The Portland Trail Blazers have seemingly entered the dreaded rebuilding phase, and while the players on the roster are apparently up in the air heading into next season, no spot on the team needs filling more than the head coaching position.
The Blazers fired Nate McMillan after he had reportedly "lost the locker room" and the team had fallen to 20-23 on the season.
With a number of candidates out there, the Trail Blazers need to take a hard look at each potential head coach and choose the one who has the best chance of taking a whole new roster to a whole new level come next season.
If Kaleb Canales has done anything for the Portland Trail Blazers so far, it's finally utilizing the youth that had been occupying the seats at the end of the bench this season.
With such a deep draft class coming in next season, and the potential of two lottery picks this summer, the Blazers are going to need a coach who can get the most out of the up-and-coming players on next year's roster.
The team has shown a new energy since Canales's promotion, and as expected, the players have endorsed his new position.
While Canales is clearly not the splashiest name available this summer, he shouldn't be eliminated from the competition without considering the early impact he's had on the recently dismantled Trail Blazers roster.
Raymond Felton doesn't appear to be the long-term solution at point guard, but if he is reunited with head coach Mike D'Antoni, his game could elevate back to the level it was at last season with the New York Knicks.
It's no secret that D'Antoni stresses pace and scoring more than most head coaches who can be found at the NBA level.
After leaving the Knicks earlier this season, D'Antoni could be an option for a Trail Blazers team that tried to play fast early in the season, but couldn't make it work under the methodical play-calling of Nate McMillan.
While it's difficult to imagine what the roster will look like next year, simply trying to outscore opponents got the Phoenix Suns deep into the playoffs seemingly season after season with D'Antoni at the helm.
Defense would have to be a concern heading into the new season, but for a team that hasn't seen the second round of the playoffs in 12 years, a new style just might be what they need to bring in a new era of Trail Blazers basketball.
Jerry Sloan is arguably the biggest name on this list, making him likely the toughest candidate for the Trail Blazers to obtain next season.
Should he opt for a return next year, the legendary Utah Jazz coach would bring the kind of postseason coaching that Portland's been missing under head coach Nate McMillan.
Sloan-to-Portland talks are all speculation at this point, but for a coach who spent more than two decades as a head coach in the Northwest Division, the Trail Blazers might not be so far-fetched.
While Sloan certainly wouldn't be any less demanding of his players than McMillan, a coach of his stature might be just what the team needs to get its roster in line with the game plan and officially onto the next level.
People often forget that Rick Carlisle was an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazer from 1994 to 1997.
Last week, it was wondered by the Oregonian's John Canzano whether or not Carlisle might become a candidate for the Blazers' vacant coaching position when his contract is up this summer.
Carlisle has said, however, that he is focused on winning games and not discussing what the future holds at this time.
While this doesn't eliminate the Blazers, it doesn't exactly open the door for them, either.
The prospect of prying the 52-year-old coach away from Dallas might be a difficult one considering how he coached his way to an NBA Championship just a season ago—not to mention the potential homecoming of Deron Williams.
If Portland can snatch him away, though, it would give the Trail Blazers a coach who has been there, done that and can lead the team back to success following a season that has been largely full of change and disappointment for fans in Portland.