New Mexico’s Alex Kirk is training for the 2014 NBA Draft. Basketball Insiders caught up with him to discuss the pre-draft process and film some of his workouts.
Where Will Steve Kerr Land?
One of the hottest names on the coaching market right now is Steve Kerr, despite the fact that he has never coached an NBA game. However, Kerr is respected around the league and he does have experience running an NBA team, as he was the Phoenix Suns’ general manager from 2007 to 2010.
For awhile, it seemed inevitable that Kerr would become the next head coach of the New York Knicks due to his strong relationship with Knicks president Phil Jackson. Jackson coached Kerr when the two were with the Chicago Bulls, and they have remained close over the years. Kerr is also familiar with the triangle offense and many of the assistant coaches in Jackson’s circle, so he seemed perfect for the job. Kerr has met with Jackson, and Phil even reportedly told Carmelo Anthony that he would be hiring his former player when they met for dinner one week ago.
However, in recent days, a number of other teams have reached out to Kerr including the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. Kerr is now weighing his options and contract talks with New York, which were supposed to get underway on Monday, have stalled as he considers all of these openings.
According to several reports, Kerr’s preference is still to join the Knicks, but talking to the other teams is smart. It’s never a bad idea to start a bidding war for your services and, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports pointed out, Kerr has leverage since Jackson doesn’t seem to have a Plan B in New York.
With that said, it sounds like Kerr will likely choose New York because of his relationship with Jackson. Mike Tanenbaum, Kerr’s agent, recently spoke to SNY’s Chris Carlin about his client’s decision.
“Obviously, he has a great affinity for the Knicks’ organization, for Phil Jackson, but no decision has been reached yet,” Tanenbaum said. “[Playing for a team out west] would be a consideration and we’ll see how the process unfolds. But I think his relationship with Phil is a pretty special one, and I know it’s an important one to him. With that said, he’s going to talk to his family as well and get their feelings.”
Tanenbaum pointed out that Kerr’s busy schedule broadcasting games for TNT has made this process difficult, as he has been traveling quite a bit in recent weeks.
“One of the factors that a lot of people don’t realize is that he’s been on the road a lot,” Tanenbaum said. “I want to say for almost 18 straight days he has been on the road with broadcast responsibilities now that the NBA playoffs are in full gear so it’s not the best circumstances to make a decision, but he’s certainly mulling it over.”
The Warriors could be attractive to Kerr since they have the best roster of all the current openings, and because Kerr has strong ties to California. He attended high school in Los Angeles and still has a lot of family in the state. Kerr also has a relationship with Joe Lacob, Golden State’s owner. Lacob recently told reporters that Kerr could emerge as a candidate for the job.
“I’ve known him for 20 years,’’ Lacob said. “I think very highly of him as an individual — a great human being as well as a great basketball mind, I believe, and a great pedigree. Having said that, we haven’t spoken with him yet. We haven’t interviewed anybody and we’re going to take our time and we’re going to interview people. He might be one of them.’’
Even though the Golden State opening is attractive, sources close to the situation told SNY that Kerr will likely join the Knicks.
“I think Kerr’s going to New York,” the source told SNY. “I think he’s too far down the road. That’s a long shot that he ever comes [to the Warriors]. I think he’s in New York and that’s a done deal.”
Former NBA head coach and fellow broadcaster Doug Collins was recently asked about Kerr’s decision, and he also believes Kerr is New York bound due to his relationship with Jackson.
“It’s different for every person,” Collins told SI.com. “What might attract Steve Kerr to New York might not attract me. The attraction for Steve Kerr to New York is the ability to be with Phil Jackson. Steve said the other day that if Phil weren’t there, they would have no interest in [him]. And [he] would probably have no interest in them. So every job is different based upon the dynamics of the ownership, how you would fit into that, what kind of team they have, what’s the short-term look of the team, what’s the long-term look of the team, what’s the cap situation. There are so many things that go into that. Steve’s looking at New York as a place where maybe in the first year [they] can win X number of games, but you can keep Carmelo, you get guys off the cap next year, you’ve got Phil Jackson, you’ve got New York City, you can recruit and you can be off and running.”
Kerr is expected to make a decision in the next few days, according to reports.
Will Stan Van Gundy Coach Next Year?
With so many NBA teams currently searching for a new head coach, Stan Van Gundy’s name has come up quite a bit in recent weeks. He has been mentioned as a candidate for a number of jobs, including the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons vacancies among others.
Van Gundy spent this year working as a color commentator, calling college basketball and NBA games. He has also worked as an analyst, breaking down the league on television and co-hosting radio shows. Van Gundy hasn’t coached in the NBA since being fired by the Orlando Magic in May of 2012, but he is respected around the league and viewed as one of the top coaches currently on the market.
During his stints with the Magic and the Miami HEAT, Van Gundy’s teams went 371-208 (.641) in the regular season and 48-39 (.552) in the postseason. He made the playoffs in seven of his eight years on the sideline, and led the Magic to the NBA Finals in the 2008-09 season.
Several months ago, Van Gundy told Basketball Insiders that he might not coach during the 2014-15 season since he has two children in high school and he doesn’t want to uproot his family. He may wait until his kids finish school before he decides to move from Central Florida and get back into coaching.
However, if the right situation presents itself, Van Gundy may change his mind and return to the sideline sooner than later. He acknowledged that this is a possibility in an interview on 740 AM’s “Open Mike” show today. While he stressed that part of him is happy to be away from coaching, he did admit that part of him misses his old job.
“Part of me does, and part of me doesn’t,” Van Gundy said. “Look, we’re so happy in Central Florida. It would really have to be a great situation for me to get back in. I miss a lot of it. I really do. I miss the competition. I miss the challenge. I miss the camaraderie of it. But I also like the time that I’ve had, so we’ll just have to see what happens. You weigh every situation.”
Van Gundy has yet to interview with any teams, but he has received a number of phone calls from teams with an opening. The Warriors reportedly called Van Gundy on Wednesday to express interest, but no interview has been scheduled as of yet.
“I have not met with [the Warriors] or anything else,” Van Gundy said. “There have been calls to gauge interest, and until you get a chance to actually talk to somebody, it’s even hard to say if they’re interested or if I would be [interested]. So we’re not at that point of even sitting down and talking yet.”
While Van Gundy has been linked to a lot of jobs, the Golden State buzz has been particularly strong. Van Gundy believes it’s because he was grew up in the Bay Area and was a big Warriors fan.
“Names come up on every job, and my name’s been mentioned in a few,” Van Gundy said. “But I think the Warrior one comes up because I’m from out there. I went to high school in the Bay Area. I grew up out there. I said several times during my coaching career when we would go play out there that it was always important to me playing out there because I grew up [there].
“That arena is old, so it was the same arena, and when I was a sophomore in high school, the Warriors won the NBA championship in 1975 led by Rick Barry. Al Attles was their coach. I was a huge fan, and everybody knows that, and so I think that’s why my name comes up when it’s associated with that job in particular.”
The Warriors fired Mark Jackson on Tuesday, despite the fact that he led the team to the postseason in consecutive years and won 51 games in the 2013-14 season. However, there was a lot of drama behind the scenes. Jackson butted heads with management and ownership, and he had issues managing his coaching staff.
Van Gundy seems like he would be a perfect replacement for Jackson, since he has led a team to the Finals and ran an offense that emphasized the three-point shot in Orlando. Van Gundy is also excellent at adjusting his system to fit the personnel he has on the roster, as evidenced by the fact that his Orlando team and his Miami team had very different styles. Van Gundy is great at getting a lot of out of his players, and it’d be exciting to see what he could do with Golden State’s core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. The organization has championship aspirations and they want to make a hire that can help them become an elite team in the Western Conference. Van Gundy could be their best option.
Other veteran head coaches who have been mentioned as candidates for these openings are George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Byron Scott, Mike Woodson, Mike D’Antoni and Alvin Gentry. NCAA head coaches Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State) and Kevin Ollie (Connecticut) have also been mentioned quite a bit.