It’s time to dust off the NBA coaching rumor mill as two recent mid-season firings have created vacancies in New York and Portland at season's end.
The Knicks and Mike D’Antoni decided to part ways a week ago after a very underwhelming three-and-a half years together. New York was a fun team to watch at times under the offensive- minded coach, but struggles on the defensive end (and zero playoff wins) will define his time at Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile, a tough decision was made to end Nate McMillan’s tenure as head coach in Portland after a string of puzzling blowouts made it clear that he had lost touch with his players.
Both teams have named assistants as interim coaches for the remainder of this season; former Hawks coach Mike Woodson in New York and Kaleb Canales in Portland.
Here’s a ranking of the 10 best available (and realistic) head coaches the Knicks and Trail Blazers have to choose from for next year, with the final five candidates shown in slideshow format.
9. Mike Dunleavy: Led Portland to four straight playoff seasons between 1998 and 2001 and is considered to be on the market after seven mostly disappointing seasons with the Clippers.
8. John Calipari: Says he’s happy in Kentucky but might be tempted to give the NBA another try, especially if the stage is Madison Square Garden.
7. Flip Saunders: He deserves another chance as a head coach after two-plus disastrous seasons in Washington. Could the Trail Blazers be his next landing point?
6. Pat Riley: Big names will always be linked to big job openings, but Riley looks like he could be in it for the long run with his gig in Miami.