For now Larry Drew remains the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, though his contract runs out on June 30 and management has made it clear other candidates are being pursued. If that's the path GM Danny Ferry is going down, it makes sense that Stan Van Gundy would be in the mix. More than a contender for the job, Van Gundy is reportedly Ferry's leading candidate and the Hawks are "aggressively pursuing" the former Orlando Magic coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo! Sports.
The intrigue here is on several fronts:
*Based on the Wizards improvement over the final 50 games of this past season, it's conceivable they could supplant the Hawks as the second-best team in the Southeast Division behind the Miami Heat. Atlanta enters the offseason with nine free agents, seven unrestricted including Josh Smith, Kyle Korver and Devin Harris.
*At the same time, the Hawks will have plenty of salary cap space and there is a certain Atlanta native familiar with Van Gundy entering free agency. From Wojnarowksi:
The Hawks plan to make a hard push for free-agent center Dwight Howard on July 1, and there's some belief that Van Gundy could actually turn out to be a benefit in recruiting Howard back to his hometown.
Howard has expressed some sentiment that he better appreciates Van Gundy as a head coach, despite their clashes together in Orlando that ultimately led to the coach's firing after the 2011-12 season.
*During this past season Van Gundy said he did not believe Wizards' point guard John Wall is "good enough that you can build a franchise around him." Once Wall started racking up stats and the Wizards started piling up wins, Van Gundy toned downed his criticisms. If the pair are both in the same division next season, this might come up once or twice.