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Detroit Pistons: 5 Prospective Coaches in Phil Jackson's Rolodex

Charles BennettSenior Analyst IOctober 8, 2016

Detroit Pistons: 5 Prospective Coaches in Phil Jackson's Rolodex

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    According to Yahoo! Sports, Phil Jackson has been brought on by his former rivals the Detroit Pistons to aid in their search for a new coach.

    While some are pleading for Phil to choose himself, I consider it a more likely option that Phil will tap someone he has worked with on one or more of his 11 championship teams.

    Here are five of Phil's former players or assistants who I could see landing the Pistons gig.

5. Jim Cleamons

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    Head Coaching Record: 28-72

    Rings as an Asst: 9

    Age: 63

    Cleamons has been a longtime NBA assistant, mostly under Jackson. He won four rings with Jackson’s Bulls and five with Jackson’s Lakers. In between, he was head coach of the Dallas Mavericks for a season-and-a-half. He also served as the de facto coach of the Lakers on a number of occasions when Jackson was sick or tossed.

    It’s likely Cleamons holds the record for most NBA head coaching positions considered, but not ultimately hired for. Cleamons’ most recent job came in 2011-12 as the head coach of Zhejiang Guangsha in the Chinese Basketball League. If it’s a defensive-minded, essentially career-assistant to Phil you want, I suggest looking no further than Cleamons.

    The serious drawbacks to Cleamons? For one, he wasn't that great with the Mavericks (although, to be fair, they were very much in flux during his time in Dallas). For two, the offensive and defensive style he runs is quite complicated.

4. Ron Harper

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    Head Coaching Record: 0-0

    Rings as Player: 5

    Age: 49

    Ron Harper has a Detroit Pistons connection, as he served as an assistant with them for two seasons in the mid-2000s. Prior to that, he was an important role-playing combo guard on three Bulls championship teams and provided crucial floor leadership on each.  

    The big drawback for Harper? He hasn’t coached in the NBA since 2007, and he has a grand total of two years of assistant coaching experience.

    Then again, they said the same thing about Harper's perennial foe, Mark Jackson.

3. Kurt Rambis

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    Head Coaching Record: 56-145

    Rings as an Asst: 2

    Age: 55

    Kurt Rambis was a role player on several of the Lakers' Showtime championship teams before taking the helm of the Lakers during the first lockout season. When Jackson came on board, Rambis was demoted to assistant GM and then assistant coach, winning two championships with the Lakers before taking the helm of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009.

    The drawback? In Minnesota—where, to be perfectly blunt, the Wolves were a train wreck under him—he was roundly criticized for his lack of coaching vision. Must be because he gave up the goggles.

2. Lindsey Hunter

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    Head Coaching Record: 12-29

    Rings as Player: 2

    Age: 42

    Like Harper, Lindsey Hunter is one of a handful of players who have both a Pistons connection and a Phil connection. Hunter played with the Pistons for 12 of his 17 NBA seasons, winning a championship with them in 2004. He also played one season with Jackson's Lakers—their 2002 championship year.

    Within hours of wrapping up his NBA career in 2010, Hunter signed with the Bulls as an assistant coach for player development. He later worked the same role with the Phoenix Suns before being promoted to the head job in the middle of last season. Of the five men listed in this slideshow, Hunter is probably the most gifted in terms of player development, which is something this young Pistons squad could really use.

    The drawback to Hunter is that he wasn't that great in Phoenix. If the Pistons hire him, the most likely scenario will see Hunter develop the team's young core of talent for two or three seasons before someone else comes in and actually makes a deep playoff run with the talent that he developed.

1. Brian Shaw

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    Head Coaching Record: 0-0

    Rings as an Asst: 2

    Age: 47

    If Kobe Bryant and not Phil Jackson were hiring the Pistons' next coach, it's pretty clear this is who he'd choose. With that being said, I think there's a chance Phil would suggest the Pistons tap Shaw as well.

    Shaw won three rings playing behind Bryant on the Lakers' first threepeat, then retired to become a Lakers assistant coach. He has quickly matured to become one of the most respected assistants in the NBA. Since Phil's most recent retirement, he has been an assistant with the Indiana Pacers.

    Shaw has been a finalist for a number of head coaching jobs, missing the trout each time. Most notably, Shaw was snubbed twice by the Lakers, once when they hired Mike Brown and again after they canned him.

    Is this the NBA job Shaw finally takes? It could be.

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