Coaching free agent D'Antoni has interest in Pacers opening
Mike D'Antoni has an interest in the Indiana Pacers' coaching vacancy, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, and very well could turn into their leading candidate, if he isn't already.
D'Antoni announced in a statement to ESPN that he was stepping down as coach of the Houston Rockets. His contract expired after the Rockets were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
D'Antoni reportedly informed the players that he was leaving the franchise on the plane ride from Orlando back to Houston.
Meanwhile, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim McMahon of ESPN, D'Antoni has been on the radar of Pacers president Kevin Pritchard for some time and has no plans to retire.
The Pacers are looking to replace Nate McMillan, fired after a fourth straight first-round playoff exit last month.
"We've seen some of the hirings over the last few years, and they're coming from all over the board," Pritchard said. "The way I've set up this process is, we want to start with a big pool then get down smaller and smaller. I don't want to rule that out. If there's an existing coach who has experience, who knows how to build a program, but maybe has a little mark or has something he needs to improve on.
"... I believe this, that the head coach is critically important, but nowadays, that second, third and fourth coach almost are more important. So how they build out their structure and their coaching staff is critical."
Along with D'Antoni, San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former NBA guard Chauncey Billups are among about a dozen names linked to the Pacers vacancy.
D'Antoni is also expected to draw interest from the Philadelphia 76ers. Per Wojnarowski, D'Antoni will be considered "among a group of candidates" for the 76ers job. The New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls also have coaching vacancies.
According to Wojnarowski, along with Hammon, the Pacers intend to interview former Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger, Brooklyn Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn and Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts.
Other assistants the Pacers are hoping to interview, per Wojnarowski: The Spurs' Will Hardy, Miami Heat's Dan Craig and Chris Quinn, Dallas Mavericks' Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas, Milwaukee Bucks' Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Orlando Magic's Pat Delany, Minnesota Timberwolves' David Vanterpool and Philadelphia 76ers' Ime Udoka.