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10 Best Candidates to Take USA Coaching Job After Coach K Departure

Luis BatlleContributor IAugust 17, 2012

10 Best Candidates to Take USA Coaching Job After Coach K Departure

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    A 62-1 record after seven years with Team USA more than tells the story of the great Coach K.

    More than anything else, Mike Krzyzewski is known for his 32 years and counting with the Duke Blue Devils. Yet, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, that will now officially be his only coaching job with these 2012 London Olympics in the books.

    This is a swift blow, to say the least, for the Americans to recover from. College basketball guru Dick Vitale put it best via Twitter.

    Coach K is the BEST LEADER in sports - PRIDE & PASSIONis his mantra @espngreeny @richarddeitsch@magicjohnson @johnreporters @steve_wojo

    — Dick Vitale (@DickieV) August 12, 2012

     

    It will be difficult to replace the amount of respect he has from the players, his will to win and intelligence as a head coach. But without Coach K, all Team USA can do is get on with the search and find that best fit.

    These are the surefire 10 best candidates to replace Coach K and his greatness displayed at the FIBA championships and Olympics.

No. 10: Nate McMillan, Assistant Coach with Team USA

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    Nate McMillan may be one of the more overlooked coaches in the game today, as his numbers certainly don't lie.

    He is 22 wins away from hitting the .500 mark for regular-season play, has won 51.4 percent of the games he has ever coached and has coached 40-win teams three of the last four seasons.

    Talk about impressive.

    The assistant coach for Team USA at these gold-medal Games is a guy who players respect but have now also worked with on the international level. He is already well received by the program and this could make for a smooth transition if he was to be chosen.

No. 9: Rick Adelman, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    One of the active coaches with the greatest amount of years in this league, the 22-year veteran has taken off just one season since the 1988-89 season.

    He has coached five different teams, been to the NBA Finals twice and has totaled a whopping 1,050 career wins. 

    Remember those days when the Mike Bibby-led Sacramento Kings rocked the West in the early 2000s? That was all fueled by Adelman's work on the sidelines.

    The current Minnesota Timberwolves coach is nearing the final years of his career and could use a more relaxing and surely fulfilling job as being coach of Team USA. He will get to coach the best of the best, and that is exactly what this proven head coach is fit to do.

No. 8: Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks

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    Believe me coach, I can't tell you why some of your top talents left you either.

    First it was Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea, and now it's Jason Terry and Jason Kidd who have made departures from Dallas.

    Rick Carlisle needs to find a great escape from coaching his Dallas Mavericks, as the next few seasons will certainly be struggles for the top-notch head coach. This is a guy who has won 479 career games and an NBA championship in 2011 with the Mavericks.

    Carlisle has been a class act since joining the league and has quickly gained the respect of his Mavericks team. This is a guy who has the charisma and heart to help Team USA in the future, and would give the 2001-02 NBA Coach of the Year an honor he certainly is deserving of.

No. 7: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

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    A Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose combo at the 2016 Rio Games would be lethal, to say the least.

    Thibodeau, much like Coach K, would be instilling a defense-first atmosphere for Team USA. This would help the team better transition into the next Olympic Games and keep the priorities just the same.

    Whereas a coach like Phil Jackson or John Calipari would be more offensive minded, Thibodeau would be more focused on the defensive side of the floor. He has helped to make the Bulls one of the more feared defensive teams in basketball.

    There's no question he has proven he is a winner in the league, and considering his game plan is much like that of the Duke coach, he makes a fine replacement on the international level.

No. 6: Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers

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    If there's one coach these USA players want to replace Coach K, it's got to be Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins.

    And Collins, who has done television at the Games each of the last four times, is certainly willing to take the role.

    According to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia's Gordie Jones, Collins says that he isn't opposed to coaching the team.

    Obviously anybody would be interested in coaching the U.S. Olympic team...If my name would get in the mix...that would be great.

    It's clear Collins would be more than willing to take the position, and it will be interesting if he becomes the primary candidate for the job as the search gets underway.

No. 5: Phil Jackson, N/A

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    Thirteen conference championships and 11 NBA titles?

    Enough said.

    When talking about the greatest coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson is one of the three names that are argued to be the best ever. His X's and O's are done to perfection, and his triangle offense proved to be a recipe for success.

    Jackson is also out of the coaching loop at the moment, which surely would give him a lot more incentive to take on this Team USA job. He will have more time on his hands to take on the task and certainly has enough left in the tank to deliver quality on the hardwood for the Americans.

No. 4: John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats

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    Talk about a coach who outright breeds NBA talent.

    John Calipari absolutely knows what it is to coach top-notch talent in the league. In fact, if Derrick Rose had been healthy enough to go to the Olympics, Calipari would have coached two players now on Team USA (Anthony Davis and Rose).

    He also has All-Star-capable talents Tyreke Evans and John Wall heating up in Sacramento and Washington over the last couple of seasons.

    There's a reason six of his talents were taken in the 2012 NBA draft and he has provided the NBA two No. 1 picks in the last three seasons.

No. 3: Rick Pitino, Louisville Cardinals

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    Rick Pitino is a surefire powerhouse in the college basketball world.

    He has been a winning force since joining the college game in 1978. Pitino has coached the game for 26 years, won an NCAA championship in 1996 with Kentucky and has been victorious in over 73 percent of the games he's coached.

    Talk about impressive.

    This is a coach who has proven himself for nearly three decades, and in that sense is the closest thing to Coach K. His legacy in the game will command respect from these star-studded athletes and would give Team USA the spark they need.

No. 2: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

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    Gregg Popovich is more than likely nearing the final stretch of what has been a tremendous career to grace the NBA.

    He has coached a whopping 17 seasons in the league, all with the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich has won an incredible four NBA championships and optimizes what it is to coach winning basketball. There is no coach more respected in the league, and his charisma and demeanor will translate well to Team USA.

    Popovich is very much like Coach K in the sense that both are well-respected, veteran coaches who have had grand tenures with each of their teams. He would bring a similar style to this team, which might help ease the transition.

    Along with Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Popovich is one of the leading candidates for the job.

No. 1: Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics

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    Doc Rivers has won an NBA championship, coached in the league 14 seasons since the age of 38 and continues to win games with his Boston Celtics.

    Yet, more importantly, what makes him such a prime candidate is the respect Rivers receives from not just his Boston team, but a plethora of players in this league.

    Whether it's postgame hugs with opposing players every time a series ends or giving Paul a pregame handshake on All-Star weekend, there is no question this guy is a player's coach. At the same time, however, he also has their utmost respect.

    According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Rivers along with Spurs head coach Popovich are the two leaders for taking Coach K's spot.

    Make no mistake about it, Rivers has proven time and time again that he can set up plays but also keep his team looking forward. These are two qualities hard to find in one candidate, which is why Rivers is ahead in the running.

    If we left it up to Dickie V, him and I would certainly agree.

    Doc Rivers Celtics would be my choice to coach USAin 2016! Who would u want? @johnreporters@magicjohnson@richarddeitsch @espngreeny

    — Dick Vitale (@DickieV) August 13, 2012

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