We’ve heard a lot of names tossed around as potential replacements for Mike Brown as we inch closer to the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night and the NBA Draft next month. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) reports some interesting bits of information regarding the Cavaliers’ opening alongside his Timberwolves updates. Among them, Zgoda says that Lionel Hollins was interviewed by Minnesota three weeks ago but it has not progressed any furthered. He mentions that Hollins is in the running for the Cleveland job.
Hollins was the Memphis head coach for three different stints, two on an interim basis in 1999-00 and 2004-05. When he was handed the full-time job in mid-season 2009, he started a very successful run of playoff appearances. After a 13-26 finish in 2009 and a 40-42 campaign the following year where the team missed the playoffs, Hollins helped his team become just the fourth eighth seed to upset a top seed in the first run, as the 2011 Grizzlies beat the Spurs in six games, advancing to the semis where they battled the Thunder tooth and nail for seven games before losing the series. In 2012, Memphis won 41 games in the lockout-shortened 66 game regular season, but they lost in the first round in a seven-game series with the Clippers. Last season, the Grizzlies won a franchise-record 56 games, got their revenge on the Clippers with a first round series victory in six, knocked off another top seed in Oklahoma City in five, and then were swept by the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Hollins was let go following last season.
Zgoda had this to say about two of the more popular college options for head coaching vacancies:
“Izzo was offered the same five-year, $35 million offer to coach and run the Pistons that Van Gundy eventually accepted last week. Izzo also declined when Cleveland fired Mike Brown and called for the second time in four years. Hoiberg, too, appears content to remain in college coaching, at least for now.”
It’s not hard to believe that Izzo declined the Cavaliers’ pursuit for a second time if he wasn’t going to accept the lucrative deal to run the Pistons and stay in the State of Michigan. Given the volatility of NBA head coaching ranks, Izzo has it far too good to consider the jump now. Hoiberg, however, is at a program in Iowa State that is respected but far from a perennial contender. He stands to move up somewhere in a big way, whether that’s at a more highly regarded college program or in the NBA.
George Karl’s name also refuses to go away, and Zgoda says he remains interested in Cleveland or Washington (should Randy Wittman be fired). Karl coached the Cavaliers from 1984-1986 with a 61-68 record and a first round playoff exit in 1985. He went on to win over 1,000 games at stops in Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Denver, reaching the Conference Finals in 1993 (Seattle), 2001 (Milwaukee), and 2009 (Denver) along with a Finals trip in 1996 in Seattle.
There are currently five head coaching spots open in Cleveland, New York, Minnesota, Los Angeles (Lakers), and Utah. Stan Van Gundy (Detroit) and Steve Kerr (Golden State) have already been hired this offseason.