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2016 NBA Coaching Carousel Recap

NBA coaches don’t have much in the way of job security, as is evidenced by the fact that a third of the league’s teams will have new head coaches entering the 2016/17 campaign. A total of 10 new head coaches have been hired since the end of the regular season, plus, Earl Watson had his interim tag removed by the Suns. That is a staggering amount of turnover in such a short time span, so much so, that we at Hoops Rumors thought it would be helpful to recap the coaching changes that have occurred since the 2015/16 season came to a close.

Brooklyn Nets

Prior to joining the Hawks as an assistant coach Atkinson was an assistant coach for four seasons with the Knicks (2008-2012), helping the team reach the postseason in 2011 and 2012. Atkinson also spent one season as the director of player development for the Rockets (2007-2008).


Houston Rockets

  • Hired: Mike D’Antoni (Has not been officially announced)
  • Replaced: J.B. Bickerstaff (Interim head coach)
  • Hire Date: Reported on May 26th, 2016.
  • Contract: His deal is reportedly for four years and $16MM.
  • Reported Candidates: The Rockets also met with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, Clippers assistant Sam Cassell and Rockets assistant Chris Finch. Former Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina are also part of the process, with Messina having interviewed with the team. Former interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and former Rockets guard Kenny Smith were also interviewed, but Bickerstaff withdrew from consideration and Smith was told he was no longer a candidate as the Rockets decided to focus on coaches with either head coaching experience or extensive experience as an assistant. Jeff Van Gundy was also mentioned as a candidate, but he and the team never formally spoke about the post.

The 65-year-old, now former Sixers lead assistant, has an overall record of 455-426 in the regular season as a head coach and was named as the 2004/05 Coach of the Year.


Indiana Pacers

  • Hired: Nate McMillan
  • Replaced: Frank Vogel
  • Hire Date: May 16th, 2016
  • Contract: It is a three year deal, but the dollar amount has yet to be announced.
  • Reported Candidates: Mike D’Antoni, Mark Jackson, Randy Wittman Jim Boylen, Brian Shaw and Mike Woodson.

This is the third NBA head coaching job for McMillan, who spent nearly five seasons as the coach in Seattle and six and a half with Portland. He has a 478-452 career record, along with five playoff appearances.


Los Angeles Lakers

  • Hired: Luke Walton
  • Replaced: Byron Scott
  • Hire Date: April 29th, 2016
  • Contract: The deal is reportedly for five years and $25MM.
  • Reported Candidates: Reports indicated the team had planned to interview David Blatt, had mutual interest with Jeff Van Gundy and saw Ettore Messina as an intriguing alternative if they didn’t land Walton. Roy Williams, John Calipari, Jay Wright, Tom Izzo, Jeff Hornacek, Doug Collins and Kevin Ollie were others the Lakers reportedly eyed.

The son of NBA legend Bill Walton, Luke spent 10 years in the NBA as a player, notching averages of 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 564 regular season games with the Lakers and Cavaliers. The younger Walton was a member of championship teams with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. After his playing career, Walton served as a player development coach for the D-League Los Angeles D-Fenders during the 2013/14 season before moving on to the Warriors for 2014/15. He was also an assistant coach at the University of Memphis during the 2011 lockout.


Memphis Grizzlies

  • Hired: David Fizdale
  • Replaced: Dave Joerger
  • Hire Date: May 26th, 2016 (deal has not been announced as being official)
  • Contract: The deal will be for four years, but the amount has not been reported yet.
  • Reported Candidates: Spurs assistants James Borrego and Ettore Messina, former Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing, Grizzlies assistant Jeff Bzdelik and Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts.

Fizdale, who turns 42 next month, has been a part of the Heat’s coaching staff since 2008, with the club earning two NBA Championship teams during his tenure. Fizdale previously served as an assistant coach for the Warriors (2003/04) and the Hawks (2004-2008).


Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Hired: Tom Thibodeau
  • Replaced: Sam Mitchell (Interim coach)
  • Hire Date: April 20th, 2016
  • Contract: The deal is for five years and $50MM.
  • Reported Candidates: Minnesota had also reportedly interviewed Jeff Van Gundy for the coach/executive post that Thibodeau landed, and Mark Jackson apparently interviewed as well.

Thibodeau had plenty of on-court success in his five seasons with the Bulls, who had given the longtime assistant his first NBA head coaching job. He went 255-139 in the regular season, winning the 2010 Coach of the Year award, though he was just 23-28 in the playoffs. Chicago parted ways with Thibodeau last May.


New York Knicks

  • Hired: Jeff Hornacek
  • Replaced: Kurt Rambis (Interim coach)
  • Hire Date: The hiring is not official, but it was reported on May 19th, 2016.
  • Contract: Negotiations are still ongoing.
  • Reported Candidates: Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt and recently fired Pacers coach Frank Vogel were believed to be the other finalists for the position.

Hornacek comes to New York with a 101-112 career coaching record that he compiled in two and a half seasons in Phoenix. His only other coaching experience came in three years as an assistant in Utah. He had also talked to the Rockets about their head coaching position and was considered to be a candidate for the openings in Memphis and Orlando.


Orlando Magic

  • Hired: Frank Vogel
  • Replaced: Scott Skiles
  • Hire Date: May 20th, 2016
  • Contract: Vogel will receive a four-year deal worth approximately $22MM
  • Reported Candidates: Orlando also interviewed former Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool and current Magic assistant Adrian Griffin.

The Pacers went 250-181 in parts of six seasons under Vogel, who inherited the head coaching job, his first in the NBA, when the Pacers parted ways with Jim O’Brien in January of 2011. That record doesn’t include his postseason mark of 31-30, with Indiana making back-to-back conference finals under Vogel in 2013 and 2014.


Phoenix Suns

  • Hired: Earl Watson
  • Replaced: Watson had his interim tag removed. He took over for Jeff Hornacek on February 1st, 2016.
  • Hire Date: April 19th, 2016
  • Contract: The deal is for three years, but the amount has not been announced yet.
  • Reported Candidates: The Suns were reportedly poised to pursue Mike D’Antoni even before they fired Jeff Hornacek, but a reunion with D’Antoni, who won Coach of the Year honors with the Suns in 2005, never materialized. The team eyed Steve Nash, but the former MVP wasn’t interested. Conflicting reports emerged about Phoenix’s interest in Villanova coach Jay Wright, while the team was apparently fond of Dan Majerle and Luke Walton.

The 36-year-old Watson was an active NBA player just two years ago for the 2013/14 Trail Blazers, and he connected with the players in Phoenix, garnering unanimous support. His ability to command respect in the locker room and develop the team’s young talent convinced the Suns to keep him in the head coaching position. The Suns went 9-24 under Watson this season.


Sacramento Kings

  • Hired: Dave Joerger
  • Replaced: George Karl
  • Hire Date: May 9th, 2016
  • Contract: The contract is for four years and is worth $16MM.
  • Reported Candidates: Sacramento conducted by far the most wide-ranging coaching search in the league this year with Kevin McHale, Frank VogelTom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks, Kenny Atkinson, Luke Walton, Sam Mitchell, Vinny Del Negro, Mike Woodson, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, Ettore Messina, James Borrego, Henry BibbyPatrick Ewing, Mark Jackson, Nate McMillan, Jeff Hornacek, Corliss Williamson, Jay Larranaga, Brian Shaw, Ime Udoka, Jeff Van Gundy and Monty Williams all drawing Sacramento’s eye at one point or another.

Joerger carries a 147-99 regular season record and a 9-13 postseason mark to Sacramento from his time with Memphis, but he’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate that sort of success for the Kings, who haven’t made the postseason since 2006.


Washington Wizards

  • Hired: Scott Brooks
  • Replaced: Randy Wittman
  • Hire Date: April 26th, 2016
  • Contract: The deal is for five years and $35MM.
  • Reported Candidates: Brooks was the only serious candidate to have been reported, though the team reportedly was also interested in Tom Thibodeau prior to him joining Minnesota.

In seven seasons as an NBA coach, all with Oklahoma City, Brooks has a regular season record of 338-207. His career postseason mark is 39-34.

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