Virginia basketball fans got an unexpected startle on Monday when Yahoo! NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that head coach Tony Bennett could be on the radar of NBA executives. Wojnarowski wrote:
Two college coaches who intrigue NBA execs -- some who have openings, some who don't: Michigan's John Beilein and Virginia's Tony Bennett.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 12, 2014
The story hasn't developed further, and there's no serious reason to think that it will at this point. Still, Wahoo fans probably cringed to see any mention of Bennett in connection with another job. Bennett just guided Virginia to its first Sweet Sixteen in twenty years and its second-ever ACC tournament title. For him to leave now would be, frankly, the "most UVA thing ever."
While it doesn't look like anything will happen, it's interesting to speculate whether Bennett would listen if an NBA team approached him. On one hand, it's hard to imagine Bennett getting as much buy-in for his "non-negotiables" as he gets at the college level. For example, Bennett demands defensive excellence and commitment every night. He wouldn't react well to the type of lackadaisical effort that made James Harden notorious last month. Among the "five pillars" Bennett uses to guide his programs, it's hard to imagine themes like humility, servanthood and thankfulness resonating too well in an NBA that's widely known as a "player's league."
On the other hand, Bennett might relish the opportunity to coach the best players in the world. He often cited the "proximity to talent" as a reason for moving to Virginia from Washington State. Bennett would have oodles of talent to work with as an NBA coach and he might see it as a fun challenge. He still speaks fondly of his playing days with the Charlotte Hornets.
Ultimately, it's hard to envision Bennett leaving Virginia for an NBA job at this point. He talks extensively about how much he likes raising his family in Charlottesville and he's set up for some good years in the near future. But still, Wojnarowski's tweet isn't the type of thing Virginia fans are used to seeing. While there have been talks about Bennett getting a contract extension, nothing official has come out yet. For the sake of Wahoo fans, let's hope that process picks up some steam.