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NBA AM: Players Who Should Coach

Which current or recently-retired NBA players have the potential to be great coaches?

Joel Brigham



Through the first 10 games of the season, just about anybody with a vote would have no real choice but to make Luke Walton the Coach of the Year. After all, he took a young L.A. Lakers squad almost nobody believed in and transformed them into the team with the third-most wins in the Western Conference.

Factor in his role in Golden State’s record-breaking regular season last year, and it’s pretty clear that this is a man who was born to work a sideline. He’s good at coaching, obviously, but considering how he grew up and where he worked as an NBA player, that probably shouldn’t come as too big a surprise.

Former players become coaches all the time. Some, like Walton and Steve Kerr, are very good at it. Others, like Derek Fisher and Vinny Del Negro, didn’t quite find their stride (as of yet) when in charge.

With all that said, here’s a look at current and recently-retired NBA players who could very well make for excellent head coaches someday. They might not meet Walton’s early success, but any of these guys could be great at the job if given the opportunity:

Jason Terry – Currently with the Milwaukee Bucks, 17-year NBA veteran Jason Terry has spent his last couple years transitioning away from playing big minutes and toward more of a mentor and coaching role. Last season, for example, when the Houston Rockets brought Michael Beasley over from China, Terry immediately took it upon himself to work with Beasley and get him acclimated to the team. Beasley certainly played well upon his NBA return, but getting up to speed that quickly had at least something to do with Terry’s influence and efforts.

The guy already has such command of the game itself, but his intelligence and personable nature make him a very promising candidate as a coach once he does retire. In fact, the University of Alabama at Birmingham actually interviewed Terry for a head coaching opening this past spring, but he ultimately found himself back on an NBA roster for at least one more year. When he’s done playing though, you can bet he’ll end up on some sideline in a suit and tie.

Chris Paul – In the most recent GM survey, Paul was named the player most likely to be an NBA head coach someday, with 27.6 percent of current general managers naming him the frontrunner for that career path. Of course, back in February, Paul told Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post that he has no desire to do such a thing, but you never really know until the opportunity is staring you in the face:

Despite this declaration, Paul would likely do a great job if he gave coaching a chance. There have been several seasons, particularly earlier in his career, in which he essentially was the player/coach, and based on his sky-high basketball IQ, that was a role in which he excelled. He has also been known to take younger players under his wing and help them develop, with Eric Bledsoe being an example. Still, Paul doesn’t seem to be even considering those prospects, and he’ll have made enough money over the course of his career to just retire and then ride all the banana boats he wants.

Jared Dudley – Right behind Paul in this year’s GM survey was Dudley, and it seems he actually has interest in the job. After only 10.7 percent of GMs voted for him, Dudley jokingly tweeted to Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy that he felt he deserved more votes.

He’s someone who deeply understands his fellow human beings, which means in terms of a coaching style he’d probably be what we’d consider to be a “player’s coach.” He’s diplomatic, thoughtful and unafraid to lead, all of which make great qualities for someone asked to head up an NBA roster. It also helps that he’s no slouch in terms of the X’s and O’s of basketball, and his experience as something of an NBA journeyman has given him plenty of experience with a variety of players and organizations. His temperament and intelligence make him an ideal candidate for a coaching job sometime after he retires.

Chauncey Billups – Anybody who’s watched Billups do TV work since his retirement knows he’s a brilliant NBA mind that absolutely has an elite grasp on the way this game works, but that’s not necessarily surprising considering how many elite NBA point guards before him also have had genius-level understandings of how basketball is best played.

He was atop that GM survey as the league’s top future head coach for years, and in just the last couple of seasons he already has been given serious consideration for jobs in Minnesota and Orlando. Reportedly, the Wolves job could have been his in 2014-15 after Flip Saunders’ passing, but Billups turned it down for fear of starting his coaching career with the worst team in the league. Orlando pushed hard to get Billups as Frank Vogel’s lead assistant just this past offseason and even were prepared to make him one of the best-paid assistants in basketball, but he didn’t want to give up his cushy analyst job just yet.

Two years ago, Billups told Kennedy that he’d prefer a front office gig to a head coaching one: “If I stayed in the game, I always felt like my best role would be in a front office.” But he didn’t completely rule out the possibility of coaching, so we shall see. Whether it’s the front office or the sidelines, Billups looks destined to find himself involved with an NBA team in the near future. It’s really more a question of “when” than “if.”

Ray Allen – Back in the summer of 2014, Allen talked about the potential for coaching following his retirement from playing, and while Allen shrugged off any immediate opportunities in favor of spending time with his four young children, he did leave the door open for coaching at some point down the road, perhaps when his kids were older.

“I like trying to get people to realize their full potential and getting people to be better and motivating people to be better than what they were,” Allen told Kennedy back in 2014. “I’m a coach already.”

Allen only recently officially retired, but once he’s gotten the most out of parenthood and his children are more capable of taking care of themselves, he may consider a trip to the sidelines, where his combination of intelligence, court smarts, experience and tact certainly would make him an excellent NBA head coach.

Elton Brand – There is a very strong chance that the recently-retired Brand will end up either coaching in some fashion or working in a front office. In fact, Philadelphia already offered Brand a lower-level front office position upon his retirement, according to Keith Pompey of, but he turned it down without ruling it out for later.

In reality, the last few years of Brand’s career, he was brought in more to mentor young players than to actually play. Teams have loved his leadership qualities as well as his ability to keep the younger guys motivated and in check, and those are things that obviously could translate well to a head coaching position at some point. He already has a few years of unofficial experience.

Mike Dunleavy, Jr. – It’s no secret that the original Mike Dunleavy had plenty of success on the sidelines in his own career, but putting his successful basketball son, former No. 3 overall draft pick Mike Dunleavy, Jr., through a childhood that included plenty of time spent with basketball legends was the first step in grooming him for his own career as a coach someday.

When Dunleavy, Jr. was 10 years old, his father was the coach of the L.A. Lakers, which put him around guys like Magic Johnson and James Worthy. That, combined with a tough home basketball regimen that literally never saw the father go easy on the son, helped prepare him for playing basketball at a high level. Dunleavy, Jr. also played under Coach K at Duke, who taught him even more about that aspect of the game. Now he’s one of the most cerebral, professional players in the entire league. The path to him coaching is an easy one to envision, if only because being around it his entire life very obviously has rubbed off on him as an adult.

Metta World Peace – Yes, seriously. Had World Peace not made the Lakers roster this year, Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of reported that the organization was giving serious consideration to keeping him around in a different role:

Don’t laugh, because he’s apparently pretty serious about it. Rick Carlisle, easily one of the game’s longest-tenured and most respected head coaches, has emerged as something of a mentor to World Peace, answering texts from the player with fairly regular questions about the profession.

“He is a great guy who has absolute love and passion for the game,” Carlise said earlier this season. “I think he’s got a chance to be a good coach.”

There isn’t much World Peace hasn’t seen over the course of his career, and that knowledge and experience reportedly is why the Lakers were interested in hiring him. World Peace told TMZ earlier this season, “I think these coaches are having a great time, doing something they love to do, and I want to be in that same position someday.”

And maybe he will. Despite some questionable actions earlier his career, maybe he will.


Are there other players you think might make a great head coach someday? If so, hit up the comments section and put in your two cents. If Metta World Peace is an option, there should be no shortage of suggestions!


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NBA Daily: Kaiser Gates Determined To Silence His Doubters

He may not be listed on some draft boards or seen as an impact player by certain individuals, but Kaiser Gates knows what he’s made of.

Spencer Davies



If you’re looking to further your career at the next level but coming out of college as a prospect on the fringe, you’d better be willing to work twice as hard to draw attention from the basketball world.

Attending the Preparation Pro Day in Miami with team representatives and scouts watching, Kaiser Gates wanted to show everybody who was there that the chip on his shoulder would drive him to silence his doubters.

“I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Gates said in Miami. “I feel like a lot of the guys in the draft this year, I’m just as good if not better than (them), so I gotta show that.”

After three years at Xavier University, the 21-year-old decided it was time to move on from the program and passed on his senior year to enter the NBA Draft. The news came as a surprise to many, considering he might’ve gotten the opportunity to earn an even more expanded role next season with the departure of Musketeer favorites Trevor Bluiett and J.P. Macura.

The numbers across the board weren’t exactly eye-catching. Primarily a wing, Gates knocked down 37.8 percent of his threes as a junior. He averaged 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in almost 24 minutes per game.

Looking at conference play in the Big East, those figures are even less eye-catching. Gates shot less than 30 percent from deep and really struggled to contribute offensively for Xavier against tougher opponents.

There was an incredible discrepancy in shot selection over his three-year collegiate career. Astoundingly enough, 300 of his 409 career attempts came outside of the arc. The other 109 tries were twos, which he converted at a 54.1 percent rate.

It’s hard to ignore statistical evidence when it comes to evaluating players, but misuse and fit could have been more prominent factors in this case. It’s something that happens quite a bit at school programs with prospects, and Gates believes that he could be added to that list of mishandled talent.

“I don’t think I’m inconsistent at all,” Gates said. “At Xavier, I know my stats showed that I was inconsistent. Playing at that school it was a great experience—great guys, great coaches.

“Just kinda like my situation and the way I was playing at that school didn’t really allow me to showcase my full talents, and with that being said, it’s kinda hard to stay consistent not doing something I’m used to doing.”

Furthering the point, it’s not easy to be judged off that information, which some use as the only indication of what you’ll bring to the pros. Gates plans on using that as motivation whenever he meets with different teams.

“I would come in and people would just assume like, ‘Oh he could shoot a little bit, play defense, a little athletic.’ But I know on the flip side, I know what I can really do and like, my full potential.

“So when I know that and see what teams already think, already have in their head, just now it’s up to me to prove to them what I can do and show them what I can do.”

So what does that exactly entail?

“My first few years or so, I’ll probably be more of a three-and-D guy—stretch the floor, play defense make hustle plays, rebound the ball, things like that,” Gates said. “But as I’mma grow, (I’ll) look to expand on my game. Maybe work out the pick-and-roll a little bit and expand from there.”

Thus far, the 6-foot-8, 228-pounder has reportedly worked out for multiple organizations, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. He is enjoying the draft process and his growth as a player since it started.

He may not be listed on some draft boards or seen as an impact player by certain individuals, but Gates knows what he’s made of. And if he can attract the right set of eyes, he’ll be in good shape.

“You could get 30 workouts and that one team could fall in love with you,” Gates said.

“That’s what [my agent] Aaron Turner’s always talking to me about. He’s always said, ‘It only takes one team.’”

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NBA Daily: Second-Round Draft Steals to Watch

Several possible second round picks have a chance to make an impact at the NBA level, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz



The NBA Draft is upon us this week. The hopes and dreams of many basketball players will become reality. Each year there are players who are drafted in the second round who end up outperforming their draft selection spot.

A premium has been placed on draft picks in recent years. Even second round picks have become extremely valuable. For a team like the Golden State Warriors whose payroll might limit their ability to sign quality rotation players (veterans taking discounts to win a ring notwithstanding), smart drafting has seen them scoop up steals like Patrick McCaw and Jordan Bell. Both those players have emerged as key rotation guys on a championship team, and both were taken in the second round.

The second round is an opportunity to pick up overlooked young talent on cheap contracts. Sure, it’s rare to get a Manu Ginobili or an Isaiah Thomas or a Draymond Green that goes on to become an All-Star caliber player, but plenty of quality contributors can be found.

Here’s a look at a few guys who have a great chance at becoming second round steals.

1. Allonzo Trier – Arizona

Outside of DeAndre Ayton, there may not have been a more valuable player to the Arizona Wildcats last season than Allonzo Trier. He was the Wildcats second-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game. There have been questions about his supposed selfish style of play, but he’s been a solidly efficient player his three years at Arizona.

This past season as a junior, he shot 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three-point line. Over his three years in college, he was a 47.5 percent shooter from the field and a 37.8 percent shooter from the three-point line. He’s also an 82.3 percent shooter from the line. And he did dish out 3.2 assists this past season.

Trier is a scorer, plain and simple, an efficient one at that. Despite this, his name has failed to appear on many mock drafts. The few that actually project the second round as well have him being drafted near the end. At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Trier has great size for a shooting guard in the NBA. A sixth man type scorer is probably his best projection at the next level.

2. Brandon McCoy – UNLV

The Runnin’ Rebels didn’t quite have such a noteworthy year, which might explain a little about why Brandon McCoy is flying under the radar. UNLV posted a 20-13 record and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Despite that, McCoy managed to emerge as their biggest bright spot.

In his lone college season, he led UNLV in scoring with 16.9 points per game on 54.5 percent shooting from the field. He also pulled down 10.8 rebounds per game and was their leading shot blocker at 1.8 blocks per game. For a big man, he shot a semi-decent 72.5 percent from the free-throw line.

He has good size, he’s a legit seven-footer. He moves well on the floor and with some work, can be a very good defensive player. Part of what might be causing him to get overlooked is he doesn’t have much in terms of a mid-range game, a necessity for big men in today’s NBA game. But that can be worked on. At any rate, he can be a high energy big off the bench, good to come in and block some shots, grabs some boards and clean up around the rim. Every team could use a guy like that.

3. Devonte Graham – Kansas

One year ago, Devonte Graham’s Jayhawk teammate Frank Mason III was also being overlooked in the draft. Like Graham, the major issue working against him was his status as a four-year college player. Mason went on to be one of the bright spots for the Sacramento Kings, establishing himself as a legit NBA point guard.

This summer, Graham is looking to do the same. Mason was also a bit on the shorter side, coming in at 5-foot-11. Graham has little more size than that at 6-foot-2. He was the Jayhawks best player for most of the year, putting up 17.3 points per game while shooting 40.6 percent from the three-point line. He also dished out 7.2 assists per game.

Most mock drafts have consistently had Graham being drafted early to middle second round. Being a college senior, he has leadership abilities. He’d be perfect for any team looking for a solid point guard off the bench.

4. Chimezie Metu – USC

For much of the mock draft season, Chimezie Metu’s name appeared as a first round selection. But in recent weeks, as other names began to climb up the draft ladder, Metu it appears has fallen back into the second-round. It’s interesting though, as his skill set for a big man appears to project well in today’s NBA game.

He was the Trojans’ best player as a junior this past season. He put up 15.7 points per game on 52.3 percent shooting from the field. He pulled down 7.4 rebounds while averaging 1.7 blocked shots. Although the percentages may not reflect that, he has an improving jump shot. He’s quick and mobile defensively.

He’s got all the tools be able to guard the post as well as switch out and guard other positions if need be. With a little more work, he can be a good jump shooter. With the evolution of today’s game, Metu has the perfect build and talent to find success as a modern NBA big man.

5. Tony Carr – Penn State

Tony Carr has been a consistent second round pick in most mock drafts. There has been the occasional one here or there that had him being drafted at the end of the first-round, but the second round is most likely where he’ll hear his name called.

Carr was the best player for a Nittany Lions team that ended up winning the NIT. This past season as a sophomore, he put up 19.6 points per game and shot 43.3 percent from the three-point line. He was able to pull down 4.9 rebounds per game and he dished out 5.0 assists.

He can play both guard positions and create for himself or his teammates. There have been question marks about his athleticism and ability to defend at the NBA level, but all a team needs for him to do is come in off the bench, run the offense a bit and get a few buckets. He’s definitely capable of doing that.

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NBA Daily: Kawhi Leonard Would Look Good In a Knicks Uniform… In 2019

The Knicks need to take a page out of the Sixers’ book… and trust the process.

Moke Hamilton



The NBA world nearly stopped last week when reports circulated that Kawhi Leonard wanted out from San Antonio.

All of a sudden, within a few days, both he and Kyrie Irving were both reportedly open-minded about taking their talents to New York.

And while either (or both) of the two would look great as Knicks uniforms, they’d look much better in orange and blue in 2019.

After all, only a fool does the same thing over and over and expects different results.

Seven years ago, the Knicks the made mistake of trading their farm for a superstar caliber small forward. His name is Carmelo Anthony, and we all know how that story ended.

If you want to make the argument that Leonard is a better player than Anthony was at 27 years old, that’s your right, but one thing that not even Max Kellerman could argue is that smart teams simply don’t trade assets for players they could ultimately end up getting for free. That’s exactly why Paul George spent last season flanking Russell Westbrook instead of arguing with LaVar Ball.

So if Leonard or Irving wants to eventually take up residence in New York City, they can prove it… Next year.

If there’s one thing the Knicks historically imprudent front office should have learned from Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, it’s that.

This summer, after hiring David Fizdale, Scott Perry will have another opportunity to prove that the job at Penn Plaza isn’t too big for him, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he even publicly entertains the idea of attempting to make a splash this summer or whether he continues to hold steadfast to the belief that there are not shortcuts on the route to contention.

The right play for the Knicks is to follow the route that the Lakers took as it relates to Paul George—refrain from dealing valuable assets for players that you could sign for free. Danny Ainge hit home runs with Gordon Hayward and Al Horford and by essentially adding each of them to an existing core of young talent—and more importantly, refraining from acquiring either via trade—the Celtics now have an embarrassment of riches.

The Knicks don’t have those kinds of problems, and as it stands, have little aside from Kristaps Porzinigis going for them. With the Latvian unicorn expected to miss the majority of next season, they’ll probably have a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. That could be paired nicely with Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and the ninth overall pick that they’ll have in the 2018 draft.

In other words, one year from now, the Knicks could have four of their own lottery picks under contract—Porzingis, Ntilikina, and whichever players they will have selected in 2018 and 2019. Between now and then, the team would be best served scouring the G-League and overseas markets to find cheap help that can contribute at the NBA level. Let the young guys play, let them develop and then carry them into the summer of 2019 with a clear plan in place.

That type of prudent management will not only help the Knicks in the long run, it will go a long way toward convincing soon-to-be free agents and player agents that Perry and his staff actually know what they’re doing.

If they play things right, and if the team managed to unload either Courtney Lee or Joakim Noah, they could open up the very real possibility of landing both Leonard and Irving, but instead of trading the farm for them, they’d have a realistic shot at signing them. They’d be adding them to the core instead of sacrificing it for them. Imagine that.

From where most people sit, Irving seems to have an ideal situation in Boston, and his entertaining the idea of taking his talents elsewhere seems curious, at best… But so did the choice of leaving LeBron James.

Irving has been consistently rumored as having real interest in playing in New York when he’s able to test the market next July, and depending on who you ask, there does seem to be a genuine level of concern in Boston that he could opt to take his talents elsewhere.

Growing up in the shadows of Madison Square Garden, the young guard knows better than most what winning in New York City would do for his legacy. At the end of the day, would one championship in New York make Irving a legendary figure among the likes of Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? Probably not. But one thing we can call agree on is that winning in a single championship in New York would do much more for Irving than winning a single championship in Cleveland or even a single title in Boston.

As it stands, fair or not, history will always look at Irving as the “other” player on James’ championship Cavaliers team, even though he was the one who made the biggest shot of James’ career.

And with the success of the Celtics this past season, truth be told, Irving helping lead the Celtics to a championship with the team’s current core in place wouldn’t necessarily cement his legacy in the way it would have had we not seen Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown show signs of being franchise-caliber players.

Because Irving is a shoot-first guard, he’ll continue to unfairly carry the reputation of being someone who doesn’t make his teammates better. He’s no Steve Nash, but he is truly special. Just don’t tell the national media that.

Because of the circumstances, he’s now in a bit of a catch-22. He’ll get less of the credit than he’ll deserve if the Celtics manage to win an NBA title and more of the blame than he’ll deserve if they fail to.

Still, even if Irving and/or Leonard end up elsewhere, the summer of 2019 will feature other free agents including Kemba Walker—the only “true” All-Star caliber New Yorker in the NBA—and Long Island product Tobias Harris. Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton, Kevin Love and Nikola Vucevic, too.

Going from Leonard and Irving to Walker and Butler might seem like a sad story of riches to rags, but one could very easily make the argument that adding two high-quality All-Star caliber starters to a core featuring Porzingis, Ntilikina and two lottery picks would do more to make the Knicks contenders than unloading the cupboard in an attempt to bring one in.

If that sounds like exactly what the Celtics did, that’s because it is. The Lakers, too. There’s a reason why they’re the most winningest franchises in NBA history, it would seem.

One thing we know for sure in the NBA: there will always be marquee free agents. The Knicks just need to do a better job of being able to attract them.

So this summer, if Perry wants to continue to earn favor with Knicks fans with even half a brain, the best thing to do might actually be to do nothing.

In other words, if the Knicks have truly learned anything from the futility of their recent past, it’s that they should try to be more like Magic Johnson and Danny Ainge. 

So if word eventually gets to Perry that Leonard’s interest in the team is real, and if Irving decides that he wants to take up residence in his backyard to try to succeed where Patrick Ewing, Stephon Marbury and Patrick Ewing fell short, Perry’s response should be simple.

“Prove it.”

Either would look great in a Knicks uniform, but they’d look much better in a Knicks uniform in 2019.

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