As Sam Presti reaches out to agents and colleagues looking for the next head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, he's all but told us the rebuild is starting. Last week for fun, we threw out five dream candidates that would get the fans excited about a press conference and hopefully drive them to the ticket office.
One of those on our list was Doc Rivers, and despite the fact he was just let go by the Clippers, don't expect him to test the waters with the Thunder. What Presti wants and what this organization needs is a first-time head coach who is willing to take the bumps and bruises that comes along with building a roster almost from scratch.
David Vanterpool, current associate head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, fits this description. Vanterpool's resume' includes a two-year stint in Oklahoma City, where he was director of player personnel.
That alone won't put him over the top with Presti, but it gives him an edge over someone like Will Hardy, who has spent his entire career with the Spurs. Understanding the Thunder's organizational structure means that Vanterpool will know where Presti is coming from when he is making roster decisions; thus, he will know what needs to happen on the court.
Vanterpool left the Thunder to become an assistant in Portland, where he stayed for six seasons. Then it was on to Minnesota, where he became Ryan Saunders's associate head coach. Saunders says:
"We're excited for David to implement his schemes and philosophies on the defensive side of the ball and maximize our players' strengths."... "David is an important addition to our team as we look to build the best coaching staff possible."
Including the Thunder, there are six jobs open in the NBA. Presti doesn't have to hire anyone tomorrow, but if there is a candidate he likes, why wait? Getting "your guy" and allowing them to start building a rapport with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will go a long way in helping the Thunder get back to contending status quicker.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past eight seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.