Former Knicks/Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy’s name has been linked to a few head coaching vacancies in recent years, but perhaps NBA clubs should consider offering him a front office job so that Van Gundy could be the one doing the hiring instead.
Back in 2008, Van Gundy was one of the first people to publicly endorse current Warriors coach Mark Jackson as a head coaching candidate while working with Jackson at ESPN. Five years later, Jackson has the Warriors on the brink of their first playoff berth since 2007 in his second year on the job.
In 2010, Van Gundy lobbied for current Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to get the vacant Nets job before he was hired in Chicago.
So who’s Van Gundy vouching for now? None other than former Knicks center Patrick Ewing. Van Gundy joined Mike Vaccaro and Mike Hale of The New York Post for a podcast on Wednesday where he explained why he thinks Ewing deserves a shot as an NBA head coach.
Specifically, Van Gundy pointed to the fact that unlike many other former NBA superstars who have taken their turns at coaching, Ewing has paid his dues as an NBA assistant coach. You can hear Van Gundy’s full interview here.
Back in September, Ewing declined an opportunity to become head coach of the Knicks’ D-League team. His name also was mentioned when the Brooklyn job opened up earlier this season (as Ewing had reportedly made it known that he’d be especially interested in coaching for a New York team), but otherwise it’s been pretty quiet for the Hall of Famer on the coaching front since training camp started in the Fall.
However, that could change this offseason. I wouldn’t be shocked if Ewing does end up having a homecoming of sorts on an NBA sideline…in Washington. The Wizards will probably let go of Randy Wittman after this season, and Ewing’s Georgetown roots can’t be discounted. In addition, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld ran the Knicks’ front office during Ewing’s prime in 90s, and Ewing’s old agent David Falk is a Wizards season ticket-holder who could pull some strings behind closed doors.
Finally, let’s not forget another factor that may make the Washington job very attractive to Ewing: He’d have the opportunity succeed where his nemesis Michael Jordan failed. Ewing to Washington makes a lot of sense this summer.
We’ll have to wait a few more months to see if it happens.