Bryan Colangelo said early the Raptors would not be seeking a new head coach. They did add an assistant in P.J Carlesmio. But those empty coaching positions are starting to fill up. Avery Johnson will need to work on his Russian as he is expected to take the job as coach of the Nets. Johnson is a former coach of the year and has been working with ESPN, now is getting back behind the bench. I have to admit I am a bit surprised. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov had tried to get Coach K from Duke. He also wants to be in the hunt for Lebron James. So you thought he might make an offer Phil Jackson could not refuse given his deep pockets. It is not that Avery Johnson is not a good coach, he won coach of the year in Dallas. Still, you just expected a much bigger splash from the Russian billionaire.
That being said Johnson is a solid hire and will be a major upgrade for the Nets. It is an exciting organization to be with given the new ownership. Johnson apparently was on the Hawks wish list as well but they will now have to look elsewhere. I had said earlier in the blog another former coach of the year seems a good fit in Atlanta. Sam Mitchell the former Raptors coach and ATL resident seems like the guy to me.
The other news buzzing is what the Cavs might do with there open coaching spot. The word is Tom Izzo the Michigan State coach is the guy they want. What this means for the Lebron chances of re-signing is anybodies guess. Izzo has had a tremendous track record at Michigan State. He has coached a number of players that have been successful on the next level. A few that haven't as well. I remember when Morris Peterson was with the Raptors he would talk with great regard for Izzo.
It seems like something that doesn't make a ton of sense for Izzo. If James leaves that is. I see it as similar to coming in after a legendary coach. A real no win situation. According to the Associated Press he is working on finalizing a deal that would pay him 6 million per-season for 5 years. Izzo has had other chances to make this jump before. In fact according to an article by Andy Katz's on ESPN the Raptors were one of the teams he considered once upon a time.
Izzo has really done it all in the NCAA winning a championship with that group "The FLINTstones" that included longtime Raptor Morris Peterson. He also recently took Michigan State all the way to the Final in Detroit when the city hosted the Final Four.
New Orleans recently filled there vacant coaching position with Monty Williams. This is his first job as a head coach in the NBA after being an assistant with Portland under Nate McMillan. Chicago of course still has there open coaching position after firing Vinny Del Negro. We already mentioned Atlanta with a open coaching position as well. We may have to wait till July 1st for the player free agency to get rolling. But the coaching free agent season is in high gear.
Phil Jackson is expected to take some kind of pay cut if he wants to remain in L.A. Most feel a return to Chicago is not in the cards as his departure from the Bulls was not pleasant. However if the Lakers win or lose a title, it would seem the Bulls are at least waiting to talk with Phil. They may even be waiting to talk to Doc Rivers? Who there was talk he might step away from the Celtics and take some time away from coaching. Doc Rivers just happens to be from Chicago right? So is D-Wade and Obama for those keeping track. Doug Collins started the ball rolling in leaving the TNT broadcast booth to join the Sixers. He was once rumored as a candidate before the Bulls ended up picking Del Negro. Jeff Van Gundy has said he will do at least 1 more year of broadcasting with ESPN/ABC. Which is great, now if some team would just hire Mark Jackson to coach and get him out of the booth that would be great too.