With today’s announcement that Scott Skiles would be taking over as the new coach of the Magic, there are now currently three coaching vacancies in the NBA: the Bulls, the Nuggets, and the Pelicans. Two of those vacancies may already be filled, with the Bulls rumored to be nearing an arrangement with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, and Denver reportedly leaning toward removing the interim tag from coach Melvin Hunt. This potentially leaves New Orleans as the lone vacancy still in play for a new head coach.
New Orleans has already interviewed a number of candidates, including Skiles, and more interviews could be on the horizon. I’ve listed below a number of candidates who have either already been interviewed, been mentioned in connection with the post, or who could emerge as candidates in the near future. Take a gander at the list and cast your vote for who you believe would be the best man to lead Anthony Davis and company next season and beyond…
- Vinny Del Negro: The former coach of the Bulls and the Clippers interviewed with the Pelicans earlier this week. He owns a career regular season record of 210-184, and a playoff record of 10-19. Del Negro last coached during the 2012/13 season with the Clippers, leading the team to a record of 56-26 before being fired and subsequently replaced by Doc Rivers.
- Jeff Van Gundy: The Pelicans interviewed Van Gundy on Tuesday, but the meeting was described as being very preliminary, with the two sides beginning to familiarize themselves with one another. One potential obstacle in bringing Van Gundy on board could be his reported desire for an arrangement similar to the one that brother Stan Van Gundy has with the Pistons in which he coaches and runs the front office. His career regular season coaching record is 430-318, and is 44-44 during the postseason.
- Alvin Gentry: The Warriors assistant interviewed with the franchise last week, and will reportedly get a second interview prior to the NBA Finals commencing. Gentry is a veteran of parts of 12 seasons as an NBA head coach with the Heat, Pistons, Clippers and Suns. His career regular season record is 335-370, and his postseason mark is 12-9. Gentry has reportedly drawn interest from the Nuggets and Magic, and was reportedly a front-runner for the Bulls spot, though it would appear that post is Hoiberg’s to lose.
- Tom Thibodeau: Prior to his ouster in Chicago, Thibodeau had been mentioned as a possibility for the vacancy, though the Pelicans were reportedly reluctant to give up draft pick compensation in return for Thibs. With Thibodeau free to join any team without compensation, rumors regarding a Thibodeau-Pelicans pairing could heat up. It’s unclear if the negative comments the Bulls’ front office made regarding their former coach’s lack of communication skills, and the well-documented difficulties between he and Chicago’s front office, will lower Thibodeau’s stock around the league. Thibs’ regular season record stands at 255-139, and his playoff mark is 23-28.
- Mark Jackson: Jackson’s name hasn’t been mentioned in conjunction with the Pelicans coaching position just yet, but the former Warriors coach could certainly become a candidate in the near future. While Jackson’s communication skills and ability to get along with other coaches and front office personnel came into question after his ouster in Golden State, his 121-109 regular season record should warrant him getting another NBA coaching opportunity at some point. It was reported that Jackson would meet with the approval of Davis, which certainly doesn’t hurt Jackson’s sales pitch for the job.
- Michael Malone: Malone has been out of work since being fired by the Kings in December. The coach was reportedly let go because the franchise wanted a faster paced offense, and Malone is known as being a hard-nosed defensive coach. His 39-67 coaching record isn’t all that impressive, but he wasn’t working with a playoff-ready roster in the brutal Western Conference. Malone also reportedly had a good working relationship with center DeMarcus Cousins, who hasn’t cultivated a reputation of being easy to coach, which speaks voumes about Malone’s ability to relate to players. He is certainly a coach who should warrant another shot at a head coaching position, and New Orleans could be a solid match for both sides.
- John Calipari: There were conflicting reports regarding Calipari’s potential interest in leaving Kentucky and returning to the NBA. While Calipari appears entrenched at Kentucky, the grind of recruiting, and desire to erase the sting of his 72-112 record while he was coaching the Nets, may nudge him back toward the pros. Plus, coaching Davis, a former player of his, wouldn’t be a bad way to start the next phase of Calipari’s coaching career.