It’s slim pickins’ when it comes to coaching vacancies around the NBA these days. Most of the attractive jobs have already been snatched up. Scott Skiles is making his prodigal return to Orlando. Billy Donovan is now being held solely responsible for keeping Kevin Durant in OKC. Alvin Gentry has the privilege of ferrying Anthony Davis down the Amazonian nightmarescape that is the Western Conference. And Fred Hoiberg has been asked to mop up the toxic waste spill that has contaminated the entire Chicago Bulls’ organization.
The Denver Nuggets have one of the few remaining openings, and it now looks as if Mike D’Antoni might be the front-runner for the job if the franchise ultimately decides to part ways with interim coach Melvin Hunt, who’s been filling since Brian Shaw was unceremoniously let go. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
“D’Antoni’s vaunted running game fits into Denver’s determination that it wants to play faster in the future. Melvin Hunt, the interim coach in the wake of Brian Shaw’s firing, remains a strong contender to retain the full-time job, league sources said.”
It feels like a lifetime ago that D’Antoni and his “seven seconds or less” Suns were flying in the face of conventional wisdom, and ushering in the new pace-and-space era of the NBA that redefined the way offenses and entire rosters are constructed.
It’s been a bumpy road since, with high-profile stops in New York and Los Angeles — the league’s two biggest media markets and the franchises that annually harbor the loftiest of championship expectations — each of which culminated in his dismissal or resignation.
But the Nuggets are hoping he can help unleash speedy point guard Ty Lawson, and make the most of the stretch forwards he has in Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. The only problem is that Lawson and Chandler don’t particularly want to be there anymore after all the upheaval the past few seasons, and the rest of the roster is filled with spare parts. And we haven’t even mentioned the enigma that was Kenneth Faried this season.
D’Antoni will have his work cut out for him. If he wants any chance of making the playoffs next year, he’ll have to woo some free agents this summer, and Denver isn’t the most attractive destination given its recent history. They don’t have a lot of wiggle room going into next season, but they’ll also be looking ahead to the summer of 2016 when they’ll have a nearly clean slate and the salary cap sky-rockets to more than $90 million, so they can chase any number of free agents who’ll hit the market.