I consider this a great list and I'm glad someone took the time to put such a list together.
The top coaching candidates, 1 to 25
By Chris Sheridan
Editor's note: This article was published on January 23, shortly before the Minnesota fired coach Dwane Casey and hired Randy Wittman as the new Timberwolves coach.
Rick Adelman is still keeping up with the Sacramento Kings when he's not flipping the channel to watch the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs, the two teams he finds most pleasing to the eye.
But the teams that Adelman is following even more closely are a pair of high school squads in Oregon, one of which, Lincoln, is coached by his son, David, and the other of which, Lake Oswego, brings his youngest son, Patrick, off the bench.
Rick Adelman may not be done coaching in the NBA.
"David's team only won six games all last season, and they've already won seven this year, and Patrick is playing with Kevin Love, who's up there with O.J. Mayo atop the high school prospects list," said Adelman, who is getting to keep much closer tabs on all six of his children -- not to mention his five grandchildren -- as he sits out the 2006-07 season wondering if and when he'll be asked to coach again in the league where he accumulated 752 career coaching victories before being let go at the end of last season by the Kings.
"We did a good job at the end of the year, but it ended up not meaning much," said Adelman, who still sounded resentful, but not quite bitter, after being let go in Sacramento after eight years at the helm, each season ending in a playoff loss. "You always have that interest in how is it going to work out now, and I still follow them. They certainly have the talent to make the playoffs.
"I'm still just eight months removed from it, so I'm trying to give it some time. They say the biggest stress in your life comes from leaving a job or moving, and I've done both. So we're just trying to settle down and see where we're at, see what comes around," Adelman said. "I can still coach in this league."
Adelman went on to say that he is considering hiring an agent for the first time, realizing there's a crowded field of candidates out there that he expects to be competing against in the not-too-distant future.
The ever-growing size of that crowd of candidates is why we've put together a Top 25 list of the coaches most likely to get a gig leading an NBA team sometime over the next two years.
The list below includes all kinds of different candidates -- Hall of Famers, local heroes, college coaches, young assistants with a growing rep, and lifers who are looking for their next opportunity. Some appear to be in the right place at the right time, while others are waiting for the carousel to come back around.
The rankings are only a snapshot of the way things look in mid-January 2007. Coming into the season, no one had Tony Barone and Ron Rothstein at the top of the list. Things change quickly in the NBA coaching game.
All that said, the top spot goes to someone with a championship ring, lots of wins and plenty of experience, everyone's favorite coaching vagabond ...
1. Larry Brown
It seems inevitable that the former 76ers coach and top exec, freshly installed as Philadelphia's newest front office VP, eventually will take over Billy King's job as team president or Maurice Cheeks' job as head coach (or both).
When ESPN.com asked King earlier this month to refute the notion that Brown will be coaching the 76ers by this time next year, he stormed off without answering.
2. Rick Adelman
The 60-year-old said the toughest adjustment he's had to make in his first season out of the NBA since 1997-98 is living without a tight schedule. He said he would consider a front office position if one was offered.
"When you've been in the league as long as I was, it gets in your blood. Right now it's just a matter of seeing how things fall," said Adelman.
3. Marc Iavaroni
The Suns assistant is considered almost a sure thing to join the Toronto Raptors next year after Sam Mitchell finishes out the final year of his contract. The Raptors could hire him tomorrow if they wanted to, but under the terms of the agreement that brought former Phoenix GM Bryan Colangelo to Toronto, it'd cost the Raptors $3 million -- a price tag that drops to $0 at the end of this season.
Iavaroni also has been mentioned as a leading candidate to replace interim coach Barone in Memphis, though the instability in the Grizzlies' organization might make that job too risky for a coach taking in his first job.
4. Mike Fratello
Not yet a month removed from his firing by the Grizzlies, Fratello already is being described by his agent as "eager" to be back on the sidelines.
One scenario that makes some sense is in Miami, where Fratello was a longtime broadcaster and once considered a coach in waiting. If Riley steps down permanently, Fratello could supplant Rothstein.
5. Lenny Wilkens
The winningest coach in NBA history (1,332 career victories) is a color commentator for the Seattle SuperSonics, which he's coached twice before, leading the Sonics to their only NBA title in 1979. He also has recently joined the front office as a confidant for new owner Clay Bennett.
If Seattle were to fire Bob Hill, whose status is far from secure, it would make sense to put Wilkens in charge for the time being while the franchise figures out the bigger question of whether it's staying in Seattle long term.
6. Del Harris
The silver-haired sage, a former head coach for three teams over 14 seasons, has told those close to him that he has the itch to be a head coach again as he spends his seventh consecutive season as an assistant for the Dallas Mavericks. His age (69) would figure to be working against him. Then again, Hubie Brown was 69 when Memphis hired him in 2002.
7. P.J. Carlesimo
It has now been more than nine years since the infamous choking incident with Latrell Sprewell in Golden State, and Carlesimo, now an assistant coach in San Antonio, still hasn't landed another top job. The closest he came was two years ago when he interviewed in Minnesota but lost out to Dwane Casey.
8. Randy Wittman
Casey's lead assistant for Minnesota, he is on his third tour of duty as a Timberwolves assistant. If Casey is let go, Wittman is assumed to be the man who would take over -- even though owner Glen Taylor is said to have told Wittman last summer he was not being hired as a coach-in-waiting.
9. Jay Wright
The trend of bringing college coaches into the NBA has slowed in recent years, and Mike Montgomery did little in Golden State to encourage continued use of the formula. But someone will eventually go that route again, and Wright, the head coach at Villanova, is said to have the perfect temperament to be effective in the pros.
10. Tom Thibodeau
Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy often has said he's baffled why no one has taken a closer look at Thibodeau, his top assistant, now in his 17th NBA season. Over the past two years, Thibodeau's Rockets teams are 10-0 in summer league play.
11. Bill Laimbeer
He's coached the WNBA's Detroit Shock to two championships, but is ready for a new challenge. The former Detroit Bad Boy interviewed to be the Knicks' head coach in 2005 but was passed over in favor of Larry Brown.
"It's the logical next step," Laimbeer told ESPN.com. "I'm running my course in the WNBA, but what else is there to accomplish?"
12. Jeff Bzdelik
He was never totally on the same page with the front office in Denver, which fired him early in the 2004-05 season, but Bzdelik is still one of the most respected young basketball minds out there. He has Air Force (18-2) ranked No. 13 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25.
13. Erik Spoelstra
The Miami assistant coach burst onto the national radar this season when Pat Riley anointed him the next great young coach, a moniker he has also dispensed to a couple of Van Gundys through the years. Spoelstra, 35, is the son of longtime NBA executive Jon Spoelstra and the grandson of Detroit baseball writer Watson Spoelstra.
14. Johnny Davis
He is the lead assistant to Rick Carlisle in Indiana. And if Carlisle ever pulls a Jermaine O'Neal and starts to consider the possibility of plying his trade elsewhere, Johnny D., once the head coach in Philadelphia and Orlando, would be the favorite to take over.
15. Jim O'Brien
As it turns out, the former Celtics and Sixers coach will go down as the last guy to have any success coaching Allen Iverson in Philadelphia. His 182-158 record and three playoff appearances in three full seasons figure to count in his favor. Currently writing for ESPN.com.
16. Patrick Ewing
If and when the time comes for the New York Knicks to cut their ties with Isiah Thomas, it makes sense that they would bring in a franchise icon as their next coach although Ewing's work ethic as a Rockets assistant was questioned.
17. Herb Williams
He's always a plausible fallback candidate in New York, where he's served twice before as interim head coach. If Ewing were brought in to coach the Knicks, the guy doing most of the heavy lifting probably would be Ewing's old teammate. Remember, Knicks owner James Dolan has vowed to oust Thomas if the team does not show significant progress.
18. Scott Brooks
If Eric Musselman gets fired in Sacramento, the Maloof brothers may choose to promote the 11-year NBA veteran and fourth-year assistant who spent three seasons in Denver working under Jeff Bzdelik and George Karl before moving to Sacramento prior to this season.
19. Paul Westhead
One of the NBA's early practitioners of the run-and-gun style, and head coach for the Showtime Lakers' first title, he's now the coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury. As more and more NBA teams embrace that pace, Westhead wonders -- much like Dan Issel is wondering -- why no one believes he can have success with his methods in the NBA today.
20. John Lucas
He's built a cottage industry rehabbing players at his facility in Houston, where he currently has Steve Francis making 1,000 jump shots per day, but Lucas yearns to be a head coach again after stints in San Antonio, Philadelphia and Cleveland.
"You got to put me No. 1 on that list, Chris," he said.
21. Paul Silas
Like Lucas, he hasn't coached since losing his job in Cleveland. Now building a house in Charlotte after spending last season as an ESPN commentator, Silas wants to coach again.
22. Stan Van Gundy
When he stepped down last season in Miami, the Heat tacked an extra year and $1 million on his contract and forbade him from speaking publicly. Curiously, his name was not mentioned at the news conference when Riley announced he was taking a leave of absence.
23. Tony Brown
There are those who believe Danny Ainge would take over on the bench in Boston if he fired Doc Rivers, but sources say this longtime assistant, who has a seven-year playing career in the '80s, would be more likely.
24. Keith Smart
Golden State coach Don Nelson recently endorsed the Warriors assistant as his eventual successor. Meanwhile, Smart is still waiting for his second chance after going 9-31 as the interim replacement for Lucas in Cleveland the year before LeBron James arrived.
Smart edges out Dean Demopoulos in Portland, Alex English in Toronto, Alvin Gentry in Phoenix, Bill Cartwright in New Jersey, Phil Johnson in Utah, Michael Malone in Cleveland and Larry Krystowiak in Milwaukee for the final assistant's spot on this list.
25. Sasha Djordjevic
Hailed as the best of the young generation of Serbian coaches, he's currently with Armani Jeans Milano in Italy. Played eight games for Portland in 1996-97.
Djordjevic edges out two Italians, CSKA Moscow's Ettore Messina and Unicaja Malaga's Sergio Scariolo, as the European representative on this list.