- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
NBA Saturday: Head Coach Candidates Dwindling
Posted By Joel Brigham On June 1, 2013 @ 6:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Former Arizona forward Solomon Hill talked with HOOPSWORLD at the 2013 NBA Draft. He discussed his game, NBA comparison and much more.Watch More Video Here
The Coaching Carousel Continues
Anybody who has signed up for NBA alerts on their smartphone probably has noticed an uptick in pings this week, due largely to the fact that teams with head coaching vacancies are really starting to make some hires. The names that have come off the board are not surprising, but many of the top assistants ready for a shot at being top dog have already been hired. That means the next wave is more likely to be retreads than first-timers, but whatever the case, teams are trying to get their head coaches hired ahead of the draft, and we’re really starting to see the dominoes fall.
The following is a look at who has been hired already, and which candidates might be best for the jobs that remain open:
The New Hires
Atlanta Hawks – Mike Budenholzer
If the NBA Finals stretch out to seven games, it’s very possible that Budenholzer, the lead assistant for the San Antonio Spurs, will not step into his new job as Hawks head coach until a little over a week before the draft. But that’s fine with Atlanta, who got the most coveted assistant coach in the league to finally leave Gregg Popovich’s bench and take over his own team as head coach. He and Hawks VP of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry are very good friends, which perhaps explains his comfort in heading to Atlanta, but expect Budenholzer to preach defense and establish a system just as rigid as the one he helped develop in San Antonio. This was a great hire for the Hawks, particularly if they can find a way to improve their talent this offseason.
Charlotte Bobcats – Steve Clifford
Clifford is Charlotte’s sixth head coach since 2006-2007, but they’re hoping he’s the last one they have to hire for a while. Unlike Mike Dunlap, Clifford has tons of NBA experience, having worked as an assistant in New York, Houston, Orlando, and most recently Los Angeles with the Lakers, and he’s another guy who’s known for his work on the defensive end of the floor. The Bobcats wanted an inexpensive hire with big potential, and they feel like Clifford is it. He’s not as big a get as Budenhozler or Mike Malone, but Charlotte will take him. Hopefully he lasts longer than his predecessors.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Mike Brown
Obviously Brown has familiarity with the Cavaliers, as he was the coach of that team as recently as 2010, but he inherits a group with a lot of promising youngsters that had better be ready to play some defense. His team has the first overall selection in this month’s NBA Draft and a burgeoning superstar in Kyrie Irving, so there’s promise there. One just has to hope Brown’s second go-round in Cleveland ends happier than his first. At the very least, let’s hope it ends happier than his tenure in Los Angeles.
Milwaukee Bucks – Larry Drew
Of the six head coaches that have been hired this month, Drew is one of only two with actual NBA head coaching experience, and despite his unhappy ending with the Hawks, who felt like they needed a chance a pace, he did a pretty good job getting a bare bones Atlanta squad to seriously overachieve this past season. Milwaukee has quite a few big-time free agents this offseason, but they still should have plenty of talent for Drew to work with. While this isn’t a major destination for potential head coaches, the Bucks still found themselves a respectable general to try and get them out of the first round of the playoffs next year for the first time since 2001.
Phoenix Suns – Jeff Hornacek
Former Sun Jeff Hornacek was one of the first head coaches hired this offseason, and with good reason. He’s very young and very unproven, but new Suns GM Ryan McDonough swears he’s the right guy for the job, and based on McDonough’s past success we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here. There were plenty of people who felt that Hornacek would take over the Jazz the next time a coaching opening became available there, but Phoenix felt like he was ready now. The 25-win Suns can’t be much worse than they were last year, so if nothing else he should inject some fresh flavor and optimism into a locker room that needs a little bit of both.
Sacramento Kings – Mike Malone
New Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive used to be a minority owner for the Golden State Warriors, so it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that he would have interest in bringing in one of the best-prepared assistants in former Warriors assistant Mike Malone to head coach his new team. The son of former coach Brendan Malone, Mike Malone has been an assistant for over a decade and has helped turn around team defenses everywhere he’s gone. The Kings need a huge dose of that, plus a little bit of cohesion, and Malone is as good a candidate to correct those things as anybody.
The Positions Still Open
There’s no question the Nets are aiming high as they look for their next head coach. Their first stop was former Lakers and Bulls zenmaster Phil Jackson, but the 11-time NBA champion passed on the opportunity to coach again. They then tried getting permission from the Boston Celtics to talk to Doc Rivers but were sent away, and now they most recently have been attached to Jeff Van Gundy, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. Memphis hasn’t yet made a decision on Lionel Hollins, but Brooklyn would reportedly have some interest in him as well, should he become available. One thing’s for sure: the Nets want a big name to head their team, and they’re not in any particular hurry to find that guy.
Speaking of Phil Jackson, he’s been hired by the Detroit Pistons as an advisor to help Joe Dumars find his next coach, but the search has thus far has been pretty slow. Budenholzer reportedly interviewed twice with the organization before eventually deciding on Atlanta, and Larry Drew was someone they were interested in at one point, as well, but he chose Milwaukee. With those two off the market, Detroit seems to be honing in on Nate McMillan and Mo Cheeks. Either would be an excellent hire for a team that’s slowly coming together with some great young talent. McMillan or Cheeks could really help them turn the corner and make that organization credible again.
The Nets are not alone in their interest in Jeff Van Gundy and Lionel Hollins, as the L.A. Clippers have at different times been attached to both men in their search to find a replacement for Vinny Del Negro. L.A. also has been linked to Byron Scott and Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, and those latter two coaches are reportedly the favorites at this point in the process. Many believed Shaw deserved a head coaching opportunity a year ago, but his work with the Pacers this year makes him one of the most desirable assistant coaches left. Scott, meanwhile, has a connection to Chris Paul, as he coached CP3 in New Orleans. No open coaching gig has more talent on the roster than the Clippers, so this is a big ticket job. Whoever ends up getting hired is going to have plenty to work with.
The Sixers are another team that could be interested in Brian Shaw (for all the same reasons the Clippers would be interested in him), but Philadelphia has generally taken a slow approach to finding a new head coach. Sixers associate head coach Michael Curry has gotten endorsements from some of the Philadelphia players, but Shaw and Houston assistant Kelvin Sampson are the only other coaches that have had their names linked to Philadelphia this point. Of the four teams still looking for a head coach, Philly seems to be approaching the process the most slowly.
Expect these teams to find their new head coaches before the NBA Draft on June 27th, and be prepared to add Memphis to the list of teams looking at new coaching candidates should they decide (and hopefully soon) on Lionel Hollins’ future. So far, the guys that have been hired have either been really good assistants ready for their shot, or the best of former head coaches looking to stay or get back in the game.
It’s hard to argue with any of the hires so far, but in all cases, teams are hoping that new faces in these locker rooms help these teams get better right away. By the end of June, we’ll know who all those coaches are, but until then we’re at least off to a pretty good start.
Mookie Blaylock Update
Former Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets point guard Mookie Blaylock was involved in a car accident in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, but as of late Friday night he was off of life support and classified as being in guarded but critical condition.
According to Alexis Stevens of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Blaylock’s Cadillac Escalade drifted over the median and into oncoming traffic, causing him to crash into another vehicle carrying two passengers, one of which was a 40-year-old woman that has since been pronounced dead. The other passenger was also injured and is still in the hospital.
Blaylock had reportedly been under treatment for seizures, but there’s no indication as to whether or not that had anything to do with the accident. Whatever happened, it’s a very sad story that has captured the attention of basketball fans all over the world. Blaylock isn’t a Hall of Famer, but he was a respectable scoring point guard throughout the 1990s, and the reaction to the accident on Twitter has been very supportive for both Blaylock and the husband and wife with whom he collided.
For now, though, it looks Blaylock has gotten through the worst of his injuries and is slowly stabilizing. Unfortunately, if and when he comes to, he’s got some unfortunate news waiting for him.
Let’s hope both he and the man from the other vehicle are okay, and condolences go out to the family of Monica Murphy, the woman who passed away as a result of the accident.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-saturday-head-coach-candidates-dwindling
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.