Cavs Coaching List includes Phil Jackson
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- No NBA team makes a coaching change without considering who will be the next coach. Some plans are more feasible than others, of course.
After firing Mike Brown after five seasons on Sunday, the Cavs have thrust themselves into a complex and uncertain coaching search. For one, they are one of six teams now looking for a head coach. Also without a firm handle on the future of free agent LeBron James, the team will certainly be limited in how it can pitch its job to the top-flight coaches they may look to attract.
Usually, teams want new coaches in place before the draft and the start of free agency. But with the circumstances, the team may not be able to make a decision until after James does. That might not be until July.
Nonetheless, the Cavs do have a list. Here's a look, according to sources, at who is on it.
The dream choices:
A 10-time world champion who made his mark by coaching in Chicago and Los Angeles. Until he retires for good Jackson would be at the top of any search. There are two reasons why he will be at the top of the Cavs' list.
One is that his contract with the Lakers is up at the end of the playoffs, making him the James of coaching free agents. The second is Jackson has said Lakers' owner Jerry Buss wants him to take a sizeable paycut from his $12.5 million annual salary. It has been reported that Buss wants Jackson to take as much as a $7 million cut.
Never afraid to spend money and already assured of some payroll relief compared to the past three seasons, there is a chance Cavs owner Dan Gilbert would be willing to outspend Buss for Jackson.
Five years ago, Jackson did accept an interview with Gilbert before going back to the Lakers.
Even so, this would be considered an extreme long shot. It is hard to see Jackson coaching in Cleveland. Actually, it is hard to see him coaching anywhere but L.A., especially because his longtime girlfriend is Lakers' executive Jeanie Buss.
This is the second time the Duke legend's name has come up with an NBA job this year. The other was in relation to the New Jersey Nets, speculation that Krzyzewski shot down by saying: "You would be flattered if someone would offer you a job, but I would not be interested."
The Cavs, however, have some factors going for them that may make Krzyzewksi at least listen. The central reason would be James, who now has a strong and respectful relationship with Krzyzewski after three summers of playing for him on Team USA. The two developed a bond as James matured as a team leader of the national team under Krzyzewski's encouragement.
Also, Cavs general manager Danny Ferry has a long-standing and deep relationship with his former college coach. Ferry went to three Final Fours under Krzyzewski and won National Player of the Year honors in 1989. Coming to Cleveland may seem like a crazy move for the man known as "Coach K," but knowing Ferry was there to work with him could sweeten the pot to a certain degree.
Ferry and Krzyzewksi also share the same agent.
In his recently released book, "The Gold Standard," Krzyzewksi revealed that he was very close to leaving Duke to join the Lakers as head coach in 2004 when Kobe Bryant made a personal pitch. Now at age 63 and coming off a national championship, it may be Krzyzewski's last chance to coach a superstar in the player's prime.
In the years since, Krzyzewksi has earned NBA respect because of his success as the head coach of Team USA, something he didn't have six years ago.
Despite all that, this also would have to be in the long shot category. Krzyzewski's reputation is beyond reproach and his place in history secure. Not to mention he's one of the highest-paid college coaches. He has shunned NBA opportunities for years.
Like Krzyzewski, the Michigan State coach has been a target of NBA teams numerous times in the past. Well-respected for his work ethic and ability to teach defense and rebounding, Izzo has established a reputation as a blue collar coach who routinely gets the most out of his teams. His persona would fit in well with the Cavs' desires to have a coach who establishes a system and a culture with his team.
Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, has a relationship with Izzo and is believed to like him.
Coming off another Final Four appearance, Izzo would have little motive to leave the Spartans. He's turned down chances to make more money in the past. He did, however, recruit James for awhile when James was in high school.
More realistic big names
One of James' close friends, Calipari has vehemently said he is staying at Kentucky. The problem is, few people in the NBA believe that he would not consider the right NBA job. Would the Cavs be that job if James' re-signs?
Despite what may be assumed, it is not believed that James would actively push for Calipari in Cleveland or anywhere else he may look to sign that has a coach opening. But simply because of the relationship plus the long list of players Calipari has sent to the league, he will likely be on the Cavs' list.
Calipari is known for a more open offensive style that takes advantage of the constant talented perimeter players he has. It is a drive-and-kick style that opens lanes and doesn't need a post player to be successful. That may make him attractive to some in the Cavs organization after the offense has struggled at times during Brown's tenure.
Other than Brown now, Scott has the most impressive playoff resume of any coach currently on the unemployment line. He turned around both the Nets and the Hornets by devising systems that incorporated the several stars that both teams had. He took the Nets to the Finals twice. His career playoff record of 33-24 is a testament.
In both stops, Scott was known for making a positive impact in his first 2-3 seasons on the bench but then losing the support of his team farther down the line. Both times he was fired, including last season in New Orleans, came after trouble with core players on his teams.
But he was very close with point guard Chris Paul, a golfing buddy as well as player, and Paul and James have a strong relationship.
Jeff Van Gundy
There are those who think Van Gundy is the most accomplished former coach without a current job. He's a defensive specialist who is also known for taking a hard line with players and challenging his stars. It would be, in many ways, a direct opposite of the player-inclusive style that Brown used.
However, sources indicate Van Gundy isn't itching to return to coaching yet. He has a lucrative contract with ESPN as an analyst. Yet the chance to coach James could be a draw.
If the Cavs consider a candidate without head coaching experience, figure Budenholzer to be at the top of that list. He's been with the San Antonio Spurs for the last 16 seasons and for the last three has been Gregg Popovich's lead assistant. He has a relationship with Ferry and other members of the Cavs organization.
The belief is that Budenholzer is the coach-in-waiting for when Popovich decides to give up coaching duties. The Spurs may not be willing to give him up.
Also on the list:
Former head coaches
Dwayne Casey: Current Dallas assistant, a candidate for other current openings including Atlanta.
Maurice Cheeks: Solid resume, currently assistant with Thunder.
Lawrence Frank: Hard-working young coach who did a quality job with Nets.
Mike Fratello: Long shot, former Cavs coach badly wants back in somewhere.
Avery Johnson: May not be best fit, up for other jobs at the moment.
Sam Mitchell: Former Coach of the Year with Raptors.
Eric Musselman: Interviewed for Cavs opening in 2005.
Terry Porter: Saw some success but seemed to get raw deal in both Milwaukee and Phoenix, last two stops.
Tyrone Corbin: Getting interviews around league after studying under Jerry Sloan in Utah.
Dean Demopoulos: Nate McMillan's lead assistant in Portland who has been on radar for several years.
Bill Laimbeer: Won titles as WNBA coach in Detroit, now on Timberwolves staff.
Dan Majerle: Former Cav now on Phoenix staff getting interest in league.
Mike Malone: Respected for his knowledge and work ethic, Cavs assistant could get interview.
Tom Thibodeau: Celtics defensive wiz is one of highest-paid and respected assistants in business. Has been getting interviews for last three years.
Elston Turner: Has been lead assistant with Rick Adelman in Sacramento and now Houston. Already interviewed for several opening this year.
Monty Williams: Young assistant with Blazers who is getting attention is on the short list in New Orleans.
theres no chance the cavs get phil jackson, coach K, Tom izzo, OR john callipari...
brian windorst for the epic fail again...
I'll love to see Cheeks,Corbin or Majerle get the job..I'll be surprised if Byron Scott goes there
Chris Paul has a really good relationship with Scott even after he has been fired. Paul says he calls him on numerous occasions.
I mentioned this about weeks ago and everybody bashed me for it but Phil wont coach for 5mil per yr(rumored Laker offer) and Lebron(perfect for the triangle) is enough for Phil to keep coaching