More than a few NBA teams will be looking for a new coach this
spring, so we asked our panel of experts--one representative
from each of the 29 NBA teams--to name the NBA assistant most
deserving of a head coaching job. In all, 17 assistants received
at least one vote; Paul Silas of the Suns topped the list with
six mentions, followed by Dennis Johnson of the Celtics and Gar
Heard of the Pacers, with three votes apiece.
Silas's record in his first stint as a head coach was hardly
stellar--78-168 with the Clippers from 1980 to 1983--so what
recommends him for the position now? "I think he's on the same
page with the modern player," says a colleague. "He commands
respect, and even Derrick Coleman likes him." High praise indeed.
Other former head coaches received support despite losing
records their first time around: Heard (9-44), Knicks assistant
Don Chaney (265-382 lifetime) and Seattle's Bob Weiss (59-105).
Then there were the likes of Johnson, Randy Wittman of the
Timberwolves and Bulls assistant Frank Hamblen, who await their
first shot at a head coaching position. The coach who nominated
Hamblen, a 26-year NBA assistant, pointed to two essential
qualifications for any deputy who aspires to the top: "He knows
the game, and he's paid his dues."
--WILLIAM F. REED