The Golden State Warriors had their sights set on Stan Van Gundy as an option to replace head coach Mark Jackson.
The past tense there is key because they'll now have to look elsewhere after the Detroit Pistons swooped in and snagged Van Gundy.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported the monster deal:
ESPN sources say Pistons & Stan Van Gundy have reached agreement in principle to make SVG their new coach/president of basketball ops— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 14, 2014
Pistons & SVG reach agreement in principle on five-year deal worth estimated $35 mil and are on course for official announcement this week— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 14, 2014
The news dropped on the same day Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix told us that Van Gundy and the Warriors were well on their way to a deal:
Talks intensifying between Warriors and Stan Van Gundy, per sources. Van Gundy now Golden State's clear top choice. Moving towards a deal.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 13, 2014
Golden State was swinging for the fences by going after Van Gundy. His name is one of the first to pop up any time there's a coaching vacancy, and Bleacher Report's Dan Favale recently shared why:
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.
It looked like landing Van Gundy would've been a home run, but the Warriors whiffed. And now they'll have to throw together a plan B.
Initial reports didn't even have SVG among the potential replacements but still featured some big names:
NBA source says Warriors are expected to consider as many as eight candidates. Lionel Hollins, Mike D'Antoni, George Karl & Steve Kerr among— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 8, 2014
It looks like we can already throw Steve Kerr out as well, as ESPN's Stein and Ian Begley have reported he's leaning toward another offer:
The Golden State Warriors are increasingly pessimistic about their chances of convincing Steve Kerr to turn down the New York Knicks in favor of Golden State's coaching job, according to sources close to the process.
So that leaves Lionel Hollins, Mike D'Antoni and George Karl among those named by Yahoo's Marc J. Spears. Each would bring different approaches to the Warriors.
He could help the Warriors reach a similar level of dominance on that side of the ball with great defensive players such as Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut.
That possibility is looking more likely now that Van Gundy is off the board and Hollins is already scheduled for an interview:
Lionel Hollins is expected to interview for Warriors head coach opening during the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago next week, a source said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 10, 2014
D'Antoni is essentially the complete opposite of Hollins in that his teams don't play defense and never really have.
But boy, would the Dubs be exciting.
The D'Antoni approach would seriously inflate the already gaudy offensive numbers of the Warriors. Just think about what it did for the likes of Jeremy Lin and Kendall Marshall and then apply that to Stephen Curry.
Would the huge numbers be worth the cost of winning, though? D'Antoni is 188-254 since he left the Phoenix Suns. That system doesn't really work with any team but those Suns squads that seemed tailor-made for six-seconds-or-less.
The happy medium here is George Karl, whose last year with the Denver Nuggets showed that he can coach both sides of the floor. In 2012-13, Denver was fifth in offensive rating and 11th in defensive rating.
There would be at least one hurdle to get over, though.
In a November interview with Dave Krieger, Karl accused Iguodala of being a mole for Mark Jackson and the Warriors following Denver's 2013 playoff loss to Golden State.
Iguodala responded a few weeks later:
And Iggy's response to George Karl fingering him as a mole: 'It's kind of out of sight, out of mind. I'm in a different place now.' #Nuggets— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) December 23, 2013
If those two could mend the fences, Karl and the Warriors would make perfect sense.
He achieved immense success with the Seattle SuperSonics and led the Nuggets to 50 wins in five out of his last six seasons there. The time they didn't reach 50 in that span was the lockout-shortened 2011-12.
His high-octane offense would be in good hands with Curry, Thompson and David Lee. And defensive anchors Iguodala, Bogut and Draymond Green would help the team to continue trending in the right direction on defense.
Golden State may have missed out on Van Gundy, but consolation prizes don't get much better than Karl.
Advanced statistics courtesy of NBA.com/Stats.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewDBailey.