The New Orleans Hornets head coaching search is starting to take on Hedo-esque boomerang qualities. There have been a million updates, non-updates and quasi-updates this week and it's enough to make your head spin.
To boil it down: New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower narrowed his list of candidates down to two men, Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau and Portland's own Monty Williams. Bower supposedly preferred Thibodeau, who is regarded as a defensive gameplanning genius and is now repped by the famous/infamous mover/shaker World Wide Wes. Earlier this week, Bower reportedly offered Thibodeau the position and, in an attempt to lock him up as quickly as possible, imposed a deadline for a response that was set for the start of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which is tonight. If that deadline wasn't met, New Orleans has hinted that they will offer the job to Williams, who interviewed with the team in May and has the support of star guard Chris Paul.
As of tonight, the "deadline" has come and gone and Thibodeau has essentially called Bower's bluff, as yet refusing to make a decision on the job offer. Reports are that he met with the Chicago Bulls about their head coaching job last night and that New Jersey may be interested in his services as well.
Many are asking: What's the hold up with Thibodeau, why is he taking so long to decide? Starting tonight, the real question should be: What's the hold up with Bower?
The last of those options certainly appears the wisest, as Williams possesses a unique combination of qualities that make him the ideal "safety school" pick. First, he is a drama-free straight-shooter. Second, he is ambitious and confident enough to take on a New Orleans roster that will need some serious re-tooling before it can contend without making demands for front office input or authority, as other candidates reportedly have. Third, he's humble enough and has worked hard for long enough to position himself for this opportunity that he is not to going to give two spits whether he was the Hornets' first, second or 100th choice. Ego simply isn't in his vocabulary. This dragged out story and the strange headlines disappear on Day One of the Williams tenure.
Indeed, one can safely assume that Bower can have his next coach, a promising, hard working, and intelligent head coach, tomorrow. Going off of Williams's previous statements and everything we've come to know about him throughout his time in Portland, there's no way he turns down a serious head coaching offer. Pull the trigger and get on with the draft preparation. It's not considered "settling" if you liked the candidate in the first place.
Really, Thibodeau's silence should tell Bower everything he needs to know. If I were hiring for a head coaching position in the NBA, the single most important criteria to me would be commitment to the organization. If your coach isn't all in -- one. hundred. percent. all. the. way. in. -- it won't work. The players won't trust him, management will tune him out over time and free agents will think twice about committing to your organization.
In hindsight it was a mistake for Bower to impose a decision "deadline" on a coach who is in the middle of preparations for the NBA Finals. It wasn't realistic and it was, probably, a little desperate. Now more than ever this is a "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" situation. Williams remains ready, waiting and eager and no one, absolutely no one, will ever question his commitment. So I ask, again, what's the hold up?
Jason Quick reports that Williams was given a second interview today.
Trail Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams on Thursday had a phone interview with the New Orleans Hornets - his second interview with the team about the Hornets' head coaching vacancy.
Williams' agent, Steve Kauffman, said the Hornets told him that Williams remains a "strong candidate," but added that no offer has been made.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter