Breaking down the 6 NBA head coaching vacancies


There are currently six NBA head coaching vacancies, with a few more likely to come. Just how attractive are these openings?

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but there's also plenty of excitement going on off the court for several franchises. Six NBA teams are looking for new head coaches, with several others possibly being added to the list in the near future.

Keith Smart may find himself out of a job after one year with the Sacramento Kings if a new general manager is brought in to replace Geoff Petrie and the new man wants to hire his own coach. Also, Vinny Del Negro is on thin ice with the Los Angeles Clippers after a first-round exit, and with Chris Paul's impending free agency, the Clippers may decide to go in another direction.

But for now, let's take a look at the six current openings, grouped by what kind of position the team is in for the future.

High Expectations

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets entered their first season in Brooklyn with an expensive, overhauled roster that many figured would be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Nets did win 49 games to earn the No. 4 seed in the East, but their season ended with a disappointing first-round exit to a banged-up Bulls team.

The Nets will continue to have high expectations going forward with their core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, but what exactly is their ceiling? The team is capped out with a limited ability to make drastic improvements, although the expiring contract of Kris Humphries could be used to fetch an upgrade.

Still, the talent in place does make it an attractive opening, and perhaps the Nets just need the right coach to get the most out of that talent. Several high profile candidates have been bandied about, including Phil Jackson, but the Zen Master has already declined. Other names that have been thrown around are Brian Shaw, Jerry Sloan, Doc Rivers, Larry Brown and Scott Skiles.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks "went for it" this season when they acquired J.J. Redick at the trade deadline, only to struggle down the stretch and get swept in the first round by the Miami Heat.

Big questions now loom in free agency, with big decisions to be made regarding Redick, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The Bucks have plenty of money to throw around, and they could make a push to bring back all those players or perhaps look to make a run at a high-priced veteran in an attempt to climb the ladder in the East.

Stan Van Gundy has been mentioned as a top target, with Nate McMillan and Kelvin Sampson also being considered.


Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats have some nice young parts in place in Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but a lot of work obviously still has to be done. Gerald Henderson is a free agent, and while Charlotte would like him back, he may bolt for a better chance at winning.

The Bobcats will add another high lottery pick to their team in the draft, but the team really won't start to improve until their defense gets better. That's why Charlotte is looking for a defensive-minded coach that can develop young talent like Sampson, Alvin Gentry, Jeff Hornacek and former Suns assistant Elston Turner, among others.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns just hired a new general manager in Ryan McDonough, and now he will get to work on rebuilding a team that needs a lot of help. There's cap space for potential free agent signings, but Phoenix really needs to hit on their first-round draft pick, as there's currently not much else exciting going on with the roster. Goran Dragic is the highest paid player, and the younger players on the team have not shown all that much promise.

There have not been many rumors regarding potential coaches due to the general manager search, but now that that's complete, things should start to heat up. Interim coach Lindsey Hunter is still being considered for the opening.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons are much closer to contending for the playoffs than the Bobcats and Suns, but they are still a few parts away. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond should make for a formidable frontcourt in the coming years, and Brandon Knight is a nice talent in the backcourt. Detroit needs some talent on the wing, and they will have plenty of cap space along with a likely high draft pick to address that.

The Pistons have already conducted several coaching interviews, with Hunter and McMillan the most high-profile names. Making this search all the more interesting is the fact that Jackson is consulting on the hire.

In Limbo

Philadelphia 76ers

The Andrew Bynum debacle has turned the Sixers' future into one giant question mark. Does Philly dare bring him back despite the ongoing knee issues? Considering they gave up so many assets to get him, one has to imagine they are thinking long and hard about it. On the other hand, perhaps they just cut ties and move forward in another direction. There are still a few talented pieces on the team, and if Bynum is not retained, there will be some money to go after free agents.

General manager Tony DiLeo's contract is up at the end of the summer, and there's a chance that he may not be back. But this is not stopping DiLeo from leading the coaching search, with Warriors assistant Mike Malone, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer and Jeff Hornacek currently at the top of the list.

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