The 2014 NBA playoffs are less than a week old, and the coaching carousel has already begun. Three teams have parted ways with their head coaches, and more are likely to follow.
In the 2013 offseason, there were a record 12 coaching changes in the NBA. While that number isn’t likely to be topped this year, several teams will be looking to make new hires.
New York Knicks
Mike Woodson is the first head coach to be officially fired since the end of the regular season. On Monday morning, Phil Jackson announced that the organization was getting rid of the entire coaching staff. Woodson has a strong overall record with New York, but he couldn’t survive a 37-win season and a ninth-place finish in a weak Eastern Conference.
According to reports, Steve Kerr is the overwhelming favorite to get the job. Kerr said on his radio show that he expects to speak with Jackson about the position. The 15-year NBA player has no experience as a head coach, though Kerr spent time as the general manager of the Phoenix Suns. After playing for Jackson with the Chicago Bulls, Kerr would likely institute many of the Hall of Famer’s coaching principles, including the triangle offense.
The Timberwolves are looking for a new head coach, following the retirement of Rick Adelman. Adelman leaves the NBA as one of the all-time winningest coaches in league history, compiling over 1,000 victories in his career. In his final season with Minnesota, the 67-year-old led his team to a 40-42 record.
As Minnesota looks for a coach that can take them to the playoffs for the first time in a decade, they might turn to the college ranks. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Florida’s Billy Donovan and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg are on the organization’s list of potential replacements. None of the aforementioned coaches have NBA coaching experience, though Donovan and Izzo have won NCAA titles. Donovan agreed to coach the Orlando Magic in 2007, but changed his mind, soon after. Hoiberg played for Minnesota in his final two NBA seasons.
Tyrone Corbin is out as Utah’s head coach, as the organization has decided not to offer him a new contract. He took over for Jerry Sloan in the 2010-2011 season, and the team hasn’t had much success since. He went 112-146 with the club, leading them to one playoff appearance. This season, the Jazz finished the regular season with the worst record in the West.
The Jazz are reportedly looking at former NBA assistants, during their head coaching search. Utah could make history by hiring Ettore Messina. The current head coach of CSKA Moscow would become the first European-born head coach in NBA history. He was part of the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff in 2011-2012 and spoke to the Atlanta Hawks about their head coaching position last offseason. Now, Marc Stein says there’s a legitimate chance he could get the job. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that current San Antonio Spurs assistant Jim Boylen is also being considered. He coached in college for four seasons at Utah and has been an assistant with five NBA clubs.
Los Angeles Lakers
L.A. isn’t officially looking for a new head coach, but that could change in the near future. Mike D’Antoni has one more guaranteed year left on his contract, but one of the worst seasons in team history could force the organization to make a change. While there had been rumors that D’Antoni would likely return, other reports say the organization is leaning towards firing the 62-year-old.
General manager Mitch Kupchak, who recently got a contract extension, has recently said that he and the coach will soon meet to discuss the season. The year included several injuries to the Lakers’ top players and ended with 55 losses. If L.A. does decide to look for D’Antoni’s replacement, their coaching search might begin and end with John Calipari. When Kentucky lost the national championship game, former Kentucky star Rex Chapman said there’s a good chance that Calipari would be headed to Los Angeles.