Throughout the past few weeks, we have been gradually watching on the sidelines on the Washington Wizards their head coaching vacancy interview process. The process has somewhat stalled, in part because some of the candidates are assistant coaches on the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks who are in the NBA Finals.
Currently, there are two other teams with vacancies: the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans. Both teams are in rebuild situations. And the Pelicans specifically look like a team that may get sold and/or relocated in 2024 if such a situation happens again. Though the Wizards are publicly saying that they’re trying to compete for a championship or at least do better than the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, they are also a Russell Westbrook trade to the Los Angeles Lakers away from “having to start all over again.”
Alright, I’ll cut to the chase. One of the Wizards’ rumored second round head coach candidates, Jamahl Mosley of the Dallas Mavericks, is the front runner for the Orlando Magic’s head coaching vacancy, according to Adrian Wojnarowski or ESPN. In a subsequent tweet, Wojnarowski said that Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld, Jr. remains a “leading candidate,” though he didn’t say that Unseld is the clear frontrunner.
Another finalist for the Orlando job -- Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr., -- continues to be a leading candidate for the Washington Wizards head coaching opening, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2021
I feel like a broken record here, but it’s important for us not to jump on the “nepotism” bandwagon regarding Unseld’s candidacy, at least not yet. That’s only because these reports are only coming from the candidates themselves (as we saw with Scott Morrison of the Celtics) or their camps, which presumably means their agents. And just because Unseld is a “leading candidate” doesn’t mean that he is the “frontrunner.”
I would be lying to you all if I said that I wasn’t skeptical of Unseld being hired in Washington. That is simply because a significant proportion of fans will hope that he is the “GOAT” head coach like his father was the Wizards’ GOAT as a player back from an era before I was born.
It’s like Georgetown hiring Patrick Ewing to coach the men’s basketball team after John Thompson III was fired in 2017, or Chris Mullins at St. John’s, Sidney Lowe at NC State, Tennessee making sure every women’s basketball head coach actually played for the late Pat Summitt, etc. That said, I think Ewing is actually on the cusp of turning things around after their Big East Tournament run last March, though I digress. Still, I think you get the picture of what I mean with nepotism though my analogies were with college basketball. I want the Wizards to really, REALLY think about it before hiring Unseld.
Besides Unseld and Mosley, the Wizards’ other second round coaching candidates include Milwaukee Bucks assistant coaches Darvin Ham and Charles Lee. Phoenix Suns assistant coach Kevin Young got a first round interview as well and it wouldn’t shock me if he moved to the second round. And again, I will go out of my way to stress this point: there are likely other second round candidates. You never know who is taking the Wizards’ job, though if I went with reports alone, it seems that Unseld is their man, for EXACTLY THE WRONG REASONS!
(Okay, sorry, I couldn’t help my bias there.)
Either way, the process is what it is, whether I like the candidates/hires or not. But again, just because someone is named a candidate per a report doesn’t mean that there aren’t other candidates being considered in the same round. The Wizards have historically been quite tight-lipped about these kinds of things versus other teams, so keep that in mind and a level head throughout all of this.
We will certainly have another article once the Wizards’ new head coach is decided. Let us know your thoughts on Mosley likely going to the Magic and where the Wizards’ search appears to be in the comments below.