In the NBA, like in all sports, coaches are ultimately held responsible for the performance of their teams. And even in those cases when the coach is little more than a bystander to team sinking under a lack of talent, canning a coach is a lot more convenient than holding a fire sale on the roster. So when a team starts the season 0-17 (0-16 under coach Lawrence Frank) the worst offense in the league and a defense that's only a hair better, firing the man charged with orchestrating that feeble attack makes the most sense.
Standing as Exhibit A refuting that philosophy is
Sitting alone in that position is
"It has been sad to see what's happened out there," said an Eastern Conference official. "You can't be contenders forever, but that team had the kind of core that, with a few good drafts and free agent pickups, could have been a very good team for years."
Still, even as he was being ushered out the door Frank refused to deflect the blame in the direction of his former boss. "This is a results-oriented business," said Frank in a telephone interview. "And we didn't get it done. That's the coach's job, and it didn't happen."
But what exactly can a coach do when handed such underwhelming pieces to work with?
"That was probably the toughest part," said Frank. "There was a 2 ½ week stretch where we could only play about eight guys."
"They never quit on Lawrence," said a Western Conference scout. "The signs you look for -- the grumbling coming out of huddles, the quick shots -- they weren't there. They played hard."
The Nets will try to avoid setting the NBA's record for futility to open a season when they face Kidd (one of Frank's staunchest supporters) and the Mavericks Thursday in the Meadowlands. They will likely lose, and lose badly. Interim coach