OAKLAND – The Golden State Warriors’ youth movement will extend to their coaching staff next season.
The Warriors will make Atlanta Hawks assistant Eric Musselman the NBA’s youngest head coach on Friday, according to two team and league sources.
Musselman, the 37-year-old son of former Minnesota coach Bill Musselman, will sign a three-year contract to take over the Warriors, who haven’t made the playoffs or had a winning season since 1994.
Plenty already have failed where Musselman hopes to succeed. He will be Golden State’s eighth coach in slightly more than seven seasons since owner Chris Cohan gained control of one of the NBA’s original franchises.
Warriors general manager Garry St. Jean and Musselman didn’t return phone calls on Thursday, but the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Musselman’s hiring.
The Warriors, who went 21-61 last season, have been without a permanent head coach since Dave Cowens was fired last December. Golden State waited three months to decide the fate of interim coach Brian Winters, who went 13-46 while finishing out the season.
Winters participated in Golden State’s draft preparations and summer league play as the Warriors interviewed applicants for his job. He might even be part of Musselman’s staff, since Winters is still under contract to Golden State for next season along with assistants Phil Hubbard, Mark Osowski and Clifford Ray.
That’s the way things work in Oakland under St. Jean, who coached the team himself after firing P.J. Carlesimo midway through the 1999-00 season. Every fall, St. Jean unveils a new plan to rebuild his team — and every spring, the Warriors change plans.
But Golden State might be ready to turn a corner, given the impressive young talent it has stockpiled. The Warriors have chosen six players among the top 30 picks in the last two drafts, including top-five selections Jason Richardson and Mike Dunleavy.
“Whoever they choose, whether it’s Brian or somebody else, he should be a guy who works well with young players,” star forward Antawn Jamison said last month. “We need a guy who can motivate us, but who also knows how to relate to us.”
Musselman has been an assistant to Lon Kruger in Atlanta for two seasons. He joined the Hawks from Orlando, where he was an assistant coach and a scout. Musselman also coached in the CBA for seven years, compiling a 270-122 record.
Known for an intense work ethic and an animated presence on the sideline during his CBA days — just like his father — Musselman apparently wowed the Warriors’ front office brass during an interview in Long Beach earlier this month.
It’s thought that Golden State planned to hire a coach who would work for a low salary — something around $1.5 million per year — since the Warriors still owe money to Cowens and Carlesimo. As a career assistant with no previous NBA experience in a head job, Musselman likely fit the bill.
Golden State also interviewed New Jersey assistant Eddie Jordan and former Phoenix coach John MacLeod for the job. Jordan withdrew from consideration last week.
Former Lakers, Bucks and Trail Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy was thought to be a possibility, particularly after the Warriors drafted his son last month. But the elder Mike Dunleavy said last week he wasn’t a candidate.