Projecting the best fit for each NBA head coaching vacancy
Each club listed below will likely fill its head coaching vacancy ahead of next month's draft and the start of free agency in August.
Here's a look at an ideal fit for every opening.
Boston Celtics - Darvin Ham
Brad Stevens' move to the front office in Boston was quite surprising, especially after he signed an extension less than a year ago. The Celtics' opening is arguably the most coveted, and Ham is among the hottest names on the market.
Mike Budenholzer's right-hand man reportedly took himself out of the running for the Texas Tech job earlier this year, hoping to land an NBA gig. The 47-year-old has worked with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Giannis Antetokounmpo during his decade-long tenure in the Association as an assistant. He's also gained experience nurturing young talent throughout his time in the G League, which includes a season as a head coach.
Ham's ability to connect with both star players and youngsters could be the perfect combination for a relatively young Boston squad. Additionally, Budenholzer's coaching tree has produced some notable names, including Quin Snyder, Taylor Jenkins, and Kenny Atkinson.
Indiana Pacers - Mike D'Antoni
Indiana will almost certainly go with a veteran after its experience with rookie bench boss Nate Bjorkgren. The Pacers were linked to D'Antoni last offseason, and the two sides coming to an agreement now would make a lot of sense.
The two-time NBA Coach of the Year is an offensive guru, and he would undoubtedly help a club that finished middle of the pack in offensive efficiency during each of the previous three campaigns. Indiana also placed second in passes per game and fourth in pace last season, and D'Antoni's past teams have excelled in those areas.
The Pacers boast some intriguing offensive weapons, and D'Antoni might be able to maximize their potential.
Portland Trail Blazers - Jeff Van Gundy
Van Gundy hasn't held an NBA head coaching gig in nearly 15 years, but he remains very well-connected to the game. The 59-year-old has been part of ESPN's broadcasting team since the Houston Rockets fired him in 2007, and he's served as USA Basketball's bench boss for the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup and 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifying phase.
Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey is seeking a defensive-minded coach, and there are few candidates who fit the bill more than Van Gundy. Over his nine full seasons as an NBA head coach, Van Gundy's clubs registered seven top-five finishes in defensive efficiency.
He's also no stranger to postseason success after guiding the eighth-seeded New York Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals.
Orlando Magic - Sam Cassell
Cassell made an impact at each of his three stops over 11 years as an NBA assistant coach. The three-time NBA champion oversaw the early development of John Wall and Bradley Beal during his time with the Washington Wizards. As a member of Doc Rivers' staff with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, Cassell has been a mentor for Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Ben Simmons.
The 51-year-old has built a proven track record while coaching up guards, and he could similarly help Orlando's young backcourt - consisting of Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and R.J. Hampton - take the next step.
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