28 May 2007

'Round the Coaching Carousel: Iavaroni, Van Gundy, Carlesimo, and... Dennis Scott?!

The Magic only fired Brian Hill on Wednesday, yet the team has wasted no time in searching for his successor, as it wants to have a coach in place by July 1. This post will sum up all the information I've been able to find about the coaching search.

The Arizona Republic reported on Friday that the Magic asked for permission to speak with Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni. The Suns granted the Magic that permission. Iavaroni is the lead assistant for the Suns, the highest-scoring team in the league. Under his offensive-minded tutelage, point guard Steve Nash has won two MVP awards and center Amare Stoudemire has blossomed into an All-Star and All-NBA First Team member.

My take: Iavaroni is the Magic's best bet. They were 27th in scoring last season and Iavaroni's track record indicates that he knows offense. From a coaching standpoint, I think he's a can't-miss. Although Iavaroni would not create as big a buzz around the team like big-name coaches Larry Brown or Lenny Wilkens, Otis Smith said recently "I am not trying to win press conferences; I am trying to win a championship." Thus, Iavaroni's relative no-name status should not factor in to the Magic's decision.

Also mentioned as a possible candidate for the Magic's coaching vacancy is former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. An article from Friday's Sentinel quotes Van Gundy as saying, "I'm hopeful. It's a situation I'd definitely be interested in [....] It's a situation, obviously, where they've got some great young pieces in a desirable place to live." Van Gundy has not yet been contacted by the Magic.

My take: Stan Van Gundy is another solid candidate. He compiled a record of 112-73 (.605) in two-plus seasons in Miami before Pat Riley forced him out. Like Iavaroni, Van Gundy is offensively minded, as the Heat improved their scoring average from 90.3 points per game to 101.5 points per game from his first year to his second. That increase in team scoring coincided with Dwyane Wade's individual scoring, which jumped from 16.2 to 24.1 in the same period. It seems to me that Van Gundy would be a good fit for the Magic, as he might be able to hone the offensive skills of Jameer Nelson and Trevor Ariza.

An item posted on the web yesterday and originally appeared in the San Antonio Express-News mentions that the Magic have contacted current San Antonio Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo, who has previously coached the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. In a different report, Carlesimo told the Sentinel that he would not discuss any coaching positions until the end of the playoffs.

My take: Unfortunately, Carlesimo's entire coaching career has been overshadowed by an incident he was involved in as coach of the Golden State Warriors. During a practice, Latrell Sprewell choked him and made threatening comments. What I do know about Carlesimo, apart from that incident, is that he's defensively oriented; just look at the Spurs and their style of play right now. I don't know that he'd be a good fit here, considering that Brian Hill was similarly inclined to emphasize defense, but at least it shows that Otis Smith doesn't have a one-track mind.

Finally, an item in the article about Iavaroni in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel mentions that former Magic star and current Atlanta Hawks color analyst Dennis Scott, has expressed interest in the coaching position. Scott is also the general manager of Atlanta's minor-league basketball team, the Vision of the American Basketball Association. He has no head-coaching experience.

My take: With no disrespect intended, I think 3-D should stick to announcing. He has no coaching experience and should not be given control of a team.

This coaching carousel is spinning too quickly for my liking. If I hear "coach" and "Magic" in the same sentence again, it'll be too soon.


nuss said...

Where does the Lenny Wilkens coaching the Magic rumor come from? This is the 2nd time I've heard his name mentioned, and I find it utterly bizarre. If Wilkens ditched the Sonics for Orlando right now it would be the most surreal chain of events in Seattle sports history. Who would be in charge of hiring the new GM/coach in Seattle?

It's just strange.

Ben Q. Rock said...

I haven't heard his name mentioned for the Magic job officially, but his name comes up whenever there's a head coaching vacancy anywhere because people close to him believe he wants to get back into coaching. I don't see him leaving the Sonics anytime soon, though.