The Wizards' search for a new head coach is expected to pick up this week at the NBA Draft Combine, an annual event that convenes most of the league and offers opportunities to do much more than evaluate prospects. Now one week since they let go of Scott Brooks, a trend is emerging for his potential replacement.
As Marc Stein of the New York Times wrote on Wednesday, the Wizards are putting much of their focus on current NBA assistants, suggesting they may go with someone who has not been a head coach before. NBC Sports Washington can confirm, that they appear at this point to be searching for an up-and-comer.
While experience could come in handy for the next Wizards head coach, with Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and playoff expectations awaiting them, experience can come in different forms. The two names linked to them so far - Wes Unseld Jr. and Chauncey Billups - have been assistants on very good teams, the Nuggets and Clippers. In Unseld Jr.'s case, he's been an associate head coach, while Billups has a career as a star NBA player on his resume.
The Wizards could also see value in experience on the international stage, like someone who has coached a national team in global tournaments. General manager Tommy Sheppard has in the past compared the pressure and intensity of the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics to NBA playoff games.
The last time the Wizards had an opening, they went with a guy in Brooks who had a strong track record of success as a head coach. But it also required giving him a large contract worth $35 million over five years.
Going with someone less proven could also give the Wizards more contract flexibility, which may come in handy depending on how things go with Beal and Westbrook. Westbrook is 32, while both players have player options in their contracts for the 2022-23 season. If things don't work out next year, and say they were forced into a rebuild, they then would not be strapped with a high-priced coach who doesn't fit their roster.
But the Wizards will certainly hope it doesn't come to that. They want to win something of substance soon, so if they do go with a first-time head coach, they need to make sure that person can hit the ground running.