Once the Nuggets fired Brian Shaw midway through his second year as the team was wallowing in a stretch of losing 19 of 21 games, they turned to Melvin Hunt, who had been an assistant in Denver for the past five seasons.
So far, it’s been a phenomenal decision.
Hunt has had the Nuggets playing inspired basketball, and was able to turn things around immediately by winning six of his first eight games before the front office temporarily took away three of his best players.
But despite the job he’s done so far, Hunt isn’t guaranteed to get the position on a full-time basis.
“As an organization, we have all been impressed with the job Melvin has done thus far,” general manager Tim Connelly said by phone Monday. “When the season concludes, he will be one of the candidates as we begin an exhaustive search to find a head coach.”
The hesitation, of course, is understandable.
Denver was just burned by handing the job to someone who had never held the position previously, and wants to be somewhat cautious about remaking the very same mistake with consecutive coaching hires.
And, it makes sense to see who might be available in terms of guys who have been successful in the past. Mike D’Antoni has been linked to the job as a person of interest, but had rough stints in his most recent positions in both New York and Los Angeles.
Hunt is a known quantity within the organization, and in addition to his initial success on the sidelines, he was able to toe the company line recently during a difficult situation. He’s certainly well-positioned to get a long look, but the front office has been all over the place in terms of its decision-making the past few years, so it’s difficult to forecast how this will all shake out.