However, I can't help but wonder how this is affecting his current job on the Celtics, who trail the Lakers in the finals, partially due to some substandard defense. Clearly, there was some stress caused by the Hornets organization, who basically gave Tom an ultimatum to accept their offer or walk away. If the Hornets can negotiate with Tom, why not the Lakers? And what's to stop the Lakers from interviewing him, just to mess with the Celtics?
Here's the point: David Stern has been swift and almost medieval in his punishment of anything resembling the tampering of players during the regular season, to the point where it's almost impossible for a coach to say he'd like to coach a specific player, in case that statement of admiration gets misinterpreted as a future offer of employment.
But Stern does *nothing* to stop organizations from interviewing coaches and assistant coaches, during a time of the season when they are needed the most, when they have to work the hardest. A question we have to ask here is how was Dan Majerle affected by his interviews with the Sixers organization, and did we lose any games because of it?
Members of the coaching staff on teams still in the playoffs are stuck with a serious dilemma: on the one hand they want to help their team go as far as possible, but on the other they have to look out for their own futures and careers, competing for those jobs with people who have already been eliminated. It's a high pressure situation, no doubt.
There's a simple solution: put in place a moratorium for organizations to contact any member of a team's coaching staff from the end of the regular season until the last finals game has been played, and treat any such contact as tampering. Certainly he must not allow any job interviews or other personal meetings that could be interpreted as such.
The 2010 draft is going to happen on June 24th, which would probably be at least a week from the end of the playoffs. Given that GM can negotiate complex player trades in a few hours, or over a couple of days, that time should be sufficient for a team to negotiate terms with a coach they want to hire. If need be, the draft and the summer league could always be pushed back one or even two weeks.