Update: Steve Kerr has decided to spurn the Knicks and take the head coaching job with the Warriors, per TNT’s David Aldridge. I now know what happens when you assume things.
After firing Mark Jackson, the Warriors have missed out on reportedly their two top coaching candidates, Steve Kerr (presumptive, but Kerr is reportedly working out final details with the Knicks) and Stan Van Gundy. After Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported Golden State’s interest in Van Gundy all day Tuesday, the former Magic and Heat head coach has taken a job with the Detroit Pistons as both President and Head Coach. The question now is where the Warriors go from here.
Firing Jackson to begin with seemed like a questionable decision, and it seems even more so now that we know they didn’t have much of a concrete plan. Steve Kerr was always tied to new Knicks President Phil Jackson, and they weren’t willing to offer Van Gundy anything more than the head coaching title. My guess would be that they go a different route, and try to draw a big name college coach to the Bay area. Kevin Ollie, Tom Izzo, and Fred Hoiberg are the names most commonly mentioned in hiring rumors, and each make sense. The Warriors have a talented roster, so while it may be risky to bring in a coach new to the NBA, I think any of those coaches would certainly fit the bill. One problem for the Warriors is convincing any of these coaches that their job is more attractive than the situations those coaches would be leaving. Ollie is fresh off a national championship at his alma mater UConn, Izzo has been well entrenched at Michigan State as an assistant or head coach since 1983, and Hoiberg, The Mayor, is in the midst of reviving his own alma mater Iowa State into a powerhouse. The other main problem is the Lakers lurking in the shadows looking for their own head coach. Despite coming off a couple mediocre seasons, the Lakers job is still a glamorous one that usually includes a hefty salary.
Alternately, the Warriors could elect to hire a retread veteran coach. Lionel Hollins, George Karl, and Avery Johnson are viable candidates currently out of work. Hollins did a nice job instilling a tough defensive culture in Memphis, Karl is a very accomplished coach who could fit well with the Warriors personnel, and Johnson was last seen getting fired from Brooklyn. My personal choice of those three would be Karl, who many moons ago led Seattle to the Finals where they met Michael Jordan, had success in Milwaukee, won a Coach of the Year award in Denver, is an offensive coach, and loves to let his team chuck up three pointers.
Of course the Warriors could decide to go a completely different route, and throw us all for a loop. These are just my top candidates should they decide to hire either a college coach or a veteran ex-coach. This Warriors job is an attractive job on paper, and I’m sure they will settle on a quality head coach. If that coach will perform better than Mark Jackson did remains to be seen, but there are plenty of different options to choose from.