The Brooklyn Nets are looking at current ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy as a strong back-up coaching candidate if they are unable to persuade 11-time champion coach Phil Jackson to fill the vacancy, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
ESPNNewYork.com also reported that before Van Gundy would even consider taking the job that he would need to get to know Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the internal operations of the team. A source told Yahoo! Sports that Van Gundy, who has prior coaching experience with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, would rather assume the position after the season and not during the season.
“I would never comment on a job that was filled,” Van Gundy told Yahoo! Sports. “I was an interim coach. I hope P.J. has great success there. He’s someone I respect greatly.”
The Nets fired coach Avery Johnson on Thursday after starting the season 11-4 and going 3-10 in the month of December. P.J. Carlesimo has been named interim head coach and led the Nets to a 97-81 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night.
The 67-year-old Jackson is the Nets obvious top candidate to fill the coaching void, according to ESPN.com on Thursday. Jackson was in the mix for becoming the Los Angeles Lakers coach for his third time in November, but was surprisingly passed over for Mike D’ Antoni.
Prokhorov attempted to dodge questions regarding the Nets interest in Jackson as the next head coach on Friday.
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“P.J. is the head coach and we have an amount of trust with him,” Prokhorov said. “Now P.J. is the head coach, and if it become necessary, you know who the usual suspects are.”
The Nets are also looking at the Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson, Nate McMillan, Mike Dunleavy and several other coaches to possibly take over.
“I’m from Brooklyn. Coaching there would be a dream come true,” a tweet from Dunleavy read on SirusXM Basketball.
But Carlesimo could have the “interim” title removed if he can get the Nets back on the winning track.