HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The sting of blowing a Game 7 on their home floor will linger for a while in Brooklyn. There is no way to dress up that debacle.
A new coach, though, one with a high profile and Hall of Fame credentials, is a good place to start. And from all indications the Nets are setting their sights high. Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Jeff or Stan Van Gundy and even Larry Brown‘s name has been mentioned by a few league executives who are watching the Nets and waiting to see where they go next.
They are all on the Nets’ short list as of this afternoon.
Nets GM Billy King didn’t even let the sun rise the morning after that Game 7 loss before P.J. Carlesimo was informed that his services would no longer be needed. Carlesimo is an old pro at this. He knew what we all did when he took over after Avery Johnson was fired, that anything short of a miraculous championship run from the Nets would mean he’d be cleaning out his office at season’s end.
What makes the Nets search for a replacement for the replacement is that Sloan, who coached with and clashed, at times, with Nets star Deron Williams in Utah, is on the list of candidates to fill the job.
Much like the other candidates on the Nets’ list, Sloan’s name tends to come up whenever there is an opening. This Nets opening, however, appeals to him. He said as much to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com:
“I’m open, I would listen,” Sloan told CSNNW.com via phone. “I haven’t done the research on their roster, but I would definitely listen if they called.”
Already linked to the Milwaukee Bucks Head Coaching gig, Sloan admits he’s interested in getting back to roaming the sidelines, but only under the right circumstances and conditions.
“According to reports, I’m interested in every job that’s out there,” Sloan said. “That’s just not the case. I don’t like being linked to every opening. If the right situation presented itself, I will look into it.”
Sloan dropping his John Deere cap and days spent on his tractor for the sideline in Brooklyn has movie of the week potential. But any team could use his wisdom and guidance, provided the players on the roster are willing to listen.
The Nets won’t have the flexibility to tinker with their roster this summer, so the most significant change they’ll make will be in the coaching ranks. There is also a temperament change that is needed, one highlighted by many in the immediate aftermath of that lackadaisical Game 7 effort.
Williams has his own ideas about what the Nets need in a new coach and it’s all about someone who demands his team play with the intestinal fortitude to win a Game 7 on their home floor in the playoffs, based on what he told Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com:
Williams was asked what quality the Nets need more of.
“Toughness,” he replied. “I think that’s what we’ve used a lot. Toughness. I think we got out-toughed in that last series, especially [Saturday], so I think that’s the main thing.”
Williams thinks a coach like his former one in Utah, Jerry Sloan, could get toughness out of his players.
“When I played for Coach Sloan, I think he had that effect — just the way he coaches and the way he talked to us every day and the way he prepared us for games kind of rubbed off,” Williams said.
Would Williams want to play for Sloan again?
“I would love to,” he replied.
And Phil Jackson?
“Who wouldn’t want to play for Phil Jackson?” he replied.
Regardless, Williams believes the team’s next coach needs to be experienced.
“Yeah, I think so. I think somebody that’s creative on offense and has a good system on defense,” he said. “I haven’t really thought much about it. I think we just need somebody that’s going to lead us, somebody everybody respects for sure; it’s tough.”
That “somebody” could be anyone on the Nets’ short list.
But the description sounds an awful lot like Sloan …