ESPN Analyst Jeff Van Gundy
In ranking the best potential landing spots for out-of-work NBA head coaches, this list highlights which former coach would be the best fit to fill each of the league's six current openings.
To determine each match, team need, search criteria and the possibility of each coach actually landing in that position were considered.
While seemingly every team on this list might also prefer to have Hall of Fame coaches Phil Jackson or Jerry Sloan fill their current vacancies, I don't expect either to return in 2013-14.
With a collection of assistant coaches like Michael Malone, Brian Shaw, Jeff Hornacek, Steve Clifford and others competing for these open spots as well, only the six former head coaches with the best chance of landing each job specifically were included.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers' coach Byron Scott
According to Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo! Sports, the Phoenix Suns will be hiring a general manager to replace the recently fired Lance Blanks before beginning their search for a new head coach.
Depending on the actual timing of that hire, however, the pool of potential coaching candidates could be limited. With five other NBA teams in need of a new head coach—and maybe more—the Suns may be forced to hire the best coach still available who is also willing to take on the rebuilding effort in Phoenix.
Having played collegiately at Arizona State, Byron Scott is an out-of-work head coach with ties to the Arizona area. He has spent the past three seasons in the early stages of the Cleveland Cavaliers' rebuild as well, having done enough to earn a contract extension in October of 2012 before being fired in April.
During his time with both the Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets, Scott helped Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving each develop into All-Star point guards. He also helped Tristan Thompson take a big step forward during the 2012-13 campaign, after previously leading the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.
Despite the innate challenges involved with the rebuilding effort in Phoenix, Scott could be willing to take the first opportunity he has to reestablish himself as an NBA coach. His top three scorers this past year—Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao—combined to miss 99 games before he was ultimately blamed for his team's 24-58 record.
Former Phoenix Suns' head coach Alvin Gentry
The Charlotte Bobcats fired first-time head coach Mike Dunlap on April 23 after only one season.
During his tenure, the Bobcats compiled a 21-61 record while being outscored by a league-worst 9.23 points per game. Dunlap had only spent two seasons in the NBA prior to his arrival in Charlotte, as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets from 2006-08.
In searching to hire his replacement, general manager Rich Cho is expected to target a more experienced coach with strong defensive principles who also combines the ability to teach a young roster how to compete in the Association.
David Aldridge of NBA.com reported on May 1 that the Bobcats will interview former Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry as that potential replacement, and they could certainly do much worse.
Prior to being fired by the Suns in January of 2013, Gentry had also been a head coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat. He compiled a 335-370 record along the way, while leading Phoenix to the Western Conference Finals in 2010.
During the 2009-10 campaign, Gentry's first full season with the Suns, Phoenix improved defensively by holding opponents to 45.2 percent shooting from the floor, ranking 11th in the league overall. The season before, the Suns ranked 22nd in that category, allowing opponents to shoot 46.7 percent.
Former Detroit Pistons' head coach Lawrence Frank
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported on May 1 that the Philadelphia 76ers are targeting a collection of young assistants in the initial stages of their search to replace Doug Collins.
This group is said to include Michael Malone from the Golden State Warriors, Brian Shaw from the Indiana Pacers and David Fizdale from the Miami Heat.
As far as out-of-work former head coaches are concerned, however, Lawrence Frank is a candidate who is similarly youthful. In comparison to the 47-year-old Shaw, for example, the former Detroit Pistons head coach is actually four years younger, not turning 43 until August.
Frank would be able to provide that same youthful energy desired by the Sixers' front office while also combining nine seasons of experience on NBA sidelines.
Dating back to his time with the New Jersey Nets, Frank has won 18 playoff games to go along with 279 regular-season wins. Besides coaching professionally in New Jersey for seven seasons, Frank's East Coast roots also date back to his time growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey, less than two hours outside of Philadelphia.
Former Portland Trail Blazers' coach Nate McMillan
Nate McMillan is planning to interview with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, after recently doing the same with the Detroit Pistons.
After parting ways with the Portland Trail Blazers 43 games into the 2011-12 campaign, it appears likely that McMillan will be an NBA head coach again by the start of next season.
As far as the Detroit Pistons are concerned, McMillan, who is known as a defensive coach, could potentially do scary things with a unit anchored in the paint by Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Over 12 seasons in the league, McMillan has compiled a record of 478-452 while advancing to the playoffs five times.
He has also had success developing young bigs recently too, helping LaMarcus Aldridge become an All-Star during his tenure in Portland.
Former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy
Milwaukee and Stan Van Gundy just seem like they were meant for each other.
A blue-collar city and a blue-collar coach, both dedicated to grinding out a winning program whether a superstar player is on board or not.
The Milwaukee Bucks' position became available when the team announced on May 1 that interim head coach Jim Boylan will not be back for the 2013-14 campaign.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has since reported that Stan Van Gundy is the Bucks' primary target, and it appears to potentially be a great fit for both sides.
Without the media speculation that surrounded Dwight Howard's final days with Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic, along with the smaller market that Milwaukee provides—as compared to the New York's, Los Angeles' and Chicago's of the world—Van Gundy would be free to run his program as he sees fit.
In eight NBA seasons, he's compiled a 371-208 record that includes a trip to the NBA Finals in 2009 with the Magic. After spending 2012-13 away from the game, Van Gundy could very well be ready to make his return to the sidelines next season.
ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy
The Brooklyn Nets will be shelling out a payroll currently valued at $89.5 million in 2013-14.
After being eliminated by an injury-riddled Chicago Bulls unit in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov could be willing to pay major dollars for his head coach, too.
Like every other team in the NBA, Prokhorov and the Nets will make the required advances toward Phil Jackson to gauge the Hall of Fame coach's desire to return to the league.
Assuming they are unable to interest the 67-year-old Jackson, however, Brooklyn appears to be the best potential landing spot for ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.
Since last coaching the Houston Rockets during the 2006-07 campaign, Van Gundy has built his coaching brand to new heights as a commentator.
He would appear to be the flashy hire that Prokhorov has been looking for since firing both Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo.
Over 11 seasons with the Rockets and New York Knicks, Van Gundy has led his teams to a 430-318 record that includes a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999 with New York.