Stan Van Gundy has an NBA career winning percentage of .641. That’s better than that of Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Don Nelson, Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens, Chuck Daly and several other Hall of Fame coaches.
He might not have to worry about ever falling behind any of those guys.
Van Gundy, fired in May 2012 as coach of the Orlando Magic, sat out last year and in May told an Orlando radio station he didn’t plan to coach next season. Now, Van Gundy has taken it even further.
“It’s very possible that I would sit out again in the following year in 2014-15,” Van Gundy said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida. “I don’t know. I may never coach again. That’s possible. I’m well aware that is a possibility.”
Van Gundy, who has coached eight seasons in the NBA, is just 53, rather young to give up coaching. But he’s at the point in his life in which he wants to be selective about jobs. The Orlando resident isn’t ready to uproot his family unless it’s the absolute right situation.
“There’s a lot of considerations,’’ Van Gundy said when asked why he believes he might never coach again. “First of all, you don’t get to pick and choose. There are teams out there that aren’t interested in you and then there are teams that I wouldn’t be interested in. Then, if you get a combination of a team that wants me that I like, it’s got to be a situation that my family would feel good about and the timing would have to be right in terms of where my kids are.”
Van Gundy and his wife, Kim, have four children. One son is in college and another son will start this fall. One daughter is a rising junior in high school and another daughter will be a freshman.
Van Gundy said it would be tough to move when his daughters are still in high school. But each year he sits out he realizes it will become more difficult to get back into coaching.
“I don’t think it’s ever a good idea in terms of your job prospects to sit out,” said Van Gundy, now enjoying his work as an NBA analyst for NBC Sports Radio. “The best thing career-wise would have been to jump back in, but there were other considerations.”
Van Gundy said four teams contacted him last spring to gauge his interest in a coaching vacancy. He wouldn’t name them, but the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks are said to have been two.
Van Gundy said he gave one situation much more consideration than the others. But he ultimately decided against it.
“I didn’t want to get into the interview process,” Van Gundy said. “I didn’t want to be wasting anybody’s time going forward if I wasn’t 100 percent full steam ahead on the jobs. One of them, I really spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I just decided not to pursue it. It has to be a good basketball situation and it has to be a situation that my family would want, so a lot of things would have to come together, and none of them did this year.”
Van Gundy initially had told WHOO-AM in May he didn’t plan to coach in 2013-14. Possible suitors mostly backed off after that.
Van Gundy’s resume is solid. He took the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009 and also has earned two Eastern Conference finals berths, one with the Miami Heat in 2005 and one with the Magic in 2010.
Because of his outspoken nature, though, some general managers wouldn’t be interested in hiring Van Gundy. And the trend this year was to go away from veteran coaches.
Of the whopping 13 jobs that opened, eight so far have gone to first-year head coaches. The only team that still has a vacancy is Philadelphia, and the 76ers are a good bet also to hire a rookie.
“You got three guys out there who led their teams to the best records in the history of their franchise in George Karl (Denver), Lionel Hollins (Memphis) and Vinny Del Negro (Los Angeles Clippers) and it looks like none of them will be coaching a team next year,” Van Gundy said of three of the coaches let go. “To me, that is mind boggling right now. It’s a different world right now. You normally don’t see that kind of percentage that two-thirds of the jobs are going to guys who don’t have head-coaching experience.”
One reason is some teams are rebuilding and want to do it with younger, lower-priced coaches. But Van Gundy also sees a change in the guys doing the hiring, with more general managers coming from analytics backgrounds.
“I think that the GMs want different types of guys,” Van Gundy said. “We have more and more guys who are not coming from a playing or a coaching background and so they look at the game through a different prism. That is going to lead to some different choices. The only thing I would say is that those things tend to be a little bit cyclical and it will come back around. I think guys like George Karl, Lionel Hollins, guys like that, have had great success and will certainly have great opportunities in the future.”
As for what opportunities Van Gundy might have in the future, he doesn’t know. But he’s prepared to be selective and do what he believes is best for his family.
If Van Gundy has coached his last NBA game, so be it. At least he’ll finish with quite an impressive winning percentage.