Coaching carousel could spin slowly
There is a prevailing theory in NBA circles that owners are currently paralyzed in their decision-making by the prospect of a lockout in 2011.
What that means, the thinking goes, is that there will be very little coaching turnover because at this stage owners don't want to get stuck paying two coaches at the same time when they already are losing money, or be forced to sign a coach to a long-term extension that includes paying him during the lockout season.
However, there are enough teams in trouble record-wise, and enough rumors starting to surface, that it seems inevitable that there will be some turnover.
After all, it's not as if organizations can afford to go through another 82-game season with the type of dysfunction that is occurring on some teams right now. Forthwith, we will take a look at the coaches on the hot seat, as well as the top candidates to replace them.
Rumors abound that Jordan is going to be let go, either in the immediate future or directly after the season. A Philadelphia radio station reported it would happen right away, and the
Vandeweghe was always considered an interim coach once the Nets fired
Yes, O'Brien signed a contract extension before the season. Yes, he has the endorsement of team president
He took over for
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more dysfunctional team. At least the other teams already mentioned in this column can simply fire a coach and move on. But because of the Nelson situation, the Warriors don't know if they are coming, going or staging a sit-in. Here's the scenario: Nelson is on the verge of becoming the NBA's all-time winningest coach. However, after getting control of the organization through a power play, he has eviscerated the roster, alienated the players still on the team and created an atmosphere where free agents don't want to come. And he is unlikely to earn the record before the end of the year. He aligned himself with president
He was as good as gone in the middle of the season, when several reports surfaced that Del Negro was on the verge of being dismissed while the Bulls were barely competitive in the midst of a road trip. Then the Bulls started winning some games and Del Negro was given a reprieve. Now that
The decision on Spoelstra's job could come down to one thing: Does
This is a longshot, but it appears that Van Gundy's negativity is beginning to wear on his players.
How is this guy not a head coach in this league already? When he coached the Timberwolves, he improved from an initial 33-49 mark in 2005-06 to a 20-20 start the following season. Then, inexplicably, he was fired by
Turner is probably one notch behind Casey, if only because he does not have head coaching experience. But he does very well in interviews, and has good knowledge of the game. Coaching with
Thibodeau's name has been one of the hottest in the league for a few years now, primarily because he is the architect of the defense that helped the Celtics win the 2008 title. He was rumored to be a candidate for the Knicks' and Bulls' jobs two years ago.
Collins, who lives in the Phoenix area, would leave the booth to coach again, but only in certain situations. His daughter lives in Philadelphia and his son lives in North Carolina, so a job with the Sixers or the Bulls would fit his criteria to move closer to his family and lead a team with pieces in place.
Johnson has an impressive résumé and is the most likely among the TV guys to get a job. He led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006, losing to Miami, and was dismissed after Dallas lost two consecutive first-round playoff series. However, he remains a hot name and has head coaching experience.
What's that? He already has a job, you say? That does not really matter with The Nomad. He reached out to Clippers owner Sterling about a month ago to let him know that he'd be interested in coming back. That is supposedly dead now that
The 2006-07 NBA Coach of the Year, Mitchell has been lying low since he was dismissed by the Raptors in 2008. He may need to get on someone's bench for a bit before he is brought back as a head coach.
Many in the league didn't think Ewing would make the transition from star player to NBA coach because of the amount of work that needs to be put into coaching. But to his credit, Ewing has done a nice job and is positioning himself for a spot somewhere down the road.
Golden State's lead assistant is capable of running his own team, but he probably loses some credibility because of his association with Nelson, which is not really his fault. But he is labeled as the defensive coach for a team that plays very little defense, and Nelson does not really have an extensive coaching tree.
Dantley has done an excellent job stepping in for
He is learning on the job after a long playing career and, like Ewing, is positioning himself for a spot somewhere down the line.
Portland's second assistant, Williams has a good understanding of the game. He was rumored to have interviewed in Minnesota as well.
He supposedly was up for the Knicks' job that went to
One of the prevailing theories with the "TV guys" is that many still think they are going to command $5 million annual salaries. But there is a paradigm shift in the NBA and only a select few coaches are going to get that type of money any longer. Van Gundy is happy because he can do his television games without the stress of coaching. But, if you ever listen to his broadcasts, he has a fine basketball mind. Like his brother Stan, he has to lose the "Van Grumpy" reputation.
If Pacers owner
• Utah assistant
• Portland's Monty Williams is being looked at by Oregon, which also has spoken with former Sonics/Thunder coach
• The Ducks have hired Paul Westhead to coach their women's team. Westhead was on Carlesimo's staff in Seattle. Another name that has surfaced for the Oregon job is Houston assistant
• UNC-Wilmington has been speaking with
It was Blazers owner
"I have gone through the fire with the chemo. I am waiting for the final results to come in. So I am bouncing back," said Allen, who was in San Francisco to catch a tribute concert for his musical love,
That is good news for fans of both the Blazers and Seattle Seahawks because Allen is one of the most passionate, involved owners in the NBA and NFL, and losing him would be a blow to both leagues. Allen is the first of two major NBA personalities to be diagnosed with cancer this year. The other is George Karl, who for many years coached the Seattle SuperSonics, Allen's hometown team.
Allen said he had not spoken to Karl about his cancer but was planning to call him, if for no other reason than to give the perspective of somebody who is going through a similar struggle.
"This is my second time dealing with cancer," Allen said. "It is a tough process. You just have to keep your chin up and keep thinking positive because there really is no upside at looking at the downside of these situations. If you are passionate about things like George is about basketball and like I am with the different things I am involved with, those really help you get through these tough times.
"Chemo is once every three weeks. Radiation can be multiple times a week. You have to deal with the fatigue, especially if you are trying to do competitive things. You have to focus and step up and really concentrate on that. But sports is such an uplifting thing. I remember when I was 30, one of the things that really cheered me up back then was following the Sonics at that particular point. Just following a team in general really takes your mind off what you are going through."
"I've met Larry a few times. I've been on his boat a couple times. I don't talk to him very frequently," Allen said. "But I would tell any prospective owner of a major league franchise it is going to be a lot of fun.
"But it is super important to have good management. Have a good general manager. Those positions are so important, the key to the future of your franchise. Especially in the initial years, get the best people you can. Learn about the sports. You hire great people, learn from them and the more you get involved in these sports the more you are going to love it.
"It's hard to explain. When you see things from the inside, is really makes your enjoyment that much more. I know Larry is super competitive, so I'm sure he is going to find some rewarding aspects of being involved in professional sports ownership."
Johnson seems to be laying the groundwork for future lobbying efforts while at the same time ingratiating himself with the Sacramento supporters. It helps, of course, that Evans is almost a lock to win the award.
I wonder what Johnson would have done had he been the mayor of, say, Denver and pulled together a rally for