Coaches in the NBA are dropping like flies. The Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, and Orlando Magic all had employment openings. The jobs are listed below in order of their appeal to potential candidates.
This is, without a doubt, the best job that is currently accessible. The top player(s) in Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard are available in Dallas and Portland, but the Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown wing combo, both in terms of talent and age, is unavailable in any of the other openings. The Celtics have a win-now club with long-term potential, and this is a role where a coach can often settle in for an extended period.
You will have the opportunity to train Luka Doncic. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Any coach on the market should take advantage of the chance. Yes, there are rumors that Luka is dissatisfied, but that's part of what makes this position so appealing. The new coach is given a blank canvas to create an offense and overall philosophy customized to Doncic's preferences.
Also, the Mavericks will have over $25 million in cap room this summer. They can easily reach max space by dealing Josh Richardson with a selection attached or by Richardson opting out of his contract and allowing Dallas to get max space that way. Furthermore, let's not completely dismiss Kristaps Porzingis. He's only 25 years old, as unbelievable as it may seem.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers are, without a doubt, the most acceptable short-term option. We're talking about a starting five of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell (if he can be re-signed), Robert Covington, and Jusuf Nurkic, despite the negative vibes around this team following its first-round loss to the shorthanded Nuggets. Even if GM Neil Olshey doesn't make a blockbuster trade involving McCollum, the team's lone appealing trade asset outside of Lillard, that's a terrific squad.
The issue with Olshey's employment is that he expects the Blazers' defense to improve dramatically with, for the most part, the same squad that Terry Stotts led to a 29th overall defensive rating last season. That is not a simple task. It may be argued that whoever receives this job is doomed to fail in that sense. What if this doesn't work and Lillard demands to be fired? Ask Stephen Silas how it feels to join a team with high aspirations only to have it descend into a tank job.
New Orleans Pelicans
According to reports, Zion Williamson's family members would rather he not play for the Pelicans. That's all well and good, but is Zion willing to forego an additional $70 million that New Orleans can offer him over another team?
So you have Zion — perhaps the most valued young player in the NBA outside of Luka Doncic — for two more guaranteed years, and likely four more after that, and Brandon Ingram is under contract until 2025. If you don't care for Ingram, he's a trade candidate who may net you a significant profit. The Pelicans also have a plethora of draught picks to use in possible trades, allowing them to make a Phoenix Suns-style jump from talented postseason outsider to legitimate contender in a matter of weeks.
It's hardly the worst location to be at the start of a rebuild. There is more clarity in the task for starters, and the time to start winning is longer. This Orlando gig might be pretty interesting if Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac weren't both coming off ACL injuries. Despite his injuries, Fultz showed some promise, while Isaac has Defensive Player of the Year potential. By 2023, the Magic should be able to fill all of their cap space. Suppose they let Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter depart. In that case, they'll have more than $50 million in cap space by 2023, which they might utilize to absorb terrible salaries and add to their draught pool or to bring in meaningful talent if unexpected developments speed up the timeline.
The Pacers, who finished 14th both offensively and defensively in the 2020-21 regular season, according to Cleaning the Glass, with a minus-0.4 point difference, are the epitome of mediocrity — the last place you want to be in the NBA. With Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Myles Turner, and T.J. Warren, they have a solid foundation of skill. Turner is a trade possibility who could bring in a decent return, but there isn't enough cap space, and Indiana isn't a desirable destination. The good news is that short-term contention isn't expected, or at least shouldn't be, so you might have some breathing room as long as you don't run the entire locker room the wrong way.
You have Bradley Beal, who, despite all odds, has yet to demand his release from Washington. The Wizards are trying to sign him to a long-term contract this fall. If he remains, you'll have a star on your hands, but what else? We all know that any team led by Russell Westbrook has a limited ceiling these days, the Wizards can't generate meaningful short-term budget room, and Beal's loyalty is shaky at best. We don't see him signing a long-term contract to play for a team that is, to put it bluntly, a poor squad, despite their late-season fun-run. Let's be honest: Washington was four games below.500 in the Eastern Conference.