Houston assistant coach Kelvin Sampson was so impressive holding the Rockets together during head coach Kevin McHale’s absence that apparently he’s joined a list of established NBA coaches in the Nets’ search for a coach. This, according to a report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports a meeting could happen soon. Surprised? Don’t be.
Sampson cut his teeth preaching defense, and the Nets can use it: They’re ranked 18th in defensive efficiency this season, and rank 22nd in defensive rebounds in the last 10 games. Prior to joining McHale’s staff this offseason, Sampson turned Milwaukee’s defense from 15th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions during his first season to second and fourth in his final two, respectively.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Nets’ interest in Sampson isn’t official, yet.
Sampson said Friday in San Antonio he has not been contacted in any way by the Nets. The Rockets have not yet been asked for permission to speak with Sampson. But Sampson does want to be a head coach after a long career as a college head coach, and he wants to remain in the NBA.
He’s joining a group of brand-name coaches in the NBA being talked about as finalists, including Mike Dunleavy, who openly lobbied today for the job on his XM Radio show.
“I’m from Brooklyn. Coaching there would be a dream come true.” That’s not all. When Justin Termine, his co-host asked, “Is the Nets job a premiere job in the league?”, the Nazareth High grad responded, “I think it is now that they’re in Brooklyn.”
Sampson doesn’t fit the “name” requirement many outlets reported owner Mikhail Prokhorov seeks in his next coach, but he’s a winner at every level he’s been at and has shown success with Houston this season, a team that was in disarray with all its new pieces and its head coach gone. If you take the angle that the Nets are really just grandstanding about trying to sign Phil Jackson while working a different list of finalists, Sampson no longer sticks out as much next to the Van Gundys, Dunleavy and Nate McMillan.
What do you think of Sampson’s candidacy?
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