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Understanding The NBA Head Coach Hire Potpourri

NBA Head Coaches
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NBA Head Coaches

Minneapolis, MN, USA; Former Utah Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek now has the task of leading the Phoenix Suns. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hornacek is now in charge of leading the Phoenix Suns organization out of no man’s land. The former shooting guard, and recently full-time assistant coach for the Jazz, has landed the role of head coach for the Suns. He never acquired any major hardware while operating on the hardwood, but his uncanny vision might be just what a struggling franchise needs.

With his early hire, Phoenix has made an important move in the process of rebuilding, as securing a team leader will let them focus on other matters—such as which young talent they’ll draft with their No. 5 pick.

But the Hornacek hire doesn’t fill the hiring void for the NBA’s other coaching vacancies. Below, SJN makes out the mess of firings, personnel courtships, and hire news that may still be weeks away from ending.

Philadelphia 76ers

Courting The Following Personnel: Kelvin Sampson and Chris Finch

Doug Collins left the 76ers organization more disillusioned than Cavaliers fans post-The Decision. It’s going to take a hard-nosed head coach, who also doubles as a people person, to help pick up Philadelphia from the ashes.

Both Sampson and Finch have strong backgrounds, with both currently serving as assistant coaches in Houston. Sampson has the upper hand in matters of resume, but it seems that Philadelphia wants young blood in Philly. So, Finch might end up with the job.

Milwaukee Bucks

Courting The Following Personnel: Larry Drew, Kelvin Sampson and Steve Clifford

It’s down to three. After giving the grim-faced Jim Boylan the boot, the Bucks are now down to three candidates.

Brandon Jennings is keen on Sampson, who spent three years with the organization as an assistant coach. But Bucks general manager John Hammond is leaning toward Clifford, who is an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. Picking Sampson might aid in keeping Jennings around, if the Bucks haven’t already decided to part ways with the 23-year-old.

Los Angeles Clippers

Courting The Following Personnel: Byron Scott, Brian Shaw and Alvin Gentry

Brian Shaw and Alvin Gentry are two worthy candidates, with Shaw being in high-demand across the league. But this is Scott’s job to lose. He did a poor job in Cleveland, but has been to two Finals and one Conference Finals. He also has history coaching Chris Paul, who’s a puppeteer on the court and behind the scenes for the Clippers.

Detroit Pistons

Courting The Following Personnel: Brian Shaw and Nate McMillan

Phil Jackson is offering sage advice to the Pistons organization on matters of hiring. As an ex-employee of Jackson then, Brian Shaw is projected as the favorite. But Detroit’s future lies in its young big men: Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. McMillan has experience nurturing the talents of LaMarcus Aldridge, an All-Star big, and is known for his defensive pedigree. He could turn around the team with a talented, young point guard.

Charlotte Bobcats

Courting The Following Personnel: Alvin Gentry and Lawrence Frank

Gentry’s old world charm feels like a perfect fit for Charlotte, who just tapped into the retro by changing their name to the Hornets. But Gentry is one of the leading candidates in L.A. and would be smart to go there instead.

If Gentry does, Frank is a good, young coach who could provide a fresh philosophy to the organization. But his success has been on the regress after posting 49-33 in his third year as a head coach.

Brooklyn Nets

Courting The Following Personnel: Jerry Sloan and Brian Shaw

The Nets have deep pockets, but so far they’re 0-for-2 in big name hires. Neither the Doc Rivers nor Phil Jackson pursuits have panned out for them.

Jerry Sloan could be another big name, as that is what seems to be a priority for management, and surprisingly he’s open to coaching the ill-mannered Deron Williams again. As a HOF coach, Sloan has the chops to fine-tune this Brooklyn team, but the bright lights of New York seem like a poor fit for Sloan’s grassroots approach.

Shaw might be the better fit. Not that Brooklyn has a history of caring about that.

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