As the NBA playoffs unfold, the rumor mill is still very active, attempting to parse out which coaches will land where and what the league landscape will look like going forward.
The championship-or-bust mentality is gaining popularity in front offices nowadays, raising the bar higher and higher on what a coach must do in order to retain his job. Making the playoffs no longer registers as an accomplishment unless the team is actually contending; if a coach can't promise he'll lead his team to elite status, he's not worth the hire.
That leaves the franchises with openings to pursue big splashes, running the risk of setting plans back years if they choose wrong. When the Larry O'Brien trophy is the only goal, idle talk of the coaching carousel becomes much more weighty.
Stan Van Gundy to the Detroit Pistons?
He had been in negotiations to take over Mark Jackson's vacant seat on the Golden State Warriors bench, but SVG reportedly has shifted focus as he looks for a new NBA job.
Per Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, Van Gundy wants front office control as well as a coaching job; Golden State, which just fired a coach in part due to tensions between him and management, balked at giving Van Gundy that amount of responsibility, so the veteran coach is looking to an organization that will.
NBA source: Stan Van Gundy told the Warriors he wanted total control of basketball decisions. They declined. He could get that in DET.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 13, 2014
Detroit presents an interesting destination for a prospective general manager/head coach.
From a roster construction standpoint, it's a mess. Last season proved that Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith cannot be in the same lineup together, while Brandon Jennings probably isn't the best fit at point guard to facilitate any of the bigs' games.
Smith's long-term contract makes him immovable right now, but SVG could get started immediately reshaping this team by shopping another talented but unwieldy piece—likely Monroe, a restricted free agent this summer.
If Van Gundy deals Monroe for a more fitting player—read: someone who can shoot—that will allow SVG the coach to build more easily around Drummond. Given the coach's success with an ultra-athletic center named Dwight Howard, that opportunity, though a multiyear project, looks attractive.
Golden State to Pursue Steve Kerr Again?
Losing out on Van Gundy would set the Dubs back in their coaching search, to which they will respond, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, by doubling back and going after a candidate they have already targeted.
As Knicks-Steve Kerr lock in staredown over deal terms, Golden State will go hard at Kerr again if Van Gundy takes Detroit, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 13, 2014
Golden State shifted focus to other candidates after it seemed clear Kerr would take the New York Knicks job, linking up with former Kerr coach and current Knicks president Phil Jackson.
That possibility is still very much on the table. Marc Stein and Ian Begley of ESPN reported that Golden State felt Kerr was "too deep" in negotiations with the Knicks to talk about the Warriors job.
But that was May 11, and Kerr and New York have yet to agree. As long as he's an open coaching commodity, Golden State—located significantly closer to Kerr's San Diego home than New York is—has at least an outside shot at nabbing him.
Make no mistake, though: Golden State's renewed interest won't unseat the Knicks as front-runners. Kerr is a former Jackson point guard and a proponent of the triangle offense, making him an ideal fit for how the Zen Master wants to structure his organization.
Kerr is also the only candidate the Knicks have actually talked to in their search, so they'll do whatever it takes to keep him from slipping away.
Did Kyrie Irving Call for Mike Brown's Firing?
The Cleveland Cavaliers' star point guard clashed with his head coach this season and came under scrutiny for his role in an increasingly fractious locker room. Now Brown is out, and there is speculation that Irving made a power play for a new head coach in Cleveland.
Not so, says new Cavs GM David Griffin. According to Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk, Griffin flatly denied that the front office sought out Irving's opinion, let alone considered it, on the matter of Brown's job status.
“Any – any – insinuation that Kyrie Irving had anything to do with this decision is patently false,” he said. “It’s unfair. He was not counseled on this decision, nor was he counseled on the previous coaching decision.”
Considering there's nothing resembling proof to link Irving directly to the firing, Griffin's statement makes sense.
After all, putting this decision on Irving's shoulders overlooks the philosophical differences Griffin and Brown had.
Former Cavs GM Chris Grant hired Brown, a half court-oriented coach, for his second stint as Cavs coach. When Grant lost his job midway through the season, Griffin, who previously worked with the transition-happy Phoenix Suns organization, became the interim GM.
It doesn't seem coincidental that reports of Brown's firing came simultaneously with the news that Cleveland had removed Griffin's interim tag. Whether or not Irving wanted Brown gone, this looks like Griffin's first call following his promotion.