Last offseason there were exactly zero NBA head coaching vacancies. This year there is likely to be a blood bath. One third of all head coaching jobs might be vacant in the next month or two. Replacements have to come from somewhere, and in recent years teams have looked at NBA assistant coaches more than in the past. The alternative, hiring a veteran NBA head coach or a successful college head coach, is less popular than it once was.
Chris Mannix of Yahoo! Sports looked at which assistant coaches might well be in line for some of those soon-to-be-available head coaching jobs:
On the condition of anonymity, Yahoo Sports asked more than three dozen high-ranking team executives to name two assistants whom they see as the top head-coaching prospects. The only criteria: Execs could not name assistants from their own staffs, and assistants could not have any NBA or major-college head-coaching experience.
Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors got the most votes with 16. Portland’s David Vanterpool came in second with 13 votes. Vanterpool gets high praise for his work with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and receives a nice compliment from Terry Stotts:
Vanterpool, 45, has risen rapidly. He joined the Blazers’ bench in 2012 with Stotts after two seasons as a pro scout in Oklahoma City. In Portland, Vanterpool has worked closely with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum – “He has done a remarkable job with our guards,” Stotts told Yahoo Sports – and is the de facto defensive coordinator on Stotts’ staff, leading a defense that ranks in the top 10 this season. Said Stotts: “He really thinks the game like a head coach.”
The Milwaukee Bucks (Joe Prunty), Phoenix Suns (Jay Triano) and Memphis Grizzlies (J.B. Bickerstaff) are teams currently using interim head coaches after letting their head coaches go.
Go to the article to read about the other coaches who might be making the step up to head coach soon.