In the matter of NBA coaching vacancies, there are two ways of thinking: 1) If you’re a candidate for a job, you better be careful. If you sign on with a bad franchise, you’ll never get a fair chance to win, and your headcoaching career could be buried forever.
2) There are only 30 of these jobs in the world. If you get a chance at one of them, grab it!
Such a decision probably will be facing Marc Iavaroni, the Suns’ assistant coach, who is among the most well regarded of anybody in his position.
Already, his name is associated with vacancies in Memphis and Sacramento and perhaps Seattle.
Iavaroni, of course, if focusing on his Suns job, where he’s the lead assistant and heavily involved in the Suns’ defense and in guiding the team’s big men.
He’s mum on the subject of other opportunities.
But fellow Suns’ assistant Alvin Gentry, who has considerable NBA head-coaching experience, has a definite opinion.
Speaking in general terms rather than about any particular opening, Gentry said, “There are only 30 jobs. And there’s a million guys trying to get those jobs.
“You have to take it and hope for the best.”
The number of coaches who get to step into a winning situation are few and far between.
“Avery Johnson (of the Mavericks) is one of the few guys that ever have been able to come in as a young coach for a really good basketball team,” Gentry says.
Otherwise, “If you’re taking a job . . . it’s a bad job that you’re trying to make a good job.”
An example is Byron Scott.
Scott did a great job taking the Nets twice to the finals before getting fired.
When the Hornets job came open, he got plenty of warnings that the job was a dead-ender, one that could bury his career, and that he should wait for the Lakers job to open.
But he took the job and has won praise for keeping the team in the playoff race the past two years.
Back to the present:
The Grizzlies also could be looking at David Griffin, the Suns vice president of basketball operations, for their general manager’s job.
Another likely candidate is Kiki Vandeweghe, who rebuilt the Nuggets into a playoff team (though he also drafted Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002 over Amaré Stoudemire).
Jerry West, who is stepping down as team president, is believed to favor the Iavaroni-Griffin combination.
The Grizzlies have not set a timetable on making their hires, though they are expected to wait for the Suns’ season to end.
DEATH OF A GIANT
David Halberstam, one of America’s greatest journalists and authors, died in a car accident last week near San Francisco.
Though Halberstam was best known for his study of the Vietnam War, “The Best and the Brightest,” he wrote a number of sports books, including “The Breaks of the Game.”
The book loosely follows a season of the Portland Trail Blazers, as the Blazers’ team was coming apart after winning the NBA title in 1977.
“The Breaks of the Game” probably still stands as the best book on the NBA.
Halberstam was perceptive enough to interview two up-and-coming figures in the game: Jerry Colangelo, the Suns’ general manager, and Paul Westphal, the Suns’ all-NBA guard.
CLIPPERS’ FUTURE HAZY
One year ago, the Clippers were on the rise.
Today, they seem on the verge of collapse.
A couple of unexpected late losses caused them to drop out of the playoffs.
More important, the once-promising Shaun Livingston – who could have fetched Allen Iverson in a trade – may miss next season with a knee injury.
And Sam Cassell, at 37, may finally have worn out.
Clipper fans now can rue the draft pick of Yaroslav Korolev in 2005 (they passed up Danny Granger to take him).
Their biggest hope is to resurrect Chris Kaman, who signed a $52 million deal in the offseason then went bust.
Kaman “has to have a major work-ethic summer,” coach Mike Dunleavy said.
“We think we have a group of guys that can get us to where we want to get to. They have to get better. They have to improve.”
GIVE ’EM NUMBERS
The Warriors showed their inexperience in the matter of postseason basketball.
Before selling single-game tickets Saturday, the Warriors were making fans buy through the second round in order to purchase any tickets.
The demand is so high, fans were camping out to get tickets.
But because the Warriors don’t own the Oracle Arena complex, fans were not allowed to line up at the ticket window.
Instead, they had to line up outside the parking lot at the gate.
And Warriors officials didn’t hand out bracelets or give out numbers to the waiting fans.
So as soon as the gates opened at 8 a.m., there was a mad dash to the ticket window.
It was a foot race; many people who waited hours and were toward the front of the line didn’t get tickets.
Did you know?
• The Knicks had the highest payroll this season, an unbelievable $139.4 million. Next: the Mavericks ($92.5 million); the 76ers ($88.6 million); the Lakers ($77.4 million); and the Trail Blazers ($73.7 million). The luxury tax is expected to be set at about $68 million.
• Only four teams in NBA playoff history have lost a best-of-seven series after winning the first two games at home.
• The Nets’ Clifford Robinson did not play in a game (coach’s decision) for the first time in 18 postseasons.
Taking the heat
Save them, T-Mac: Because he’s never won a postseason series, there’s probably more pressure on Tracy McGrady than anybody in the postseason.
Charles Barkley has said that if the Rockets lose to the Jazz, instead of carrying a monkey on his back McGrady will have the whole Houston zoo.
It will cost you: The Warriors have the highest-priced playoff tickets in the online marketplace, according to Stubhub.com. The average cost of a ticket to a first-round game in Oakland is $215. The Lakers’ average is second at $180, followed by the Raptors at $141.
“He’s killing us right now.”
A N T O I N E W A L K E R
H E A T F O R W A R D O N T H E B U L L S ’ L U O L D E N G
Round 2 of the playoffs starts later this week.