No NBA head coaches were replaced during the 2017 offseason, but that’s very unlikely to be the case for 2018. Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post and Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports suggest that as many as 10 or 11 teams could be on the lookout for a new head coach this offseason.
That list of teams includes three teams with interim head coaches – the Suns, Grizzlies, and Bucks – as well as lottery teams like the Knicks, Magic, Pistons, Hornets, and Hawks. Playoff contenders like the Nuggets and Clippers could also consider a change, particularly if they miss out on the postseason.
Not all of those teams will replace their current head coaches, but there should be a good deal of turnover in the NBA’s coaching ranks this spring. That could open up the door for assistant coaches or G League head coaches who haven’t yet had the opportunity to run their own NBA squads to interview for those jobs in the coming weeks.
With that in mind, Mannix spoke to over three dozen “high-ranking team executives,” getting each of those execs to name two assistants they view as viable head coaching candidates. Mannix’s only criteria? The executives polled couldn’t name assistants from their own staffs, and the assistants named couldn’t have any NBA or major-college head coaching experience already.
Here are the top vote-getters in Mannix’s poll, all of whom were mentioned by at least three different executives:
- Nick Nurse (Raptors assistant)
- David Vanterpool (Trail Blazers assistant)
- Igor Kokoskov (Jazz assistant)
- Stephen Silas (Hornets associate head coach)
- Adrian Griffin (Thunder assistant)
- Nate Tibbetts (Trail Blazers assistant)
- Chris Finch (Pelicans assistant)
- Jerry Stackhouse (Raptors 905 head coach)
- Ryan Saunders (Timberwolves assistant)
- Jay Larranaga (Celtics assistant)
Of course, not every team seeking a new head coach in the offseason will be eyeing candidates in this pool. Some clubs will want a candidate with previous head coaching experience, and there should be no shortage of those — Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, David Blatt, David Fizdale, and Monty Williams are among the veteran coaches who have been linked to various teams already. Other clubs may target a coach from the NCAA pool, such as Villanova’s Jay Wright.
Still, the NBA assistants listed above are viewed around the league as future head coaching candidates, and are the names to keep an eye on if your favorite team is considering a change on its bench.