Michael Jordan’s best (and worst) choices to replace Larry Brown

By: 12.22.10

In his first nine months as majority owner of an NBA franchise, Michael Jordan has been through a few years’ worth of experiences:

He watched his Charlotte Bobcats make their first-ever playoff appearance, then watched them suffer their first-ever postseason series sweep. In free agency he re-signed a promising future building block (Tyrus Thomas), then let a potential All-Star point guard walk (Ray Felton). Now he has helped facilitate the departure of his team’s head coach, Larry Brown, meaning Jordan’s next big task will be hiring a replacement.

It has been reported that all of Brown’s assistants have been let go, so this won’t be a case of promoting an interim. Jordan needs to pick The Guy, and he has to do it soon while working over the Christmas holiday, because the Bobcats’ next game coming up is on Monday. Here are some likely (and unlikely) choices Jordan might consider:

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Scottie Pippen — Whose basketball knowledge would Mike trust more than Scottie’s? The man who helped Jordan win six rings as a player wants to be a coach, and though inexperienced, Pippen would gain instant respect from Charlotte’s players with his Hall of Fame resume.

Paul Silas — His name is being mentioned as a top candidate. Noted NBA tough guy of the 1960s and ’70s has a .470 winning percentage as a head coach, having last coach LeBron and the Cavaliers in ’04-05.

Roy Williams — This could be the home-run pick, but it wouldn’t happen until next season. So Jordan could bring in a temp, then throw the (gold-plated) kitchen sink at Roy next summer. Basketball fans in Charlotte care infinitely more about the Tar Heels than the Bobcats, and would be all about Roy coaching their pro team … or they’d hate him for ditching UNC when the program is supposed to be back on the rise, then hate Jordan for pilfering UNC’s coach. So maybe this wouldn’t be a good idea.

Don Nelson — He is the NBA’s all-time leader in coaching victories and has five championship rings to his name. The Bobcats currently rank 29th in the League in scoring offense, Nellie’s specialty.

Patrick Ewing — Though MJ and Ewing were fierce rivals back in the day, they always had a high respect for each other. Ewing has paid his dues as an assistant coach with Orlando, and some believe he’s ready for a crack at a head coaching gig.

Mark Jackson — One of the hottest names on the coaching market not too long ago, Jackson surprisingly wasn’t hired by any team last summer. His lack of experience coaching at any level is the obvious red flag, but he is a respected basketball mind, and another former player who would have the respect of the current players.

Mike Brown — There is a guy sitting out there without an NBA job who led his team to 60-win seasons each of the last two years, along with deep playoff runs and one NBA Finals appearance.

Mike Woodson — And there’s another guy looking for work just led his last team to three straight playoff appearances and oversaw the development of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford into All-Star level players.

Leroy Smith — If he could motivize Michael Jordan into becoming the greatest player of all-time, surely he can get Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson to a conference semifinal, right?

Mike Fratello — Jordan knows his work from the ’80s and ’90s, current players know him from TV, and surely the telestrator will translate to the clipboard.

Byron Scott — You don’t think Scott could be convinced to walk away from the Cavs right now? Here’s the scenario: Bring in Scott, who was Chris Paul’s first and favorite NBA coach, then pull whatever string you have to pull to get CP3 to come back home to N.C. to save the franchise.

Michael Jordan — You think he wouldn’t?

Who do you think will be Charlotte’s next head coach?

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