With just eight teams remaining in the 2013 NBA playoffs, the other 22 franchises across the league are scrambling to make changes that will excite their fans and hopefully turn their teams into contenders next season.
The simplest and quickest way to shake things up is to fire the coach responsible for disappointing results during the 2012-13 campaign.
There are a handful of open positions—with the potential for a few more head coaches to be relieved of their duties over the next few weeks—and plenty of potential applicants for the now-vacant jobs.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting rumors and buzz surrounding these coaching opportunities and the candidates that might fill them.
Phil Jackson Shuts Down Nets, Leaves Door Open for Return
The Zen Master reportedly rebuffed the Brooklyn Nets offer to become their next head coach, but he would still be willing to return to the NBA as a coach—under the right circumstances.
According to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, Nets general manager Billy King unsuccessfully contacted Jackson about filling the void left by departed interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
However, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles found that the 67-year-old simply wasn’t interested in the role that King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov envisioned for him.
Shelburne also noted that the 11-time Finals-winner hasn’t completely ruled out a return to the sideline, but it would likely take a “say in the roster” to entice him back into coaching.
Considering Jackson was reportedly seeking a slice of ownership, an exorbitant salary and a limited travel schedule when he spoke with the Lakers after Mike Brown’s dismissal, the cost to retain his services will be high.
Prohibitively high in the Nets case, but there may be a desperate franchise looking to add a proven commodity to its bench in the offseason. If Jackson is still available, he could wind up getting the control—and cash—he desires to come back and coach.
Sixers May Tab Former Player as Next Head Coach
Jeff Hornacek may not have had the most successful tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers as a player, but there’s a chance he heads back to the City of Brotherly Love—this time as a head coach.
According to John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers are currently looking at a handful of assistant coaches to fill the vacancy created by Doug Collins’ decision to resign after the 2012-13 campaign ended.
One of those candidates happens to be Hornacek, who has been a part of the Jazz coaching staff since 2007, first as a shooting coach and later as a full-fledged assistant upon Jerry Sloan’s departure and Ty Corbin’s promotion.
He’s a bit inexperienced but is a hot name this spring, as the Phoenix Suns also may be interested in bringing in Hornacek. The Suns organization drafted him out of Iowa State in 1986, and he played guard for the team until the infamous Charles Barkley trade in 1992.
Don’t discount the Charlotte Bobcats either, as they are looking for their sixth head coach since the franchise was founded in 2004.
It’ll be interesting if Hornacek is able to rise above the rest of the pack and assume the role of head coach this offseason, but it may take him a few more years on the bench as an assistant until he’s fully ready to take over a team.
Vinny Del Negro May Be on the Outs in L.A.
After the Los Angeles Clippers' respectable 2012-13 season went up in flames in the first round of the playoffs, coach Vinny Del Negro’s seat has turned from hot to scorching.
According to CBS Sports’ NBA insider Ken Berger, Clips owner Donald Sterling has plans to meet with the beleaguered head coach in the coming days to discuss his future with the franchise.
Considering Del Negro’s contract is up at the end of next month, it’s hard to imagine the notoriously cheap Sterling keeping him around—especially now that cutting ties comes free of financial ramifications.
One interesting wrinkle in all of this is Chris Paul, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
If the team wants to position itself better to retain his services, strongly considering CP3’s input into Del Negro’s future and possible decision on the franchise’s next head coach would be prudent.
If the Clippers want to distance themselves from the Del Negro era, they had better act quickly. There are only so many coaches capable of managing a star-studded roster like L.A. possesses, and many of them will presumably be snapped up in the coming weeks.