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NBA

NBA head coach carousel: Who are the best coaches for the available jobs?

With Mike D'Antoni informing the Houston Rockets he won't be returning, there are now six NBA teams in search of a new head coach.

As it stands, the Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers will each have a new leader on the sidelines for the 2020-21 season.

So far, two teams have filled head coaching vacancies in this unique offseason period, with the New York Knicks hiring Tom Thibodeau and the Brooklyn Nets hiring Steve Nash.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some names that are likely to come up in coaching conversations, beginning with former head coaches that are not currently coaching.


Kenny Atkinson

Regular-season record: 118-190

Postseason record: 1-4

After eight seasons as an NBA assistant, Atkinson took over as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the 2016-17 season.

The 53-year-old led the Nets to the postseason in 2019, losing in five games to the Philadelphia 76ers. Brooklyn relieved Atkinson of his head coaching duties 62 games into the 2019-20 season.

Per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, Atkinson is a candidate for the Chicago Bulls job.

Brett Brown

Regular-season record: 221-344 (.391)

Postseason record: 12-14 (.462)

In 2013, Brown assumed the helm in Philadelphia after spending nine seasons as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, winning two titles in that span.

After four rough years to begin his tenure in Philly, Brown amassed a 146-91 (.616) record over his final three seasons, leading the Sixers to three consecutive postseason appearances and two playoff series wins.

He was relieved of his head coaching duties after Philly was swept in the opening round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics.

Mike D'Antoni

Regular-season record: 672-527 (.560)

Postseason record: 54-56 (.491)

D'Antoni took over as head coach of the Rockets in 2016 for what was his fifth head coaching job.

In four seasons at the helm, D'Antoni amassed a 217-101 (.682) record, leading Houston to the postseason each year, including an appearance in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

After losing to the Lakers in five games in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, D'Antoni informed Rockets ownership that he would not be returning to the team for the 2020-21 season. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to express interest in D'Antoni.

Kevin O'Connor of the The Ringer has reported that the New Orleans Pelicans have also been linked to D'Antoni.

Alvin Gentry

Regular-season record: 510-595 (.462)

Postseason record: 17-13 (.567)

The 65-year-old Gentry has over 32 years of NBA coaching experience and has coached over 1,000 games, leading the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Pelicans during his coaching career.

Gentry was relieved of his head coaching duties after New Orleans failed to qualify for the 2020 NBA Playoffs at the NBA's restart.

Mark Jackson

Regular-season record: 121-109 (.526)

Postseason record: 9-10 (.474)

Jackson, a 16-year NBA veteran, led the Golden State Warriors from 2011-14, earning playoff appearances in his final two seasons.

Since being relieved of his head coaching duties in 2014, Jackson has been a mainstay in the broadcast booth but is believed to have a desire to get back into the coaching ranks in the future.

Dave Joerger

Regular-season record: 245-247 (.498)

Postseason record: 9-13 (.409)

Joerger has six years of head coaching experience in the NBA - three with the Memphis Grizzlies and three with the Sacramento Kings.

He led Memphis to three consecutive postseason appearances from 2014-16 before moving on to Sacramento, where he amassed a 98-148 (.398) record before being relieved of his following the 2018-19 season.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Joerger is in consideration for the Pacers vacancy.

Nate McMillan

Regular-season record: 661-588 (.529)

Playoff record: 17-36 (.321)

The 56-year-old McMillan has over 15 seasons of head coaching experience with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Pacers.

He led Indiana to the postseason in each of his four years at the helm but as the team faced various injuries and obstacles each season, it was unable to get out of the first round during his time, leading to his firing in August 2020.

Jeff Van Gundy

Regular-season record: 430-318 (.575)

Playoff record: 44-44 (.500)

Van Gundy hasn't led an NBA team since the 2006-07 season but had a very successful tenure during his 11 seasons as an NBA head coach.

He led the eighth-seeded New York Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999 and led the Houston Rockets to three playoff appearances and two 50-win seasons. More recently, Van Gundy has coached the United States National Team at the 2017 Fiba AmeriCup and the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers.


According to reports…

There are three former head coaches that have been reportedly linked to coaching opportunities but are currently on other staffs.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown is in consideration for the coaching vacancy in Philadelphia. Brown led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007.

Earlier in the summer, Los Angeles Lakers' assistant coach Jason Kidd interviewed for the Knicks coaching vacancy that was eventually filled by Tom Thibodeau (per Sports Illustrated).

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported has reported that Kidd and LA Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue would be considered as coaching candidates for both the Nets and Pelicans. Lue has also been linked to the 76ers vacancy, per The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Kidd had a prior head coaching stint with Brooklyn before leaving to lead the Milwaukee Bucks while Lue led the Cavaliers to the first NBA title in franchise history back in 2016.


Elsewhere…

Like the above three, there are a number of assistant coaches around the league that are assumed to be next up and have received consideration in years past and during this current cycle of coaching searches.

Long time Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is thought to be in consideration for the Pacers coaching job, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Hammon, who played over a dozen year professionally, led the Spurs Summer League team to a title in 2015.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham, Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas and 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka are in consideration for the Chicago Bulls coaching search.

The Athletic's Darnell Mayberry added that the Bulls coaching search will also include Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. as well as Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach David Vanterpool.

Mavs assistant Jamahl Mosley and Spurs assistant Will Hardy are also two names to keep an eye on, as they 'made a strong impression' while in consideration for the Knicks job, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.


In the college ranks

A report from ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz listed Dayton Flyers' head coach Anthony Grant as a potential head-coaching candidate. Grant, who was an assistant for the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2015-17, earned six Coach of the Year honours after leading Dayton to a 29-2 record in the 2019-20 season.

Both Shams Charania of The Athletic and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski have reported that Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright will be in consideration for 76ers head coaching position but Wright took to Twitter to share that he is "very happy and honoured to coach at Villanova" and will not be moving on.

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