While eight teams remain alive in the hunt for the NBA championship, many other squads are looking toward the future in search of a new head coach.
There are currently five openings around the league, and it would not be surprising if a few more coaches were let go in the coming weeks. With the exception of a few top guys, there is little job security in this profession.
Still, these openings create opportunities for other qualified people to get a chance at the job. While these searches often take some time, here is the latest buzz on some top candidates from around the league.
Stan Van Gundy
One year after losing his job as head coach of the Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy could soon be employed with another club, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!:
The Atlanta Hawks are aggressively pursuing Stan Van Gundy for the franchise's head-coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. General manager Danny Ferry has made Van Gundy his top target to replace Larry Drew, sources said.
There has been contact between Ferry and Van Gundy, but the two sides have yet to meet in person.
Van Gundy has seen plenty of success in his career, leading the Magic and the Miami Heat to the postseason in each of his seven full seasons as a coach (he retired 21 games into the 2005-06 season).
As far as getting the most out of his players, there are few better coaches in the sport.
However, the question remains whether he would even want the job. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, "Van Gundy has told several teams that have reached out to him recently that he is not planning on coaching next season."
Current head coach Larry Drew is still under contract until June 30, but it would be surprising if he kept the job going into next season.
In reality, the Hawks would be in great shape if they can convince Van Gundy to return to the league and take charge of the team.
Despite being only 34 years old, J.B. Bickerstaff is becoming one of the hottest names heading into the offseason.
The current Houston Rockets assistant coach has been working around the league since the 2004-05 season when he worked under his father, Bernie, with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Now, he is being considered for a few job openings, most recently with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Wojnarowski. He interviewed for the spot on Friday and is reportedly also a candidate for the opening with the Phoenix Suns.
Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News also reported that Bickerstaff interviewed for the Detroit Pistons' head coaching job.
Milwaukee has a number of different options for the position and has already interviewed Nate McMillan and Kelvin Sampson, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. However, Bickerstaff's experience as an assistant and strong coaching pedigree should allow someone to give him an opportunity.
Based on all of these openings, it would be surprising if the young coach does not land one of the jobs.
Unlike the other people on this list, Lionel Hollins already has a job as a head coach. His team is even still alive in the playoffs as his Memphis Grizzlies recently took a 2-1 lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals.
Since taking over the squad in the 2008-09 season, Memphis has seen its winning percentage rise in every season.
Unfortunately, his contract is up after this season and there is no guarantee he will return to the organization heading into next year.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Brooklyn Nets are a team that would be interested if he becomes available:
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News suggests that the Nets wait to see what Memphis will do before completing the coaching search. He states, "There is plenty of talk around the league that the Grizzlies will look to hire a younger coach whom they can get on the cheap."
Then again, Hollins seems to think that he will be back. When asked by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne if he wants to return next season, the coach responded:
There's no question. When you build something, you want to see it through to the fruition of it all. Hopefully, we'll win a championship at the end of the year. But that would just be a starting point. Then you want to be a perennial championship contender.
It takes two sides to agree on a contract, and it is still unclear what will happen in the offseason. However, it is likely that Brooklyn will be standing with open arms and a big paycheck if Hollins were to leave Memphis.