NBA coaching candidates 2024: Ranking 10 best available head coaches, including JJ Redick and Becky Hammon | Sporting News

NBA coaching candidates 2024: Ranking 10 best available head coaches, including JJ Redick and Becky Hammon | Sporting News

The life cycle of an NBA coach is extremely short.

If you’re not Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra or another one of the legends in the game, then you’re probably only getting a couple of years to win before somebody else is afforded one of the precious few 30 jobs around the league. 

There is bound to be turnover yet again this year, and there are plenty of hot names who could potentially change a team’s fortunes around. When combing through top assistants, former head coaches and other potential newcomers, an impressive list begins to form. 

Here are the top 10 candidates for any openings that arise ahead of the 2024-25 season. 

MORE: Complete list of winners for NBA’s end-of-season awards

Ranking available NBA head coaches

1. Chris Quinn

Regular season record: n/a

Playoff record: n/a

Quinn is the hottest name that you’ve never heard of. The six-year NBA veteran had an unremarkable playing career for four teams before joining the Heat coaching staff. He’s been there for 10 years, starting as a player development coach and working his way up to Spoelstra’s right-hand man. 

There’s a good reason why Quinn has lasted so long next to Spoelstra. He has a reputation as a great player development coach and he’s taken over in games where Spoelstra has not been available. He helped guide the Heat to a 144-115 victory over the Hornets in April. 

Quinn received consideration for the Nets’ coaching job until they ultimately went with Jordi Fernandez, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Quinn has also interviewed for Hornets openings twice, making “a great impression” on them, per Yahoo’s Jake Fischer. He will continue to generate interest and eventually land a head coaching job somewhere. 

2. Becky Hammon

Regular season record: n/a

Playoff record: n/a

Hammon has cemented herself as one of the best coaches in the world after winning back-to-back championships for the Las Vegas Aces. She has a wealth of coaching experience in the NBA, working under Popovich in San Antonio for eight seasons. She had an illustrious Hall-of-Fame playing career as well.

Hammon has been close to landing NBA jobs. She had the backing of Damian Lillard in Portland and was a finalist for the opening back in 2021 before the Blazers ultimately went with Chauncey Billups. 

Hammon seems very happy coaching in the WNBA. If she were looking to actively move, she’d be no. 1 on this list. But WNBA coaching salaries pale in comparison to their NBA counterparts. If the price was right, maybe she could be enticed into leaving. 

3. Kenny Atkinson

Regular season record: 118-190 (.383)

Playoff record: 1-4 (.200)

Atkinson reshaped the Nets, taking them from the wilderness to a playoff team. He’s known for great player development skills and an analytics-friendly approach to the game. He had the Hornets job in the bag in 2023 before having a last-minute change of heart, opting to stay with Steve Kerr as an assistant for another year. 

4. JJ Redick

Regular season record: n/a

Playoff record: n/a

Redick has played for some fantastic coaches, starting with Coach K at Duke and many others over his 15-year NBA career. The media personality and broadcaster clearly has a deep knowledge of the game based on his commentary and discussions with LeBron James on their “Mind the Game” podcast. 

Redick does have some interest in coaching. He’s already interviewed for numerous positions, including the current opening in Charlotte

5. Terry Stotts

Regular season record: 517-486 (.515)

Playoff record: 23-44 (.343)

Stotts abruptly resigned from an assistant coach position with the Bucks. They surely could have used him this year — he built terrific offenses with the Trail Blazers before leaving in 2021. 

Stotts has had a ton of playoff success, making the postseason eight consecutive times and getting to the Conference Finals once. He’s a known quantity. 

6. Sam Cassell

Regular season record: n/a

Playoff record: n/a

Cassell lasted 15 years in the league as an undersized point guard due to his toughness and smarts. The basketball lifer parlayed that into an assistant coaching career that has spanned 15 years with the Wizards, Clippers, Sixers and Celtics. 

In 2023, Cassell was named one of the best assistant coaches in the league in John Schuhmann’s annual GM survey, receiving seven percent of the vote. He’s already gained some traction for head coaching positions — he was interviewed for the Rockets’ opening in 2023

7. Dave Joerger

Regular season record: 245-247 (.498)

Playoff record: 9-13 (.409)

The biggest bullet on Joerger’s resume comes from his time with the Grizzlies. He led them to the playoffs in all three of his years there, although they never advanced past the second round. 

Joerger wasn’t quite as successful in his second head coaching stint in Sacramento. The Kings failed to make the playoffs and finished below .500 for three straight years before he was fired. He went on to join Doc Rivers both in Philadelphia and Milwaukee as an assistant. 

Joerger is known as a good coach who has had issues getting along with management in his previous stops.

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8. James Borrego

Regular season record: 148-183 (.447)

Playoff record: 0-0

Borrego is known as a great tactician and had his Hornets team overachieving to 43 wins in his last season. They immediately tanked the next season, dropping to 27 wins under Steve Clifford. 

Borrego ultimately lost that Charlotte job because the team could never clear that last hurdle to get into the playoffs. They were blown out of games in the Play-In Tournament twice. He deserves a second chance, though, particularly given how that franchise has collapsed after his departure. 

Borrego does have championship experience — he won two rings as part of the Spurs staff with Popovich. He’s also helped the Pelicans overachieve as their associate head coach this season. 

9. Mike D’Antoni

Regular season record: 672-527 (.560)

Playoff record: 54-56 (.491)

D’Antoni’s offensive principles have been widely adapted around the league. He was a brilliant innovator who has won a ton of games with different teams.

He’s taken a step back since 2021 when he resigned from an assistant position with the dysfunctional Nets. He’s currently a coaching advisor for the Pelicans. 

10. Mark Jackson

Regular season record: 121-109 (.526)

Playoff record: 9-10 (.474)

Jackson is still a prominent figure in the industry despite not coaching since 2014. The 17-year NBA veteran was one of the headiest point guards in the league during his playing days and helped build the foundation of the Warriors before being replaced by Steve Kerr. 

MORE: Why is Mark Jackson no longer calling games for ESPN? 

Jackson does have his fair share of critics, though. His tenure with the Warriors was marred by numerous controversies, including turning the team against Festus Ezeli, having difficulty getting along with people in the organization and sparring with his assistants. 

Jackson does have the backing of some of his former players, including Stephen Curry. Maybe some team would give him a second chance. 

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