NBA Rumors: 5 Big-Name Coaches Who Would Make Splash with Wizards
Interim head coach Randy Wittman has some recent success (relatively speaking) with the Washington Wizards, but it's clear that a more permanent change will be made on the bench this summer.
Rumors are already swirling about the possible candidates that Wizards' owner Ted Leonsis will be looking at this offseason. With a nucleus of John Wall, Nene, and a high-lottery pick, Washington is one of the more appealing jobs that will soon have an opening.
So even though the seat on the Wizards' bench isn't quite vacant yet, let's take a look at five high-profile coaches who would make a splash in the nation's capital next season.
Just because the Knicks are thriving under Mike Woodson doesn't mean that D'Antoni isn't a talented coach. Before arriving in the Big Apple, D'Antoni led the Phoenix Suns to three straight division titles between 2005 and 2007, and as awkward and abrupt as his exit from New York was, it's hard to fathom D'Antoni not being at the helm of some team next season.
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Like D'Antoni, Nate McMillan is another highly-regarded head coach who was also relieved of his duties only a month ago.
The former bench boss for the Portland Trail Blazers was just the first of the dominoes to fall. After McMillan was fired, Portland also dealt Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby in a complete shakeup out in the Pacific Northwest.
McMillan is talented, and clearly still has the coaching bug. He will be a busy member of the staff leading the U.S. Olympic team this summer in London.
"I'm going to certainly look," McMillan told the Seattle Times back in March when asked about future head coaching opportunities. "I definitely want to coach again."
Stan Van Gundy
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Seconds after Stan Van Gundy's bizarre, post-practice press conference back on April 5, it was clear that his days in Orlando were numbered (regardless of whether or not Dwight Howard had previously asked for his dismissal).
Van Gundy won't be available this offseason due to lack of success—heading into this season, his career winning percentage was .651, and he led the Orlando Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals. It is the fallout from the Howard situation that will soon force the Magic's hand, and one of the best coaches in the Association will soon be a free agent.
The Wizards would undoubtedly be the least talented team that Van Gundy has ever coached. That said, the combination of John Wall and the Wizards' first-round draft pick this year should form a solid cornerstone that many NBA franchises are currently lacking.
Jeff Van Gundy
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Is the chance to coach the Washington Wizards enough to lure Jeff Van Gundy out from behind the broadcast table?
Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
Van Gundy hasn't campaigned for any open jobs recently, but at only 50 years old, he still has plenty of years left on the bench, if he so chooses. However, it has been five years since Van Gundy was fired by the Houston Rockets, and he appears to be in his element as the lead NBA analyst for ESPN/ABC.
If money is an issue, Wizards' owner Ted Leonsis definitely has deep enough pockets to make it happen. Van Gundy earned $5 million a year with the Rockets, and would probably command at least that much on the open market if he decided to coach again.
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Not only is former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan one of the winningest coaches in league history, but he sounds eager to return to the game after a year-and-a-half respite from the NBA grind.
"I think if the right situation came along, whatever that is," Sloan told Sports Illustrated back in January. "I don't know what the right situation is. We'll have to wait and see, I guess."
If Wizards' owner Ted Leonsis truly wants to make a splash with his next head coaching hire, Sloan should be his choice. Sloan led the Jazz to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in the late '90s, and his 1,221 career victories are third-best all-time.
It's important to note that Sloan left Utah—a post he held for more than 22 seasons—due to a confrontation with then-Jazz point guard Deron Williams. That isn't to say that a similar situation would happen with John Wall, but it is something to keep in mind.