A Brief Look at Possible Head Coaching Candidates for the Clippers


The Clippers are in the market for a head coach and will likely wait until the end of the NBA Finals to begin their search in earnest, as they’ll want to see who gets fired or quits their current position.

The Clippers are definitely hoping to make a big splash in both the free agent arena and the head coach arena, as they’ve proven themselves much more interested in notoriety publicity than actual franchise advancement.

With that in mind, here are some very early thoughts on possible candidates and their fit with the team.

Any Current NBA Assistant – No chance. For starters, it’s not a good job for an assistant looking to make the move to the end of the bench. They’ll forever have the stink of the Clippers on them and it could very well be their only head coaching job ever (see: Hughes, Kim). Add in the fact that Baron Davis doesn’t like taking direction from experienced head coaches not named Don Nelson and the fact that it wouldn’t be the headline-grabbing news the Clippers seek, and there is next to no chance this will happen, but I’ve learned to seldom say never. This is too bad because Dwayne Casey, currently an assistant for the Mavericks, is probably going to be the next guy to make the leap from assistant to head coach and would be a good fit for the Clippers.

Byron Scott – Again, no chance. He does have the requisite previous head coaching experience and the former Laker would be a big name in LA, but he and Baron Davis had a public feud that led to Davis being traded to the Warriors in 2005. While Baron has said he’s open to having Scott as his coach once again, I imagine that was just a good sound byte for the cameras and that he would privately voice his displeasure with such a move. Plus, Scott figures to be a key candidate for the Chicago Bulls job that is likely to be vacant very, very soon. The Bulls would be a much more attractive choice for Scott, as he could build around the supremely talented Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Jeff Van Gundy – While I do expect Van Gundy to get some consideration for head coaching jobs this summer, I think it would be a bad match for both parties were he to come to the Clippers. JVG prefers a slow-paced offense with half-court sets and aggressive defense. Half-court sets are to Baron Davis what non-Korean tenants are to Donald Sterling. Even though Baron inevitably prefers to dribble all the air out of the ball and then launch a pull-up three, he bristles at any sort of coaching in a half-court set. This would be a disaster and, frankly, JVG deserves better. If Doc Rivers leaves Boston, as has been rumored, JVG might not be such a bad fit there.

Larry Brown – While I don’t expect this to happen, I can’t decide if I’d like it to happen. I imagine Brown will either stay in Charlotte as head coach for another season or go to Philadelphia to take a front office role with the Sixers. The drawback to Brown would be that his transient nature would mean he’s likely a short-term option and that wouldn’t benefit the Clippers. The obcious plus to a Brown tenure in Clipperland would be the fact that he has the gravitas to command Baron to play good basketball (and not “Baronball”) and that he would attract key free agents (but not the big 3 discussed here yesterday). But Brown turns 70 before next season and unless he’s planning to coach for a year and then slide into a full-time front office role, he’s not the best fit for the Clippers.

Doug Collins – This could work out, but I have to wonder how much Collins would really want to return to the grind of coaching, managing egos and having the dysfunction that’s a Clipperland staple. Still, Collins is a big name who is still respected around the league (and rightly so), but I’d have to imagine his ideal gig is the one he has, announcer for TNT.

Mark Jackson – Full disclosure here: this is what I’m rooting for. Jackson, in my opinion, could be the absolute perfect fit for the Clippers, but he’d have to surround himself with a strong supporting cast. With no head coaching experience, a veteran-laden staff would be key, as would someone (anyone) in the front office who has experience negotiating with player agents, working the media and who can garner the respect of his peers around the league – i.e., NOT Neil Olshey. Jackson was a no-nonsense player (his catchphrase, “You’re better than that!” is currently used as the title of a good segment he does on ABC/ESPN and would get a lot of use as the Clippers’ coach) who would command respect from the players instantly. There would be no room for the lazy guard play that “Baronball” has become known for, nor would there be any allowance for a lack of hustle that seems to routinely take over the Clippers at least one quarter per game. Jackson lives in Los Angeles full-time and has been public about his desire to get a head coaching job. Here’s hoping the Clippers grant that wish.