With the Los Angeles Lakers hiring their former forward and successful Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton as their new head coach last week, the available head coaching positions in the NBA is down to just three.
The Houston Rockets, the New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings.
While they are all at different stages in their search, and both Houston and New York are said to not be “totally against” keeping their current interims, it’s likely given the performance of the talent on each roster that someone more experienced is brought in.
So who are the leading candidates for each team?
Houston Rockets: Jeff van Gundy
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston are going “big game hunting” in their search for a head coach, which is exactly the kind of tripe you’d expect from a team that lost 15 wins this season.
Nevertheless, an experienced and revered coach is exactly what the Rockets need to regain their competitiveness that saw them make the Western Conference Finals in 2015.
Apparently, that search starts with Jeff van Gundy, which seems to be where every team recently hunting for a new head man has started their search. Nevertheless, he is experienced, and actually last coached in the NBA in 2007 with…Houston.
His time as an ESPN analyst could also prove to be invaluable. With obvious results in Steve Kerr’s’ expert play-calling and leadership of the NBA champion Warriors, van Gundy now arguably knows the contemporary NBA better than at any time in his previous head coaching appointments.
New York Knicks: David Blatt
For Phil Jackson and his New York Knicks, it seems that the only two candidates are current interim Kurt Rambis and David Blatt.
Jackson has said previously that he only wants to hire someone he knows, which may sound shortsighted, but you can’t argue with the results he’s produced with the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers.
That would lead one to believe that, despite his lack of popularity, Kurt Rambis is going to be the man Jackson hires. However, his recent meetings with Blatt suggest that he is open to bypassing his own dogma.
All signs point to Blatt being the far better option. He took the Cleveland Cavaliers to The Finals just a season ago, and when LeBron James and friends decided to quit on him this year, he earned the unfortunate distinction of being the only coach in history to be fired with his team leading the conference.
Sacramento Kings: Henry Bibby
Lots of very uninspiring names have popped up when connected to the Sacramento job, such as Sam Mitchell and Vinny del Negro, with the recently fired Kevin McHale thought to be the frontrunner.
However, one of the more interesting candidates thought to be in the Kings’ considerations is Henry Bibby, former NBA point guard and head coach of USC, where he led them to the Elite Eight in 2001.
Apart from college, Bibby also has experience as a head coach in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks, as well as in the NBA as an assistant, with Philadelphia, Memphis and Detroit.
At 66, it is old to be getting your start as an NBA head coach, but with a man of 30 years experience coaching the game, as well as an one NBA championship as a player and three in college, his pedigree is strong, and it would be an interesting hire.