Report: Stan Van Gundy 'Clear Top Choice' for Golden State Warriors

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2014

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 5: Stan Van Gundy, head coach of the Orlando Magic, directs his team against the Indiana Pacers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 5, 2012 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE  (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Goodbye, Lionel Hollins. And Tom Thibodeau. And Steve Kerr. And everyone else.

Hello, Stan Van Gundy.

In the one week since the Golden State Warriors fired head coach Mark Jackson, their search for a replacement has taken a variety of twists, turns and loop de loops. Now, said coaching junket is throwing another curveball, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix:

The Warriors had shown interest in Van Gundy previously, but they were also said to be considering a number of other options, per Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears:

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News went as far as saying the Warriors job was Kerr's if he wanted it. Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle had them asking the Chicago Bulls for permission to speak with Thibodeau. Everyone under the sun seemed to be in play.

But now the dust is starting to settle. Golden State has a new favorite, a likely successor who Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley believes makes too much sense:

They can't overthink this, though. Not with someone of Van Gundy's ilk potentially waiting on their call.

Kerr could help guide the Warriors far away from this Jackson fiasco. Van Gundy could lead them down the path that really matters.

If the Warriors want the recognition of a true title contender, they have to make the hire that gives them the best chance to reach that status. They have to choose the right kind of different.

Van Gundy is most definitely the right kind of different, and not just because his 2012 press conference amid Dwight Howard drama remains the most wonderfully awkward thing ever. 

Although he hasn't coached in the last two years, Van Gundy remains one of the most respected, outside-the-box sideline honchos associated with the NBA.

In the seven full seasons he's spent as a head coach—split between the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat—not one of his teams has finished with a sub-.500 record. Miami even hovered above .500 (11-10) during his one partial season (2005-06) at the helm. 

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 5: Stan Van Gundy, head coach of the Orlando Magic, draws up plays for his team before Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Indiana Pacers during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 5, 2012 at Amway Center in Orlando, F
Fernando Medina/Getty Images

The always colorful Van Gundy is also known for coaching defense and having his teams prepared. He's not afraid of standing up to superstar egos (see Howard), and his offensive systems are more inventive than, say, Jackson's uninspired sets.

Unlike some of the other candidates, he's readily available, too.

Kerr has been tethered to the New York Knicks' future long before former head coach Mike Woodson was even fired. Despite widespread interest in Thibodeau, he's still employed. People seem to be forgetting that. Chasing a guy like Hollins—an oft-stubborn disciplinarian not known for his offensive savvy—would basically be a lateral move.

Van Gundy is a step forward.

Stephen Curry will get along with him. He and Andre Iguodala will share high fives galore. Andrew Bogut and him can talk defense. He can teach Klay Thompson how to properly drink Diet Pepsi.

More importantly, as someone who has coached into the postseason seven times, the Eastern Conference Finals three times and the NBA Finals once, Van Gundy can help advance Golden State's newfangled winning culture.

"I miss the challenge," Van Gundy said of coaching on 740 AM’s Open Mike show (via the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins). "I miss the camaraderie of it. But I also like the time that I’ve had, so we’ll just have to see what happens."

Looks like Van Gundy is gearing up for a highly anticipated, long-overdue return to the sidelines. That is what's happening.