Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Scouting the hot NBA assistant coaches

In this space yesterday, we highlighted one NBA writer’s case for why former Portland and Seattle coach Nate McMillan should be the next Wizards head coach.

Now that the Orlando Magic have been mercifully knocked out of the playoffs, we could be only days away before Stan Van Gundy becomes available.

Should Wizards management decide interim coach Randy Wittman will not return and a veteran leader is their desired target, McMillan and Van Gundy are clearly viable options.

However, should they pass on a retread hire yet still want a coach with NBA experience, the question becomes which assistants are ready for the main job.

Monitoring the news out of Charlotte might provide some insight.

Unlike the tight-lipped Wizards operation, reports have been dripping out about whom the Bobcats intend on interviewing.

The latest name to surface, Orlando assistant and former Georgetown Hoyas and New York Knicks star Patrick Ewing. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports, "Ewing is a close friend of Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, and several sources believe the Hall of Fame center will turn out to be a serious candidate for the opening."

Ewing is one of several names alreadly linked to the job.

Previously Wojnarowki reported the Bobcats would interview Warriors assistant Mike Malone, the NBA's highest-paid assistant.

Then there is the one assistant even casual fans are aware of, Brian Shaw. The former Lakers assistant under Phil Jackson, Shaw is currently on the bench with the Pacers, who await the winner of the Heat-Knicks series (so Miami) in the second round.

Sam Amick from Sports Illustrated reported the Bobcats asked for permission to interview Shaw, but "permission was neither granted nor denied for Shaw to speak with Charlotte because he prefers to focus on the playoffs at the moment."

McMillan is also on Charlotte's radar, though some have questioned whether an established coach would want to take over a total rebuild. Regardless, these initial reports indicate the Bobcats are intent on exploring the assistant route for their young and clearly in need of help squad.

As for the Wizards, obviously Ewing's experience as a scorer and defensive presence could benefit their young bigs, especially Kevin Seraphin. Malone's star is on the rise and he could have his pick of jobs. Considering the young roster and another top 5 pick on the way, this job could be attractive for someone looking to mold the team after his own vision and not simply coach the established veterans on hand.

Shaw clearly knows from winning. My one concern here would be whether he intends on bringing the famed triangle offense to Washington. On the surface John Wall's style and speed does not make for a great fit with the point guard-light scheme that's more east-west than north-south. Of course, the Pacers are not using the triangle, so we'll see.

Of course the Wizards have yet to make a decision - publically anyway -on Wittman, so, we'll see.

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