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Ranking the NBA's 6 openings for a head coach

·5 min read
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With the Boston Celtics reportedly hiring Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Ime Udoka on Wednesday, six of the NBA's 30 head coaching jobs remain open as the league approaches the Finals, with many of the same names being bandied about by the franchises in need. We did those candidates a favor, ranking the six openings from least attractive to best opportunity to build your résumé for the foreseeable future.

6. Washington Wizards

Best fit: Wes Unseld Jr.

Bradley Beal is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He also may not be long for the Wizards. Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in four of the last five seasons. He is also owed $81 million over the next two seasons, a contract that makes reconstructing the roster around Beal a near-impossible task.

Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, Deni Avdija and Daniel Gafford have all shown flashes of potential as useful players moving forward, but this team really is what it is, and that is a sub-.500 team that topped out as first-round fodder for the Eastern Conference's elite. And dealing Beal only kicks the can down the road.

5. Orlando Magic

Best fit: Darvin Ham

The Magic have been rebuilding for more than a decade, and what do they have to show for it? Their two most promising young players, Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, suffered ACL injuries that could further slow their development, which was already considered to have a ceiling. They traded their three best players last season — Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier — for more picks and projects.

The roster is littered with guys like Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., R.J. Hampton, Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke, all of whom have a wide variance to what they could become, and the Magic have the Nos. 5 and 8 picks in this year's draft to join them. That actually has to be a rather exciting proposition for a young coach committed to player development, so long as the organization is willing to match the patience it will take.

4. Indiana Pacers

Best fit: Will Hardy

We are only a year removed from the Pacers winning two-thirds of their games on their way to a No. 4 seed. All-Star center Domantas Sabonis still mans the middle. Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner have histories contributing to winning and are all under contract for two more years. TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb should be closer to their post-surgery peaks. There is quality depth throughout the roster.

This is a good job that first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren was not ready for. On the other hand, his predecessor Nate McMillan — now coach of the Eastern Conference finalist Atlanta Hawks — never got out of the first round with a similarly talented roster. If the 45 years since the NBA/ABA merger or the two decades since their last Finals appearance are any indication, there has been a ceiling to what you can accomplish in Indiana, but before Bjorkgren's tenure, it was also a résumé-building job for quality coaches.

San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is reportedly a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers' head coaching job.  (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is reportedly a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers' head coaching job. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

3. Portland Trail Blazers

Best fit: Becky Hammon

Damian Lillard is your point guard. That is attractive enough. No matter what concerns you have about the rest of the roster, you have an electric floor general whose loyalty and leadership have been unquestioned.

The Blazers are in a spin cycle, building around Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic for years, and it is time for general manger Neil Olshey to change the load. That means mortgaging the future to win now, even if it means parting with McCollum, and that is an exciting proposition. It is also a daunting one, since the last coach, Terry Stotts, was awfully good at the job, and a Western Conference finals wasn't enough.

2. New Orleans Pelicans

Best fit: Mike D'Antoni

Neither the roster nor the flexibility of altering it are your concern. The Pelicans have Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, a host of young talent and eight first-round picks over the next five years. Lonzo Ball is a restricted free agent, the Steven Adams acquisition was a mistake and Eric Bledsoe is still on the roster, albeit on an expiring contract, but those are ancillary to the chance to unlock Williamson as a superstar.

The question is whether you can build a consistent winner in New Orleans. Only the Memphis Grizzlies play in a smaller market. Chris Paul and Anthony Davis maxed out as Western Conference semifinalists before wanting off the Pelicans, and there is real pressure to surpass them before Williamson considers the same.

1. Dallas Mavericks

Best fit: Jamahl Mosley

Dysfunction may have torn asunder the Mavericks' power structure, leading to the ousters of longtime general manager Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle, but this is an opportunity to rebuild it around rising superstar Luka Doncic. If you were to redraft the entire NBA, Doncic might be the best bet to anchor a franchise for the next 15 years. The 22-year-old nearly just toppled Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers by himself, averaging a 36-8-10 for the series that did not seem out of the ordinary.

The viability of Kristaps Porzingis is a serious question mark on how the Mavericks build around Doncic for the next three seasons, but they are not without talent. So long as Doncic signs his supermax extension and you trust the next GM to make the right decisions moving forward, Dallas is the best job available.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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