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Woj: Blazers grant Suns permission to interview Vanterpool, Tibbetts

Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, center, sits between assistant coaches David Vanterpool, left, and Nate Tibbetts, right, as they play the Phoenix Suns during the second half of an NBA preseason game in Phoenix on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb, File)

The Phoenix Suns have been granted permission by the Portland Trail Blazers to interview assistant coaches David Vanterpool and Nate Tibbetts, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

They will join Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams among the reported candidates, but Wojnarowski adds that it’s Williams who is the “focus of the team’s search.”

“We want a leader, someone who can relate to our players, someone who will challenge them, someone who will force them to thrive in a competitive environment,” GM James Jones said of the coaching search in a press conference Tuesday.

Both Vanterpool and Tibbetts have also been granted permission to interview with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Wojnarowski and The Associated Press. They are currently still coaching as the Blazers enter a second-round playoff series.

Tibbetts has a history coaching for the Cavs, as he served under head coach Byron Scott from 2011-13. He’s been with Portland under head coach Terry Stotts since 2013.

Vanterpool is likewise a well-regarded assistant with no head coaching experience.

After a pro career from 1995-2007 mostly overseas, he was an assistant for Russian club CSKA Moscow from 2007-12 before he joined Stotts’ staff in 2012.

Williams has five years of head coaching experience with New Orleans.

He went 173-221 (.439) from 2010-15, making the playoffs twice and losing in the first round both times. He has a relationship with the Suns’ top decision-makers having coached Jones for Portland in 2007-08. Williams worked under Suns senior vice president of basketball operations Jeff Bower while with New Orleans.

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