Has Brian Shaw Become NBA Outcast of Head Coaching Candidates?
Somebody somewhere knows the reason why Brian Shaw has yet to land an NBA head coaching job.
As for the Indiana Pacers lead assistant himself, no one would blame him regarding his lack of success.
He appeared to be groomed as Phil Jackson's heir apparent with the Los Angeles Lakers, having spent six full seasons as an assistant under the Zen Master there and the last four years of his playing career in the same system. Once Jackson started speaking of his impending retirement in the 2010-11 season, Kobe Bryant aligned himself with Shaw's candidacy.
But once the legendary coach finally gathered his 13 championship rings and walked away, the franchise passed on Shaw in favor of the more experienced Mike Brown.
Fast forward two summers later and Shaw was once again a hot commodity on the coaching market after honing his craft for two seasons as Frank Vogel's lead assistant in Indiana.
His name carried significant weight in some of the league's most prominent teams searching for a coach, among them the Brooklyn Nets, who were searching for P.J. Carlesimo's replacement. Clearly on Brooklyn's radar for some time, Shaw emerged as a "serious candidate" for the position less than 24 hours after Indiana's playoff run came to an end.
Yet despite making a "strong presentation" to the Brooklyn brass during a five-hour meeting on Wednesday, via ESPN.com, Shaw was once again passed over.
Experience had nothing to do with this decision. The Nets ultimately selected Jason Kidd as their next head coach, a man just six days removed from his retirement after a 19-year playing career.
Unfortunately for Shaw, this was one coaching race he was destined to lose.
A source told ESPN that Kidd's relationship with Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams and his presence were both significant factors in the decision. Not to mention the fact that he played six-plus seasons with the Nets, leading the franchise to its only two NBA Finals berths.
Now the Nets weren't the only egg in Shaw's basket this summer. He's still very much in the running for the coaching vacancies of the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, but he knows all too well the difference between being considered and being hired.
And there are some potential roadblocks with both of these positions.
Despite his age, his championship background and his proven ability in the player development department (see: Paul George, Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert), Shaw hasn't locked up the other L.A. job just yet.
He was the first one up to interview for the position, this news coming from Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. But ESPN.com's Marc Stein has heard that Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a fan of former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and would like to hire someone with head coaching experience (there's that ugly word again).
While the Clippers job may be most appealing to Shaw (California native, earned five championship rings during his stay in the city), the Nuggets are hardly a franchise that he could dismiss as easily as he did the Charlotte Bobcats last summer. Denver's fresh off a franchise-best 57-win regular season and has a number of intriguing, young players who could thrive under Shaw's guidance.
But money was assumed to be an issue in the departures of reigning NBA Coach of the Year George Karl and NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri. Despite his inability to land a position yet, Shaw has established a strong reputation and shouldn't have to take pennies on the dollar to secure his first gig.
Shaw doesn't have to settle this summer. The worst-case scenario is another year of seasoning with Vogel's Pacers, a team with one of the brightest futures in the league.
But at some point could all of these failed job pursuits start to work against Shaw? Eventually a perception (right or wrong) develops that something has to be wrong with someone who misses out on so many opportunities.
This has been the summer of the assistants, with four coaches making the leap up the sideline ranks already (Michael Malone, Mike Budenholzer, Jeff Hornacek and Steve Clifford).
So why isn't Shaw part of that group?
He probably has no clue, and frankly, neither do I.
But perhaps the bigger question is just what kind of effect a fruitless summer will have on Shaw's future job prospects. And that's a potentially painful story that yes to be written.
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