NOTE: This podcast was recorded on Sunday, September 20, before the Chicago Bulls hired Billy Donovan as head coach.
On this episode of the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto is joined by Sam Amick of The Athletic. Scotto and Amick discuss Sacramento’s hire of Monte McNair as GM, who in the front office wanted to take Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic in the draft, and what the hiring means for coach Luke Walton’s future. The duo also discusses the coaching openings for the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Philadelphia 76ers. Finally, the pair touch on Chris Paul trade scenarios and the future of Mike D’Antoni.
:46 NBA bubble life
2:33 McNair joining the Kings as GM and thoughts on the hiring search
Amick: “The Kings’ reputation for the last 14 years is the kind of thing that has put them in the challenging position when it comes to conducting a search like this. They settled on six candidates and each of them bringing something different to the table, but before that the three that pulled out being Trajan Langdon, Adam Simon, and Calvin Booth, but before that, you can definitely believe that a lot of guys made it clear through back channels that they didn’t have interest partly I think because of concerns about Vivek Ranadive, the Kings owner, who’s got such a checkered past in his short time in the NBA world. I think money came into play like it always does.”
“I like the Monte hire. For one, I’ve gotten to know him a decent amount over the past couple of years, doing a lot of coverage on the Rockets’ side. Specifically, where I find him so interesting is every person on that candidate list had a fairly deep analytics background, but with Monte, I’ve seen him in real-time have the ability to not only extrapolate what’s happening with the team analytically and make the best of the roster but to communicate with the coaching staff.”
6:45 Vlade Divac, Sachin Gupta’s time with Sam Hinkie, and the front office dynamic with Joe Dumars
Amick: “You hit on this earlier, some of the candidates coming in, and, really, I think all of them, wanted some clarity on the question of where does Joe’s voice fall here? They made it very clear the GM doesn’t work for Joe, but his voice still matters. I think the thing that Kings fans are nervous about and locally is there’s been a lot of discussion about the fact that Vivek has this habit that’s repeated itself over and over again where he’ll have a GM and then he’ll have a former player, which in his mind is the Jerry West role. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but what’s happened several times now is that when things get a little sideways with the GM, that former player who has Vivek’s ear ultimately becomes a threat to the GM. The irony of Vlade Divac stepping down was a direct result of Vivek telling Vlade that he wanted Joe to be above Vlade on the basketball operations food chain. Vlade did not react well to that and he bounced. Before that, the ironic part is you had Pete D’Alessandro as the GM and out of nowhere they brought in Vlade Divac, who is obviously a beloved former Kings player, and he was the one in the advisor role and Pete wasn’t happy about that.”
13:00 Doug Christie as a potential player development coach down the line
Amick: “I’ve seen Doug work with a Buddy Hield and work with some of the younger dudes. I’ve told him myself you need to be in player development. He’s really good.”
13:55 Who was pounding the table in the front office for Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic?
Amick: “I’ve got to take Vlade at his word, Vlade has said publicly and privately that he wanted Bagley.”
“They were through the roof on De’Aaron Fox. He had just had a breakout year. You had a general concern that a guy like Luka is going to take the ball out of De’Aaron’s hands, so you’re going to take some of the superpower away from a young guy that you think can be your franchise centerpiece.”
“It is a brutal pick. It’s the reason Vlade’s not there. If he picked Luka and Luka took off, Vlade would absolutely still be in charge of the Kings’ basketball operations. It’s an all-timer. Making matters even worse, I do believe that Vivek was on Bagley as well. There’s kind of a new person in the Kings’ space. Vivek’s son, Anil, was also part of this GM search and he’s kind of inserted himself into the equation over the course of the past year. I’ve heard several times that he was pounding the table for Luka.”
17:43 Some other bad draft misses, including the Celtics and Nuggets
Amick: “For the Celtics, Jimmy Butler. They had JaJuan Johnson and Butler. That was their two-man list. JaJuan is nowhere to be found, and Jimmy is pushing this kind of underrated Heat team into a possible Finals appearance. The one that (Tim) Connelly shared, the one that gets a lot of focus, is Donovan Mitchell. They traded Donovan as you know and sent him to Utah.”
18:53 With the new front office in Sacramento, what is Luke Walton’s future?
Amick: “I think he’s definitely fine for the foreseeable future. I do think that the message was sent to Monte because that’s who they hired that they’re pretty invested both financially and kind of spiritually in Luke.”
20:24 Potential roster changes
Amick: “You’ve got the Buddy Hield situation. He does not see himself as a sixth man. He’s not happy as a sixth man. That problem is not going away, and you gave him starter money. Do you test the market on Buddy? Can you get anything back?”
“Bogdan Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent, and I guarantee you that Bogdan is looking at this situation now and just simply deciding, ‘Am I really buying into this?’ You can’t really blame him if he’s somewhat skeptical just because of all of the turmoil and the change.”
21:46 Bogdanovic’s future
22:30 NBA coaching carousel
26:23 D’Antoni’s future and the coaching search for the Pacers
Scotto: “(Indiana) has talked to a bunch of other candidates. They’ve done a lot of extensive research. I know they’ve done background on Atkinson.”
Amick: “If I had to handicap it, I don’t see that (Indiana) as a fit (for D’Antoni). I don’t see that happening.”
“Another name that’s been tied there is Mike Brown, the Warriors’ assistant, who I heard that Steve Kerr was advocating on his behalf with the Pacers.”
“(D’Antoni) is definitely going to be considered for the Philadelphia situation. I was told that the word considered is perfect. It’s not the front runner. It’s not short lister. They’ll think about it. I think Billy Donovan would be above D’Antoni on that list. That’s my sense anyway”
31:35 Coaching search for the 76ers and Udoka background stories
34:49 Will the Thunder begin rebuilding and trade CP3?
Amick: “Myself and Eric Nehm, who covers the Bucks for us, have two sources telling us that the Bucks have zero plans of pursuing a Chris Paul trade.”
Scotto: “Steven Adams is a guy I certainly look for OKC to dangle out there. They’ve done it before. Dennis Schroder as well. He’s a guy who was in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation. I don’t know if his value would be higher than it is right now.”
39:10 OKC’s coaching search and Donovan
42:18 Rockets, Pelicans searches, Ty Lue, Jeff Van Gundy and Jason Kidd
Amick on the Rockets: “Another name that wouldn’t surprise me to get involved is Alvin Gentry.”
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto
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