Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blazers Coaching Update

My apologies on the lenght between posts ... work and travel have eaten up all of my time.

In a non-Blazer related note, I spent some time at Wrigley Field last week and had front-row seats next to the opposing dugout. Email me if you'd like a link to some pictures we took.

Anyhow, back to some Blazer news. The search for a coach is heating up, and it seems that the folks who aren't candidates are getting more press than the guys who are candidates. Nash was on Jim Rome last week and said he "hoped" to have a coach in place by the next two weeks (read: before the draft), and with the club being so tight-lipped about the process it's been tough to say if that will happen.

Rumors have had Portland offering the job to Flip Saunders, but he turned it down for several reported reasons, the foremost being that he wouldn't have had GM title and control. And Nash is now claiming that Saunders is out of the mix completely, which makes you think that he has in fact turned the job down. Additionally, Kerry Eggers wrote in today's paper that Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, Jim O'Brien, and Eric Musselman (one of this bogger's faves) are all not being considered. So who is? Here's what we're hearing.
  1. Marc Iavaroni. Currently the top assistant with the Phoenix Suns, and credited with molding Amare Stoudemire into what he is today. Portland may have some competition from Detroit for Iavaroni's services if (when) Larry Brown leaves the team. He doesn't have any NBA head-coaching experience, but is well-regarded around the league and woudl be a solid hire -- especially considering that Portland's offense will run primairly through its PG and PF, much like Phoenix's.
  2. Dwayne Casey. Currently the top assistant with Seattle. Casey is credited as being the team's X-and-O guy, while Nate McMillan is the motivation guy. This would be a fantastic hire for Portland, although rumors have the Sonics wanting to offer their job to Casey if they don't reach a contract agreement with McMillan -- so watch those negotiations closely. Casey has ties to Portland and is known for a high-pressure defensive scheme and an up-tempo offensive scheme.
  3. Paul Silas. I'm confused by this candidate. Silas is essentially more in the mold of a Maurice Cheeks, where his relationship management is probably his strength moreso than in-game coaching. We've tried that once and it didn't work, why try again? Nonetheless, Silas will have the respect of the players, which I don't think Cheeks had.

I'd be excited with either of the first two candidates listed. Portland isn't winning a championship next season, so taking a younger coach who might be more willing to mold his style of play to the personnel on Portland's young, developing team, is an exciting probability.

Who is your preference? Email me here and I'll post the better reader responses on the site.

Update: Tuesday, 3:02 pm.

It appears that Scott Skiles hasn't been able to reach an agreement with the Bulls on a contract extension, and he and his agent are ending talks. Chicago has an option to pick up one more year on his deal ... if they aren't willing to commit long-term, do they want a lame-duck coach around? If Portland truly is looking for a teacher and a disciplinarian who focuses on defense, Skiles certainly fits that mold, and would undoubtedly get added to this list.

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