The Atlanta Hawks have a type.
That much has become clear in the aftermath of their mutual dissolution with head coach Mike Budenholzer. A list of prospective candidates has already been making the rounds, with Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas and San Antonio Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and James Borrego all considered viable candidates. They’re clearly, it seems, poaching an assistant coach, someone who can grow with the team and is willing to stick out a rebuild. And that, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, has led them to Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts:
The Atlanta Hawks have received permission to meet with Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts, league sources tell ESPN. Tibbetts will be a serious candidate to replace Mike Budenholzer as Atlanta's coach.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 27, 2018
It’s tough to tell how “serious’ of a candidate Tibbetts will be. He is, however, the first coaching choice with which the Hawks have received permission to speak, suggesting he may top their wish list.
Tibbetts has seven years of assistant coaching experience at the NBA level, the last five of which have come in Portland, under Terry Stotts. Should he and Stotts share the same philosophies, the Hawks would be getting someone primed to install a conservative defense that emphasizes chasing opponents off the three-point line.
Granted, it’s still early in Atlanta’s search. This will be the first of many rocks they turn over. But Tibbetts, a would-be first-timer, seems to fit the Hawks’ window. He’s neither an established head honcho looking to win nor one of those assistants, like any in San Antonio, who may hold out for a better gig.
Whatever the Hawks do, expect them to be semi-quick about it. General manager Travis Schlenk has big plans for the offseason:
In the same interview, Schlenk laid out some of his plans, which include using cap space to gather more assets. pic.twitter.com/SUEe1EckHH
— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) April 26, 2018
With this in mind, it’d make sense to have someone in place well before the draft. The Hawks have three picks in this year’s prospect pageant and might be able to do some of their best salary-absorbing work in advance of the festivities.