Wizards

Will Wizards hire a first-time head coach?

Wizards

The Wizards' search for a new head coach is almost two weeks old as other teams around the league continue to fill their vacancies. Here are some notes on the search, which does not appear to be nearing its end soon...

*The Wizards' head coaching search continues to focus on NBA assistants and ones who have not been head coaches before. That trend was reported last week and has continued with each name made public. The Wizards appear to know what they want and that seems to be an up-and-comer who could grow with the roster and bring a fresh perspective.

*One name that has emerged, Scott Morrison, has coached for the Canadian national team and served as the head coach of the Celtics' G-League affiliate. Don't be surprised if you hear more candidates with that type of background. As NBC Sports Washington reported, the Wizards are looking at candidates with international experience and that tracks with general manager Tommy Sheppard's record as an executive. Experience in the international ranks or in the G-League could help separate some assistants from others, as they all aim to become NBA head coaches for the first time.

*It's worth noting the Wizards have not hired a first-time head coach in 20 years. They had Ed Tapscott take over in 2008 with no NBA head coaching experience, but he only served in the interim. The last time they conducted a head coaching search and ended up with a first-timer would be 2000 when they hired Leonard Hamilton away from the college ranks. He lasted one year before resigning under then-executive Michael Jordan. Hamilton has since gone on to become one of the most respected coaches in college basketball at Florida State, where he consistently develops NBA draft picks.

 

Scott Brooks, Randy Wittman, Flip Saunders, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins; all of them had been head coaches elsewhere before. By taking a new approach, perhaps the Wizards would find more luck. For a franchise like them, with little success in the playoffs going back to the 1970s, there could be merit in simply trying something different.

*In the 'former Wizards assistant coach with a recognizable name' category, the sense is Wes Unseld Jr. has a better chance than Sam Cassell. Despite his popularity among fans, Cassell's name isn't coming up as much as some might expect. Cassell has a big proponent in Bradley Beal, and Beal of course has power within the organization, but he's also not the type to use that power to create any sort of ultimatum. At least, he hasn't shown that tendency in the past.

Things have been quiet on the Unseld front since the initial news the Wizards were interested. That shouldn't be read into too much, as the Wizards have kept much of their search out of the public, as evidenced by the lack of names being reported comparative to other jobs. If they do move forward with Unseld, it would make a lot of sense. You could take his father's legacy and name out of the equation and he would still be very qualified for the job.

*In case you're keeping track, there are now only three openings around the league. The Mavs hired Jason Kidd, the Pacers got Rick Carlisle, the Celtics hired Ime Udoka and the Blazers brought in Chauncey Billups. That leaves the Wizards, Pelicans and Magic. If you were to rank the jobs, the Mavs, Celtics and Blazers would all probably have an advantage given their superstar players are under contract longer than Beal. Now the Wizards' biggest competition would probably be the Pelicans, who have the opportunity to coach Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to offer.

*Sheppard said he would take his time at the onset of this search, going as far as to say patience can be a competitive advantage. So, there is no reason for Wizards fans to worry about it taking this long, or fret about other teams snatching up the high-profile candidates. If the Wizards indeed end up with a first-time head coach, they need to do their research to find the right person and, if they do, taking the long view could pay off.

*Now that the Blazers have gone with Billups, that means Becky Hammon is readily available after becoming the first woman to be a finalist in an NBA head coaching search. The Wizards are considering female candidates in their search, but it is unclear whether they have reached out to Hammon at this point.