Just when it seemed as though Indiana’s short-list of coaching candidates couldn’t get any longer, yet another name has been added to the pile. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowoski, New Orleans Pelicans assistant Chris Finch has recently interviewed with the Pacers, joining Miami’s Dan Craig (2015-16 Sioux Falls Skyforce), Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham (2010-11 New Mexico Thunderbirds), Orlando’s Pat Delany (2013-14 Sioux Falls Skyforce), Portland’s Nate Tibbetts (2007-09 Sioux Falls Skyforce, 2009-11 Tulsa 66ers), and Toronto’s Nate Bjorkgren (2011-13 Dakota Wizards, Santa Cruz Warriors, 2013-14 Iowa Energy, 2014-15 Bakersfield Jam) as the only candidates from the ever-growing pool of current assistants with extensive G League backgrounds.
Prior to joining Alvin Gentry’s staff in New Orleans, Finch followed a similar career path to that of Toronto’s Nick Nurse, coaching all over in Europe, including the British National Team, before later becoming a head coach in the G League and an assistant with the Houston Rockets (2011-2016) and Denver Nuggets (2016-17). In 2010, the 50-year-old, offensive guru, who was assisted by Nurse at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, captured a G League title with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers while earning Coach of the Year honors.
Knowledge culled from a mixture of the European game and the NBA aside, the timing of this latest batch of rumors is certainly interesting when considered in tandem with Philadelphia’s lightning-quick decision to hire Doc Rivers over Mike D’Antoni and Ty Lue. For one, not only are the Pacers continuing to conduct interviews in spite of the availability of D’Antoni, who they’ve long reportedly been interested in, but their talks with Finch, who seemed as though he could potentially be in line for an in-house promotion in New Orleans, have come to light at the same time as the Pelicans are planning to meet with Lue.
“We feel very strongly about the quality of staff we have,” said Pelicans VP David Griffin in the wake of Gentry’s dismissal. “Some of those individuals potentially will be head coaching candidates elsewhere, Chris Finch certainly among them. He’ll be part of our conversation moving forward and it’s our intention that many of our staffers will continue to be with the next regime at some point.”
Along with Finch, the Pacers have been rumored to be in contact with over a dozen other current assistants from around the league, including Golden State’s Mike Brown, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon and Will Hardy, Miami’s Dan Craig and Chris Quinn, Dallas’ Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas, Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Orlando’s Pat Delany, Minnesota’s David Vanterpool, Philadelphia’s Ime Udoka, Portland’s Nate Tibbetts, and Toronto’s Nate Bjorkgren.
Altogether, in addition to coaching in Germany, Belgium, and Great Britain, where he was named BBL Coach of the Year, Finch compiled a 67-30 record in the G League with the Vipers never ranking worse than second in terms of offensive efficiency during his tenure.
Per Wojnarowski, former Grizzlies and Kings head coach Dave Joerger, who dialed up the pace in Sacramento but reportedly clashed with players at both stops, has made a strong case for himself during the interview process.