The 2015 NBA season is still ongoing, but multiple teams are looking to fill head coaching positions before the draft on June 25. A few coaches were fired after making the playoffs, leaving teams with a strong group of potential candidates.
Tom Thibodeau made the playoffs in each of his five seasons with the Chicago Bulls, but his toxic relationship with the front office forced him to lose his job after winning 50 games in the regular season. Monty Williams was fired after five years with the New Orleans Pelicans, despite making the postseason and having his second-best year with the team. Jacque Vaughn wasn’t nearly as successful with the Orlando Magic, and he was let go following three straight seasons of winning 23 games or fewer.
Below is a closer look at a few teams’ head coaching searches, and who they are likely to hire.
Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg is the clear favorite to replace Thibodeau in Chicago. He’s been rumored to be the next Bulls’ coach for a few months, and even Hoiberg’s current employer is prepared to lose him. CBS Sports reports that Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard has already been in contact with a search firm that would help find the school’s next head coach.
Hoiberg played in the NBA from 1995-2005, including a four-year stint with the Bulls. He’s never coached in the pros, joining the front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2006. Hoiberg took over at Iowa State in 2010, after the Cyclones hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament in five straight seasons. The team missed the Big Dance in year No.1, but they’ve been a part of March Madness in every season since, winning at least 23 games each year.
Golden State Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry and Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin could be in the running if Hoiberg doesn’t take the job.
New Orleans Pelicans
With Anthony Davis as the team’s centerpiece, the Pelicans might have one of the most attractive head coaching openings in recent years. But not every coach is trying to get hired by New Orleans.
Thibodeau is considered the hottest coach available, making the Pelicans seem like a natural fit for the former Bulls coach. But Thibodeau doesn’t want to go to New Orleans because he fears Davis will head for another team when he becomes a free agent, according to Peter Vecsey. Davis can become a free agent in 2017, but the Pelicans are looking to sign their top star to a lucrative, long-term deal.
Jeff Van Gundy and Scott Brooks might be the top two candidates to replace Williams, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Van Gundy is a color commentator for ABC and hasn’t coached since 2007, but he’s already reportedly interviewed with the team. Brooks was fired by the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he had a .620 winning percentage during his seven years with the team.
Thibodeau reportedly also has no interest in coaching the Magic, who have a lot of young talent. It appears Orlando is ready to hire someone else, anyway.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Magic and Scott Skiles have been talking, and the team hopes they can get a deal done on Friday. The former 10-year NBA player has already had a few head coaching stints in the league. He’s coached the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, making six playoff appearances in 13 years and taking each team to the postseason.