Brian Goorjian says he is “all in” if Basketball Australia come calling about the Boomers’ coaching vacancy.
And the veteran mentor said Australia’s chances of a maiden medal at next year’s rescheduled Olympics look bright, regardless of players’ availability being threatened by the prospect of next NBA season running straight through the Games.
Brett Brown had been roped in to replace former head coach Andrej Lemanis for a Tokyo 2020 cameo in the hope that, after many near-misses, he could lead a well-established squad to its first major international medal.
But after being sacked by the Philadelphia 76ers Brown informed BA on Tuesday his personal circumstances were too uncertain to commit to next year’s rescheduled Olympic campaign.
Goorjian led the Boomers at two previous Olympics and presents as a viable replacement at short notice after returning to coach the NBL’s Hawks next season following a long stint in China.
“It caught me on the hop but my gut is that I look at the national program as like the military – man, if you need me I’m all in,” he told AAP.
“Lemanis did a great job – I was teary when they missed a medal at the World Cup (last year) and really emotional when they beat the USA in the lead-up to it – and I was excited for Brett and the team thinking that next step was there for the taking.
The virus has twisted everything on its ears, so you roll with the punches, onward and upward.”
Sydney Kings coach Will Weaver – serving as interim Boomers coach since Lemanis’ exit – and NBL title-winning mentors Rob Beveridge, Dean Vickerman and Trevor Gleeson are likely to be on a BA shortlist alongside Goorjian.
A short-term contract for Weaver, described as “MacGyver-like” by Kings boss Paul Smith because of his ability to “wrestle things around to make them work”, could appeal to the American given he is already being linked to the vacant New Orleans coaching job in the NBA.
Brown’s exit complicates the much-hyped return of NBA All-Star Ben Simmons, who was playing under Brown in Philadelphia and due to return to the national fold for the first time in seven years for a Tokyo gold-medal tilt.
But Goorjian remains optimistic the likes of Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Phoenix Suns centre Aron Baynes can play even if the Olympics clash with the next NBA season.
“The whole world talks about Australia and how driven those NBA players are to win a medal for the country,” he said.
“If the NBA players play, our guys are going to have their hands up and be in.
“If they don’t, all those other guys won’t be playing either and if you go second tier, you’re talking NBL and the attraction for me to come back was this (improved standard).”