Will Wizards hire a head coach for the first time? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Wizards’ search for a new head coach goes back almost two weeks as other teams in the league continue to fill their vacancies. Here are a few notes on the research, which doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon …
* The Wizards head coach search continues to focus on NBA assistants and those who have never been a head coach before. This trend was reported last week and continued with each name made public. The Wizards seem to know what they want and this looks like a newcomer who could grow with the roster and bring a new perspective.
* One name that emerged, Scott Morrison, coached the Canadian national team and was head coach of the Celtics G-League branch. Don’t be surprised if you hear more from applicants with this type of experience. As reported by NBC Sports Washington, The Wizards are looking for candidates with international experience who follow GM Tommy Sheppard’s record as an executive. Experience in the international ranks or in the G-League might help separate some assistants from the rest, as they are all aiming to become NBA head coaches for the first time.
* It should be noted that the Wizards haven’t hired a first head coach in 20 years. Ed Tapscott took over in 2008 without any experience as an NBA head coach, but he only served on an interim basis. The last time they searched for a head coach and found themselves with a rookie was in 2000 when they hired Leonard Hamilton from outside the varsity ranks. He lasted a year before stepping down under the leadership of Michael Jordan. Hamilton has since grown into one of the most respected coaches in college basketball in the state of Florida, where he constantly develops NBA draft picks.
Scott Brooks, Randy Wittman, Flip Saunders, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins; all had been head coaches elsewhere before. By taking a new approach, perhaps wizards would find more luck. For a franchise like them, with little playoff success dating back to the 1970s, it might be worth trying something a little different.
* In the “Former Wizards Assistant Coach with Recognizable Name” category, the meaning is that Wes Unseld Jr. has a better chance than Sam Cassell. Despite its popularity among fans, Cassell’s name doesn’t come up as much as some might expect. Cassell has a big supporter in Bradley Beal, and Beal of course has power within the organization, but he’s also not one to use that power to create some sort of ultimatum. At least he hasn’t shown that trend in the past.
Things have remained calm on Unseld’s forehead since the first news that wizards were interested. This shouldn’t be overinterpreted, as the Wizards have kept much of their research out of the public eye, as evidenced by the lack of names reported compared to other jobs. If they move forward with Unseld, that would make a lot of sense. You could take his father’s inheritance and name out of the equation and he would still be highly qualified for the job.
* In case you call, there are now only three openings in the league. The Mavs hired Jason Kidd, the Pacers got Rick Carlisle, the Celtics hired Ime Udoka, and the Blazers brought in Chauncey Billups. There are wizards, pelicans and magic. If you had to rank the Jobs, the Mavs, Celtics, and Blazers would likely all have an advantage given that their superstar players are on contract longer than Beal. Now, the Wizards’ biggest competition would likely be the Pelicans, who have the opportunity to coach Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to offer.
* Sheppard said he would take his time early in this research, going so far as to say that patience can be a competitive advantage. So, there’s no reason for Wizards fans to worry about it taking that long, or to worry about other teams snatching up top contenders. If the Wizards do end up with a head coach for the first time, they need to do their research to find the right fit, and if they do, taking a long-term view could pay off.
* Now that the Blazers have gone with Billups, that means Becky Hammon is readily available after becoming the first female to be a finalist in an NBA head coach search. The Wizards are considering female nominations in their search, but it is not clear whether they have contacted Hammon at this point.