There’s no telling what roster changes will be forthcoming for virtually every team – trades made, draft picks, free agents coming and going. Even so, given largely intact rosters, here are my picks for the available coaches that the current coach-less teams should hire.
BROOKLYN – The Nets desperately need an offensive system that fosters discipline and discourages the habitual foolish and reckless individual forays that made this season so disappointing. The one coach whose game plan is the most appropriate is Jerry Sloan.
Shortly after Sloan recently expressed his interest in returning to the bench, Deron Williams testified to his willingness to reunite with his ex-coach.
Of course, the familiarity of Williams with Sloan’s tightly choreographed offense is a plus. So is the idea of moving the decidedly non-athletic (and highly overrated) Brook Lopez up and down the lane to set and receive a variety of picks.
Picture, too, Gerald Wallace playing a similar role as Andrei Kirilenko played for Utah.
Sloan’s belligerent competitiveness would prove to be contagious and fire up a team that too often lacked an edge.
CHARLOTTE – Brian Shaw is the perfect match for the Bobcats. A young coach with immaculate credentials and the appropriate toughness, Shaw can begin to indoctrinate his young team into the joys and benefits of the triangle offense, thereby creating a proven foundation on which this franchise can build a viable future.
Michael Jordan should be receptive to this idea.
MILWAUKEE – As he proved with his successful stint in New York, Jeff Van Gundy’s guard/wing-oriented, isolation-heavy offense is a good fit for Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings (if he stays) and crew. Van Gundy’s self-deprecating humor will also endear him to the fans and take the bite out of the Milwaukee media.
The only caveat is that Van Gundy is a power freak and consummate politician.
PHOENIX – The Suns require a fresh face to implement a totally new era. Somebody like Michael Malone, who has the expertise, and the genetics to do the job. Instead of the Suns traditional up-tempo game, Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley would thrive in a grind-it-out offense. Markieff Morris and the “good” Michael Beasley could add a change-of-pace zip to the second unit.
By slowing the game down, Malone would prevent blowouts and keep the Suns' collective chops up. However, the Phoenix fans would have to be educated to accept and appreciate this less spectacular philosophy.
DETROIT – Stan Van Gundy has the right personality to move the sad-sack Pistons in the right direction. With little immediate pressure to win sooner rather than later, Van Gundy the Elder can afford to supplement his passionate game-time behavior by otherwise relating to his players with a calm, avuncular manner.
Since Jose Manuel Calderon thrives in a station-to-station offense, and Van Gundy devised several ways of getting the ball into Dwight Howard in Orlando, Greg Monroe would emerge as an impact player under VG’s guidance.
However, since Phil Jackson is advising the Pistons on their coaching hire, nobody should be surprised if Shaw gets the call.
PHILADELPHIA – Here’s still another young team that lacks discipline and doesn’t come to play every night. That’s why Nate McMillan’s no-nonsense approach would do wonders to quickly accelerate the on-court maturation of guys like Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Nick Young. And imagine how Nate-Mac would react to the habitual inconsistency and pussy-footing of Spencer Hawes.
Unlike the departed Doug Collins, McMillan isn’t afraid to make waves in his perpetual demand that his team always plays hard and smart.
However, the lesson that should be learned from McMillan’s tenure in Portland is that the front office must always have his back.