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Jeff Van Gundy Nets: Former Knicks and Rockets Coach Is Best Fit in Brooklyn

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Jeff Van Gundy Nets: Former Knicks and Rockets Coach Is Best Fit in Brooklyn
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Something about Jeff Van Gundy just says New York basketball coach. Even when he was on the Houston Rockets bench, it seemed a bit out of place for me.

Perhaps that is because he made such a mark while leading the New York Knicks to the NBA Finals in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 NBA season. New York is where he belongs, and the Brooklyn Nets would be wise to make him their No. 1 priority.

During his six full seasons as head coach of the Knicks, his teams reached at least the conference semifinals in every year but the 2000-2001 season.

His Rockets teams made the playoffs three out of four seasons.

Van Gundy is a winner, and that is the biggest reason the Nets should be interested in his services. The Phil Jackson quest is a pipe dream. As I wrote in a previous article, this squad isn't stocked with the stars Jackson genuinely takes on.

This is not a ready-made group. It will require some time to develop, and at Jackson's age (67), that just doesn't appear to be an ideal situation.

Van Gundy is only 50 years old. He has only been out of coaching since 2006-2007, so he isn't too far removed from the current NBA climate, and he should still have a healthy amount of coaching years left in him.

From a strategic standpoint, Van Gundy's teams defend. None of his teams in New York or Houston allowed more than 95.6 points per game or allowed opponents to shoot better than 44 percent from the field.

Both of those totals came in the 2001-2002 season for a marginal Knicks team that finished 30-52.

A prerequisite for success in the NBA is still playing solid defense. If Van Gundy is the coach, the Nets will bring that element every night. Van Gundy will hold players accountable and garner respect from the outset.

The only drawback to this potential hiring is that the Nets can probably forget about signing Dwight Howard—if the big man decides to leave the Los Angeles Lakers.

Things didn't exactly end on a positive note with Jeff's brother Stan in Orlando. I can't imagine Howard or Van Gundy being eager to join forces.

ESPN reports that Van Gundy is still assessing the situation and that he would prefer to take over a team during the offseason, rather taking the reins midseason.

When asked about possibly replacing Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, Van Gundy told Yahoo! Sports the following:

I would never comment on a job that was filled. I was an interim coach. I hope P.J. has great success there. He's someone I respect greatly.

The Nets are better off allowing Carlesimo to finish this season—hopefully no one chokes him—then devoting all their attention to bringing Van Gundy to Brooklyn.

 

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