Jeff Van Gundy
UPDATE: Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reports on 740 The Game that while brother Stan Van Gundy is not a candidate, Jeff Van Gundy could get a call from Brooklyn.
The latest: When P.J. Carlesimo took over as interim head coach, Van Gundy was immediately linked to Brooklyn, but Van Gundy refused to comment on a coaching position that was filled. Now that it’s open, Van Gundy still refuses to comment publicly. Sources say that Van Gundy’s interest is low and that Brooklyn’s front office is looking elsewhere.
The skinny: Jeff Van Gundy has coached in the NBA twice before, only missing the playoffs once. After being promoted from an assistant to head coach of the Knicks in 1996, he led New York to the playoffs in all six years of his tenure. Van Gundy would eventually join the Houston Rockets staff in 2003, bringing them playoff appearances in three of the four years.
Van Gundy brings a defense-first philosophy and a tough, physical attitude. Van Gundy has also worked extensively in the development of elite big men Patrick Ewing and Yao Ming; working with budding All-Star Brook Lopez could be beneficial. Van Gundy’s squads rank high in defensive efficiency — only once has one of his teams not ranked in the Top 5 (2000’s NYK ranked 6th). Van Gundy is a motivator. For Nets fans clamoring for a pulse during the first half of Brooklyn’s miserable Game 7 against Chiacgo, Van Gundy is exactly what the team needs.
Since being fired in 2007 by Houston, Van Gundy has settled into a broadcasting role with ESPN. Often heralded for not being afraid to tell the truth or speak out against the league, Van Gundy is one of the most popular members of ESPN’s crew. Van Gundy has, on multiple occasions, said that he’s very comfortable with his new position and has no desire to coach again. During this season, Van Gundy wouldn’t discuss the possible Brooklyn vacancy, saying that if the Nets had interest, they’d communicate with him in the offseason. Well, here we are.
Essential Jeff Van Gundy GIF:
The verdict: The Nets should consider him, even if it’s just a phone call to gauge interest. Van Gundy’s track record is solid, and he’s a motivator; take a look at Tom Thibodeau, who brought the best out of Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in a matchup in which the Bulls were clearly outmatched talent-wise. Now, the Nets are at home and Chicago is up 1-0 on Miami. Motivation matters.