14 coaching candidates left standing for Kings' job
The search continues...
And then there were 14...again. Just when you thought the Sacramento Kings head coaching search was rolling towards a conclusion, two more names have entered the fray. When will it end? That’s anyone’s guess as Vlade Divac moves towards the most comprehensive coaching search in the history of the NBA.
1. Sam Mitchell
Mitchell was the first man through Sacramento after being let go by the Minnesota Timberwolves following the season. The veteran coach has a 185-242 record over six seasons with the T'Wolves and Raptors. With so many options on the board, Mitchell is going to have a difficult time standing out.
2. Vinny Del Negro
After two .500 seasons in Chicago, Del Negro helped build the Clippers into the winner we see today. But 56 wins in his final season were not enough to stop Los Angeles from chasing Doc Rivers. Vinny D has a lifetime record of 210-184 and he’s led his team to the playoffs in four out of five seasons as a head coach. There are people inside that like him a lot, but it’s a crowded field.
3. Mike Woodson
Doc Rivers’ lead assistant with the Clippers has a 315-365 lifetime record with the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks. Another former Kings player, the 58-year-old Woodson has led his team to the playoffs five times and he has 20-years experience as either a head coach or an assistant in the league. Woodson is a quality coach, but he’s won’t sell tickets. Does he move the meter enough to get the call?
4. Kevin McHale
The Hall of Fame player turned coach led the Houston Rockets to the Western Conference Finals just last season. But he was let go 11 games into the season as the Rockets spiraled out of control. McHale has a 232-185 record in seven seasons with Houston and Minnesota. He was an early leader in the club house and still has plenty of backers, but there are concerns whether he truly has interest in the job. It’s a well known fact that McHale is not a fan of living in California and he walked away from the Rockets gig with a $12 million parting gift.
5. David Blatt
Blatt’s name is a late addition to the list but he came through Sacramento on Monday for a formal sit down. The 56-year-old took the Cleveland Cavaliers job before LeBron James made his decision to return home. Instead of coaching a young team, he made it all the way to the NBA Finals in Year One. Blatt was let go after posting a 30-11 record this season and has an incredible 83-40 record over his first 123 games in the NBA. He’s an intriguing candidate, but he struggled to capture the Cavs locker room despite piling up wins. How would he do in Sacramento if they struggle out of the gate and head towards another 50-loss season?
6. Patrick Ewing
One of the NBA’s great big men has spent 12 years studying under Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy and Steve Clifford as an assistant coach. He hasn’t interviewed for a head coaching job since 2011, despite the type of pedigree that usually makes teams salivate. If this job was decided by a game of pick-up hoops, the battle between Ewing and McHale would be epic. The fact that Ewing is getting an interview is something, but he really needs to wow the Kings in his sit down.
7. Ettore Messina
Messina was a serious candidate for the Lakers job, but with Luke Walton swooping in and stealing it away, Gregg Popovich’s right hand man would be a huge get for Sacramento. He hasn’t won an NBA game as a coach, but he has four Euroleague championships under his belt. At 56-years-old, the question is whether the Italian-born coach is ready to take a gamble on a team like Sacramento for his first shot in the NBA. Popovich’s coaching tree is stunning. If Vlade Divac can pluck Messina from it, the Kings become a whole lot more interesting going forward.
8. Nate McMillan
The Kings have asked for and been granted permission to speak to the former Trail Blazer and Sonics front man. But things have gotten dicey in Indiana for head coach Frank Vogel since they were bounced from the playoffs on Sunday evening. McMillan has a 478-452 record over 12 seasons as a head coach. He’s led his team to the playoffs five times and maybe more importantly, he delivered Portland out of the “Jail Blazers” era. This is another highly qualified candidate for Sacramento, but will he have other options in Indy?
9. Mark Jackson
There has been plenty of talk about Jackson getting a bite at the apple in Sacramento, but no formal interview has been set up as of Monday. The former Golden State Warriors head coach has a 121-109 record over three season, including two playoff appearances. The Warriors had made the playoffs just once in 17 seasons before Jackson arrived. He helped develop the culture that led to last season’s championship and this season’s record breaking 73-win campaign. He doesn’t always play nice and he’s got a cushy TV gig, making him a pretty far fetched candidate.
10. Elston Turner
Vlade Divac knows Turner well. He was one of Rick Adelman’s assistants during the glory years of Kings basketball. Turner has spent the last 18 seasons as an assistant coach, most recently on Dave Joerger’s staff in Memphis this season. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, the Kings might only be interested in Turner as an associate head coach according to USA Today’s, Sam Amick.
11. Corliss Williamson
The lone coach from last years staff to get a look, Williamson has spent the the last three seasons riding out the Kings’ coaching carousel. The 42-year-old former Kings player joined Michael Malone’s staff after three seasons as the head coach at Central Arkansas. Williamson might be the only coach on this list to know what he’s getting into.
12. Jeff Hornacek
Hornacek looked like an up and comer three seasons ago when he took over the Phoenix Suns. In his first season at the helm, he led the Suns to a 48-34 record, a 23-game improvement over the previous season. But the wheels fell off the bus in Phoenix this year and the former All-Star guard was sent packing 49 games into the campaign. Hornacek posted a 101-112 record with the Suns. If he can figure out what went right in his first season at the helm and avoid what went wrong in year three, he might be perfect candidate for the Kings job.
13. Henry Bibby
Talk about pulling names out of thin air. The 66-year-old Bibby last worked an NBA bench during the 2013-14 season as an assistant with the Detroit Pistons. Father of former King Mike Bibby, Henry has the look and feel of an assistant, but most coaches are going to want to build their own staff.
14. James Borrego
The roots are deep and the limbs are strong on the Spurs coaching tree. Borrego spent seven seasons with the Spurs from 2003-2010 before leaving with Monty Williams when he took the head coaching job in New Orleans. After two years in the Big Easy, he spent four seasons with the Orlando Magic as an assistant and even finished out the 2014-15 as an interim head coaching, posting a 10-20 record in the final 30 games. He returned to San Antonio for the 2015-16 season, joining a star studded cast of assistants under Gregg Popovich.