Reports began to surface on Monday evening that the Nets have made contact with Phil Jackson regarding the team's now-vacant head coaching position. On Tuesday morning, General Manager Billy King didn't quite deny those reports.
"As I said, we would reach out and see just to gauge it," King said during an interview on WFAN. "Basically, I'm gonna talk to Phil and see what he's gonna do, what he wants to do. There will be some other guys that we'll do research on, gather background on, and we'll start the process. The process has started, I'll say that."
Those same reports on Monday evening said the team's short list of coaching candidates included noted NBA coaching vagabond Larry Brown and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, while Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy and Nate McMillan are not currently on the list, though that could change should the Nets fail to land any of their top three.
Former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, who coached Deron Williams for the first five and a half seasons of his career, is considered a long-shot according to the report, while Doc Rivers would be an intriguing possibility if he were to be released from his contract with the Boston Celtics, which still has three years left on it.
For all intents and purposes, this head coaching situation, which arose early Sunday afternoon once King announced that interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo would not be retained after a 35-19 showing in the regular season, will be in a holding pattern until King gets a grasp on what exactly Jackson wants to do.
It is unclear whether or not Jackson, owner of 11 of NBA championship rings as a head coach between the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, would actually want to coach again. What is clear is that Jackson appears to be seeking a job in a front office, possibly comparable to the role Pat Riley fills with the Miami Heat as Team President.
King signed a multi-year extension to remain with the Nets on April 26 and while he didn't say whether or not he would be willing to cede some front office power to Jackson, he certainly wasn't willing to touch the topic without having all his ducks in a row first.
"That's the one thing, I wanna talk to Phil, I don't wanna go on that report because everyone writes reports and they're false about what we're doing," King said. "I wanna talk to him, I don't wanna speculate and say, 'Well this is what the reports say, so I have to react to what the reports say.' I'll talk to him and then I can answer the question from that point, but I'm not gonna give any validity to the reports."
Beyond Jackson, Brown and Shaw make sense if they are indeed high on King's wishlist.
Brown, Brooklyn-born and Long Island-bred, coached the Philadelphia 76ers for six seasons from 1997-2003 while King was the General Manager there. Over those six seasons, Brown went 255-205 with five playoff appearances and a trip to the 2001 NBA Finals. Currently the head coach at Southern Methodist University, Brown is 1,519-1,092 between the NBA, ABA, UCLA, Kansas and SMU.
A Jackson disciple, Shaw is generally viewed as one of the top assistant coaches in the league and primed for his first shot at a head gig. Shaw went to the NBA Finals four times as a player, winning three rings under Jackson with the Lakers from 2000-02. He also won two rings as an assistant coach under Jackson in 2009 and 2010.
Shaw was a candidate for the Lakers job after Jackson retired following the 2011 season, but was ultimately passed over in favor of Mike Brown.
If King's coaching search does indeed reach Shaw, King is going to have to wait until the Pacers' season is complete. Up 1-0 on the Knicks, Game 2 of that Eastern Conference Semifinals series is slated for Tuesday evening at Madison Square Garden.
"Right now we’re in the heat of the battle in this second round, I’ll deal with all of that stuff after we’re all done," Shaw told reporters following practice on Monday.Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA