As we draw near to one of the most anticipated free agency periods in sports history, teams have question marks on who their head coach and general manager will be. Among those teams include two with plenty of cap space, the defending NBA champions, and the Eastern Conference champions.
Los Angeles Clippers - Finally firing general manager and Head Coach Mike Dunleavy, the Clippers had two needs this off-season. Already filling in the void at general manger with the hiring of Neil Olshey, the Clippers are still in need of a coach. After plenty of speculation on who the candidates are,including some as far fetched as ESPN's Mark Jackson, it's clear that we're down to two: Vinny Del Negro and Dwane Casey.
This isn't the first time these two are battling it out for a coaching position. In 2008, Del Negro and Casey were the final two for the Chicago Bulls job. Del Negro was picked, but fired by the Bulls this off-season after two consecutive 41-41 seasons. Casey, an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, was a former coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had a 53-69 record with the team before he was fired after in the middle of the 2006 season.
Looks like a decision will be made by Sunday, three days after free agency period begins. An unproven franchise without a head coach will not likely draw the likes of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade but adding Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and Willie Warren in the draft is giving the Clipper fans hope for a bright future. Clippers have just enough money to sign one player to a max-contract.
Cleveland Cavaliers- Everyone knows the Cavs are nothing without LeBron James, which is why the team is having a tough time finding a coach. James is the primary reason for their success. This team would still be a lottery pick without him. As a coach knowing this, the thought of coaching a team staring Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal and Antwan Jamison would make me second guess as well. The team still has $30 million more to give James than the other teams and has a fair shot at re-signing the six year veteran. It seems we have two finalists for this job as well: Byron Scott and Brian Shaw. Scott, the former New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets coach, told Yahoo! Sports that he's interested in the Cavs job and is not waiting on LeBron James to make a decision. Rather, he's waiting on an offer. Shaw, an assistant coach for the NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers, has also met with the Cavs on coaching the team except he's waiting on Phil Jackson to make his decision.
Los Angeles Lakers - Fresh off their back-to-back title run, the Lakers are waiting on the status of Phil Jackson. Arguably one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Jackson will announce this week whether he will return with the team or ride off into the sunset. If Jackson decides to stay, then Brian Shaw will actively pursue the coaching position in Cleveland. If he retires, Shaw will be Jackson's replacement in Los Angeles. Once the Basketball Hall of Fame coach makes his decisions, expect the Lakers and the Cavs questions marks at coach to be answered.
Boston Celtics - Addressing the media after the NBA Draft, Doc Rivers said he hopes to make a decision on returning by July 1, the day free agency period begins. If he decides to retire, he plans on a limited role as a television broadcaster, which will give him time to watch his talented children play. If he decides to stay, Danny Ainge will have to pull some strings to keep this team competitive. That starts with addressing Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Ainge said that he does have a list of coaches if Rivers does decide to retire.
Portland Trail Blazers - The Blazers easily claimed last week's "Dang, that's cold" award. To fire your GM is one thing, to fire your GM before the draft is another, to fire your GM before the draft and tell him to stay in the war room is crossing the line. It's not as if Kevin Pritchard deserved to be fired in the first place, but this was downright heartless. Pritchard continued to put a competitive team on the court despite the injuries every year. The Blazers started their search on Monday, and former Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry is the top candidate. Other names also mentioned include former Miami Heat GM Randy Pfund and Phoenix Suns' David Griffin. Griffin was an aide for the former general manager Steve Kerr.
Phoenix Suns - Steve Kerr left the position as GM for the Suns and would like to get back into broadcasting. Financial reason with owner Robert Sarver was the main purpose behind leaving and could cause concern among possible candidates. Yahoo! Sports is reporting San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey met with Suns about the position, but in the report, one GM said, "I think Sarver wants to play Jerry Jones right now." Another name noted for the job is former Philadelphia 76ers GM Billy King.
New Jersey Nets - Although not confirmed, skepticism on Rod Thorn's future with the team continues to grow. ESPN the Magazine reported Thorn will be stepping down on July 15th. The Associated Press has an unnamed source acknowledging that Thorn will leave next month. The Nets GM since 2000 has put this team in great position this off-season, giving them $27 million to work with. The unnamed source also named possible replacements including Nets vice president Bobby Marks, New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower, and Oklahoma City's GM Sam Presti. Head of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo recently said that he'd be interested in the position, which Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorev has interest in replacing Thorn, according to ESPNNewYork.com. If the Nets do land Colangelo and make a big splash in free agency with the cap space they have, perhaps creating a dynasty isn't too far-fetched.