Now that the dreadful story that was the Denver Nuggets regular season is over, the search for the next head coach has begun. There are no shortage of candidates for the position, from interim coaches to veterans, all the way to college coaches and hometown favorites. Lets break down a few of the names floating around the thick pool of options.
Melvin Hunt, Interim Head Coach
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Hunt proved his worth during his 23 games as interim head coach of the Denver Nuggets, compiling a 10-13 record and rallying his players after a terrible beginning of the season. The team was in a dump during their time with Brian Shaw, and the tension was running at an all time high until they fired him on March 3rd. The firing was more than likely a move to keep the team out of anarchy from the players, but the last thing the team needed was to start winning. They needed a better draft pick, but what Hunt was able to do with the players he had was still an accomplishment. With the talent he had and what he was able to do with this team, as well as the talent they should be able to add over the off-season, Hunt will (and should be) a final candidate for the job.
Mark D’Antoni, Ex Lakers/Suns/Knicks Coach
Mark D’Antoni was the head coach in Denver during the 1998-1999 season
D’Antoni last coached the Los Angeles Lakers from 2012 to 2014, but faced many problems doing so. He left the team after they declined to pick up his option for the 2015-16 season. He plays a small, fast style of offense that would work great in the personnel of the Nuggets and the altitude in Denver. He also coached Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler during their time with the New York Knicks. D’Antoni’s style of play has the possibility of being very successful with the Nuggets.
Alvin Gentry, Assistant Coach of the Golden State Warriors
Gentry has had previous head coaching experience with the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers, and would also be a solid option at head coach for the Nuggets. He plays a fast paced offense similar to D’Antoni, but is slowed down a little bit and has a bigger focus on defense. This would be a better to develop the defense of the young players on this team, but Brian Shaw was also a defensive coach and that did not work out very well.
Billy Donovan, University of Florida Head Coach
There will always be rumors of college coaches leaving for the NBA, and Donovan is the latest to join the rumor mill. I would have put Fred Hoiberg as a candidate, but after a second heart surgery he will likely stay in at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie of UCONN is another name usually in the mix, but he is likely taking the Oklahoma City job if Scott Brooks gets fired, so this leaves Billy Donovan. Donovan has coached many NBA players including Joakim Noah, Bradley Beal, and Chandler Parsons, and shows he can develop talent. That could come in useful with a young team like Denver.
This is the candidate that is causing buzz throughout the Mile High city. Billups played his college basketball at the University of Colorado, and also played for five years with the Nuggets. Billups led the Nuggets to some of their best years in franchise history, including 50 plus win seasons, and Conference Finals appearances. he knows what it takes to win in this city. Billups was offered a coaching job with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but declined.
The professional teams in Denver have hired former players in the past with success. The Broncos have hired John Elway, who is leading them very well. The Colorado Avalanche have done the same with Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, and Adam Foote. It couldn’t hurt the Nuggets to try to get the same out of one of their former stars. Chauncey was born in Denver, played college half an hour away in Boulder, and played professionally in Denver. He is beloved, and would be welcomed as a head coach.