Last week, there were as many as seven NBA head coaching jobs available: The Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks in no particular order. For a second, I was thinking that teams were more likely to do a thorough hiring process. After all, it’s not like a team would want to hire someone for millions of dollars after one or two two-hour interviews.
But, things are moving very quickly for the teams that have targets in mind.
This week, three of these vacancies have been filled, according to reports. The Celtics hired Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Ime Udoka last Wednesday. The Pacers hired Rick Carlisle, who was Dallas’ head coach for about $29 million over four years yesterday. And the Dallas Mavericks will hire Nico Harrison as their new head of basketball operations — with Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd being the head coach in what looks like a package deal.
On the one hand, it appears that the Wizards are moving too slowly again compared to their peers. But for a franchise that is likely looking at multiple assistant coaches as opposed to an established one, they still have almost everyone mentioned in the rumor mill for some team. Out of the three teams that filled their head coach vacancies, two of them (Carlisle and Kidd) have been head coaches before and are part of the “retread” category.
Who is tied with the Wizards’ job?
So far, only one candidate, Boston Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison, has definitely interviewed for the job. The only reason why we know he interviewed is because he said so on Canadian national television. Unlike most of the other teams that had a coaching vacancy, the Wizards haven’t been a “leaky” team.
That said, two other names seem to be mentioned more than others: Wes Unseld, Jr. and Sam Cassell. Both have been Wizards assistant coaches in the past, from 2005-11 and 2009-14 respectively, and their past connection with the Wizards may be partly why the team wants to take a closer look at them. All of that said, neither have been reported to have specifically interviewed for the Wizards job, at least as of now.
Could the Wizards still get some of the other “big names” to interview?
Since the Wizards haven’t been very “leaky,” and since only ONE candidate without NBA head coaching experience was hired, it’s likely they may talk to some other up-and-coming coaches who seem to be “hotter” candidates. But these names have been interviewing for multiple vacancies. So the Wizards will just have to wait their turn.
For example, Becky Hammon is a finalist for the Portland job and also interviewed with Orlando. Cassell and Unseld have also interviewed or were targeted for these same jobs as well though they aren’t finalists for the Portland job specifically.
Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups is another finalist for the Portland job whom the Wizards may want to target since he is a “hot name,” but it will take more time for him to actually interview due to the fact that the Clippers are in the Western Conference Finals.
Is there a need to panic?
We know the Wizards are interviewing coaches, though Morrison isn’t someone who will excite the fanbase like Cassell or Hammon would. For now, I wouldn’t worry, unless you are hoping for Hammon specifically to coach the team. I think Hammon is getting an NBA head coaching offer this offseason and I think the Blazers would be the team to give her that chance. That’s just me, however.
At this point, the Wizards are still able to go after almost any coaching candidate they want, unless they were specifically targeting Rick Carlisle, who secured his new position with the Pacers very quickly.