To some the idea must seem kinda crazy. Who in the world wants to be saddled with a team that must be in need of so much work? The task ahead of whoever takes the job is daunting to say the least. A guy would have to be little nuts to want the job.
Then again, for the right person it is the perfect job.
A head coach that likes a challenge could go for this job, but since His Airness would likely be going after someone with a proven track record (we can hope, right?) the price tag might be a little steep. However, an enterprising, young head coach looking to prove he has what it takes could—or should—jump at the opportunity.
A number of names have been discussed as candidate including the following three: Brian Shaw (Indiana Pacers), Mike Malone (Golden State Warriors), and Mike Budenholzer (San Antonio Spurs).
Of the three I think I would have to lean towards Brian Shaw. The difference he has made with the Indiana Pacers this season is unmistakable. A year ago no one in their right mind would have said the Pacers would make it into the Conference Semis this season, let alone actually beat even a depleted Miami Heat team twice (no offense Frank Vogel, but you’ll miss Brian next season).
What really sells Brian Shaw is his background. The man was an assistant under the Zen master himself, Phil Jackson, for years and was thought to be the go-to guy for the Lakers once Phil retired. Even though Shaw had the blessing of the majority of the team, the Lakers opted to go a different route. L.A.’s loss will be someone else’s gain.
Mike Malone has already interviewed, and is expected to be a hot candidate on the head coaching market this summer. I can see why many tout this guy as a great candidate. He should have been given the chance with Golden State already, but was told to take a back seat to Mark Jackson instead.
He has paid his dues and proven to be an effective assistant coach; he wouldn’t be the highest paid assistant in the NBA otherwise. Mark Jackson leaned on Malone quite a bit in the last year having had no previous coaching experience of his own.
While that seems to have some people sold on his ability and readiness, it bothers me. The Warriors sucked last season. You could point to his time in Cleveland as a good sign as well, but much of the team’s success then was due to LeBron James.
The Hornets did show some pretty impressive improvements when he was in New Orleans for the ’10-11 season, but that is not enough for me to want to bring this guy on. He has the credentials to become a head coach, but given other choices I would not want him.
To be honest, I never heard of Mike Budenholzer before I started researching the guy for this post. He could very well be a dark horse candidate for the job. Folks will naturally gravitate towards the more known names; I’m sure I’m not the only one that hasn’t heard of this guy.
Budenholzer has a pretty good resume. He’s been with the Spurs for the last 18 years, 16 of them as an assistant coach (the last five as the lead assistant). In his time with the Spurs he has helped the team win four NBA championships. There is not much more to it than that, but his longevity speaks volumes as do the four NBA championship rings.
When it comes to learning how to coach in the NBA you can’t go wrong working under a guy like Greg Popovich for your entire career. If anyone would be able to teach you how to do it right, it would be him.