The recent NBA trade deadline brought a few coaching vacancies along with the many interesting trades. Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan are both names that have been brought up for the open jobs with the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers, among others.
The biggest job opening is, of course, the Knicks job. Who wouldn’t want to coach a talent-filled roster in one of the biggest cities in the world?
The names floating for this job and others have been numerous and interesting, to say the least.
New York Knicks
The most obvious choice to replace the departed Mike D’Antoni in New York is Phil Jackson. The former Los Angeles Lakers coach has a total of 13 championship rings as a player and coach, and he would immediately give the Knicks that championship feel. According to reports, Jackson has already given the Knicks coaching gig some thought.
Another choice that has surfaced is current head coach at the University of Kentucky, John Calipari. Even though Coach Cal has stated that he isn’t interested in the Knicks job, we all know that is just coach-speak for, "I don’t want to tell you that I’m interested in the Knicks job." Calipari has coached in the NBA before. He coached the New Jersey Nets from 1996-1999 and to one playoff berth, but was fired when the team underperformed.
The most likely candidate for the Knicks’ vacancy might be Mike Woodson, who is now the interim head coach after serving as an assistant under D’Antoni for the first part of the season.
Woodson is a proven NBA coach who previously coached the Atlanta Hawks until the season before last. Under Woodson, the Hawks improved in the win-department each year, topping off in his last season there at 53 wins. Woodson coaches a defensive brand of basketball and was brought in to be a kind of "defensive coordinator" for the Knicks. If he does well the rest of the year, he might earn the job.
According to CBS Sports, former Utah coach Jerry Sloan would also be interested in the Knicks job. This is a surprising development for me, as I assumed Sloan was done with coaching for good. Sloan coached the Utah Jazz for over 20 years, managing the Stockton-Malone years and the Williams-Boozer years. He was highly successful in Utah for pretty much his entire tenure, and if he wants the Knicks job, he might be the perfect guy to bring consistency to a franchise that has consistently needed it.
Portland Trail Blazers
Kaleb Canales is the Trail Blazers’ interim head coach right now, filling in for the fired Nate McMillan. At just 34 years old, Canales is younger than Kurt Thomas, who will probably be his starting center, and reportedly has a keen basketball mind despite his youth. He, like Mike Woodson for the Knicks, will now get a kind of tryout run for a real head coaching job. If he is able to turn around this completely dysfunctional team, he probably deserves it.
Another possibility could be Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks’ recently departed coach. In Portland, he would have Raymond Felton at the point who knows his system, and a talented big man in LaMarcus Aldridge to run the pick and roll. No rumors out there about this yet, but it seems like a logical possibility.
It’s still relatively early for coaching rumors right now, as most vacancies will not be filled until the offseason. But clearly the names on this list will be in the mix for these jobs and others that become available in the offseason.