Two viable NBA head-coaching candidates became available Monday to the Sixers and the three other vacancies around the league.
Lionel Hollins received permission from the Memphis Grizzlies to talk to teams despite being under contract through June 30. Hollins finished his fifth straight season coaching Memphis, guiding them to the Western Conference Finals - losing to the San Antonio Spurs in four games.
Now that the Pacers have been eliminated from the postseason (see recap), Pacers top assistant coach Brian Shaw now has Indiana president Donnie Walsh’s permission to talk to NBA teams about head coaching vacancies. The Sixers previously had asked permission to speak with Shaw, who has yet to be an NBA coach.
It would appear Memphis should do all they can to keep Hollins, a former player who has stated he wants to stay in Memphis. The Grizzlies won 56 games this season, even after trading their best player, Rudy Gay, for financial reasons before the trade deadline.
The Brooklyn Nets were granted permission from Memphis to speak with Hollins, and the Sixers could follow suit.
Hollins is a former Sixer, won an NBA Championship with the Portland Trailblazers, and twice made the All-NBA defensive team. His Grizzlies team certainly adopted his defensive mindset this year, finishing first in fewest points allowed this season with Tony Allen guarding the ball, and Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph manning the paint.
Shaw has been an assistant coach in the NBA since the 2004-05 season, spending seven years with the Lakers prior to moving to Indiana the past two seasons. He was born and raised in Oakland, and played his final four years with Los Angeles before joining Phil Jackson's staff.
Shaw has won a total of five NBA championships -- three as a player, two as an assistant coach -- and was integral in Indiana's recent success. Winners are always appealing as leaders.
A source with knowledge of Shaw's situation has said that he would love to return to Los Angeles. He could do that if he was named head coach of the Clippers. Still, Shaw is ready for his opportunity to run his own team. He will examine all options available to him, which should include the Sixers.
Things should move quickly for the remaining openings with these two coaches now available to talk.