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Seven candidates for Brooklyn Nets' new coaching vacancy

Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

With the Brooklyn Nets' head coaching job now open, here is a list of potential candidates:

Tom Thibodeau: Thibs is familiar with New York, having been an assistant with the Knicks, and built a strong, hard-nosed, defensive-minded team during his five seasons in Chicago, winning 64.7 percent of his regular-season games. He took the Bulls to the playoffs in each of those five seasons, but kept running into LeBron James and never got the team to the NBA finals before his ouster at the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

John Calipari: Coach Cal was once the Nets’ head coach in New Jersey, and is extremely close with Brooklyn CEO Brett Yormark. Calipari has one of college basketball’s best jobs at Kentucky, but he’s always struggled with his lack of success at the NBA level, and may want to give it another shot if he gets the right amount of power and money from Brooklyn. Plus, Calipari’s strength is recruiting, and the Nets should have around $40 million in cap space heading into the summer.

Jeff Van Gundy: JVG has also coached in New York before and has had plenty of success there during his tenure with the Knicks. The NBA television analyst for ESPN is certainly respected around the league, and would bring some cache with him as well. Plus, wouldn’t it be something if the Nets hired the former coach of the Knicks?

Mark Jackson: Jackson is a Brooklyn native who has played in the pressure-cooker that is New York during his stint as point guard for the Knicks. He also had some previous NBA head-coaching success in Golden State. Like Van Gundy, Jackson is an analyst for ESPN.

Chris Mullin: Mullin is also from Brooklyn and currently coaches at St. John’s. He’s also held a front-office position before in Golden State, which could be important when it comes to player-personnel decisions.

Ettore Messina: While it’s possible that he eventually replaces Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, the highly decorated Italian native used to coach Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov's championship-winning squads at CSKA Moscow in Russia. That would certainly make for an interesting hire.

Sean Sweeney: If the Nets wanted to get really creative, how about their former assistant in Brooklyn, now a top assistant under ex-Nets coach Jason Kidd in Milwaukee. Sweeney may be young, but he’s already stood out for his ability to coach defense. This would certainly be an outside-the-box hire, but it could be a great one.