John Hammond and the Milwaukee Bucks will have to move on to Plan C in their search for a new head coach, it seems. Top target Stan Van Gundy withdrew himself from consideration earlier in the week, and now Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Sloan has sent out a clear message that he's not interested in the job. Sloan met with the Bucks last week to discuss the position, but on Thursday veteran agent Keith Glass -- who is advising Sloan in his search -- told David Aldridge of NBA.com that Sloan won't be the next Bucks head coach:
"The bottom line is, Jerry doesn't really feel it's the right fit for him right now," Glass said Thursday. "He's interested (in coaching again). He's in Chicago now watching the Pre-Draft. And his name keeps popping up with every job, and he hasn't applied for anything. He had a real nice meeting with them. They came to see him on his farm (in downstate Illinois). They had a great meeting just in terms of liking each other. (Bucks general manager) John Hammond said 'I wish I could have stayed and watched the game with him.' It's just not the right fit for Jerry, from Jerry's point of view. That's not a negative thing; that's just the reality."
We all know the Bucks aren't exactly a prime landing spot for a proven head coach. It's part of why we were excited about the prospect of someone like Van Gundy or Sloan signing on; we wanted the Bucks to lure in someone out of their league. But what was it that caused the veteran coach to scratch Milwaukee off his list? That's where it gets interesting.
Glass officially represents Scott Skiles, and we all know how things ended with Skiles in Milwaukee. He grew tired of the roster flaws and didn't think the team was built to compete. He and Hammond entered the 2012-13 season without a contract extension, and he made it clear at the outset of the year that he wasn't looking to return on a new deal. Skiles and the team eventually agreed to part ways on Jan. 8. Hammond received a three-year extension on Jan. 24. Glass certainly understood the situation well, and he made some subtle comments that probably carried through the theme that Skiles had been delivering behind the scenes (via NBA.com):
"Jerry probably is a lot like Scott, in that the working conditions and where the team is (contender-wise) are important," Glass said. "For Jerry to go to a place that's going to take years to build-and I'm not talking about Milwaukee, I'm talking about anywhere-that's just not right for him. They have to be able to compete. Jerry is a competitor, and he wants to compete and teach."
Even if the Bucks are planning to spend big money to reshape the roster during the offseason, it's becoming clear that the prime coaching candidates don't have much confidence in the scheme.
It's back to the drawing board for John Hammond. Milwaukee's GM said he wanted to be thorough at the outset of the search, but I doubt this is what he had in mind. Kelvin Sampson, J.B. Bickerstaff, Steve Clifford and Nate McMillan have already interviewed for the job, so perhaps Hammond will tap into that group again for a second interview.
The good news is that it's perfectly acceptable to call your Plan C your original and unquestioned Plan A when you eventually make the hire and have the big press conference. The bad news is we have no idea where Hammond will go from here, because the two most accomplished candidates on his list have flat-out turned his team and his plan down.
Note: Hammond's reaction to the news is priceless (cc: unklchuk):
Bucks GM John Hammond says Milwaukee was "honored" that Sloan even met with the team: "He's Jerry Sloan."— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 17, 2013