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Best Potential Candidates to Replace P.J. Carlesimo as Brooklyn Nets Head Coach

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2013

Best Potential Candidates to Replace P.J. Carlesimo as Brooklyn Nets Head Coach

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    P.J. Carlesimo is out as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets and the search for his replacement is set to begin.

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Brooklyn has elected to not retain Carlesimo and will instead turn its attention elsewhere.

    Nets search for a new coach has started. P.J. Carlesimo won't be brought back. Jeff Van Gundy is a top target, sources say.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 5, 2013

    Carlesimo took over for the departed Avery Johnson midway through the 2012-13 campaign, which means the Nets are preparing to appoint their third coach in less than one year. 

    Don't expect Brooklyn's next sideline-meander to be a rookie or a lower-profile coach like Carlesimo. General manager Billy King has said an established candidate isn't a priority, but we know better.

    The Nets are in a premier market and have nearly $90 million committed in payroll next season. And like their payroll, expectations are high. Brooklyn needs a coach who can come in and not only make an immediate difference, but also gain the respect of their players.

    Who might that coach be? After being eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Nets are under pressure to answer that question as soon as possible.

     

    *All stats in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference and NBA.com unless otherwise noted.

5. Larry Brown

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    Head-Coaching Record: 1327-1011 (ABA included)

    Years Experience: 31 (ABA included)

    This one intrigues me. Not to the point to where the Nets need to make it happen, but it's definitely something worth monitoring.

    Per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Brooklyn's Billy King is a good friend of Larry Brown, so he cannot ruled out as a potential candidate for the Nets' now-vacant coaching position.

    Like I said, very interesting.

    Brown has plenty of experience (and even an NBA championship under his belt), but he hasn't found consistent success since winning a title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Since then, he's held positions with the New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats, two tenures that ended anything but amicably.

    Most of his issues with the Bobcats and Knicks stemmed from his impatience; he's not known (at least not anymore) as someone who is willing to develop a young team. Fortunately for him, Brooklyn is a squad built around veterans.

    Would he be willing to join the NBA ranks once again to coach another elite guard in Deron Williams? I'd say yes, especially considering how many dollar signs Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov would likely throw his way.

    Is he the ideal fit?

    Eh. 

4. Brian Shaw

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    Head-Coaching Record: N/A

    Years Experience: N/A

    If the Nets are going to consider an assistant who doesn't have any head-coaching experience, it should be Brian Shaw.

    He won a couple of championships under Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and has been instrumental under Frank Vogel with the Indiana Pacers.

    Shaw is considered a favorite for the Pistons job, but would he really turn down the opportunity to coach a team that can win now? Remember, he was hand-picked by the Zen Master himself to succeed him in Los Angeles (though, look how that turned out). He's qualified to lead a winner.

    For Brooklyn, Shaw would give the team someone who has a strong background in guiding a proven offense and defense. The Nets struggled to score consistently during the 2012-13 crusade and their defense wasn't what you would consider unflappable. There is then plenty of room for improvement under Shaw.

    Would he be a first-timer? Yes, but he's one the Nets should consider. And definitely one they can't allow the Pistons or any other team to steal without giving a long, hard look.

3. Phil Jackson

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    Head-Coaching Record: 1155-485

    Years Experience: 20

    Since we last met on this topic, the idea of Phil Jackson coaching the Nets has grown on me.

    Initially, I believed that the Nets would be more interested in Jackson than he was in them, and I still do. But I'd be remiss if I didn't think he would at least consider the payday Mr. Prokhorov was prepared to give him. And he is prepared to give him one.

    According to Rod Boone of Newsday, Billy King is expected to reach out and gauge Jackson's interest of returning to the sidelines.

    Billy wouldn't rule out Phil Jackson as a possible replacement. Said he'll call him, but has no idea of any interest level.

    — Rod Boone (@rodboone) May 5, 2013

    Jackson is known to be "itching" to procure a front-office position and recently agreed to serve as a consultant with the Detroit Pistons, but you have to believe Brooklyn would go above and beyond to accommodate him. I'm not talking just a lucrative salary, but perhaps an ownership stake and the promise for front-office work upon (another) retirement.

    My concerns, however, are the same. His Triangle offense calls for point guards to play off the ball more than normal, and while Deron Williams is capable of doing just that, do you really want to take the ball out of his hands anymore than the Nets already do?

    Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez are liable to thrive within such a system, though. If Williams can be sold on and subsequently adjust to the Triangle, then there are more cases for Jackson than against him.

    As long as the 11-time coaching champion doesn't have any full-time front-office offers on his table, he is someone the Nets should pursue relentlessly.

2. Jeff Van Gundy

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    Head-Coaching Record: 430-318

    Years Experience: 11

    In the interest of full disclosure, I don't see Jeff Van Gundy taking this job. Much like Phil Jackson, I don't think he's willing to assume control of a team that isn't able to make roster adjustments if needed.

    Should I prove to be wrong (it happens), he would be one of the best possible fits out there. He's also one the Nets are supposed to be interested in.

    Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Van Gundy is expected to be a target of Brooklyn's, but not necessarily a top one.

    On Jeff Van Gundy front w/ Nets: Far less mutual interest between franchise and coach than I had originally been led to believe.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 5, 2013

    Van Gundy is a strong defensive coach and knows how to run an offense through a big man. I envision him making an already-stingy Nets defense even better and taking Brook Lopez to the next level.

    His no-nonsense approach could be an issue with Deron Williams, who has clashed with coaches in the past (see Avery Johnson and Jerry Sloan). Following another postseason failure, though, Williams should be more amenable to playing under someone who holds his players accountable (superstars like himself included).

    If Van Gundy is willing to leave his post as ESPN's go-to color announcer, then the Nets should make sure he lands on their payroll by any means necessary.

1. Jerry Sloan

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    Head-Coaching Record: 1221-803

    Years Experience: 26

    Don't laugh, because I'm not kidding. I'm serious. Incredibly serious.

    Jerry Sloan is one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, and has the potential to make an immediate difference in Brooklyn. And with his track record, he'll likely have no problem gaining the respect of the locker room or holding them accountable—Deron Williams included.

    Williams played under Sloan for almost six seasons in Utah and things didn't end well. Upon Sloan's resignation, it was rumored that his departure was caused by his inability to get along with the point man.

    If Williams had an issue with Sloan then, though, he doesn't have one now. Per Alex Raskin and the Wall Street Journal , Brooklyn's star point guard would welcome the opportunity to play for his former coach again:

    "I think we got out-toughed in that last series, especially yesterday, so I think that's the main thing," Williams said Sunday, adding that his former coach with the Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan, instilled toughness in his team.

    "When I played for Coach Sloan, I think he had that effect, just the way he coaches and the way he talked to us every day and the way he prepared us for games kind of rubbed off," Williams said.

    Williams said he would "love" to play for Sloan again, but a top candidate has yet to emerge.

    Would Sloan welcome a similar reunion? We don't know. But if he would, the Nets have to take him up on it. He's no stranger to coaching superstars and has never guided a team of his to a record below .500. He has yet to win a championship, but that's something he, Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace have in common.

    Sloan is the big-name enforcer the Nets need. More importantly, he's likely more attainable than, say, a Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy.

     

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