Karl being out in Denver shakes up coaching hire carousel
Of the 16 teams that made the NBA playoffs, it appears six of them will be changing coaches this season. That includes one of the final four (Memphis, unless there is a change of heart and they re-sign Hollins). If Memphis does make a change, that will be 11 teams total making a move, tying a league record for one offseason.
With George Karl being told his services are no longer needed in Denver the game of musical chairs for where coaches might land just got very, very interesting. Here is a quick breakdown of where things stand with teams and how Karl may or may not fit in.
• Los Angeles Clippers: This, on paper, seems the best fit for Karl if he wants to coach again this year. And you have to think team management will call him. Karl likes up-tempo teams, he would have a real floor general and he’s had success with good power forwards before. The Clippers management is putting together a short list that is reported to include Pacers lead assistant Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins of Memphis (the Grizzlies have gotten permission to speak with him). However, the owner Donald Sterling makes the final decision on the Clippers coach after he personally meets with each coach over a dinner. So, there is some unpredictability to how it all turns out.
• Memphis Grizzlies: There is still a chance Hollins returns here — he wants to and he was at a team draft workout of young players Wednesday. But the talks are dormant and all the buzz is they are going another, more stats-friendly direction. Assistant coach Dave Joerger is considered the guy most likely to get the job — to maintain continuity — but Karl has good relationships in the Memphis front office so it could happen. Marc Stein said the idea of a “Hollins for Karl trade” is not out of the realm of possibility.
• Denver Nuggets: This is a very attractive job — a 57-win team with a young roster that should improve. This search process has just started, but Shaw seems a good fit here — good young coach with good young team that needs to learn how to win (something Shaw has been around and understands as a player and coach). They are reportedly interested in Hollins.
• Brooklyn Nets: They reportedly are targeting Shaw — it could become a race to see who can offer him the best contract first. They also are expected to speak to Hollins. This is a big-paying, big market job. It also comes with an owner who is putting on pressure to win a title and a roster that in reality is fourth or fifth best in the East (and with contracts that are hard to move).
• Philadelphia 76ers: New GM Sam Hinkie is early on in his coaching search process, but you’d have to think he’d give Karl a call.
• Detroit Pistons: This is down to Maurice Cheeks and Nate McMillan. No word yet on which way management is leaning, but if McMillan is not taken he could be in the mix for the Clippers and other jobs as well.