The NBA coaching carousel will be in full swing this offseason with several big-profile coaches available for jobs to coach some of the top stars in the league. The Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets showed interest in Jeff Van Gundy.
At least five teams need a head coach, including the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, and New Orleans Pelicans.
Several other coaches, including Billy Donovan and Mike D’Antoni from the Western Conference, jumped ship looking for new jobs in the Eastern Conference. After getting beat down over the past decade by the Golden State Warriors, and with the new balance of power shifting to Los Angeles, both coaches sought a change of scene.
Donovan moved on from the Oklahoma City Thunder and took over a vacant head coaching job with the Chicago Bulls.
|NBA COACHING RUMORS
|Jeff Van Gundy
|Houston, LA Clippers
|Indiana, Philly, Minnesota
The Brooklyn Nets recently hired former NBA All-Star Stave Nash to fill their vacant head coaching job. Nash had no prior experience, but the franchise sought a fresh perspective to help guide Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.
The impatient New York Knicks didn’t wait to fill their opening. As per usual, the Knicks took a step backward, hiring ex-Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The majority of the NBA runs a variation of a spread, 3-point happy offense that Mike D’Antoni perfected with the Phoenix Suns almost two decades ago. D’Antoni’s teams thrived on a “seven second or less” shooting philosophy that encourages fast-break layups and 3-pointers.
D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets parted ways after he couldn’t get the Rockets into the NBA Finals with his revolutionary style of basketball and one of the NBA’s elite scorers with James Harden.
D’Antoni has been linked to the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves currently employ Ryan Saunders as their head coach. He went 17-25 on an interim basis after Thibodeau got axed at the start of the season.
The Pacers seem like a better fit for him on the philosophical side of basketball. However, their top-star, Victor Oladipo, recently expressed his sincere interest in moving to a new organization.
Van Gundy: Houston Reprise or Hotel California?
Jeff Van Gundy is best known for his stint with the New York Knicks in the 1990s. Van Gundy resigned in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack after the death of his best friend. Once Van Gundy left Gotham, the Knicks struggled as a franchise. He coached the last truly great era of hoops in NYC. The lowly Knicks haven’t been a bona fide contender in the last 20 years.
Van Gundy never won a championship, but came close with the 1998-99 Knicks.
Van Gundy coached the Houston Rockets for four seasons. In three playoff appearances, the Rockets lost in the first round three times.
In nine full seasons as a head coach, Van Gundy’s teams won 50-plus games four times. He did it with the Knicks twice (1996-97, 1999-00) and Rockets (2003-04, 2006-07).
Van Gundy and the Rockets were linked together in a rumor last week. But this week, the LA Clippers are interested in Van Gundy after parting ways with Doc Rivers.
Van Gundy thought Mark Jackson, his broadcasting colleague at ESPN and former ex-Knicks point guard, should already have a head coaching job by now with so many vacancies.
“One of the most confounding things that I’ve run into in the NBA is how Mark is not being interviewed for every job,” Van Gundy told the LA Times.
Doc Rivers, Hello Philly
On Monday, the Clippers announced they are ending their relationship with Doc Rivers. The Clips blew a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets and were eliminated when they lost three-straight games.
The move came as a shock and surprise to everyone, considering the newly-assembled team had been together for just one season. Rivers won an NBA title coaching the 2007-08 Boston Celtics and it seemed as though he would guide Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to a championship with the Clippers. But after one season with Kawhi and PG-13, the organization wanted to go in a new direction.
On paper, the blemish was obvious. The Clippers never won a Western Conference title, let alone appear in the NBA Finals. Heck, the Clips never advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers went to the postseason in six of the seven seasons Rivers roamed the sidelines. They lost in the Western Semifinals three times, including this season. The Clips lost in the first round thrice. Rivers never had a losing season in LA with the City of Angels’ second team, yet he could never get the Clips over the hump in the postseason.
Van Gundy showered Rivers with praise.
“Doc has done a great job leading his team and maximizing their talents, and I think his leadership qualities during this bubble experience really helped show the way and how everybody — teams, players, coaches — could maximize their platform for change,” said Van Gundy.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers and Doc Rivers reached an agreement. Rivers will become their next head coach. The Sixers were also interested in Mike D’Antoni and Ty Lue, but went with Rivers.