The NBA offseason is already here for nearly half the teams in the league. Many of these lottery participants are already looking for, or may soon be seeking out, new head coaches to take over and hopefully change the cultures.
While the impact that head coaches can have on success is hotly debated, they are often the first to go when the axe must fall after a disappointing season. With the coaching carousel just starting to spin, expect to see plenty of hiring and firing going on over the next few months.
Lets take a look at some of the latest buzz surrounding these possible moves in Wednesday’s NBA rumor roundup.
Jazz Thinking Outside the Box
The Utah Jazz have moved on from the Tyrone Corbin era and are now seeking a new coach to bring this team back to the playoffs after consecutive seasons in the lottery.
The team may not be using the conventional channels to find candidates, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the franchise is currently considering Ettore Messina, a superstar coach from Italy, to fill the vacancy. Messina has long been a target for certain NBA franchises, which should come as no surprise considering his success in the Euroleague.
Stein noted that the San Antonio Spurs in particular have coveted Messina, and current Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey cut his teeth with that organization. That is the obvious reason as to why Utah is now a top candidate to land the services of the legendary Euroleague coach.
Jody Genessy of the Deseret News had a source inform him that Utah would be the most likely NBA team to hire a coach from Europe:
The 54-year-old has four Euroleague championships under his belt, as well as two Euroleague Coach of the Year awards, four Italian League titles, seven Italian Cups, five Russian League championships and two Russian Cups. He has coached prestigious programs such as CSKA Moscow (a job he currently holds), Real Madrid, the Italian national team and more.
Messina is somewhat familiar with the inner workings of the Association, having been brought on as a consultant during head coach Mike Brown’s 2011-12 campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Stein pointed out that Messina’s supporters are claiming that gig showed the coach the changes he would need to make if he comes stateside.
It would be an interesting transition, but one that detractors claim will not be smooth. As per Stein, those who aren’t in favor of Messina are citing his demanding and controlling nature as potentially disastrous.
Should the Jazz decide to go in another direction, Stein reported that they have Spurs assistant Jim Boylen at the top of their list. The former University of Utah coach isn’t exactly a fan favorite in the area but has been honing his craft under four-time champion Gregg Popovich.
Barring a major change in heart, expect one of these two to end up holding the clipboard and calling the plays in Salt Lake City next season.
Knicks May Be Having Issues as Zen Master Seeks Coach
It seems that James Dolan has never been an easy boss to work for, and Phil Jackson appears to be finding that out early on in his tenure as a New York Knicks executive.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Jackson began butting heads with the team owner after he tried to remove several entrenched staff members from their positions.
Jackson is looking to clean house and may already be facing resistance from Dolan, who claimed he would cede all control of basketball operations and decisions to the Zen Master upon hiring the 11-time championship-winning coach.
Regardless, Jackson shouldn’t find much resistance when he attempts to hire a head coach to replace the deposed Mike Woodson. One candidate who has been consistently rumored for the opening is Steve Kerr, who won four championships under Jackson during their tenure with the Chicago Bulls.
However, it’s looking like Kerr—who has no relevant head coaching experience—is wary of starting his career in the Big Apple. According to a separate report by Isola, sources are confident that the 48-year-old former player turned broadcaster for Turner Sports will do his homework before signing a contract.
A source told Isola: “Steve will not jump into this without knowing exactly what he is getting himself into. He’ll talk to the right people. If this is the job for him, he’ll do his research.”
However, George Willis of the New York Post found that another source indicated that Kerr “absolutely expects” to be extended an offer to become the Knicks head coach and would “definitely” accept.
Keep a close eye on this situation as it develops. Between the Zen Master, Dolan and Kerr, there should be no shortage of entertaining drama in Manhattan.