers staff as an assistant coach from 2013-14. He joined the team after spending two years with the Boston Celtics, as an assistant coach and the director of basketball development.

A native of Mexico, Missouri, Lue played 11 seasons in the NBA, winning two NBA championships in 2000 and 2001 with the Lakers. He appeared in 554 career games and averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 assists. Lue attended the University of Nebraska, where he was selected First-Team All-Big 12 in 1998 and had his jersey (#10) retired by the school in 2017.

Clippers will reportedly name Tyronn Lue new head coach

The Clippers were one of the best teams in the NBA this past regular season, but fell short in the playoffs, getting sent home in the second round. Head coach Doc Rivers, well-respected a good coach but doubted as a great one, was soon out of a job. And now the Clippers have quickly found a replacement, per reports. Here’s the OC Register with the latest:

After a couple of weeks of careful consideration, the Clippers on Thursday closed the deal with former assistant Tyronn Lue to replace his former boss Doc Rivers as the team’s head coach, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by a league source. Wojnarowski reported Lue agreed to a five-year contract.

Lue’s coaching staff reportedly will include five-time All-Star Chauncy Billups and former NBA head coach Larry Drew, according to the Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Lue, a 43-year-old native Missourian, who played point guard for 11 NBA seasons, this past year served as an assistant under Rivers after spending parts of four seasons as the head coach in Cleveland, where he directed LeBron James-led teams to an NBA title and two other Finals appearances.

The Clippers should be one of the league’s best teams again next season. This is a great opportunity, and a coveted job. Congrats to Lue for reportedly landing it.

Chauncey Billups will reportedly become a coach, either with Clippers or Pacers

Chauncey Billups will be moving from the broadcast booth to NBA coaching sidelines. The only question is on which team he’ll be a part of. Here’s the Indianapolis Star with the latest:

Chauncey Billups accepted an assistant coach position with the L.A. Clippers on Thursday, but that doesn’t take him out of the running to be head coach of the Indiana Pacers.

A league source with direct knowledge of the situation told IndyStar that Billups, who has been a TV analyst for the Clippers, will join them on the bench “if he doesn’t get the Indy job.” He’s still a candidate to replace Nate McMillan, who was fired in August after a first-round playoff exit.

Since the Lakers won the 2020 NBA championship last week, the latest NBA news has been all about coaching jobs.

Clippers’ Lawrence Frank wins 2019-20 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year award

The NBA announced that LA Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank has been named the 2019-20 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year.

“L is a passionate, dedicated, and selfless leader. I am proud of the work he and his group are doing, and thrilled his peers feel the same way,” said Steve Ballmer, Clippers Chairman. “This award is a great tribute to the hard work done by the entire front office, including our General Manager Michael Winger, Assistant GMs Mark Hughes and Trent Redden, and consultant Jerry West. Together, they have worked to develop every facet of our basketball operations department.”

Frank received 10 of 29 first-place votes and earned 61 total points from a panel of team basketball executives throughout the NBA. Oklahoma City Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti finished in second place with 41 points (four first-place votes), followed by Miami Heat President Pat Riley in third place with 39 points (four first-place votes).

Executives were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11. The seeding games, which were played July 30 – Aug. 14 as part of the season restart, did not count toward voting for the NBA Basketball Executive of the Year Award or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.

Frank assembled a roster that posted a 44-20 record in games played through March 11, the second-best mark in the Western Conference. Using 29 different starting lineups in 64 games during that period, the Clippers relied on their depth to earn a playoff berth for the eighth time in the last nine seasons.

With Frank leading the Basketball Operations department, LA’s roster for the 2019-20 season took shape in July 2019 with the signing of two-time Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard as a free agent and the acquisition of six-time NBA All-Star Paul George in a trade with the Thunder.

In games played through March 11, Leonard averaged 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists and George averaged 21.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Leonard, a two-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and George, a four-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection, helped the Clippers rank fifth in the NBA in defensive rating in games played through March 11 – up from a season-ending ranking of 19th last season.

Other moves last offseason included re-signing starting guard Patrick Beverley, starting center Ivica Zubac and forward JaMychal Green. Frank and the Clippers also moved to bolster the roster during the 2019-20 season, acquiring starting forward Marcus Morris Sr. from the New York Knicks as part of a three-team trade on Feb. 6 and signing guard Reggie Jackson on Feb. 20 after he was waived by the Detroit Pistons.

Frank joined the Clippers as an assistant coach in 2014. He stayed in that role for two seasons before moving into the front office as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2016. Frank was promoted to President of Basketball Operations in August 2017. His NBA tenure includes head coaching stints with the Pistons and New Jersey Nets and assistant coaching roles with the Nets, Vancouver Grizzlies and Boston Celtics.

Doc Rivers reportedly lands new head coaching job with 76ers

Former Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was without a job for just a handful of days. He’s reportedly set to take that same job over in Philly for the 76ers. Here’s the LA Times reporting:

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who unexpectedly parted ways with the Clippers earlier this week, has accepted a job to coach the Philadelphia 76ers, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

Rivers rapidly became a favorite of Philadelphia after unexpectedly entering the pool of candidates looking for work. He’ll be reunited with Tobias Harris while inheriting Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Philadelphia fired coach Brett Brown, who shepherded the team through “The Process” years but who was also unable to have postseason success. The 76ers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Boston.

For Rivers, it’ll be the fourth team he’s coached since taking over the Orlando Magic in 1999. He’s not had a season off since.

The Sixers are in a tricky situation. Their roster remains a complicated chemistry experiment. All key players on the squad are signed at least through next season, so the core remains Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. There’s big talent in that group of names, but there are also big contracts, especially those of Harris and 34-year-old Horford. Trading either of those two players will be tough, but that’s what may have to happen. If it doesn’t, keep an eye on lineups Rivers uses, because they may not be what is expected.

Clippers and coach Doc Rivers part ways

The Clippers and Doc Rivers have reached what the team describes as a mutual decision for Rivers to step down as the team’s head coach.

“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Chairman Steve Ballmer said. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”

Rivers, 58, was the most successful head coach in Clippers history, compiling a record of 356-208 over seven seasons. Under his direction, the Clippers made the playoffs six times and reached the Western Conference semifinals in 2020, 2015, and 2014. Before arriving in Los Angeles in 2013, Rivers spent nine seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning a championship in 2008.

Per the Los Angeles Times:

According to people familiar with the Clippers’ situation, names that will come up to replace Rivers include Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue, who is reportedly set to interview for the Philadelphia 76ers job this week, and former NBA coach and ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Rivers joined the Clippers before the 2013-14 season and in his seven seasons helped build the team into a championship contender, finishing with a record of 356-208. He was the fifth-longest-tenured coach upon his departure, behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, Dallas’ Rick Carlisle and Portland’s Terry Stotts.

Rivers owned the second-highest winning percentage among all active coaches, trailing Popovich. In August, Rivers passed Red Auerbach for 11th on the all-time coaching victories list. Rivers owns a .506 postseason winning percentage.

Rivers was hired for his championship coaching experience but during his tenure became as much of a spokesman for the franchise. After former owner Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA after allegedly making racist comments that surfaced in 2014, Rivers became the franchise’s voice and helped guide players and the team through uncertain times.

After Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014, Rivers was given responsibility over all player personnel decisions. Three years later, Ballmer shook up the organization’s structure by limiting Rivers to coaching duties and installing a new front office led by Lawrence Frank, a former assistant coach under Rivers.

“I am immeasurably grateful to Doc for his commitment and contributions to the Clippers and the city of Los Angeles,” Ballmer added. “I am also extremely confident in our front office and our players. We will find the right coach to lead us forward and help us reach our ultimate goals. We will begin the search and interview process immediately.”

Pieces of Lakers court autographed by Kobe Bryant up for auction

We all miss Kobe Bryant. And as time goes on, don’t be surprised to see an increased amount of Kobe-related items going up for sale or auction. On that front, here’s the Los Angeles Times on two pieces of basketball court that would be pretty awesome to own:

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016, before declaring “Mamba out!” and calling it a career.

It was a special night in team history. And one fan can own a unique piece of it.

Before leaving the Staples Center floor for the final time as a player, Bryant autographed two portions of it — the parts decorated with the two jersey numbers he wore during his career, Nos. 8 and 24.

The signed No. 24 portion has been installed at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. The signed No. 8 portion is available to the highest bidder through Heritage Auctions.

As sports collectibles go, owning a piece of an NBA team’s basketball court, autographed by a legendary player, and knowing that the item is real and is verified authentic, is very cool.

And another quick note, even though we literally already said this above: we miss Kobe.