<
>

Next Boomers boss? The Candidates to replace Brett Brown as Australia coach

Brett Brown's decision to step down as head coach of the Australian Boomers was a tad surprising but not entirely a shock given recent developments.

The former Philadelphia 76ers head coach more than likely wants to re-enter NBA coaching circles, and the uncertainty and volatility surrounding the now-2021 Tokyo Olympics was enough to see him step away from the Boomers job he held for less than a year this time around.

That instability is, naturally, important to note when looking ahead to who could suit up for the Boomers in Tokyo, as well as who may take Brown's place at the helm of the team. At this point, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic will have an effect on the 2020-21 NBA season, with the league's commissioner, Adam Silver, saying it will "consider" the idea of a mid-season break to allow players to participate in the Olympics.

"I think it's unlikely, at the end of the day that, if we start late, we would stop for the Olympics," Silver continued. "Because, as you know, it's not just a function of stopping for the period in which they are competing over in Tokyo. But, they require training camp and then they require rest afterwards."

The current Boomers core is unique, in that an Olympic medal is considered more valuable than an NBA championship at this point in many of their respective careers. While the likelihood is that the circumstances would be too difficult for Australian NBA players to leave a team during a season, there's potential for some to still make the commitment.

With all of that in mind, the shortlist of who could be considered to be named as the next head coach of the Boomers writes itself. Basketball Australia told Boomers players in an email on Tuesday evening - obtained by ESPN - that it "will implement a process for a new Head Coach in coming weeks."

The expectation is that the list will largely comprise of NBL coaches, some of whom already have key advantages over others.

Will Weaver

As soon as Brown's decision was announced, Weaver was the first name out of many lips as the potential replacement. He was an assistant coach on Andrej Lemanis' most recent Boomers staff, head coach during the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in February, 2020, and is coming off an NBL season where he led his Sydney Kings to a league-best record.

Weaver makes sense from an on-court standpoint - he's as familiar with the Boomers program as anyone - and from a personal perspective, where the 36-year-old has a rapport with Australian players across the talent spectrum.

On paper, Weaver as the next Boomers head coach makes a lot of sense; that is, until one considers the potential of him being on an NBA staff next season. ESPN's Brian Windhorst named Weaver as a potential candidate to join the New Orleans Pelicans' coaching staff; and though the Kings aren't yet bracing for his departure, being on the sidelines for an NBA team would likely rule him out of a national team position.

Familiarity and his record should make Weaver the favourite to be the Boomers' new head coach, but ambition may end up taking precedence.

Brian Goorjian

One of the most revered names in Australian basketball, Goorjian is another option that ticks a lot of boxes.

For starters, he's done the job before. Goorjian was at the helm for the Boomers from 2001 to 2008, so he's familiar with the program, as well as some of its key players; the 67-year-old, for example, coached Joe Ingles at South Dragons, and his relationship with the Utah Jazz wing remains close to this day.

Goorjian joining the NBL's Hawks naturally helps him from a proximity standpoint, because there's a good chance the Boomers will largely consist of non-NBA players, and while the veteran coach has been in China for the past 11 years, he hasn't been completely out of the loop. Over this past off-season, Goorjian ran Boomers camps out of Melbourne, working out members of the extended Australian national team roster for months.

Goorjian has only just returned to Australia full-time, but the timing might just be perfect; he'd be in strong consideration to take over this job.

Dean Vickerman

Over his long career in the NBL, Vickerman has been regarded as one of the best and most respected coaches in Australia, so he'd be in a position to slot right into a Boomers job that will require familiarity with the local market.

When Brown was assembling his shortlist of Australian coaches to join his Boomers staff, Vickerman was toward the top of that list, sources told ESPN. Former Boomer, Matt Nielsen, was also expected to join Brown's staff, sources said.

Given the preparation needed for an Olympic campaign, coupled with the potential travel restrictions that may remain in place, Vickerman being at the helm of Melbourne United could be an added bonus for Basketball Australia, whose head office is based in Victoria.

Vickerman was on the pathway to potentially work his way up the Boomers' coaching ladder, even before Brown's departure, so the two-time NBL champion may just get his chance.

Adam Caporn

A dark horse in this discussion, Adam Caporn was an assistant coach on Lemanis' staff during the 2019 FIBA World Cup, and even served as head coach during one qualifiying game earlier that year.

Caporn is best known as the head coach at Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence, and was in strong consideration to take over the vacant Adelaide 36ers job this offseason; he's been involved in the country's basketball scene across all levels, and is generally well-respected by the playing and coaching community.

If Basketball Australia had a desire to go with a familiar face within the governing body - what you could describe as the establishment pick - then Caporn is a selection that would make a lot of sense.

Trevor Gleeson

Gleeson is a no-brainer to be considered for the Boomers' top job, considering his impressive record in the NBL, as well as his experience in the program.

The Perth Wildcats head coach is a five-time NBL Champion, and was an assistant to Lemanis at the 2014 World Championships, as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics. The expectation is that Gleeson will receive an interview for the Boomers' head coach position, and his chances may improve drastically if Bryce Cotton is granted Australian citizenship ahead of the Olympic campaign.