As Fred Kerber reports Friday, "If there is an overwhelming front-runner right now, the Nets are guarding it closely."
Five weeks into the coaching search --and four weeks before the draft, the Nets don't appear to have a front-runner, after having failed to convince Phil Jackson he should return to coaching and having failed to convince Danny Ainge that he should let Doc Rivers talk to them.
"So figure there is a surprise candidate out in left field," Kerber speculates. Here's his rundown of the names most mentioned, which is based both on sources and speculation.Things are that closely held at the PNY Center.
--Lionel Hollins: "Several sources maintain Memphis’ Lionel Hollins is not the odds-on choice he appears to be in some circles." Kerber's former colleague at the Post, Peter Vecsey tweeted the same sentiment early Thursday morning.
--Scott Skiles: "One name who surfaced and has disappeared is Scott Skiles, whose history includes walking away from a previous job."
--Brian Shaw: "[Donnie Walsh] fielded several calls and asked that teams wait until the end of the playoffs.An Indiana source stressed the Nets were not among the early callers." Kerber noted that that may mean nothing since King is so close to Walsh he could call when the Pacers' season ends.
--Jeff Van Gundy: "Maybe they are also waiting to the end of the playoffs, when Jeff Van Gundy re-enters the mix after he calls the last NBA Finals game for TV. For as many folks who say 'maybe' as many say 'no way'."
Kerber makes no mention of two veteran candidates who've been discussed, Jerry Sloan and Larry Brown. but does quote a "league source" as saying "I think they have high regard for [Shaw], but with that roster and owner, my gut says they would want an established guy."
But yet another NBA executive suggests that the recent success of former assistants --Tom Thibodeau, Frank Vogel and Mark Jackson-- should give the Nets second thoughts. "[Experience] is overblown. You get the right staff and it doesn’t matter. It’s all about what is the best fit for your ball club," the exec told Kerber. In fact, the Kings hired Jackson's assistant Mike Malone Thursday, filling another vacancy.
- Casting their Nets for a new coach - Fred Kerber - New York Post