Portland Trail Blazers: Power Ranking the 5 Best Fits for Head Coach
A couple of candidates have been mentioned at this point—including Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson—but having swung and missed on the big names to this point, it’s time to look at the best available fits for the Blazers heading into the 2012-13 NBA season.
5. Mike Malone
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Mike Malone was voted the NBA’s best assistant coach last season by the league’s general managers.
The long-time assistant is an X’s-and-O’s kind of teacher and spent the last year with the Golden State Warriors.
Malone was the go-to guy to first-time coach Mark Jackson last season. This is a good indicator that he could transition nicely into the head coaching slot as early as next season.
4. Stan Van Gundy
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Hate him or love him, Stan Van Gundy would be a decent option to fill the coaching spot in Portland next season.
The Blazers don’t have a Howard-like center to occupy the middle, but LaMarcus Aldridge has clearly become one of the top power forwards that the game has to offer.
Nicolas Batum is not nearly the point-forward player that Hedo Turkoglu is, but allowing him to establish a two-man game with Aldridge could be just what he needs to remain aggressive in the team’s offense from this point forward.
3. Mike D'Antoni
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If Mike D’Antoni is known for anything around the NBA, it’s his fast-paced offensive system.
The Trail Blazers haven’t been known as a run-and-gun team for quite some time now, but they seemed to flourish in that style following the insertion of Kaleb Canales into the interim head coaching spot last season.
When the team was allowed to run, the young guys on the roster came in and played well despite the depleted roster toward the end of the season.
It’s true that D’Antoni has never won an NBA championship, but he’s been known as a winner for the majority of his career with a number of deep playoff runs with the Phoenix Suns.
The Blazers may or may not be a playoff team heading into next season, but if fans knew they were getting a high-scoring, fast-paced team, the entertainment value would be much higher than it was for a majority of the dreadful 2011-12 season.
2. Kaleb Canales
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When Neil Olshey was hired as the newest general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers, he made it clear that Kaleb Canales was the in-house favorite to be named as head coach next season.
When the Blazers got rid of Nate McMillan, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby at the trade deadline last year, Canales stepped into the interim position and got the best out of the young guys who had previously been occupying the end of the bench.
The Trail Blazers are expected to have another young roster, and allowing the team to run and develop could be a dream scenario for Canales next year.
1. Brian Shaw
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Having coached as an assistant under Phil Jackson, Shaw could best utilize Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge by sprinkling elements of the triangle into his offensive sets.
Shaw is a player’s coach who is looking for his first opportunity to take over a team.