Despite some speculation earlier this year that financial constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic would discourage NBA teams from making head coaching changes, that hasn’t been the case at all over the last few months. A total of nine clubs – nearly a third of the league – have parted ways with coaches so far, and four of those clubs have since hired replacements.
[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]
Those four head coaching hires are as follows:
- New York Knicks: Tom Thibodeau (replacing Mike Miller)
- Brooklyn Nets: Steve Nash (replacing Jacque Vaughn)
- Chicago Bulls: Billy Donovan (replacing Jim Boylen)
- Philadelphia 76ers: Doc Rivers (replacing Brett Brown)
Thibodeau’s Bulls squads made the playoffs every year and the Timberwolves went into win-now mode when he arrived, so he didn’t necessarily seem like an obvious fit for the rebuilding Knicks. But his demanding coaching style could help get the most of New York’s young players as the team looks to return to the postseason, and he certainly won’t be intimidated by a large market.
As for the Nets, the expectation was that they’d bring in a veteran coach with a championship résumé to lead a team with title aspirations. Instead, their choice is a first-time head coach only a few years removed from retiring as a player. Nash has a preexisting relationship with Durant and his impressive accomplishments as a player should help earn him the respect of the Nets’ other veterans, but there may be a learning curve as the former two-time MVP adjusts to his first coaching job.
Donovan parted ways with the Thunder in large part because he wasn’t enthused by the idea of a rebuilding or retooling period, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him join a Bulls team coming off consecutive 22-win seasons. But it’s not as if he doesn’t have experience developing young players, having spent two decades coaching the Florida Gators. And if the Bulls take forward strides in the next year or two, Donovan’s playoff coaching experience should come in handy before long.
Finally, the Sixers hired Rivers on Thursday, pivoting to the former Clippers coach after having previously narrowed their field to Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue. For a team trying to get over the hump in the playoffs, Rivers is an interesting choice — he wasn’t able to get over that hump in Los Angeles over the last seven years. And for Rivers, joining another team that features a superstar duo and some chemistry issues is a risk.
What do you think? Which of these four coaching hires do you like the best for these teams, given their respective situations, their goals, and the other options that were available to them?
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