NBA Saturday: Jabari Parker Ready for Duke
Jabari Parker - VIDEO OF THE DAY
Duke University was already one of the best teams in the country this past year, but by adding top recruit Jabari Parker they project to be even better. At the Nike Hoops Summit, Parker recently discussed his future role as a Blue Devil as well as what he intends to work on in the offseason and how all that could eventually translate to NBA success.Watch More Video Here
Does Toronto Have a Real Shot at Phil Jackson?
It’s no secret that the Toronto Raptors are considering what to do with team president Bryan Colangelo and head coach Dwane Casey this offseason. There’s a chance that both men could return to their positions next year, but this summer could also present an opportunity to set both loose and start fresh with a new regime, something it could very easily be argued that the Raptors need.
And who better to help the team start over than the great Phil Jackson? He has long desired a role much like what Pat Riley has in Miami as the team’s president. Riley of course not only has control over player transactions, but also the coaching staff and that’s something Jackson has admitted he finds extremely desirable as he reportedly leans closer and closer to returning to the NBA.
In fact, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle this week, Jackson said that three or four teams have called him with job opportunities, none of which are head coach offers.
“There are some interesting situations that are presenting themselves, but I really haven’t made up my mind yet what I’m going to do,” Jackson said.
In the same interview he mentioned a desire to actually assemble a coaching staff from scratch, build a team culture around that staff and then bring in the kinds of players that fit into that system.
Considering Toronto is pretty locked down in terms of what they can do with their roster, it wouldn’t appear as though Jackson would be ecstatic about that particular opportunity, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein seems to think that since Tim Leiweke has been hired as the new president and CEO of Maple Lead Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, anything is possible.
Leiweke has no shortage of ties to L.A. He helped get the Staples Center built and knows Jeanie Buss, Jackson’s fiancée, very well. He’s a huge mover and shaker in the sports world, and there are some that believe if anybody could persuade Jackson to head for Canada, Leiweke is the guy who could do it.
All of this seems to mean that Phil Jackson will not be swimming in the pool of potential head coaching candidates this summer, which will bum out a few teams that were hoping to aim for the sky in their searches, but whether or not he ends up in Toronto, Jackson looks primed for a return to the league, this time as a team president for some organization seeking a major shake-up.
The Other Top Coaching Candidates
The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t take long tracking down a new (old) head coach in Mike Brown, but there already are a few openings for head coaching positions around the NBA, and depending on how the postseason goes for some organizations, there could end up being a handful more openings added to the mix.
Already, the Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons are actively seeking coaches, while interims in Milwaukee, Phoenix and Brooklyn also are likely to be replaced this coming offseason. There also a ton of coaches heading into the final years of their contracts, most notably Lionel Hollins in Memphis, Vinny Del Negro in L.A. and Larry Drew in Atlanta, and it’s hard to predict the future of the coaching staffs in places Washington, Toronto and Orlando.
In short, we’re very, very close to setting off the annual coaching carousel, and that means a significant list of interesting coaching candidates will hit the circuit and try to land themselves a new job. The following are the most notable names mentioned as possibilities for those jobs:
Nate McMillan – There are some that believe McMillan is the top target for the Detroit Pistons, who seem committed to bringing in an experienced, big-name coach to help take their young core to the next level, and it’s hard to argue against him as a great fit with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Big men are one of his specialties, but he’s also got 12 years of success on his resume, so it’s a safe assumption that he’ll end up somewhere as long as the price tag stays within a reasonable wheelhouse.
Stan & Jeff Van Gundy – Forget about Jeff, who’s been out of the coaching game since 2007 and has one of the cushiest announcing jobs in the business, but Stan, who sat this year out after the Dwightmare of 2012, is a candidate that is certainly going to garner some attention. He apparently isn’t interested in any of the three openings currently available, but a playoff team with more talent in place could possibly get him to nibble on something. With his openness and honesty during interviews, the media would collectively rejoice if he signed on to head coach again.
Byron Scott – Scott is a former Coach of the Year fresh off a mediocre stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. When he signed on in 2010, he thought there was still a chance he’d be coaching LeBron James, and who knows how differently things might have turned out if that had been the case. Instead, Scott has further proven he can develop young point guards (see: Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving), so maybe a stint in Philadelphia or Charlotte would be good for him. Either way, he’ll be considered for some jobs, even if they aren’t always the most desirable ones.
Scott Skiles – One of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the NBA, Skiles is great at turning around young teams quickly and getting them to play hard and defend, but after two or three years his aggressive style tends to grate on veterans and he tends to lose his locker rooms. It’s what has happened literally everywhere he’s coached in the NBA, so a team in need of a quick turnaround may consider him as a respectable short-term option, but probably not a long-term solution. There’s no question he’s a talented and smart coach, but he’s not ever going to be the guy that spends 4-8 years with the same organization.
Mo Cheeks – The longer the Oklahoma City Thunder stay awesome, the less likely it is that Mo Cheeks will remain relegated to assistant status behind Scott Brooks on that bench. He’s not jumping Brooks, obviously, but he is doing a good enough job to draw some attention from other teams looking at current assistants rather than re-treads as head coaching candidates. Okay, so technically Cheeks is a re-tread, too, but he’s been a big part of OKC’s success the last few seasons and is probably ready for another shot at a head gig.
Mike Malone – Currently an assistant for the Golden State Warriors, Malone seems to the hot name among assistant coaches as the next big thing as an NBA head coach. He’s obviously helped Mark Jackson do good things out in Oakland, and last season he was named the league’s top assistant in the annual GM survey. He’s a defensive specialist, which has paid dividends everywhere he’s coached, and he looks ready for a shot. Of all the assistant coaches looking for their big opportunity this summer, he looks like the best bet to get his.
Mike Budenholzer – As Gregg Popovich’s long-time assistant in San Antonio, one could assume Budenholzer would be a great head coach simply by spending a tremendous amount of time with arguably the greatest head coach currently in the game. However, Budenholzer himself hasn’t shown much interest in jumping ship and apparently really enjoys being lead assistant in San Antonio. He has a good relationship with Popovich and the front office there, and it would be easy to see him biding his time and taking over for Popovich (currently 64 years old) whenever he decides to retire. It’s not out of the question that he’ll consider head coaching gigs, but thus far he hasn’t seemed as eager to leave his current team as some other candidates.
Kelvin Sampson – The former two-time NCAA National Coach of the Year is currently an assistant in Houston, but he’s already been attached to the open jobs in Detroit and Charlotte, though admittedly not as a “favorite.” Remember that he ran the Rockets when Kevin McHale had to step away for a while to deal with his family issues, and he’s known for handling young players very well. He’s got all those years of college coaching experience to thank for that, and it’s the reason why teams with young cores are so interested in hearing how he’d help improve their organizations.
Brian Shaw – It seems as though Shaw has been the second-favorite candidate of just about every team that’s interviewed him for a head coaching job over the course of the last couple of years, but that could change this season for the Indiana Pacers’ assistant. Actually, he was offered the Bobcats job a year ago and turned it down, but seeing how things turned out there this year, who can really blame him? This year, as he continues to shed the image that he’s a triangle-only coach, he should get more opportunities. Perhaps this is the year he’s finally a bride rather than a bridesmaid.
Patrick Ewing – Ewing has been practically begging for a head coaching job for a few years now and finally got interview with his friend Michael Jordan in Charlotte last summer. That same job is up for grabs again, so maybe this is the year Ewing finally gets his opportunity to run his own team. He doesn’t have any experience, but that hasn’t stopped Vinny Del Negro, has it?
And, of course, we may get the opportunity to add more candidates to this list depending on who ends up fired by season’s end. For now, though, this is the list, and all things considered it’s a pretty good one. Not as good as it would be if Phil Jackson were on it, but solid all the same.