As the 2022-23 NBA season comes to a close, the offseason begins for a number of teams. For several of those teams, a major part of offseason plans will include the search for a new head coach.
Among franchises in search of new leadership on the sideline are the Pistons and Rockets, who have parted ways with Dwane Casey and Stephen Silas, respectively. While Casey will move into a front office role to help Detroit in its search for its new head coach, Houston will start from square one with general manager Rafael Stone leading the search.
If this past season taught fans anything, it’s that the NBA’s coaching carousel is year-round, as the Hawks completed a rare midseason hiring, bringing in Quin Snyder after parting ways with Nate McMillan. Had Atlanta not made a move for Snyder, it may have had much more competition this offseason when a number of other teams are expected to make coaching changes.
Along with the news of these openings comes a list of potential candidates that are expected to be in the running for these vacancies. The Sporting News takes a look at some names that will be prevalent in discussions.
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NBA head coach carousel: Names to know ahead of offseason
Regular season record: 118-190 (.383)
Postseason record: 1-4 (.200)
Atkinson is in his second season as an assistant coach on Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State. In 2022, Atkinson agreed to take the Hornets’ head coaching job before a change of heart resulted in him staying with the Warriors.
Most teams will consider Atkinson for any coaching vacancy, but his decision to remain in The Bay could be a sign that he is next in line to succeed Kerr, but he’s also been linked to the Houston opening. It’s all worth monitoring.
Regular season record: 672-527 (.560)
Postseason record: 54-56 (.491)
As long as there are coaching vacancies, D’Antoni will be linked to them.
Since leaving the Rockets in 2020, D’Antoni has spent a season as an assistant coach in Brooklyn and the past two years as a coaching consultant in New Orleans. If he’s not opposed to a full-time return to the sideline, D’Antoni will again be a candidate for any desirable openings.
Regular season record: 147-99 (.598)
Postseason record: 9-13 (.409)
Joerger is in his third season as an assistant with the 76ers but has had his fair share of success as a lead man. In 2013, Joerger inherited the Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies after six seasons as an assistant in Memphis, where he helped the Grizzlies maintain their identity and push the dynastic Warriors to their limit in 2015.
Despite a few rough years leading Sacramento, Joerger’s history makes him a prime candidate for a team that wants to shake things up after falling short in the postseason.
Regular season record: 517-486 (.515)
Postseason record: 23-44 (.343)
Stotts last coached the Trail Blazers during the 2021 NBA Playoffs but has been linked to a few coaching vacancies in the time since.
Whether or not Stotts returns to coaching remains to be seen, but he has been spotted at a few NBA arenas during the 2022-23 season. He is an ideal coaching candidate for a veteran-laden team with hopes of competing in the postseason.
Regular season record: 51-32 (.622)
Postseason record: 14-10 (.583)
In his first season as an NBA head coach, Udoka led the Celtics within two wins of an NBA title. Months later, the Celtics suspended Udoka for the 2022-23 season for “violations of team policies” that ultimately resulted in his being let go.
Despite how his tenure in Boston ended, Udoka has been linked to coaching vacancies and was thought to be the next lead man in Brooklyn before the franchise moved in a different direction. Udoka’s success in his first season of coaching makes him a prime candidate to get a fresh start elsewhere. He has already been linked to the vacancies in Detroit and Houston.
Regular season record: 431-389 (.526)
Postseason record: 49-39 (.557)
Two years after leading the franchise to an NBA title, Vogel and the Lakers parted ways.
Vogel is a proven winner, leading the Pacers to deep postseason runs before taking the reins in LA, where he won a title in his first year. Defensive-minded and practical, Vogel is another coach that can be called upon to lead a group of veterans ready to win now. Vogel’s name has been mentioned as a potential candidate in Houston.
Regular season record: 33-85 (.280)
Postseason record: 0-0 (.000)
A true player’s coach, Watson’s name is one that deserves mention in conversations around coaching vacancies.
In 2016, Watson took over as Phoenix’s interim head coach and took the lead job for one full season before being let go three games into the 2017-18 campaign. He’s currently an assistant on Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto.
Cassell is now in his 14th season as an NBA assistant coach and his ninth working alongside Doc Rivers.
In recent years, Cassell has been involved in the interview process for a number of coaching vacancies but has yet to get the nod. So long as Cassell’s name stays in the mix, it will only be a matter of time before he gets his shot.
Griffin is in his fifth season as an assistant with the Raptors and his 15th season as an assistant coach in the NBA.
The nine-year NBA veteran has continued to improve his coaching pedigree in recent years and is the next in line when Nick Nurse is not available to lead Toronto. Last year, Griffin interviewed for the Lakers’ vacancy — a sign that his name is rising toward the top of the list of soon-to-be head coaches.
In each of the last few years, Lee has been mentioned as an up-and-coming name in the coaching ranks.
Lee, 38, is finishing his ninth season as an NBA assistant, all of which have been spent alongside Mike Budenholzer. An up-and-coming team in search of new leadership could look to Lee, who, much like a few teams around the league, is on the rise. According to Charania, he is expected to be among candidates for the job in Detroit.