Sunday, May 16, 2010
Updated: May 17, 12:18 PM ET
Sources: Johnson up first for Hawks
By Marc Stein
Former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson will receive the first interview to fill the Atlanta Hawks' coaching vacancy, according to NBA coaching sources.
Current Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey will also interview for the Hawks' job in the next few days, sources said.
Atlanta announced Friday that Mike Woodson would not be offered a new contract after a six-season run.
Johnson, an NBA analyst for ESPN, has already interviewed with the Philadelphia 76ers and his hometown New Orleans Hornets in recent weeks.
The Hawks, sources said, requested and received permission from the Mavericks over the weekend to meet with Casey.
Utah Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin and Phoenix Suns assistant Dan Majerle are also on the Hawks' list, sources said.
Casey is widely regarded in league coaching circles as the favorite for the Atlanta job because of his long-standing relationship with Hawks general manager Rick Sund, but he has also been mentioned as a top contender for the Los Angeles Clippers' opening and likewise interviewed for the Hornets' vacancy.
Sources say Johnson and Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, meanwhile, have emerged as standout contenders in New Orleans in a search that has generated seven interviews to date. Besides Johnson, Thibodeau and Casey, New Orleans has met with Portland assistant coach Monty Williams, TNT's Mike Fratello, ESPN's Mark Jackson and former New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank.
But one coaching source said Sunday that incoming Hornets owner Gary Chouest -- who has participated in most of the interviews New Orleans has conducted so far -- has also been occupied in recent days mobilizing his marine-vessel company to assist with containment efforts in the ongoing BP oil-spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mavericks were expecting a call from the Hawks as soon as Atlanta announced that Woodson would not be retained. Sund -- who held a prominent role in the Mavericks' front office from 1979-84 -- worked closely with Casey when both were in Seattle, although Casey had to leave the organization to get his first head-coaching opportunity with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005.
Casey was fired halfway through the 2006-07 season with a record of 20-20 and has served as one of Rick Carlisle's lead assistants in Dallas for the last two seasons.
As a finalist in Philadelphia's and Chicago's coaching searches over the last two offseasons, Casey is likewise expected to receive renewed consideration from both of those teams as well, since the 76ers and Bulls also have vacancies.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.