I wanted to do a "NBA Coaching Vacancy Power Rankings" list, but that felt a lot like something Bleacher Report would do. And if I ever start sounding like Bleacher Report in my analysis that is when I know it's time to close the laptop and retire from sportswriting. But since I still want to do a "NBA Coaching Vacancy Power Rankings" list, in order to make it not feel like Bleacher Report I have to do two things. ONE: make the entire list on one webpage and TWO: make the list original. Not that hard.
So I'm going to rank the vacancies as if I've been offered them as the highest regarded coach in the carousel, Tom Thibodeau. Could have been Walton, but taking a point-of-view perspective of Thibs is going to be more fun, so I'm being him. I'm including jobs that are currently being worked by interim coaches as well, so that will include the Knicks, Suns, and Rockets. And I also want to throw in the Lakers job too just because at this point we're really unsure whether or not Byron Scott will be back. Lastly before I start at 7 with the worst of the openings, I want to let it be known that if not for the Nets hiring Hawks assistant coach Kenny Atkinson on Sunday that they would have been last. By a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Last by a lot. Poor Kenny Atkinson... Ok let's do it.
7.) New York Knicks
So this team is probably the fourth or fifth best opening for a lot of other coaches, but not for Thibs. Yes, Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony are two VERY good players. Yes, you would get to coach in Madison Square Garden for the New York Knicks. Yes, acquiring free agents to compete again in New York City with Tom Thibodeau as coach seems like a given. But Phil Jackson breathing on your neck, asking to coach home games, all while Melo is still trying to be a LeBron player-coach is not very appealing. Unless you want to be another one of Phil Jackson's puppets for 5 months before you get fired Thibs, DO NOT TAKE THE KNICKS JOB.
6.) Phoenix Suns
*Inside the mind of a Tom Thibodeau*: "Devin Booker is pretty cool. A top five pick in the draft this year could turn out well, and Alex Len and TJ Warren are ok I guess. But in 2019 I'm still going to be paying Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Tyson Chandler $43.2 million collectively? Who built this roster? amian Lillar? Because whoever built it forgot about the D! Yeah man, y'all got nice facilities. But why build a beautiful house and put nothing in it? I'm gonna pass on the coaching job in Phoenix because of all the things I just said, but mainly because PJ Tucker scares me."
5.) Sacramento Kings
The Kings are going to be last on any list you read for all the reasons you think that they'd be last. But realistically they'd be an eight seed next year with Thibs as their coach. They have a roster built for it, Rudy gay is a nice two-way player, Belinelli would play better with Thibs, McLemore is a good player, Trillie Cauley-Stein and Seth Curry are contributors, a top 10 pick this year, and some free agent signings along with the fact that Boogie is the best big man in the NBA right now is probably worthy of a playoff spot in the West next year. But as we know all too well, Boogie is the best big man based on talent level alone, and there would probably be a lot of friction in the Thibs-Boogie relationship right off the bat based on the way Thibs runs his teams. Kings is slightly appealing, but still a strong no from Mr. Thibodeau.
4.) Los Angeles Lakers
No matter how terrible the situation could be, YOU'RE COACHING THE FREAKING LOS ANGELES LAKERS MAN THAT WOULD BE SO DOPE. But it really isn't that bad in LA, no more Kobe Bryant and look at all the assets: D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and probably Ben Simmons/Brandon Ingram. And the rumors about DeMar DeRozan aren't just he said-she said, that dude would probably be playing in LA if Thibs is there. Expectations wouldn't be high in year one either. This team and this organization is still respected despite what has happened in the past few years. If Thibs took this job it would probably work out pretty well. But he won't. Expect to see Byron Scott back unless the Lakers can get Luke Walton.
3.) Houston Rockets
Although there is a certain stigma attached to James Harden right now, he is still one of the seven most valuable players in the league. Last year when the Rockets had a fantastic season that ended in a loss to the Warriors in the conference finals is a better indicator of what this team could be going forward with Thibs, rather than what they've done this year. The Rockets would have Harden and other key contributors coming back, including Dwight Howard potentially. Plus, Daryl Morey and Thibs would work really well together.
2.) Washington Wizards
Anyone who hasn't watched 200 John Wall games in the past few years would probably put the Lakers and the Rockets above the Wizards on this list, but guess what, I've watched 200 John Wall games in the past few years. That guy is probably one of the ten best players in the league and nobody knows it yet. People don't know it but that dude is actually unreal, and any smart coach would be able to turn a roster with Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, and Markieff Morris into a strong contender in the East. Those are the only guys on the cap sheet starting next season, so Thibs would have input on every roster spot that's not those guys. Could build a pretty sweet roster with those guys. But, of course, how good is this core actually? On paper this year they should have been in the playoffs easily. But to be fair they were statistically the most injured team in the league this year, and switched to a completely new offense this year that neither the players or the coach was ready for. Regardless, the unknowns with the Wizards are there, and will probably keep Thibs away.
1.) Minnesota Timberwolves
Yo man, Karl-Anthony Towns is super dope. There is no other way to say it. When Tom Thibodeau sleeps he probably dreams about Karl-Anthony Towns catching passes in the high post, and then wakes up and just smiles. The only players I would trade straight up for Towns is probably LeBron and Steph and that's it. The Timberwolves roster could just be Towns and then 12 Birdman Andersens and it would still be the best available coaching job. But that's not it, they got some other dudes too: Ricky Rubio (he's only 25), Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones, and another top five pick this year. Even though I hate Andrew Wiggins I'm still willing to admit that group of guys is still pretty appealing. Especially considering that expectations in year one would not be all that high. Plus, word is that Thibs could be getting front office control the way that Doc Rivers has in Los Angeles, or the way that Flip Saunders had in Minnesota not too long ago. I would be surprised if we don't see Thibs coaching the T-Wolves next year, especially considering he probably got the job offer already.
|Austin Vershel||You damn right!|