Atlanta Hawks should go for Van Gundy

May 15, 2013 

It’s been a few days since the rumor leaked out: the Atlanta Hawks are interested in Stan Van Gundy to be their head coach.

It was a credible rumor, if you will, in that a respected national NBA reporter wrote about it. Adrian Wojnarowski knows his stuff, and that gives credence to the report.

This would be the best thing that has happened to the Hawks since they got rid of Joe Johnson last summer, and probably even more important. This team has needed a head coach with a pulse for 13 years, and Van Gundy has the name value and the energy to help revitalize a dormant franchise.

Coaching is not all about having a personality. You don’t have to be a screamer to be successful. But let’s be honest. The Hawks have had some pretty boring guys roam the sidelines for the last decade, and it’s about time we see someone that can be successful and generate some excitement.

The last really good head coach the Hawks had was Lenny Wilkens, who had a pretty good run with the likes of Mookie Blaylock, Steve Smith, Dikembe Mutombo and Christian Laettner. But since then, the Hawks have had Lon Kruger, Terry Stotts, Mike Woodson and Larry Drew.

None of those four are going to be confused with Don Rickles. Van Gundy is a quote machine. He has fun coaching basketball. He might do a good Hubie Brown imitation on the sideline once in a while and throw a fit.

But the most important thing? Van Gundy wins.

He has been a head coach in the NBA for seven-plus seasons. His teams have won 50 or more games five times, including four years in a row in Orlando. Van Gundy had great players on those teams in both Miami and Orlando, but he steered the ship.

This would be a proven winner, not an assistant coach (like Stotts, Woodson and Drew). It would be the first time the Hawks have hired a proven NBA coach since they brought in Wilkens 20 years ago.

Danny Ferry, the Hawks’ general manager, has a grand master plan. He’s got oodles of cap room this summer, and the prime target will be Dwight Howard.

Who was Howard’s coach in Orlando? Van Gundy. And yes, there were issues between the two, but reports have them now being on good terms.

But even if Ferry can’t pull in Howard, having Van Gundy will undoubtedly make the Hawks more attractive to any other free agent -- like Chris Paul or Al Jefferson. Van Gundy will command respect because his name is one that is associated with being a winner.

Has Van Gundy won a NBA title? No, but Phil Jackson is not walking through the doors of Philips Arena, and it’s probably unlikely Ferry can persuade Doc Rivers (the best fit, by far) to leave Boston.

There are assistant coaches, like San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer and Golden State’s Mike Malone, who might be good choices, too. But with this being perhaps the biggest offseason in Hawks history, they need to bring in a proven winner.

The Hawks have cap room available and premium free agents who could make this franchise relevant. Sports fans in this state need to care about the Hawks again, and it’s been a long time since that’s happened.

A coach with a name people would recognize would help, and that’s why Van Gundy would be the perfect fit.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and email him at

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