NBA head coaching candidates with ties to the Wizards


Scott Brooks' five-year run as head coach of the Wizards is over and the franchise is now undergoing a "diverse, patient" search for his replacement. 

In such a wide-ranging interview process, it's tough to figure out which candidates a particular team will have its eyes on. Wes Unseld Jr. has already been reported as a potential candidate, but it's fair to assume the Wizards will interview more than one person for the job. 

It turns out that several candidates have ties to the organization, which could be a way to forecast who the next head coach could be. Here's a look at seven candidates who have been a part of the franchise in some form during their basketball careers. 

Wes Unseld Jr.

Let's start with the Nuggets' associate head coach and son of the late Wes Unseld, basketball Hall of Famer and Bullets legend. Family ties aren't the only thing connecting Unseld to the Wizards, either.

Starting in 2005, Unseld spent his first six years as an assistant coach in Washington, working for multiple head coaches until landing an assistant coach position with the Warriors in 2011. He then went on to work as an assistant with the Magic and Nuggets, who he's been with since 2015. 

Sam Cassell

Cassell is another former Wizards assistant, but has ties to a certain franchise player still on the roster. Cassell worked as an assistant in Washington from 2009-14 and developed a strong relationship with Bradley Beal and John Wall. As a great point guard in his own right, Cassell helped develop Beal and Wall into stars. 


After his time with the Wizards, he joined Doc Rivers' staff with the Clippers in 2014. Once Rivers moved on to Philadelphia this season, Cassell was right there with him. 

Darvin Ham

Ham spent eight seasons in the NBA as a player and one of them was with the Wizards in 1997-98. He played in 71 games and averaged two points and 1.8 rebounds in about nine minutes per game. 

After his playing days were over, Ham landed jobs as an assistant in college and then the NBA starting in 2011 with the Lakers. He's been an assistant on Mike Budenholzer's staff in Milwaukee since 2018. 

David Vanterpool

Vanterpool played pro basketball for 12 years but only spent one season in the NBA, and it just so happened to be in Washington in 2001. He played 22 games with the Wizards, averaging 5.5 points and three assists before heading back overseas for five more years. 

Vanterpool turned to coaching in 2007 with CSKA Moscow, spent seven years with the Portland Trail Blazers from 2012-19 and has been an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves over the last two years. He is also a local who grew up in Silver Spring, Md. and went to Blair High before a standout college career at St. Bonaventure.  

Mike D'Antoni

D'Antoni never played or coached in Washington, but he does have history with star guard Russell Westbrook. Just last season, D'Antoni coached Westbrook in Houston for the point guard's lone season with the Rockets. 

The season didn't turn out the way anyone over there hoped and Westbrook was ultimately traded in the offseason, so it's unclear whether that relationship is in a good place. D'Antoni is currently an assistant on Steve Nash's staff in Brooklyn.

Ime Udoka

Another Nets assistant with connections to a current Wizards player, Udoka coached Davis Bertans for three seasons while working on Gregg Popovich's staff with the Spurs. 

The Spurs identified Bertans and developed him into the player the Wizards decided to pay $80 million last offseason, so maybe he would have a better idea of how to utilize him on the floor when his 3-pointers aren't falling. 

Kara Lawson

Lawson's final season in the WNBA was with the Mystics in 2014-15, so while not a direct connection with the Wizards, both teams are owned by Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports & Entertainment.  An Alexandria, Va. native, Lawson played at West Springfield High before her legendary college career at Tennessee. 

After her pro career ended, Lawson spent time as a Wizards analyst on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast before becoming an assistant coach for Brad Stevens in Boston. She's currently the head coach of Duke women's basketball.