Trail Blazers

Mike D'Antoni reportedly linked to Blazers head coaching job

Trail Blazers

As the Blazers continue their search for a new head coach to replace Terry Stotts, another name has emerged as a possible candidate: Mike D’Antoni.

D’Antoni is currently an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets, who are currently up 2-0 in their second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

While D’Antoni may seem like another name the Blazers may like, what’s interesting from the report is the Nets won’t grant him access to interview for other jobs until their season ends.

With the way the Nets are playing, they could advance to the finals and win the whole thing. If they were to be in a seven-game series come the finals, Game 7 would be held on July 22.

It’s only an extra month the Blazers would have to wait to interview D’Antoni if they seriously have interest in him.

Portland doesn’t seem like they’re in a rush to make a decision, and why would they? There’s no need when the playoffs are still ongoing.

It’s hard to envision D’Antoni being a serious candidate for the job. He’s an offensive-minded coach and has a reputation of not being the most defensive-minded guy.

Here are the rankings of the Houston Rockets defensive rating while under D’Antoni, another team that had no problem scoring:

  • 2019-2020: 14th of 30
  • 2018-2019: 17th of 30
  •  2017-2018: 6th of 30
  • 2016-2017: 18th of 30

For comparison, the Rockets were 13th and seventh, respectively, in Kevin McHale’s last two full seasons with the team, which included a Western Conference Finals appearance. 

D’Antoni coached the Rockets to three straight 50-win seasons and the best record in the league during the 2017-’18 campaign and a Western Conference Finals berth. He helped unlock an even more elite version of James Harden.

Scoring the ball for the Blazers isn’t a problem. They’ve been top three in offensive rating the last three seasons. It’s their defense, which has slipped from sixth in defensive rating in 2017-’18, to 16h, 27th, and 29th the following seasons.

There may be similarities between D’Antoni inheriting the Rockets and if he gets the job, the Blazers.

The name of the game is to score, and Portland does that with the best. But if they continue to have a below-average defense, they’ll be going nowhere.

Maybe under D’Antoni, there’s a change, especially if he brings along Jeff Bzdelik, his defensive assistant with Houston.