ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz looked this week at who are the top coaching and GM prospects in the NBA, and in both categories, the Nets were represented.
Specifically, Arnovitz chose five coaching prospects and five GM’s ... and laid out what are the qualifications NBA owners are seeking out. Among the five coaching prospects, he picked Chris Fleming, the Nets’ offensive coordinator and among the GM’s, Sean Marks’ assistant, Trajan Langdon.
For prospective coaches, Arnovitz wrote the qualifications include being multilingual, have player development experience, find joy in the game and have experience.
Here’s what he wrote about Fleming, who is also the German national team coach. He’s leaving that gig after the FIBA Eurobasket this summer...
Fleming spent 15 years coaching in Germany, where he racked up a ton of league and cup championships and still presides as the national team coach. After a single season under Michael Malone in Denver, he joined Richmond Spiders teammate Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn last summer.
Three smart front-office folks who keep stock of the NBA's coaching ranks named Fleming one of their favorite below-the-radar prospects. They see a guy who carved out a unique path overseas. They see a grinder in a cutthroat job that requires superb communications skills and an appreciation for players of vastly different backgrounds, ages and pedigrees. Fleming is regarded as terrific with people, but he's no softie, either -- his personality profile is similar to that of his boss in Brooklyn.
Creativity reigns supreme in Europe, and Fleming brought that sensibility to the U.S. And like Atkinson, he has a versatile skill set as an X's and O's maven who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty on the court developing talent -- especially important in Brooklyn, where the Nets will need to coach up their ragtag group of journeymen and kids. Fleming is still a relative unknown to many in the NBA, but look for that to change as the league continues to dig for interesting people who have the blend of experience to succeed in the top job.
Arnovitz notes that Atkinson was on this list last season.
As for GM’s, the qualifications are developing a culture aka a “value system;” understanding what ownership wants: putting fear and fatalism to the side; and working hard at all aspects of the job.
Here’s what he wrote about Langdon, who like Fleming has a wealth of experience in the NBA and Europe (and is capable of speaking to ownership in their native language, Russian).
When execs muse about the intangibles that make an effective general manager, they frequently cite range of experience as a helpful ingredient. In this event, Langdon has nearly every base covered. He played at college basketball's royal academy in Duke, then in the NBA before venturing overseas, including a long stint with CSKA Moscow under Ettore Messina (and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov). Upon retirement, he joined the Spurs as a scout before serving in Cleveland's front office.
Marks made Langdon his first hire, which speaks volumes about his potential as an executive and his eye for talent. Former players bring a specialized set of skills and experiences to the executive suites, where the job isn't only talent evaluation but talent management. Be it college divas, journeymen or international products, Langdon has shared locker rooms with them all.
League insiders say Langdon needs a few seasons in Brooklyn during what promises to be a painstaking rebuild, but will eventually receive some serious looks from owners intrigued by a managerial prospect with a playing career and some Spurs shine.
In addition to Langdon, Arnovitz’s list includes the man San Antonio hired to replace Marks, Brian Wright, who went from the Pistons to the Spurs.