The Atlanta Hawks are taking an unconventional approach with their head-coaching position.
Current coach Larry Drew’s contract is up on June 30, and he and team general manager Danny Ferry have held several meetings this week concerning the future. But with the market for coaches wide open, both sides appear to be hedging their bets.
The Hawks have informed Drew that they intend to talk to other candidates about the job. They have also given Drew the freedom to talk to other teams about jobs. There are currently job openings in Brooklyn, Detroit, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Philadelphia, plus the interim position in Phoenix.
Drew remains open to returning to the team but might draw interest elsewhere with so many jobs open. The Hawks will talk to others but could end up offering Drew a new contract. This is not the way coaching situations usually play out, but this year's market is dictating some new approaches.
"I have great appreciation and respect for Larry and how he led our team this season,” Ferry said in a statement to ESPN.com. “At the same time, it is my responsibility and in the best interests of the Hawks organization to consider all of our options, and talk with other potential head coaches before making a decision about who will lead our basketball team. Larry and I have had open communication about this approach. If Larry and I continue our work together, we ultimately will be a stronger organization because of our discussions and this thorough process.”
The Hawks have already talked to several candidates, including former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Ferry is hoping to meet with Van Gundy in the near future. Yahoo! Sports first reported the Hawks' interest in Van Gundy.
However, sources said, Van Gundy has told several teams that have reached out to him recently that he is not planning on coaching next season.
Also known to be on the Hawks' list is San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer.
Drew has taken the Hawks to the playoffs in each of his three seasons as coach but lost in the first round the past two years, including the loss to the Indiana Pacers in six games last week. Drew’s record is 128-102 overall and 10-14 in the playoffs. He’s been with the organization for 10 years, working seven seasons as an assistant under Mike Woodson before his promotion to head coach in 2010.
The Hawks retooled their roster heavily before this season, trading star Joe Johnson and starter Marvin Williams and stocking the team with players on the final year of their contract. The Hawks got off to a surprising start but sputtered after midseason when they lost key players Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia to season-ending injuries.
As many as 12 Hawks players could be free agents, including Josh Smith, and they could have $35-$40 million in salary-cap space.