The Golden State Warriors have already completed one coaching search this offseason when they decided that Mark Jackson was the best man to replace Keith Smart as the team's head coach. This experience should help them, then, as the team has now begun a search for the head coach of their new NBA Development League team.
Warriors general manager Larry Riley fired current Dakota Wizards head coach Rory White just a couple days after Golden State acquired their D-League team, according to the Bismarck Tribune. White, a five-year NBA veteran who also spent six seasons as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, led Dakota to a 48-52 record in his two seasons as head coach
There won't be a huge rush for Golden State to find White's replacement because the NBA lockout will prevent the new head coach from being able to evaluate prospects on the NBA Summer League circuit, the typical July activity for most D-League personnel. Riley seems to have a good idea of the type of coach he's looking to put in charge of his new D-League team, however, which could speed up the replacement process.
"It may not necessarily be that you see veteran or former NBA players as a head coach," Riley told the Tribune. "There may be some up-and-coming rising star as you've had here in the past with coach Joerger. We're looking for those kinds of people."
If the Joerger reference in that quote is unfamiliar, Riley's speaking of former Dakota head coach Dave Joerger -- current assistant of the Memphis Grizzlies who seems poised to be move on (and up) this summer. Joerger began his Wizards career in the front office, eventually moving up to assistant coach and then head coach where he'd lead his minor league teams to five champions over seven seasons before earning the call-up to the Grizzlies bench.
Looking around the D-League for people in a similar situation -- and one would assume the Warriors would want a coach that has experience with the ins and outs of the D-League to completely optimize their first-year experience -- there are are a few coaches that fill Riley's summary of qualifications.
In alphabetical order by last name, so as not to show any favoritism:
Joel Abelson, associate head coach of the Idaho Stampede, would seem to be an excellent candidate for the position in Dakota. The 28-year-old has coached in the D-League for the past four seasons while spending his summers developing young players, giving him the exact experience the Warriors should be interested in during this coaching search.
As a coach, Ableson has worked under current New Orleans Hornets assistant Bryan Gates (who might be up for the Minnesota Timberwolves head coaching position), former NBA player Randy Livingston, longtime DePaul head coach Joey Meyer and an interesting NBA development strategist in Bob MacKinnon. Suffice to say, Abelson's probably been able to glean something new from all four of the coaching colleagues he's worked with during his D-League stint.
Abelson's development experience might be more important to the Warriors, however. Not only did he spend a few summers working at Impact Basketball, he's worked the past two summers with former NBA head coach Bob Hill while prepping Blake Griffin and the like for the NBA Draft. Hill, for those following along, is the man who seemingly was able to help Golden State draft pick Jeremy Tyler get his head on straight in Japan and would surely be able to pass on tips to Abelson if he's assigned to the D-League.
Next up this alphabetical list would be newly-named Iowa Energy associate head coach Nate Bjorkgren. Bjorkgren seems poised to receive the Energy's head coaching position as soon as current head coach Nick Nurse is promoted to the NBA, however, so a move to the Warriors would seem lateral this offseason.
Steve Gansey should receive consideration as well as he's shown the ability to help D-League players reach their potential, but considering he's spent just one year as a full-time assistant coach with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, he may not have the experience the Warriors are looking for at this point in his career. I wouldn't fault them if they gave him an opportunity, however.
The fourth candidate who meets the qualifications laid out by Riley currently in the D-League is Utah Flash head coach Kevin Young. The 29-year-old Young served two seasons as an assistant coach with the Flash before becoming the head coach this past season.
Young led the Flash to a 28-22 record this past season, along with a playoff berth, but the news of the Flash shutting down will force Young to look elsewhere for employment next season.
This isn't to say that Golden State should narrow their D-League coaching candidates to the four candidates listed above, but they all definitely deserve consideration as they're young, have proven player development skills and a necessary acumen of D-League experience that should help ease the Warriors front office transition into minor league basketball.