When it comes to the Kings' coaching search, progress can be measured in many ways. Take, for example, the symbolic event that happened recently, when the motivational signs that covered the walls of team's practice facility and were the work of former coach Eric Musselman finally came down. And while it's a sign that a regime change is underway, I'll definitely miss the daily sarcasm among media members who - in reference to the sign that hung above the tunnel leading into the locker room - would routinely ask each other "Did you get better today?"
The question of who's next in line to help the Kings improve, though, remains far from being answered. Stan Van Gundy is an even more viable candidate now based on recent circumstance. The former Miami Heat coach turned down the Indiana job, leaving the Kings and Charlotte as teams with which he's interviewed. Then, of course, Orlando fired Brian Hill and Van Gundy's attention turned to the team that's less than a four hours drive from his home.
"It's a good job and not much of a lifestyle adjustment for my family," Van Gundy told the Palm Beach Post.
So far, according to the Post, the Magic officials have yet to contact Van Gundy about the position. I reached Van Gundy by phone on Friday morning, and he said his interest in Sacramento remains strong (specifically, I asked if the interest remained, and he said, "Yes, yes"). He said he is "still talking" with the Kings, and it seems like a second interview will be on the horizon. As for the Kings' side of the process, I'm being told that basketball president Geoff Petrie may contact some of the current candidates by phone over the weekend for follow-up talks. Second interviews, however, likely will take place at the pre-draft camp in Orlando (May 29-June 4).
Talk about a funny scene. So Van Gundy makes the drive to Orlando, where Magic GM Otis Smith and Petrie stare awkwardly at each other to see who gets to sit down with Stan first. Meanwhile, there's an endless line of other coaches trying to get at the two GMs to either put their name in the head-coaching race or drop a resume for any possible assistant jobs. It's a competitive business, and pre-draft camp is the ultimate job fair for coaches.
While only Van Gundy knows what he thinks of the Kings' roster and the basketball situation in Sacramento, he would love the job for off-the-court reasons. The father of four school-aged kids grew up in the Bay Area, attending Alhambra High School in Martinez. His father was a longtime high school coach in the Bay Area and an assistant at Cal State Hayward.
Not that he's the only one with ties to the region.
There's Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis (Cupertino High School, Santa Clara University), Lakers assistant Brian Shaw (Bishop O'Dowd High in Oakland, St. Mary's College in Moraga for two seasons before transferring to UC Santa Barbara), former Kings assistant Elston Turner (living in the Sacramento area for seven years and would rather not uproot), New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus (former Kings player), and Kings assistant Scott Brooks (the Manteca legend).
An aside on Turner: The Houston Chronicle reports that he has, not surprisingly, been contacted by former Kings coach and new Houston coach Rick Adelman regarding a job with the Rockets.
- Sam Amick