By DOM AMORE, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
6:39 PM EDT, May 12, 2014
There is yet another NBA team looking for a head coach. The Cleveland Cavaliers fired Mike Brown Monday.
This news could have an impact on the Kevin Ollie situation. It could, in fact, speed up his contract talks with UConn, which appear to be hung up on an escape clause, according to a source who requested anonymity.
"Circumstances could push things along quickly," the source said.
The Lakers, Knicks, Warriors, Timberwolves, Pistons and Jazz have coaching openings and, with each new opening new possibilities arise about Ollie's future. Sources close to Ollie confirmed more than a week ago that the UConn coach would listen if an NBA team approached him, and that one NBA team has reached out. But its identity remains a mystery.
The Cavaliers, who hired David Griffin as GM Monday as they fired Brown — for the second time in four years, incidentally — could be that team, since they have been in the midst of a shake-up since the end of the season. USA Today reported that Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin is a front-runner for the Cavaliers job.
The Knicks, according to various reports, are zeroing in on a deal with Steve Kerr. But it has been speculated that Thunder coach Scott Brooks, if they lose their playoff series to the Clippers, could be replaced and Ollie, who played for 12 different teams in 13 seasons, has strong ties to the Oklahoma City franchise.
Ollie has not commented on his future since the week following UConn's national championship, when he said on multiple occasions that he wanted to stay at UConn. AD Warde Manuel has not commented since that time, either, when he said he intended to offer a more lucrative deal. Last season, Ollie earned about $1.6 million, including bonuses. He has four years left on a five-year, $7.5 million contract he signed in January 2013. A school spokesman said Manuel has declined to comment on negotiations while they were ongoing.
An NBA offer would likely be more than double what Ollie current makes, and a team making such an offer would likely want an answer quickly.
Ollie would have to pay UConn $2.55 million if he were to leave now — and whether such a large buyout clause should be included in a new UConn contract appears to be a sticking point, rather than years and money.
Ollie was on campus this weekend as the Huskies' seniors received their diplomas, and a top 2015 recruit, guard Derek Jones, was expected for an unofficial visit Monday, according to RecruitScoop.com.
Giffey In Training
In addition to Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels, UConn's Niels Giffey is also working for an opportunity to play in the NBA. He has joined draft-eligible players at the St. Vincent's Sports Performance Pre-Draft Training Program in Indianapolis.
Giffey, 6-foot-7 and one of the top three-point shooters in the NCAA last season, could find a specialist's niche in the NBA. He was a productive player for the German National Team at the European championships last summer, playing with and against experienced pros. ... Ollie and UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma will be at the New York Athletic Club Wednesday to receive the Winged Foot Award, presented since 1996 to the NCAA men's and women's championship coaches.
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