NBA Rumor: Wizards Coaching Search

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“Wes is one of the most highly-regarded assistant coaches in the NBA and clearly separated himself from the large and diverse group of candidates we considered,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “His strong record as an in-game tactician along with his attention to detail on both sides of the ball, combined with his reputation for player development and outstanding character during his 20+ years of coaching left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level.”

He will be the seventh African American head coach hired out of eight openings this offseason in the NBA. New Orleans is finalizing an agreement with Suns assistant Willie Green, and Portland (Chauncey Billups), Atlanta (Nate McMillan), Orlando (Jamahl Mosely), Boston (Ime Udoka) and Dallas (Jason Kidd) hired African American coaches. Four of them — including Unseld Jr., Mosely, Billups and Green — are assistants getting first-time opportunities as head coaches.

Lakers' Phil Handy among coaches interviewed for Wizards job

Turning 50 next month, Phil Handy figures to be a part of other memorable runs. While he’s made no indication that he is leaving Los Angeles, he does have ambitions to be a head coach someday. Two people with knowledge of the situation told SCNG that Handy interviewed for the Washington Wizards head coaching job last month. More such interviews are likely in the coming years for a coach who has been on a number of winning staffs.

Beal added the team getting a new coach was a part of the business of the NBA and that he trusts Sheppard’s vision moving forward. The Wizards are now three weeks into their search, which Sheppard indicated early on would take some time. The Wizards have honed in on a group of assistant coaches from around the NBA. That may explain why it has taken this long, as the Wizards are vetting people who do not have previous track records as head coaches to evaluate.

Wizards' coaching search focused on hiring first-time head coach

*One name that has emerged, Scott Morrison, has coached for the Canadian national team and served as the head coach of the Celtics’ G-League affiliate. Don’t be surprised if you hear more candidates with that type of background. As NBC Sports Washington reported, the Wizards are looking at candidates with international experience and that tracks with general manager Tommy Sheppard’s record as an executive. Experience in the international ranks or in the G-League could help separate some assistants from others, as they all aim to become NBA head coaches for the first time.

In the ‘former Wizards assistant coach with a recognizable name’ category, the sense is Wes Unseld Jr. has a better chance than Sam Cassell. Despite his popularity among fans, Cassell’s name isn’t coming up as much as some might expect. Cassell has a big proponent in Bradley Beal, and Beal of course has power within the organization, but he’s also not the type to use that power to create any sort of ultimatum. At least, he hasn’t shown that tendency in the past.

Things have been quiet on the Unseld front since the initial news the Wizards were interested. That shouldn’t be read into too much, as the Wizards have kept much of their search out of the public, as evidenced by the lack of names being reported comparative to other jobs. If they do move forward with Unseld, it would make a lot of sense. You could take his father’s legacy and name out of the equation and he would still be very qualified for the job.

Wizards coaching search to include women and international coaches

In his press conference on Wednesday to discuss the departure of Scott Brooks and the beginning of the search to replace him, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard used words like “diverse” and “inclusive” to describe the process of finding their next head coach. Though he spoke for nearly 40 minutes, he did not go into detail about what he meant. According to someone familiar with their plans, women and coaches from the international ranks are expected to be on the discussion list.
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