Sources: Jeff Van Gundy to coach U.S. in World Cup qualifying

Jeff Van Gundy is currently an NBA analyst with ESPN. (Getty)
Jeff Van Gundy is currently an NBA analyst with ESPN. (Getty)

Jeff Van Gundy will coach USA Basketball’s roster of non-NBA professionals who will try to qualify for the Americans for the World Cup in 2019, league sources told The Vertical.

Van Gundy, an 11-year NBA head coach and currently a TV analyst for ESPN, will coach a roster compromised largely of NBA Development League and overseas American players in tournaments over the next several months.

A formal announcement is expected this week, sources said.

It will be Van Gundy’s first formal coaching assignment since resigning as the Houston Rockets coach in 2007. Van Gundy has talked with several NBA teams about returning as a head coach in recent years, remaining immersed throughout his TV career in continuing to polish his coaching craft.

Gregg Popovich, who’s replacing Mike Krzyzewski as the national coach, will take over coaching the senior national team in the 2019 World Cup in China.

USA Basketball’s national team director, Sean Ford, will oversee a committee that’ll select the FIBA qualifying team.

Van Gundy was a head coach for 11 years in the NBA, including playoff-rich stops in New York and Houston. He won 430 games and has a .575 regular-season winning percentage. Van Gundy reached the conference finals four times an NBA head coach, and the NBA Finals in 1999 with the Knicks.

Van Gundy has no international coaching experience, but USA Basketball is counting on his high basketball acumen to make the necessary adjustments and shortcut the learning curve. His assistant coaching staff will include longtime international and minor-league coach, Mo McHone, sources said.

FIBA instituted changes in the tournament structure that eliminated traditional summer competitions and moved them outside of the summer. Van Gundy will coach the U.S. in the FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifying Tournament in preliminary Group C that includes the United States, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Team USA will play Mexico and Puerto Rico in late November games, and again in February against Cuba and Puerto Rico, and a final preliminary game against Cuba on July 1.

Under Van Gundy, the U.S. will also compete in the 12-team FIBA AmeriCup in August, with USA competing in Uruguay and Argentina. That tournament has no ramifications for future qualifying, but will be a good opportunity for Van Gundy and his staff to gain experience coaching the international game.

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