Rod Thorn will officially begin his coaching search with the first
interview this weekend, but the real question is how flexible the Nets
president might be about his candidates’ timetables, and how competitive
he might have to get when these coaches already have concrete offers.
Tom Thibodeau is the one Thorn will watch most closely: The Boston
assistant coach — who is everybody’s flavor of the month since the
Celtics’ postseason resurgence — is on the verge of being offered a job
from the New Orleans Hornets.
But two of Thibodeau’s peers — both of them friends, who request anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for him — say that while he is understandably eager to jump head-first into his first head coaching opportunity, he also wants to sit down with Thorn before he commits to Hornets GM Jeff Bower.
The other guy pacing the floor is Avery Johnson, who will meet with Thorn Saturday, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a favorite for the Nets’ job.
Indeed, despite his brilliant record in his three-plus seasons in Dallas (a .735 winning percentage), Johnson hasn’t exactly been regarded as a hot commodity, and it is clear that he has asked for a high salary and personnel power from other teams.
But he is no longer the top candidate in New Orleans — which is his hometown team — because the ownership transfer to Gary Chouest, his primary advocate, has been delayed. And Johnson now has serious competition for the job in Atlanta, where GM Rick Sund has a relationship with the other frontrunner Dwane Casey.
So it is possible that Johnson, too, may jump at first good offer if it includes upward mobility.
Thorn said he felt no need to rush a few weeks ago, “because if you look at it realistically, most teams that are looking for a coach are not going to pay much,” he said. “I’m just saying I really like our chances of getting a very good coach. … I think the job here is more attractive than most, I really do.”