Jeff Van Gundy has been established as ESPN's lead NBA analyst for several years. Van Gundy has blossomed into the lead role, showing a quirky sense of humor and affability that wasn't always on display on the sidelines. And, unlike some analysts, JVG is not afraid to criticize the league or its high profile players. He's one of the best analysts on television... but he may not be long for television.
With the NBA's coaching carousel in full swing, Van Gundy's name is again entering the fray as a potential candidate for top jobs. On Thursday the NBA's top newsbreaker, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, reported the Clippers had reached out to Van Gundy to see if he was interested in replacing Vinny Del Negro...
"The Los Angeles Clippers reached out to Jeff Van Gundy to get a preliminary sense of his interest in discussing their head-coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Jeff Van Gundy has worked in broadcasting since leaving the Rockets in 2007. There was no discussion of setting up an interview, nor any real gauge of whether Van Gundy holds interest in the job, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Those close to Van Gundy believe that he is open to considering a return to coaching for the right opportunity.
Van Gundy, one of the sport's top TV analysts, has been a target of several franchises since leaving the Houston Rockets in 2007. He's considered one of the NBA's best available coaches."
Van Gundy's situation is quite similar to ESPN's top NFL analyst, Jon Gruden. Both are still highly regarded in coaching circles and both are expected at some point to leave television and return to the sidelines. In fact, it was something of an upset that Gruden didn't leave the booth this past offseason with all the job openings around the NFL. Of the pair, Van Gundy seems the most likely to stay in television... but if Chris Paul and the Clippers smooth things over isn't that the opportunity JVG is waiting for to return to coaching?
There's no interviews, and there's not even an indication that JVG wants the Clippers job at this point, just that the LA franchise is interested. Nevertheless, it leaves ESPN in a tenuous position. Van Gundy has emerged as one of the top game analysts in sports over the last several years and Bristol lost their other top analyst with Mark Jackson going to coach the Warriors.
If JVG returns to coaching, where does ESPN go? Hubie Brown is in house and would be the logical choice - even at 79 he remains at the top of his game. Elsewhere at ESPN, the bench is rather thin in terms of game analysts so they may have to look outside the company. Another past NBA lead analyst, Doug Collins, is available and could certainly fill the slot, but are there any new voices on the NBA landscape? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.