As Amick writes today, Eddie Jordan has really been the odds-on favorite for the Kings coaching job since, oh, December. The team made a bee line toward him after Kenny Natt was released from duty, and other than the (still weird) interview of Paul Westphal, he really stood alone as a candidate. I think one of the vogue terms leftover from presidential campaign coverage is "air of inevitability" -- Eddie Jordan's hire in Sacramento certainly had an "air of inevitability" about it. Just like Hillary Clinton's nomination.
Before we get too flagellant, this is different in so many ways from the Stan Van Gundy debacle. The Kings could have offered Jordan a contract at any point over the last three weeks. They did not, or if they did, they did so in an incredibly, improbably quiet way. With Van Gundy, the Kings rushed to hire him after the interviews. And he came to town. And he brought his wife. And ... Billy Donovan doomed us to the Reggie Theus and Chuck Person Era. This is different.
There's no sign management desperately wanted Jordan to be the coach. Maybe Petrie did, and he felt as if he needed to have a dog-and-pony show to satisfy the Maloofs. (Remember: Petrie is heading into the final year of his contract. Don't put it past even a choir boy like Petrie to feel like he needs to please the bosses.) But if this is the case -- if Westphal and Kurt Rambis and Tom Thibodeau were decoys, superfluous mayonnaise to make Jordan's ham more irresistible -- then why the fungus would it have all taken so long? I'm only sympathetic to the demands of intercontinental travel for so long. While the draft is far more important than the coaching search, no one said the job of NBA general manager wasn't demanding. If Petrie felt he needed to rush through the show to get to his chosen thrilling climax, he could have done this all much, much more quickly.
And that's why, even if it's not a crushing blow, definitively losing out on Eddie Jordan definitely sucks: we want Petrie to have all his favorite options available when he makes the decision. The Maloofs have famously given this hire over to Petrie's office. "Geoff's decision," they said. Well, if a top candidate gets hired away by another team, that takes some of the thrust from said decision. Petrie's deck is no longer complete. That sucks! If he interviewed Rambis and Thibodeau, maybe a couple more dudes, then sat down and decided Jordan would be the best fit after all ... well, tough cookies! Jordan's gone. So in that case, if after all is said and done Jordan would have been the best fit, Petrie has to move on to Choice No. 2. The degradation in confidence is obvious.
All that said, I've warmed considerably on Rambis and Thibodeau. Boston's defense without Kevin Garnett defended Orlando far better than Cleveland's vaunted resistance has. In my book, that says more about the system than Glen Davis. And Rambis has run L.A.'s defense this season -- it murdered the potent Nuggets Friday night. Tommy will interview in Las Vegas today, and Rambo's team won't play again until Thursday. In about a week, Petrie should be heading back to Europe -- to Treviso, this time, for Reebok Eurocamp. (Patrick Mills will be one of the point guards there. Nando de Colo and Rodrique Beaubois, as well. I could say the name "Nando de Colo" for the rest of my life.) Maybe this time he finds Ettore Messina for a chat, serious or otherwise. (Despite the pre-search rumors, Petrie has apparently not met with Messina, despite the two trips to Europe, one of which was actually a trip to watch Messina's team play in the Euroleague Final Four.)
Otherwise, good luck to you, Philadelphia. Jordan's a good coach. While Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala are hardly optimal Princeton players, the 76ers defense is fantastic and they just need a bit of help on offense to make an assault on the East's top tier.