Bobcats narrow down coaching candidates; Magic, Blazers eye GMs
Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan is considered a leading candidate for the Bobcats
The Magic and Blazers are looking for new general managers as well as coaches
Larry Bird's uncertain status with Pacers has affected other team's GM searches
As if the NBA playoffs and lead-up to the June 28 draft weren't enough to keep hoops fans satiated this time of year, there's a number of personnel positions in play that are worth monitoring.
Portland and Orlando are on the lookout for new general managers, with respective coaching searches to follow. Meanwhile, Charlotte's coaching search might be speeding up the GM searches because some of the Bobcats' candidates -- namely Indiana assistant Brian Shaw and Golden State assistant Michael Malone -- are considered likely candidates for the Blazers and Magic positions as well.
A quick breakdown, based on what I'm hearing ...
The Bobcats' brass continues to whittle down its list of head coaching candidates after parting ways with Paul Silas on April 30, and a source with knowledge of the situation said that Shaw will travel to Charlotte for his first interview for the position on Friday. As I reported on May 7, Shaw was among the first candidates on Charlotte's radar but he had preferred to focus on the playoffs before taking part in any team's coaching search. Owner Michael Jordan, general manager Rich Cho and president of basketball operations Rod Higgins are all taking part in the search.
Shaw is freed up now that the Pacers fell to Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he'll no doubt impress with his championship resume. Before he was a finalist for the Cleveland head coaching position that went to Byron Scott in 2010, Shaw was a part of five title teams with the Lakers (three as a player during his time there from 1999 to 2003, and two more as a Lakers assistant from 2004 to 2011). He is also expected to be a candidate for the Orlando coaching position, although the Magic are focusing on their general manager vacancy before moving forward on the coaching search.
Beyond Shaw on the Bobcats' front, Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan -- as he told SI.com last week -- interviewed Friday in Utah and is considered a leading candidate. He gets my nod as the front man, but that's just an educated guess.
Malone -- who is also expected to be in the mix in Orlando and for Portland's coaching vacancy -- remains on the short list, along with former Portland coach/Raleigh native Nate McMillan. While Yahoo! Sports reported that Orlando assistant -- and longtime friend of Jordan's -- Patrick Ewing is no longer in the mix, a source said Cleveland assistant coach Nate Tibbets is still in the running. Memphis assistant Dave Joerger and former Charlotte assistant Stephen Silas (Paul's son) also interviewed, but their status is not known.
According to sources, Orlando CEO Alex Martins will interview former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower on Thursday. It is believed that Martins is traveling to visit with GM candidates as opposed to having them come to Orlando, and that meeting is likely in Bowers' New Orleans locale.
Otherwise, the organizational success of San Antonio and Oklahoma City that is being showcased in the Western Conference finals is on display here as well. Sources confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that Spurs vice president and assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey is a serious candidate, as well as Thunder vice president and assistant general manager Troy Weaver and fellow Thunder assistant general manager Rob Hennigan. The ties between San Antonio and Oklahoma City run deep, as Thunder general manager and former Spurs assistant general manager Sam Presti has created a near-identical culture and used a similar roster-building strategy with his team.
Former New York and Indiana general manager Donnie Walsh was expected to be a leading candidate for the job, but a source close to the Indiana resident said he was waiting for the Pacers situation to unfold before possibly heading elsewhere. Front office sources had said for quite some time that Indiana president Larry Bird was expected to leave the team after this season, and those sources said he even told people close to him to prepare for his departure. But he told local reporters Wednesday that he wanted to meet with owner Herb Simon before making a final decision.
As was first reported by CBSSports.com, Indiana executive and former Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard also has been contacted about the Magic vacancy. A source told SI.com that he is expected to meet with Martins next week. Orlando parted ways with general manager Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy on May 21.
Portland's search appears to be nearing an end, with sources confirming reports that Bower, Indiana general manager David Morway and Clippers general manager Neil Olshey are finalists. Blazers owner Paul Allen, however, tweeted on Wednesday that there are four candidates, and a source involved in the process confirmed a Comcast SportsNet Northwest report that the fourth is Philadelphia senior vice president Tony DiLeo.
But one source close to the situation said to not dismiss the idea that interim GM Chad Buchanan could remain in charge, especially if Allen loses his preferred replacement to Orlando. Buchanan has done good work since taking over for the fired Cho more than a year ago (aside from drafting Nolan Smith at No. 21 last year when Denver's Kenneth Faried was still available), and appears to be in Allen's good graces. I'm hearing this search could conclude next week, if not sooner.
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