Sans Phil Jackson, Billy King’s Coaching Search Begins in Earnest
Josh Newman , Field Reporter
Multiple outlets reported on Monday evening that the Nets’ top choice as their next head coach, Phil Jackson, has no interest in returning to the sidelines and would rather take a front office position somewhere.
Jackson coaching the Nets was something of a pipe dream in the wake of Avery Johnson being fired on Dec. 27 and Phil Jackson being informed on Sunday that P.J. Carlesimo would not be retained following a 35-19 regular season and a seven-game first-round playoff loss to the Chicago Bulls.
What happens now with Jackson out of the picture is that General Manager Billy King can begin his coaching search in earnest. There is reportedly a short wish list, which was headlined by Jackson, followed by several other names that have been tossed out there should the other guys on the short list not work out.
Of course, some of the names beyond the short list are long-shots or even worse, but that is expected as this coaching search is still very much in its infancy.
After the jump, we present the names that are out there as King begins his first coaching search as Nets General Manager.
THE SHORT LIST
Larry Brown: Coached the Philadelphia 76ers for six seasons from 1997-2003 while King was the General Manager there. Over those six seasons, Brown went 255-205 with five playoff appearances and a trip to the 2001 NBA Finals. Currently the head coach at Southern Methodist University, Brown is 1,519-1,092 between the NBA, ABA, UCLA, Kansas and SMU. The arguments against Brown are the fact he will be 73 years old this fall and has never stayed in one place for too long. SMU is his 14th different head coaching position.
Brian Shaw: Clearly ready to finally get a shot as a head coaching position, the Indiana Pacers assistant cut his teeth as an assistant coach under Jackson, who he also won three rings with as a player to go along with the two he has as an assistant. Widely viewed as one of the top assistant coaches in the game, Shaw was passed up for the Lakers in favor of Mike Brown after Jackson retired following the 2011 season. If King wants to pursue Shaw, he’ll have to wait. With the Knicks-Pacers series tied 1-1, that series is now slated to end no earlier than May 20.
NAMES TO KEEP IN MIND
Mike Dunleavy Sr.: There were conflicting reports earlier this week, one from the New York Daily News saying Dunleavy had emerged as a ‘real darkhorse’ and another from NetsDaily.com shooting it down for all intents and purposes. The one thing that is clear is that King would have to get turned down multiple times for the coaching search to reach Dunleavy, who is 613-716 in 17 seasons as an NBA head coach. His only appearance in the NBA Finals came in 1991 in his first season with the Lakers and he was the 1999 Coach of the Year following a 35-15 showing with the Portland Trail Blazers in a lockout season.
Doc Rivers: A long-shot at the present time, but certainly a name to keep an eye on. The Boston Celtics’ head coach still has three years left on a five-year extension he signed in May, 2011. The Nets would very likely try to engage Rivers, but that would require the Celtics letting him out of the rest of the contract. The situation in Boston bears watching as the playing futures of aging stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett appears to be anything but settled. If Pierce and Garnett retire or are traded by President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and the team enters a rebuilding phase, that may signify the end of Rivers’ tenure in Boston. Stay tuned.
Jerry Sloan: Another name being tossed around, however unlikely it may be right now. The longtime coach of the Utah Jazz coached Deron Williams for his first five and a half seasons and the two had considerable success together, going to the playoffs four times including the Western Conference Finals in 2007. Sloan resigned in the middle of the 2011 season after 23 seasons in Utah and much of the blame, fairly or unfairly, was put on Williams after it was assumed he drove Sloan out. Publicly, both men have said in recent days they would welcome another chance to work with one another.
***Again, those names are preliminary as King announced Carlesimo would not be back a mere two days ago. Beyond those names, it has been reported that Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy and Nate McMillan are not under consideration at this time.
Aside from Jackson, the Van Gundy brothers are undoubtedly two of the best coaches not coaching at this time. Jeff, the former Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach, has been an ESPN analyst since the 2007 playoffs, but has made known his desire to return to coaching. On Sunday afternoon while at Madison Square Garden to broadcast Game 1 of the Knicks-Pacers series, Van Gundy gave several reporters a ‘no-comment’ when asked about the Nets job just hours after King broke the Carlesimo news.
Like his brother, Stan has also been a highly-successful head coach, holding a .641 winning percentage in eight seasons with the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets. Arguably his greatest achievement was going to the 2009 NBA Finals with a Magic team that featured Dwight Howard, but also a backcourt of Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee.
Outspoken and having grown increasingly tired of the Howard saga that engulfed the franchise, he was relieved of his coaching duties on May 21, 2012 following the Magic’s first-round playoff exit.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA