Phil Jackson will not fill coaching openings in Detroit or Brooklyn, Philadelphia or Phoenix, and he isn't going to Charlotte to sit on the bench for Michael Jordan. Let's all move along. Nothing to see here.
Coaching is a young man's game and Jackson is 67 and could have physical challenges from the constant travel. He might -- might -- have some interest with the Clippers if they whack Vinny Del Negro. But besides the strife that might cause at the dinner table with Lakers executive Jeanie Buss, it's hard to imagine Jackson working for Donald Sterling.
He's made it clear he wants something more, something like what Pat Riley has in Miami: Partial ownership, presidency, full control over personnel and no reason to do any road games.
There's also no reason to believe Jeff Van Gundy, the second-most attractive candidate, will coach next season, either. Van Gundy will return to the bench at some point because he's sharp and relates well with players. But there's no hurry, mainly for family reasons (he has a child in school) plus he makes good money doing TV and he's only 51. He can sit tight, keep working part time while making full-time money, spend quality time at home and wait for the absolute right situation where he can win and make a fortune.
So who does that leave for the eight-to-11 NBA jobs that might open this summer?
You can start with Stan Van Gundy, who'd be a solid hire, although he has family obligations in Orlando and given how he soured on management in his last two jobs, will be sensitive about who he works for. If the Grizzlies, for some silly reason, don't reach terms with Lionel Hollins, Van Gundy is highly respected in the Memphis front office.
Brian Shaw, the former Lakers assistant and current deputy in Indiana, will get a job this summer if he wants one. He's the hottest assistant in the game and learned at the lap of Jackson during the Laker championship years. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal only agreed on one thing with the Lakers: Both liked Shaw. At least half the teams with openings will keep their search on hold until the Pacers and Shaw are done.
Mike Malone, the top assistant to Mark Jackson with the Warriors, will also get interviews, along with Miami assistant David Fizdale. Mike Budenholzer has spent 16 years as an assistant with the Spurs and is being pushed hard by the organization. Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson is far enough removed from the college scandal at Indiana to get a few looks.
Then there are ex-coaches who were most recently cut loose and fighting the notion of being retreads: Alvin Gentry, Avery Johnson, Byron Scott, P.J. Carlesimo, Scott Skiles.
Here's a look at situations involving teams with openings, along with others who could have openings pretty soon, and what those jobs offer:
This is an awkward spot for new GM Danny Ferry, who's ready to do a major makeover of the club. He didn't hire Larry Drew but also doesn't have a compelling reason to turn down Drew, whose contract is up, for an extension. Drew took over for Mike Woodson three years ago and took the Hawks to the playoffs ever since. This season, after losing Joe Johnson and dealing with a roster loaded with free agents -- a recipe for disaster in most situations -- Drew steered the Hawks to the playoffs when many expected they'd struggle and seal his doom. Unless Ferry has a bolder, bigger plan for the coaching situation, letting Drew go could be risky. Ferry does have an option if, as some believe, he doesn't want Drew back. He can low-ball Drew in negotiations (Drew was among the lowest-paid coaches in the league this season), give him a reason to walk, then get his own guy. The Hawks job could be a good one but it largely depends on what Ferry does with Josh Smith.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov would love a big-name coach but all the good ones are either taken or unwilling to coach the No. 2 team in the market. The Nets are locked contractually into a high-priced nucleus of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez for the next three years unless there's a major deal (unlikely). That's not a bad threesome; all have All-Star on their resume. But Prokhorov believes it's a championship threesome, which is like wrapping a noose around a coach's neck. The job would pay well but also come with such potential annoyances as being forced to live in Brooklyn or Manhattan (Long Island and New Jersey are long commutes at rush hour) and dealing with the New York media and second-team status. That said, the job is in demand because teams with solid resources and ready-to-win lineups don't have openings very often. But with Prokhorov on record as saying he wants a title in three years, how demanding will the job become?
Michael Jordan won't pay big money for a name coach because his team is at least three years away from being a contender, and that's if they make all the right moves between now and then. However, Jordan also went the cheap route the last two hires with (too old) Paul Silas and (no NBA experience) Mike Dunlap and both were axed quickly. The right route is to get a solid, up and coming assistant coach and pay him reasonably well. Whoever gets the job will be at the mercy of a wayward franchise that can't seem to gain any traction and is a lock to be in the next two draft lotteries. Plus, the Bobcats still don't have a young franchise player in the making. At least the urgency to win won't be high and therefore a young coach can grow into the job in relative peace while Jordan absorbs all the hits.
This job could launch a career. It has that much upside, and that's why Jackson agreed to help with the coaching search. Three reasons for all the optimism: Detroit has lots of money to spend on free agents or acquiring players through trades this summer and next; they have good young big men as building blocks in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe; and the franchise has no place to go but up. If Joe Dumars makes the right decisions in the draft and free agency, the Pistons turnaround could be quick. Auburn Hills was a terrific place to be in the golden years when the Pistons routinely spit out 45-50 wins and challenged for conference titles, and it can be that way again. The Pistons must aim for a coach with experience and someone who can both develop young players and deal with veteran egos.
Vinny Del Negro will meet with owner Donald Sterling within days and nobody expects him to survive. Being denied an extension would be hard to swallow for a coach who led the Clippers to their first division title and a record number of wins. It was, by all accounts, a big success, at least on the Clippers' scale. Plus, there was no shame in losing to Memphis in the first round. But the Clippers need someone who commands respect from Chris Paul, a free agent this summer, and someone who can make the Clippers dangerous for reasons other than dunking. If they don't get Jackson, the Clippers will make a hard run at Shaw, who still has a home in L.A. and would add instant credibility. This job could be a trap, however. Suppose the next coach doesn't match Del Negro's record?
Lionel Hollins is a free agent this summer and it's crazy how the Grizzlies left his situation unsettled all season. He took a team disrupted by the Rudy Gay trade at midseason and steered it to the second round and has a chance to win the West. Plus, Hollins openly expressed his desire to stay in Memphis instead of testing the market, where he'd be a hot candidate for almost any opening. He wanted to sign an extension during the season. But new ownership wanted time to weigh all factors before making a commitment. By dragging their feet, the budget-conscious Grizzlies will likely pay more for Hollins now than if they'd acted sooner.
This is an ideal job for a first-timer, because the developing Bucks aren't going anywhere fast, and so there's no pressure to win right away. The goal will be to help center Larry Sanders, who went from a stiff to a significant part of the rotation, take another step toward becoming a franchise player. One potential hazard could be dealing with guard Brandon Jennings if he returns without a contract extension. Young Money will then be angling for big money as an unrestricted free agent in 2014 and could be tough to handle if he's not getting the time and the touches.
Rick Adelman's wife had serious health issues and he left the team for a spell last season to be with her. From a personal standpoint, Adelman called the season the "toughest I've ever had, without a doubt" in his career. His wife is recovering nicely; however, Adelman said he'll take some time before deciding whether to return next season. The organization, now in the hands of new GM Flip Saunders, thinks and hopes he will.
Philadelphia is slowly turning into a basketball graveyard. The arena only fills up for name-brand opponents, the team doesn't register much of a heartbeat on the city's sports landscape and the roster is a mish-mash. Any unemployed coach with options will avoid this job like a vegetarian does a cheesesteak. The Andrew Bynum experiment was a colossal failure and, other than Jrue Holiday, the Sixers don't have much in terms of assets. This is a three-year project and it'll take a coach with patience and thick skin to endure it. The Sixers might stay in-house and elevate Michael Curry, the right hand man to Doug Collins. That would be the safe choice.
In past years the Suns job was always in demand because the complete package was irresistible: sunshine, good players, a place where players wanted to be, and solid ownership. Well, things happened. There are serious and justifiable questions about owner Robert Sarver and the Suns just had a management change. There doesn't appear to be a sound plan in place, or a star on the roster. Red flags are flapping everywhere. The Suns probably aren't sold on interim coach Lindsey Hunter but the job isn't attractive enough to get the ideal guy.
Keith Smart remains the coach for now but you can see sweeping changes coming once the Kings change hands. The new owners will surely replace Geoff Petrie and the new GM will want his own coach. Besides, Kings fans want no reminders of the Maloofs and therefore will offer no resistance to changes. This franchise is ready to open the window and let the stink out. If Smart is a goner, the new coach must be able to swallow his ego, because you know he'll get punked by DeMarcus Cousins.