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Posted: Monday March 15, 2010 1:49PM; Updated: Monday March 15, 2010 6:34PM
Frank Hughes
Frank Hughes>INSIDE THE NBA

Coaching carousel could spin slowly (cont.)

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Tom Thibodeau's success in making the Celtics a top defensive unit has placed him on many shorts list of head coaching candidates.
Elsa/Getty Images

Tom Thibodeau, Boston Celtics assistant

Thibodeau's name has been one of the hottest in the league for a few years now, primarily because he is the architect of the defense that helped the Celtics win the 2008 title. He was rumored to be a candidate for the Knicks' and Bulls' jobs two years ago.

Doug Collins, TNT analyst

Collins, who lives in the Phoenix area, would leave the booth to coach again, but only in certain situations. His daughter lives in Philadelphia and his son lives in North Carolina, so a job with the Sixers or the Bulls would fit his criteria to move closer to his family and lead a team with pieces in place.

Avery Johnson, ESPN analyst

Johnson has an impressive résumé and is the most likely among the TV guys to get a job. He led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006, losing to Miami, and was dismissed after Dallas lost two consecutive first-round playoff series. However, he remains a hot name and has head coaching experience.

Larry Brown, Charlotte Bobcats

What's that? He already has a job, you say? That does not really matter with The Nomad. He reached out to Clippers owner Sterling about a month ago to let him know that he'd be interested in coming back. That is supposedly dead now that Michael Jordan is in line to take over the Bobcats. But with Brown, one never knows.

Dean Demopolous, Portland Trail Blazers, assistant

Nate McMillan's top assistant has a nice grasp of the game. He interviewed for the Minnesota job last year and was being pursued by the University of Hawaii.

Lukewarm names

Sam Mitchell

The 2006-07 NBA Coach of the Year, Mitchell has been lying low since he was dismissed by the Raptors in 2008. He may need to get on someone's bench for a bit before he is brought back as a head coach.

Patrick Ewing, Magic assistant coach

Many in the league didn't think Ewing would make the transition from star player to NBA coach because of the amount of work that needs to be put into coaching. But to his credit, Ewing has done a nice job and is positioning himself for a spot somewhere down the road.

Keith Smart, Warriors assistant coach

Golden State's lead assistant is capable of running his own team, but he probably loses some credibility because of his association with Nelson, which is not really his fault. But he is labeled as the defensive coach for a team that plays very little defense, and Nelson does not really have an extensive coaching tree.

Adrian Dantley, Nuggets assistant coach

Dantley has done an excellent job stepping in for George Karl during his illness, a difficult situation for Dantley, who is bouncing back and forth between the two jobs. Some think he may be too quiet to be a head coach, but he has been effective when Karl has been out.

Mario Elie, Kings assistant coach

He is learning on the job after a long playing career and, like Ewing, is positioning himself for a spot somewhere down the line.

Monty Williams, Trail Blazers assistant coach

Portland's second assistant, Williams has a good understanding of the game. He was rumored to have interviewed in Minnesota as well.

Mark Jackson, ABC analyst

He supposedly was up for the Knicks' job that went to Mike D'Antoni and actually might be a good fit in Indiana because of his relationship with the Pacers. But he probably needs to get some experience on somebody's bench before he takes over an organization.

Jeff Van Gundy, ESPN analyst

One of the prevailing theories with the "TV guys" is that many still think they are going to command $5 million annual salaries. But there is a paradigm shift in the NBA and only a select few coaches are going to get that type of money any longer. Van Gundy is happy because he can do his television games without the stress of coaching. But, if you ever listen to his broadcasts, he has a fine basketball mind. Like his brother Stan, he has to lose the "Van Grumpy" reputation.

Lester Conner, Pacers assistant

If Pacers owner Mel Simon wanted a way to cut ties with O'Brien and not have to pay another coach a ridiculous amount of money, hiring Conner may be the way to go.

News and views

1. Another aspect of the fear of a lockout is that some NBA coaches may look to take jobs in college that they otherwise wouldn't consider, if only because they'll have a paycheck in 2011 rather than sitting around and scouting.

• Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin, who played at DePaul, has interviewed at his alma mater, according to a source, and may get that job.

• Portland's Monty Williams is being looked at by Oregon, which also has spoken with former Sonics/Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo, who still lives in Seattle.

• The Ducks have hired Paul Westhead to coach their women's team. Westhead was on Carlesimo's staff in Seattle. Another name that has surfaced for the Oregon job is Houston assistant Jack Sikma, who has strong ties to the Northwest and whose son, Luke, plays for the University of Portland.

• UNC-Wilmington has been speaking with Phil Ford, Larry Brown's assistant with the Bobcats.

• Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant's father, Joe, is trying to get the vacant job at the University of Hawaii, which reached out to Blazers assistant Dean Demopolous the last time it had an opening.

2. A rather gaunt gentleman emerged from the visiting locker room recently at a Warriors game and removed his cap to reveal only a few sprouts of hair atop his head. The man was barely recognizable, even to those used to seeing his well-known face for so many years.

It was Blazers owner Paul Allen, who had just finished chemotherapy and radiation treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that he beat 26 years ago but returned seven months ago. He is hopeful he has beat it again.

"I have gone through the fire with the chemo. I am waiting for the final results to come in. So I am bouncing back," said Allen, who was in San Francisco to catch a tribute concert for his musical love, Jimi Hendrix, at the Warfield Theatre.

That is good news for fans of both the Blazers and Seattle Seahawks because Allen is one of the most passionate, involved owners in the NBA and NFL, and losing him would be a blow to both leagues. Allen is the first of two major NBA personalities to be diagnosed with cancer this year. The other is George Karl, who for many years coached the Seattle SuperSonics, Allen's hometown team.

Allen said he had not spoken to Karl about his cancer but was planning to call him, if for no other reason than to give the perspective of somebody who is going through a similar struggle.

"This is my second time dealing with cancer," Allen said. "It is a tough process. You just have to keep your chin up and keep thinking positive because there really is no upside at looking at the downside of these situations. If you are passionate about things like George is about basketball and like I am with the different things I am involved with, those really help you get through these tough times.

"Chemo is once every three weeks. Radiation can be multiple times a week. You have to deal with the fatigue, especially if you are trying to do competitive things. You have to focus and step up and really concentrate on that. But sports is such an uplifting thing. I remember when I was 30, one of the things that really cheered me up back then was following the Sonics at that particular point. Just following a team in general really takes your mind off what you are going through."

According to Forbes, Allen is the 32nd-wealthiest person in the world, worth an estimated $10.5 billion. Another high tech mogul, Oracle's Larry Ellison, the world's sixth-richest person at $28 billion, has said he wants to buy the Warriors, the team Allen's Blazers were playing this night.

"I've met Larry a few times. I've been on his boat a couple times. I don't talk to him very frequently," Allen said. "But I would tell any prospective owner of a major league franchise it is going to be a lot of fun.

"But it is super important to have good management. Have a good general manager. Those positions are so important, the key to the future of your franchise. Especially in the initial years, get the best people you can. Learn about the sports. You hire great people, learn from them and the more you get involved in these sports the more you are going to love it.

"It's hard to explain. When you see things from the inside, is really makes your enjoyment that much more. I know Larry is super competitive, so I'm sure he is going to find some rewarding aspects of being involved in professional sports ownership."

3. It is just me, or is Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's endorsement for Tyreke Evans as Rookie of the Year via a news conference and rally a not-so-subtle way to get the residents of Central California excited about a new arena? Come see the NBA Rookie of the Year for years to come. That is, if you give us state financing to build a new arena. If you don't, the Kings may move elsewhere and you are going to miss the next great player develop into a superstar.

Johnson seems to be laying the groundwork for future lobbying efforts while at the same time ingratiating himself with the Sacramento supporters. It helps, of course, that Evans is almost a lock to win the award.

I wonder what Johnson would have done had he been the mayor of, say, Denver and pulled together a rally for Ty Lawson.

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