All 30 NBA head coaches survived last season which for a moment was seen as an encouraging sign that quick-triggered owners and general managers finally understood the concept of continuity and patience. It’s worked for the Spurs, Mavs and Heat so why not us?
Well, not quite.
Phoenix and Memphis already have made coaching changes and according to several NBA team executives there could be as many as 10 job openings this offseason. That list could include both Los Angeles clubs as well as the Knicks, a team that has performed better than expected under Jeff Hornacek.
Jeff Hornacek is among a large group of NBA head coaches who could be out of work at season’s end.
Luke Walton’s job security has been an on-going topic for two weeks despite being in charge of a young roster with average talent. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst offered a scenario where former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale would land with the Lakers with LeBron James soon to follow. As Fizdale once famously said, “take that for data!” Fizdale is a former Miami Heat assistant coach. Walton, however, is a favorite of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss but is that enough to give Walton a legitimate chance with better players.
Luke Walton doesn’t have much talent to work with in L.A.
(Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images)
As for Doc Rivers, he’s done one of his best coaching jobs by keeping a depleted roster in the Western Conference playoff race in the post-Chris Paul era. If Rivers is out he may return to television although his name will surface in Orlando and New York should those jobs become available.
Rivers is one of several coaches with Knicks ties who could re-surface this summer. Mark Jackson would be in play for the Knicks job and is said to be interested in coaching again in the right situation. The same is true of Jeff Van Gundy, who is satisfying his coaching Jones by being in charge of the U.S. national team in qualification rounds.
Doc Rivers is doing good work with the Clippers this season, but will it be enough?
(Frank Franklin II/AP)
Van Gundy’s credentials among potential coaching candidates are unmatched but he’s got two things working against him. Not all general managers want an outspoken coach who is going to run the team his way. Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle and Erik Spoelstra have what every coach craves: a stable front office that allows the coach to coach.
Also, some teams believe that Van Gundy may not want to leave the television booth where he has carved out a nice second career for himself. The lifestyle isn’t bad as well. Of course, the same was said of Jon Gruden but for the right situation and price Van Gundy is available.
Former New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams may be set to return two years after his wife died tragically in an automobile crash. Williams, a former Knicks first-round pick who served under Popovich, is well respected. The only time the Pelicans made the playoffs with Anthony Davis was when Williams coached the team.
One name to keep an eye on, even with the Knicks, is Jerry Stackhouse. The former All-Star guard currently coaches Toronto’s G-League affiliate. Last season, Stackhouse led his team to the title and was named Coach of the Year. He’s extremely confident and his middle name should be “No Nonsense.” Stackhouse is going to get a chance sooner rather than later.
From the college ranks, Jay Wright is a highly thought of candidate. Wright has built an empire at Villanova and the belief is that he’d only consider one job: the Sixers.
Not sure how DeMarcus Cousins gets the All-Star nod over LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler. Obviously, not every NBA fan has League Pass.
Regardless, Aldridge, Towns and Butler should be among the seven reserves voted to the squad by the West coaches. My remaining four would be Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard.
In the East, I’m going with Al Horford, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Love, Goran Dragic, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo and Kristaps Porzingis.
LET’S BE FRANK
Ed Stefanski, the Memphis Grizzlies VP of Player Personal and former Nets assistant GM, is a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles season ticket holder so Sunday is a big day for him. But not for the reasons you may think.
Stefanski’s son, Kevin, is the quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings, who are one win away from hosting the Super Bowl. Ed Stefanski attended last Sunday’s miracle finish but for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia Stefanski will watch from the comfort of his living room.
Why? It may have something to do with rooting for the visiting team in a historically hostile environment. Remember, he’s a lifelong Eagles season ticket holder. He knows.
Derrick Rose returned to the Cavs lineup on Thursday for the first time in two months. The feeling is that Cleveland won’t buy out Rose because the Cavs are not convinced that Isaiah Thomas’ injured hip is 100%. Danny Ainge’s Kyrie Irving trade looks better and better every day.
With playoff teams in the market for wing players, Courtney Lee could be on the move by the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
I get it, Dwight Howard is everyone’s favorite 7-foot piñata but he’s also averaging 15.5 points and 12.4 rebounds. Compare Howard’s last two seasons to Joakim Noah’s last two seasons. Better yet, compare their careers.
Patrick Ewing was once suspended for a playoff game in 1997 for being one step on the court during a fight between the Knicks and the Miami Heat. He wasn’t a peacemaker, just a bystander. And yet he was hit with a one-game suspension that cost the Knicks their season.
Likewise, if you leave the bench during a fight to play peacemaker the NBA automatically suspends you one game, no questions asked. And yet, after the NBA determined that Chris Paul and James Harden entered the Clippers locker room on Monday to play “peacemakers” they decided not to punish either player.
Who knows, maybe Paul and Harden entered the locker room wearing those United Nations Peacekeeping bibs.