As the Charlotte Bobcats look to the offseason to hire the sixth head coach in franchise history, here are six head coaches to consider:
Lionel Hollins – Hollins is in the last year of his contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have made the postseason three consecutive years under Hollins, in part to their elite defense. The Grizzlies play a tough, physical style of team defense with an emphasis on team. They aren’t the most talented team in basketball, but Hollins peaked the team with 56 wins this season, even after trading their leading scorer. Hollins seems to be a coach players enjoy competing for and he’s an effective communicator. With new ownership in Memphis, the team might opt to go in a different direction.
Nate McMillan – A Raleigh native, McMillan spent five seasons as the coach of the Seattle Super Sonics and six seasons coaching the Portland Trail Blazers. McMillan’s teams are known for their grind-it-out style. He likes to control the tempo and slow the pace down. In Seattle and Portland, McMillan eclipsed the 50-win mark and got both franchises to the postseason at least twice. It’s encouraging that McMillan has had extended stays in both of his jobs and improved the teams each season. McMillan is rumored to be the frontrunner for the Detroit Pistons coaching vacancy.
Mike Budenholzer – Since 1996 Budenholzer has been an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs and the Robin to Popovich’s Batman since 2007. Remember Tom Thibodeau? Thibodeau was an assistant coach for 21 years around the league before landing his first job with the Chicago Bulls. Budenholzer is in his 19th year. Despite never being a head coach, Budenholzer has ample experience. He’s arguably the league’s best assistant coach and could very well be the next Thibodeau. There’s skepticism as to whether Budenholzer is actually available, as some believe he’s in line to be the successor to Gregg Popovich whenever he chooses to step down.
Alvin Gentry – Like McMillan, Gentry has local ties to the area. Gentry grew up just about an hour from Charlotte in Shelby, NC. Despite having ample experience, and being a quality coach, it’s tough to get a grasp on Gentry’s coaching style. Most of his Phoenix Suns tenure involved keeping Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced, high-scoring offense intact. Gentry got the Suns to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 2010, but missed the postseason in his other three seasons as head coach. It is concerning that Gentry was fired from another rebuilding situation, where he had lost the players.
Scott Skiles – Skiles has a rep for being a “Point A to B” coach. Each team he’s oached has improved their defense and overachieved for a few seasons. Skiles is excellent at getting his teams to compete and hustle during his first few seasons. However, Skiles militant-style has typically worn out on players, which was part of the reason he was fired from both Chicago and Milwaukee. Because of this, he’s likely to flame out by the end of his contract. To his credit, Skiles has made the playoffs seven of his 13 seasons as a coach.
Mike Malone – Malone is rumored to be one of the lead candidates to coach the Philadelphia Sixers. In 2011-12, Malone was voted the league’s best assistant coach at 29.2%. Currently the lead assistant on the Golden State Warriors, Malone has a great reputation as an X’s and O’s coach and for improving defenses. He’s also been an assistant in New Orleans and Cleveland, two teams whose defenses did a 180 with his help.