Stan Van Gundy and the 5 Best Basketball Coaches Available on the Market

Bradlee Ross@rossbeCorrespondent IIMay 30, 2012

Stan Van Gundy and the 5 Best Basketball Coaches Available on the Market

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    Stan Van Gundy is finally officially gone from the Orlando Magic, and he is clearly one of the best coaches available on the market. However, the potential coaching pool is very deep this year, with many viable candidates for many open jobs.

    Van Gundy was clearly a good coach in Orlando. His teams were consistently in the playoffs and were among the top four seeds in the East. Dwight Howard helps obviously, but recently, we have also seen just how much he can hurt. The fact that Van Gundy could make it work with Howard as long as he did is a testament to his hard work as well.

    But he's not the only good coach available. Here are the five-best head coaching candidates still on the market.

5. Mike D'Antoni

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    Despite what the rap on Mike D'Antoni may be after his very unsuccessful stint in New York, the guy can coach him some basketball.

    D'Antoni was hired by the Phoenix Suns as their head coach during the 2003-04 season. In the four full seasons that followed, the coach never won less than 54 games. He's clearly been able to win, but it was only at places that were committed toward building a team that fit his system. That wasn't the case in New York.

    It might be in Orlando, though. D'Antoni has been rumored to be a candidate there, and he could also be a good fit in Portland or Charlotte.

4. Nate McMillan

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    Another formerly successful coach who fell onto hard times, Nate McMillan's departure had an air of sadness to it. It felt like it needed to be done, even though the problems the team was having didn't seem to be his fault.

    McMillan is a coach who can take a team from the NBA dungeon to consistent playoff contention. In his first year with Portland, the Trail Blazers won just 21 games. However, they consistently improved each year until they finally made the playoffs in his fourth season. He was going for a fourth straight playoff berth this season until he was fired.

    McMillan generally has a good rap around the league, and there's no doubt he'll get a job for next season. The question is where. He's already been mentioned for the Charlotte Bobcats, and he also seems like a solid fit for Orlando.

3. Stan Van Gundy

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    While Stan Van Gundy does have his faults, it's hard to deny his merits as a coach. He may yell at his players a lot and even throw them under the bus, but he gets results.

    An assistant under Pat Riley for the Miami Heat in the early 2000s, Van Gundy took over as head coach during the 2003-04 season. Taking a team that had won just 25 games the year before, he coached the team and rookie Dwyane Wade to 42 wins and a playoff berth. He resigned after getting beaten in the conference finals the following year, and Riley took back over.

    With the Magic, Van Gundy won at least 52 games in each full season and won 37 in this recent lockout-shortened one. Clearly, the man knows how to win. According to the Sporting News, Van Gundy plans to take next season off. That will definitely be his choice, though.

2. Jerry Sloan

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    Jerry Sloan coached the Utah Jazz for 22 seasons, which is the longest tenure of any coach in NBA history. Plus, Sloan also holds the record for consecutive playoff appearances, with 15. In all, Sloan made the playoffs in 19 of his 22 seasons.

    After leaving Utah under odd circumstances, Sloan appears re-energized and ready to coach again. According to ESPN, the former Jazz coach is interested in the vacancies with both the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic. He'd be good in both places, especially since he is a coach that demands discipline and has the winning pedigree to earn players' respect.

1. Phil Jackson

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    Phil Jackson had to be on this list. Although the most recent news concerning Jackson is only that he is writing a memoir tentatively titled Eleven Rings (according to ESPN), he has become the Brett Favre of NBA coaching candidates.

    He could come back at any moment and win.

    Jackson was most notably mentioned in connection with the New York Knicks job, but it is clear now that Mike Woodson has that job to lose. It's a shame too. Phil Jackson would have had a chance to coach Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and company to a title that would have a been the 40th anniversary of the Knicks' last title, which Jackson helped win as a player.

    Wow, that's a mouthful to say, but it would have been awesome to see.

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