Coaching Rumors: Pacers, Rockets, 76ers, Thunder, Pelicans
While the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets have filled their coaching vacancies with Billy Donovan and Steve Nash, respectively, several openings remain.
The list consists of the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN passed along how each of those searches are going, with names such as Tyronn Lue, Mike D'Antoni and former NBA guard Chauncey Billups among those making the rounds.
Here's the latest from Woj:
-- Donovan was expected to be among the top candidates with the 76ers, but the biggest names in that hunt now seem to belong to Lue and D'Antoni. GM Elton Brand has already started talks with several of the candidates.
-- Billups continues to someone to watch for the Pacers. If you remember, they once hired Larry Bird, who like Billups, had no previous coaching experience. Current Pacers president Kevin Pritchard came to the Pacers with Bird, and seems more than open to hiring a former player. D'Antoni also remains a candidate in Indy, as is former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown (full story).
-- Meanwhile, hardly any names have been linked to the Thunder, and Wojnarowski suspects they are headed for a lengthy interview process. Along with hiring a coach, GM Sam Presti will have to decide whether to blow up the roster or try to keep it together for another inspiring run.
-- Former NBA guard Sam Cassell, former coach and current analyst Jeff Van Gundy and Lue have all been linked to the Rockets' vacancy, with more names certainly on the way. But it could be a while, Wojnarowski surmised, before GM Daryl Morey makes a final call.
-- In case you missed it, Kelly Iko of The Athletic wrote that Lue is a "serious candidate" for the Rockets. Presumably, that means Lue has the early inside track.
-- Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin is also taking his time and has yet to start formal interviews, Wojnarowski reported. This is no surprise, as Griffin indicated he may wait until the end of the playoffs before beginning the coaching search in full.
-- Of course, Lue is also expected to be a strong candidate in New Orleans -- as he and Griffin have teamed up before, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the championship run of 2016.