As the NBA conference finals continue, several teams that didn’t make the postseason are currently in the midst of finding head coaches for the 2013-14 season.
Three of the more intriguing searches are being conducted by the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons. Phoenix finished the year with the worst record in the Western Conference while Philadelphia and Detroit were just a handful of games from making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
No matter how any of those three teams did this past season, the ownership and front office of each is looking to shake things up for next season.
So what’s been going on with each of these teams and how close are they to finding their next head coach? Let’s take a look at the most recent rumors and rumblings to try to decipher which direction Phoenix, Philadelphia and Detroit might go.
Hornacek to Suns a Done Deal
Phoenix had a horrendous start to the season (13-28) and felt that it was more than appropriate to relinquish Alvin Gentry of his duties as head coach after 41 games.
Lindsey Hunter took over as the interim coach, but didn’t have much more success. In the remaining 41 games of the year. The Suns won just 12 of them for a season win total of 25.
While Hunter was in the mix for the full-time job next season, it appears that Phoenix will be going with someone from the Utah Jazz’s staff instead.
The Suns have signed Jeff Hornacek, the former assistant for the Jazz, to a three-year deal that includes a fourth-year option, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The Suns and Hornacek have already started to work on assembling an assistant coaching staff and a formal announcement about the deal is expected soon, reports Wojnarowski.
Hornacek was drafted by Phoenix in the second round of the 1986 NBA draft. He spent six seasons there, averaging 13.7 points and 5.4 assists in 468 games. Hornacek became a full-time member of the Utah coaching staff during the 2011-12 season.
No Rush in Philadelphia
Doug Collins resigned as head coach of the 76ers in April after three seasons with the team, explaining, “how he knew in his heart the time was right to retire from coaching,” according to The Associated Press, via ESPN.
Philadelphia lost in the first round of the NBA playoffs in Collins’ first season and fell in the Eastern Conference Semifinals a year ago, but failed to even make the postseason this year.
A lot of work needs to be done in Philadelphia over the offseason and general manager Sam Hinkie is more focused on restructuring the front office than finding the team’s next head coach, or at least that’s what Wojnarowski is hearing from league sources.
The 76ers have an interest in a handful of potential head coaches, according to Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com. Moore reports that Philadelphia is likely to pursue Hornacek, Golden State assistant coach Mike Malone, Indiana assistant coach Brian Shaw and Philadelphia associate head coach Michael Curry.
One name to keep an eye on, according to Moore, is Quin Snyder. Snyder was an assistant coach under Collins back in 2010-11, went to the Los Angeles Lakers’ staff in 2011-12 and then coached in Russia this past season.
Shaw seems to be one of the top targets among teams seeking new head coaches, but the Pacers and Shaw have mutually denied the requests, according to Ken Berger of CBS.
Who Has the Power in Detroit?
The Pistons recently added Phil Jackson to help with the team’s search for a head coach, but how much of an influence Jackson will have is up for debate.
Executives question whether Jackson or president of basketball operations Joe Dumars will have the final say as to who will be the next coach to lead the 76ers, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN (Insider subscription required).
As Broussard writes, if Jackson has the power, then he’ll likely go toward in trying to pry Shaw from Indiana and any other team that has interest in him. If Dumars still has the power, he’ll likely try to bring in either Nate McMillan or Maurice Cheeks.
It’s important to note that Jackson was brought on by owner Tom Gores and not by Dumars. Dumars, I’m sure, would love to name his own head coach without the assistance of any outsiders, but that might not be the case.
It’s more than possible that Dumars may be stuck with whomever Jackson decides will fit best for the job, whether that is Shaw or another candidate of his liking.
While Cheeks and McMillan wouldn’t be poor selections, Shaw is ready for a head coaching position. He has succeeded as an assistant and deserves the opportunity to be the guy in charge. It seems that his duties will increase soon and Detroit is where he may end up.