The Washington Wizards decided against extending the contract of Scott Brooks, as the two sides were unable to agree on a new deal. Brooks coached the Wizards for each of the past five seasons. He guided the franchise to three postseason appearances—but won just one playoff series.
Official: We have parted ways with Scott Brooks and will begin a coaching search immediately. https://t.co/5q0wTGasGG
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 16, 2021
Brooks ended his tenure in Washington with a 183-207 record as the head coach. The Wizards finished 34-38 this season, earning the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They were eliminated in five games by the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round of the playoffs.
Washington is one of six NBA teams with a head coaching vacancy. As the Wizards look for a new voice for their locker room, let’s examine the four best candidates for the job.
4. Terry Stotts
The Portland Trail Blazers relieved Terry Stotts of his head coaching duties earlier this month after nine seasons. He was let go following the Trail Blazers’ first-round exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. While Stotts was unable his former team over the hump, he has a solid resume as a head coach. He guided Portland to eight consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2019.
Portland’s inability to reach an NBA Finals under Stotts is more of a result of the front office’s failure to provide superstar Damian Lillard with a worthy co-star teammate.
Stotts has experience overseeing a talented backcourt, having coached Lillard and CJ McCollum, which may come in handy with the Wizards featuring Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook at the guard positions.
If the Wizards want an experienced head coach, Stotts would be a wise choice. He holds an above-average mark of 517-486 (.515) since becoming a head coach back in 1994. His 517 wins rank 34th in NBA history.
3. Wes Unseld Jr.
Denver Nuggets assistant head coach West Unseld Jr. is one of the most coveted names on the coaching market. He has been Denver’s top assistant since 2011. Before taking that role, he actually served as an assistant for the Wizards from 2005-2011. Unseld Jr. is, of course, the son of Wes Unseld—the greatest player in Washington’s franchise history.
Unseld Jr. is reportedly on Washington’s radar. He has no NBA head coaching background, but that is the case with other potential candidates.
Some head coaching candidates to watch for the Wizards: Wes Unseld Jr., Sam Cassell, Becky Hammon, Kenny Atkinson, Mark Jackson.
Maybe Robert Pack gets a look. Assistant on Brooks' staff, coached Summer League, close with Westbrook.
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) June 16, 2021
2. Sam Cassell
Another longtime assistant coach, Sam Cassell is a potential target for the Wizards’ now-vacant coaching gig. Cassell began his coaching career with the Wizards as an assistant, a role he worked from 2009-2014. He was an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-2020 and holds that same title currently for the 76ers.
Cassell is considered a strong candidate for the Boston Celtics’ head coaching vacancy, so the Wizards may opt to hire the 51-year-old as soon as possible.
1. Mike D’Antoni
Longtime NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni is currently an assistant for the Brooklyn Nets. He left the Houston Rockets at the end of last season following a four-year stint with the club that included a Western Conference Finals appearance. He was named the 2017 Coach of the Year with the Rockets, an honor he also won in 2005.
D’Antoni has 672 victories—placing him 21st on the NBA’s all-time wins list—against 527 losses. He oversaw the superstar rise of James Harden when the two were together in Houston. He also coached Westbrook in the point guard’s lone season with the Rockets.
D’Antoni already interviewed for the Trail Blazers’ open coaching job, so the Wizards could have some stiff competition to hire the two-time Coach of the Year.
Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni is interviewing for the Portland Trail Blazers coaching job today, sources tell ESPN. Two more assistant coaches — the Clippers’ Chauncey Billups and the Spurs’ Becky Hammon — are set to interview with Portland early this week, too.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 14, 2021