DENVER — In his playing days, Brian Shaw was more of a role player, taking a back seat to the bigger names on the court.
His coaching career sort of had a similar feel: A respected basketball mind, only no one would give him a shot to lead a team.
That is, until now. After a dozen interviews over the years that all ended the same way — teams going in a different direction — the longtime assistant finally landed his first head coaching job with the Denver Nuggets.
“At times, it got frustrating,” Shaw said at his introductory news conference on Tuesday. “At the same time, I just looked at it as it allowed me more time to learn and to get better.”
Shaw steps in for George Karl, the NBA Coach of the Year who was ousted after the team won a franchise-record 57 games, only to be bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
The 47-year-old Shaw isn’t trying to follow in the footsteps of Karl.
And he’s not trying to simply be a clone of his mentor, Phil Jackson, either, a name that might have actually hindered him over the years, instead of helped.
Smith declines option
NEW YORK — Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith has informed the New York Knicks that he will decline the option in his contract for next season and become a free agent.
A team spokesman also says Tuesday the Knicks extended a qualifying offer to forward Chris Copeland, making him a restricted free agent and allowing them to match any offer he receives.
Smith’s decision was not a surprise given that he can make much more than the $2.9 million he was scheduled to earn next season.
The New Jersey native is happy in New York and is a longtime teammate of Carmelo Anthony so he would likely want to stay with the right offer.
Smith averaged 18.1 points in 80 regular-season games but his horrendous 29 percent shooting and poor decisions over the final eight postseason games could scare off potential suitors.
Grizzlies holding talks
Memphis is negotiating with assistant Dave Joerger to become the Grizzlies’ head coach, said a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the final deal hasn’t been reached yet.
ESPN.com first reported the negotiations.
This would be Joerger’s first NBA head coaching job. He had been an assistant the past six seasons with the Grizzlies under coach Marc Iavaroni and later Lionel Hollins, who whose contract was not renewed earlier this month despite leading Memphis to a 56-26 record and a Western Conference finals appearance.
The Grizzlies also interviewed George Karl, the NBA coach of the year before being fired by Denver, Chicago Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney and former Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry.
Two exercise options
MIAMI — James Jones and Rashard Lewis have exercised their player options to remain with the Miami Heat next season.
Both moves were expected, and announced Tuesday. Jones is due to make $1.5 million this coming season, and is coming off a year where he scored 60 points in 38 regular-season appearances.
Lewis will make just under $1.4 million, and averaged 5.2 points in 55 games in his first Heat season.
Miami still has a team option to pick up on starting point guard Mario Chalmers, who will make $4 million next year if he remains with the Heat. Miami has until Sunday to exercise its option on Chalmers, who said on Tuesday that he expects to hear formal word from the team in the next couple of days.
Kings hire dad Malone
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — New Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone has officially hired his father as one of his assistants.
The team announced the addition of Brendan Malone to the coaching staff Tuesday. Mike Malone had said when he was hired that he planned to hire his father.
The Malones are the second father-son duo to hold the title of NBA head coach, joining Bill and Eric Musselman. The Malones also worked on the same staff as assistants for the New York Knicks in 2003-04.
Brendan Malone has 27 years of NBA experience, including a stint as an assistant to Chuck Daly on two championship teams in Detroit. Malone was also the first head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
More international games
NEW YORK — The NBA said regular-season games will be played next season in London and Mexico City.
The San Antonio Spurs are set to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Mexico City Arena on Dec. 4, and the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets will meet at The O2 in London next Jan. 16.
The NBA said Tuesday it’s the first time regular-season games in two countries outside of the United States and Canada will be played in the same season.
In March, the league announced eight preseason games would be played in several countries from Oct. 5-18.
League gets ‘A’ grade
ORLANDO, Fla. — The NBA has received an A in a report on its hiring practices, with an A+ in the race category.
The league slipped from an A- to a B+ in gender hiring practices, but scored an overall mark of 90.7 in the study conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
Richard Lapchick, primary author of the report, said the NBA remains the industry leader among the men’s sports for racial and gender hiring practices.
Using data from the 2012-13 season, TIDES found that African-Americans made up 43.3 percent of all NBA head coaches.