Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. and Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham are the front-runners in the Washington Wizards‘ coaching search, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Bucks assistant Charles Lee also has emerged as a finalist for the job, sources said.
Unseld, who has served as a Nuggets assistant since 2015, was an assistant coach for the Wizards from 2005 to 2011. He was considered a top contender to coach the Orlando Magic, though they hired Jamahl Mosley from the Dallas Mavericks earlier this week, and was a runner-up for the Chicago Bulls job last offseason.
Ham is considered one of the top head-coaching candidates among league assistants and has interviewed for several head-coaching jobs in the past two years, including the Boston Celtics‘ opening last month. He has most recently been on Mike Budenholzer‘s staff with the Bucks and Atlanta Hawks after breaking into the NBA coaching ranks as a Los Angeles Lakers assistant in 2011. Ham spent eight seasons in the NBA as a player with six teams.
A former professional basketball player overseas, Lee has served as an NBA assistant under Budenholzer with the Hawks and Bucks since 2014.
The Wizards decided not to bring back Scott Brooks last month, with general manager Tommy Sheppard saying the team is looking for a “great communicator” in its next coach.
“The areas we are going to look for that are vision checks [and] key performance indicators moving forward,” Sheppard said in June. “I certainly think you got to take a long, hard look at the defensive end, you got to look and see, efficiency-wise, can we be better off offensively, defensively.”
The next Wizards coach will also have to help navigate the future of star Bradley Beal, who is entering the final year of his contract next season.