NBA Rumor: Jay Wright to the NBA?

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Whether it was Rick Pitino and John Calipari, Tim Floyd and Leonard Hamilton, or Fred Hoiberg and current Cavaliers coach John Beilein, life in the pros hasn’t exactly been kind to college coaches. That inspired us to poll 25 NBA executives, including multiple general managers, for their list of the five college coaches that they’d currently want to hire in the Association. Here are the results, including anonymous quotes from NBA executives. 1) Jay Wright, Villanova – 64 points (6 first-place votes) “I’m not sure he leaves for anything except for the Sixers job, but obviously he’s proven he can really coach and develop young guys. Look at what he has done over the years with guys like Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, Jalen Brunson. He gets guys ready and that’s important.”

Jay Wright will stay longer at another Catholic institution — he’ll start his 18th season at Villanova after rebuffing requests from NBA teams to talk to him about coaching vacancies. The 56-year-old Wright has long been one of the hottest names attached to marquee-program or NBA openings but has never really considered leaving the Wildcats. “Depending on who the guy is, I’ll say, ‘I’m honored, I’m humbled, I’d love to work with you, but I love my job,’” Wright said. “It’s always that simple.”

Mike Vorkunov: As for Jay Wright, here’s what he told @DanaONeilWriter this week about jumping to the NBA. O’Neil: Before we move on to how those decisions could impact your team, what about you? Do you have any interest in moving on to the NBA? Jay Wright: I’m staying. I love it here. I love what we’re doing. I’m just really happy. I said when I was at Hofstra and I didn’t take other jobs, I used that old Jim Valvano line, Don’t mess with happy. That seemed appropriate at Hofstra until this job opened. It’s still really appropriate. I’m very happy here. I don’t need another challenge. I like happy better than a new challenge. The NBA does intrigue me. That challenge is appealing, but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.

Peter Vecsey: Rivers is guaranteed to go, it says here. A revamped roster in mid-February dictates a demand for a new voice with new ideas with a new image. Owner Steve Ballmer, who inherited Rivers when he purchased the Clippers and gave him lots of leeway, has had plenty of time to figure out Doc is a stone phony. He took away one title (president) from him prior to this season. The time has come to relieve him of his coaching duties, pay him the $10M owed for next season, and offer Villanova’s Jay Wright a blank check. GM Lawrence Franks’ second choice, I’m told, is Jeff Van Gundy.

If Wright has NBA aspirations, he should make the move soon. He is 56 years old, he’s got the energy, and an NBA team worth going to will close to double his current $2.6 million salary (money does always matter). Wright is going to have teams reaching out this summer, but he’s also in a position to be a bit picky — he doesn’t have to take the first offer to come his way if he doesn’t trust management and ownership. Which is what he’s done in the past, he’s gotten calls and brushed them aside. Most publicly, thee Suns reportedly reached out in 2016 (after Villanova’s previous NCAA title) and he turned them down.

In that moment, it was apparent why it will not be easy — or cheap — for an NBA team to attempt to pry Wright away from Villanova. Wright is truly happy living 30 miles from where he grew up, working for administrators he respects and admires and above all else building meaningful relationships with the players he coaches. “I have the best job in the country,” Wright said. “I just love going to work every day. Our guys graduate. You see these kids are great to coach. As a coach, there’s just nothing better.”

Wright told ESPN.com that despite speculation to the contrary, he has not been offered any other jobs and if he were, his plan would be to turn them down. He did, however, leave the door at least ajar. “I can say right now that in my mind I plan to stay at Villanova,” he said. “But I also don’t want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I’ve learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be.”

Probably not. After all, the perfume is everywhere. It is on the wind that circles him now as he is rumored to be a candidate for NBA coaching jobs again, rumored to be in line for this or that, if he only chooses to turn his head. For the moment, he says he is looking straight ahead. “I would like to do this again,” Wright said. “But you understand you might not get that chance. In sports, you might not. We just have to define success the same way we did this year. If we’re the best team we can possibly be at the end of the year, then we’ve done everything we can do.”

Cataldi asked the Churville, PA native one more time: You wouldn’t even listen? “I hope not,” Wright reiterated. “I said that in ’09 and they came at you with stuff and you’re like, ‘Woah!’ You gotta stop for a second. I don’t want too — you hope they don’t offer you, that’s what it is. ‘Cause I love my job. I love it here. I’m very happy here, I’m well taken care of at Villanova, I love living in Philly — my family is from here. I feel so — you know in college basketball you never get to coach where you live.

“If you yell at Kobe Bryant, tell him to dive on the ball, I’m not too sure if he would go down for the ball,” junior guard Josh Hart said. “It’s hard with the NBA because you have so many egos, but for the right teams, he’d be good. You see Brad Stevens and what he’s been doing with the Celtics. They’re a young group of guys, kind of like a college team, just going out and playing as hard as they can, helping each other out, stepping up for each other.”
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October 28, 2020 | 1:45 am EDT Update
Could Gordon Hayward be planning on a similar move this offseason? That’s the buzz according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who discussed Hayward’s future on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast. “There’s some buzz out there. And I can’t figure out what the buzz means,” Lowe said of Hayward’s potential free agency. “The buzz that I’m hearing is like the smoke, the smoke indicating that something is happening. I’m not sure what’s up, but I don’t think it’s a lock that Gordon Hayward is on the Celtics next year.”
Storyline: Gordon Hayward Free Agency
And yet, rumors are swirling from multiple plugged-in NBA people that, even without fully knowing how much money there will be to spend, some NBA teams are already coming to deals with free agents. From Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks of ESPN, via NBA Sports: Windhorst: I have already heard of a deal that’s been agreed to. Who knows whether it’s true or not? Marks: I had one agent – because I was talking about his free agent and salary projections, right? And he said, “Hey, you’re really low. I’ve already got two offers from two different teams.”
As a result, Gordon’s intent is to keep plugging away. In a new appearance on The Ashley Nevel Show, the 31-year-old explained why he isn’t expecting any major changes this offseason. Among his comments: We’ve always been a team that’s had high expectations. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen it for the last four years. You can’t forget, every team that we lost to, they ended up winning the championship.
For us, we definitely need to find ways to get over that hump. The chemistry could be better. … For us, we made a lot of change last year. We went small ball halfway through the season. … In the playoffs, it’s all about matchups. We’ve just got to be able to rally around the same group of guys, and build on more chemistry, and try to get better. Try to utilize everybody to play at their best. I think that’s going to make us better, in the long haul. I don’t think they’re going to rebuild this team. This team is good. I don’t care what a lot of people say, it doesn’t matter. Injuries and whatnot, we’ve seen it all here. We still win 50+ games, and we’re still going to be right there in the playoffs.
Lucas, thinking about the T-Mobile Center and fan support and even the Chiefs’ recent ascent, was all in. First, he sent out a tweet, sparking excitement. Then, days later, Lucas’ phone started to buzz once more. This time, folks were leading Lucas to a tweet that had been sent out by Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The reigning Super Bowl MVP similarly was vying for the Raptors to call Kansas City their temporary home. “It got some traction,” Lucas said. “It’s Patrick Mahomes.” Lucas grew enthralled with the idea, asking himself this question: “What do we have to do to make sure our ducks are in a row?” He called officials at the Kansas City Sports Commission. He called Missouri and Kansas delegations, both Republicans and Democrats, and gauged their responses — and it was all positive.
Storyline: Kansas City Raptors?
Tuesday, conversations continued and grew into a written letter signed by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran as well as U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II. Not only did they send the letter to Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, but also it was directed toward Raptors ownership in hopes their effort, interest and potential were clear. “Here’s the thing: You don’t miss out on opportunities like this,” Lucas said. “You jump when you can.”