Former Kansas men’s basketball power forward Nick Collison has been named special assistant to executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti by the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.
Collison — he had his OKC jersey No. 4 retired on March 21, 2019 in recognition of his 14 years as a player with the Thunder NBA franchise — worked the past two seasons as OKC’s basketball operations representative.
According to the Thunder, “Collison in his new role will continue to enhance his front office acumen while working closely with Presti and other key front office personnel on short-term and long-range initiatives and projects for the Thunder across many facets of basketball operations.”
Collison, 40, actually is the only player in Oklahoma City Thunder history to have his jersey retired. The second leading scorer and third-leading rebounder in KU basketball history had his KU jersey No. 4 hung in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse on Nov. 25, 2003.
He was drafted No. 12 overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2003, before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City. Collison, who played for just that one organization, retired at the end of the 2017-18 season.
At KU, Collison helped the Jayhawks to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2002 and 2003. As a senior, Collison averaged 18.5 points and 10 rebounds a game. He was named Big 12 Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-American.
Robinson-Earl signs with Thunder
The Thunder recently selected former Bishop Miege forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl with the 32nd overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. According to published reports, he’s signed a four-year contract worth $8 million.
Robinson-Earl left Miege for IMG Academy entering his senior year of high school. He played two seasons at Villanova before entering the 2021 Draft.
OKC traded picks No. 34 and 36 to the New York Knicks to make sure they could draft Robinson-Earl with the second pick of Round Two. That pick initially belonged to New York.
“We felt like it was a priority to make sure that we acquired him with one of those picks, but we weren’t sure exactly if he was going to be on the board just based on some of our intelligence,” Presti said as quoted by USA Today. “It made sense to consolidate those based on what we thought the valuations were going to be at 36.
“He’s a player that we’ve liked for some time. I think he’s a really good fit for our organization,” Presti added. “He’s tough. He’s physical. He’s a cerebral player. He’s had a really solid career at Villanova.”
Jacque Vaughn stays with Nets
Former KU guard Jacque Vaughn, who has been an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets since the 2016-17 season, is content right now helping head coach Steve Nash try to win an NBA championship with the big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
In late June, a day after Nets assistant Ime Udoka was named head coach of the Boston Celtics, Vaughn announced he would not be pursuing head coaching jobs this offseason. Vaughn, 46, was believed to be on the wish list for head coaching positions with Washington, New Orleans and Orlando this current offseason.
“Of the three teams, the Pelicans had Vaughn highest on their list of candidates. Trajan Langdon — the current general manager of the Pelicans — was the assistant general manager of the Nets and the general manager of the Long Island Nets — the Nets G League affiliate — before arriving in New Orleans,” wrote Chris Milholen of netsdaily.com.
“Vaughn, who served as Nets interim head coach after Kenny Atkinson was dumped, was retained by Brooklyn and made one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the league. He served as the lead assistant on Steve Nash’s coaching staff during this past season. As the interim head coach, Vaughn went 7-3 — including a 5-3 record in the Orlando bubble. He has been on the Nets sidelines the entire five years Sean Marks has been GM,” Milholen added.
Vaughn, who also worked as head coach of the Orlando Magic and assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, obviously will remain a leading head coach candidate in the NBA if the Nets are able to win a title in 2021-22.
Dotson suffers ankle injury
Former KU guard Devon Dotson suffered an ankle injury and missed the second half of the Chicago Bulls’ 78-59 loss to Minnesota on Thursday in the Las Vegas Summer League.
He scored two points with five rebounds and no assists in 11 minutes for Chicago during the first half. The team did not disclose any details about Dotson’s status for the rest of the summer league games.
Former KU guard Malik Newman scored 10 points with three assists and two turnovers in the San Antonio Spurs’ 106-105 victory over Charlotte on Thursday in Vegas. Newman was 2-of-4 from three for San Antonio.
Former KU forward Dedric Lawson was 3-of-3 from three and scored 11 points in Boston’s 108-71 win over Orlando on Thursday in Vegas. He had two boards in eight minutes for the Celtics.