More than a few NBA teams will be looking for a new coach this spring, so we asked our panel of experts—one representative from each of the 29 NBA teams—to name the NBA assistant most deserving of a head coaching job. In all, 17 assistants received at least one vote; Paul Silas of the Suns topped the list with six mentions, followed by Dennis Johnson of the Celtics and Gar Heard of the Pacers, with three votes apiece.
Silas's record in his first stint as a head coach was hardly stellar—78-168 with the Clippers from 1980 to 1983—so what recommends him for the position now? "I think he's on the same page with the modem player," says a colleague. "He commands respect, and even Derrick Coleman likes him." High praise indeed.
Other former head coaches received support despite losing records their first time around: Heard (9-44), Knicks assistant Don Chaney (265-382 lifetime) and Seattle's Bob Weiss (59-105). Then there were the likes of Johnson, Randy Wittman of the Timberwolves and Bulls assistant Frank Hamblen, who await their first shot at a head coaching position. The coach who nominated Hamblen, a 26-year NBA assistant, pointed to two essential qualifications for any deputy who aspires to the top: "He knows the game, and he's paid his dues."