As the 2013 NBA offseason looms, attention has shifted to the star players set to reshape the league's postseason structure. Before free agency and the NBA draft grab our attention, however, we must not ignore the need for leaders on the sidelines.
This beckons the obvious question—what's the latest news on the NBA's coaching vacancies?
Certain figures have reached star status due to a blend of past success and reputation. Others are top-tier assistant coaches, thus garnering interest due to their upside in a head coaching capacity.
So who are the hottest names floating around and what's being said about them?
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer is a top target for the Atlanta Hawks. Budenholzer has familiarity with those with Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, but has been a top target for the better part of a decade.
Thus far, no one's been able to lure him out of San Antonio.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Detroit Pistons are also targeting Budenholzer to fill their head coaching vacancy. Pistons general manager Joe Dumars reportedly traveled to San Antonio and met with Budenholzer already.
Technically speaking, Larry Drew remains the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. His contract doesn't expire until July 1 and the Hawks have yet to make his termination official, let alone confirm to the media that they will let him go.
With that being said, all reports point towards the two sides parting ways.
According to John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Drew would be interested in becoming the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers have yet to find a replacement for the recently departed Doug Collins.
Drew isn't the only one looking to the future, as the Hawks have quite a few names on their radar, including the previously mentioned Mike Budenholzer.
Perhaps no individual has benefited as much from the Golden State Warriors' rise to postseason glory than assistant coach Mike Malone. As the strategist of Golden State's coaching staff, Malone's postseason contributions have gained weight within the coaching community.
Success is a burden.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reports that the Phoenix Suns are also interested in Malone's services, although they've yet to let go of Lindsey Hunter. All signs point towards Phoenix and Hunter parting ways, though, which opens the door for Malone to step in.
Chances are, the list of teams will grow whenever Golden State is eliminated from the postseason.
Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw has been one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel for roughly half a decade. Not only was he an assistant for two of the Los Angeles Lakers' recent title runs, but he's helped transform the Pacers into an Eastern Conference power.
The summer of 2013 could be the time in which Shaw finally gets a head coaching gig.
According to Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports, one of the teams interested in Shaw's services is the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets played under both Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo during the 2012-13 season, but recently fired the latter coach.
Brooklyn had previously pursued Phil Jackson, but the legendary head coach turned down the offer—it just so happens that Shaw coached under Jackson in Los Angeles.
Speaking of Jackson, he's currently consulting for the Detroit Pistons as they pursue a head coach (via USA TODAY Sports). Conventional wisdom would suggest that Jackson would be in favor of hiring his former assistant.
According to Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune, former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan has been contacted about returning to the sidelines by multiple teams. Sloan, 71, clarified that he's yet to receive an official offer.
With that being said, there are teams that have been reported as interested.
Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Milwaukee Bucks have contacted Sloan about their coaching vacancy. No offer has been extended, but the talks are considered to be "serious."
Per Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida, Sloan had the following to say about his meeting with three Bucks executives:
“They came down. I was in Illinois. I’m back in Utah now,’’ said Sloan, who splits his time between his farm in Southern Illinois. “But I wouldn’t want to make any other comment.’’
Asked if he believes he’s seriously in the mix for the job, Sloan said, “You’d have to ask them (the Bucks).’’
Due to his high-profile nature, we're inclined to believe Sloan is being considered.
Stan Van Gundy
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, Stan Van Gundy has told several teams that he doesn't plan to coach in 2013-14. That hasn't stopped teams from making SVG their top target, as the aforementioned Atlanta Hawks are in hot pursuit of his services.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Hawks are "aggressively pursuing" Van Gundy to become their next head coach.
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.
Potentially hiring Van Gundy would be Atlanta's first step in convincing Dwight Howard to sign with the Hawks during the upcoming period of free agency.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the Milwaukee Bucks join the Hawks in their interest surrounding the potential hiring of SVG. According to Alex Raskin of The Wall Street Journal, the Brooklyn Nets have taken the opposite route, cutting both Stan and Jeff Van Gundy off of their list of targets.
If Van Gundy does opt to return to coaching, chances are, he'll find a home.
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