Will coach for food.
It’s been a tumultuous season for several franchises and we have already seen two head coaches get the boot. Sometimes it’s all a team can do. The captain can go down with the ship but in order to turn it around, some squads just need a brand new skipper.
Luckily, there are several candidates out there for these teams to shop around for. Houston and Golden State are looking to hire after firing their respective coaches. Phil Jackson has been talking about calling it quits and so has Doc Rivers. Meanwhile, Indiana juggles whether or not to keep Frank Vogel while New York and Orlando SHOULD be looking to replace D’Antoni and Van Gundy.
Speaking of Gundys, Jeff Van Gundy would like to get back into the league and coach his own team again. Van Gundy got his start under the legendary Rick Pitino at Providence College in 1987 and by 1996, he was coaching the New York Knicks. Before that, he served as an assistant for the Knickerbockers under such names as Stu Jackson, John MacLeod, Pat Riley and Don Nelson. During that tenure, they never missed the playoffs.
He went on to coaching the Houston Rockets in 2003 but was fired after a first-round loss to the Utah Jazz in 2007. Later that night, he helped with an ESPN broadcast of the Phoenix Suns vs. the San Antonio Spurs. He has been in front of the camera ever since.
Van Gundy has heart. He tried to break up a fight between his Knicks and the Heat during the 1998 NBA Playoffs. He was even thrown to the floor and was forced to clasp onto the Heat’s Alonzo Mourning’s leg. In 2001, Marcus Camby tried to punch San Antonio’s Danny Ferry. He missed and hit Jeff. While his sideline commentary is goofy, his coaching isn’t. As you can see, Jeff Van Gundy has been a dedicated piece of every team he has coached. Meanwhile, he hasn’t been separated from the league for too long but some owners may be hesitant to hire one of the Van Gundys that tend to be an abrasive species.
Another guy looking for a job is Mike Brown. This former coach of the year was lucky enough to coach LeBron James and even had a successful trip to the 2007 NBA Finals where the Spurs swept them. Regardless, the 41-year-old studied under the best in Greg Popovich and transformed the Cleveland Cavs into one of the top defensive teams in the league.
After growing up and attending high school in Germany, Brown started out in the U.S. as a scout and video coordinator for the Denver Nuggets. He eventually found his way from San Antonio to Indiana under Rick Carlisle before finally landing a head position for the Cavs in 2005, replacing Brendan Malone. At the time, he was the second youngest coach in the NBA right behind Lawrence Frank of the New Jersey Nets.
However, several disappointing postseasons with the Cavs got him fired. Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry did their best to load up a roster that always fell short. While he is regarded as one of the best defensive coaches available, you can’t help but question his mental toughness seeing as his Cavs folded every season. He too hasn’t been separated from the league for too long but we have yet to see how he would do with an LBJless team.
One thing people will always remember Kevin McHale for is the infamous foul on Kurt Rambis in the 1984 NBA Finals. Oddly enough, it was Rambis that took over for McHale in coaching the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009 (and we thought the Wolves just drafted weird. KAAAAAAHN!)
All fun and games until someone gets fired.
As Vice President of Basketball Operations, McHale made University of Minnesota teammate Flip Saunders head coach and drafted Kevin Garnett. However, they only passed the first round once in Garnett’s 12 seasons playing for the Wolves. Additionally, McHale was running the team when they were punished for making a secret deal with Joe Smith that would have given the free agent millions under a secret contract in order for it not to affect their salary cap. Emperor Stern voided the Timberwolves’ contract with Smith, took away three of their next five first-round picks and fined them $3.5 million.
He subsequently fired Saunders and assumed his first head coaching position. They finished 19-12 under him during the 2004-05 season but he had no interest in continuing to coach the team. They hired Dwane Casey to take over. McHale returned to their head coach position in 2008 when the team fired Randy Wittman but that didn’t last too long either as owner Glen Taylor announced that McHale wouldn’t be returning to the position for the 2009-10 season.
Since, McHale has taken on the same as most other former coaches and sits in front of a camera for games. He too is itching to return to the NBA and his timing couldn’t be more perfect seeing as Boston Celtics’ head coach Doc River is looking to step down. Additionally, it was McHale that orchestrated the trade that sent Garnett to Boston. Looks like former teammate Danny Ainge owes Kevin a favor.
Dwane Casey, mentioned above, has spent the last few years right beside Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks. Last season, he interviewed with several teams including Cleveland and New Orleans but failed to land a head-coaching gig.
This former Kentucky Wildcat’s coaching career didn’t exactly start out on the right foot. After playing there, he joined the coaching staff as an assistant when a letter meant for standout recruit Chris Mills containing $1,000 in cash with Casey’s name on it surfaced. It resulted in head coach Eddie Sutton’s resignation and Mills subsequent signing at the University of Arizona.
While at Kentucky, he recruited and coached future NBA players Winston Bennett, Sam Bowie, Rex Chapman, LeRon Ellis, Shawn Kemp, Dirk Minnifield, Irving Thomas and Melvin Turpin.
For years, Casey traveled around Europe learning various techniques of the game before ending up in Japan where he coached for five seasons. In 1998, he coached Japan’s national team to their first World Championship in 31 years.
He eventually ended up on the Seattle Supersonics staff under George Karl and then Nate McMillan. He was in Seattle for 11 years before taking the head coach position in Minnesota. After only a season and a half there, they had a record of 53-69 and sat at 20-20 for the 2006-07 season before he was fired.
Casey has desire to reclaim his own team and has definitely done his time as an assistant in Dallas. The team has transformed from an offensive minded team to more balanced and consistent squad with 11 consecutive 50-win seasons.
Making a name in Memphis, is David Joerger up for a big-time position?
As the playoffs continue and the Memphis Grizzlies continue to impress everyone, David Joerger’s name has become more and more heard in various front offices. Before joining the coaching staff of the Griz, he became one of the most successful minor league coaches in NBA history. After graduating from Moorhead State, Joerger got his start as the Dakota Wizards’ general manager. He then got his first shot as an assistant coach for them during the 1997-98 season. After three years, he replaced head coach Duane Ticknor and took them to the Championship. All-in-all he has five minor league titles which is more than minor league-turned-coaches-turned-NBA head coaches Phil Jackson, Flip Saunders, George Karl and Eric Musselman combined.
He is considered on of the best teachers of the game and had 18 of his players called up to the NBA from 2003-07. Now, he and head coach Lionell Hollins doing the unforeseeable with an eighth seed team without it’s lead scorer in Rudy Gay. Joerger’s stock is up.
LA is another team making waves this postseason but after decades of coaching and several rings later, Phil Jackson might be tossing in the towel at season’s end. Assistant Brian Shaw has emerged as a likely candidate. This former point guard spent 14 years in the league before joining the coaching staff of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics 24th in 1988 but only signed a one-year contract. After that, he signed a two-year deal with II Massaggero Roma in Italy. He returned to the Celtics in 1990.
He spent several years playing with Shaquille O’Neal in both Orlando and LA. In an interview with the Miami Herald in 2007, Shaq said that he admired Shaw more than any other teammate he had ever played with. He is engraved in the Lakers’ history having won titles there 2000-02.
Lastly, we have a guy that has known extreme highs and extreme lows. Lawrence Frank was the first rookie head coach in any of the four major sports to start off 13-0 when he took the head coach position for the New Jersey Nets in 2004. However, he was relieved of his duties after the Nets started their 2009-10 season 0-16.
Frank started off as a team manager for Indiana University under Bobby Knight in 1992. He then moved to the University of Tennessee before landing his first NBA job as an assistant and scout for the then Vancouver Grizzlies.
Since being fired, Frank has done a little TV work for NBA TV before eventually being hired as assistant coach to Doc Rivers on the Boston Celtics, replacing Tom Thibideau. He too would like a job coaching his own team but that 0-16 start might still haunt the man that hasn’t suited up for a game since middle school.
As several teams are still lobbying to make the NBA finals, several are beginning to look inwards at replacing the men they have in charge of the players on the hardwood. Sometimes replacing the coach is the best and cheapest way to fix a team without actually altering the rosters and contracts. It’s an important choice that can change the entire face of a franchise. Good news is, there are several candidates worthy of the job.
Rick Adelman- After getting fired in Houston, this fossil may be looking for another job in the NBA.
Larry Brown- A fallout with Michael Jordan and company in Charlotte might not hurt his chances…
Pat Riley- Erik Spoelstra might not want to mention his team crying anymore. Riley is a very competitive person.
Jamahl Mosley- Please, just ignore that losing streak in Cleveland.
Dean Demopolous- Other than the fact that he has a weird last name, he has improved the defense for the Clippers.
Elston Turner- He’ll get the job in Houston if the Rockets decide to hire internally. Small chance since they are interviewing everyone.