D'Antoni's departure from Phoenix was partly motivated by former general manager Steve Kerr 's insistence that D'Antoni hire an assistant to coach the defense, which, coincidentally, is something Rivers has done in Boston . He had Tom Thibodeau , a highly regarded defensive coach, on his staff during the previous three seasons. When Thibodeau left to become the Bulls' head coach, Rivers brought in former Nets coach Lawrence Frank to run the defense.My guy would be an assistant who is close to a head coaching position, like Thibodeau was, but who stays under the radar. The first guy on the top of the list who I'd throw a ton of money at would be Elston Turner.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, this again could come up as an issue for D'Antoni in the offseason. Donnie Walsh has maintained firm support behind D'Antoni throughout the season, which included three six-game losing streaks, but the need to improve the team's defensive focus and preparation might require an experienced assistant coach (i.e., Mike Brown) who can focus on that full-time. That would allow D'Antoni to do what he does best: coach offense.