Could Del Harris Make a Hawk of Kobe Bryant?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Del Harris is one of the possibilities rumored for the vacant Atlanta head coaching job. Harris is not a big-name draw but would be a pearl of a find.

Atlanta fans seem to be underwhelmed by the possibility of Del Harris becoming the next Hawks head coach, and though it's a shame, it's pretty obvious why. He is not considered a big-name draw like Doc Rivers would have been, or like Dominique Wilkins would be if he were to coach. "Let's go check out the Hawks game because Del Harris is coaching," is not something you'll hear around Georgia water coolers.

Be that as it may. Some people would go see Del Harris coach, if only because his teams tend to win.

Another mark against him is that he is, ostensibly at least, the defensive coordinator for a Dallas team that is widely mocked for its lack of defense.

Yet again that's a myth without foundation. The teams he has coached tend to be excellent both offensively and defensively. It is probably more reflective of Don Nelson's coaching priorities that defense is not practiced as much as it needs to be. When Nelson spent the entire preseason two years ago practicing nothing but defense, the Mavericks went on a 14-0 streak to start the year.

Harris has racked up both more wins and more losses than all but about a dozen others. You can't doubt his experience. His 1997-1998 Lakers team became only the third team in NBA history to lead the league in scoring while limiting opponents to an average of less than 100 points per game.

And that may be his subtlest attraction to Atlanta: Del Harris coached Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. The Hawks have said they would like to make a run for Bryant this summer once he opts out of this contract and becomes a free agent. Would Harris be able to draw him to Atlanta?

Bryant has had other coaches, to be sure.

But how many coaches also coached Kobe's father in Houston?

Del Harris did it in 1982-1983.

Harris may not be a big-name draw, but it's hard to finder a name much bigger than Kobe Bryant in all of sports.

The 2004 Hawks Summer Basketball Camp is set for July 19-23 at Philips Arena. For more information, click here.

Fans are voting on for what type of head coach the Hawks should hire. The runaway favorite is a former NBA head coach, followed at a distant second by a current NBA assistant, then a prominent college coach, then other. That at least suggest that fans would be surprised if Del Harris, currently an assistant, would indeed be chosen.


Adam Thompson ofThe Denver Postwrites: According to an NBA source, the Atlanta Hawks have asked the Nuggets' permission to speak with MacLeod about their head coaching vacancy.

Jerry Zgoda, Steve Aschburner, Kent Youngblood, and Judd Zulgad ofThe Minneapolis Star-Tribunewrite: Wolves assistant coach Randy Wittman has been mentioned as a candidate for head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, a team with which Wittman spent most of his nine seasons as an NBA player.Wittman said he had not been contacted by the Hawks, adding, "I'd have to listen." Kevin McHale, Wolves vice president of basketball operations, said the Hawks, looking to replace the fired Terry Stotts, had not requested permission to interview Wittman but indicated he would grant it.

John Reif and Jimmy Smith ofThe New Orleans Times-Picayunewrite: Shinn is seeking a coach who has succeeded in the NBA and can handle players' egos and personalities. Scott fits that criteria, as do former Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who guided the Rockets to two consecutive NBA titles; former Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Fratello; and Nets assistant Brian Hill, who was a finalist for the Hornets' job last year when Coach Paul Silas was not retained. Hill said through a source he's interested in the job. Others who might be considered are former Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl and Hornets assistant Alvin Gentry.

Mary Jane Credeur ofThe Atlanta Business Chroniclewrites: Part of Bernie Mullin's old marketing job at the National Basketball Association's offices in New York included monitoring the struggles of the league's 29 franchises and suggesting improvements for the teams. He saw one franchise, the Atlanta Hawks, consistently land at the bottom of the NBA rankings for attendance and win-loss records, and said ideas from NBA officials rarely were executed successfully.Mullin's new job as CEO of Atlanta Spirit LLC is to fix all that's wrong with the Hawks, and to grow the stature of its sibling, the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team.

Michael Lee ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: The Hawks are among three teams in the NBA currently without a head coach but general manager Billy Knight said Monday that he isn't in a race to beat the other teams -- New Orleans and Toronto -- to the punch."It's more important to get the right person than it is to do it quick," Knight said. "The process just began. We'll do our due diligence."

Dave D'Alessandro ofThe Newark Star-Ledger writes: The Pistons knew they were taking a gamble when they obtained Wallace from the Atlanta Hawks at the trade deadline in February.The Pistons say he has been a model citizen, and as dubious evidence, note that he has had only three technicals in 30 games (including playoffs) since arriving in Detroit.