2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

During a typical NBA league year, there’s a pretty clear-cut period in the spring when the league’s various head coaching searches take place. A team parting ways with a coach generally makes that decision when the team’s season ends, then hires a replacement sometime before the draft and free agency.

That coaching-search window in 2020 isn’t quite so obvious. With the season paused for four-and-a-half months, and only 22 of 30 teams participating in the summer restart, clubs around the league are on different schedules and the ones seeking new head coaches won’t all be doing so at the same time.

For instance, a team like the Knicks, which won’t be part of the return to play, launched its head coaching search in June. But it may still be months before certain playoff teams consider changes.

Keeping that in mind, we’re creating a space to track this offseason’s head coaching searches, whether they take place in June, October, or sometime in between. In the space below, we’ll provide frequent updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title, as well as noting other situations worth keeping an eye on.

You’ll be able to access this page anytime under the “Hoops Rumors Features” menu on the right sidebar on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu.

Updated 9-23-20 (10:48pm CT)

Active Searches:

Houston Rockets

  • Previous coach:
    • Mike D’Antoni (story)
  • Rumored candidates or targets:
    • Former Knicks/Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy (story)
    • Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue (story)
    • Clippers assistant Sam Cassell (story)
    • Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson (story)
    • Pelicans assistant Chris Finch (story)

D’Antoni and the Rockets were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension last offseason, resulting in him entering the final year of his current deal without any assurances beyond 2019/20. After the team was eliminated in the second round of the postseason, D’Antoni announced that he wouldn’t be returning to Houston, leaving the Rockets to seek a new head coach.

Indiana Pacers

  • Previous coach:
  • Rumored candidates or targets:
    • Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni (story)
    • Former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger (story)
    • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool (story)
    • Nets associate head coach Jacque Vaughn (story)
    • Trail Blazers associate head coach Nate Tibbetts (story)
    • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon (story)
    • Spurs assistant Will Hardy (story)
    • Heat assistant Dan Craig (story)
    • Heat assistant Chris Quinn (story)
    • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley (story)
    • Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas (story)
    • Bucks assistant Darvin Ham (story)
    • Bucks assistant Charles Lee (story)
    • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka (story)
    • Magic assistant Pat Delany (story)
    • Former NBA guard Chauncey Billups (story)
    • Warriors assistant Mike Brown (story)
    • Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren (story)

While there were some whispers about McMillan’s job security early in August, it seemed as if the Pacers had put those rumors to rest by working out a one-year contract extension with their head coach a few days later. However, after being swept out of the first round by the Heat, Indiana changed course, announcing that McMillan had been relieved of his duties.

Mike D’Antoni was the first candidate identified as a potential replacement, but many, many more have been reported since then. The Pacers, who have talked about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to connect with younger players, have put together a long list of candidates and will take their time making a decision.

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Previous coach:
  • Rumored candidates or targets:
    • Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue (story)
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)
    • Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni (story)
    • Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson (story)
    • Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn (story)

An underwhelming finish to the 2019/20 season helped seal Gentry’s fate. He led the Pelicans to the postseason just once in five seasons and only had a single year remaining on his contract when he was dismissed on August 15.

The Pelicans will be in the market for a replacement for Gentry and will look to select a candidate whom they trust to coach and develop franchise cornerstone Zion Williamson for the next five or 10 years.

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Previous coach:
  • Rumored candidates or targets:
    • None so far

The Thunder’s split with Donovan was, by all accounts, an amicable one. Donovan’s contract with the club expired in 2020 and with a potential rebuild looming, the two sides decided they didn’t ultimately see eye-to-eye on what the next few years would look like in Oklahoma City.

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Previous coach:
  • Rumored candidates or targets:
    • Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue (story)
    • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka (story)
    • Former Grizzlies/Kings coach Dave Joerger (story)
    • Bucks assistant Darvin Ham (story)
    • Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown (story)
    • Former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni (story)

Brown was let go by the Sixers approximately 24 hours after Philadelphia’s quick and disappointing playoff exit. He spent seven years with the franchise, but his time as head coach appeared to have run its course.

The 76ers are in the market for a coach who can challenge and command the respect of their star players, and Lue may be atop their wish list. However, the team is expected to conduct an expansive search rather than zeroing in on one candidate.


Completed Searches:

Brooklyn Nets

  • New coach:
  • Previous coach:
    • Jacque Vaughn (interim)
  • Also reportedly considered:
    • Vaughn (story)
    • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (story)
    • Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue (story)
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)
    • Former Knicks/Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy (story)
    • Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson (story)
    • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka (story)

Vaughn, who took over for Kenny Atkinson in August, was considered for the job on a permanent basis, but there was a belief that the Nets were seeking a more accomplished veteran coach to lead a roster headed by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

In Nash, Brooklyn didn’t exactly get a head coach with a lengthy résumé — the former two-time MVP has no previous coaching experience, even as an assistant. However, he has a good relationship with Durant after spending time as a Warriors consultant, and figures to command the respect of the Nets’ stars and veterans based on his success as a player.

Nash reportedly signed a four-year contract.

Chicago Bulls

  • New coach:
  • Previous coach:
  • Also reportedly considered:
    • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka (story)
    • Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson (story)
    • Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. (story)
    • Bucks assistant Darvin Ham (story)
    • Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas (story)
    • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley (story)
    • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool (story)
    • Heat assistant Dan Craig (story)
    • Bulls assistant Chris Fleming (story)
    • Bulls assistant Roy Rogers (story)
    • Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin (story)

It always seemed unlikely that new Bulls executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley would keep Boylen in his current role, given his underwhelming results over the last two seasons and the fact that most front offices prefer to bring in their own head coach. They eventually relieved Boylen of his duties on August 14, hiring Donovan five-and-a-half weeks later.

While Chicago considered a wide range of candidates, including many current assistant coaches, the front office reportedly “aggressively pursued” Donovan, believing he was the best candidate on the market and the right fit to lead the Bulls’ promising young roster.

New York Knicks

  • New coach:
  • Previous coach:
    • Mike Miller (interim)
  • Also interviewed:

    • Miller (story)
    • Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson (story)
    • Former Knicks coach Mike Woodson (story)
    • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka (story)
    • Magic assistant Pat Delany (story)
    • Bulls assistant Chris Fleming (story)
    • Spurs assistant Will Hardy (story)
    • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley (story)
    • Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown (story)
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)

Thibodeau was long cited as the presumed frontrunner in the Knicks’ head coaching search, but the team conducted a wide-ranging search rather than simply handing him the job. Atkinson generated some buzz during the process, with Miller and Kidd receiving serious consideration as well. In the end, however, the Knicks went with Thibodeau, agreeing to a five-year contract to make him their new head coach.

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23 thoughts on “2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

  1. bigeasye

    Obviously guys want head coaching gigs, but I’m curious if people with options would want to coach Kyrie.

  2. KnickerbockerAl

    DAntoni is perfect for Nets. Mark n Jason will also get strong look I feel.
    Forget all those names with Knicks. Wonder why Mark is not on there. It’s looking like Thibs to me. Too much talk about him. Mark, Thibs, Atkinson is who I like. If you really think about it. Thibs has more value. Got the experience. Knows NYK n NYC. He has something to prove, so is motivated. I think he’s more appealing to future FA. And defense is his thing. And that’s where this team needs most help.

    • mrshyguy99

      the problem is that alot can agree to his rotations ar eterrible . plus there a reason he coach 2 teams this be his 3rd. who wants to play for a guy who plays 7-9 players a game. what the point of a 15 man roster . do players like to play big mins and most likely feel burn out by playoffs if they even make it.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Is Kyrie up to being the PG in D’Antoni’s system? I doubt he can handle it.

      • jump shot

        I would imagine if Jeremy Lin can do it, Kyrie’d be above adequate.
        But Kyrie and Thibs’ 3.5 hour practices will be reality show worthy!

    • I don’t think Thibs would be a free agent draw, he’s likely the opposite. He’s not an NBA Coach for the year 2020, he would have been much better in the early ‘90’s when you rode your top players 40 minutes a night and they wanted to play 82 games. Guys will not want to burn out early after spending a couple of years with Tom.

      If they’re going to recycle a head coach, Kenny A makes the most sense to where they are in their development currently. If they try to speed up their time to playoff contention through trades or the limited quality FA’s on the market, then Ty Lue or Mike Brown May make sense.

      Nostalgically, I would love JVG to make a return. Obviously a different NBA where some of those Knicks like Oak would not have the impact that he did then, but Balky hooked to Mitchell’s ankle being dragged around the court would be amazing.

      If they’re going to go Assistant Coach route, I would love to see what Hammond could do. She did coach the Spurs Summer League team to a title a couple of years back, and being a basketball HOF’er lend credit to her knowledge of the game. Griffin from the Raps might be a good move too, he’s spent time with one of the best young coaches in the league the last couple of years, and has been part of a championship organization.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        I’m thinking Becky Hammon is waiting for Pops to retire and replace him.

      • Appalachian_Outlaw

        Spot on. Thibs coaching style is going to do a lot more to hinder a team than help it. It always amazes me that his name always pops up in these searches. I can’t help but think- why?

  3. mrshyguy99

    mike d is a decent coach. but when it comes to playoff basketball that his down fall. he doesnt take teams far and only make it far once.

  4. Sillivan

    Suns were supposed to win 2 championships
    Suns win 55 games in the regular season but won only 1 playoffs game. Mike D was fired

  5. Natergater77

    So the Knicks want to bring back Woodson
    The Nets Kidd
    And the Rockets Van Gundy?

    Are the Lakers and Clippers gonna go back to Del Harris and Mike Dunlevy? Phil Jackson and the Bulls reunite, while the Pistons bring back Larry Brown?

  6. Luke, great breakdown and excellent article. Everything clickable, all the references in one place. This is fantastic. Thank you !!

  7. KnickerbockerAl

    Knicks have new management. So there won’t be recycling coaches here. The whole point of bringing Rose in. Was for new direction. Handle the youth and bring FA players. This not about top FA. It’s about those that can play with our youth. It’s finding FA in their age range. It’s why they talk about Woods. He’s only 24. This is about building a Team. Get Giannis, and any other top FA out your head. Mitch, RJ, Frank are here to stay. We have 3 picks this yr. They sign Woods that’s 6-7 players to build around. Knox, DSJ, Randle and future picks. Can all be used to get a player or two here. But you need a coach (Thibs) who build their value so they can be moved. FA will come here first cause there is a future, wining. Cause there is talent. Cause they can win in MSG. Out of all the coaches out there a Thibs will get that done. I prefer Atkinson or Mark. I wouldn’t want any one else. I see Rose taking Thibs. He fills most boxes. Knicks young guys have to step up. It’s time to see who stays and who goes. Mitch can play 30 mins a gm. Our D improves by 40% better. Thibs is a D coach so that means even more. Thibs will make this team a better team. He will get them to play so we move who needs to get moved. That’s what I see in Rose. Rose sees that in Thibs. It’s why I think he’s the choice. Thibs has plenty respect around NBA. He did well as assistant in NY. He built Celts D when they won for Doc. He doesn’t want and he ain’t going out as fired by Minny. Like I said, I’m not a big fan. But I know who he is as coach. I know Rose knows who he is. It’s why I think he will be our next coach.

    • Sillivan

      Good thought

      Just need to add

      Sign 2 of top 5 free agents then trade them for future first at trade deadline

    • Sillivan

      Let’s say you sign Gallo one year 39 million

      The trade trade him for Horford and 3 Firsts

  8. madjob33

    Brett Brown will be added to the list which will scramble where the Star coaches are interested in going

    • x%sure

      That’s were Thibs might wind up, somehow getting some morale going. I think they have now a “players coach”, so the next should go in the opposite direction.

      Philly should be better with Robinson in place of Richardson, but will Embiid and Milton be at the same level?

  9. dust44

    Not sure y Tibs and Van Gundy r even getting looks at this point. Knicks and Bulls need a guy like Atchinson. I feel like Hardy and Udoke need shots at a head spot. Nurse is a great example of just hiring the smart guy who can coach instead of going after the “big names”.

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