Orlando Magic: 8 Potential Coaches to Replace Stan Van Gundy

Bill DiFilippoContributor IIIMay 24, 2012

Orlando Magic: 8 Potential Coaches to Replace Stan Van Gundy

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    With the firing of former head coach Stan Van Gundy, many people will speculate as to who will be his successor as coach of the Orlando Magic.

    Luckily for Orlando, there are several potential candidates who could step into the role and achieve immediate success.

    Here are eight potential coaches who could possibly replace Stan Van Gundy.

No. 1: Phil Jackson

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    I'm mostly listing Jackson as a dream scenario. In reality, there's as good of a chance that Homer Simpson will be Orlando's new coach.

    But let's be honest, the number one thing the Magic need is a coach who knows how to manage a locker room, and who is better at doing that than Phil Jackson?

    Another thing to remember: Jackson's triangle offense featured Shaquille O'Neal in a few of his greatest seasons, including the year that The Diesel won his only MVP.

    Of course, Shaq also had Kobe Bryant, and the triangle offense desperately needs a perimeter threat, something that the Magic lack.

    Is there a chance Phil Jackson is pacing the sidelines in Orlando next season? Of course, but odds are he would be coaching someone other than the Magic.

No. 2: Mike D'Antoni

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    Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has reported that D'Antoni would be interested in the Orlando job, and he would be an extremely interesting fit.

    Offensively, the argument can be made that D'Antoni is the best coach in basketball. He was hired as the offensive coordinator of the USA Olympic team and his teams consistently are one of the league's top teams in terms of points per game.

    Defensively, you can argue that D'Antoni is one of the worst coaches in NBA history. He's so bad at coaching defense, that last year the Knicks brought in Mike Woodson just to coach that side of the ball. 

    However, it is reasonable to believe that the worries about the team's defense under D'Antoni would not matter. Orlando's perimeter defense was never that great under Van Gundy, relying mostly on Howard's presence in the middle to nullify any mistakes on the perimeter.

    D'Antoni may be the most polarizing name thrown around in the coming weeks, but do not be shocked if there is some interest between the former Knicks coach and the Magic.

No. 3: Patrick Ewing

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    Over the past few years, there have not been many people in the organization closer to Dwight Howard than assistant coach Patrick Ewing. Ewing has even advised Howard to stay with the organization for his entire career.

    Ewing has one major knock on his resume; he has never been a head coach. Orlando is a team built to win right now, and it is understandable if they want someone who has been there before as opposed to a fresh face.

    Also, Ewing has been linked to the Charlotte Bobcats coaching vacancy, proving that even though they are both retired, Michael Jordan still loves to troll Patrick Ewing.

    While Ewing has been with the organization as a player and as a coach, it would be surprising to see him as Orlando's coach next year. 

No. 4: Brian Shaw

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    Like Ewing, Shaw is an assistant coach looking for his first job in the NBA.

    While Shaw's inexperience would normally kill his chances of getting a job like this, he has a trump card that nobody else has: Kobe Bryant's seal of approval.

    Last season, while the Lakers were searching for a new head coach, nobody was a more vocal supporter of Shaw's campaign to be the team's coach than Kobe Bryant. 

    Having spent eight years as an assistant in the league (seven on the Lakers and this year with the Pacers) definitely helps Shaw. Having learned under Hall of Fame coaches like Phil Jackson and Tex Winter does not hurt either.

    However, it is tough to look past the glaring fact that he has never coached before. Like Ewing, his inexperience may be what ultimately keeps him from getting the head coaching gig in Orlando.

    Do not be surprised if he gets interviewed by the team, but it is tough to see him coaching the Magic any time soon.

No. 5: Jerry Sloan

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    Jerry Sloan may be the most intriguing option on the entire list.

    Not only is he one of the greatest coaches in league history who has done more with less talent than the 2012 Magic will have, but he wants to coach the team. If Orlando wants him, they can have him easily.

    This raises the question: "How can this be a bad thing in any way, shape, or form?"

    Well for one, if Orlando were to hire Sloan, any chance of signing Deron Williams goes right out the window. For those of you who do not know, people believe the reason that Sloan resigned as head coach of the Utah Jazz was because of a feud with Williams.

    Furthermore, Sloan has a no-nonsense approach to handling players. Can you imagine how Sloan would act the moment all of the "Dwight Howard wants to leave Orlando," rumors inevitably start up?

    Sloan is more strict with his players than Stan Van Gundy, which would be fine if Van Gundy's abrasive attitude was not one of the main reasons he was axed. Would Howard fall in line for a legendary coach like Sloan if his coaching style is similar to that of Van Gundy? I have no idea.

    On a more positive note, Sloan coming back would give much more material to the good folks at Sloan Hands. For that reason alone, Jerry Sloan needs to be back in the NBA.

    With his interest in the Magic, why shouldn't he get a chance to coach in Orlando?

No. 6: Nate McMillan

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    Of all the options on this list, Nate McMillan may be the safest choice.

    He is not an overbearing coach, he does not usually butt heads with his players (unless they are Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford) and most importantly, he just knows the game of basketball.

    McMillan has postseason experience and is one of the assistant coaches for the Olympic team. There is nothing about him that's sublime, but he does not struggle coaching any one facet of the game. Unlike guys like Mike D'Antoni, McMillan's well-versed in every facet of the game of basketball.

    If McMillan were to get hired, there is a very intriguing player he can bring with him: Brandon Roy. Roy retired due to knee issues, but supposedly his knees are feeling better and he is looking to make a comeback to the NBA.

    I do not need to explain to you how valuable a healthy Brandon Roy could be to Orlando. Dwight Howard has never played with someone the caliber of Roy, a perimeter guy who can create his own shot off the dribble and penetrate at will.

    Even if he can't corral Roy, a coach the caliber of Nate McMillan would certainly be a good choice for the Magic.

No. 7: Maurice Cheeks

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    Mo Cheeks may be the most valuable coaching commodity of every assistant coach in the NBA.

    Over the last three years, he has been one of Scott Brooks' go-to-guys on the Thunder sideline, as he is often visibly talking to players and giving them direction.

    However, unlike fellow assistant coaches Patrick Ewing and Brian Shaw, Cheeks has one major thing on his side: head coaching experience. 

    Cheeks had two head coaching jobs in his career, one in Portland and one in Philadelphia. At both stops, Cheeks led his teams to the playoffs, was loved by fans and (in Portland) showed the world that he knows the words to the National Anthem.

    The downside to Cheeks is that he has never been too successful anywhere. While he has made the playoffs, he has only made it three times in his eight seasons as a head coach with a career 5-11 record. His regular season winning percentage is .498 percent, although it should be noted he was fired midseason twice.

    Would Orlando want a coach with a career sub-.500 record in the regular season and postseason? I'd guess no, but Cheeks' success with Oklahoma City and his defensive style of coaching may lead to an interview with the Magic.

No. 8: Scott Skiles

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    You are probably having the same reaction I had when I saw Scott Skiles was a possible target for the Magic, "That's crazy, he's coaching in Milwaukee, he has a really good young team with a killer backcourt and they're a big man or two away from being really good." 

    Well, people close to him say that Skiles would, "crawl to Orlando," to be the Magic's head coach. A former Magic player who was beloved by fans and the organization, signing Skiles would be a great move from a P.R. perspective.

    Skiles is also an incredible coach. He always gets his teams to play hard, no matter how much talent they have. He also demands respect from all of his players and usually gets it.

    Skiles also has a history of wearing out his welcome wherever he goes. He is extremely assertive with his players, which has led to Skiles getting fired midseason in two of his three career stops. 

    Not to sound like a broken record, but if Orlando just fired a coach for being too overbearing, and Skiles is more overbearing than Stan Van Gundy, how can his tenure in Orlando end well?

    Regardless, if Orlando is interested in Skiles, it is very safe to assume he is the front-runner for the job assuming Dwight Howard would sign off on the move. A former player with the team and the owner of a successful coaching record could be something the front office covets.

    If Skiles gets an interview with the team, do not be surprised if things move quickly and he becomes Orlando's next coach.