The Rockets do have interest in Rivers, a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking said. They were expecting and likely still plan to begin requesting permission to speak with candidates or scheduling meetings by Wednesday or Thursday. Those candidates are expected to include Tyronn Lue, Jeff Van Gundy, Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., Stephen Silas and possibly Sam Cassell.
Marc Stein: ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy, about to broadcast the NBA Finals, is suddenly a candidate for two coaching vacancies Van Gundy has admirers with the Clippers (most notably Lawrence Frank) as well as Houston (Daryl Morey wanted JVG in 2016 and Tilman Fertitta is also said to be a fan)
Can ‘Sam I Am’ the guard whisperer work his magic in Clutch City? The more I hear about Cassell — either from players or folks around the league — the more a fit makes sense. Jovan’s description only strengthens that stance, looking at the main points of his analysis and identifying what Houston needs. Cassell would be a first-time head coach should he accept the job, but it’s hard to argue the fit. For those that walk the storyline/narrative route, you’d be bringing back an influential guard who was a part of the most successful era in team history. The Steve Nash hire in Brooklyn raised a few eyebrows, but the knowledge of the game is there, the experience is there, the savviness is there. Cassell possesses all of those qualities in spades. For the sheer ‘prodigal son’ championship feel, I’d have a hard time believing ownership wouldn’t be jumping at that opportunity.
Brian Windhorst on Rockets' coaching search: Keep an eye on former Rocket, a guy who won a championship in Houston, Sam Cassell. And if not him, one of the favorites is our colleague here at ESPN, former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, in the mix for this job.
Mike D’Antoni is out as head coach of the Rockets. You’ve been petitioning for your former teammate Sam Cassell to replace him. What about Cassell makes you think he’s the best option? Vernon Maxwell: I just feel like it’s his time. He’s been on the bench as an assistant coach for 15 years [Cassell started coaching in 2009]. I get tired of these owners and general managers, they just recycle all these goddamn coaches. You’ve gotta try something new. You’ve gotta give them a chance to see what they can do, and I don’t think that’s fair to guys like Sam. They need to give him a chance and a legit shot. Let him bring in his people that he wants and I think he’ll do fine. He’s ready now.
How serious of a candidate is Ty Lue for the coaching position? It’s kinda hard to gauge, no ?—considering that the sample size of him as a head coach is rather small. — Daniel B. Kelly Iko: Lue is a serious candidate. I respectfully disagree with the notion that his sample size is hard to gauge. Remember it was Lue who took over the job from David Blatt midway through the 2016 season and led the Cavaliers to the promised land, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to steal a Game 7 win in Oakland. That of course takes LeBron James, but also coaching guts. During his stint in Cleveland, Lue led the Cavs to three straight Finals appearances. I’m fairly certain anyone within the Rockets organization would take those odds, especially being able to garner the respect of the greatest player in the world and compete on the league’s highest platform.
Jonathan Feigen: Tilman Fertitta on the coaching search: "It begins and end with the general manager. That's why you have a basketball operations team. They'll make a recommendation to me. I'm the sign off guys. I wouldn't know how to interview a basketball coach."
August 2, 2021 | 6:08 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent Mike Conley Jr. has agreed to a three-year, $68 million deal to return to the Utah Jazz, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball is landing on a four-year, $85 million contract with Chicago Bulls in a sign-and-trade agreement, his agent and @KlutchSports CEO Rich Paul tells ESPN.
Chris Haynes: Free agent guard Will Barton is finalizing an agreement to re-sign with the Denver Nuggets on a two-year, $32 million deal, league sources tell @YahooSports.
August 2, 2021 | 6:04 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Lonzo Ball has agreed to a four-year, $85 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, CEO of Klutch Sports Rich Paul tells @TheAthletic @Stadium.