UPDATE: Added Willie Green to the list of reported interviewees.
Yesterday, I took a “break” of sorts. It was my birthday so I didn’t write publish or anything since Tuesday evening. And it just so happens that that’s when there’s more news around the Washington Wizards’ head coaching vacancy!
Better late than never. So if you’re wondering if the Wizards hired a new coach, that didn’t happen. If you’re wondering if they have finalists, that didn’t happen either. But they have interviewed four candidates whom we haven’t talked about previously as ones who interviewed with the team, including one who will excite the fanbase.
So, here we go.
Sam Cassell, Philadelphia 76ers
First, on Tuesday night, Fred Katz of The Athletic reported that the Wizards interviewed Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Sam Cassell. He was an assistant coach for the Wizards from 2009-14 on the late Flip Saunders’ and Randy Wittman’s staffs. And he worked with Bradley Beal in his last two seasons. He seems to be one of the coaches who will make most of the fanbase, or at least our commenters, very happy.
The Wizards interviewed 76ers assistant coach Sam Cassell for their open head coaching position today, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA. Cassell was an assistant for the Wizards from 2009-2014.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) June 30, 2021
Besides Cassell, Washington interviewed three more candidates.
Chris Fleming, Chicago Bulls
First, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reported on Wednesday that they interviewed Chris Fleming, an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls. He has worked with the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets as well during his time in the NBA.
Before then, Fleming was the head coach for German club QTS, now the Artland Dragons (2000-08) where he led the team from the second-tier German pro league to the Basketball Bundesliga (the domestic premier league) and a title. After, he went to Brose Basket from 2008-14 where the team won three Basketball Bundesliga championships and made the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague four times.
Fleming was also the head coach of the Germany men’s national basketball team from 2014-17, where they participated in EuroBasket twice in 2015 and 2017, placing seventh in the 2017 competition. Since Fleming was in Germany for a long time as a coach, and before as a player, he speaks good German. Let’s say that he fits the bill as one with extensive international experience, but is also a current NBA coach.
Ronald Nored, Charlotte Hornets
Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype reported that the Wizards interviewed Nored, who has been in Charlotte since 2018. He also spent time with the Celtics and Nets organizations, mostly with their G-League affiliates. Nored is best known as the starting point guard for the Butler Bulldogs when they made two NCAA championship game appearances in 2010 and 2012 when Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens was the head coach.
Sources: The Washington Wizards interviewed Hornets assistant Ronald Nored and Heat assistant Chris Quinn. Nored is also a potential candidate to join Rick Carlisle's staff with the Indiana Pacers. More on @hoopshype. https://t.co/KEhByxSCDv— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 30, 2021
Chris Quinn, Miami Heat
Quinn has been with the Heat as an assistant since 2014 where Miami made the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season. He was also a six-year NBA veteran as a player, mostly with Miami from 2006-09. Scotto reported that Quinn was among the interviewees per the tweet above.
Willie Green, Phoenix Suns
Green was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for three seasons in 2016-19 before moving to the Suns in his current capacity. He spent a 12 year career in the NBA from 2003-15.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report noted the interview here:
A new name surfacing in New Orleans’ head coaching search: Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green, who’s already interviewed and made strong impressions with both Washington and Orlando, per league sources. Another former player considered to be strong at relationship building.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 30, 2021
It has been long assumed that Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld, Jr. will be interviewed as well, but I haven’t seen a report indicating that interviewed. Katz could not confirm that either in a live Q&A on The Athletic. And of course, there could be more candidates than the ones mentioned so far.
Now that the Wizards have interviewed at least six candidates, including Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks) and Scott Morrison (Celtics), or seven including Unseld, the most common theme is that none of these coaches have an NBA head coach before, though some have been head coaches in different leagues. Hughes summarized this well in a column on Wednesday.
And in a column by Scotto, there may be some clarity as to where the Wizards are in this process. They’re still in the first round of interviews. However, they could move to a second-round over the Fourth of July weekend.
When do we expect the Wizards to finish their search? We’re not sure. But it appears that they are going to hire a first-time NBA team head coach, and they’re taking their time with this process.