Thursday afternoon, following a 14-14 start, Brooklyn Nets head coach Avery Johnson was fired. While assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo takes over on an interim basis, some names have emerged to take over the job in Brooklyn. Phil Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Kelvin Sampson?
According to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist, Adrian Wojnarowski, Sampson, the former Indiana head coach, is a significant candidate for the coaching vacancy in Brooklyn.
Wojnarowski stated Sampson was also a finalist for the Detroit Pistons job in 2011.
Nets general manager Billy King is intrigued with Sampson, among other candidates, and is expected to eventually speak with him, sources said.
Sampson has elevated his stature as a head-coaching candidate as the top assistant for Kevin McHale in Houston. When McHale left the team early this season to tend to his ailing daughter, Sampson led the Rockets to a 7-6 record that triggered a spurt that has Houston at 16-12 and in sixth place in the Western Conference.
From 1987-2008, Sampson held three different head coaching jobs – Washington State, Oklahoma, and Indiana – compiling 488 victories. At Indiana, Sampson was forced to resign in February 2008 following an NCAA recruiting violation involving improper phone calls to recruits.
The Hoosiers were on probation for three years, ending in 2011, following the scandal. IU also placed self-imposed penalties, limiting the team’s recruiting, including the removal of one scholarship.
Following three consecutive losing seasons, current Indiana coach Tom Crean got the Hoosiers back in the NCAA tournament in 2012 and had IU as the nation’s top team until falling to Butler on Dec. 15.
Sampson is currently the Houston Rockets after a stint with the Milwaukee Bucks.