When NBA players decide to hang up their basketball shoes today, it hasn’t meant that it’s the last time we will see them in the NBA.
They make quick returns and go from wearing the uniform to wearing suits as NBA coaches.
With more than half of the league’s current coaches being former players, it should come as no surprise that more players are finding themselves still in the NBA and on the bench as a coach following their retirement from playing.
Even if they don’t make it right away as an assistant on their former team’s bench they still have options to fall back on.
I mean how many former NBA players have dressed up in a suit, put some makeup on, sat down in a chair, picked up a microphone and placed a tiny wire behind their ear and became a reporter?
In fact, that seems like the rite of passage for the former-player-to-coach journey.
You first have to get on television, hang out with Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, and a number of different ESPN anchors, and then you get your coaching shot.
If the reporter position is not for you, then you can still go the traditional route of holding a clipboard and becoming an assistant, proving yourself and making your way through the ranks.
So, here is my list of current NBA players that I think will follow this path in their own way and find themselves as a future head coach in the NBA. I also included a key word that I think sums what best describes the player’s NBA career.
I also made my choices based on players that are close to the end of their careers or are seasoned veterans.
So, guys like Chris Paul, who I think would be a great coach someday, do not make the cut for this particular list and should be noted for argument's sake.
Please feel free to voice your likes and dislikes and include anybody that I left out, or if there is anyone on the list that you disagree with.
Shane Battier is a “diamond in the rough” when it comes to being a team player. His teammates love, respect, and admire him.
He listens and does whatever his coach tells him to do, and I don’t think that anyone would argue that he has the “brains” to do it.
His future head-coaching solidification came in the 2009 playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers.
He took Kobe Bryant and the NBA champions-to-be Los Angeles Lakers, all the way to a seven-game series, and he did it without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
If Battier wants it, it’s his. The opportunities will be there.
If he can get Kobe Bryant to listen to him, then they guy should immediately start sending in his application for coaching positions as soon as he decides to hang him up.
He has proven himself time and time again because of a tremendous work ethic and love of the game. Fisher still performs in the clutch, only getting better with age.
And, let’s not forget. He has had the great opportunity to be the point guard of Phil Jackson’s team, the “Zen Master” himself.
Jackson continues to show his loyalty and trust in Fisher by leaving him in the game even when the veteran is struggling.
The guy inspires people. What more do you want or need from a coach?
Grant Hill is just one of a few players who actually had a good career in the NBA after playing at Duke.
While that background hasn’t always meant a consistent career at the next level, it does carry with it a great devotion to the game of basketball.
It is carries with it great intelligence for the game, something that Hill is not shy to display.
He goes hard every night, and like the aforementioned Battier, will do whatever his coach asks of him.
He is a great defender and a guy that has always put the team before him, even when he was a star before the many unfortunate injuries.
Hassell has bounced around all over the league during his career, all the while being the complete professional.
This past year, his professionalism was on full display while playing for the dreadful New Jersey Nets. One game he would be in the starting and then he would go the next three games lucky to see the floor.
He endured the nightmare of the season, never asking for a trade and never complaining. He even stood up for the Nets’ former head coach, Kiki Vandeweghe.
Hassell came into the league after playing at a small school, has withstood the test of time, and caught the attention of many around the league.
You put this guy on your team and you know that you have at least one leader. Also, younger players tend to easily find themselves looking up to Kurt Thomas.
There is just something about Thomas where you look at him and you see the exact definition of a mentor.
In the past few years, while a member of the Sonics, Spurs, and Bucks, his leadership has been a key for each team during the season.
Thomas will immediately find an opportunity on the bench and in a suit once his playing days over.
I think that he and Jason Kidd might be the only guys on my list that can already put coach on his resume.
In his second stint with the Phoenix Suns, we have gotten to enjoy both his physical and his mental skills.
Whether it is a coaching change or roster changes, Nash still remains a constant in Phoenix and only seems to improve with each passing year.
His coaches, his players, and even the fans know that when the ball is in Nash’s hands, great things are going to happen.
I am not sure about his interest in coaching, but if he wanted to, I can’t imagine a team telling him no.
Jason Kidd is very similar to Steve Nash, a guy that already appears to be his team’s head coach on the court. When the ball is in Kidd’s hands, you expect great things and the right thing to happen.
He has also been fortunate enough to have played for some quality coaches in his time and with quality players who have helped his career both statistically and mentally.
Unlike Nash, I think that Kidd will definitely want to be a coach once his playing days are over.
He still shows the ability to reach the young players with his continued involvement with the U.S. Men’s National Basketball Team.
His team would probably have the best shooting form of any league, but in all seriousness, I think that Ray could make a fine coach in the league.
He has been spending the last three years with Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett restoring the Boston Celtics to being an elite team in the NBA.
His hard work and competitive nature has earned the respect of his coaches, his teammates, and his peers.
Lately, people have been questioning whether Allen is still able to compete. He responded with a solid playoff performance and showed just how tough he can be with his back against the wall.
Plus, I never want to stop seeing that beautiful shooting form. It truly is a work of art.
The “Black Mamba.”
Seriously, is there anything that Kobe can’t do? I highly doubt it.
I don’t think that were finished with seeing Bryant hoist NBA championships as a player, and I also think that he will be seeing him hoisting championship titles as a coach.
He loves challenges. What is a better challenge than trying to end up with more rings than the great “Zen Master,” Phil Jackson?
This guy just keeps on trucking. Hunter has 16 years of service under his belt and played in 13 games for the Chicago Bulls last year.
He has spent the last two years of his career in Chicago and despite his long tenure in the league; he hasn’t traveled a whole lot.
However, I think that is something that says a lot about Hunter. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1993 and stayed there until 2000.
He returned to Detroit in 2003 just time to help the Pistons capture the franchise’s third NBA Championship.
I can’t imagine a player not wanting to play for a guy with Hunter's track record. He is a proven winner and would bring with him a great understanding, respect, and devotion to his job.
He was a huge reason that the Detroit Pistons were able to win the championship in 2004 to beat the Los Angeles Lakers’ previous dynasty.
Since then, he has helped give the Denver Nuggets the floor general they needed in order to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
He has also gotten the chance to play under two Hall of Fame head coaches; Larry Brown while in Detroit, and George Karl in with the Denver Nuggets.
He gets respect from his teammates and his opponents wherever he goes. Billups would make a great NBA coach.
I know that Wallace is no longer an active player in the league, and so he could technically go on the retired players that should be coaches list, but he hasn’t been out of the league for too long, and I think that he can still be appropriately included on this list.
He might be a little crazy, but Wallace definitely gets and got respect while he was a player in the league.
He certainly won’t start out as a head coach, but I am confident he will be on an NBA bench soon as an assistant.
Wallace could offer great advice to the young ones and they would certainly listen to him when he shows that shiny championship ring.
These guys have been retired but not for too long and I think will be coaches soon.
Point Guard Eric Snow, Forward Bruce Bowen, and a personal favorite of mine, Power Forward Robert “Big Shot Bob” Horry.