Could the NCAA championship-winning coach jump to the NBA?
Geno Auriemma, who just guided the Connecticut women’s team to its fourth straight title and his 11th overall.
NBA executives have taken notice, and sources tell Sporting News that the feeling is mutual. “Geno’s a great coach, he knows players and he knows Xs and Os,” one source with knowledge of Auriemma’s thinking said. “I think he’d like to try the NBA eventually, either head coaching or part of a staff at first. Not tomorrow, but I think it is a matter of when and not if. Coaching is coaching, and the guy can coach.”
Auriemma has done an incredible job at UConn. That can’t be overstated.
But there are several significant hurdles:
1. There are major differences between the NBA and men’s college basketball, and many coaches can’t make the transition. And that’s nothing compared to women’s basketball, which is played with a completely different style.
2. Because women’s basketball doesn’t generate as much revenue as men’s, most women’s coaches have lower salaries – which attracts less talent. Auriemma might be out-coaching his peers every game, but how many of them have the coaching ability to make NBA teams take notice? Approximately zero.
3. Auriemma is highly paid, an exception in his sport. He makes about $2 million per year, which is less than the highest-paid NBA assistant. And Auriemma wouldn’t be the best assistant in the NBA. Would he take a pay cut to work in the league?
4. He’s also 62. If he’s going to jump, when?
Again, Auriemma has excelled at Connecticut. This is taking nothing away from him. But the NBA is a different animal.
There is no way I’d hire him as an NBA coach.
As an assistant? Given his coaching acumen and the possibility enough of it would translate, I’d give him an interview.