7 Best Available NBA Coaches – Who Is Available for 2023/2024
The NBA landscape is buzzing with speculations and discussions about the potential head coach candidates for 2023 as several teams find themselves in the market for new leadership. The pool of candidates is diverse, featuring former head coaches, top assistants, and successful figures from the collegiate level.
Top Available Coaches
1. Mike Budenholzer
From his early career days serving as an aide to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for nearly two decades, Budenholzer has maintained a reputation of high regard in the basketball community. Although it took him considerable time to secure a position as a head coach, he has since demonstrated his coaching prowess at two separate franchises.
While at the helm of the Atlanta Hawks, Budenholzer guided the team to the playoffs four times in five seasons, highlighting his tenure with a 60-22 record in the 2014-15 season, the best in the Eastern Conference.
Regrettably, his journey with the Hawks concluded due to insufficient success in the playoffs. However, Budenholzer quickly found a new home with Milwaukee, achieving a .693 winning percentage until his departure earlier this spring—a stint highlighted by securing the 2021 NBA Championship.
The prospect of Budenholzer receiving another opportunity this cycle is still uncertain. Nonetheless, it is inevitable that he will assume a head coaching role in the future.
2. Kenny Atkinson
Many argue that Atkinson was unfairly treated in Brooklyn. He assumed leadership of a faltering team and embarked on a rebuilding project in 2016-17, successfully guiding the Nets to an unexpected playoff stint just two seasons afterward.
After the 2019-20 season resumed in the Orlando Bubble, Atkinson was subsequently succeeded by Jacque Vaughn on a provisional basis. Atkinson, who is recognized for his proficiency in developing young talents, has emerged as a prime candidate for NBA head coach positions in recent times.
He was even offered the role of head coach by the Charlotte Hornets the previous offseason but chose to stay on for another year as the chief assistant to Steve Kerr at the Golden State Warriors.
3. Doc Rivers
The absence of playoff victories was a crucial factor in the decision of the Philadelphia 76ers to part ways with Rivers. The team had a 3-2 series advantage against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, but they failed to secure victory in the last two matches.
This marked the third sequential second-round departure for the 76ers with Rivers as the head coach. Rivers had previously steered the Boston Celtics to an NBA championship in the 2007-08 season; however, teams under his guidance have surpassed the conference semifinals only on two occasions since then.
This includes his challenging postseason tenures with the Los Angeles Clippers. Nevertheless, Rivers’ extensive experience and proven track record will likely render him an appealing candidate in upcoming opportunities.
4. Mike D’Antoni
At 71, it’s still uncertain whether the renowned Mike D’Antoni is considering a return to coaching roles within the NBA. His most recent role was a supporting position with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2020-21 season. Should the veteran coach decide to make a comeback, several teams would likely be keen on acquiring his expertise.
Throughout his 14-year journey as an NBA head coach, D’Antoni, with stints at the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets, has guided 10 teams to the playoffs. His time with the Suns from 2003-08 saw him pioneer high-tempo offenses.
Additionally, during his initial three seasons with Houston from 2016-19, he successfully led the team to over 50 wins each season.
5. Mark Jackson
To numerous individuals, it’s startling that since his notably effective term with the Golden State Warriors, Jackson hasn’t secured a role as an NBA head coach. Consider this viewpoint: Jackson steered the Warriors to back-to-back NBA Playoff showings before his dismissal, succeeded by Steve Kerr, preceding the 2014-15 season.
Indeed, the Warriors evolved into a dynasty under Kerr’s direction, but it was Jackson who set the initial groundwork. His leadership in 2012-13 led Golden State to 47 victories and a journey to the second round of the playoffs, a feat considering the Warriors had seen only one playoff showing in the past 18 seasons.
Jackson’s personal philosophies may raise questions about their alignment with contemporary NBA norms, but there’s no denying that he has demonstrated significant coaching acumen.
6. Frank Vogel
One might argue that Vogel experienced an unfavorable outcome during his time in Los Angeles. He successfully guided them to secure the NBA title in the Orlando bubble at the end of the 2019-20 season, a challenging circumstance for all parties involved.
However, the Lakers recorded 75 wins and 79 losses over his last two seasons. Throughout this period, key players LeBron James (53 games) and Anthony Davis (80 games) were absent frequently due to injuries.
Before his stint with the Lakers, Vogel achieved playoff qualifications in five out of his seven seasons managing the Indiana Pacers. His career thus has a backdrop of triumph. Whether this history of achievement paves the way for another chance for Vogel is yet to be determined.
7. Terry Stotts
To begin with, consider the significant decline the Blazers have experienced since deciding to part ways with Scotts after the 2020-21 season. Under his guidance, the team reached the NBA Playoffs eight times in a row, achieving over 50 wins on three occasions.
In contrast, Portland has struggled since, with a record 44 games below. 500. They suffered 49 losses in the recent season, and there are rumors that Damian Lillard might request a trade in the upcoming summer. Stotts has clearly demonstrated his capabilities as an NBA head coach.
It’s also crucial to remember that he acquired valuable experience while working as an assistant coach to legendary figures like George Karl and Rick Carlisle. This background lays a solid foundation for Stotts to secure another premier coaching position.
Rising Stars from the Assistant Ranks
Charles Lee of the Milwaukee Bucks and Sam Cassell of the Philadelphia 76ers have been in the limelight for the past few cycles and are known for their strategic minds and player development skills.
Adrian Griffin of the Toronto Raptors and Chris Quinn of the Miami Heat are also gaining attention for their work with young players and their adaptability to different coaching philosophies.
Brian Keefe, with his extensive experience under various coaches, Jerome Allen, with his diverse coaching background, and Kevin Young, known for his expertise in developing young talent, are also in contention. Jordi Fernandez, with his successful player development stints, is another name being floated around.
Collegiate Coaches Stepping Up
Jerry Stackhouse and Kevin Ollie, both with NBA experience and successful collegiate coaching stints, are being considered for their unique perspectives and player development skills. Mark Few, who transformed Gonzaga into a powerhouse, and John Calipari, with his extensive collegiate success, are also in the conversation.
Eric Musselman and Juwan Howard, despite their previous NBA struggles, have revitalized their careers in the college ranks and are strong contenders.
Breaking the Mold
Andre Iguodala and Udonis Haslem, both transitioning from player roles, bring a fresh and insightful perspective to coaching, having been in the players’ shoes recently. Dawn Staley, with her successful run in women’s college basketball, and Becky Hammon, with her groundbreaking role as an assistant in the NBA and successful WNBA stint, represent the wave of inclusivity and diversity in the NBA coaching landscape.
How does the selection process for an NBA head coach work?
The selection process for an NBA head coach typically involves teams conducting a thorough search and interview process, considering various candidates with different backgrounds and experiences.
Teams evaluate candidates based on their coaching philosophy, experience, success, and ability to lead and manage players. Final decisions are usually made by the team’s management and ownership.
Have any of the mentioned candidates been NBA head coaches before?
A3: Yes, several mentioned candidates have had previous stints as NBA head coaches, such as Mike Budenholzer, Doc Rivers, and Kenny Atkinson, each bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to potential new roles.
How important is previous NBA coaching experience when considering candidates for head coaching positions?
While previous NBA coaching experience can be advantageous as it provides insights into the league’s dynamics and demands, it is not the sole criterion.
Teams often consider a range of factors, including leadership skills, coaching philosophy, player development, and adaptability, and candidates from diverse backgrounds, like assistant coaches and collegiate coaches, are also considered.
What is the average tenure of an NBA head coach?
The average tenure of an NBA head coach can vary, but it is generally around 3 to 4 years. However, success, adaptability, and the ability to maintain positive relationships with players and management can lead to longer tenures.
How does the salary of an NBA head coach compare to that of a player?
NBA head coaches generally earn less than the top NBA players, but their salaries can still be substantial, often ranging from $2 million to $10 million per year, depending on their experience, success, and the team’s budget. In contrast, NBA players can earn salaries ranging from a few million dollars to over $40 million per year, excluding endorsements.
The array of potential head coach candidates for 2023 is vast and diverse, promising a dynamic and transformative future for the teams and the league. Whether it’s experienced minds, fresh perspectives from former players, or groundbreaking inclusivity, the NBA is poised to witness innovative strategies and enriched team dynamics in the coming seasons.
The blend of traditional coaching wisdom with modern, inclusive approaches is set to redefine the boundaries and elevate the standards of professional basketball coaching.