The interest in the Portland Trail Blazers opening among candidates continues to grow each day.
Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni has “serious interest” in the Blazers head coaching vacancy after the team parted ways with Terry Stotts, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Thursday.
It’s unclear whether the Blazers will reciprocate D’Antoni’s interest and consider hiring him, given comments general manager Neil Olshey made this week about hiring a defensive-minded coach, opposite of what D’Antoni’s teams have been known for in the past. Still, D’Antoni is an intriguing name on the market as an experienced coach.
D’Antoni compiled a 672-527 record as a head coach in the regular season over 16 years between the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
When Steve Nash took over as Nets head coach, he brought aboard his former coach D’Antoni on staff. Nash and D’Antoni have led the Nets back to the playoffs with one of the league’s top offenses. Brooklyn led the NBA in offensive efficiency during the regular season. On the flip side, they finished 19th in defensive efficiency.
Portland finished as the second-worst team in defensive efficiency in 2021. Whomever the team hires will need to improve that ranking.
D’Antoni is one of many candidates on the growing list of options for the Blazers. Former NBA point guard and Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups is reportedly the favorite to land the job, while Michigan head coach Juwan Howard and ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy have also been linked to the opening.
— Aron Yohannes