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NBA coaching round up: Mark Jackson to Kings? D’Antoni to Hornets? Latest report on Doc Rivers’ future

The Kings may crown Mark Jackson head coach, the Hornets are buzzing around Mike D’Aantoni. Might the latter bit have implications for Sixers’ Doc Rivers?

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Sixers fell in Game 1 to the Miami Heat 106-92, and perhaps the biggest storyline of the night was Doc Rivers’ baffling decision to play DeAndre Jordan as much as he did. Jordan got 17 minutes and was a -22, as fans and analysts took to social media to make fun of Rivers’ personnel decisions:

And the post game comments doubling down on the mistake so many saw coming months ago:

With coaching such a hot topic on Tuesday, let’s keep up on the latest scuttlebutt from around the NBA.

Sacramento Kings’ coaching search

2019 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Training Camp Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

A perennially moribund franchise, the Sacramento Kings are looking for a new coach to replace interim HC Alvin Gentry. Firing Luke Walton during the season, Gentry took over and won 23 games. Apparently that didn’t cut it and so Monte McNair and co. made the decision to find a new signal caller back in early Apr.

Now according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the fourth California franchise has narrowed their search down to three candidates: ESPN’s broadcast voice Mark Jackson, Warriors Assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown, and Nets Consultant and former Magic HC Steve Clifford.

And a favorite of those three has emerged, per Fischer:

“But early indications during this round of interviews are that Jackson is the front-runner and Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive’s favorite to emerge as Sacramento’s replacement for interim head coach Alvin Gentry, league sources told B/R.”

Fischer explains some of Ranadive’s criteria, which they apparently feel Jackson meets:

“The Kings are prioritizing previous head coaching experience and defensive identity, but Ranadive is also said to be searching for a vocal leader who can introduce a much-needed element of day-to-day identity to the organization. A head coach is often a franchise’s loudest public voice, speaking to the media following every practice plus before and after every game.”

Jackson receives some credit for coaching Steph Curry, Klay Thompson in the early years of their Warriors careers. A former Knicks and Pacers point guard, fifth all time in total assists, Jackson has a winning record as a coach and if he’d been able to keep the job, who knows just how far he could have taken what was to become perhaps the most talented team of all time; at least once Kevin Durant joined them.

Golden State replaced Jackson after three seasons for first time coach Steve Kerr in 2014.

Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob later admitted he fired Jackson in part because he didn’t build a better staff and because too many people in the organization simply didn’t like him.

Charlotte Hornets buzzing around Mike D’Antoni

Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Last month, after an unceremonious Play-In bouncing at the hands (wings?) of the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Hornets parted ways with coach James Borrego, after his fourth season at the helm.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaworski, Mike D’Antoni has emerged as a real possibility to replace Borrego because of his history of success working with point guards and fit with LaMelo Ball:

“The Charlotte Hornets are beginning to interview candidates for the franchise’s head-coaching opening, including the possibility of a reunion for general manager Mitch Kupchak with ex-Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, sources told ESPN.

D’Antoni has been identified as a serious candidate early in the process, especially because of the possibility of pairing him with young point guard LaMelo Ball, sources said.”

D’Antoni will meet with the Hornets along with several current assistant coaches whom Charlotte requested permission to speak to, including Golden State’s Kenny Atkinson, Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham and Dallas’ Sean Sweeney, sources said. All three of those assistants are currently coaching in the playoffs.”

D’Antoni has thrived when coaching Steve Nash. The Nash to Amar’e Stoudemire pick-and-roll was one of the league’s most lethal weapons once. He struggled during stints in Los Angeles and New York (who hasn’t) before returning to Coach of the Year ranks with James Harden and eventually Chris Paul in Houston.

So if D’Antoni takes that Hornets gig....

Implications for Doc Rivers?

2022 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

If D’Antoni lands this gig with the Bugs, it might come as tremendous relief to Sixers coach Doc Rivers. MDA has been the one name rumored to be a possible replacement for Rivers, if the Sixers were to make a change at any point. D’Antoni of course worked closely with Daryl Morey in Houston. James Harden enjoyed the best seasons of his career working with him too.

To that point, Fischer offers more intel:

“Charlotte may be D’Antoni’s best chance to return to the sideline in 2022. He’s been a popular name floated among league personnel as a potential replacement for Doc Rivers in Philadelphia should Rivers or the 76ers decide to change direction at the conclusion of these playoffs. But despite widespread rumblings of Rivers’ intrigue in the Lakers’ opening, and incessant talk of Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey perhaps desiring a different play-caller, the 76ers have maintained that Rivers and team leadership remain aligned about their future together. Rivers’ contract runs through 2024-25 at $8 million per season, which is a hefty price for ownership to swallow.”

Before the playoffs started Fischer reported that Rivers’ tenure in Philly had come into question of late with mounting speculation D’Antoni could wind up replacing him.

Hearing Fischer (the first reporter to reveal Harden preferred Philly to Brooklyn back in Jan.) report there is still “incessant talk” that Morey might prefer a different play-caller the day after fans lose their collective minds witnessing Rivers intentionally give DeAndre Jordan four more minutes than Paul Reed in a must-win playoff game is at the very least intriguing.

Few would have been stunned if the Sixers parted with Doc had they lost to the Toronto Raptors in round one. But where do things stand now in round two? Was making the second round for the fourth time in five seasons good enough? Will Embiid’s injury be factored in to possible decisions? What will the team’s stars lobby for by season’s end?

With the followup note from Fischer that the 76ers continue to maintain an alignment with Doc, paired with D’Antoni’s perhaps getting scooped by Charlotte, accounting for Embiid’s health and recalibrating reasonable expectations, factoring in how pricey it would be for ownership to continue to pay Rivers up to $24M through 2025, plus whatever new salary his hypothetical replacement commanded, all during a summer where Harden can net himself a whopping $250M+ salary and the overall impact there on a hefty luxury tax bill, eventual repeater fees... the whole thing seems to be pointing at ongoing job security for Rivers.

So hopefully they can at least add in a “play Charles Bassey clause” ASAP.