For NBA players, free agency doesn’t start until July 1st. But for coaches, it began weeks ago.
The coaching carousel kept spinning this week, with Indiana’s Frank Vogel and Memphis’ Dave Joerger both getting tossed off. In addition, the Rockets will have to continue their coaching search without interim mentor J.B. Bickerstaff, who has withdrawn his name from consideration. Five teams are currently in the market for new coaches, and there are ups and downs to all of them:
- Pacers — Whoever takes over in Indiana will inherit a playoff team with one of the league’s best players in Paul George and a budding young star in Myles Turner. But the new coach will be under pressure to keep winning while scoring more points to please executive Larry Bird, who wants faster-paced Pacers than Vogel could provide.
- Grizzlies — There’s a culture of success in Memphis, created over the years by the Grit ‘n Grind core of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Their veteran leadership and early-season success helped the Grizzlies reach the playoffs in a nightmarish year that saw 28 players pass through the roster. The next coach will be expected to keep winning with a rapidly aging team and possibly without Conley, who is easily the top point guard on the free agent market.
- Rockets — Maybe this season was nothing to brag about, but a year ago Houston was on its way to a conference finals showdown with the Warriors. The Rockets have been accused of quitting on coach Kevin McHale and barely got started under Bickerstaff, but an intriguing amount of talent still remains, even if Dwight Howard finds a new home in free agency.
- Knicks — Bright lights, big city, an established star in Carmelo Anthony and a popular rookie in Kristaps Porzingis. Only trianglers need apply, at least in the eyes of team president Phil Jackson. Jackson is so devoted to the offense that won him 11 rings that he has become a strong proponent of keeping interim coach Kurt Rambis. Or if not him, then someone else who learned the triangle system with the Lakers.
- Kings — George Karl survived with his health, a little bit of hair and a few scraps of dignity, but he was clearly shaken by the year and a half he spent in Sacramento. Karl was locked in a constant feud with DeMarcus Cousins and says management always sided with the player. Beyond that, there were numerous levels of front-office red tape and an expectation to win right away. Despite Karl’s warnings, Sacramento is willing to spend to improve and could be an attractive job for someone with a firm hand and the support of management.
That brings us to tonight’s question: If you were an NBA coach, which of the five openings would you consider most attractive? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.