Jeff Van Gundy: Coach Would Be Wise to Delay Possible Return to the Bench

Chris HummerAnalyst IDecember 30, 2012

June 5, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; ESPN analysts Mike Breen (right) and Jeff Van Gundy (left) before game game five of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat of the 2012 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Van Gundy is a great coach and an even better broadcaster; he should be in no hurry to return to the bench.

Reports are swirling that the Brooklyn Nets, who recently fired Avery Johnson, are interested in Van Gundy returning to the sidelines to be the next coach of the Nets.

It seems to be a great fit on paper.

Van Gundy was a successful and popular coach in New York in the mid-'90s, when he led a number of successful Knicks teams, including a run to the NBA finals in 1999.

From 2003-2007, he coached the Houston Rockets, guiding Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming to three winning seasons, despite the pair’s frequent injuries.

In 2007, the Rockets and Van Gundy were unable to come to a contract agreement, leading to his firing in Houston.

Van Gundy has stayed near the court since then, working as an ESPN analyst, a role he's excelled in.

The former coach provides frank, witty, and informative analysis, and is one of the best broadcasters in the business.

Now, Van Gundy's name is being tossed around in the Nets' coaching carousel, as one of the leading candidates for the Brooklyn job, and it's easy to see why. Van Gundy has a reasonably easy personality (the antithesis of Johnson's hard-nosed style) and a proven track record.

The job is plenty attractive to Van Gundy, too. The Nets have a pair of stars in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, and New York is a great coaching location.

However, Van Gundy has expressed a reluctance to discuss the job during the season, as he doesn't want to infringe upon interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. (via ESPN)

"I would never comment on a job that was filled," Van Gundy told the website. "I was an interim coach. I hope P.J. has great success there. He's someone I respect greatly."

This is the right stance for Van Gundy.

If he decides to return to the sidelines, great, but it's better for him, and the Nets, if he does so in the offseason.

Carlesimo knows the players, personalities, and system already in place. He is perfectly suited to help turn the team around in the present.

If Van Gundy took the job, it would take the team awhile to adjust to his system and personality, a period the Nets do not have in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race.

Carlesimo is the right man to lead the Nets for the remainder of the season.

Van Gundy should continue to break down games for the time being; the job will be there for him this summer if he still wants it.