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Clippings: The coaching search is chugging along

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There are now three official candidates.

Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Clippers parted ways with Doc Rivers nine days ago, two names were floated as possible replacements for Rivers: Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy.

Lue was the obvious name as Rivers’ associate head coach on the Clippers bench, and a young, championship-winning head coach. Van Gundy was more surprising given his absence from the NBA sideline for over a decade. As it turns out, only one of those coaches is on the current Clippers list: Lue. Plus, the organization has a couple of new targets in mind.

Malika Andrews of ESPN reported that Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham will be interviewing for the L.A. head coaching job. Adrian Wojnarowski followed that news with the report that Golden State associate head coach Mike Brown has already interviewed with the Clippers.

Ham is a former player whose NBA career ended in 2005, though he persisted in the G League through 2008. He started coaching as an assistant in the G League immediately afterwards and spent his first year on an NBA bench in 2011, incidentally under Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player development coach. Ham spent two seasons with the Lakers before moving to Atlanta under head coach Mike Budenholzer, who he followed to Milwaukee. Fun fact: the Hammer pass is named after Ham.

Ham has been a regular on Kevin Arnovitz’s annual list of all the names on the coaching market, and Arnovitz explains why:

Darvin Ham would command the instant respect of current players with his voice and manner as a hard-nosed NBA vet. He also brings a strong development background as a longtime assistant to Budenholzer, who offers an annual clinic in the art of team building and management.

Brown is a more known quantity after being the head coach for two teams in three separate stints. He coached the LeBron James Cavaliers teams during James’ first Cleveland stint. Brown then moved to L.A. where he lasted all of one year and five games before getting fired. He then made it back to the Cavaliers for one season before getting axed once more when James decided to return.

Brown has been a coach in the NBA almost nonstop since 1997, serving as an assistant in Washington, San Antonio, and Indiana before earning his first head coaching job. He took a two-year break after the Cavaliers let him go before resurfacing with the Warriors in 2016. Fun fact about Brown: He is also the head coach of the Nigerian national team, which could really be a force if Spencer Dinwiddie and/or Bam Adebayo choose to naturalize and play for the team.

The Clippers are in no hurry to complete this process, though it stands to reason that if they wanted to hire Lue, they would have done so already. It is interesting that they are considering an inexperienced head coach, and that said coach is not Sam Cassell. The current reporting makes it unclear if the Clippers have a particularly type of coach in mind for this hire, but it will be the most important decision they make this offseason, so they have to get it right.

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