Welcome to the Life of Brian (Shaw), the best head coach never hired.
Despite an impeccable resume, effusive endorsements from past employers and a wealth of influential references, Shaw just can’t seem to catch a break.
Ownership changes, front-office flux and some surprising twists have conspired against Shaw’s future.
He should’ve succeeded Phil Jackson with the Lakers, but the new Buss was not the same as the old Buss. Jim decided he wanted to distance himself from the old regime of his late father Jerry and put his own stamp on the team with Mike Brown, then Mike D’Antoni. Turns out the only mark the younger Buss made was a giant purple (and gold) bruise.
Err Jordan didn’t hire Shaw last summer, which really was a break. Charlotte is where coaching careers go to die.
Surely this year, after the Pacers pushed Miami to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, Shaw would get his big break.
The Pacers certainly thought so, making more than tentative plans to move on without Shaw. Make no mistake, they would love to have him back; his role in helping young players such as Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert mature cannot be overstated. If the rest of the NBA is dumb enough to overlook B-Shaw, so much the better for the Pacers.
Is the rest of the NBA that dumb? So far, yes.
The Nets and Clippers both brought him in for immediate interviews and both groups reportedly were highly impressed.
So the Nets hired Jason Kidd, presumably because his 3-point shooting played such a big part in bringing down the Knicks this postseason. Well, that and the fact he’s chummy with Deron Williams.
And the Clippers? They’ve decided to interview every current and former coach on the market and even a broadcaster or two, and now have gone so far as to investigate making a blockbuster trade for a coach. They’re also looking for a way to placate their star point guard, Chris Paul, who is a free agent. Perhaps we’ve all been overlooking the obvious choice: Cliff Paul.
There are reasons the Nets and the Clippers are, well, the Nets and the Clippers, and Shaw is seeing them first-hand. He would be a perfect fit in L.A., considering his proud Lakers past and the fact he is a California native — and may yet get that job — but it sure seems like if the Clippers wanted to hire him, they’d have done it by now.
That basically leaves three jobs: Denver, Memphis and Philadelphia.
The Nuggets shouldn’t have an opening, but their heir, Josh Kroenke (son of team owner Stan), has decided to follow the Jim Buss Plan and eliminate all vestiges of past success. Out goes NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri. Out goes NBA Coach of the Year George Karl. That’ll show ‘em who’s boss.
The same argument could be made in Memphis, which bagged Lionel Hollins because he, um, guided the Grizzlies to their best season ever. They, too, have new ownership and a front office in flux.
So now you have Karl, a certain Hall of Famer, and Hollins, a proven veteran coming off a great season, both added to the job market. Mix in Doc Rivers, who has let it be known through channels he’d be willing to leave Boston for some place with a future.
Denver would also be an excellent fit for Shaw because of his experience in developing young talent while building with a team-first approach, winning with a roster devoid of superstars. But the heir reportedly wants a tough guy, and Shaw is most decidedly not that, and so Hollins is the apparent front-runner.
Memphis, well, nobody’s quite sure what Memphis wants. They interviewed Alvin Gentry, a nice man who has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a thoroughly mediocre head coach. They also like Dave Joerger, not exactly a tip-of-the-tongue prospect.
And Philly? The Sixers have a new GM (Sam Hinkie) who reportedly wants to wait till after the draft to hire a coach.
There’s no need to hurry, after all, when the circus is still going strong.