The New York Knicks want to hire TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr as their new coach after the first round of the playoffs but with the Los Angeles Lakers job now open does that give him more options? The Lakers job opened, on April 30, when Mike D’Antoni resigned after not getting the second year option on his contract picked up that he desperately wanted.
New New York Knicks president Phil Jackson intends to secure Kerr as his first coaching hire by early May according to several sources. Hiring Kerr following the first round would theoretically soften the blow for the announcer's current employer to withstand losing its No. 1 analyst in the midst of the playoffs.
Kerr, who has no coaching experience, is said to be leaning towards accepting the job. However, there are still questions whether Kerr is willing to make the jump so quickly.
“We will keep talking,” Kerr told reporters on April 29 in Brooklyn where he was covering the Nets- Toronto Raptors game. “There is a lot to cover on both sides. This was the first time we’ve talked about the job. It just opened up last week. We got a lot of things to discuss.”
There also has been considerable speculation since the playoffs began that the delay also stems from Kerr waiting to see what other jobs might open depending on playoff results.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, in addition to the Knicks, have head coaching job openings. The Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder are other teams that could have an opening, if they lose in the first round.
The rest of the article will look at the top coaching jobs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
First, Scott Brooks should remain as the head coach of the Thunder.
Brooks, currently in his sixth season with the Thunder, has led Oklahoma City to four straight Northwest Division crowns and five consecutive playoff appearances. The Thunder have reached twice Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals once in the past three years. Brooks is 293-170 overall and 31-28 in the playoffs, including 2-3 this season (Memphis won game five 90-89 on April 29).
If the Thunder job does come open, it is by far the best job available. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the two main attractions. Durant, who should win his first MVP award, led the league in scoring (32.0) for the fourth time in his career this season. He is currently averaging 28.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists during the playoffs.
Durant and Westbrook are both locked up for the next few seasons.
Oklahoma City is currently on the hook for $68.8 million in salaries next season and only have three unrestricted free agents. The unrestricted free agents are Derek Fisher, Caron Butler and Thabo Sefolosha. Rookie Grant Jerrett is a restricted free agent.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are an attractive team for a bunch of reasons, if current coach Mark Jackson gets the pink slip. Jackson, who has done a fabulous job, seems to have ruffled a lot of feathers in the Bay Area.
Under Jackson, the Warriors have improved their win total in each of the three seasons he has been in Golden State. The Warriors went 51-31 this season to finish second in the Pacific Division behind the Los Angeles Clippers. Jackson is 121-109 during the regular season.
The best news for the Warriors is that they have one of the best backcourts in the league with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Crawford (restricted free agent) and Andre Iguodala (small forward/shooting guard). They will have to address the frontcourt this offseason as Andrew Bogut is an unrestricted free agent as well as Jermaine O’Neal. Steve Blake is also an unrestricted free agent.
Golden State will have plenty to spend this offseason as they have $51.2 million locked up in guarantees.
The Houston Rockets are very interesting as they were touted as a title contender after winning the Dwight Howard sweepstakes this past summer. However, the Rockets finished the season as the number four seed in the Western Conference (54-28) putting a little a heat on head coach Kevin McHale. The Rockets, who have yet to pick up the fourth year option on McHale, are currently down 3-1 to the Portland Trail Blazers in their be McHale will likely return next year.
If not, the Rockets are a very attractive club to coach because of Howard and James Harden – both of whom are locked into long-term contracts. Houston currently has $63.7 million in salaries guaranteed for the 2014-15 season.
Houston has four potential free agents upcoming this season. The Rockets will likely pickup the team option on Chandler Parsons, who has increased his stock this season and offseason. Francisco Garcia has a player option ($1.3 million) while Greg Smith and Jordan Hamilton are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
McHale is 143-99 in three seasons with the Rockets and 172-152 overall in five seasons overall.
The Pistons were expected to make the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2008-09 season but fell completely flat, going 29-53. In fact, first-year Piston coach Mo Cheeks was replaced after 50 games by interim coach john Loyer.
There is plenty of good news for the new coach coming. At the start of the upcoming free agent period the Pistons will only a have a little over $41 million wrapped up in contracts, which means that the can go on another spending spree like what they did to get Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Now, all the Pistons need is Jennings and Smith to produce like they are capable of on a consistent basis.
The first thing Detroit will need to do is sign restricted free agent Greg Monroe, who was the second best player this season on the team behind Andre Drummond, to a long-term contract though an trade involving him is not out of the realms. Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a solid rookie season.
Other free agents this upcoming season includes Jonas Jerebko (player option), Chauncey Billups (team option, which the Pistons are unlikely to pick it up), Rodney Stuckey (U) and Charlie Vilanueva (U). Plus, Peyton Silva’s 2014-15 contact is not guaranteed if waived b July 15.
The Pacers had the best record in the Eastern Conference at 56-26 but are on the brink of elimination as the Atlanta Hawks are up 3-2 in the first round best of seven series. If Indiana loses the series, head coach Frank Vogel could be the fall guy.
Indiana has been in disarray since the All-Star break. They lost 16 of their last 33 games prior to the start of the series and their three losses have been by at least eight points. Plus, Roy Hibbert struggled immensely down the stretch and criticized the team or being “Selfish”. Hibbert has also played poorly during the playoffs, averaging just 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
Vogel has done everything that could be asked of head coach. He has led the Pacers to two straight division titles and has a 167-100 record overall. Vogel has received public backing from the Pacers front office.
Over the next two years, the Pacers could lose several key players as 2014 All-Star Paul George is the only significant player locked up for the foreseeable future. Lance Stephenson is the main unrestricted free agent this season while four others are also free or restricted free agents including Rasual Butler (U), Andrew Bynum (U), Lavoy Allen (R) and Evan Turner (R).
Next season, Luis Scola and C.J. Watson are unrestricted free agents while Roy Hibbert and David West have the ability to opt out.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves
Rick Adelman retired following the 2013-14 season, after three seasons with the Timberwolves and 23 seasons overall at the head of NBA teams.
The Timberwolves had their best season (40-42) since 2004-05 but still fell short of snapping their 10-year playoff drought.
How desirable the Timberwolves coaching job is revolves around whether star Kevin Love decides to opt of contract after the 2014-15 season. Love signed a four-year-$60 million dollar extension with the club in 2012, which included a player option after next season. Love, a double-double machine, averaged a career best 25.4 points a game while also grabbing12.4 rebounds.
Minnesota also has Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic locked up for the next few seasons. Rookie Gorgui Deng was very productive, especially on the boards, while Shabazz Mohammed need to step up his game.
The Timberwolves don’t have a whole of flexibility next season as they already have used over $66 million in cap space. Dante Cunningham is an unrestricted free agent while Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers are restricted free agents.
Los Angeles Lakers
News that Mike D’Antoni resigned after two seasons at the helm of the Lakers was announced during the Game Five of the San Antonio-Dallas first round series on April 30. D’Antoni, who wanted his fourth-year optin picked up by the team, was 67-87 during his tenure with the Lakers.
Los Angeles is in a transition period a they have a old team and have several free agents. The good news is that Kobe Bryant still plays for the team though the question is how will he come back from his numerous of injuries this past season and a-half. Bryant appeared in just six games last year and averaged a measly 13.5 points a game.
The Lakers currently have just five players – Bryant, Steve Nash, Nick Young (player option), Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall signed for next season, with their contracts valued at $36.2 million. Ryan Kelley and Kent Bazemore are restricted free agents
New York Knicks
8. New York Knicks
The Knicks, who were expected to make a fourth straight playoff appearance, have been in disarray for several years. The Knicks finished one-game short of their goal with a 37-45 record.
The Knicks currently have over $92 million tied up in salaries next season and first year executive Phil Jackson is in charge of the basketball decisions. Making things more difficult is that superstar Carmelo Anthony (27.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg) has an early termination option clause that he can use to opt out of his contract this summer. Anthony will make $23.3 million in 2014-15 if he stays put.
Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million) and Andreas Bargnani ($11.5 million) also have early termination options though the Knicks are probably hoping they exercise their rights.
If Anthony leaves and Stoudemire, whose biggest problem is that he is injury proned, along with Bargnani stays the Knicks are in trouble. Cole Aldrich and Kenyon Martin are unrestricted free agents while Tour’e Murry and /Jeremy Tyler are restricted free agents.
Plus, the Knicks still will have immature J.R. Smith on their roster for the next two seasons along with Ray Felton. Felton could face felony gun charges for his previous incident with his girlfriend.
Utah is in the market for a new coach after they decided not offer Tyrone Corbin a new contract on April 21. Corbin went 112-146 in parts of four seasons, including 25-57 this season.
The Jazz takes the last spot on this list because they currently don’t have a direction. The
Jazz have been one of the youngest teams in the NBA for the past couple seasons.
The Jazz have a lot of decisions to make in the next couple of seasons. Gordon Hayward, who had a career-year, is a restricted free agent. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebound and 5.2 assists a game. 22-year old Alec Burks and 21-year old Enes Kantner are scheduled to be restricted free agents next season.
There is some good news, the Jazz only has $32.1 million tied up in salaries next season and have tied up Derrick Favors for the foreseeable future.
Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson are unrestricted free agents.