Report: Nets want to make a big splash with coaching hire

Tom Thibodeau (AP)
Tom Thibodeau (AP)
Tom Thibodeau (AP)

Surprise: the Nets reportedly want to make a big splash.

You should already know the names of the team’s top general manager candidates: former Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo, Denver Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, San Antonio Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks, Houston Rockets vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

But when one is eventually hired, one of the biggest tasks on the long to-do list — to find the team a head coach — might not be entirely in their hands. Per trade deadline guru Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the next general manager may have secondary input to an “elaborate committee” of Nets management, who want to hire a “significant presence” to man the bench:

One thing that has become apparent: The next GM will not have unilateral control in hiring the Nets’ next coach, sources said. The organization plans to pursue a coach through the elaborate committee that it has assembled to interview GM candidates. The GM will have input, but the Nets want to hire a significant presence as head coach – among a pool of candidates that they hope includes (Jeff) Van Gundy, (Tom) Thibodeau and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.

The “elaborate committee” includes (but may not be limited to) chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark, and president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment USA Irina Pavlova.

The Nets have had issues with new coaches (Jason Kidd), veteran coaches (Lionel Hollins), and middle-age coaches (Avery Johnson). Fit is first — the coach has to have a vision for what he would do with current and future personnel, and be willing to take on a team with a significant dearth in talent and slim avenues for improvement.

Hiring a significant presence in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. There’s a reason big names are big names — they’ve endured some measure of success or notoriety in basketball circles. Thibodeau or Messina would likely be seen as excellent hires; Van Gundy’s interest in a return to coaching has always been murky, but he’s got a good reputation as an NBA coach built from his time in New York and Houston, and has remained a presence in the broadcast booth.

But the Nets have also found themselves in the position that they’re in because of that impetus to go for big names: after trading away almost every future-inclined asset or player they could between 2011 and 2014, the Nets have had a worse record in each of their three seasons in Brooklyn, and find themselves near the bottom of the standings at 14-40 this year despite a veteran-laden starting lineup and a salary figure butting up against the salary cap.

The Nets are in no rush to hire a head coach. The team isn’t going anywhere this year, and more intriguing candidates may be available in the offseason after teams decide to make changes in their own coaching staff.

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