…in which Andy G and I break down candidates for the Brooklyn Nets’ coaching vacancy. (We don’t see PJ Carlesimo keeping the job either.)
Patrick J: Moving the Nets to Brooklyn and aggressively changing the team’s branding and player personnel wasn’t enough: Nets owner and Russian oligarch Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov made another big move today, firing lame-duck coach Avery Johnson. Since I’ve got the floor, I’ll start off the discussion with two words, and then throw the ball over to your court:
DAVID BLATT (!!)
Andy G: Wow, you’ve come out firing the big guns. Blatt would be an awesome NBA head coach for the obvious reason that NBA coaches typically do not scream in star players’ faces. Blatt does. He also got the Russian team to overachieve its way to a Bronze Medal in last summer’s Olympics (Or did he? AK & Shved are looking pretty legit on the NBA floor these days. Maybe that team was just plain talented.) and emphasizes ball-movement sets not unlike Rick Adelman’s.
But let’s be real: Prok is probably not going to sign David Blatt. He’ll be swiging for higher fences than that (read: Somebody who has coached in the NBA and probably somebody who has won championships in the NBA) and plus, Blatt is happily employed by Maccabi Tel Aviv. (!!!)
Names like Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Van Gundy and Larry Brown and Don Nelson (!!!) will get floated around because they are big names and Prok only knows bigtime style. But let’s have more fun with this. Let’s assume Prok can’t lure Phil out of his Montana cabin or Nellie out of his Maui cabana, and instead he needs to dig into the NCAA ranks.
Any guesses at what college coach might pique the interest of Mikhail?
Patrick J: Larry Brown would probably be the best of the bunch you mentioned (excluding Jackson, who’s unlikely to be lured from his
nudist colony in the northern California redwoods dude ranch in Montana) to coach what’s at best a fringe contender for an extremely volatile owner. Mikhail Prokhorov is not Zen.
College coaches, you ask? Let’s see. Here’s the criteria I think are running through Prok’s mind: Who is a (1) big winner, (2) really famous, (3) reputedly corrupt, and (4) seems like a NYC kind of guy?
John Calipari: Calipari has to be the leader of that competition, at least coming out of the gates. It’d be weird, in sort of the same way it was weird how the Celtics bought Rick Pitino’s services from the University of Kentucky a few years ago. And it’d be Cal’s chance to get redemption for his failed attempt at NBA coaching – which, of course, happened with the Nets.
Jerry Tarkanian: At the same time, I’m having a hard time getting Tarkanian out of my mind, though that’s mostly just because of how recklessly outlaw and successful his UNLV teams were in the 1990s. This is mostly fantasy, and Tark to the Nyets won’t happen. (Eds. note: Check to make sure Jerry Tarkanian is still alive before hitting “Publish.”) Tark is out there, alive and well, but not a realistic candidate at this point.
Other Coaches of Interest (OCoIs):
Frank Martin: For Martin, all that’s really necessary is this: FRANK MARTIN(!)*
Bill Bayno: On a serious note, there’s one (former) college guy I’d hate to see Prok poach for the Nets: Timberwolves assistant and Punch-Drunk Wolves favorite Billy Bayno. Bayno seems like he could be a Prok guy – hard working, (formerly) hard living, with Vegas credentials and a nice resume to boot.
Before we turn it over to the blogosphere, what’s your parting take?
Andy G: First, major props for the Tark the Shark reference. Aside from his (heart-warming) cameo in Chris Herren’s 30 for 30 I haven’t seen anything about Tark in what seems like decades.
So what will Prok do? Sheeeeeeeit, I have no idea. Maybe hire Gene Hackman and
force ask him to officially change his name to Norman Dale? Or if he has a better worse taste in film, the same scenario but with Nick Nolte and Pete Bell?
The possibilities are endless. Who else is looking for a job, any kind of job? David Petraeus? Prok’s co-owner, Jay-Z? Locked-out Detroit Red Wing and Russian Hockey Hero, Sergei Federov? All bets are off on this one, but it’s a story to follow. That much we certainly agree on.
*Martin deserves some consideration, if only because he was the last coach to get uber-talent Mike Beasley to play a decent season of basketball.