Finding a great coach won't be easy

There are many possibilities for Clippers' opening, but no guarantees they will get a championship from change.

May 22, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • With Vinny Del Negro out, the Clippers have several options for a new head coach, and the organization hopes it will be someone who can mold the team into a championship-caliber squad.
With Vinny Del Negro out, the Clippers have several options for a new head… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

The Clippers have begun their search for a new coach to replace Vinny Del Negro, with the hope that they can find someone who is capable of molding the team into a championship contender.

But it will not be an easy task to find someone of that stature.

Currently, there are only four active NBA coaches who have won an NBA championship — San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, Boston's Doc Rivers, Dallas' Rick Carlisle and Miami's Eric Spoelstra.

Not only that, but only nine coaches have won an NBA championship dating back to 1987. Of course, Phil Jackson has 11 of those NBA rings, Popovich four and Pat Riley three during that span. That's how difficult it is to win an NBA championship.

It will be up to the Clippers' front office to compile a list of potential coaching candidates, vet them, narrow the list down and then give the names to owner Donald Sterling.

Here is a look at some of the coaches the Clippers are interested in — and the pros and cons of what each can offer:

Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott:

Scott, who starred at Morningside High and with the Lakers, has coached for 13 years in the NBA, and he has been fired three times, most recently by the Cleveland Cavaliers after going 24-58 during the 2012-13 season. He has a coaching record of 416-521, with a .444 winning percentage.

Pros: He led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, losing to the Lakers in 2002 and to San Antonio in 2003. He coached Chris Paul during the guard's first seasons in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets. Scott is known to hold players accountable —- both stars and role players alike.

Cons: Scott is a taskmaster, and the Cavaliers chafed under that. Players complained that Scott runs overly long practices and shoot-arounds.

—Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone:

Pros: Malone has been given credit for helping to mold the Warriors into a playoff team, with a strong role in their offense. A 2011-12 survey of general managers listed him as the best assistant coach in the league.

He also has ties to Paul; Malone was an assistant coach with the Hornets when Paul played there.

Cons: Known to be tough and hard-nosed, something NBA players can dislike.

—San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer:

Pros: Has been with the Spurs for 18 seasons, working his way up from video coordinator to lead assistant coach under Popovich. He is considered one of the top assistants in the NBA — and is considered a top choice to replace Popovich when he stops coaching.

Cons: Hasn't been a head coach in the NBA.

—Former Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan:

He has interviewed for the Atlanta Hawks coaching job and reportedly is a candidate for the openings in Milwaukee and Detroit. McMillan, 48, was fired as coach of the Trail Blazers in 2012. He has a 478-452 record over his 12 years as an NBA coach with Seattle and Portland.

Pros: Defense-oriented, organized and well-prepared.

Cons: Known to be controlling, uses too many timeouts and has lots of rules that players often don't like.

—Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw:

He is highly respected around the league and has interviewed for several head coaching positions in the past. Shaw, 47, also had the good fortune to have worked with and played for Jackson.

Pros: Won three NBA titles as a player with the Lakers and two as an assistant coach with the team. Has an even-keeled demeanor. And has been given credit for helping to develop Pacers forward Paul George, who became an All-Star this season.

Cons: Shaw has never been a head coach in the NBA.

—Memphis Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins:

Pros: Has turned the Grizzlies into a tough, defense-oriented team. Has the Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. Considered a bright mind who works well with his players.

Cons: Might be too pricey for Clippers.

—ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy:

Pros: Is very detail-oriented and prepares well for every game. Has won at New York and Houston. Career coaching record: 436-318 (.575). Has had a losing record only once during 11 years as a coach.

Cons: Might be too costly.

—Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy

Pros: Works hard, holds every player accountable, including stars.

Cons: Has said he doesn't want to coach next season. Will call out players, has long practices.

—Former Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry:

Pros: Has developed into a good coach. Has worked for the Clippers before and knows how Sterling operates.

Cons: Has worked for the Clippers before. Sometimes is not tough enough on his players.

—Atlanta Hawks Coach Larry Drew:

Pros: Known as a players' coach. Always prepared.

Cons: Runs long practices.

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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