After parting ways with Vinny Del Negro following a first round exit in the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly getting set to interview candidates for their head coaching vacancy. While the Clippers have reportedly already contacted Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry, and Jeff Van Gundy, the team's list of "names to contact" creates a good amount of overlap with the front-runners in the Detroit Pistons' ongoing coaching search.
ESPN's Chris Broussard on the names currently linked to the Clippers coaching job:
Van Gundy and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw are considered the team's top choices at this point, three sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne.The Clippers have not yet spoken to former Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, but he is also a candidate, sources said.
While it's been speculated since Maurice Cheeks met with the Pistons for his second interview last Wednesday, the two front-runners for the Pistons coaching job are reportedly Cheeks and Nate McMillan. Many also believe that Brian Shaw is name on the Pistons shortlist.
Brian Shaw yelling "Ball Don't Lie" in a recent NBA playoff game, sign of future coaching union with the Pistons?
While Cheeks hasn't been linked seriously to any jobs besides the Pistons, McMillan's name had been linked to the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Supersonics resurgence prior to being linked to the Clippers. While McMillan's name is thought to be a top Pistons' President/GM Joe Dumars' list of candidates, McMillan may be holding out to see if he can land a more "ready made" roster (such as the Clippers) before agreeing to come on as the Pistons head coach.
Reports on whether Brian Shaw has interviewed with the Pistons vary depending on the source. Some say that the two parties have spoken, while other sources have linked Shaw to the Pistons based only on Shaw's past coach-mentor relationship with Phil Jackson, and the Pistons' recent consultant relationship with Jackson. Either way, it's a safe bet to think that Shaw's name is on the Pistons shortlist after taking some input earlier in the month from Jackson. Shaw can't interview anywhere until the Pacers playoff run is over, and as the Pistons don't appear to be in any rush to hire, the long patience could be a hint at interest in Shaw.
Either way, those trying to guess the next Pistons head coach would be wise to keep an eye on the Clippers coaching search. Using the Atlanta Hawks' recent hiring of Mike Budenholzer (a coach the Pistons interviewed twice) as an example, many of the names the Pistons are seeking out are also being sought after by teams that are more capable of being "ready to win." The Clippers are one of those teams; and because coaching candidates who have the opportunity to coach Chris Paul and Blake Griffin usually take it, the Pistons' decision between McMillan, Shaw or Cheeks will likely be made for them.
It's nice to hold all the cards when making a coaching hire in the NBA, but when you're in a rebuilding situation seeking coaching candidates linked to higher-profile openings, sometimes the "weeding out" happens through another team's process of elimination. It's very possible that the Pistons' next hire is a candidate not chosen for the Clippers seat, and it could be McMillan or Shaw.