The Nets are eyeing Warriors interim coach Luke Walton, whom they’re likely to consider as they seek a long-term replacement for the fired Lionel Hollins, sources tell Sam Amico of Amico Hoops and Fox Sports Ohio. Other reports have linked the Nets to John Calipari, Monty Williams and, more loosely, Chris Mullin. Nets assistant Tony Brown is serving as Brooklyn’s interim coach in the wake of Sunday’s dismissal of Hollins and reassignment of GM Billy King.
Walton, the NBA’s Western Conference Coach of the Month for November, has the Warriors at 36-2 while Steve Kerr continues to recover from two back surgeries. That’s the best 38-game start in NBA history, and it’s all the more remarkable given Walton’s relative inexperience. He’s just three years removed from having played in 50 games for the Cavaliers in the 2012/13 season, and last season was his first as an NBA assistant. He spent one season as a player development coach for the D-League affiliate of the Lakers in between the end of his playing career and the time Kerr added him to his staff in the summer of 2014.
The 35-year-old has expressed an interest in formally becoming a head coach some day, though it’s “nothing I’m trying to rush into,” as he told Ben Golliver of SI.com in November. Coaching the Nets would seemingly pose a much stiffer challenge than the Warriors do, since Brooklyn is mired in a 10-28 season and without its first-round pick this year. Still, the Nets have $45MM in guaranteed salaries against a projected $89MM cap for this summer, and it would seem likely that the Nets wouldn’t hire Walton until the offseason, though that’s just my speculation.
Walton has a tie to the recently deposed Nets coach. His father, Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton, was a teammate of Hollins’ on the Trail Blazers.